Friday, April 29, 2016

Why is solar becoming mainstream energy source?

Solar energy industry is the fastest growing energy industry in the world and also the most popular renewable energy source in the world. In United States, for instance, solar power capacity grew from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 21.3 GW by the end of the first quarter of 2015 (DOE data).

What has turned solar energy into a mainstream energy source? For starters, people are becoming more concerned about environment, especially in relation to climate change issue, and solar energy is seen by many people as the ideal energy source to replace fossil fuels and start green energy evolution that would halt worst possible climate change scenario and save humanity from major environmental disasters.

Second, solar energy can actually help you save money, especially on the long run. U.S. government offers great tax credit for new solar installations, worth up to a third of installation costs. And who with the right mind would resist the idea of going green and saving money in the process?

Not only that, the excess power generated from solar panels also earns you money as electric company will buy that excess power from the homeowner at competitive rates and at the end of each month.

Solar panels have also been upgraded from the aesthetic point of view as they are now far less noticeable than they were decade ago. Not only that, installing solar panels adds further value to your property.

The federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of the solar system's installation is available through December 2021 so there's plenty of time for other interested people to jump into the solar energy bandwagon.

Solar energy future has already started so make sure to be a part of it.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Germany is global solar energy leader while U.S. still fails to deliver

Germany and plenty of sun, these two do not seem to go together hand in hand but when it comes to solar power production things change drastically. How drastically? Well, Germany is the current global solar energy leader in terms of installed solar power capacity with 38,250 megawatts (MW) according to the latest official data by International Eneregy Agency (IEA).

This is because Germany invests heavily in solar energy and other renewable energy sources. On the other hand, many people will find it surprising that United States is only 5th on the list with the capacity of 18,317 MW.

Despite the rapid development of solar power production in some states, most notably California, U.S. is still far off from being labeled as global solar energy leader.

Some may find it strange because U.S. has far greater territory than Germany, with many states having excellent solar insolation values, but in a country where fossil fuel lobbies still have plenty of power this shouldn't really come as that big of surprise.

The other countries, beside Germany, that are above United States in terms of solar power capacity are Italy with 18,622 MW, Japan 23,409 MW, and China with 28,330 MW.

 The total cumulative solar power capacity for the entire world was 177,000 MW at the end of 2014. A lot more is expected from solar energy sector in years to come.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Morocco shows Africa's solar power potential

Africa has excellent solar insolation values throughout the almost entire continent, but not much has been done to harness this tremendous solar power potential.

Things will perhaps change in not so distant future with Morocco showing the way how to done things. Morocco is now the home to the world's largest concentrated solar power plant, Noor, CSP, that should, once fully operational, provide enough power for 1.1 million people, offsetting 760,000 tons of carbon emissions a year.

Morocco is pioneering large solar power projects in Africa, and this project could even  export renewable energy to European Union in years to come.

This project does not only mean more clean energy and less carbon emissions, it should also provide new jobs (around 1800 new jobs), enhance country's energy security and independence, and give other countries the right example to follow on.

This solar power plant will be able to store solar energy in form of heated molten salt, which allows electricity production even during the night, thus solving the solar energy intermittency issue.

The current capacity of Noor, CSP is approximately 160 MW. By the end of 2018 total capacity is expected to grow to more than 500 MW, providing enough power for 1.1 million people.

Morocco's progressing clean energy goal is to have 42% of its energy coming from renewable energy sources by 2020. This solar project will play the biggest role in achieving this goal.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Solar power in Arkansas finally showing the signs of life

The state of Arkansas is far behind other states when it comes to U.S. solar energy leaders. Of course, California leads convincingly the rest of the pack with close to 40% of the distributed PV capacity but  Arkansas was until recently nowhere to be found.

Things are slowly changing, and in 2014 Arkansas announced two utility-scale solar projects though there is still no net power generation from small-scale residential installations.

Arkansas first commercial-sized solar energy facility came online in September, the $25 million, 12-megawatt solar energy facility at the Highland Industrial Park in East Camden.

Future solar energy projects in Arkansas include an 81-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy generating facility in Arkansas County that is expected to come online by mid-2019.

Arkansas doesn't have excellent solar insolation values like for instance California and Texas. Nonetheless, its southern location with approximately 5 hours of direct sunlight per square meter, make it a decent place for new solar installations.

The state doesn't yet have renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) meaning that its incentive programs for solar and other renewable energy sources are pale comparison when pitted against those of many other U.S. states with enacted RPS's.

But things are slowly changing, and hopefully Arkansas will play much bigger role on U.S. solar energy map in not that far future from now.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Is solar power environmentally acceptable solution for California?

Sunny California is one of the U.S. solar energy leaders, and certainly one of the states that is doing the most for renewable energy cause in United States. Renewable energy sources such as solar are not only needed because fossil fuels will eventually become depleted but also because they can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere thus reducing the climate change impact.

Is solar power completely environmentally friendly source of energy? No, because such source does not exist. Is it a better solution than fossil fuels? In most cases, yes, though there are still certain environmental factors which cannot be overlooked.

California, or to be more precise Mojave desert is California is an area with tremendous solar energy potential but there are some environmentalists who fear that the construction of new large-scale solar power plants in the Mojave Desert may harm the biological diversity in the area.

A most recent study by he Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University showed that solar power developers in California have been using mostly undeveloped desert areas with sensitive ecosystems as sites for new solar power plants instead on focusing primarily on less sensitive, previously developed open lands.

The researchers fear that the ecological footprint of solar power development could grow to more than 27,500 square miles if U.S. were to adopt a more ambitious climate goal. This could cause significant damage to many sensitive ecosystems in the area.

The researchers warned that of "161 planned or operating utility-scale solar power developments in California, more than half have been or will be built on natural shrub and scrublands."

Solar energy development cannot become a driving force behind the loss of California’s natural ecosystems. Something has to be done to prevent adverse effects on nearby environment.

Solar power plants require plenty of land to be installed, and science and technology might have to start looking for solutions that are able to decrease massive land requirements for new solar installations.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Time to install solar systems has finally come

Solar power is more popular than ever before, and now might be the best time for homeowners and businesses to install solar panels. The costs to install solar systems have fallen sharply in recent times. There is also an overwhelming support among general public to go for more clean energy with solar being the most preferred option of them all.

The interest rates for solar systems are fairly low, and after 2016, a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of solar system will decline to ten percent, raising up the price of solar systems by an average of $3,600 more. In raw numbers, this adds five years to the time in which the system would pay for itself.

The prices of installing rooftop solar systems have been constantly declining while on the other hand the cost-effectiveness of solar systems is increasing, making solar power installations a viable economic option for many homeowners.

Switching to solar energy is no longer just a fashionable go-green option, it has also become a good way to save your money on the long run. It has been reported that thanks to rebates and incentives the cost of solar power has been reduced on average by 50.5 percent in the first half of 2015.

You don't have to buy if you don't have to. There is a growing number of companies that offer a leasing option. Combine this with federal, state, city and local tax incentives, and there should be a significant amount of money saved, especially on the long run.

The leasing option is popular option across the many U.S. states,  mostly because people are used to paying in a monthly fashion. This combined with fixed monthly rate gives consumers predictability, and that is something any homeowner wants.

There are plenty of reasons to go for solar energy so why not pay money now to save money on the long run?

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Solar energy is good for both today and the future

Solar energy was for many years regarded as too expensive and too inefficient, an energy source that perhaps is expected to show some promise in years to come, but definitely not today. However, if we look at the current situation on global energy map we can see that solar energy is now good for both today and the future.

What has happened in the last decade or so for solar energy sector that is now rapidly growing and turning solar energy industry into one of the fastest growing industries in the world?

Solar energy has become cost-competitive with fossil fuels. OK, the fossil fuels still have the gap in prices but this gap is shrinking and solar is becoming more and more viable with each new year. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar energy generation today costs around 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, and the downward trend in prices is expected to further continue in years to come.

Solar panels are becoming cheaper and more efficient. The researchers from all around the world test new materials and new methods that would make solar panels even more commercially viable.

The fact that solar panels are now cheaper and more efficient is not the only factor contributing to huge sales of solar equipment worldwide. The other factor which has contributed to rapid decline in prices is increase in supply-mostly because of Chinese solar panel producers.

Many states and countries offer favorable tax incentives for new solar energy installations. There is also the feeling that installing solar panels means doing your share in global fight against climate change and pollution. Installing solar panels is now not only the tool to support green cause, it also gives you the chance for hefty profits, depending on the country you live in.

Global solar energy output is expected to grow by more than quarter in 2015. Solar is good today, in years to come it could become the best energy option of them all.

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