Alternative Energy Source

Sun – The Eternal Energy Source

Solar power system – In the 1880s, selenium photovoltaic (PV) cells were developed that could convert light into electricity with 1-2% efficiency (“the efficiency of a solar cell is the percentage of available sunlight converted by the photovoltaic cell into electricity”), but how the conversion happened was not understood. Photovoltaic power therefore “remained a curiosity for many years, since it was very inefficient at turning sunlight into electricity.” It was not until Albert Einstein proposed an explanation for the “photoelectric effect” in the early 1900s, for which he won a Nobel Prize, that people began to understand the related photovoltaic effect.

Solar technology advanced to roughly its present design in 1908 when William J. Bailey of the Carnegie Steel Company invented a collector with an insulated box and copper coils.” By the mid-1950s Bell Telephone Labs had achieved 4% efficiency, and later 11% efficiency, with silicon PV cells. From then on, interest in solar power intensified. During the late 1950s and 1960s, the space program took an active role in the development of photovoltaics. “The cells were perfect sources of electric power for satellites because they were rugged, lightweight and could meet the low power requirements reliably.” Unfortunately, the cells were not practical for use on earth due to the high cost of making them efficient and lightweight, so further research was necessary.

Solar energy may have had great potential , but it was left on the backburner whenever fossil fuels were more affordable and available. “Only in the last few decades when growing energy demands, increasing environmental problems and declining fossil fuel resources made us look to alternative energy options have we focused our attention on truly exploiting this tremendous resource.”
For instance, the US Department of Energy funded the installation and testing of over 3,000 PV systems during the 1973-1974 oil embargo. By the late 1970s, energy companies and government agencies had invested in the PV industry, and “a tremendous acceleration in module development took place.” Solar energy improvements were again sought during the Gulf War in the 1990s.

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Producing electricity from solar energy

Electricity from solar energy

There are several advantages of photovoltaic solar power that make it “”one of the most promising renewable energy sources in the world.” It is non-polluting, has no moving parts that could break down, requires little maintenance and no supervision, and has a life of 20-30 years with low running costs. It is especially unique because no large-scale installation is required. Remote areas can easily produce their own supply of electricity by constructing as small or as large of a system as needed. Solar power generators are simply distributed to homes, schools, or businesses, where their assembly requires no extra development or land area and their function is safe and quiet. As communities grow, more solar energy capacity can be added, “thereby allowing power generation to keep in step with growing needs without having to overbuild generation capacity as is often the case with conventional large scale power systems.” Compare those characteristics to those of coal, oil, gas, or nuclear power, and the choice is easy. Solar energy technologies offer a clean, renewable and domestic energy source.

Photovoltaic power even has advantages over wind power, hydropower, and solar thermal power. The latter three require turbines with moving parts that are noisy and require maintenance. Solar energy is most sought today in developing countries, the fastest growing segment of the photovoltaics market. People go without electricity as the sun beats down on the land, making solar power the obvious energy choice. “Governments are finding its modular, decentralized character ideal for filling the electric needs of the thousands of remote villages in their countries.” It is much more practical than the extension of expensive power lines into remote areas, where people do not have the money to pay for conventional electricity.

India is becoming one of the world’s main producers of PV modules, with plans to power 100,000 villages and install solar-powered telephones in its 500,000 villages. By 2000, Mexico plans to have electrified 60,000 villages with solar power. Zaire ‘s Hospital Bulape serves 50,000 outpatients per year and is run completely on solar power, from air conditioning to x-ray equipment. And in Moroccan bazaars, carpets, tin ware, and solar panels lie side by side for sale. Probably the most outstanding example of a country’s commitment to solar power is in Israel .
In 1992, over half of all households (700,000) heated their water with solar energy systems. And there are 50,000 new installations every year. Solar power is just as practical in populated areas connected to the local electrical power grid as it is in remote areas. “An average home has more than enough roof area to produce enough solar electricity to supply all of its power needs. With an inverter, which converts direct current (DC) power from the solar cells to alternating current (AC), which is what most home appliances run on, a solar home can look and operate very much like a home that is connected to a power line.”

Household energy supply is but one use of solar power. There are actually four broad categories that can be identified for solar energy use: industrial, rural habitation, grid-connected, and consumer/indoor. Industrial uses represent the largest applications of solar power in the past 30 years. “Telecommunications, oil companies, and highway safety equipment all rely on solar power for dependable, constant power far from any power lines.” Roadside call boxes and lighted highway signs rely on the sun’s energy in order to provide reliable services without buried cable connections or diesel generators. Navigational systems such as marine buoys and other unmanned installations in harsh remote areas are also ideal applications for solar power because “the load demands are well known and the requirements for reliable power are the highest.” Rural habitation includes “cabins, homes, villages, clinics, schools, farms, as well as individually powered lights and small appliances.” Grid-connected systems pair solar power with an existing grid network in order to supply a commercial site with enough energy to meet a high demand, or to supplement a family’s household supply. Consumer/indoor uses of PV cells include watches and calculators; PV modules power computers and radios.

The practicality and environmentally safe nature of solar power is influencing people worldwide, which is evident in equipment sales. According to Seimens Solar, production of PV cells and modules increased threefold from 40 MW in 1990 to about 120 MW in 1998. “Worldwide sales have been increasing at an average rate of about 15% every year during the last decade . We believe that there is a realistic possibility for the market to continue to grow at about a 15% rate into the next decade. At this rate, the world production capacity would be 1000 MW by 2010, and photovoltaics could be a $5 billion industry.”

There are only two primary disadvantages to using solar power: amount of sunlight and cost of equipment. The amount of sunlight a location receives “varies greatly depending on geographical location, time of day, season and clouds. The southwestern United States is one of the world’s best areas for sunlight . Globally, other areas receiving very high solar intensities include developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America .” See also sustainable house design But a person living in Siberia would not benefit much from this renewable resource. And while “solar energy technologies have made huge technological and cost improvements, [they]are still more expensive than traditional energy sources.”

However solar equipment will eventually pay for itself in 2 to 5 years depending on h ow much sun a particular location receives. Then the user will have a virtually free energy source until the end of the equipment’s working life, according to a paper called “Energy Payback Time of Crystalline Silicon Solar Modules.” Future improvements are projected to decrease the payback time to 1 to 3 years. The best way of lowering the cost of solar energy is to improve the cell’s efficiency, according to Larry Kazmerski, Director of the DOE’s National Center for Photovoltaics. “As the scientists and researchers at the NCPV push the envelope of solar-cell efficiency, we can begin to visualize the day when energy from the sun will be generating a significant portion of the country’s electric power demand. ” Any improvements and subsequent cost cuts will also be vital to space applications.Also try finding the right Electric company in order to save money. Power companies can help you benefit with decisions such as this. As the price of solar power lowers and that of conventional fuels rises, photovoltaics “is entering a new era of international growth.” So much so, that solar power “will remain an excellent energy option, long after the momentary fossil fuel model fades into smoke.”

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Future solar business

Renewable Energy

A THEnergy analysis exemplarily shows the mining sector why the timing is excellent for intensive energy consumers to commit to solar and wind energy The price for crude oil is falling, and the diesel price is following. This development is triggered partly by the demand side, as China’s economy is not growing as quickly as expected. We can however see a more interesting development on the supply side. OPEC is sitting on the driver’s seat of the recent oil price tumble. The price of the OPEC basket of twelve crudes recently fell below USD 28.50 per barrel.

A dumping-like strategy by OPEC seems to be aimed at preventing long-term investment by other oil producing nations. An oil price in the twenties means hardly a dozen nations can produce oil economically. Similar consequences arise for related energy forms, such as renewables.
In solar– and wind–diesel hybrid applications, the business case consists of partly replacing expensive energy from diesel with inexpensive solar or wind energy. As diesel prices are falling, the equation seems to be no longer valid. On closer examination, we see that mining companies that typically have huge energy needs for their production processes can actually take advantage of the situation. More and more investors are willing to finance large solar and wind power plants at remote mine sites and sell diesel reductions or electricity back to miners in so-called power purchase agreements (PPAs).

When the oil prices were high, the investors were looking at much higher electricity prices in these long-term PPAs. High diesel prices gave the appearance that there was a large piece of cake to share between the mining company and the investor. In PPAs, the electricity price is often fixed over a period of 20 years or more. Many experts see oil prices recovering very quickly because, amongst other reasons, OPEC leaders such as Saudi Arabia need the revenue from oil for their national budgets. Against this background, it is obvious that it is clearly in the interest of intensive energy users, such as mining companies, to lock in low electricity prices over a long period of time. Their negotiation positions for renewable energy PPAs have improved considerably through the recent oil price drop. Clever anti-cyclical decision-making often allows for high profits in the long term. The business case for renewables at mine sites is often still very advantageous. Long-term investment decisions must take into consideration expectations about long-term developments.

“In reality, we still see that more and more renewable projects are now being developed at mine sites,quot; observes Dr. Thomas Hillig, CEO of THEnergy. “At the same time, falling oil prices appear to be slowing the project implementation. Mining companies want to see considerable cost savings immediately.” With the current oil price development, it would very often make sense to commit to long-term PPAs even if renewable energy prices can only match diesel prices. The cost savings will come in later, as soon as the oil price recovers. If mining companies wait to make their decision, it is likely that they have to pay more for electricity from renewable resources – for the whole contract duration.

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Solar fight

Big Solar Fight Breaks Out

It’s a closely watched fight with broad implications for the solar industry and the push by the Administration to go green. An Arizona utility that generates and distributes electric power in one of the country’s sun-drenched areas has asked the state’s Corporation Commission for assistance in its fight with homeowners who have installed their own solar power panels, typically on house rooftops.
Tucson Electric Power Co. asked the agency, which sets utility rates, to let it double its basic monthly service charge for residential customers, from $10 to $20 per month, as well as assess new fees, penalties, and charges on rooftop solar customers. A study done by the utility says that customers with solar panels, on average, shift $67 a month in costs to non-solar customers because they pay less for grid upkeep.

The fight has the potential to go to the courts and set standards nationwide, with environmentalists like the Sierra Club arguing solar homeowners should be able to take a free ride on a utilities’ network, while the Arizona utility argues those without solar panels will have to pay for that crowd with rate increases. Tucson Electric Power “is singling out solar customers with their proposal to increase fees – which is not only wrong, but unprecedented,” said Chad Waits, president and owner of Net Zero Solar, in a statement. “Rural customers don’t have to pay more to be connected to the grid, yet the infrastructure to take power to them costs exponentially more per customer. Winter visitors don’t have to pay more to be connected to the grid, yet their houses use minimal amounts of power while they are away during the summer.”

Waits also says: “When determining costs of solar, TEP should also recognize the value that solar adds in reducing carbon emissions, reducing line losses, and mitigating costs of building new power plants. Only then will solar customers be credited the true cost of their investments in generation capacity that TEP uses every day for free.”

The same battle is now being waged in states like Oklahoma and Utah. For instance, Utah’s Public Service Commission recently took public comment and expert testimony on how to charge utility customers a “sun tax” for their solar power use. A group of Utah customers cut their electric bills via solar power panels on their rooftops. Those solar power panels generate excess power during the day, and the customers then get credited for that power when they draw electricity at night. But the state’s biggest utility, Rocky Mountain Power said wait a second. It effectively is argued those solar customers are free-loading off the electric grid by not paying for their use of the electric grid’s fixed costs, like the wires and poles that deliver electricity to their washers and dryers. So, last summer, the utility proposed a new “sun tax” charged against solar customers to cover those costs. But the Utah Public Service Commission nixed the new tax, until further notice, asking for more analysis of the cost-benefits of rooftop solar.

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New Solar Policy

New Policy Lets You Save $100’s On Your Energy Bill Every Year
If you currently own a house and live in specific zip codes the government is giving $1000’s to each consumer to install solar panels and consumers are reducing their energy bill by as much as 70%. New subsidies and rebates help to cover huge costs associated with installation so there is significant savings for the homeowners thanks in part to companies like NationalSolarProgram.com. With as little as $0 down, you could be on your way to significantly reducing your electric bill in a matter of weeks.

So here’s the deal. You no longer have to buy solar panels, the new policy let’s you lease solar panels for as little as $0 down. Until now, solar panels cost $10’s of thousands of dollars to purchase and install and unless you were building a new home or had that much extra cash sitting around, so the cost was more than the benefit. The solar panels had to be purchased. It was impossible for companies to offer rent or lease agreements because they would lose money.
Almost a million homeowners could still save money, but sadly, most of them think this program is too good to be true. Remember, this is a free government program and there’s absolutely NO COST to see if you qualify. Our solar contractor California are ready to install the lowest solar panel cost.

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Tax credit for solar installation

Tax Credit for Solar installation

Several years ago, the New Mexico Legislature passed a new tax credit to incentivize homeowners and businesses to install solar energy systems. And it was incredibly successful. The state Energy Conservation Division estimates that more than $31 million was spent by New Mexico businesses and homeowners on solar panels and heating systems in just the past year. But, the tax credit is set to expire this year unless the Legislature takes action to renew it.
Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, have both introduced legislation to restore the tax credits. Both bills would maintain the current benefit of as much as 10 percent of the total cost, up to $9,000, in the upcoming years, with that amount being reduced incrementally starting in the year 2019.

We have argued before, and continue to believe, that New Mexico’s tax code has far too many exemptions and credits benefiting specific special-interest groups. We believe the state would be better served by a simpler, fairer tax system without all the loopholes and special benefits. But we don’t believe that effort should start by eliminating solar tax credits. The tax credits continue to make good sense for the state on a number of levels. Maestas Barnes notes that the solar industry in New Mexico includes 98 companies that employ some 1,600 workers. And, it is a growth industry, with those numbers continuing to increase every year.

More than $140 million was invested by owners in solar panels between the years 2008 and 2014, according to state officials. On top of that, another $29 million was spent on labor to install the systems. Nearly $14 million in tax credits were issued. “These jobs are homegrown and cannot be outsourced,” Stewart noted. Increased use of solar energy has also reduced our state’s reliance on energy produced through burning either coal or natural gas, limiting the environmental damage caused by those traditional sources.

There are those who will argue that the solar energy industry does not need the same boost it did several years ago when it was still developing, and that the state should not give up the revenue that is now lost to the tax credits. Certainly, the industry has matured in recent years. But the investment to purchase a solar system is still out of reach for many New Mexicans without some kind of assistance.

The solar energy industry in New Mexico would surely survive the loss of the tax credits, but its momentum would be stalled. Fewer new companies will locate in the state, and fewer workers will be hired. We think the better option is to phase the credit out slowly and predictably over several years, as is called for in the Maestes Barnes and Stewart bills

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