Month: August 2017

The solar industry is changing almost as fast as it’s growing. You can see a lot of this growth in the state of Virginia — as massive retailer Amazon moves in to harness enormous amounts of sun power in multiple Virginia counties, big local utilities are also accommodating solar power, although they might be a little reluctant about it.

 

The bottom line is that the use of solar energy is expanding rapidly, not just on gigantic solar farms that power big commercial efforts, but also in small business administration, and in individual households where consumers like to get their energy from a more sustainable source.

 

That leads us to another big trend is also growing quickly — the Internet of Things is one of the most interesting new technological developments in our digital age. Experts predict some 50 billion devices coming online within the next few decades to form complex and sophisticated connected networks.

 

Experts are already looking at how IoT will play a critical role in the solar industry. For example, there is the idea of scalability.

 

Solar is an energy source that is dynamic, not static. In the past, that has worked against some solar adoption models. However, the Internet of Things has a lot of potential to improve how that dynamic energy is used, and to make large-scale deployment a lot smoother.

By hooking up connected sensors to solar panels or windmills, analysts can do more to examine what’s going on over a connected grid. They can start automate a lot of the give-and-take processes that will make supply meet demand — so that they get over a lot of the hurdles of using solar in a versatile way. A report from Renewable Energy World goes over some of this “horizontal” scaling benefit, as well as the idea of decentralization in solar networks.

 

For more, check out this interview with AT&T General Manager Mike Zeto. Zeto talks about a connected world, and points out how the company is interested in leveraging the Internet of Things in energy markets.

 

It’s an exciting time for the solar industry. If you want to know more about setting up solar projects in Charlottesville, VA or surrounding areas, Sun Day Solar can help. We have a lot of experience helping to connect our customers to systems that practically utilize the sun’s power for residential or small business applications. We can now consult on available grants and incentives, and help to figure out what’s makes sense for a given property. Talk to Sun Day Solar about your plan to switch from traditional energy sources to the green power of the sun.

 

Up in Pennsylvania, utilities in the southeastern region are fond of promoting the fact that locals rely on nuclear power plants for roughly 90% of their energy needs. Nuclear is touted as a “clean” power source, with advocates pointing out that nuclear plants don’t belch carbon emissions out into the atmosphere the way that dirty coal plants do.

 

In Virginia, though, things are a little different. There’s a massive push, supported by the governor’s office, to introduce new solar infrastructure, and harnessing the renewable power of the sun is taking off in a big way.

 

There’s also a more hedged strategy on nuclear power.

 

In an August blog post detailing some of Virginia’s very real energy choices, writer Ivy Mains talks about how a major earthquake based in Mineral, VA, a few years ago shut down the North Anna power plants near Richmond for three months. That, Mains said, meant that around 1,790 megawatts was suddenly gone from the grid – enough to serve some 750,000 households.

 

Mains pointed out that in Virginia, there’s a diversified energy footprint that allows the grid to keep humming if something happens to nuclear facilities – and that much of that is due to the practicality and affordability of solar energy. Describing a meeting where a state politician seemed completely ignorant of new solar energy storage capabilities, Mains drove home the point that there are now very few remaining hurdles to getting all sorts of new solar power projects in place. The storage issue has largely been solved; solar works well with Virginia’s energy grid, and, with economies of scale, the costs keep coming down.

 

In another part of the article, Mains also takes on a third and more infamous pillar of Virginia’s energy landscape, talking about pipeline protestors and the threat of fracking. Natural gas is much touted as a transitional fuel, but according to many experts who understand both economy and ecology, we would be better served moving aggressively toward solar and hydropower sourcing.

For those who are in the know about the feasibility of solar power, on both a large and small scale, Sun Day Solar can help. We help clients in Charlottesville and the Central Virginia area to look carefully at a property, plan practical solutions, and design a system that works for a property owner. Whether it’s for a home, or a small business, we can help find the best path forward toward greener energy – at a time when the popularity of solar power is really soaring.

 

Solar power in Virginia — there’s a lot going on now, but what about several years ago?

 

According to Virginia Places, the very first commercial-sized solar project in the state was done at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg. The roof of the library was outfitted with over 300 panels in 2010.

 

One thing that’s interesting about this bit of history is the total electricity generated by that project, which is estimated at 104 kW.

 

Nowadays, with commercial designs, we’re just as likely to talk in megawatts. For example, contrast that 104 kW with the output of solar farms being built by Amazon in Accomack County and other areas of the state. Accomack County’s site alone is estimated to generate 80 megawatts of electricity!

The change, which has happened in so short a time, is kind of like the memory expansion of consumer electronics. Not too many years ago, people were used to talking in kilobytes — then came megabytes and eventually gigabytes. The same thing is in play with solar — companies are scaling up, figuring out how to achieve better and bigger and more efficient solar systems.

 

At the same time, the smaller projects are still in great demand. Many small business owners and homeowners want to benefit from the same green energy revolution that’s driving big retailers like Amazon and utilities like Dominion and Appalachian Power. But how do they do it?

 

Developing a successful solar project means looking at a particular site, and evaluating lighting and other factors. It means doing the research on cost and efficiency and figuring out whether grant money is available from places like the USDA to help fund the project. It means looking at local tax incentives and other bonuses when it comes to setting up working solar designs. There’s also the need to accommodate special property needs – for example, in agriculture, elevating solar panels to allow livestock grazing below – or, in some other commercial locations, co-locating solar panels with vehicle parking spaces.

 

At Sun Day Solar, we have a great track record helping clients in Charlottesville, Virginia area to get set up with the green energy that they need. Ask us about roof-mounted or ground-mounted designs and how to plan for a particular property. We can help provide counsel on REAP grants and more. Talk to us about a plan to go green and participate in something that is becoming a big part of Virginia’s state economy.

We tend to think of solar power infrastructure as big and imposing — but not all solar projects are like this. Many of the newest ones are very simple and straightforward, and fit in pretty small spaces.

 

At the same time, solar versatility is booming; instead of just being limited to large photovoltaic panels, the power of solar is being fitted into small systems that can ride on the back of a vehicle — or even smaller systems that can fit on your face!

New solar sunglasses models take advantage of what’s called ‘Moore’s Law’ — the idea that we’ve been able to make digital devices smaller and smaller over several decades. A new report from Science Daily shows ‘organic’ solar cells fitted into solar glasses that have semi-transparent colored cells powering a tiny microchip and circuitry on the frame of the glasses — these types of designs can also integrate augmented reality, where for example, glasses show off items like temperature and luminosity in bar graph form. You can also use solar powered sunglasses to charge your devices — as in this model lineup from Yanko Design involving a dyed solar cell. By blending solar technology with nanotech, you get these kinds of decision, transportable small energy designs.

 

Designs like this just feed the popularity of renewable energy in general. As companies are innovating in small solar designs, and other companies like Amazon are expanding massive solar farms to power large scale infrastructure, small business owners and individual property owners are integrating more and more localized solar designs into rooftop structures, ground mounted grids and other installations to get the power that they need to run appliances, heat or cool a home, or otherwise serve households and neighborhoods. These systems are also very versatile – it’s possible to really target the energy needs of a business or household, and in addition, many Virginia residents can take advantage of “net metering,” where they can essentially get credits for power that goes back to the grid.

 

Sun Day Solar is your trusted solar provider in Charlottesville, Virginia. Ask us about the best ways to outfit your property with systems that will bring you the infinite energy of the sun right to your doorstep. We can also advise on USDA REAP grants and other possibilities. Let us take a look and recommend what can be done with a property footprint to get you on the road to clean, green energy solutions.

 

When it comes to clean, renewable energy, it’s not just what you save yourself – it’s also what you save everyone.

 

One example of this philosophy is evident in a new study by the U.S. Department of Energy that shows big ecological and public health benefits from the change-over from coal and fossil fuels to wind and solar power.

 

The numbers are astounding: over the past decade, officials say, solar and wind power have saved a whopping $22 billion just in terms of “climate and health benefits.”

 

The study also cited an estimated 12,700 lives saved.

 

Where does this number come from? A major part of the equation is the harmful particulate emissions caused by traditional fossil fuel energy generation. Researchers take into account the health savings from lower amounts of carbon and particle pollution, and apply them to a model to get an idea of how much these energy changes have done for the general population.

 

Cleaner air and water is like preventative medical care – it saves lives, but is also decreases medical costs. That’s another element of these savings.

 

Overall, researchers have attached a value to the “social cost of carbon:” a cost of $7 per metric ton of CO2. However, many experts say the real cost of carbon emissions is much higher, citing other “soft costs” and effects on our environment that might not be reflected in the official number.

How about in terms of kilowatt hours?

 

Researchers cite a savings of 7.3 c/kWh for wind power, and 4.0cents/kWh for solar power. You can see that’s a significant amount compared to what consumers pay for solar right now.

 

New studies like these are good reasons to consider new solar projects – but in reality, there are other forces pushing business and property owners to get on board. Simply put, solar makes sense. It’s becoming profoundly affordable, and giving traditional energy options a run for their money. Economies of scale are making solar more attractive – and some states and local communities even grant tax exemptions or offer other incentives for property owners to “go green.”

 

If you are interested in getting involved in the solar revolution, talk to Sun Day Solar about practical ways to outfit your property. We have helped many clients around Charlottesville and the Albemarle County area to get outfitted for renewable energy generation and benefit from natural energy from the sun. Become one of many who realize the individual and collective benefits of finding new ways to support ourselves and our planet.

What if your solar panels could be any color you wanted?

 

To a lot of people, there is nothing wrong with the classic black and blue panels. They’re not loud colors, and they’re not intrusive in a property design or layout. But as with so many other things, consumers want choice.

 

Now new nanotechnologies may be giving us a way to offer solar panels in more colorful designs.

 

Brand-new reports from the American Institute of Physics in Science News show how scientists have been able to use a process called “soft imprint lithography” to create new hues in solar panels — making a renewable energy source literally: green.

 

The basic way to explain this is that tiny nanocylinders on a microscopic scale throw a green light, to change how the panel surface appears to the eye. Scientists refer to it as an ‘optical rubber stamp’ — there is also an electromagnetic element to this technology. Essentially, manufacturers would populate the panel with these nanoparticles to change the wavelength of the resulting light.

One of the things that’s strange and controversial about this project is the trade-off — changing the color of the solar panels in this way would actually reduce their efficiency by about 2%.

 

However, advocates argue that the 2% in performance is pretty negligible.

 

“Some people say ‘why would you make solar cells less efficient?’ But we can make solar cells beautiful without losing too much efficiency,” Verena Neder, an author of a paper on the subject, told Science Daily. “The new method to change the color of the panels is not only easy to apply, but also attractive as an architectural design element, and has the potential to widen their use.”

 

So how soon will we have designer solar panels?

 

The AIP reports that groups are already progressing on red solar panels and contemplating the eventual development of white ones. What’s next — fractal graphics on solar panels?

 

Well, as they say, if everybody liked Chevrolets, they would make Fords.

 

Creating choice is just another piece of the solar puzzle. It’s another sign that solar energy has really come to fruition, and that it’s become a realistic and practical way to run your property or small business on the power of the sun.

 

Solar is popping up everywhere for a reason. It’s not just mega-companies like Amazon or utilities like Dominion – residents all over Virginia and much of the rest of the country are getting their own smaller solar projects in place, to enjoy sourcing their energy from a renewable, natural place.

 

Ask Sun Day Solar about your options for getting affordable green energy solutions on-site. We can help with roof-mounted or ground-mounted systems and other different kinds of solar installations that can help save you money and promote a good ecological future. Let us help you to make your solar dreams into reality!

Researchers around the world are finding that solar energy is approaching new break-even cost  evaluations, and quickly becoming much more affordable and feasible for property owners.

 

However, they’re also finding that this new potential raises questions about solar energy use. There is a certain amount of intermittent supply and demand that is one of the biggest remaining obstacles to really focusing on developing more of our energy from renewables, and less from fossil fuels.

Current publications in Science Daily such as a report from the American Institute of Physics shows that one promising area of research is demand response or DR. Demand response can help create the right balance for solar energy, and make it efficient to take in power with photovoltaic systems, store it in batteries and use it accordingly.

 

A co-author of a paper on current solar use says solar energy use models will need to shift from a model of “generation to follow” to a new model of “demand to follow generation.”

 

For instance, new technologies would manually dial down power use during peak demand times. By automating the direction of energy resources in this way, systems can ensure supply.

Using these types of systems might not be what energy users are used to. It might mean changing your daily schedule, such as when you shower or do laundry or use power tools. However, with just a little bit of flexibility, demand response can greatly improve how solar contributes to our lives.

 

In other words, nothing good comes without effort. There is the effort of getting solar installations on site and making them work. But there is also an effort using this energy in responsible ways. In some cases, solar use might not be like yesterday’s energy plans. It’s not what we’re accustomed to if we usually just suck power from coal or nuclear plants, or some other unseen, faraway place.

 

What it does, though, is model a new way of living life that’s more considerate of our neighbors, our planet and our communities. By making some small sacrifices, solar users see big savings and some really rewarding benefits that don’t come in the form of comfort and convenience features.

 

Let Sun Day Solar help you to micromanage your energy plan in order to get what you need out of renewable residential solar systems. We are experienced in helping our customers to evaluate their properties and see what makes sense on a given lot, for a given household or business. We can also provide advice about the most affordable ways to go about getting solar in place. Ask about how we can deliver roof-mounted solar and other designs, to start getting your energy from a better place.

 

The state of Virginia may not be leading the country in solar, but it is a place where solar is growing in a major way.

 

There is a lot in the news about large VA energy companies diversifying into solar — for example, Dominion Energy purchasing solar farms all around Virginia and North Carolina. However, small residential and business solar is on the rise, too.

 

Here are some of the favorable conditions that business leaders and homeowners can take advantage of in the state of Virginia.

 

Net Metering

 

With net metering, surplus generation of energy gets credited to the owner of the solar installation on a utility bill. Those who buy solar energy generating systems can take a cumulative surplus and carry it over, or sell electricity back to a utility at a certain point in time.

 

Net metering is one of the biggest draws for Virginia residents wanting to install new solar systems on their properties.

 

Interconnection

 

Virginia’s grid also makes it somewhat easy to connect solar to the system. Outside auditors have given the state a top grade in its interconnection infrastructure, and with the big utilities exploring solar even more, it’s not going to be long before the entire state grid is very conducive to renewable energy generation. That’s another reason why it might make sense to get involved in a solar project right now.

 

Property Tax Exemptions

 

Here’s another interesting way that Virginia residents benefit from solar installations.

 

Usually, any value that you add to your home or business gets taxed in addition to the property’s original value, but Virginia lawmakers have carved out an exemption for solar systems. State officials will take a certain valuation and apply it to property’s solar systems to exempt certain amounts from property tax collection. This can be a big deal if you live in a community with relatively high real estate or “school” taxes.

 

These are just some of the reasons why Virginia residents are picking up on the pros of switching to a solar home or small business energy system. Let Sun Day Solar help you to evaluate your property in Charlottesville, Virginia or in the Albemarle County area. We know how to help clients find the most affordable and efficient way forward with getting a plan in place to collect green energy from the sun!

 

If you’ve been reading about Virginia’s solar growth, you know that regional utilities are investing in solar in a big way — with companies like Dominion Energy purchasing large solar installations in multiple counties. You know that schools like UVA have dedicated portions of their budgets to green energy. But sometimes it seems like the solar boom is happening so fast, it’s like it’s happening everywhere at once.

 

For example, those familiar with large solar farms run by Amazon, such as an 80-megawatt installation in Accomack County, might be surprised to know that some other solar plants are slated to be even larger than the Amazon U.S. East solar installation.

 

Just a few weeks ago, breaking reports in local newspapers showed plans of a new project called Farin & Pearfield Solar in Gloucester County. Pictures of the project show some 375,000 panels, ground mounted with swiveling hardware allowing them to catch the sun’s rays at particular angles.

 

Charlottesville Daily Press coverage shows the CEO of Hexagon Energy, the company behind the project, talking about how there’s a lot of potential in Gloucester County, which is relatively less developed than some other parts of Virginia.

 

“Gloucester is an area of the state where there is open, undeveloped land and land not adjacent to large metropolitan areas. These projects can be harmonious with other agriculture and timber uses in the county,” Hexagon CEO Matt Hantzmon said.

 

What does all of this mean?

It means that more businesses and consumers will have access to renewable energy supplies. It means that more of Virginia’s electrical grid power is going to come from the sun. Solar is truly taking over at an amazing pace. At the same time, small businesses and individual property owners are looking to also benefit from solar installations. With net metering agreements, it’s possible to harvest the sun’s energy and collect energy credits from your utility provider.

 

Anyone with questions about these smaller types of projects can get effective assistance from Sun Day Solar, a major solar service company in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. Ask us about what’s happening in your community and how you can get on board. Let us help you evaluate your plot of land and what’s possible in order to make your operations greener and lower your carbon footprint for a brighter future.