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Going Solar: The Top 5 Reasons to go Solar

Top 5 Reasons to go Solar

Although many people think that the only benefits of going solar are saving the environment and cutting electricity costs, there are also many other reasons why going solar is beneficial. Here are the top five benefits that going solar could have for you.

Environmental benefits

By installing a solar system, you can benefit from numerous environmental benefits. Some of the main ways a solar system can help the environment are by helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a decrease in dependence on fossil fuels, cleaner air and water, and stronger economic growth.

Energy independence

The United States relies heavily on nonrenewable energy sources such as oil and natural gas, but at some point, these resources will run out due to the cost and environmental damage. However, solar power is a renewable source of energy that will never run out, and by going solar you will no longer have to worry about the rising costs of nonrenewable energy sources.

Save money

By going solar you can reap monetary benefits such as savings each month, savings over decades, and a lifetime return on your investment. No matter the size of your solar system, you will instantly realize the savings on your electric bill and will continue to save on future bills. With a big enough system, you can even produce enough energy to eliminate your electric bill completely.

Add value to your home

Having a solar panel system installed on your home can increase the property value of your home by about seventeen percent, resulting in being able to ask a higher price for your home than you would have been able to before the system was installed.

Stay ahead of the curve

By installing a solar panel system on your home, you will not only be keeping up with the property owners in your community, but you will be outpacing them. By installing a solar panel system, you can outdo your neighbors by generating passive income through a solar energy investment in your home. There are also many states offering renewable energy incentives for property owners who are investing in solar panel energy systems. Once you qualify for the incentive system, your local energy company will be responsible for paying you for the clean energy produced by your solar panels, resulting in a zero-balance owed bill or a negative electricity bill.

Source: www.pickmysolar.com

Your Solar Guide: String Inverters

String Inverters

In order to function properly, solar panels must have inverters to convert the direct current electricity that your panels produce into usable alternating current electricity. One type of inverter that can be used in your solar panels is string inverters, which are one of the oldest and most reliable types of converters on the market.

What are string inverters and how do they work?

A string inverter system connects groups of solar panels in your system by “strings”. Each of these strings connects to a single inverter, most often placed on the side of your home or in your garage, where electricity is converted from direct current to alternating current electricity. Since panels are connected in strings to the inverter, if any of the panels are under-producing energy, the panels on that string will only be able to produce as much energy as the affected panel. Most string inverters are capable of handling multiple strings of panels attached to it. The size of the string inverter in kilowatts and the wattage of the panels you use will determine how many panels you can string on one inverter without wasting energy.

When should you use string inverters with a solar panel system?

String inverters can be very successful for many solar panel systems, but they may not be the best choice in some cases. Since string panel systems can only produce as much energy as the lowest-performing panel on the string, string inverters are not the best choice for solar systems that experience a lot of shade. Also, if your solar panel system will be facing different directions, a string inverter system may not be for you. Since panels facing different directions will be producing varying amounts of electricity, having a string inverter could limit the amount of energy your system may be able to produce.

What should you consider when evaluating string inverters?

There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating string inverters. The first thing to consider is efficiency. Just like the panels themselves, string inverters have varying efficiencies. An inverters efficiency is a measure of how much energy is lost in the form of heat during the conversion for DC to AC electricity. Another thing to consider is the size. Solar inverter sizing depends on several factors such as the size of your system, your geographical location, and other site-specific considerations. Warranties can also be important when looking at string inverters and most of them typically come with a product warranty between five damage to your inverter system. Lastly, price is an important factor to consider. String inverters are not typically the most expensive component of a solar system, but it is still important to consider their prices. and fifteen years. These warranties typically cover problems like manufacturer defects and environmental.

Source: www.energysage.com

Going Solar: Is Solar Power Right for You?

Is going solar right for you?

If you are thinking about using solar power in your home, it is important that you consider a few things before installing your solar panel system.

The first thing you should do is review your utility bills and see how much energy you used in the last year and look at what your costs were. You should also see what part of the total bill is for “metered” electricity, and what portion of your bill is for other items, such as delivery costs because even if the amount of metered electricity is reduced, you’ll still need to pay the utilities fixed charges.

Another thing you should consider is how you use energy and how you can reduce the amount of electricity used in your home. Making your home and appliances more energy efficient and ensuring that your home is properly weatherized can help to reduce your energy needs.

Before installing solar panels, you should also consider how long you will be in your home. A residential solar panel system is typically designed to stay on your home for at least 20 years. If you think you may move in that time span, it is important to find out how installing a system will affect your ability to sell your house. You should also be sure to ask the solar company about its policy on transferring the contract to a new homeowner after your home is sold.

It is also important that you figure out what size system you need to meet your average energy usage, and that you learn about the different products available in your area.

Solar energy systems also use one or more inverters to convert direct current electricity from the solar panels into alternating current electricity which is used by your appliances and outlets. The amount of power you get from a solar panel system depends on the average number of house of direct sunlight your roof gets, the pitch, age, and condition of your roof, the size and strength of your system, and environmental factors such as snow, dust or shade that may cover the system.

Another important thing to do before installing a solar energy system is to contact your utility to see what arrangements it makes with homeowners who produce solar power. Your utility may use “net metering,” which pays you or gives you credit for excess power your system produces during the day and returns to the grid.

Lastly, if you have a homeowner’s association you need to find out if you need their approval to install and system.

Source: www.consumer.ftc.gov

Top 10 Solar Panel Myths Busted

Top 10 Solar Panel Myths Busted

Even as residential solar panel installation becomes more popular many myths about solar panels and solar energy are still very widespread. Here are the top 10 myths and the facts that prove them untrue.

Solar panels do not work well in cold climates

Typically, most solar panels work best in cold, sunny climates. Because conductivity increases in cold temperatures, having panels in cold, sunny climates helps make electricity flow more efficiently.

Solar power will get more efficient, so I should wait to buy or install

Although many companies are still working to develop new and improved solar panels, the current technology has been used since the 1960s and is very effective and well established. The potential amount of efficiency you may gain, and money you may save, from future panels, is very small compared to the panels readily available today.

I will not live in my home long enough to make my investment in solar back

Depending on the system, solar panels can pay for themselves within a 6 to 15-year time-frame and combined with the best state and federal tax incentives, you have the potential to start seeing a return on your investment in 2 to 4 years. Even if you do not plan to be in your house for the next 15 years, solar panels increase the resale value of a home by about $15,000, so you can still get a good return on your investment when you sell your home.

Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun

Solar panels are positioned to maximize sun exposure when they are installed, meaning that no type of tracking system is necessary for performance. Some newer solar panels do include tracking systems for an extra cost, but it is not necessary that you purchase this for your panels to be successful.

Solar panels do not operate well in snowy or cloudy conditions

Snow and clouds can reduce the amount of solar energy produced by solar panels, but they can still work efficiently. In snowy climates, most often panels are positioned in a way that allows for the snow to slide off once it has accumulated.

Solar panels require constant maintenance

Solar panels are built to be durable and require minimal maintenance. Many professionals recommend an annual inspection of the panels to keep them in top condition, but not much further maintenance is required.

Solar panels will look unattractive

Ultimately, the appeal of solar panels is subjective, but many professionals can install them in locations and positions that minimize the visual impact.

Solar panels will damage my roof

Professional installers are skilled at installing panels on all roof types. These professionals will not damage a homeowners roof, and in many cases, solar panels can even extend the life of the roof by protecting it from the elements.

Only a few states offer financial incentives for installing panels

Almost every state in the United States offers incentives for solar energy. In addition to any state incentive offered, the federal government is also offering a 30% tax credit for any solar systems installed by the end of 2019.

Most solar systems will store excess energy in batteries

Most home solar power systems do not store energy in batteries. They are instead connected to the power grid via net metering, and homeowners are credited with the energy that their solar panels generate and add to the electrical grid.

Source: www.solarpowerauthority.com

Going Solar: Ground-Mounted vs. Rooftop-Mounted Solar Panels

Ground-Mounted vs. Rooftop-Mounted Solar Panels

When thinking about going solar, one main thing you will want to consider is if you want ground-mounted or rooftop-mounted solar panels. While both are good options, they both offer different benefits and it is important that you choose the one best suited for you and your needs.

Ground-Mounted Panels

If you have a large yard or a lot of space near your home, ground-mounted panels could be the right choice for you. Having a large amount of space can allow you to install a much larger solar energy system, and will free you from any sizing restraints due to the size of your roof.

Installing ground-mounted panels can help ensure that you are getting maximum solar energy out of your panels. Solar panels are supposed to face either south or west to get the most sunlight possible. If your roof does not face either of these directions then ground-mounted panels could be a good option for you. Since they are not restricted to the direction of your roof, you can install ground-mounted panels in any direction which could potentially allow for more sunlight.

While solar panels are typically low maintenance, there may be a time when you need to clean them or have a repair done and since ground-mounted panels are low and easily accessible this will be an easy task. The only thing to keep in mind is that owners of ground-mounted panels will need to be sure to keep them free of snow in cold weather since the snow will not be able to slide off if it has built up high on the ground around the panel.

Ground-mounted panels can be a great option for someone with lots of space, however, a couple of things to keep in mind are that they tend to be a little more costly and can sometimes be very noticeable in your yard. Installing the panels on the ground requires additional time, materials, and labor so they can tend to be more costly. They also typically sit a few inches to several feet above the ground and can tend to look bulky, so you may want to consider rooftop panels if you have a very manicured lawn and garden.

Rooftop-Mounted Panels

With rooftop-mounted panels costs are usually lower than ground-mounted panels. Rooftop panels are much more common and they are usually easier and faster to install. One of the only extra costs you may want to consider is the condition of your roof. Panels must be installed on a roof that is in good condition and is expected to last at least 20 years, so if your roof is in bad condition you may have to have it fixed before you can install your panels.

Rooftop panels also offer the benefit of being less noticeable, and can even sometimes be installed on the back of your house so that they are not as visible from the front. They can also help save you space in your yard by being installed on your roof instead, however, this can sometimes limit you on how large of a system you are able to install.

With rooftop panels, two of the main issues that could arise are positioning and cleaning. Since they are being placed on your roof, the panels are restricted by the type of roof, the angle, and the direction of the roof. Also, with the panels being up on the roof owners will have to be more cautious when it comes to cleaning their panels and will possibly need to invest in a professional cleaning and check up each year.

Innovations in Solar: Australia’s Largest Solar Development Begins Construction

Australia begins construction on their largest solar project to date.

From pv magazine Australia.

A project boasting 1.5 GW of solar PV and 500 MWh of energy storage broke ground 100 km north of Brisbane on Wednesday, becoming Australia’s largest solar development to enter construction. While no public announcement was made, renewables industry body the Smart Energy Council posted a photo from the ground breaking ceremony today on Twitter.

Not much is known about the developer, Sunshine Energy, as the plant appears to be its first and only project, judging from its website. According to a company extract from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Sunshine Energy Australia was registered in 2017 in Mitchell, in the Australian Capital Territory, with a headquarters in Melbourne. Its principle shareholder is Hong Kong-based Eastern Union Limited, and the bulk of its shares are owned by former director Anthony John Youssef and current director Chi Man Li, both of whom have a residence in Australia.

The massive project was given the green light by Queensland’s Somerset Council in mid November, following a review. The council noted the application had been referred to various government departments and agencies for input.

“This was a complex development application put together by Ethos Urban planning consultants, who have been involved in other large infrastructure projects throughout Australia, on behalf of Sunshine Energy Australia Pty Ltd,” Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said at the time.

The plant is set to sprawl across 2,055 hectares east of Harlin along the D’Aguilar Highway, and be developed in three 500 MW stages. It will connect to the 275 kV high voltage national distribution network in Queensland.

Alongside the 1.5 GW solar farm, the project will feature two substations and a 500 MWh energy storage facility to be added later, putting the estimated cost at around $3.5 billion.

“The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570 MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek, which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area,” Lehmann had previously stated, noting the site was attractive because of its proximity to the high voltage power network and Brisbane.

Grid and Economic Boost

According to the project website, the solar farm will be able to generate, on average, around 2,259 GWh of green energy per year and supply around 300,000 Queensland households.

The development is being mooted as bringing an economic boost to the region, with the expected creation of 1,000 jobs – on-site and logistically – plus 30-60 permanent positions.

According to Sunshine Energy, the solar farm is expected to require approximately 6-8 months for the initial site preparation and further 16-24 months to complete construction. It could eventually expand to a whopping 2 GW within 36 months, depending on the suitability and size of the land around the site.

This project dwarfs any other PV plant under construction in Australia, such as Innogy’s 349 MWp Limondale Solar Farm and Maoneng’s 255 MWp Sunraysia Solar Farm in New South Wales or Total Eren’s 256.5 MWp Kiamal Solar Farm, in Victoria.

As for the energy storage component, Sunshine Energy’s website refers to a patented solution called SEA-Power (SEAP). It says each SEAP unit consists of 4 MW of lithium-ion battery storage, a battery management system (BMS), fire suppression equipment, thermal management system, switchgear and other components, housed in a 40-foot shipping container. Sunshine Energy says that the SEAP solution can provide a range of grid services, along with “renewable energy smoothing and power quality management.”

With the capacity of 500 MWh, the Sunshine Energy battery will be among the nation’s largest, including the South Australian Tesla big battery (110 MW/129 MWh) at the Hornsdale Power Reserve and the construction-ready 200 MW solar PV+120 MWh battery project that form part of the Solar River Project in South Australia, the size of which could double at a later stage.

Another gigawatt project was waved through in Queensland two years ago, when Singapore-based Equis Energy secured approval to begin constructing the 1 GW Wandoan South Solar Projects.

Meanwhile, Australia’s other GW renewable energy projects are still awaiting a regulatory nod – a 4 GW renewable energy hub for New South Wales proposed by Energy Estate and MirusWind, and the 11 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub , which is planned to export power to Southeast Asia via subsea cables and supply big miners and green hydrogen projects in the Pilbara region, in northwest WA put forward by a consortium comprising Vestas, Intercontinental Energy, CWP Energy Asia and Macquarie Group.

Going Solar: Net Metering

What is Net Metering?

Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. Many states have passed net metering laws. In other states, utilities may offer net metering programs voluntarily or as a result of regulatory decisions. Differences between states’ legislation and implementation mean that the benefits of net metering can vary widely for solar customers in different areas of the country.

What Is Net Metering?

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a PV system on the home’s rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods where the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output. Customers are only billed for their “net” energy use. On average, only 20-40% of a solar energy system’s output ever goes into the grid. Exported solar electricity serves nearby customers’ loads.

Giving Customers Control Over Their Electricity Bills

Net metering allows utility customers to generate their own electricity cleanly and efficiently. During the day, most solar customers produce more electricity than they consume; net metering allows them to export that power to the grid and reduce their future electric bills. California public agencies and schools will save $2.5 billion in electricity costs over the next 30 years using net metering.

Creating Jobs & Encouraging Private Investment

Net metering provides substantial statewide economic benefits in terms of jobs, income and investment. Net metering increases demand for solar energy systems, which in turn creates jobs for the installers, electricians, and manufacturers who work in the solar supply chain. Today, the solar industry employs more than 250,000 American workers in large part due to strong state net metering policies which have allowed the solar industry to thrive.

Protecting the Electric Grid

Unfortunately, some utilities perceive net metering policies as lost revenue opportunities. In fact, net metering policies create a smoother demand curve for electricity and allow utilities to better manage their peak electricity loads. By encouraging generation near the point of consumption, net metering also reduces the strain on distribution systems and prevents losses in long-distance electricity transmission and distribution.

Source: Solar Energy Industries Association 

Solar Revolution: Younger Generation Pushes South Africa Toward Solar Energy

A major energy crisis has affected millions of peoples’ livelihoods in South Africa. A decade of mismanagement and corruption has left the national electricity grid close to collapse, regularly plunging much of the nation into darkness.

Widespread blackouts can cost the country’s economy up to $284 million every day. But the energy shortages are also spurring a new generation of entrepreneurs, as renewable energy is increasingly being seen as the answer to the problem.

One thing South Africa has a lot of is sunshine – 2,500 hours a year on average, according to the weather bureau, which makes it ideal for the country’s solar power revolution. It’s a revolution led by a younger generation which has no allegiance to old ways of doing things.

0422-ctm-emafricacleanenergy-patta-1835311-640x360.jpg
With South Africa’s national electricity grid close to collapse, widespread blackouts and energy shortages are spurring a new generation of solar energy entrepreneurs.  CBS NEWS

“For our generation climate change is obvious; we not only experience it, but we’re not threatened by what it means to change the ways of doing business in order to respond to that,” said Fumani Thembi, a co-founder of Pele, a company committed to building renewable energy plants across Africa.

Their plant at Touws River, near Cape Town, contributes enough energy to power 36,000 households. It’s cheap, it’s clean and – unlike coal – in endless supply.

Thembi said, “I think it’s time, it’s history and perhaps also opportunity, for us to finally get on a development path that is sustainable as the African continent.”

Pele has given residents here a 5 percent stake in their company. And it also supplies electricity to the Touws River Primary School. Most of the children here will grow up only knowing solar energy, which not only powers their school but provides them with hidden educational benefits. They’ve cut their electricity bill by half – a huge saving for a school servicing an impoverished community. Deputy principal Sidney Louw said, “It’s cheap, it’s clean electricity. No pollution, and it only uses the sun.”

His 10-year-old students agree. Jo-Marie Matthys told correspondent Debora Patta, “It’s pretty mind-blowing, because it just looks like windows, but it’s actually generators, and it makes its own power from the sun.”

And it’s that power that could ensure the survival of South Africa’s internationally-renowned wine country. In Franschhoek, just outside Cape Town, the switch to solar has been borne out of necessity, on the back of more than three years of drought. Constant power outages have had a dire effect on the farming industry.

One 300-year-old fruit farm uses only renewable energy. Farmer Frans Van der Merwe says it was cheaper to build a floating solar farm – a continental first – than to plant more orchards. “We have taken so much from this Earth, that I think it’s time that we give something back,” he told Patta.

Giving back in a way that’s good for business, and good for Planet Earth.

Check out our Earth Matters blog for more in our Earth Day series!© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Solar Development on Public Lands

Image result for solar on public lands

Solar Development on Public Lands

The debate over developing solar energy projects on public land has proven to be a controversial topic. The article below describes the benefits of solar development on public land.

Article:Wilderness.org

Solar development on public lands offers many benefits, from reducing the threat of climate change to creating green jobs. Large-scale projects can have serious impacts on the land, so it is important that they are built in the right places and the right ways.

By focusing on development in smart places and off-setting or mitigating the impacts, we can:

  • Protect wildlands and sensitive wildlife habitat.
  • Facilitate responsible development by taking advantage of nearby existing roads and power lines. This makes development faster, cheaper and better for the environment, solar developers and consumers.
  • Restore and repair damaged wildlands and wildlife habitats in areas where renewable energy development is occurring.

The Wilderness Society continues to work in collaboration with:

  • Conservation partners at regional and national organizations. 
  • Solar developers. 
  • Government agencies, including the BLM and Department of Energy. 
  • Utilities that manage the power grid and deliver power to consumers.

Going Solar: Installation Process

Solar Installation Process

Installing solar on your home is a big investment. Our goal at Solar Chief is to create a smooth and simple transition to solar. We strive to educate our customers and maintain communication throughout the installation process. We’ll walk you through the options in our Free Site Evaluation and Free Quote, eliminate the options that won’t work, and provide you with a solution that you’ll be happy with.

If you ever have any questions about solar or the installation process, then please contact us at 803-602-3397 where we will be happy to assist you in any way.

Going Solar Steps

Consulting
We’ll walk you through the decision process step by step to ensure the quality of your investment.

Design
Once you’re signed up, we’ll begin the design process of your new solar panel system.

Financing
There are many options available when it comes to paying for your new investment, we’ll help you choose the best one.

Permitting
Permitting must be obtained for your new panels—we’ll assist you to make sure proper permits are received.

Installation
After we’re all set up, it’s time to install your new system for your home or business.

Monitoring
After we install your system and turn it on, we have maintenance packages available to help keep your system in top shape.