Solar Energy in the Midwest

Posts tagged ‘PV’

Solar in Michigan – Does it work?

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The most common phrase we hear on a daily basis is that solar is not a practical application in a wintery grey state. We disagree and so do thousands right here in SE Michigan.

We don’t get a lot of sunlight compared to other states here in Michigan but we get enough to cover all our needs, how much more do we need? In truth panels operate more efficiently in cool states than in hot states.

Some readers may immediately dismiss our perspective because we are a solar company and we survive by installing solar. Sounds simple but installing solar since 1985 has not been a walk in the park. We live and breathe solar not only because we believe in it but because we know it works. Decades of positive feedback and referrals from happy homeowners using clean, renewable solar energy is a positive place to be and we want to provide this opportunity to anyone who is interested in taking control of their energy generation.

Our first adapters were Michigan Engineers. They crunched the numbers (over and over in every possible scenario), put their money into solar and are happy with their return. All the non-Engineer homeowners have had the same experience.

In the last three years we have installed over 80 solar electric systems and collectively we have generated over 900 MWh of electricity. This is the equivalent of:

  • Planting 16,282 tree seedlings
  • Powering over 4 football stadiums for 1 year
  • Reducing 635 metric tons of CO2e from our atmosphere
  • The emissions from 71,188 gallons of gasoline
  • The emissions from 132 cars for a year

Many of these homeowners do not pay a monthly electric utility bill and some actually get a check back from the utility company at the end of the year. No one is unhappy with their system; in fact some are removing all gas appliances, installing geothermal and plugging new EV cars into their homes.

Imagine, these results have occurred in only in the last three years. If you could measure how many BTU’s we have generated with all our solar thermal systems; water heating, space heating and pool heating systems over the decades these numbers would be amazing.

It is only recently that we have been able to monitor and record all of our products true generation and most of them even have a mobile app to monitor remotely. Numbers like this are great because they provide measured metrics that can be compared to other fuel sources providing solid data that the skeptics have a much harder time arguing against.

Solar electric generation can now be monitored across the state, the country and the world demonstrating how solar functions in every climate in real time. Inverters that convert the DC electricity to AC, so it can be grid tied and provide a home with useable power, now send out wireless reporting of generation in real time from the home location to the manufacturers monitoring website.

Panel efficiencies are always improving as well as the wattage per panel. A 250W @18% efficiency panel of 2008 is now 335W @22% efficiency. Mind you, these are top of the line efficiency panels. There are still plenty of 14% and 15% efficient panels around, budget dictates the homeowners’ choices, but now there is choice. Some panel companies are aiming for 50% efficiency but we are not there yet.

With always rising utility bills, Michigan’s growing dependence on imported coal costing billions, asthma and other preventable illnesses, clean energy will become an application more and more will choose. It works in Michigan. How much was your electric bill five years ago? What do you think it will be in another five?

You don’t have to listen to us. Watch customers talk about their system on YouTube, unscripted and unrehearsed. Solar homeowners love talking about their systems, we like hearing it. My favorite are retire homeowners in Washington, MI and Livonia, MI. We recorded these for the National Solar Tour two years ago. The National Solar Tour is the first Saturday of October every year. 

The next time someone tells you solar does not work in Michigan, first ask them if they have a system… I’m betting NOT, and then ask them if they know someone who has one… ditto… and ask them where they got their information. I’m sure they have not crunched the numbers or talked to people using it daily. Most data the skeptics quote was from the 1970’s, which was accurate back then for PV (not solar thermal), but things have changed over almost four decades.

Even if our state does not adopt a higher renewable energy portfolio I am confident that there are enough people out there using solar today who talk and share their experiences, their utility bills and their mobile app details with their neighbors, friends and family, that solar will continue to grow right here in Michigan, because it does work. We don’t get much sun but we get enough.

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The Coming Solar Electricity Transformation

The Coming Solar Electricity Transformation

John Farrell
June 11, 2013

Solar cells are unusual in that they were cost-competitive from the get-go. From the Apollo space program to highway signs to lighting for buoys, solar could replace highly expensive power from batteries or other sources and eliminate the need for the construction of electric distribution lines. 

When the Institute for Local Self-Reliance was founded in 1974, the first factory producing solar cells for terrestrial applications had just opened in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The cost of solar power was over $3.00 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), com- pared to $0.03 per kWh for grid electricity. The output from that factory the first year was sufficient to power only a few dozen homes. By the late 1980s, the price of solar was low enough that solar cells were finding their way to second homes and remote cabins off the grid. In 1990, the total installed capacity of solar was 200 megawatts (worldwide, with about 25 percent in the U.S.), sufficient to power 4,000 homes. During the ensuing decade, federal and later state incentives for solar ushered in the era of grid-connected solar. By 1999, grid connected solar projects exceeded non-grid application. Read more at Link.

Solar Seminar & Open House

 
Earth Day Seminars and solar building tour 2013Earth Day Warm-Up Saturday April 13, 2013
Seminar 
 
Attend our Solar Energy Investment Seminar at the Summit on the Park, 46000 Summit Pkwy Canton, MI 48188

Free! 10am -12noon Registration required Call: (734) 453-6746 to book a seat.  Map

Learn how solar can be the best investment you will make.
Solar works in Michigan and is a practical application for you and your family.

After the seminar join us for a tour of our solar powered building.
See, feel and touch solar in action!

Tour
Our solar powered building.
Doors open 11am – 2pm
Free, Open to all
Ask questions

On the Tour

  • 5.1 kW grid tied solar electric (PV) system
  • 2 styles of solar space heating
  • Solar hot water
  • Solatubes with new designer lenses
  • Solar attic fan
  • New this year! An Indoor Battery back-up generator. Never go down with the grid again – works anywhere there is a plug. Add solar power to it and qualify for 30% Federal Tax Credit on the solar system.
  • Watch videos of local solar homeowners share their experience of living with solar. Some of these will be on the tour. Find out how many are getting negative utility bills and actually receiving checks from the utility companies.
  • Bring your utility bills and see how solar works for you.
  • 563 MWh of electricity generated by our installations since Jan 2010. That’s enough to power the Michigan Stadium for 2.5 years.
 

Sign up today and reserve your seat. (734) 453-6746

 

New State Study Demonstrates Net Metering Benefit for Ratepayers | asavage

New State Study Demonstrates Net Metering Benefit for Ratepayers 

By Andrew Savage
January 21, 2013

The body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of solar net metering to retail electric customers continues to grow.

 

From California and Texas to New York and now Vermont, there is a growing stack of reports that make the financial case for greater deployment of distributed solar generation and net metering.

 

On the same day that a Vote Solar Initiative report was released, which found that in California solar net metering provides over $92 million in annual benefits to ratepayers, a newly published Vermont report echoed the same growing body of evidence that documents the benefits of solar net metering.

 

recent report on New York found that solar PV delivers between a 15-cent and 40-cent benefit to ratepayers and taxpayers.  Another report from Texas by the analysts at the The Brattle Group found that the total customer benefits of adding solar capacity in the Lone Star State was valued at more than $520 million.

The Vermont legislature charged the report author, the Vermont Department of Public Service, with determining if there is a cross-subsidization with… For full article go here

Green Growth Still Setting the Pace | Renewable Energy World Magazine Article

Green Growth Still Setting the Pace | Renewable Energy World Magazine Article.

By Janet L. Sawin, Contributor
October 18, 2012

REN21’s Renewables Global Status Report — an overview of renewable energy market, industry, investment and policy developments worldwide, relying on an international network of more than 400 contributors — reveals that the sector continued to expand across all its various segments.

Renewable sources supplied an estimated 16.7 percent of global final energy consumption in 2010. Of this total, modern renewable energy (as opposed to traditional biomass) accounted for an estimated 8.2 percent, a share that has increased in recent years, while the share from traditional biomass has declined slightly to an estimated 8.5 percent. During 2011, modern renewables continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors.

In the power sector, renewables accounted for almost half of the estimated 208 GW of electric capacity added globally during 2011. Wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) accounted for almost 40 percent and 30 percent of new renewable capacity respectively, followed by hydropower (nearly 25 percent). By end 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1360 GW, up 8 percent over 2010; renewables comprised more than 25 percent of total global power-generating capacity (estimated at 5360 GW in 2011) and supplied an estimated 20.3 per cent of global electricity. Non-hydropower renewables exceeded 390 GW, a 24 percent capacity increase over 2010. For full article

9 Surprising Facts About Solar Customers Infographic

Home Solar Power Discounts – One Block Off the Grid

Can Solar Panels and Historic Preservation Get Along?

Can Solar Panels and Historic Preservation Get Along?.

Kaid Benfield   Jun 25, 2012

I believe that historic preservation in the right context – a healthy neighborhood – can be intrinsically green. Most historic buildings, at least the ones constructed before the days of freeways and urban flight, are on walkable streets in relatively central locations. They represent embodied energy and materials that would be consumed if the same amount of space and the same function had to be constructed anew. Also, being built before “the thermostat age,” as my friend Steve Mouzon calls it, many of them were built with attention to climate and with locally sourced materials, giving them environmentally beneficial characteristics as a matter of design.

But, by definition, historic buildings do not have the latest technology unless it is added many years later. I agree with Steve that technology can be overrated as an environmental cure-all, but there are clearly some forms of green technology that can strengthen the environmental profile of older buildings. This raises the delicate issue of how much updating can and should occur without compromising the building’s historic character.

Full Story

Solar Top 10: SEPA List Details Key Utility Trends | Renewable Energy News Article

Solar Top 10: SEPA List Details Key Utility Trends | Renewable Energy News Article.

By Steve Leone, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
April 19, 2012

This week, the Solar Electric Power Association released a preview of its Solar Top 10, an annual look at which utilities are taking the lead of solar development. The full detailed report will come out in May. The 2011 findings show a 38 percent growth in the number of installations over the past year and a 120 percent spike in megawatts installed. SEPA expects this trajectory to continue in 2012 behind continued price drops and the build out of large-scale projects.

While we already knew that solar had its best year ever in 2011, and that final installation numbers were higher than expected, it’s still valuable to see which utilities connected the most solar, and where new high levels of deployment are being seen.

So here are some takeaways from the recently released findings:

  • Large-scale solar farms make the headlines, but smaller installations remain the bread-and-butter of the industry. In 2011, utilities interconnected over 62,500 PV systems. Thirteen utilities interconnected more than 1,000 PV systems and 22 interconnected more than 500 systems. According to the report, this volume of smaller, distributed interconnections is unlike anything the utility industry has previously managed. It’ll be interesting to see how these numbers fare next year and in 2013 when the impacts of the recently expired Section 1603 grant will be felt.

Click on title for full story.

Application fees set for Ann Arbor’s new PACE program

Application fees set for Ann Arbor’s new PACE program.

By Ryan J. Stanton
Political Reporter

The Ann Arbor City Council on Monday supported the final step to fully implement the city’s new Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

A resolution approved by council sets the application fees for the PACE program, which is a special financing mechanism to help commercial property owners in Ann Arbor undertake energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Through the PACE program, qualifying property owners are able to borrow money for energy efficiency projects ranging from $10,000 to $350,000 and then pay back the loans through special assessments added onto their tax bills for up to 10 years.

Andrew_Brix_April_4_2011_2.jpg

Andrew Brix

The program is a joint effort of the city of Ann Arbor and Clean Energy Coalition. City officials believe the availability of PACE financing will support economic stimulation across the city, create jobs and reduce operating costs for business owners.For full article go to: Link

German Solar Output Increases by 60% in 2011 | Renewable Energy News Article

German Solar Output Increases by 60% in 2011 | Renewable Energy News Article.

By Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just weeks after the solar industry installed the one millionth system in Germany, the country’s solar trade association announced that the technology accounted for three percent of total energy generation in 2011 — increasing 60 percent over 2010 to 18.6 terawatt-hours (18.6 billion kilowatt-hours).

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