New Jersey is starting to seem like the most Green state in the nation. The Governor has ordered a billion dollars worth of wind turbines installed some 20 miles offshore, to power between 250,000 and half a million homes. New Jersey is obviously a believer in alternative energy sources. Their funding and incentives are considerable. Local communities have already solarized 17 of the 21 schools in the Toms River Regions School District. Now their Brick School District is asking that their 525 kilowatt system be added to the list.
This time it isn’t a matter of if they will put in a solar system, but whether they’re going to contract with another company to provide the equipment, or if they’re going to buy it themselves. If the contract, an outside vendor will supply the solar panels and related equipment, mount that equipment on school property, maintain it, and charge the school for the electricity. Of course, the company is there to make a profit, but how much more will it cost to contract for the power?
The difference is considerable. The school’s net savings is projected at $520,000 if they contract to purchase solar power. But if they finance the $4.75 million to buy the equipment themselves, the state will contribute another $1.25 million, and they stand to gain about $1.2 million in the same timeframe. What’s more, those figures are conservative. Revenues from selling solar power back to the grid could be considerably higher.
Either way they go, that’s not too shabby for having a few panels on the roof. Either way, everyone stands to gain from switching to alternative power. We’re pleased and proud to see the Garden State leading the way in alternative energies by Going Green!
We’ve pretty well established that Going Green News is all for environmentally safe, sustainable and renewable resources. In other writings, we’ve defined that as (primarily) solar, wind and water generated. Hydrogen technologies are not yet commercially viable, so we don’t include them at this time. In this article we’ll be looking at the advantages that Solar power offers over other Green technologies.
Low/no maintenance. Once a solar farm is set up, the panels go on collecting energy for a long time with minimal care.
Low space requirements means that they can be mounted most anywhere, including rooftops (which are often wasted space.)
Solar isn’t just photo-electric. It can also be used to heat homes, heat water for cleaning and bathing, etc.
Small solar chargers can deliver portable energy to gadgets and light-duty devices, freeing us from plug-ins.
As we become more energy conscientious, more devices will be engineered to operate on minimal energy (and solar cells will become more effective at harnessing the sun,) making solar devices as common as the solar calculators we’ve been using for decades.
These five points go far to demonstrate how solar power is feasible and useful now. People have been using solar energy as their primary source for a long time, and the advancements in solar technology just keep on coming. When we consider the nearly incalculable power of the sun’s rays, it’s clear that solar technologies must be a major part of our Green energy solutions.
Going Green News is decidedly in favor of renewable, sustainable energy sources, no matter what their origin. The basic groups are Solar, Wind, and Hydro generated. Biodiesel, ethanol and other combustion engine fuels don’t qualify, as they still have significant carbon footprings, and are often destructive in their production. But what about the big three? Are they as good as they seem? Let’s take a look at some of the DIS-advantages of solar power. Here’s a list:
Relatively low output, which equates to a much longer return on the financial investment.
Needs to be stored in batteries. The power simply isn’t strong enough to be stored any other way.*
Relatively expensive to produce, and its components still have a carbon footprint.
Whether lead, lithium ion, or some other technology, batteries aren’t exactly kind on the environment either.
While they can produce in overcast conditions, most agree that solar panels require strong sun to be efficient.
Improved battery technologies may alleviate some of the concern, but it remains that solar farms are going to have to be located in very sunny places. They will sprawl. Then the energy will have to be transported via wire (loss of power) to the places it is needed.
One mitigating concept we’ve been employing thusfar is to produce and use the solar-generated power locally. Solar can charge up smaller batteries easily enough, which works great for small patio lamps, gadget recharging, etc. Depending on locale, the sun’s rays can also be used to suppliment hot water for washing within the home. Just don’t expect to power your car off of a rooftop solar panel any time soon.
* A M.I.T. professor has developed a hydrogen generator that can theoretically run on a solar panel, but this is not an available technology.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed the window of the future by integrating solar collectors directly into the glass pane. These new windows will not only provide a view and ambient light, but also harness the sunlight to power the home or building they are part of. MIT engineers report a new approach to harnessing the sun’s energy that could allow just that.
The work, which will be reported in an issue of Science, involves the creation of a unique “solar concentrator.” “Sun light is collected over a large surface (such as a window) and focused, or concentrated, at the edges,” explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.
The end result is that instead of covering the roof of a building with expensive photovoltaic cells (the semiconductor that converts sunlight into electricity), the solar cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel. In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell “by a factor of over 40,” Baldo says.
This technology is a huge advancement for solar generation because the system is easy to manufacture, and the MIT development team believes that it could be implemented within three years. The system could even be added onto existing solar-panel systems to boost their power generation by 50 percent for a low installation cost. This is a huge developmental step toward reducing the cost of installing solar electricity generation methods into existing buildings.
Meraki Solar recently announced that they’ve taken the first ever solar-powered WiFi mesh device to market. Public places will now be able to use the Meraki system to provide a WiFi hotspot in places where it would have been difficult, costly, and expensive to do before. With their system, the need for cables is all but gone, so WiFi can be provided easily most anywhere!
The unit comes with both a solar panel and a Lithium battery, so it is able to store the sun’s energy even even if it’s not in use at the time! The unit is entirely self-contained, compact and convenient. Just put it on a wall, a post, a fence — anywhere you find some sun!
Sanjit Biswas, the CEO of Meraki, said that Meraki Solar allows customers to “deploy wireless in hard-to-wire areas quickly and without disrupting their businesses.”
Prices for the solar-powered repeater range from $848 to $1,497. No, that’s not cheap, but it eliminates the substantial expense of running electricity to a remote location, (sometimes the most expensive part of the entire installation,) making it less expensive than a hardwired installation. The company also provides a web-based Dashboard, so you’re able to monitor the battery’s charging status.
Suffering from sticker-shock? Meraki is also offering a solar-powered repeater which will extend the range of your home or office Wi-Fi by as much as 700 meters — for a total of less than $150!
Solar powered WiFi systems aren’t a brand new thing, but Meraki’s all-in-one commercial solution is the first of its kind, and promises to be considerably more practical than previous piecemeal combinations have been, and it’s all Going Green!
Look forward to finding a WiFi signal in more remote locations in the near future!
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s Scott Becker recently announced an innovation in energy sources, mixing very old and very new. The museum is going all solar, making their working exhibit the first solar-powered trolley line in the world. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Energy Harvest Program funded just over a quarter of a million dollars, which will pay for an installed 36 KW photovoltaic (solar panel) system. The system will generate the electricity by which they run their vintage streetcar vehicles.
Guests learn by experience, enjoying a four-mile long ride on these perfectly restored streetcars. The scenery along the way is pleasant. With the new power source, the exhibit will be both a step back and forward in time. This exhibit proves that we can provide transportation without pollution.
Becker says he’s conveyed the concept to the Pittsburgh Port Authority, who will now consider using this as an example. Hopefully they’ll be designing their own solar system to power the city’s light rail system soon.
Solar Power Industries of Belle Vernon, a local company, is doing the system design and installation. The project will give the museum its own substation. It’s may not seem like all that much of an immediate savings, only $5000 a year. But when the museum reopens for the season on April 3rd, 2009, it will be running entirely on its own power, generated entirely by solar panels. This makes the trolley autonomous and entirely Green, and that’s worth a fortune!
We are very lucky to have the sun at our disposal, and our earth is blessed to have the center of the entire solar system so close, or at least at the right distance. Without the sun, life never would have been possible, but had we been located any closer, we likely would have burned up. The sun has always been looked at as a powerful source, from the olden days when it was worshipped as a god, to modern times where it is regarded as a highly efficient source of energy. Solar energy is the name for the energy we derive from the sun’s power. Your homes energy be powered by residential solar power rather than by fuel or oil.
In order to get the most from solar power energy, you must be willing to use it wisely and effectively. The largest uses for residential energy are powering your refrigerator, heating the home and water, and cooking. Heating needs extend to the back yard if you have a pool that needs to be kept warm. In a solar powered home, the power of the sun can be harnessed to power your oven and your stove top. There are plenty of different types of solar ovens and cook tops. The most important of all energy users in your home is the refrigerator, which can be energized using solar power.
Solar energy is simple to store at home, and the solar power system is easy to use and understand. You can store extra solar power in your back yard in the form of a solar battery, which is perfect for the evenings or days where the sun is not out. This way, you always have a renewable energy source available to you, even when it’s dark or raining. An efficient residential solar power energy source will make it possible for you to stop paying for electricity all together. Can you imagine drawing all of your electricity power from the sun, and never paying another electric bill?
In other countries such as Japan, using a solar powered electricity system is nothing new. Many Japanese residences are solar powered, and the home owners are completely comfortable with these energy systems. Solar energy systems are also being used where many villages cannot easily obtain power or water. Solar power systems are also being manufactured for homes in the United States, including in Nevada, Texas and California. You may even be able to locate building materials which are solar-enabled or solar capable, creating a power system which is insulated and installed during the home building process.
Solar power is believed to be the cleanest and the most viable of all forms of renewable energy that is currently available. Solar power can be used in several different forms in order to bring power to your home or business. For example, many gardens are now using water or light features which are powered completely by solar energy. Because solar power use in gardens is becoming so popular, people are beginning to finally understand how versatile solar power truly can be when it comes to providing an eco-friendly and naturally renewable source of energy. The technology behind this power source is becoming more compact and smaller, which is making it much more inexpensive to utilize in a variety of applications. During the 1980s, there were more than enough solar panels to power more than 10 million homes in California.
Photovoltaic tiles, as well as some other solar energy forms, work simply by converting some of the energy created by sunlight into a form of electricity which is clean and can be used within homes. Photovoltaic or PV cells consist of both a positive and a negative silicon slice which is placed under glass. The electrons are knocked off the silicon as the sunlight’s protons beat down onto this PV cell. The free electrons, which are negatively charged, are attracted and then trapped within the magnetic field before being caught to form an electric current when connected within a circuit.
This current must be passed through an inverter before it can become an Alternating current, as it is a Direct Current as a result of the reaction. Alternating current is the type of current that we use within our homes to power electrical items such as televisions, refrigerators and other appliances and electronics. A small portion of the power is lost during this conversion process, because the inverter is typically only around 95-percent efficient, but this is still a very large improvement over solar energy technology of the past.
The Photovoltaic tiles are created in such a way that there is little if any maintenance involved at any point. Because there are no moving or breakable parts, a single Photovoltaic cell can last for upwards of forty years with no work other than an occasional cleaning. Photovoltaic cells should be cleaned at least annually to ensure that they continue to function as they are meant to.
Powering the Home
There are several different things that you can do to make use of solar power within your home, and not all of them involve actual powering. For example, you can heat your water, your pool or even your home using a grid-tie system. Grid-tie systems allow you to sell your excess energy back to the grid after using the rest to power your entire house. There is no reason that you cannot power your home as much as 75-percent to 100-percent if you run an energy efficient household. With an energy-efficient household and a decent solar power system, you may never have to pay for electricity again!
One of the big concerns about Solar energy is how to store it. That’s a valid concern. So far, batteries are large, heavy, environmentally messy, and need replacing every 4 years or so. Well, that’s actually the best case scenario, the GOOD version. Fact is, the batteries are often much more problematic than that, require a lot of maintenance and repair/exchange during those four years as well. What, then, are the answers? Well, if you’re on-grid, you can sell it back to the power company. What if you’re off-grid?
A couple concepts come to mind. One is a capacitor. We’d have to figure out a way to do a controlled discharge of the electricity, but large capacitors are nowhere near as heavy, nor do they damage the environment the way that lead batteries do. The other is to store the heat from the sun, not just electricity. There is a french company making a VERY well insulated hot water heater, for example. Their 6′x6′ panel, combined with that water heater, keeps water steaming hot all night long! The savings would be enormous… and no electric bills in the meantime! And it’s not only feasible in warm-weather places. Cold weather places still get the sun’s rays as well. Just takes a bit of effort and ingenuity to use the sun’s rays to our benefit all the time!
The Solar Power International 08 convention and expo will be held in San Diego, California in October. There will be thousands in industry people from around the world attending the Solar Power International event, the largest solar energy industry event held in the USA this year. The event is organized by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This is the fifth year for the event. Solar Power International will take place October 13 – 16, 2008, at the San Diego Convention Center. This year the conference and expo coincides with Solar Energy Week in San Diego, organized by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), drawing curious citizens from across the region to learn about solar power. With a total attendance expected to approach 20,000 people, Solar Power International ‘08 is the largest solar energy event in history. For more information on attending or participating, visit the Solar Power International website.