Archive | May 2017

UK Breaks Solar Record; Generates 24 Percent of Power from Solar

On Friday, May 26, on what was expected to be one of the hottest days of the year, solar panels in the UK generated a record amount of power, enough to meet almost 25 percent of demand. This is according to data compiled by National Grid Plc and Sheffield University.

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Listen Up: What Home Owners Need To Know About Battery Storage Systems

Since the sun does not shine at night we need a way to store daytime-generated solar energy. Net metering is an elegant and 100% efficient way to shift excess solar power, but that system will not work at high solar penetration levels. Never mind the fact that utilities are loath to allow their customers to generate electricity for less than it costs them to deliver this power.

As a result, battery storage is on the minds of almost all new solar customers. Storage technology, incentives, favorable electric rates and control software are all evolving rapidly. There are currently about a dozen companies with battery storage systems designed for use with rooftop solar. Like peanut butter and chocolate, many solar companies are starting to offer battery storage systems along with their solar systems.

My advice is to proceed with caution. Even though off-grid battery storage systems have been available for years, we are at the very early stages of grid-tied solar combined with battery storage. From a hardware standpoint, battery storage costs are plummeting, and new inverters/charge controllers are being developed. Perhaps more importantly, software that will efficiently interact with solar, batteries, the grid and your home energy consumption still has limited functionality. For more about the practicalities of home battery storage, Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.

About the Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

This podcast was originally produced by Spice Solar and was presented here with permission.

Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr

U.S. states taking up wind energy mantle

Gains in wind power in the United States are coming up from the state level, with California among the leaders, an industry report found.

A report from the sidelines of a wind energy conference in California from the American Wind Energy Association finds the sector supports more than 100,000 jobs in the country. The state hosting the event is one of the national leaders in wind energy development and is on pace to get about half of its renewable energy needs met by wind power by 2030 — California.

Chris Brown, the president of wind power company Vestas Americas and departing head of the AWEA board, said the advancement is extending into Middle America.

“We’re lowering our costs, making the grid more stable, creating jobs in rural and Rust Belt America, and delivering value to utilities and major corporate customers,” he said in an address to the conference.

By state, Texas, the No. 1 oil producer in the United States, has the most installed wind power capacity on the grid and the most in the first quarter with 724 megawatts. In March, German energy company E.ON announced plans to build batteries in Texas that have the ability to store 20 megawatts of power from renewable energy resources. The company said wind farms are becoming more cost-competitive, with the budget for the Texas projects coming in below what similar projects cost in 2009.

The support does not extend to all shale-rich states in the south. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin ended a tax credit for the wind industry this year, saying the renewable sector was competitive enough to rest on its laurels. Wind advocates in the state said a tax on future developments would get in the way of further advancements.

Speaking at the California wind conference, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said wind energy could spur economic development in her state.

“Our energy plan will help us continue to lead the way in wind energy and renewable fuels,” she said.

By the AWEA’s metrics, the $25 million per year in land lease payments for wind developments in Iowa makes it the equivalent of a “drought-resistant cash crop.”

Half of new cars in Norway now electric or hybrid

Norway, which already boasts the world’s highest number of electric cars per capita, said Monday that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far this year.

“This is a milestone on Norway’s road to an electric car fleet,” Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen told AFP.