Know What Types Of Solar Panels Are Best For You

Types Of Solar Panels

When it comes to making the right choice for powering a home or small business efficiently, it is important to know what types of popular solar panels exist on the market and the benefits of each one. This is a big choice to make, and the initial cost can vary depending on what option the purchaser selects, so a good amount of knowledge is important.

One of the most popular designs is known as monocrystalline silicon. These are the frames that people are used to seeing, and are currently the most efficient kind available. This means that more energy is converted out of the available sunlight. If a consumer is thinking about switching over and considering these due to lack of sunlight available, they should not worry. Studies show that any kind can be installed as far north as upper Canada and still be energy efficient. When considering maximum efficiency, these types of solar panels are one of many great options.

Polycrystalline silicon is the next worth mentioning. They have lower silicon content than monocrystalline silicon frames, but they can be more cost efficient when it comes to the initial purchase price. The construction and design of these frames can make for slightly lower efficiency, but would be a great option for roof top installation.

Another of the popular types of solar panels is BIPV, or building integrated photovoltaic. These frames can be made to look like roofing tiles or shingles, which is an option for the consumer who wants to use alternative energy, but does not want their house covered in traditional panels. In general, these are not quite as efficient as the silicon brands, but in instances where appearance matters, they are a good option. These shingle-shaped designs are weather resistant, which means they are able to withstand heat, rain, snow, and hail.

The last and maybe most specific option on the market are hot water or thermal frames. These are targeted at hot water heating, which cuts down monthly costs when heating the water for the home, pool, or hot tub. This can be an especially attractive option for someone with a large pool that requires heating year-round or for many months out of the year.

Since these and other types of solar panels have not been out on the market for very long, and using alternative energy is still a fairly new concept, people may be wondering how long these systems will last. The frames are built to withstand inclement weather, and can be inexpensive to have installed and maintained by the best solar installers. The typical lifespan can exceed twenty years as well. They can pay for themselves in just a matter of years. Where cost is a consideration, it may not be necessary to install more than what is initially considered.

One important factor to consider is how important any types of solar panels can be for helping the environment and the individual’s electricity bill. It is also important to know how easy it is for anyone to make the right choice with some research. This technology is rising in popularity, and will be around for a long time.

Article is posted by XsunX– Commercial & Residential Solar Solution Experts.

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What Would Be Required For Solar Power To Become A Mainstream Energy Source?

What Would Be Required For Solar Power To Become A Mainstream Energy Source

How could solar power surpass fossil fuels in terms of electric grid percentage? Solar power has one important limitation – It can’t produce electric power on demand, like other energy sources such as hydroelectric power or fossil fuels. Instead, solar power produces its energy when sunlight is available. This is no problem for large utility-scale projects, since they export all of their output to the electric grid. From the point of view of the homeowner, on the other hand, solar power production rarely matches demand – the productive hours of a solar PV system are normally when complete families are away due to work and academic activities. Of course, small PV systems can also export electric power to the grid and purchase energy during peak hours, but the energy they actually use doesn’t come from solar power – the production of their system was likely consumed by commercial or industrial buildings during the day. In order for solar power to become a mainstream energy source, the right incentives must be in place and some emerging technologies must be adopted and developed further.

Emerging Technology: The benefits of technology can be artificially improved by electric utilities, local governments and the federal government. There are many types of incentives available for solar power such as rebates, tax credits and tax exemptions. For large scale producers of electric power, there are carbon taxes to penalize fossil fuels and carbon credits to incentive green power providers. It is important, however, for these incentives to be available continuously, regardless of government changes.

In order to use solar power at the utility scale when sunlight isn’t available, an autonomous energy storage solution is required. Traditional battery banks can accomplish the task for individual homes or stand-alone PV systems, but they are expensive and potentially dangerous. Besides, when managing thousands of homes with solar PV systems equipped with storage technology, automation and networking capabilities are required. In other words, the system must be a smart grid. The Clean Power Plan as announced by President Obama is an important step in this direction. It’s main goal is reducing emissions by 32% of 2005 levels, by the year 2030. Nation-wide standards will be published and the states that take action sooner will be rewarded.

Article is posted by XsunX -Commercial and Residential Solar Solution.

Renewable Energy Will Beat Fossil Fuels

Renewable Energy Will Beat Fossil Fuels

According to predictions by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewable energy projects will represent two-thirds of all energy investments between the years 2016 and 2040. That’s right, solar power and other renewables will eventually surpass coal and gas combined! This is excellent news for our planet’s ecosystems, and also great news for us as electricity consumers: some of the newest wind and solar farms coming online are reaching record low prices, and have become capable of competing head-on with established fossil fuels such as coal, but without the negative environmental impact.

Breaking Down the Numbers: Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that renewable energy investments from 2016 to 2040 will add up the impressive amount of 7.8 trillion dollars. Just for comparison, coal is expected to draw 1.2 trillion dollars over the same time period, not even one-sixth of the expected investment for renewables. The outlook for gas is even less promising, as it will only add up around $892 billion in investments through the year 2040. The predicted 7.8 trillion dollars in clean energy investments are split mostly among solar power ($3.4 trillion), wind power ($3.1 trillion) and hydroelectricity ($911 billion). Solar power is once again proving its feasibility as a mainstream energy source, ahead of other renewable sources, not to mention fossil fuels. Most of the new coal power plants are expected to be built in developing regions in Asia, particularly India and China, the two most populous countries in the world. On the other hand, gas will remain an important energy source for several decades in the USA. Nevertheless, at the global scale renewables will eventually surpass both coal and gas. Gas will fall behind renewable sources in the energy race by the year 2027. Coal, currently at the top of the list in terms of installed capacity, will be overtaken by renewables around the year 2037.

How Renewable Energy Will Behave by Region – Europe as a whole is expected to take the lead in clean energy adoption, with a power grid that will be 70% renewable by the year 2040. This should come as no surprise, since Ernst & Young has placed several European nations among the top 20 best countries to invest in renewable energy:

Germany – 5th place

France – 8th place

United Kingdom – 13th place

Denmark – 15th place

Netherlands – 17th place

Turkey – 19th place

Belgium – 20th place

North America is also expected to see a lot of activity in the renewable energy industry. For example, United States is expected to increase its share of clean power from 14% to 44% by the year 2040, and the country currently holds the 1st place in the Ernst & Young ranking. Canada and Mexico are not falling behind either, securing the 9th and 7th places, respectively. Mexico in particular is an example of how favorable policies can boost the adoption of renewable sources: the country recently opened up its energy sector, previously a state-owned monopoly, and it already has over 2000 megawatts of private contracts in the pipeline,distributed among solar and wind farms. Speaking of Mexico, Latin America in general is expected to see a lot of activity in the energy industry. For example, Chile and Peru share the Atacama Desert, possibly the best place for solar power in the world, receiving around 2700 peak hours of sunshine every year.

Argentina has also carried out reforms that favor renewable, and the country will now be able to benefit from its considerable wind power potential; some estimates indicate that the wind power potential of Argentina is able to cover the full energy demand of Latin America! Although China and India are expected to continue depending on coal in the long term, it doesn’t mean that these countries will not see activity in the renewable energy sector. In fact, the opposite is true: consider that these two countries have the largest populations in the world, and that translates into a considerable appetite for energy. In the Ernst & Young ranking, China sits in the 2nd place, just below the USA, and India is number three.

Article is posted by XsunX – Complete Solar Solution

Even Automakers Like General Motors Are Going Solar

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The automotive industry is shifting to green power, and not just the cars themselves, but also the facilities used to produce them. Cars are becoming hybrid and electric, and solar power is the most promising renewable energy source to power them, given that it is found everywhere and is becoming more affordable year by year. However, automakers themselves are also implementing solar power in their manufacturing facilities, even if such facilities are used to manufacture gas cars. General Motors is a leading company in the adoption of solar power, and will soon make the production of its Chevy Corvette greener.

Earlier in December 2015, General Motors announced it would soon start installing an 850-kilowatt solar array on its Corvette manufacturing plant in Kentucky. The array is estimated to produce 1.2 million kilowatt-hours per year, which is enough energy for the manufacturing process of 850 Corvettes. Being an iconic vehicle, the Corvette will continue to be sold in the long term, even as we approach the age of electric vehicles. According to GM, the Corvette is the most efficient sports car in the market, with a highway rating of 29 mpg.

Solar Car Design

This project is part of a broader program by GM to become greener, as the company has set forth the ambitious goal of cutting down its carbon footprint by 20 percent, by the year 2020. As of now, GM is the number one automaker in the USA in terms of solar power adoption: they are soon expected to reach an installed solar power capacity of 11.4 megawatts in US-based facilities alone, and a global capacity of 48 megawatts.

According to the recently released report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), its Solar Means Business report, where it ranked US companies in general according to their adoption of solar power: GM was #21, closely followed by Toyota at #25. GM is also committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the vehicles it manufactures, and has established the following goals for the year 2017:

  1. Having 500,000 vehicles on the road using electricity, including hybrid and fully electric models. This will reduce the carbon footprint of their vehicles, while stimulating the solar power market.
  2. Doubling the number of car models in the USA which are capable of achieving a fuel efficiency above 40 mpg.

General Motors is participating in the transition to a green power grid as well. as The company is one of the founding buyers in the Business Renewables Center, an initiative by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which has the goal of adding 60 gigawatts of solar and wind power capacity to the US grid by the year 2025. It seems President’s Clean Power Plan is having a positive response among corporations, even those not commonly considered “green” such as automakers.

You can also benefit from solar power while also making your home or business greener. Talk to our experts today to learn more about the technology and also to contact the best solar power providers and installers in your location.

Why is Solar Power Becoming Cheaper Throughout the World?

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A pair of decades ago, solar photovoltaic panels, commonly known as PV panels, were an experimental technology, with extremely high costs and hardly any business potential. But now, on the other hand, we’re getting to see solar power plants reaching energy costs under 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, in many cases before accounting for subsidies and incentives. There are many reasons that have contributed to turning photovoltaic technology into a competitive energy source.

The Technology Itself Got Cheaper – Solar modules now cost less than a dollar per watt of capacity. Of course, a functioning solar power plant costs more than that because complementary equipment is needed, and on top of that it is necessary to cover the construction cost and the financing cost. However, photovoltaic modules themselves are now cheaper than ever before.

Funding Sources Now Trust Solar Power – Banks can be very picky when it comes to funding. For example, you can’t expect to get a low interest loan if you haven’t established a credit record. The same can be said of businesses: banks and investors will offer the best terms if they trust the business. When solar power hadn’t proven its capacity to yield profits, nobody was going to lend low-interest capital to developers betting on the technology. Therefore, the higher interest had to be diluted into the cost of energy. Now that solar power is an established industry, capital for it is more abundant and interest rates have dropped.

Economies of Scale Have Made Projects Cheaper – A solar farm with multiple megawatts of capacity is much more expensive than your average residential PV system. However, the cost of one kilowatt is considerably lower for solar farms. While the price of solar modules doesn’t change that much, there are other system components that become much cheaper to install at larger scales, such as inverters and racking. Solar power is becoming more affordable for the simple reason that solar farms are getting larger.

Article is posted by XsunX – Commercial and Residential Solar Solution.

The Four Ingredients for Solar Power to Be Successful

Ever asked yourself why solar power is a thriving business in some locations, but is barely used in others? In principle, solar power is simple: photovoltaic panels are installed and wired, their DC output is converted to AC, and now they can synchronize with the power grid to provide energy. However, external factors may prevent a technology that works perfectly from being financially attractive. With solar power, four key ingredients must be in place.

Ingredients for Solar Power to Be Successful

1) An Abundant Solar Resource – If a project location does not get enough sunlight, you can install the most efficient solar panels in the market but will not make much energy from them. Any obstacle that blocks off sunlight diminishes the output of a solar array, and some examples are:

  • Hills or mountains
  • Trees
  • Buildings
  • Unipole billboards

The list goes on, but the basic rule is that anything capable of casting a shadow on top of a solar array is counterproductive. Geographic location can also have a negative impact on solar power. Days become shorter during the winter as you move far to the north or south, diminishing the energy output of a solar array. Solar energy production may become very low during the shortest days of the winter, precisely when the most energy is required for heating.

2) Affordable Technology – Residential PV systems are now priced at around three dollars per watt, while utility-scale projects are approaching one dollar per watt. For comparison, a solar PV system used to cost more than $10/watt in the year 2000. The gradual reduction in technology costs has been a key factor driving the solar industry. However, there may also be artificial factors influencing the installed cost of solar power:

  • An installed solar array will be more expensive in countries with higher wages.
  • Taxes can make or break a solar power project; high taxes may make the project unfeasible, while tax exemptions and credits may drastically reduce its payback period and make it more attractive.
  • Utilities trying to meet renewable energy targets may offer rebates, further reducing the cost of an installed and functioning solar photovoltaic system.

Sometimes, the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) is a more useful metric than the upfront cost of solar power, since it provides a direct way to compare it against local utility rates. Assume a solar PV system offers an energy cost of $0.12/kWh: it saves money if local electric rates exceed that value, but offers no economic benefit if the rates are lower.

3) Low-Cost Capital – A residential PV system is a sizable investment, not to mention a utility-scale solar farm. For example, even if the $1/watt mark is reached, a 100MW solar farm will cost 100 million dollars, and few project developers will be willing to pay that kind of cash up front. Therefore, it is common for solar PV systems to be installed with loans, but the interest on a loan can determine whether the project is lucrative or not. Assume a solar PV system has a rate of return of 10 percent: any loan with an interest rate below that value is attractive for financing the project, but any loan above that rate actually means the developer loses money. Corporations have access to very favorable loan terms, and individuals with a great credit record may also apply. However, a solar PV system is not something you can buy with your credit card! The cost of capital does not affect the installed cost of a solar PV system, but it influences the LCOE: higher interest rates translate into a higher LCOE and less likelihood that the solar PV system in question will be able to compete with electric utility rates.

4) Favorable Regulations – For the solar industry, governments can be the best ally or the worst enemy.

  • Solar power can thrive in a country with a strong renewable energy portfolio, an electric sector that is open to private investment, and with tax incentives for renewable energy.
  • On the other hand, the industry is doomed to fail in a country where the electric sector is operated exclusively by the government and homes are not allowed to have net metering for solar power.

Argentina and Mexico are two clear examples of this, both countries recently opened up their electric sector to private investments, and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power have grown considerably in just a few months.

You can visualize the solar industry as a four-legged table. If any of the legs are cut, solar power ceases to be a solid investment. However, solar power is a lucrative business when there is an abundant solar resource, affordable technology, low-interest loans and favorable regulations.

How Combining Solar Power and Cooling Saves Energy ?

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Solar photo voltaic power has already proven it can be a cost-effective source of energy, and many of the largest and best performing utility-scale solar farms have achieved grid parity with established fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. In addition, solar power depends on a free input in order to produce a supply of electricity, and operates with zero emissions.

Concentrating solar power, or CSP, is an alternative technology to photovoltaic panels that can even integrate with the same turbines and generators used by fossil fuels for electric power generation. Despite its economic and financial benefits, however, solar power still has one key challenge to overcome: being able to provide energy on demand. For example, the only way to use energy produced by a solar power technology during nighttime is generating it during the day and storing it for later use.

Generation is no longer a problem, since some of the largest solar farms are reaching installed costs as low as $1,300 per kilowatt. On the other hand, storage is still a tricky topic: affordable lead-acid batteries have a short service life and are high-maintenance, while emerging technologies such as lithium-ion and vanadium-redox batteries offer superior performance but at much higher prices.

The area where fossil fuels still beat solar power hands down is in their ability to provide energy exactly when it is required. However, nobody said that you are forced to store the energy from solar power in batteries. Remember that energy can also be stored as temperature difference. This means that if you heat or cool a substance and then place it inside an insulated container, you have cost-effective energy storage. When you think about it, electric power is almost always converted to another form by electrical devices: lamps turn it into light, air conditioners use it to lower room temperature, fans turn it into air motion, and electric motors turn it into torque.

Solar power proves to be a very flexible technology, capable of integrating with various types of electrical devices, including refrigeration equipment. You can also get the benefits of solar power for your home, achieving a solid return on investment and long-term savings. Just have a chat with our experts to learn more about the technology and also to get in touch with the top solar contractors near you.

Importance of Favorable Regulation for Solar Power

Solar power becomes a very attractive investment when sunlight is available in generous amounts, since one obtains more energy and savings for a given PV system capacity. The southwest of the USA has excellent natural conditions for solar power, particularly in states like Arizona, Nevada, California and New Mexico. Some locations in these states receive more than six peak sun hours per day, which greatly increases the energy output a photovoltaic system while reducing its payback period. However, even with excellent site conditions and affordable solar panels, the local regulatory framework has a considerable impact on the financial attractiveness of solar power. The case of California and Nevada is a clear example of this; both states have plenty of sunshine throughout the year, but very different regulatory approaches to solar power:

  • In Nevada, the government has sided with electric utility companies and is creating less favorable conditions for solar power: On January 1, the fixed monthly fee for solar power customers was raised by 40 percent, while also lowering the payments received for exporting the surplus production of solar PV systems to the grid.
  • California, on the other hand, has plenty of government incentives for solar power, including generous rebates. The state also has a thriving entrepreneurial community, and thanks to these factors the installed solar power capacity in California is currently half of the total national capacity!

In addition, these changes are retroactive(!), which means customers using solar power can expect large bills this month… just for being users of photovoltaic technology. The new regulations were pushed forth mostly by NV Energy Inc, the owner of Nevada’s two largest electric utilities.

Trends Shaping the Future of Solar Power

Solar photovoltaic systems have already proven their financial viability, and their costs are rapidly declining. In utility-scale projects, for example, installed costs are about to drop below the $1000/kilowatt mark. Also, there are now plenty of solar farms in the world producing energy at prices below 5 cents/kWh, and an 800-MW project in Dubai just broke the price record for solar power at 2.99 cents/kWh. Cost is no longer an issue for photovoltaic solar systems, which means the future of the industry will be defined by other factors. According to industry experts, the trends that could have the most significant impact are the following:

  • Regulatory changes by governments and utility companies
  • Evolution of energy storage methods

The Role of Regulation – The regulatory framework for solar power is a wild card, which can have either positive or negative effects on the industry:

  • New York and New Jersey are two examples of how favorable regulations can boost the solar industry. Although sunshine is modest in both states, they’re currently among the top markets for solar power in the USA.
  • Nevada is an opposite example: In spite of the generous amounts of sunlight available, local regulations have slowed down a once thriving solar industry. Local utilities have placed hefty charges on customers who use PV systems, and compensation for energy exported to the grid has been drastically reduced.

How regulation changes in the future will play a significant role on the evolution of the solar industry. Favorable regulations can result in a smarter and more integrated power grid, while unfavorable regulations can result in more customers preferring off-grid photovoltaic systems.

Energy Storage – Solar power is already competing against established fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas in terms of price, but providing a 24/7 energy supply has proven to be a challenge. Considering that solar PV systems are only productive during daytime, energy storage is mandatory to achieve a 24/7 supply. Storage can be based on a few large-scale facilities or distributed among thousands of small-scale systems deployed by individual energy consumers. Of course, a combination of both approaches is also possible. The evolution of energy storage is strongly related to how regulations change in the near future:

  • Unfavorable regulations for small- scale PV systems will drive the construction of large-scale storage facilities, operated by utility companies themselves or by private investors. If small-scale energy storage becomes affordable enough, homeowners might consider going completely off the grid to avoid the extra charges on PV systems.
  • Favorable regulations for small- scale systems will incentive more home and business owners to deploy local energy storage, and all of these systems would be able to operate in a coordinated fashion with the use of automation (Internet of Things).

If distributed energy storage becomes mainstream, information technologies are expected to play a very important role. Control and automation will be required for tasks such as:

  • Allowing a storage system to determine the optimal times for storing and supplying energy.
  • Aggregating multiple systems to absorb surplus production from intermittent energy sources (wind and solar farms).

These new regulations have placed considerable pressure on the main players of the solar power industry in Nevada. For example, SolarCity Corp. and Sunrun Inc. were both forced to cut down their staff by hundreds of employees. Governments throughout the world must realize that solar power is a booming industry which can create considerable economic growth and hundreds of jobs. When limitations are placed on the solar power industry to protect older business models, such as those of traditional electric utilities, the resulting damage far outweighs any benefit.

Of course, there has been backlash from solar power companies in Nevada. A group of 18 venture capital investors is pressuring the state governor to void the recent regulatory changes, and rallies to protest against the new fees are being organized in Las Vegas and Carson City. Regulations like those recently approved in Nevada cause great damage to innovation, but the greatest impact is suffered by homeowners who have invested in solar photovoltaic systems. They have to face reduced payments for the surplus energy they sell to the grid, while also being charged a retroactive fee. It is unfair to punish homeowners for using a technology which brings both environmental and economic benefits. The case of California and Nevada clearly demonstrates the importance of favorable laws and regulations for the solar power industry.

If you plan to install a photovoltaic system, make sure the make the most out of any benefits available in your location! You can have a talk and a discussion with our solar experts for guidance on this topic, or for any questions or inquiries you might have.