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.
Posts Tagged ‘solar module’
If you have seen one solar module, have you seen them all? Many in the solar industry have long argued that solar panels are a commodity, interchangeable at the whim of the developer. We have strongly disagreed, but we conceded that the market has not agreed with us. All you need to do is ask the many companies who fill the halls of bankruptcy courts around the country and abroad about the market forces that drove them out of business. This argument has been settled—until Tom Woody authored a New York Times article that solar panel quality is a growing concern within the solar industry. Maybe the world is beginning to agree with us, but in any event, you should become an educated consumer as you look at which panels to put on your roof for the next 25 years.
We know this much about the solar industry as we approach the end of the year. It was another year of fast moving changes in the industry. The good news is that in 2012, there were a whole lot of solar panels going up on homes and businesses in the U.S. And there were some setbacks for the industry. At the beginning of the year, few had even heard of Solyndra—but by the end of the year, Solyndra had become a household name. As the New Year approaches, we want to reflect back on what 2012 meant for the solar industry. In our blog, we will discuss some of the highs and lows for the solar industry this past year. In this first of two blog posts, we will reflect on the decrease in the price of solar panels, on the effect of natural gas and coal on the solar industry, and finally on the dwindling incentives available to support solar energy.
Innovation is often seen as the way to the future for solar energy. Everybody sees the value of solar panels on rooftops or in fields, but they also see the huge price tag attached to solar energy. Prices have dropped substantially in the past couple of years, mainly because of the Chinese entry and domination of the solar panel industry (and some will say unfair dumping of cheap modules onto the U.S. market). But that still leaves the question of the extent to which innovation plays a role in the developing solar industry. The Wide Lens, a recent book by Dartmouth professor Ron Adner, should be required reading for the up and coming solar equipment manufacturers.
Did you catch the State of the Union address last night? Hurray for renewable energy, but it is a speech that he could have given two years ago, pre-Solyndra. But a lot has happened in the last two years. In mild understatement, Obama conceded that, “Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail.” And some companies fail in a big way. Now the demise of Solyndra will be a big campaign issue, regardless of the merits of whether the federal government should have provided a loan guarantee to Solyndra. This accommodation of fossil fuel is simply recognition that this country will be dependent on non-renewable sources of energy for decades to come. Whether Obama’s moderate energy vision will gain any traction in an election year is a matter of considerable dispute. We shouldn’t lose hope that some energy policy will emerge, but don’t count on much progress in this election year.
SolarTown is just up the street from a local independent sporting goods store, which moved in when this area was just making a comeback from years of neglect. The service is good, the product selection is good and the prices are right. These factors should make the store a fixture in the community, but three months ago, a sporting goods chain moved in just a block away at DC USA, the largest retail complex in Washington, DC. The prices for the chain store may be slightly better, but even more than the prices, the location is much better. The small independent store saw its revenue drop by over a half in three months, and as you can see from the picture at the right, it is now going out of business. Oh, how in just a few months, the fortunes of this small store changed. So has been the effect of the tsunami of Chinese manufacturing on the solar industry. In just a couple of years, the Chinese ramped up production, lowered prices and swamped the US and other markets.
Starting this week, SolarTown will offer a discount solar panel of the week. Every week on Monday, we will post a solar panel that offers great savings. This year, our distributors and vendors have been offering huge savings on solar modules as prices have continued to fall. And they offer to SolarTown discounts, which we are able to pass on to our customers. Some of our customers are most interested in the least expensive solar module that they can purchase. For those installers and contractors who are ready to purchase immediately, the discount solar module of the week will allow them to take advantage of deep discounts that are available while supplies last.
We have had increased interest from those wanting to manage their solar installations. Some of those who have contacted SolarTown are handy around the house and fashion themselves as DIY solar installer. Some are simply taking an active role in managing their solar installations. They are not the type to get on a roof, but they are ready to hire a roofer and electrician. And then there are plumbers or electricians who are making the transition to the solar installation business and need our assistance. All of these folks are people who now make up the SolarTown community. They are interested in working with SolarTown to choose solar energy systems. If you fall within one of these categories, we can help you, too. We have a lot of online resources to assist you. We also have technical customer assistance to guide you through the process of installing your own solar energy system. In this blog entry, we want to demystify the process of how SolarTown can help you succeed with your solar energy project.
We were invited to the Swiss Embassy last evening to hear a panel discussion, Making Solar Energy Competitive: Swiss and American Perspectives. An over capacity crowd attended the lively and insightful discussion. The venue of the Swiss embassy was no mistake as Ambassador Ziswiler pointed out, that Switzerland has been a leader in renewable energy in general and in solar energy in particularly. Switzerland generates about 60% of its power from hydroelectric electricity. And as pointed out by Patrick Hofer-Noser of 3S Industries AG, one of the other panelists, the US and Switzerland were leaders in solar energy applications n the 1990s until they surrendered their positions to other countries, particularly the Germans.