Neo Solar Power Announces 21.1% Efficient Mono-PERC Solar Cell

By Jake Richardson via Clean Technica.

Neo Solar Power announced that is has created a 21.1% efficient solar cell with passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) technology. The maximum efficiency was certified by the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

neosolarpowerThe p-type mono record was set by Trina Solar at 21.4% last November, so Neo Solar is close with its “Black 21” cell builds. Neo Solar also has cells named Black 19 and Black 20.

A passivation layer is added at the rear side of the cell in PERC technology to increase conversion efficiency. Energy conversion rates of about 20.5% are typical for PERC monocrystalline solar cells. The efficiencies have been good, but costs have also been higher. Some more intriguing applications for these cells are for solar cars and space.

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Solar energy – infinite source of power generation

By Zafar Bhutta via The Express Tribune

ISLAMABAD: Energy sustainability through the solar resource seems to be the only option. The amount of energy the sun radiates in a day is more than the energy used by the world population in a year.

Every hour millions of kilowatts of solar energy hit the earth’s surface, which, if consumed, can altogether change the life of common man. Owing to this characteristic, solar energy is considered an infinite source of renewable energy.

Scientists believe the sun alone will be sufficient to meet energy needs of the world, if all non-renewable resources are exhausted.

Pakistan is deficient in energy, though it has enormous coal, wind, solar and water resources. Its overall power generation capacity stands at 23,538 megawatts with a shortfall of nearly 4,000 and 9,000 megawatts in winter and peak summer seasons, respectively.

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What happens when I need new shingles?

I have a home with 10 year old asphalt shingles, 3-tab that have an average lifespan of 15 to 18 years but they are dark in color which shortens this. If I am planning for a ROI of 10 years, that’s just about the time I will be needing a new roof. How do roofers install new shingles “around” my new solar panels?

Morocco to build world’s largest concentrated solar power plant

By Milena Veselinovic from CNN.

It may be famous for its meandering medinas and the scenic Atlas Mountains, but Morocco might soon make its name as a solar superpower.

The north-western African nation is building the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant, which will supply electricity to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018, according to the World Bank.

The plant is being constructed in a 30 square kilometer area outside the city of Ouarzazate, on the fringe of the Sahara desert, famous as the filming location of Hollywood blockbusters like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator,” and the TV series “Game of Thrones.”

The first phase, titled Noor 1, will be operational in the next few weeks, according to officials.

“Morocco stands at the forefront of climate-friendly policies in the region,” Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, says in a report.

“The country is well positioned to benefit from its head-start at a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programs,” he adds.

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Extend the federal tax credit on rooftop solar

By Bryan Miller from San Francisco Chronicle

Over the next few weeks, Congress will debate the critical investment tax credit, the only national solar policy in America. Without an extension of the tax credit, Bloomberg New Energy Finance warns that 100,000 solar workers will lose their jobs and 7,000 solar companies will disappear. Most of those job losses would be here in California — the state that created the modern solar industry.

Across California are schools, churches, farms, small businesses and 450,000 homes that benefit today from solar savings. Without the investment tax credit, many Californians will not be able to install solar power. In other states where solar is just getting off the ground, such as Nevada, Utah, South Carolina and New Hampshire, growth of the solar industry will stop. This matters to the residents of those states, but it should also matter to Californians, because climate change does not respect state lines. Emissions-free solar technologies effectively replace the energy produced by traditional, carbon-emitting electric generation.

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Exxon Predicted the Cost Curve for Solar Decades Ago

By Stephen Lacey from Greentech Media

Many were caught off guard by the emergence of solar as a competitive power source. The scientist who led Exxon’s research arm back in the 1980s wasn’t one of them.

Peter Eisenberger, now an environmental science professor at Columbia’s Earth Institute, co-authored an internal report for Exxon projecting that solar wouldn’t become viable until 2012 or 2013. The report, written before he left the company in 1989, suggested that Exxon would do best to sell its solar assets; not surprisingly, the company did just that. What is surprising is that Exxon’s 25-year-old solar projections nailed the timing for the arrival of affordable solar power.

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7 big companies you didn’t realize use solar power

By Auric Solar from KSL

Solar power is on the rise. In fact, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the amount installed in the United States grew 485 percent between 2010 and 2013. Repeat, 485 percent! That’s a lot of solar power.

And why not? The cost of solar power continues to decrease, it generates electricity in a clean and reliable way, and it saves money. Most people would call that a win-win-win. Not only is it becoming more popular among households, but big companies are also buying into the solar power phenomenon. Below are seven businesses you may not have realized use solar power.

1. Intel Corporation
Combining wind and solar, the technology and telecom company’s total annual usage is 3,107,050,000 kilowatts. The environmental impact of Intel’s green purchases equals taking more than 455,000 cars off the road or powering more than 327,000 American homes in one year, according to epa.gov. Go Intel.

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Stand alone versus grid connected solar power systems

You’ve probably run into the terms “stand alone” and “grid connected” in the context of solar panel systems. These are important terms that define how the power you collect from the sun is transferred to your home. So what do these terms mean and which is better?

Let’s start out with grid connected systems. As the name implies, grid connected systems are connected to the local power grid allowing surplus energy collected by the panels to feed back into the grid. For example, if your family is on vacation on a sunny day and the lights and air conditioning are off in your home, you’re going to produce more energy than your house uses and that power will go into the grid. Energy companies will then deduct this power from your energy bill. When your house requires more power than the solar panels are collecting, that power is supplied by the grid. Furthermore, grid connected systems don’t store power; therefore, during the night, the power grid supplies 100% of the power.

In contrast, stand alone solar power systems aren’t connected to the power grid. Instead, they store power in the form of batteries, which are then fed directly into your house. Stand alone system’s independence from the power grid make them an attractive and popular option for remote houses where power grids are not available. However, if you’ve recently bought a pack of batteries you know that they’re not cheap. The high cost of batteries is the principle reason stand alone systems are so expensive.

Due to the high cost of stand alone systems, grid connected systems have become far more popular than stand alone systems in the last five years. It’s possible that stand alone systems will become more popular as the price of batteries decreases but until that happens, grid connected systems will remain the more popular option for buildings on the grid.
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Backing up your grid-tied system with batteries

As we have discussed in the introductory pieces on solar, there are two principle kinds of solar systems: grid-tied and stand alone. Grid-tied systems are directly connected to the power grid and any energy that is collected is converted into AC by an inverter and supplied to your house or sold to the grid. Alternatively, stand alone systems supply power to batteries, which are then directly plugged into the house. A third kind of solar system is a combination of the two: grid-tied with a converter that can also feed into batteries. This alternative setup allows the solar owner to have more control over how and when their power is used. Let’s talk more about how this would work and why it may or may not make sense for a typical home owner.

One of the common questions asked by people new to solar systems is: do solar panels power the house when the power supplied by power lines goes off? If you are among the majority of solar panel owners with a grid-tied system, the answer is no. When the power grid goes down, so does the grid-tied solar system. The inverter, which is responsible for converting the DC power of the solar array to the AC power used by the house, goes down with the grid, thereby blocking the power from being used in any way. It could be the sunniest day of the year and it wouldn’t matter; all the energy collected by the panels wouldn’t be used without the inverter to convert the DC to AC.

One way to get around power outages is to use bidirectional inverters, which are capable of converting both to AC and DC. Essentially, they are capable of converting energy gathered by the sun to usable energy for the house (i.e., DC to AC) and energy from the grid to charge batteries (i.e., AC to DC).

Another benefit of bidirectional inverters and batteries is they allow you to decide when you buy energy from the grid versus when you sell energy back to the grid, which gives solar owners the potential to save money on tiered pricing. It basically comes down to using less power from the grid and selling more power back to the grid when you would be paying more per kWh for that energy. In some states, such as Hawaii, too many people are attempting to sell power back to the grid, which has prompted utility companies to disallow selling energy back to the grid. Even in these states, however, having a bidirectional inverter and a battery system allows you to decide when to buy the least amount of power. Once again, paying attention to the tiered system would allow you to save the most amount of money possible if you used your batteries most when the price of energy was the highest.

Although bidirectional converter and batteries are an attractive option, there are some important factors to consider before getting out your checkbook. The biggest deterrent for buying bidirectional inverters with battery storage is price. A typical inverter is thousands of dollars and the batteries are hundreds. A complete set of batteries with a standard bidirectional inverter would run for about $8,000. The battery life is mostly determined by the ambient temperature in which the battery resides. In a typical basement, the battery should last about a decade.

As battery technology improves, we may see the prevalence of battery systems increase. However, for now, the high cost will continue to deter many potential customers. Closely considering all the factors that go into the cost of energy where you live and your energy usage is important before pulling the trigger on a battery kit. If you would like to discuss your personal situation with a representative and figure out if buying such a system is in your best interest, give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Federal, state and local tax credits and rebates

Solar energy tax credits and rebates are offered at the local, state and federal levels to encourage homeowners to use renewable energy and lower their burden on the environment. The solar rebates help pay for a percentage of the cost of the systems, covering up to 30% of the cost. Furthermore, the federal government allow new solar system owners to deduct 30% of the cost of their solar system from their federal taxes.

The tax credits and rebates dramatically lower the cost of setting up a solar system, allowing more home owners to take advantage of the technology. The tax credits and rebates were made to reward early solar users to jump start the new technology. The incentive program is possible due to an allotted fund, which will eventually run out. Because this fund is finite, the tax credits and rebates are gradually going down as the fund is used up. That’s why it’s important to get with the program while the federal government will pay you to buy solar panels.

Contact us now to get the highest tax credit and rebate possible. By taking advantage of local, regional and federal funds, we guarantee we’ll find you the best deal possible!