Cooling Solar Panels to Increase Efficiency

September 24th, 2014

Just like you, the solar panels on top of your roof are not as productive at high temperatures! Most people think that with the more direct sunlight the more energy the panels will produce, but then don’t worry about the accompanying high temperature. Cooling solar cells can often be a pretty expensive and time consuming process with previous solutions including the use of chemicals or gallons of water. Solar panels could actually be more efficient if they did not “overheat” as often. The problem is how to do this in a gentle and inexpensive way. Researchers at Stanford University have recently unveiled new coating made out of silica glass that will allow the solar cells to cool themselves, but still receive the same amount of sunlight and produce the same amount of energy. A silica, pyramid patterned coating was seen to work the best by being transparent to visible light and easily able to redirect thermal rays back into the atmosphere.

Read full post »»

Protect DC Solar: Help Stop the Exelon Merger!

August 29th, 2014

Guest blog from DC Sun. As you have probably heard, Exelon has plans to take control of Pepco, our local electricity utility. This deal would make Exelon the biggest power distributor in America. And they’re not interested in working with local stakeholders to bring more solar to the District. (Exelon has a history of undermining local stakeholders and opposing renewables.) As frustrating as Pepco can be, Exelon would be even worse.

Read full post »»

Solar Energy: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

August 5th, 2014

Are you going on that summer holiday in August? If you plan on staying at a five-star hotel on Oahu, then please do not read this post. If you are planning on getting out of the city but want to stay connected, then you should read on about how solar energy can help make your trip easier. I just came back from a glorious vacation with the family. We couldn’t get enough of the fresh air, the vistas and just the immense and penetrating beauty that the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion have to offer. And the kids were especially happy that we could stay connected. You may enjoy the hiking or admiring the views, but you need to remember that the kids want to be able to use their electronics even when the nearest outlet is miles away. And in an emergency, you don’t want to look down at a drained cell phone. This risk is especially acute when you are using a lot of energy on your cell phone to take pictures. Then you need to make a telephone call and you may not have enough juice on your tablet or cell phone. That is no problem. Just connect your telephone or tablet to a solar backpack and you can stay connected.

Read full post »»

Solar Energy at the World Cup: FIFA Goes Solar

August 4th, 2014

Are you still suffering withdrawal after the exhilaration of the final game of the 2014 World Cup? It is now less than four years before the World Cup reconvenes in Russia. Russia is already preparing for the next World Cup and trying to match the renewable energy commitment that Brazil devoted to the 2014 World Cup. Germany will defend its title as Russia prepares eleven cities to host the World Cup in 2018 and if the Winter Olympics is any clue, the Russians will not spare any expense to impress the world. Since FIFA makes sustainability a priority, Russia will toe the party line and develop the sites for the next World Cup with sustainability in mind. FIFA looks to advance its role as the topic of sustainability encourages city officials to revisit financial plans due to future savings in energy costs. In 2010 the organization added for the first time a renewable energy company to its list of sponsors and has since been outspoken in favor of those countries who invest in their future energy sources.

Read full post »»

Women, Grab Your Solar Panels: Gender Diversity in the Growing Solar Industry

July 21st, 2014

Come on ladies, shatter that glass ceiling! It seems to be that more women are gaining ground in the solar industry with positions not only in engineering and installation, but also in sales and management. Studies have shown that diversity in the workplace results in more revenue and boosts morale. Individual women as well as associations are changing gender diversity in the solar industry. And this is happening in both developed and underdeveloped countries creating better opportunities for women everywhere. Non-profit organizations and women high up in companies are creating projects and methods to further the employment of women in the solar industry.

Read full post »»

Solar Water Pumps are a Lifeline to Rural Communities in Australia, Yemen and Nepal

June 26th, 2014

Dry and arid conditions plague many countries around the world resulting in increasing scarcity of drinking or irrigation water. Thankfully solar water pumps may be an environmentally friendly solution to this problem in countries such as Australia, Yemen and Nepal. New technology from 2013 is being implemented in rural and heavily farmed areas to give farmers townspeople better access to fresh water. Solar water pumps are allowing farmers there to replace the economic burden of a diesel engine with a renewable option. For the past three years diesel has been in short supply in Yemen so Mufrih Saleh, a farmer from the Darb Wada’a area in the Sa’ada governorate was glad to make the switch to solar power. “Around 12 percent of Yemen’s total consumption of diesel, estimated at 270,000 tons per month, goes to water-pumping generators, according to Iskander Al-Aghbari, manager of the Agricultural Irrigation Department of the Agriculture Ministry. And about 405,000 acres of Yemen’s cultivable land, totaling 1.5 million acres, is irrigated by water pumped from beneath the ground by diesel generators.”

Read full post »»

Universities Announce Nation’s Largest Non-Utility Solar Energy Purchase

June 25th, 2014

Talk about a power move. SolarTown is located in Washington, DC, also home to some of the nation’s finest universities. Some of these universities, American University, George Washington University and George Washington University Hospital, have joined together in making everyone’s lives a little better. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the schools have committed to sourcing more than half their power from solar farms in a 20-year agreement with Duke Energy Renewables, a company based in North Carolina. In this plan, 243,000 solar panels are expected to be fully functional by 2015 along with three solar farms that are anticipated to generate 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year–the equivalent of satisfying the needs of 10,000 households.

Read full post »»

Blistering Attacks on Solar Energy Gaining Traction

May 30th, 2014

Money talks and the Koch Brothers are the most loquacious of the anti-solar movement. They have crafted a well-orchestrated movement under the aegis of the innocuous sounding name of Americans for Prosperity to derail the solar and renewable energy movement in states throughout the country. We don’t know if the Koch brothers are behind every legislative initiative to scale back solar energy, but certainly their robust wallet bankrolls the most vocal of these efforts to limit solar energy’s encroachment on fossil fuels. The good news is that solar energy is now becoming a staple in the energy basket in the United States. But solar energy’s success now breeds these attacks from the fossil fuel industry and well-moneyed conservatives. This void is national policy left the states to craft their own energy policy and over forty states enacted renewable energy standards. But without a national policy, each of these states is a potential battleground vulnerable to attacks bankrolled by the Koch Brothers. We are now seeing the effect of no national policy on energy, and we can expect that with the recent successes in Oklahoma and Ohio, that these attacks will be expanded to other states.

Read full post »»

Attention Installers: Please Pay Attention to Design!

April 30th, 2014

Solar home panels are increasingly becoming part of the landscape in communities throughout the U.S. They are cropping up in cities and towns, in the burbs and in downtowns. Some of SolarTown’s best customers are farmers and ranchers. But wherever you live, do not forget to assure that your solar installer pays attention to the design of your array. It is going to be on your roof for decades to come and you don’t want something that is going to look lousy. If we are going to overcome objections from some quarters about how solar panels look, solar installers may want to pay more attention to how the arrays on residential roofs look. It would benefit not only the homeowner but the entire industry.

Read full post »»

Solar Panels are Definitely Right for You—Maybe

March 31st, 2014

Home solar panels are becoming increasingly part of the home ownership landscape in many parts of the country. Many of our customers call up and ask whether they should install solar panels on their homes. Since we sell solar panels, we would love to say unequivocally yes, but the answer is more nuanced and our answer usually is, “it depends.” These are some of the considerations we usually give to our customers about whether they should be considering home solar panels. Just because you are intent on going solar doesn’t mean that your home wants to cooperate. Solar can be placed on homes in virtually every state, but not every home is suitable for solar. If you live in a forest, solar panels aren’t going to catch many of the sun’s rays. And if you live in the city and the adjoining building casts a long shadow over your roof for much of the day, then solar panels may not be for your home. I did see at a trade show a couple of years back, a solution to some of these issues by having concentrated solar on a long pole that would peek out over the trees, but I have not seen this application ever used. For today, if you have a huge hickory over your roof or have any other obstructions, then you may want to look into buying green energy or becoming a member of a solar cooperative, where you don’t have to host the panels on your roof.

Read full post »»