Solar Energy in the Midwest

Posts tagged ‘Renewable energy’

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.

Ohio Renewable Energy Law Cuts Costs, Emissions

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Five years after Ohio’s renewable energy standard took effect – and a few months before it will be challenged again in the state legislature – an economist with the state’s utility regulator tried to assess how the law was working out.

Tim Benedict’s verdict: “We’re seeing more of the good than of the bad.”

More specifically, his study concludes that the addition of renewable sources of power is modestly pushing down the wholesale cost of power in the state, while also reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced.

According to Benedict’s calculations, the renewable generators now producing power have reduced the cost of wholesale power by about 0.15 percent. When his study looked at the projected power from all renewable projects that the state has approved, including those not yet operational, the figure is closer to 0.5 percent. Read more here.

Comment: We love what we are reading but just checked our Michigan bill and the renewable surcharge is still there. – Val

Chinese Zombie Solar Companies Emerging After Years of Subsidies

Interesting read about the evolution of solar and the influence of China in the global picture. Puts new light on Solyndra. Read Here.

 

 

 

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Carbon Emmisions avoided by our solar PV installations.

Carbon Emmisions avoided by our solar PV installations.

The emissions data here is from the EPA eGrid site that reflects true carbon waste for our particular coal burning grid.

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

 

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

Clean-Powered New Zealand: Not Living In Caves

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Most clean energy sites get reader comments like: “You hippies all just want us to live in caves!” As if the only actual usable energy is fossil energy.

Anyone who writes about renewable energy or climate policy soon discovers your fear that if we replace coal and gas electricity, if we switch to wind and solar, hydro and geothermal, biomass and ocean power, that means there will be no more life as we know it.

nz-80percent-renewable-no-dark-caves

mage via Shutterstock/MattJones

We will descend from the first-world standard of living we are used to — to living in caves.

Well, perhaps I can show you first-hand experience of what it might be like, living in a nation that is 80 percent powered by renewable energy, because I’ve lived in one for almost a year.

I moved from California, with its typical American first world standard of living, to New Zealand — with a pretty much identical standard of living, 80 percent powered by renewable energy.

I can attest that, other than subway train drivers, New Zealander’s don’t spend much time in dark caves.

If you live in one of the states in the U.S. that is over 80 percent coal-powered, you might be unable to imagine such a radically different way of keeping the lights on. But you’d find that your actual standard of living will not change if your life is 80 percent clean powered.

For full article go to: New Zealand

 

Solar hot air video in snowy Michigan

A video demonstrating solar hot air system on an overcast snowy day here in Michigan. When the sun shines the system rocks, but even without direct shadow the house stays warm on this day.

We are installing ten of these systems in Oakland / Livingston county. Newer systems to add to our hundreds already in place for decades.

A Letter from our CEO – Donna Napolitano

Energy, who has it? Who wants it? Who can own it?

In these days of economic uncertainty one thing is certain is our unquenchable thirst for more energy, a valued precious commodity that is not only in demand, but growing more precious every day.  Our life is built around the need for power from the moment we awake to the radio in the morning and step into the heated bedroom floor that warms our feet, to walking into the kitchen to grab a steaming cup of coffee set to be ready the night before, and that is just the first few minutes of our day.  Let’s face it; running our daily life is built around the need for power.  It is the one thing that brings us our secure life style, allows us to communicate, manage our household, our business, our social contacts, and our American life style every day.  Who has it? Who wants it?  Who can own it?  You can!

Since the day Thomas Edison invented the use of electricity with the light bulb, we have been on a journey to bring energy to our lives in a clean, reliable, cost-effective manner.  Available now is the technology to harness the power of the sun, the inexhaustible fusion plant, for use in our homes, businesses and everyday life.  Solar panels convert those light waves into usable energy sent through the power lines to our home or business.  By installing solar panels, you now can invest in our own energy plant and curtail the raising cost of energy in the future.

The dollars you sent to the utility company month after month and will never see again can now be directed to financing vehicles that allow you to invest in our own energy plant.  Think about it, where can you put your money today in a secure investment that grows at 8% – 15% a year, has a ROI of 8-10 years, and will actually pay you thousands over the life of the product, 25-30 years.  To make the pot even sweeter, Federal tax credits are available for investors at 30% of the entire investment until December 31, 2016.  Another opportunity is the production of REC (renewable energy credits), traded on the open market can add an income to your portfolio of $200 – $800 per kWh.  With many more states jumping on the band wagon to boost use of renewable energy they offer the options to purchase your REC’s and add them to their portfolio.

Many investors are holding on to their dollars or capital, unsure where to invest to guard against loss. This investment can offer you stability and put you in control as you monitor your energy usage and patterns and accumulate credits on your utility bill.  Spinning the dial backwards on your energy meter can bring a smile to your face.

Solar is one of the only products that I have heard potential buyers ask “What is the ROI” (return on investment).  Take a look around your home, what have you invested in that will pay you back in the next ten years? Surely not the new big screen TV, Bose surround speaker system, refrigerator, granite counter tops, or the new car in the driveway, in many cases these items will no longer operate and be long gone.  Solar is one of the only products you can purchase that appreciates over time as energy prices rise.    This investment will also add value to your home.  Fanny May and Freddie Mack have released statements that support investment in solar will add value to your home.  The installation of even a small system of     3 kW (3,000 watts) will add approximately $16,500.00 to the value of your house.  Compare 2 houses side-by-side, both have the same square footage, style, and design.  One has a solar system and no or low energy bills and the other pays high ever rising energy cost each month increasing your monthly operating cost, what would your choice be?

May I suggest you look to the clean, renewable, energy for your power?

As our demand for power grows and the resources of coal, nuclear, and oil release their toxic fuses and deplete our natural resources, a clean solution is at hand.  You may be the first one on your block to move forward with solar power, but you could be an example for energy independence with cash in your wallet and a positive influence on our children’s future.  – Donna Napolitano

 

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