With the help of Solair LLC, Roxana Volunteer Fire Company is now Green. Really Green! Solair LLC installed this 73 kilowatt solar array using Motech “Made in Delaware” solar modules. Solair then paired these 312 solar modules with 312 Enphase micro inverters for a system that outperforms traditional solar arrays. Roxana Volunteer Fire Company now […]
Enphase Energy, Inc. (ENPH) and SolarWorld announced that they have entered into a global strategic partnership agreement for the supply of microinverters. The partnership’s ultimate focus will be on the development of new solar technologies and state-of-the-art products.
Enphase Energy primarily caters to the solar industry by designing, developing and supplying microinverters which increase energy production and provide reliability. The company delivers its microinverters in 11 countries and has shipped more than 5 million units to date. Microinverters are devices that enable the conversion of direct electrical current to alternating current to facilitate most applications of solar electric power.
Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and has operations in Hillsboro, OR, and Freiberg and Arnstadt in Germany. SolarWorld carries out independent research and development and is committed towards providing clean energy solutions worldwide.
Solar World announced that Enphase Energy will be its primary supplier of microinverter systems for its custom-engineered system solutions in the U.S. The partnership will be extended to the distribution networks of both the companies around the world.
The demand for renewable energy is gradually on the rise given the growing awareness of environmental conservation. To tap the rising demand for solar products and services, Enphase Energy is currently expanding its operations through partnerships with various players in the industry.
Recently, Enphase has also partnered with Groupe Solution Energie, a provider of advanced residential solar solutions. The partnership will concentrate on the development of sustainable solar in France, Switzerland and Belgium. Enphase will be the exclusive inverter technology provider for Groupe Solution’s advanced solar photovoltaic solutions.
Earlier this month, Enphase Energy entered into an agreement with Puerto Rico’s New Energy Consultants to provide affordable solar energy to residential and commercial customers in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean markets.
The Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) expects power production from renewable sources to grow 1.8% in 2014 in the U.S. EIA also expects utility-scale solar capacity to nearly double between 2013 and 2015 which will drive demand for microinverters.
If your house has panels or you are considering having them installed, here’s what you need to know.
Home solar panels, not usually a subject of controversy, have become a hot issue in statehouses around the country.
Utilities and advocacy groups have launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to end what they say is an unfair advantage some states give to homeowners with rooftop solar panels.
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.
Another group working to repeal solar laws and green energy requirements is the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings conservative state lawmakers together with business and industry representatives to write draft legislation.
ALEC has written model legislation targeting net metering, the LA Times says.
The utilities and allies also are challenging laws in Washington, California and South Carolina.
It’s all about net metering
The campaign centers on a practice called net metering. Laws in many states let solar homes send excess electricity back to the utility. Those homeowners are compensated with credit on their bills.
Carrie Hitt, an official with the Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry group, told Money Talks News that 46 states have some form of net metering.
Some states, like Kansas, require utility companies to get a share of their power from renewable sources.
The utilities claim net metering dumps unfair costs on customers who don’t have solar panels. It leaves fewer households covering the costs of keeping utility systems running, they say.
The state net metering laws and state and federal tax credits for home solar installations are credited with helping reduce the load on the nation’s aging electric system.
The Washington Post wrote about a 2012 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers:
(The report) described the nation’s electrical grid as a patchwork system that ultimately will break down unless $673 billion is invested in it by 2020.
If investment isn’t increased by at least $11 billion a year, the report said, the electrical service interruptions between now and 2020 will cost $197 billion.
A report from the Edison Electric Institute (.pdf file), an industry advocate, however, calls solar panels “threats to the centralized utility business model.”
The score so far
After months of lobbying and debate over the issue in California, the Legislature ordered the state’s public utility commission to act by 2017 to create a plan that examines rate structures and ensures non-solar households don’t pay extra.
Arizona responded to the campaign by allowing utilities to charge solar customers a $5-a-month fee — considerably less than the $50 fee the lobbyists wanted.
Utilities and their allies were unsuccessful in their attempt to repeal a Kansas law that says 20 percent of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources.
You won’t get rich off of net metering
Are solar households freeloading by sending electricity back to the grid?
The LA Times says:
The arguments over who benefits from net metering, meanwhile, are hotly disputed. Some studies, including one published recently by regulators in Vermont, conclude that solar customers bring enough benefits to a regional power supply to fully defray the cost of the incentive.
Utilities deny that and are spending large sums to greatly scale back the policy.
You’ll never get rich selling your electricity back to the grid. In fact, you can’t make money at all, just credit. Utilities put limits on how much electricity they’ll accept from customers. The best you could possibly do is to reduce your electric bill to zero.
However, without net metering, the LA Times writes, “solar power would be prohibitively expensive.”
Costs and return
The hope of recovering a solar investment eventually with credits is an incentive for many homeowners. It takes 5.6 years on average to break even on the cost of buying and installing a household solar system, according to Boston Solar, an installation and sales company.
Here’s a look at how the costs and returns break down.
Powering a home. At least 8,000 kilowatt-hours a year are needed to supply electricity to a 2,000-square-foot house without electric heat or an electric water heater. It takes about 6.5 kilowatts of solar panel capacity (energy produced at any one time) to meet that need, MSN Real Estate says.
The costs. Trinity Solar, a solar design and install company based in New Jersey, explains how to calculate costsof purchasing and installing a home solar system. According to Trinity Solar’s website, a 6.9 kilowatt rooftop solar system costs roughly $16,800. That includes:
- $24,000 purchase and installation cost.
- $7,200 one-time federal tax credit.
The payback. Trinity Solar says this system would earn roughly a 12.5 percent return:
- $1,242 in electric bill savings annually.
- $863 more in savings on your bill from net metering, or returning your excess electricity to the utility.
Or, go solar for free
A household’s installation cost can vary enormously from Trinity Solar’s example, depending on state laws and incentives. Also, where it’s available, an option called third-party financing lets homeowners install home systems for a reduced cost or even free.
In exchange, the third-party operator gets the electricity and sells it back to the household at a contracted rate that’s usually lower than the local utility’s, says the website of the Solar Energy Industry Association, an industry group.
In these arrangements, a homeowner’s costs are determined by type of agreement. The association’s website says:
Third-party financing of solar energy primarily occurs through two models. A customer can sign a traditional lease and pay for the use of a solar system or the customer can sign a power purchase agreements (PPA) to pay a specific rate for the electricity that is generated each month.
It’s unclear how much the loss of revenue due to third-party providers is spurring the utilities’ campaign. But the association says that, in California and Colorado, third parties have become the dominant way for households to go solar. Forbes describes the third-party industry’s rapid growth.
What’s your experience with home solar panels? What do you think of the arguments that net metering costs non-solar households more?
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Vote Solar Institute cites state’s leadership on connecting clean energy
DOVER – The Vote Solar Institute has moved Delaware to “the head of the class” when it comes to connecting renewable resources to the grid in the 2011 edition of its report, “Freeing the Grid”. Delaware was one of three states to earn an “A” grade for both net metering and interconnection policies that support renewable resources such as wind and solar energy, with the report ranking its policies “among the strongest in the country.”
Under Governor Jack Markell’s leadership, Delaware adopted a progressive net-metering law with strong bipartisan support in 2010 (Senate Bill 267, sponsored by Senators Harris McDowell and Gary Simpson and Representatives Dennis Williams and Michael Mulrooney) that makes it easier for utility customers to sell excess renewable energy to the grid.
Delaware is adopting leading-edge interconnection policies that allow small renewable resources to connect to the grid without requiring redundant and restrictive review from PJM Interconnection, the regional grid manager. The Vote Solar report praised the state’s collaboration with local electrical utilities along with the efforts of the Public Service Commission to implement model interconnection standards.
The report highlights Delaware’s progress, noting that the state moved from an “F” to an “A” in the category of interconnection policy:
As of mid-2011, Delaware is poised to adopt interconnection procedures that are among the strongest in the country and have received a score of “A” in Freeing the Grid 2011. In addition, the adoption of rules for aggregate metering and community renewables has greatly expanded opportunities for investment in renewable energy among customer groups who previously would have been unable to fully utilize the state’s solid net metering program. Most importantly, Delaware’s renewable energy policies are finally aligned to bring significant investment in renewable energy to the state.
DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara welcomed the news, saying, “Under Governor Markell’s leadership, Delaware is taking significant steps to transition towards cleaner sources of energy. Through the innovative clean energy policies recognized in this report, including virtual net-metering, community aggregation, and interconnection policies, Delaware is emerging as one of the best places in the U.S. for clean energy investments.”
“Integrating more clean energy into the grid puts more people to work, supports capital investment, and promotes a healthier environment,” Gov. Markell said. “Through strong bipartisan support, Delaware has demonstrated repeatedly that we can strengthen our economy and improve our environment at the same time.”
Vote Solar cites Delaware’s progressive polices including simplified interconnection procedures, aggregate net metering that allows customers to link several meters on a farm or college campus, and allowing communities to link multiple home meters to one jointly-owned renewable resource.
The report is available at http://www.newenergychoices.org/uploads/FreeingTheGrid2011.pdf.
Solair installed our panels in June, 2012. We are extremely pleased with the entire process. Each step was handled in a professional manner. Dan Burton and Jeff Burton kept us informed and educated us as we progressed through each stage of the project. We can’t wait to get our electric bills now. Our electric bill for September was less than $21.
-Bob and Steph Godby
I would like to take this opportunity to express how pleased Sherry and I are with the Photovoltaic system that Solair installed at our home in Selbyville. From the initial contact with Dan, the build out with Allen and the construction team, to the final steps with you in setting up the SREC account, the process has been flawless.
We have seen an incredible reduction in our monthly Delmarva Power bills since the solar array came online. The fact that Solair utilizes Enphase Energy’s microinverter technology versus a single inverter is a big plus in achieving the desired results. With each panel operating individually, the shading from a couple of our trees only affects the shaded panel rather than the string of panels or the entire array. Had we elected to go with a contractor using single inverter technology I am certain our energy production would be greatly reduced.
I would like to thank all of the Solair team for a job well done; it was a pleasure doing business with Solair.
Question: What if you live in a community that doesn’t allow solar, but you still want the financial benefits of your own solar array?
Question: What if you already have as much solar on your home as your power company says you can, but love the return on your investment and you still want more?
Question: What if you knew how you could own your own mini power plants, with little to no moving parts that would last in excess of 25 years?
Answer: Solair LLC can show you how you can own your small power plant.
Answer: Solair LLC can show you how you can take advantage of big tax credits to put solar on someone else’s home or business.
Answer: We pair you the investor with credit worthy individuals and companies that have the desire to also benefit from solar, but may not have the upfront cash to get it done.
Answer: Solair’s solar equipment has 25 year manufacturer’s warranties. When combined with Solair’s workmanship guarantee, being your own Power Purchase Investor is easier than you think.
Call Solair LLC now to find out more and get on Solair’s investor’s list.
302-841-1108 or email us at [email protected]
1:39 p.m., April 12, 2012–Stephen Mulligan, a University of Delaware senior studying mechanical engineering, has co-authored a paper explaining the effects of gas flow on newly developed solar cells. The paper, entitled “Hybrid Effect of Gas Flow and Light Excitation in Carbon/Silicon Schottky Solar Cells,” appeared recently in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
Written during Mulligan’s two-month student exchange trip to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, last summer, the paper investigates the behavior of carbon/silicon solar cells and how the presence of gas flow results in enhanced cell efficiency. These cells could then act as improved gas flow sensors.
Other co-authors include Guifeng Fan, a doctoral student at Tsinghua University; Hongwei Zhu, Mulligan’s adviser abroad and laboratory supervisor; and Bingqing Wei, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mulligan’s UD adviser.
Using a solar simulator, Mulligan and his team shined artificial sunlight on a series of solar cells to obtain a source of power, or voltage. They then blew gas, such as nitrogen, over the solar cells and noticed that their temperature lowered. This lower temperature, in turn, increased the solar cell’s efficiency by 5-10 percent, which is “quite the jump,” according to Mulligan.
At Tsinghua, Mulligan had the opportunity to assemble the solar cells used in tests, an important aspect to the research’s results and success.
“We were specifically working with carbon/silicon cells,” says Mulligan. “I would assemble graphene, a flat, single-layer of carbon atoms, onto a silicon wafer. The cells’ flat membrane acted as the ideal structure for the tests we were running.”
First produced in 2004, interest in graphene use has exploded in recent years. Mulligan takes pride in working with such young, up and coming science.
“Graphene and nanotubes aren’t commonly used today but will increase capability and efficiency years down the road in the industry,” says Mulligan. “It was like experimenting with new technology.”
Challenges in the lab were not Mulligan’s only obstacles. He had to adjust to working in a foreign environment where the culture was new and communication was difficult.
“The summer was definitely a culture shock. The East and West are amazingly different,” remarks Mulligan. “We sometimes got lost in translation, but it all worked out in the end.”
However, Mulligan is no stranger to international travel. Last Winter Session, he studied economics in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of his minor, but also has dual citizenship in Ireland where he spent his childhood.
“Stephen was selected as one of three, very qualified mechanical engineering students to implement into the Undergraduate Student Exchange Program in Beijing last summer,” notes Wei. “He is an avid world traveler and truly enjoys exploring and surrounding himself in new cultural environments.”
With graduation approaching in May, Mulligan plans on starting a career as soon as possible, preferably in manufacturing. He still retains interest in returning to China and is currently learning Chinese in his spare time. A return for Mulligan this summer may include additional research on nanomaterials, university enrollment, and further exploration of the Chinese language.
Article by Zac Anderson
Photo by Ambre Alexander