Investments in Alternative Energy

Investments in Alternative Energy


It is possible to have a portfolio which profitably (that’s the key word, is it not?)
invests in alternative energy funds. “Green” energy production is expected to be a multi-billion (in today’s dollars) industry by 2013.

The most recently developed wind-turbine technologies have brought us wind-produced energy which is more cost efficient as well as more widespread. More state-of-the-art wind energy technologies are typically more market competitive with conventional energy technologies. The newer wind-power technologies don’t even kill birds like in days of old! Wind energy production is a growing technology, and companies engaged in it would make up an excellent part of a growth or aggressive growth portfolio.

Next to consider are solar cell, or photovoltaic cell, technologies. These are to be found implemented in pocket calculators, private property lights, US Coast Guard buoys, and other areas. More and more they find their way onto the roofs of housing and commercial buildings and building complexes. Cost is falling. Their energy efficiency (the ratio of the amount of work needed to cause their energy production versus the actual energy production) is steadily on the rise. As an example, the conversion efficiency of silicon cells has increased from a mere four percent in 1982 to over 20% for the latest technologies. Photovoltaic cells create absolute zero pollution as they are generating electrical power. However, photovoltaic cellls are not presently as cost effective as “utility produced” electricity. “PV” cells are not [capable at present for producing industrial-production amounts of electricity due to their present constraints on space. However, areas where photovoltaic cell arrays could be implemented are increasingly available. In sum, costs are going down while efficiency is rising for this alternative fuel technology.

Many alternative energy investment portfolio advisors are confident that alternative energies derived from currents, tidal movement, and temperature differentials are poised to become a new and predominant form of clean energy. The French are actually fairly advanced at hydro power generation, and numerous studies are being made in Scotland and the US along these sames lines. Some concerns center around the problems with the deterioration of metals in salt water, marine growth such as barnacles, and violent storms which have all been disruptions to energy production in the past. However, these problems for the most part seem to be cured through the use of different, better materials. Ocean-produced energy has a huge advantage because the timing of ocean currents and waves are well understood and reliable.

Investments in hydro-electric technology have grown in the last two decades. Hydro-electric power is clean; however, it’s also limited by geography. While already prominent as power generation, the large, older dams have had problems with disturbing marine life. Improvements have been made on those dams in order to protect marine life, but these improvements have been expensive. Consequently, more attention is now being paid to low-impact “run-of-the-river” hydro-power plants, which do not have these ecological problems.

The reality is, the energy future is green, and investors would do well to put their money out wisely, with that advice in their minds.

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The Future of Solar is Bright!

The Future of Solar is Bright!

EM-170714-StopCPV-044
Source: Flickr

The Future of Solar PV (Photovoltaic) Energy
1. The Problem
2. The Solution
3.
The Results
4. The Benefits
5. An Investment in the Future

1. The Problem:

Traditional sources of electrical power generation are running out as production will peak in the next decade but demand will continue to rise. Energy prices will continue to rise at a higher rate as well as the number of outages during peak hours. There is the obvious problem of the pollution we are causing to our environment.

From my perspective, the world’s energy needs vary greatly; there is no clear single solution to the problem of supplying the world’s energy.

All forms of energy production have issues associated with them, i. e. –

1. Coal – Pollution/Strip Mining
2. Natural Gas – Cost and Lack of Infrastructure
3. Hydro – Limited Availability/Environmental Concerns
4. Wind – Limited Site and Resource Availability
5. Solar PV – Higher Cost
6. Nuclear – Waste disposal

2. The Solution:

Solar PV (Photovoltaic) systems effectively deliver three to five hours of peak power per day at roughly 10 Watts per square foot. Not one square inch of new land would be required to site PV. Theoretically, there are adequate residential, commercial, Government rooftops, and parking structures in California to power a substantial percentage of our State’s electrical needs from solar.

In Southern California, solar produces a net energy gain in approximately three years. This means that within three years, PV systems begin producing more energy than the energy spent in producing the system and its raw materials. Best of all, the energy produced cost zero emissions.
At today’s prices, a typical solar system costs approximately $8.00/watt, installed and has an operating life in excess of 25 years. For all intents and purposes, maintenance and operating costs are minimal. Now there are systems available for rent. Companies such as Citizenre at www.jointhesolution.com/rethink-solar allow you to create solar power of a unit that is installed, maintained and monitored by them. You merely pay the monthly rental fee for you clean electricity which is the same price as you pay the electric company for you electricity. Also they allow you to lock in a rate now for up to 25 years so you are paying the same price throughout the entire contract.
3. The Results:

Solar energy increases the diversity of power and adds stability to a fossil fuel favored energy structure, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
4. The Benefits:
— Solar can be quickly deployed at the point of use, reducing the need for additional transmission and distribution infrastructure, and cost thereof.

— Solar operates most efficiently at mid day, when grid demand is at its peak. By decreasing the strain during peak hours, the longevity of existing power plants and infrastructure is extended, lowering further the cost of energy production.

— By deploying solar over time the cumulative effect of the installed base is impressive. Given its 25-year life, within 10 to 20 years, a respectable portion of California’s energy could be supplied by solar.

— Once installed, the cost is fixed. In comparison to traditional sources of energy, the fuel cost is nonexistent, and operational costs are limited. A solar system’s cost is amortized over its life, there are no rate hikes due to fuel or operating cost increases.
5. An Investment in the Future:

There are some negatives. Presently, solar costs more than traditional energy generation. Its efficient use is limited to daylight hours unless storage is employed. Admittedly, the solar industry today is not large enough to address all of our needs. The solar industry does not have the financial influence to compete with existing utilities, which typically oppose PV, within political circles. (Industry revenues globally represent only 3.0B/year). Globally, the industry has experienced an annual growth rate in excess of 18% in over a decade. This rate of growth is equivalent to that of semiconductor, telecommunications and computer industries.

Clearly, there is no easy solution to California’s energy problem. No doubt, a variety of technologies and tools are needed to ensure California’s energy independence and security.
The Solar Industry Needs Your Support
For those interested in promoting a clean, safe and environmentally friendly source of energy, I urge you to write your representatives in the State and Federal Government. Make it clear you vote for representatives who support current legislation aimed at advancing the deployment of solar energy, such as the net metering law which allows the solar producer to feed surplus power onto the grid, causing the meter to spin backward, lowering the electric bill. Tax credits and deployment subsidies provide the revenues necessary to support research and development of more efficient solar systems.

Remember, in the 1970’s the State of California enacted emission standards that surpassed the rest of the nation. The argument against these standards was the cost of such improvements. Almost 30 years later, the impact is in the air and reflected in the increased fuel economy of the vehicles we drive.

Solar energy is part of the solution and is a key to America’s long-term energy supply. After all, fossil fuels have a long history of issues with respect to stability of supply and cost.
The Outlook of Solar Power is Bright!
1. Solar will sustain its torrid growth, as costs continue to fall. The solar market has grown at ~40% per annum in recent years, and there are many reasons to think that it will sustain, if not exceed, that clip in 2008. Solar panel prices have followed a predictable experience curve since the 1970’s, with prices dropping by 20% with each doubling of manufacturing capacity. As the silicon-dominated industry moves to thinner and higher-efficiency wafers, increases manufacturing scale, improves wafer and cell processing technologies, sees polysilicon prices return to rational levels, and migrates production to lower-cost countries –- costs will continue to drive towards parity with grid rates, and solar will become increasingly more attractive. Companies have developed creative PPA (power-purchase agreement) financing models to reduce or eliminate upfront installation costs, which will make solar more accessible for a wider range of corporate and residential customers. The election year should also see more state subsidy support for solar and a renewal of the federal tax credit, which will further bolster growth.
2. Emerging startups that benefit from the polysilicon supply shortage will face increased pressure, as the poly-Si crunch begins to ease. Solar veterans can debate the timing endlessly, but many expect additional poly-Si supply to come online by late 2008. Startups that tout silicon-independent solar solutions, like concentrators and thin film (CIGS, a-Si, CdTe, etc.), will face pressure to come to market more quickly, as their cost/supply advantages erode with greater availability of poly-Si and a retreat from spot-pricing. E.g., none of the CIGS thin-film startups, which have collectively received hundreds of millions in investment in recent years, managed to reach mass commercialization this past year as many had projected. They will continue to be under pressure to reach market before the window of opportunity closes.
3. Entrepreneurs will increasingly look beyond cell and module production. As the technology-heavy areas of cell and module production get crowded, more and more entrepreneurs look to startup opportunities in the downstream balance-of-systems part of the value chain. This area has seen less attention to date, yet makes up ~50% of the total installed cost. Novel packaging techniques, distributed inverter / MPP tracking / power management technologies, systems monitoring solutions, streamlining of the installation process, and creative solar financing models — entrepreneurs increasingly recognize the ripe opportunity in this part of the solar business, and 2008 should see heightened startup activity in this area.
4. China and India will begin to emerge as strong domestic markets for solar. With a 500 MW coal-fired plant going up in China every week, the growth of greenhouse gas emissions has reached dizzying levels. China already “boasts” 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, with hundreds of thousands a year dying prematurely from such pollution. Many experts expect that the government will spend tens of billions of dollars in the next 5-10 years –- a significant portion going to solar -– to reach the mandate of 15% from renewables by 2020. In India, where the energy shortfall has reached 15% and domestic coal reserves will run out in ~50 years, the government is actively pursuing incentive policies and feed-in tariffs to help drive the use of solar and other renewables. 2008 should see further policy refinement in both countries, which will spur increased domestic adoption of solar.

Few people doubt solar energy’s potential, but many wonder when it will be reached. “In the long term, solar may well play an important role,” Karg says. “I personally expect a contribution of 10 to 20% of the global electricity production, mainly in the form of grid-connected systems.” However, he does not foresee that happening within the next 20 years.
Nevada Solar One
The sun sits high over the Nevada desert in the Eldorado Valley, gleaming off the upside down rows of mirrored parabolic trough collectors at the Nevada Solar One power plant.
At 64 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity, Nevada Solar One is the largest CSP plant to be built in 15 years. While the plant won’t come online until April, its construction marks the revival of an industry that has seen almost no market growth in over a decade.

The plant was developed by Acciona Energy and Solargenix Energy — two companies that have worked hard behind the scenes to get the CSP industry up and running again.

The plant uses parabolic trough collectors to generate electricity. The mirrored troughs face the sky and direct sunlight to a large metal and glass receiver in the middle of the trough that holds circulating oil. The oil travels to heat exchangers, which heat water and create steam to run a turbine. Parabolic troughs are one of three commercialized CSP technologies.

Further down the row of parabolic troughs, Plant Manager Bob Cable admires the impressive devices before him.

“I’ve been working with this technology for the last decade,” Cable says. “I’ve seen some impressive gains in technological advancement, and now we’re seeing more broad acceptance of the technology as the market becomes more attractive.”

Indeed, after roughly a decade of little growth for the industry, CSP is coming back strong. And it’s not just parabolic trough collectors that are experiencing a boom. Power towers, which use heliostats to focus solar energy on a central receiver to produce steam, and dish systems, which use reflectors to power a generator at the dish’s focus point, are making great strides in technological capabilities, lower costs and market acceptance.

But according to Thomas Rueckert, Program Manager for CSP Management at the U.S. Department of Energy, parabolic troughs are the most advanced.

“Because of the track record [the parabolic trough industry] had in southern California with the 354 megawatts (MW) operating — and actually improving in performance — I think you’re seeing the financial institutions more willing to embrace trough technology because it’s proven and the risks are less,” said Rueckert.

Rueckert was referring to the 354 MW of parabolic trough collectors installed in California’s Mojave Desert between 1984 and 1990. Those plants are still operating today, currently producing energy at around $0.12-$0.14/ per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and proving the technology can provide clean, reliable energy to the grid.

The Nevada Solar One plant will produce electricity at around $0.15-$0.17/kWh. While those costs are double what area residents pay for electricity, Nevada Solar One will sell energy to two utilities through a power purchase agreement (PPA). The PPA will ensure a fixed cost for the electricity over a long period, making the solar power economical down the line.

Now that global investment in CSP is increasing, technology costs are decreasing and renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the U.S. are requiring more solar generation, project costs for all CSP technologies should come down significantly in the coming years, said DOE’s Rueckert.

“All of those things have really opened the door,” he said. “And it’s interesting that all three technologies are pushing forward, which was kind of unexpected.”

Back at Nevada Solar One, Acciona Solar’s Cohen stands before the group of reporters and members of the solar industry who have come to witness the rebirth of CSP.

“The potential is huge. It was difficult to get the attention of the financial institutions in the U.S., but right now we have their attention. We get a lot of people asking us, ‘how can we develop this technology?'”

Dr. Alex Marker, Research Fellow for Schott North America, Inc., stands to the side of Cohen, nodding his head. Schott is certainly feeling the positive impact of increased CSP development. To meet the demand for its glass receivers, the company brought a new receiver manufacturing facility online in Germany last summer and is developing another facility in Spain that will come online in early 2008.

“I think [the market] is going to grow drastically,” says Marker, looking over at the receivers in the troughs. “We’re happy to be a part of this new development.”

Now that financial institutions are noticing CSP, companies like Acciona and Solargenix will be able to tap into the vast resource potential in the Southwestern U.S.

According to figures from DOE’s Solar Lab, 20,000 MW of CSP capacity could come online in the U.S. by 2020 with the proper investment and technological capabilities. Rueckert seemed optimistic that a large amount of those resources will be tapped.

“When this plant comes online next month, it’s going to be a great success,” he said. “The market is exploding and things are really taking off.”

Indeed, a solar panel for your home, whether brand new, second hand or rented, is definitely a wise choice as it helps you in minimizing your electric bills, helps the worlds growing energy needs and is especially an environmentally healthy and helpful choice.

If you’re interested in getting more info on a free solar panel installation check out www.jointhesolution.com/rethink-solar

Also if your interested in joining the solution and becoming a Citizenre sales associate check out www.powur.net/rethink-solar

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Solar Energy-The Advantages And Disadvantages

Sept 2017 Solar farm-0444
Source: Flickr

Perhaps the greatest argument that could be leveled about having to use fossil and nuclear fuel is our dependence on it. Global warming, though a real serious threat, maybe something that we could only be very worried about. Singly nothing much could be done about it as it will take serious political will if it is to be addressed effectively and for now, other countries are not cooperating. But the choice between traditional and alternative sources of energy, that is something most of us can choose to do.

First the advantages:

Solar energy is abundant and is free. We can count the sun to rise tomorrow and the day after that. Oil and natural gases on the other hand are non renewable, once the source taps out, it is gone forever. Sure there are other areas that could still be tapped but sooner that could run out of oil as well.

Solar energy does not pollute the air. If ever, the heat coming from the sun cleans the environment and maintains the earth’s eco balance. Not so with oil. Oil, its derivatives and its byproducts are great pollutants. In fact, 22,000 pounds of carbon monoxide will need to be produced first for the oil to be processed and supply a home with electrical energy for a year.

Solar energy harnessing panels are silent operators. Except maybe for the mechanical contraptions that are built into the panels so it could track the sun, from the collection of the suns rays to its photovoltaic conversion, they give neither a peep nor a squeak. It is a world of difference from the cacophony of giant drills and pumps that are used to extract oil form the ground.

Maintenance for the solar panels is very minimal. Except for the mechanical parts that are optional, almost no maintenance is needed. Once it is installed nothing much will be the cause for worry. The energy that is derived is free. With oil there is no telling what the next pump price would be and when. Oil, being a commodity, heavily depend its prices on market forces. Often with the right strategies, even market forces could be manipulated that could cause volatility in pricing.

The Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The cost. While solar energy is free, the cost of installation setbacks many household from installing it. Brand new solar energy generating systems are expensive. Although it tends to pay off overtime, initial cash out could range into several thousands of dollars depending on the quality and volume of generated power a household or an establishment would require. While solar energy technology has been around since the 1950’s it is only in recent years that its development was spurred. While costs of installation could also be subjective depending on the purchasing capacity of a customer, the benefits that could be derived out of it is enormous although mostly in unquantifiable terms.

For mass consumption, distribution lines are needed and this remains to be a big issue. Old antiquated distribution lines used to transfer electricity and other modes of fuel into the homes are clogged in many regions that to deliver solar energy power into the houses of consumers will require a different approach.

Be that as it may, the benefits from solar power far outweigh its disadvantages. It is an ideal source of energy that it may soon be the norm in power generation.

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Shining Some Light on Solar Energy

Shining Some Light on Solar Energy

Solar Power
Source: Flickr

Without a doubt, solar energy is the way of the future. Solar energy production is an extremely simple process to understand. A solar, or photovoltaic, cell collects energy from the Sun. A solar cell is a semiconductor device that is constructed using photovoltaic materials. It contains no liquids or chemicals, and no moving parts. Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity.

A solar panel generally consists of a series of individual cells, which are supported by a module that allows the cells to work in unison. The energy that is captured by the panel is stored in a battery. Solar panels generate direct current (DC) energy. Many solar energy systems have inverters in them which allow direct current (DC) electricity to be converted to alternating current (AC). Most consumer products such as appliances and electronics operate on AC current.

Unless you have a vast expanse of land to house an array of solar panels, it is unlikely that you will be able to power your entire home with solar energy. However, it is possible to power a single room in your house with a small array of panels fixed to the roof of your house. Multiply the wattage of each individual electrical device by the number of hours you expect to use them each day. That combined number will be your benchmark, or the bare minimum your system must be able to generate.

There are a number of options available to consumers that are considering converting to solar energy. A basic system that can be used to power a computer and a few other small items can be purchased for approximately $1000.00. Naturally, the price will increase with the production capacity of your system. In most regions, the price of an installed system will cost somewhere in the area of $10.00-$12.00 per watt.

Solar energy is one of a few truly renewable resources that can be used in energy and power generation. Every hour of every day, the Sun blankets our planet with enough energy to sustain our global energy needs for a year. As the technology behind photovoltaic energy advances, consumers will be unable to resist the urge to convert.

A lot of resources are being put into the development of solar energy technology. Most of the major oil and energy companies have entire divisions committed to solar energy. Researchers and engineers are spending countless hours trying to develop the technology today that will vastly improve conditions in the world tomorrow. It is no secret that we cannot continue down the path we are on. Fossil fuels are no longer a feasible option for energy production. The future is solar. The future is now.

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Selling Solar to Your Utility – Interconnection Agreements

Selling Solar to Your Utility – Interconnection Agreements


In many states, homeowners and businesses can now sell solar panel energy to utilities.
Doing so requires an interconnection agreement with your local utility.

Lowering Your Utility Bill

In a majority of states, homeowners using solar can take advantage of a concept known as net metering. Net metering essentially refers to the act of selling excess power produced by your solar panels to the local utility. While you are at work during the day, the energy produced by panels is fed directly back to the utility [your meter runs backwards] and then you use utility energy as you need it in the evening. The utility company “pays” you at the same rate per watt as what it charges you, thus creating a “net metering” situation. Practically speaking, it is a tremendous way to slash or eliminate your electrical bill.

If you intend to sell electricity to the utility company, you can’t just do it. Instead, you must get and sign an interconnection agreement with it. While the name can change from utility to utility, this agreement basically lays out the ground rules on how the process will work. Let’s take a closer look.

Federal and state laws require utility companies to supply you with standard interconnection agreements. The agreement specifies the terms and conditions under which your system will be connected to the utility grid. These can include your obligation to get any required permits, maintain homeowner’s insurance and meet certain connection specifications.

Sometimes set apart as a separate document, the agreement will also include the specifics related to the sale and purchase of power by each of you. Instead of installing multiple meters to asses the transfer of power, most utilities will simply let the existing utility meter run forward when you are drawing energy from the grid and backward when you are supplying energy to it.

If you supply more energy than you use in a month, must the utility company send you a check? Unfortunately, net metering laws do not require the utilities to do so. Instead, the company will credit the monetary equivalent of the excess generation to the next month’s electrical bill until you eventually use it during a cloudy or rainy month.

Interconnect agreements are fairly standardized agreements that shouldn’t cause you much concern. Just make sure you get one before hooking up to the local utility.

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Alternative Energy And The Need For A Proper Storage Technology

Alternative Energy And The Need For A Proper Storage Technology

Otarre_Solar_4
Source: Flickr


A number of energy storage technologies have been developed or are under development for electric power applications, including:

* Pumped hydropower
* Compressed air energy storage (CAES)
* Batteries
* Flywheels
* Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES)
* Super-capacitors

This is the future that we can safely anticipate, especially when there is a rapid depletion of other energy resources. Of course, the most important energy resource still remains the sun from where we can derive solar power and fulfill various energy and power requirements. Off late, many companies have started to build mono-crystalline and polycrystalline solar cells, which can be used in several sectors like aerospace, the aviation industry, residential power generation, traffic lights, automobiles etc. Solar energy apart from other renewable energies is being looked at as one of the key areas because it is a clean energy source.

Pumped Hydro
Pumped hydro has been in use since 1929, making it the oldest of the central station energy storage technologies. In fact, until 1970 it was the only commercially available storage option for generation applications.

Conventional pumped hydro facilities consist of two large reservoirs, one is located at base level, and the other is situated at a different elevation. Water is pumped to the upper reservoir where it can be stored as potential energy. Upon demand, water is released back into the lower reservoir, passing through hydraulic turbines, which generate electrical power as high as 1,000 MW.

The barriers to increased use of this storage technology in the U.S. include high construction costs and long lead times as well as the geographic, geologic, and environmental constraints associated with reservoir design. Currently, efforts aimed at increasing the use of pumped hydro storage are focused on the development of underground facilities.

Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)
CAES plants use off-peak energy to compress and store air in an airtight underground storage cavern. Upon demand, stored air is released from the cavern, heated, and expanded through a combustion turbine to create electrical energy.

In 1991, the first U.S. CAES facility was built in McIntosh, Alabama, by the Alabama Electric Cooperative and EPRI, and has a capacity rating of 110 MW. Currently, manufacturers can create CAES machinery for facilities ranging from 5 to 350 MW. EPRI has estimated that more than 85% of the U.S. has geological characteristics that will accommodate an underground CAES reservoir.

Studies have concluded that CAES is competitive with combustion turbines and combined-cycle units, even without attributing some of the unique benefits of energy storage.

Batteries
In recent years, much of the focus in the development of electric energy storage technology has been centered on battery storage devices. There is currently a wide variety of batteries available commercially and many more in the design phase.

In a chemical battery, charging causes reactions in electrochemical compounds to store energy from a generator in a chemical form. Upon demand, reverse chemical reactions cause electricity to flow out of the battery and back to the grid.

The first commercially available battery was the flooded lead-acid battery, which was used for fixed, centralized applications. The valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery is the latest commercially available option. The VRLA battery is low-maintenance, spill- and leak-proof, and relatively compact.

Flywheels
Flywheels are currently being used for a number of non-utility related applications. Recently, however, researchers have begun to explore utility energy storage applications. A flywheel storage device consists of a flywheel that spins at a very high velocity and an integrated electrical apparatus that can operate either as a motor to turn the flywheel and store energy or as a generator to produce electrical power on demand using the energy stored in the flywheel.

Advanced Electrochemical Capacitors/Super-Capacitors
Super-capacitors are also known as ultra-capacitors are in the earliest stages of development as an energy storage technology for electric utility applications. An electrochemical capacitor has components related to both a battery and a capacitor.

Consequently, cell voltage is limited to a few volts. Specifically, the charge is stored by ions as in a battery. But, as in a conventional capacitor, no chemical reaction takes place in energy delivery. An electrochemical capacitor consists of two oppositely charged electrodes, a separator, electrolyte, and current collectors.

Presently, very small super-capacitors in the range of seven to ten watts are widely available commercially for consumer power quality applications and are commonly found in household electrical devices. Development of larger-scale capacitors has been focused on electric vehicles.

The future is something that we can’t predict but yes, as time passes, most of the current energy sources will reach a point from where we will not be able to use them. This is where alternative energy sources come into play and will be one of the major driving forces of the world energy requirements.

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Solar Chargers

Solar Chargers

Elk Falls Information Station at parking lot
Source: Flickr


Solar chargers are a great option for people always on the move.
If people are always traveling, a solar charger is a wonderful user-friendly option that won’t drain resources.

ICP solar chargers are an excellent brand of charger that is guaranteed to work. If you are dependent on your battery to operate machinery or vehicles, this guarantee is essential. Having a battery charger that does not work when you are stuck miles away from civilization is not a good thing. ICP solar chargers are also a great idea for backup power in a small home or cabin.

Solar power has often been commended for its environmentally-friendly capability to provide energy. One solar panel can charge a 12Volt battery in full with direct sunlight at a rate of 7 Amps or more. The power is then electrochemically stored within the battery.

ICP offers a range of chargers for devices like cell phones, PDAs, and other small electrical appliances. With these chargers, you simply plug the device into the solar charger and let it do its job. ICP also offers chargers for higher power machines like cars, motorcycles, heavy duty trucks, even marine and RV applications.

The ICP solar chargers range in price from $30 to $500. However, it is well worth the investment and there are no recurring electrical utility costs associated with charging.

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Sprucing Up Your Garden With Solar

Sprucing Up Your Garden With Solar


Fountains are a popular addition to most landscaped yards.
Solar fountains give you the benefit of traditional fountains without running up your electrical bill every month.

Sprucing Up Your Garden With Solar

Mention solar power and people get an image of large, bulky solar panels on the roof of a home. This stereotypical view is really incorrect as large panel systems are now going the way of the dodo bird. Current solar technology is all about small size and unique applications. Heck, they even make them for kayaks now.

Solar fountains may sound like a fairly complex landscape addition. They really aren’t. Solar technology has advanced to the point where most landscaping items are now best run on solar technology. This includes solar lighting used for paths, overhead lighting, bird deterrents and general ambience.

At their root, solar fountains are incredibly simple pieces of machinery. The solar aspect of the piece is simple the power generation for the pump. Practically all solar fountains look the same as regular fountains. The energy source is simply a small panel system either connected directly to the fountain or placed in a location that gets plenty of sun. The type of system is dependent upon the amount of flow you want to move with the pump.

Solar fountains range from incredibly simple to complex applications. You can buy floating solar pads that you simply put in a pool. The panels look like black pads and power a small pump that sucks content out of the pool. More sophisticated solar fountains include entirely contained systems as well as systems that move massive amounts of the pool from low points on your property to higher areas where gravity takes over. There really is something for everyone in this area.

Much like solar lighting, solar fountains are a cost saving addition to your landscaping and provide soothing ambience. Plenty of quality models exist, so give them a look.

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Solar Panels – Pvs At Work

Solar Panels – Pvs At Work

What is PV solar power? You have heard the term, but you are unsure as to its meaning. You are vaguely aware that solar power has something to do with making energy from sunlight. But what is PV solar power? Is it different from other kinds of solar power?

PV solar power is different from other types. Of the two main categories of solar power, active and passive, PV solar power is active. Let’s look at it.

Solar Panel

Active solar power relies on solar panels. You may picture them as flat, rectangular boxes on rooftops.

There are two main types of solar panel. From a distance, both look like rectangular boxes. Both convert sunlight into energy, but in two different ways. The terms for the two solar panel types are solar thermal collector and photovoltaic module.

1. Solar thermal collector: This solar panel takes in solar energy from the sun and uses it to heat air or water.

2. Photovoltaic module: This second type of solar panel collects solar energy and converts it to usable electricity.

Meet the PV

To answer the question, what is PV solar power, we must know what the PV is. The short answer is that PV refers to a photovoltaic module. “P” is for photo and “V” for voltaic.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines “photovoltaic” this way.

“of, relating to, or utilizing the generation of a voltage when radiant energy falls on the boundary between dissimilar substances.”

In simpler terms, “photo” refers to sunlight and “voltaic” refers to electrical energy. PV panels convert sunlight into electrical energy. Sunlight flows into the solar panel. Electrical energy flows out of the solar panel.

A PV solar panel is made up of many photovoltaic (light to volts) cells. These cells are electrically connected, and then covered with glass. The glass provides electrical insulation. It is also good protection from weather and other damaging forces.

When minimal energy is needed, such as that necessary to power a small appliance, a single PV solar panel is sufficient. When more power is needed, an “array” of solar panels is created by connecting panels to one another. If the power will not be supplied to the power grid, the solar panel(s) is connected to a charge controller, and battery. If it is intended for on-grid use, the solar panel array will be connected to an electrical inverter.

What Is PV Solar Power?

PV solar power is solar energy in the form of sunlight, which has been collected by a photovoltaic module, and converted into usable electricity.

Conventional silicon solar panels convert about 14 to 17 percent of sunlight into usable electricity. That isn’t much. Late in 2006, however, a new solar cell was introduced. Solar panels that utilize the new cell can convert into electricity 22 percent of the sunlight they collect. Theoretically, the maximum that the cells of a solar panel can convert is said to be around 26 to 27 percent of incoming sunlight.

How does it work? Let’s look at a very simple explanation.

Each photovoltaic cell in a PV solar panel is a semiconductor. When sunlight hits those cells, a certain part of the sunlight is absorbed by those silicon cells. The cells take in that part of the sunlight’s energy. The cells then transfer the absorbed sunlight’s energy to the electrons in the silicon. The electrons begin to flow, and this creates an electrical current. Metal contacts built into the top and bottom of the PV cells draw off that current and it is sent to the grid or battery. It is now usable electricity. The power grid sends it on its way, if you have used an on-grid connection. If you are using a battery, it is stored in the battery awaiting your need.

PV solar power is being used increasingly with great success, and while it is true that cloud cover can affect it, the cloudy country of Germany leads the world in successful use of solar panels.

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Governor Schwarzenegger Turns California to Solar Roof Systems

Governor Schwarzenegger Turns California to Solar Roof Systems

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Source: Flickr

While California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for his action films, few knew of his affinity for the sun. Turns out he is hell bent on converting California to solar.

3.2 Billion Dollar Plan

This past week, the State of California became the undisputed biggest proponent of solar power in the United States. Faced with a growing population, limited energy sources and the occasional rolling blackout each summer season, the state really had no choice. With backing from Governor Schwarzenegger, the state has just implemented the biggest solar industry subsidiary every undertaken by a state in an effort to quell the energy crunch.

On January 12, 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission voted 3 to 1 to adopt a plan to encourage the use of solar roof systems by residents through a 3.2 billion dollar rebate plan. Known as the California Solar Initiative, the goal is to convert as much as six percent of the peak energy demands in the state to solar platforms. Put in practical terms, the goal is place solar systems on roughly one million homes in the state, particularly new homes. Approximately 15,000 homes in the state now have solar systems for energy generation.

When in use, the residents will receive an astonishing rebate of $2.80 cents per watt on their utilities bill. On top of this subsidy, state residents will be able to claim tax credits from the federal government as well as direct subsidies.

In turn, California is hoping to both reduce the stress on the current electrical grid system while also avoiding the costs associated with building and running massive new power generating stations necessary to feed the energy crunch associated with a growing population. It is estimated the power generated through California Solar Initiative will be sufficient to replace the need for five massive, expensive new power generation complexes.

In addition to the economic benefits of the new plan, Californians going solar can reap significant benefits through net metering laws. Under such laws, residents will be able to tie solar platforms into utility electric grids and effectively sell power back to the California utilities. Depending on the size of the solar platform, net metering can result in reduction of electrical bills from 50 percent to complete elimination.

For a state suffering growth problems, the California Solar Initiative is a major move. After a crushing defeat at the polls in late 2005, the Governor has something to cheer.

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