Solar Energy in the Midwest

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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

Retired Michigander reports on his solar system.

 
by Mechanical Energy Systems Inc. on Thursday, August 10, 2012 Image

Retired DTE employee in Washington, MI

Income ~ $45,000 annual income

2 persons in home

Installed 5.7 kW solar system May 2010

 

Year one:

  • No energy (gas/electric) bills from May 2010 on
  • Received all income tax back for year 2010 (due to Federal Tax Credit)
  • Received $401 check  from DTE for excess generation

Year two:

  • No energy bills
  • Will not pay income tax in 2011
  • Expects a bigger check back again this year.

Next 20 years:

  • No energy bills
  • Over generation check from utility, annually

ROI

  • With DTE Solar Currents & FTC = 3-4 years
  • Without DTE Solar Currents = 5-6 years

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

Staff white paper – written by Mike Buday, CFO,MBA/MS

Measuring irradiance, temperature and angle of incidence effects on photovoltaic modules in Auburn Hills, Michigan

A practicum written by staff member for his Masters of Natural Resources and Environment degree.
Start Date:

May 1, 2009

End Date:

Aug 19, 2011

Collaborator:
United Solar Systems Corporation

Summary:United Solar Ovonic (USO) installed a photovoltaic (PV) module testing system in Auburn Hills, Michigan (Latitude 42.6978, Longitude -83.2419) in March of 2010 for the purpose of evaluating the impacts of irradiance, temperature and angle of incidence (AOI) effects on PV module performance. We considered various test-bed designs and ultimately, constructed a source-meter-based current and voltage measurement system coupled with a data acquisition system recording readings from weather-station instruments that track solar irradiance, temperature and wind speed. Current, voltage and power observations, correlated to our weather-station device readings, were collected from commercially available PV modules manufactured from mono-crystalline silicon (c-Si), amorphous silicon (a-Si) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS). We observed thermal annealing in a-Si and the effects of temperature on c-Si and CIGS. c-Si module temperatures above 25°C appear to diminish power by approximately 0.5%/°C. The results were consistent with our expectations based on existing literature. From this, we infer that the test-bed is effective  at measuring module performance.

Our results support, but do not confirm the hypothesis that a-Si modules deliver more energy (kWhrs) per peak-watt (Wp) than other PV materials. Confirming the hypothesis would require both testing a statistically significant number of PV modules and performing a quantitative analysis of the accuracy of the test-bed. This is important because PV is typically sold on a $/Wp basis. The Wp rating is based on a module’s performance under standard test conditions (STC) of 1000W/m2, 1.5 air mass (AM) and 25°C module temperature. A new PV rating system proposed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) creates a series of testing conditions based on a variety of weather conditions. USO’s PV measurement system is capable of collecting observations fitting most, but not all of these test conditions. Due to the array’s northern location, none of our observations fit the IEC’s high temperature conditions.

Research Area:

Keyword:

photovoltaic (PV)

peak-watt rating
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) proposed standard 61853-1

Donna on Radio show last weekend – hear it here!

Listen to Donna as she sets straight the myths about solar in Michigan on The Inside Outside Guys Radio show last Saturday. Her segment starts around 30:08, in the third podcast.

The Inside Outside Guys Saturday April 21th, 2012 Part 3 http://blog.theinsideoutsideguys.com/?cat=5

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

Solar Gets Cheaper, but Not Equally

Solar Gets Cheaper, but Not Equally.

In January, I plotted the size of state solar markets against their average installed cost and found surprisingly little correlation.  When Lawrence Berkeley Labs put out their 2011 version of Tracking the Sun (IV), it was possible to update the chart, which I did in two stages.

The first chart simply overlays the 2010 average installed cost on the original chart, with arrows indicating the movement of the prices in most states (I ran out of room in the small market states).   It’s almost like a rainbow rain of falling solar prices.

The Grid Price

Utilities like to compare new electricity production to their existing fleet, which means comparing new solar power projects to long-ago-paid-off (amortized) coal and nuclear power plants that can produce electricity for 3-4 cents per kWh.  But this is apples to oranges, because utilities can’t get any new electricity for that price, from any source.  

A more appropriate measure of the grid price is the marginal cost for a utility of getting wholesale power from a new power plant.  In California, this is called the “market price referent” and it’s around 12 cents per kWh.  The figure varies from state to state.  

But while the market price referent provides a reasonable comparison for the cost of utility-scale solar, it’s not the number that matters for solar installed on rooftops or near buildings.  In those cases, the power is used “behind the meter,” and depending on the type of state policy for net metering, the customer can essentially spin their electric meter backward when their solar panels produce electricity.  That means that solar power is really competing against the energy cost on a utility bill, known as the “retail price.” 

The following map shows the average retail electricity price by state across the U.S.  It ranges from 8-10 cents in the interior to 15 cents per kWh and higher on the coasts.  

For full article go to: http://energyselfreliantstates.org/

Solar power advocates challenging proposed ‘standby’ charge by Dominion Virginia | The Republic

Solar power advocates challenging proposed ‘standby’ charge by Dominion Virginia | The Republic.

RICHMOND, Va. — Solar power advocates are challenging a residential charge proposed by Dominion Virginia Power they contend would create disincentives for a renewable energy source that is already lagging in the state.

The so-called standby charge would apply to large-scale residential solar customers when their thermal panels are not generating enough electricity, typically at night. The General Assembly approved legislation that allows the standby charge for residential solar generation systems ranging from 10 kilowatt hours to 20 kilowatt hours.

The State Corporation Commission is scheduled to hear the case Thursday. Regulators typically do not immediately rule on cases.

The Solar Industries Association, which represents the interests of manufacturers, installers and suppliers of solar systems, said Dominion’s proposal is flawed, would be punitive for the small number of Virginians who rely on solar power and would discourage further investments in the renewable energy source. To read full article click on title

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