The driving force behind solar energy today is it competitiveness. That is, the ability to save consumers environmentally and financially. These days plummeting prices of systems many solar businesses began to place more emphasis on price rather than quality.
No doubt the reduction in the cost of the systems have resulted in growth. However, many are now paying the price for substandard panels. Unlike other countries in the world, Australia is the country with the lowest costs for solar. This is due to the compromising of quality for cost.
Finance has helped other countries by with the enforcement of due diligence on supply chain partners. The fact is that finance companies look for solar retailers that understand the market, offer sophistication and demonstrates safety compliance and comprehensive business practices. This reduces financial risks for these companies. This is why finance is driving structural change in the solar business. Solar retailers who successfully adapt to the requirements ultimately benefit in the long term.
Several significant statistics suggest that use of solar energy is growing tremendously, particularly in residential usage and among middle class Americans.
In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy made up a whopping 74 percent of the nation’s new electric generation. This figure is a part of a steadily growing trend that shows that more and more solar energy is being used nationwide.
In addition, in early 2014, commercial solar energy projects were surpassed by residential solar power installations for the first time in history. This suggests that the solar energy trend has extended from corporate and commercial interests to homeowners, and that an increasing number of homes are relying on solar energy for some portion of their power usage.
Furthermore, the Center for American Progress reported that over 60 percent of residential solar installations are currently occurring in zip codes in which the median income is between $40,000 and $90,000. This statistic supports the idea that solar power is no longer merely an option for the wealthy, but has made its way to the average home and will continue to do so in greater frequency. Experts predict that by 2016, more than half of homebuilders in America will at least offer customers the option of a solar installation with their home—a significant increase from the 12 percent who did so in 2013. The challenge in places like Texas has been the cheap electricity rates brought about by the abundance of natural gas. This makes it all the more difficult for solar energy to compete on price.
Individuals who rent accommodations and those whose roofs are not large enough or unsuitable for solar systems can still benefit from solar energy through community solar gardens. This is a relatively new approach that started in Colorado and is gaining traction in other parts of the country.
The solar community garden allows customers to buy into a solar array and receive a credit on their electricity bill for whatever power their panels produce. The credit received is usually at a fixed rate per kilowatt hour. The energy portion is then deducted from their electricity bills.
The cost of the solar panels in the community solar gardens can range from anywhere between $500 to $1,400. Customers subscribing to community solar gardens must live within utility service or geographic boundaries. Community solar gardens offer flexibility in that customers can transfer their interest in the panels and if they move they are also able to take the output with them or turn it over to someone else.
A biological phenomenon related to photosynthesis is showing scientists that plants are actually using quantum mechanics to take sunlight and turn it into energy. Cells absorb photons and transmit energy after they have absorbed the light.
Scientists have been trying to replicate this process in solar cells in order to make them more efficient, but there is nothing more than a toy model at this point. The scientists are hoping that these models can help to improve the output that is generated from solar cells.
The idea behind these tests is that the energy conversion can be raised by 35% when the scientists can apply these principles to solar cells. However, the technology has not been perfected. Scientists believe that they must study every part of the system in order to figure out how the plant systems work.
With the hope of increased production, scientists may be able to crack the code on solar energy efficiency.
The states of Texas, California and Arizona are poised to see an increase in the amount of electricity produced by solar thermal power plants. This is in light of an announcement from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that many additional solar thermal plants will shortly begin operation.
The Abengoa Solar and the BrightSource Energy power plants located in Arizona and California respectively, are the two largest power plants that will commenced operation last month. Both power plants are expected to generate a total of 642 megawatts of residential electricity which has the potential of powering 200,000 homes.
When compared to photovoltaic generators, solar thermal plants are quite expensive, costing as much as $2.2 million. This project will however be funded by loans from the U.S Department of Energy. The power plants will assist in fulfilling the Climate Action Plan objective set by the Obama administration to combat climate change through the means of clean energy.
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Did you know that the amount of solar energy that strikes the Earth in just one hour is enough to power all of the human enterprises for an entire year? It’s true, and there are people who believe that solar energy can take care of everyone’s needs.
However, there are people who want to be a little more conservative when dreaming about how big the impact of solar power will be. Because the largest conversion percentage for a photoelectric power cell is 33.7%, people are concerned that only that percentage of the solar energy hitting the Earth can be used.
The German architect André Broessel has come up with a ball lens that he believes can convert electricity from solar power at a rate of around 50%. His “ball lens” has photo cells underneath the orb. The orb essentially compacts energy into a tight beam and focuses that energy onto the photo cells. This system even works when the skies are not clear.
While his system is not far-fetched, it will be difficult to get companies to retrofit their existing solar systems. However, this ball lens could be efficient up to a rate of 70% if it could be put into use.
Improving the efficiency of solar energy production has been on the lips of everyone who works at or attends Saint David’s Episcopal Church. The church has a large facility that takes up a city block. The church even has a parking garage that gets a great deal of direct sunlight. However, the sunlight that the church gets is actually too much to use.
Therefore, the church went about changing the goals of their project. Systems are actually designed to produce power, but that power is lost if it is not used immediately. In fact, the system cannot send power back into the power grid. When power is sent back into the whole power grid, the solar system trips and shuts off.
Together with Meridian Power, the church is working on a project to reduce their solar capacity so that the church only produces what it needs. This new approach to solar power could change how people view solar power and how solar power panels are installed in the future.
The problem of storing the energy produced by solar power panels has been something that General Compression, a Boston-based company, has been working on. While many people may have installed solar power panels, there are surpluses of energy that could be “banked” for use by the homeowner or by their neighbors.
What General Compression hopes to do is have a storage facility for excess solar energy so that customers do not have to have storage at their home. This also allows for customers to draw from the bank when they need and not because of an overage of power they have stored on their property.
While the rules and regulations of the energy markets will have to be changed to allow for a storage facility of this type, people who have shortages of power can take energy from the bank when they need. People who have overages will be able to wait to take out energy, and everyone benefits from mutually-produced power in the end.