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Solar Impacts on Wildlife

Solar Impacts on Wildlife

The goal of solar installs is to reduce environmental impacts. So it is important to understand if the installation of solar projects will harm wildlife. In a world where oil spills are presently contaminating the habitat, food, and water supply around them, solar power is looking like a great clean solution. Below is research done on the impact large scale farm projects have on wildlife.

Solar modules require the use of other electrical equipment, such as inverters and connection boxes, which emit some noise. The frequency of most inverters is 50-60 Hz, the same as AC electricity in your home or commercial building, which is within the range audible to humans and well below the higher frequencies used to repel animals. Sound is generally not audible at the edge of the fenced boundary, but if audible, the sound is similar in volume to background noises and dissipates to inaudible 50 – 150 feet from the edge of the boundary. 

Solar and Birds

The birds are much better off with solar panels than in oil spills. But not all renewable energy is a safe haven for animals. Collisions with wind turbines cause bird deaths everyday. Birds are unlikely to be impacted by stationary solar array installation.

Solar modules create an opportunity for avian interactions. PV modules are generally less reflective than windows and have been installed and monitored for avian impacts at numerous airports. Nonetheless, avian injuries and mortalities may occur through collisions with power lines, vehicles, fencing, and solar equipment and structures such as modules. There are some concerns that birds might misconstrue solar installations for bodies of water and attempt to land on them, but this has not been proven. A 2017 comprehensive survey of all solar and bird interactions in the UK determined that “bird collision risk from solar panels is very low. There is likely to be more of a collision risk to birds presented by infrastructure associated with solar PV developments, such as overhead power lines.”

Source: Energy.gov

Financial Incentives: Impact on Property Value

Solar Homes Sell for a Premium

Buying a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. A recent study found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades, just like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without. In 2008, California homes with energy efficient features and PV were found to sell faster than homes that consume more energy. Keep in mind, these studies focused on homeowner-owned solar arrays.

Source: Energy.gov

Going Solar: Adding to Existing System

As always contact Solar Chief to discuss the best option for the most efficient, reliable, and cost effective system. Solar Chief offers Free Site Evaluations and Free Quotes.

Why add to a existing solar array?

  • Increased Electrical Usage: becoming more relaxed about energy use, example- purchasing an electric vehicle, expanding your home
  • Smaller Installments: expand system slowly, offsets electrical bill, financial position

When upgrading your solar panel system, selecting identical solar panels is the best bet to ensure your solar array is efficient. The type of inverter is based on your system size, so your original inverter might not have the capacity to handle additional electricity. There are many different options when adding to your solar arrays. If your home’s roof is out of space for your expansion, you might consider a ground-mounted system. Consult Solar Chief to understand your best options for solar expansion.

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.

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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.

Going Solar: Solar Homes Sell for more

Solar Homes Sell for More

A new report published by Zillow found that homes with residential solar systems sell for 4.1% more than their non-solar counterparts.

A common if disingenuous argument against the adoption of residential solar is that not only can systems be expensive, but that expense is a lost cause because solar systems devalue homes and the homes around them. Directly contradicting this, Zillow has released a report stating that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more than their generation-naked counterparts.

The premium was calculated by comparing sale prices and listings from March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019, controlling for bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and location.

This 4.1% average equates to $9,274 on average nationally, though the monetary mark is much more regionally dependent. For example, Riverside, California’s price premium average is 2.7%, almost 1/3 lower than the national average, however that 2.7% represents $9,926, obviously higher than the average and reflective of higher property costs in California.

The mark that really stands out both as a percentage and a numerical value is New York City. Solar homes in the Big Apple represent a bigger differential national average at 5.4%, which, and it’s well known how expensive property is in the city, translates into $23,989 numerically.

The Zillow report outlines the reasoning for this sale premium is a mixture of investment and taste. On the investment front, some homeowners are willing to pay more for a house with a system, rather than buying a different house and then working out the logistics of installing a system and paying for the materials and installation, which in some places could be more than the pre-installed premium. In other cases, solar systems aren’t the only features that contribute to this premium, as other luxuries like heated floors factor in.

With these variables considered, some buyers just want the system purely to see relief on their electrical bills if they know that they’re high energy users or because they are environmentally conscious.

Source: PV USA

Starbucks launches solar energy test that will power 360 Texas stores

The coffee giant commits to reducing emissions with solar energy.

Starbucks continues its move toward solar energy with the
commitment to power 360 Texas-area Starbucks stores in the Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano and Arlington markets. In total, the Seattle-based coffee giant estimates that the eight farms will reduce their stores’ carbon emissions by approximately 101,000 tons annually.

“Starbucks and other forward-looking companies are carrying out their bold renewable energy targets, and Cypress Creek is proud to provide the innovative and tailored energy solutions needed to bring their vision to life,” Matthew McGovern, CEO of Cypress Creek Renewables said in a statement.

This is not the first major investment Starbucks has made in solar energy. In May 2017, Starbucks announced that 149,000 solar panels would be powering 600 stores in North Carolina, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The North Carolina project represented a new phase for Starbucks’ green energy investments, while this latest partnership in Texas is another chapter in the company’s reinvigorated commitment.

“Our long-standing commitment to renewable energy supports our greener retail initiative and demonstrates our aspiration to sustainable coffee, served sustainably,” Rebecca Zimmer, Starbucks director of global environmental impact, said in a statement. “Now, we are investing in new, renewable energy projects in our store communities, which we know is something our partners and customers can appreciate for their local economy and for the environment.”

In September 2018, Starbucks announced a“Starbucks Greener Stores” commitment to building and operating 10,000 “greener” Starbucks stores by the year 2025, an initiative expected to save the company upwards of $50 million in utilities costs over the next decade. Each of those Starbucks stores will focus on energy and water efficiency, invest in solar and wind power, reduce waste, and will be built and operated with sustainably sourced materials.

Source: Nations Restaurant News

Your Solar Guide: How many panels is needed for your project?

Transitioning to Solar

Investing and transitioning to solar can seem complex but Solar Chief is here to help. Our company prides itself on educating customers on everything solar. Solar Chief wants to ensure every project is successful in producing the amount of energy needed. Faults can occur when using an online app to calculator the number of panels needed because the app doesn’t calculate all the circumstances. Solar Chief offers FREE proposals and FREE site evaluations to provide an accurate estimate.

How many solar panels is needed for your project?
Depends on the amount of electricity used and location of the panels.

How to estimate your energy needs

Energy Efficiency of Home

Make energy-saving upgrades to maximize efficiency before adding solar. Completing a home energy audit can significantly lower your energy bill. The process is not costly and many adjustments can be done yourself. Local utility companies offer energy saving tips, discounts, and rebates. SCE&G offers free Home Energy Check-ups. Below are some examples of energy upgrades.

  • Inspect doors, windows, roof, and attic for leaks
  • Replace your old bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs (SCE&G Discounts)
  • Update to energy efficient appliances (SCE&G Appliances Recycling Rebate)
  • Install energy-saving smart thermostats (example: Nest)
  • Replace air filters

Assess Solar Potential and Limitation

The location of your project determines the solar potential of the solar array. PV systems use direct and indirect sunlight but the efficiency can be impacted. Look at your areas yearly sun exposure.
The limitations of your solar array can be created by shading (trees or buildings), roof conditions (age, size, material), and HOA (homeowner association) restrictions. Ask Solar Chief to provide recommendations to reach a peak efficiency of your system.

Assess Options of Solar

The solar option chosen could affect the number of panels in your system. Determining your use for solar energy will help configure the amount of electricity your system needs to produce. Price and ownership play a role in planning your array. Some panels can produce more electricity than others. Do you want a rooftop or ground-mounted solar system? Do you want to be connected to the grid?

Estimate Projects Solar Electricity Needs

Estimating the amount of electricity a system needs to produce is the last step. Addressing the efficiency of your home will lower the amount of energy needed to be produced. Solar Chief wants to create the most accurate energy estimation. Analyzing your power bill can determine the number of kilowatts per hour used per month. Then we will determine what your system would need to be in kW in order to meet your kWh needs.

Factors to Consider

Importance of knowing peak usage. Some homes use more energy in summer or winter and you want to have a system prepared for peak loads.

Consider any planned changes. If you will be purchasing an electric vehicle or are planning a home addition, your electricity needs may increase.

Importance of your home’s energy efficiency. If you are continuing to make significant changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency, you may need less electricity than you used in the past.

Net Metering. If you want to sell back power to the electric company, then you need to produce more power than you consume.

There is a regulatory cap on the system KW size permitted on top of your roof.

There are so many factors determining the size of your system. Contact Solar Chief to find out more. Thanks for reading!

Source: Energy.gov

Going Solar: Grid Connection

What is Grid Connection?

There are various factors to consider when going solar. The type of solar setup will determine your electricity connection to the local utility’s electricity grid. The type of system selected is decided by your needs.

Grid Connected Solar System is connected to the local utility’s electricity grid. Excess electricity generated can be exported back to the grid. Supplemental electricity can be transmitted from the grid to meet energy demands.

Grid Connected Solar and Battery System collect solar power from your panels to use and store in your battery for backup use. The system connects to the grid, which brings the advantage of net metering. Net metering is a solar incentive that allows you to store energy in the electric grid. The excess power your solar panels generate is sent to the grid, which is exchanged for the option of grid electricity if your system is under-producing like during nighttime.

Off the Grid Solar System is entirely self-sufficient and has no way to use the grid to supply the household with electricity. Off-grid systems are not joined to any utility power lines. Batteries store the unused solar energy for nighttime use.

Sources: Energy Sage