Our Blog

June 14, 2017

REAP Funding to Recipients hits $3 Billion

Farmers and manufacturers and other small business leaders are flocking to a program called Rural Energy for America or REAP that was first established in 2002 — over the years, the USDA has been busy awarding eligible beneficiaries grant funding through this program. Many of these innovations feature solar energy as a renewable and efficient source of power for agricultural production and much more.
An April article in Agri-Pulse online shows that the USDA REAP program has hit a total of $3 million billion in grants and loan guarantees since a 2008 reauthorization. REAP funding can deliver renewable energy grants up to a maximum of $500,000 – or half a million dollars.
A USDA fact sheet shows that agricultural producers need to have at least half of their gross income coming from agricultural or farm operations to take advantage of this program. However, in America’s rural areas, many other different types of businesses can apply as well, utilizing various rural Business Service programs.
As a major component of REAP applications, “small and large solar generation” is listed as an eligible use of REAP funds.

While the majority of REAP funds may have been used for energy efficiency, a significant number of applications have focused on using solar energy to grow America’s food and deliver agricultural products from the country’s heartlands.
A paper on Solar Energy Use in U.S. Agriculture looks in-depth at solar activities by farmers and ranchers and how these type of types of projects work.
Another element of USDA explanations of the REAP program shows that eligible businesses have to be in a geographical area with less than 50,000 inhabitants, which makes many areas of Albemarle County and surrounding counties perfect places for filing one of these grants.
SunDaySolar is an experienced solar contractor with broad knowledge of the REAP program and what it takes to utilize this federal law to improve a farm or business. Work with us to scale up and get renewable and sustainable energy resources, not just to help the planet, but also to build your business on a firmer foundation. We excel in the kinds of small business projects that applicants often apply for under REAP. We can also advise clients on what types of projects have been successful in the past, and what’s typical in the Central Virginia region. Let us help you to figure out your way toward cleaner, more reliable energy.

June 6, 2017

Three Mile Island May Close in 2019

The Internet is abuzz with reports that utilities company Excelon may be planning to put Pennsylvania’s famous Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, one of America’s most iconic energy installations, on ice.
Thirty-eight years after near meltdown, one of the most frightening moments in many American’s lives, TMI is still working, albeit at limited capacity. However, cost issues are threatening the plant’s future: after being unable to sell the plant at auction, Excelon has said that it will need assistance from the state to continue operating the plant past 2019, as releaved in a recent Time magazine article.

In asking for a nuclear bailout, Excelon is citing similar plans in states like New York and Illinois, along with existing help for renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. But does nuclear power deserves the same kinds of support as renewable energies?
Nuclear power is affordable — an infographic from CleanTechnica shows an average of 2.14 cents per kilowatt hour for nuclear power in general, with coal being the next most economic energy generator — wind power is estimated at 12 cents per kilowatt hour, and solar at anywhere from 10-14 cents per kilowatt hour.
However, the same resource also cites the risk factors involved in nuclear power, including the storage of nuclear waste, and the potential for nations around the world to build nuclear weapons. The report also shows huge investments in renewable energy, both in the United States and abroad.
Answering the question of why renewable energy isn’t taking while in a more substantial way, CleanTechnica calls renewables both “capital-intensive” and, in some cases, “geographically remote.”
However, costs for solar setups have come down: a 2016 Guardian article cites a kind of ‘Moore’s law’ of returns for solar energy, contending that solar panels have gotten 10% cheaper each year since the 1980s.
Now, with solar costs going so low, the affordability of solar energy is reaching a tipping point. That’s why so many businesses and property owners are now adding solar arrays to roofing or other areas of a property.
Solar power can generate small amounts of electricity for low-maintenance properties, provide for the needs of a family in a household in a single-family home, or generate large amounts of power for a business. Solar power can be stored in batteries, and, in some cases, sold back to energy utilities.
Ask SunDaySolar how to get your hands on solar solutions in the Central Virginia area. As a top Charlottesville solar contractor, SunDaySolar has given many clients the ability to draw cheap power from natural and sustainable sources. Let us help you to harness the power of the sun.

June 1, 2017

Naval Drones Go Solar

News from the federal Naval Research Laboratory shows how solar energy is becoming more important to national defense and military systems.

A May release described the use of photovoltaic arrays and solar gear in ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ or ‘UAVs,’ also referred to as ‘drones.’ UAVs represent a real path to innovation in many areas of our lives, from environmental research to e-commerce. Getting solar power under the hood is going to add new possibilities to how we use these independent flying vehicles.

New experiments at the NRL are looking into the power of “cooperative autonomous soaring” to enable UAVs to do more with less power, and operate more efficiently for such purposes as surveillance and reconnaissance.

Dr. Dan Edwards, an NRL aerospace engineer, explains the benefits of “solar-soaring” research as ways to “extend the flight endurance and mission operations of an aircraft.”

These trials are by no means the only example of solar drone work: in this video, Ali Jaafar of Altran Aerospace describes a 100% solar “airbus” that can go long distances.

The NRL’s design involves a photovoltaic array put into the center wing panel of a UAV, converted into useful DC voltage.

The NRL is actually testing two modes of solar flight. One is passive soaring, where low-energy goals allow for coasting. Another mode, supported by algorithms, allows the aircraft to catch updrafts to move like some bird species, making use of the natural power of wind vectors.

These tests, which have been taking place for some time, are just one of many examples showing how solar power is finally becoming a mainstream power source. We’re hearing a lot about solar, in many industries and many spaces. The NRL drone tests are an example of solar power in defense research, where the vanguard work on new energy sources often takes place. But solar is also being aggressively pursued for commercial and residential use, and for use in cars, and on boats, and on buses. It’s a natural, renewable power source for today.

SunDaySolar is one of the most active local companies working to help companies and property owners make the leap to a more affordable and sustainable power supply, around the Albemarle County area and beyond.

We understand how solar is taking off in a big way, now that the technology is here, and cost issues have been largely worked out. The past few years have seen a “solar boom” that’s not going to stop any time soon. Let SunDaySolar work with you to outfit your business or residential property with easy, user-friendly and cost-effective solar systems to make you an early adopter while saving money and saving the planet.

November 30, 2016

What to Do When Your Home is Covered by Trees

TiceCastleKieranWe work with a lot of clients whose homes aren’t considered “ideal” for solar. Yes, it’s easy to install a solar array on a nice, wide, south-facing roof. But there are other options, and we’re happy to explore those options until we find one that’s a perfect fit.

In order to find a sunny spot for solar on this site, we had to clear a rocky, overgrown slope near the customer’s driveway. Although the site was rough, the finished residential ground mount is anything but. Solar power flows from the array to an inverter in the homeowner’s garage 50 feet away.

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November 9, 2016

Solar Awning Extension on a Shed

Solar awning extension on a shed

This project had us install a 6kW solar awning on an existing shed. The solar awning provides half of the electricity used in the home 160 feet away. It also covers equipment and holds a swing set for the kids.

Watching children happily swing from a structure that houses solar panels is a wonderful juxtaposition. We envision a future in which solar is more seamlessly integrated in our lives.

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