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Learning about solar in the classroom is more than just a way to learn about ecology, or physics. In Virginia and other places, it’s now about the intersection of several powerful forces, and the future of our energy use.

 

This past fall, the Washington Post reported on a 2017 wind energy competition in which a team at Lanier Middle School in Fairfax won second place in a 2017 KidWind science challenge by building a wind turbine model.

 

Robert D’Souza, the instructor who worked with students on the turbine project, explain how solar-based projects prepare students for a future in which renewables will be central to energy plans in communities.

 

Sure, it’s nice for students to know how turbine works from a physics perspective, and this might be a conventional part of curriculum — but look closer, and you’ll see that many of these types of learning are seen as early “jobs programs preparation” as well — we reported last week on how solar jobs are the fastest-growing profession in America, and that’s leading both public and private sector planners to focus on the power of wind, solar and other renewables.

 

Students at Lanier relied on resources from the Virginia Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which has assisted with ten turbine projects across the state.

While students are building these physical infrastructure models, they’re also learning something else — how important naturally derived energy will be in their worlds as they grow.

 

In Virginia, many experts are looking at how political will has that built for renewables and the solar industry in particular. The outgoing governor Terry McAuliffe has laid a lot of the groundwork for his successors to get even more proactive on solar — and reports now show that some new Virginia House of Delegates members are now choosing to reject certain kinds of lobbying that promote the “old ways of oil”  including money from major utility companies. This is a big deal, and the ramifications of this news are going to ripple around the state in a big way!

 

Ask Sun Day Solar about how you can benefit from green energy for your small business or property. We help a wide range of clients in Charlottesville and the surrounding area to figure out what works for them, and assist early adopters in this massive move towards cleaner and inevitably more affordable energy sources.

 

It’s true that the solar market is a dynamic one — and lots of things often happen that are unpredictable. There are a lot of up-and-down forces pushing and pulling on solar markets right now, specifically in the U.S. Some of them have to do with manufacturing — while others have to do with a specific type of demand.

 

A recent Buffalo News piece shows how the Tesla company is working to surf the edge of these big waves, looking for where there’s specific growth in the solar revolution.

 

A firm called GCM Research is cited as expecting a “more limited pace” for solar growth in 2018. Part of that, analysts say, is because of cheaper gas, which isn’t going to last forever. But some of it is also a natural lull in demand.

 

All the same, some are calling the situation a “slump for solar” at a time when Tesla has put $750 million into New York solar operations.

 

Still, some investors cited in the article are still bullish on solar, and Musk himself believes that this dip in demand is only temporary.

 

“We do expect solar demand to rebound as we move solar sales into all of our stores, which is a much more efficient channel for demand generation. And that’s just for conventional solar,” Musk said in a press statement. “We’re confident it’s going to have extremely high demand.”

 

The Buffalo News article also talks about new kinds of solar roofing aimed at different demographics in the roofing market. By broadening the customer base, the logic goes, companies have a better shot at growing their local markets.

 

That’s something that we’ve tried to cultivate at Sun Day Solar. We understand that each customer is different and has his or her own needs according to how the property is set up, what the business model is like, etc. We meet each customer where they are, and work to find out what’s practical for property. That’s what led us to become such a popular choice for solar installations in Charlottesville VA and the Albemarle County area. Interested? Ask us about what we can do for your business or property to help you benefit from all of the natural value of solar energy.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s almost Halloween again.

 

But this year, as the little tykes carve jack-o’-lanterns and figure out which kinds of masks and accessories they want to buy, maybe it’s time to consider dressing your little one up as a solar installer.

 

That’s right, new numbers out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the solar installer is the fastest-growing job in the country, and it’s not even close.

 

Remember all of that hype about the need for nurses, physician assistants and personal care aides?

 

Well, we do need massive numbers of new health professionals, but industry numbers show that when it comes to the quickest growth in American jobs, solar installer and wind turbine service jobs outpaced the growth of home health aides and personal care aides by more than double the necessary volume.

 

The demand for solar installers is hotter than the demand for statisticians, software developers, physical therapy personnel, and even IT people.

 

It’s important to really think about what that means, too. The reason that these jobs are so much in demand and that we’ll need so many of them, is because we’re gearing up to really renovate our energy grid and change the ways that we use power for our cars, our homes and everything else.

 

In the past, solar was often this controversial idea. People had different opinions, and people who put up solar panels on their houses or installed solar at their businesses were seen as either hobbyists, or idealists, people who really wanted to buck the system and forge their own path.

 

But that’s quickly changing — in the years to come, you’ll see solar panels popping up everywhere. It’s not going to be this notable moment where you say “oh look, there are some solar panels – that’s brand-new technology!”

 

Instead, you’ll have panels and solar installations going up everywhere — your neighbor or someone you know will probably be working on a roof, or otherwise participating in the solar revolution. They’re even making robots to help install these panels, because we’re preparing to switch over to solar at a tremendous rate.

 

That’s not to say that solar power is without its challenges — advocates are concerned that some parties in the U.S. might try to manipulate the market with trade cases, and that low-priced panels from overseas could threaten U.S. manufacturers. But in general, everyone’s getting the message — the time for coal has passed. The time for solar is now.

 

That’s why next Halloween, you might see kids running around your neighborhood with hard hats, utility belts and the tools of the trade. Forget dressing up like a cop or a garbage man, the solar businesses is where it’s at.

 

Getting in on the ground floor of something like this is always beneficial. If you are in central Virginia, Sun Day Solar can help. We’ve helped large numbers of clients to figure out what’s practical for their businesses and properties, and get renewable energy systems in place to help lower energy bills and protect the future of the planet. Ask us about incentives and any other questions you might have about getting on the solar bandwagon.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at how solar is booming in the state of Virginia — with the governor’s official seal of approval, and big companies coming in to innovate and drive massive operations with renewables. But sometimes it’s also helpful to look at the broader market and how solar energy is taking off in faraway places around the world, as well.

 

Earlier this month, the Guardian cited the International Energy Agency as estimating that renewable energy made up a full two-thirds of all the recent new power expanding the global grid. In the Guardian’s words, it’s “Time to Shine,” and the  report talks about how solar will come to dominate other types of energy consumption.

 

There’s also the fact that the United States is now the second fastest-growing market for solar energy, although countries like China and India are also working quickly to change over the energy systems that support billions of people, getting solar energy installations on the ground to replace finite, dirty and expensive fossil with an energy source that naturally exists all around us.

When you stop and think about it that way, solar makes even more sense as a virtually unlimited power source. We need the sun to live in more ways than one — but now that we’ve perfected solar technology, the sun can easily power all of our appliances and everything that we do throughout the day.

 

There’s another big takeaway from this article — you can see the free market at work. The reason that solar is taking off to such an extent is that it’s no longer something that people are doing just to take a stand, or out of the goodness of their hearts. It makes sense. It’s becoming economically reasonable. And that’s why you see Amazon and other major retailers switching their power sources from traditional oil and gas to solar. That’s why you see big regional utilities paving the way for solar growth.

 

To learn more, talk to Sun Day Solar. We help customers in the Albemarle County and central Virginia area to get their own solar projects in place to benefit from this new renewable power source. Take advantage of grants and incentives. Build the reputation of your small business. Enjoy lower utility bills and up the value of your property. Let us help you with practical, affordable designs for local solar power for the future.

 

You may have heard about a lot of the new solar initiatives across the state of Virginia, but have you heard how Tesla, the electric car maker, is working with four Virginia schools on solar contracts?

 

Press releases from the summer show the company opening a second store in Virginia with Gov. McAuliffe expressing support for Tesla, saying “they should be able to sell their cars here.”

 

However, the company is also working with the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia to add 1.3 megawatts of solar power to four campuses — Lynchburg College, Virginia Union University, Randolph Macon College and Washington and Lee University.

 

Robert Lambert, president of CICV, is quoted as saying that the event “highlights the leadership of Virginia’s private colleges in embracing renewable energy.”

 

The project is also being underwritten by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot initiative aimed at promoting solar energy around the country. In Lynchburg, the project will take the form of panels on top of the college’s health sciences building and several parking lots.

 

When you scratch the surface, this project actually goes a little further than you’d expect — along with the four schools that have officially signed on, there is a list of 12 additional schools that are already in Sunshot grants, and projected to participate with CICV. These include Appalachian School of Law, Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University, Emory and Henry College, and Mary Baldwin University in Stanton.

 

It’s easy to see how what’s good for Tesla is good for the solar industry — electric cars need electric energy, and drive greater demand for utility power that can be generated from solar infrastructure. Replacing a gallon of gasoline with energy straight from the sun is an excellent way to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and curb fossil fuels consumption. So it’s no surprise that Tesla is among the many companies both big and small looking at solar expansion in the near future.

Virginia solar installation

If you’re a small business, adding a solar infrastructure to your properties aligns you with these big companies and state offices. There is a lot of incentive right now to make a change in your energy consumption model and benefit from renewable, sustainable energy in Charlottesville and around central Virginia. Sun Day Solar can help you to implement this type of project well — looking into government grants? Do you have questions about practical installation? Let us help to guide you through the process of getting your own solar project done to give your business or property more “green value.”

We’ve talked a lot lately about big solar plans by Virginia utilities and energy providers, and some of those big Amazon projects that are adding tons of capacity to Virginia’s solar network, but there are also other very different efforts going on in other parts of the state to help smaller solar systems contribute to the network that brings green, renewable power into the state.

 

This past summer, the Progress Index reported on a farmer’s forum in Dinwiddie near Richmond, Virginia, in a rural area where local farmers grow crops like tobacco, wheat, corn and soybeans. You see a lot of these idyllic fields as you travel from north, south or west towards some of Virginia’s beaches and recreation areas on the coast. What you may not notice is that more of these farmers are being served with solar energy.

The Progress Index report shows how farmers are considering building-mounted or ground-mounted solar systems to profit from sustainable energy, and quotes Goochland Cooperative Extension representative Bob Whitehead as saying that farmers have “lots of ways” to use solar energy. In addition to providing power for tractors and field vehicles, some of these local agricultural agencies are also recommending other types of systems, for example, solar-powered aquaponics and other innovative projects that help producers bring various types of food to market.

 

Meetings like this one which was held by Virginia Corporate Extension and funded by the Virginia Tobacco Commission are promising ways to attract farmers to what more and more small business owners and property owners are realizing — that by installing new affordable solar systems, they’re positioning themselves for the future, and able to reap the rewards year after year. Solar customers can source their own power, and even contribute some back to the local energy grid with available net metering systems from utilities like Dominion and Appalachian Power.

 

You don’t have to be a farmer to get in on the ground floor of Virginia’s solar revolution — talk to Sun Day Solar about any type of custom solar plan to equip your property or business with what it needs to harness the natural power of the sun. We help our customers to find practical ways to implement renewable energy production that will leave the earth in a better condition for our children and grandchildren — to really do our part to help protect the planet for the long haul.

At Sun Day Solar, we’re closely following advancements in central Virginia utility administration that have to do with enormous potential for the future of solar energy.

 

Here’s a bright bit of news that shows how big the solar trend is in this area — Dominion Energy, one of the largest utility providers in the region, has filed something called an Integrated Resource Plan for this year with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Reportedly, in this IRP, there are eight alternative projections, each of which adds 5200 megawatts of new solar capacity during the next 25 years, and predicts that by 2032, more than one third of the company’s service area will be getting served by renewable solar energy.

 

All of this and more is included in a report from Virginia Water Central News Grouper, put out in May of this year, documenting all of the amazing improvements in solar energy production that have been happening since 2015. There’s even a useful index of Virginia counties tied to summaries of individual projects. The report covers the 1.1 megawatts of solar energy delivered by installations in Albemarle County public schools, as well as the big new project on the roof of the University of Virginia’s Clemons library that’s projected to produce 200,000 kilowatts a year.

 

Elsewhere, the report also documents some of the massive solar farms set up by Amazon in the state of Virginia, including the Accomack County facility, that have gone online in recent years. From coastal areas like Virginia Beach to rural central Virginia counties and everywhere else in the state, solar is taking on in a big way. Backed by the governor’s office and other significant players, Virginia is getting serious about implementing renewable energy solutions. For more, talk to Sun Day Solar about how you can get into the solar community, and how feasible it can be to make your business or property greener and enjoy sustainable energy sourcing for the future.

The concept of setting a tariff on foreign solar infrastructure is making big news this month. But what does it mean for the solar industry?

 

Some are claiming that China and other Asian countries are flooding the U.S. market with cheap imports that are undercutting prices for U.S. manufacturers. However, a range of solar industry advocates are warning that new tariffs would raise costs and hurt the industry as a whole.

 

A September 10 piece in the Washington Examiner estimates that the solar industry creates 1 out of 50 of all new jobs in the American economy. That shows how important solar is to the energy market and the job market right now!

 

Officials are quoted talking about how tariffs could really harm productivity, mainly because solar companies would have to absorb those price hikes. Obviously, one of the biggest factors in the solar boom is that solar panels have become much cheaper in recent years.

 

The Examiner article also cites an estimate by Abigail Ross Hopper, President of the Solar Energy Industry Association, who says that the industry would lose an estimated 88,000 American jobs if tariffs are instituted.

 

At the same time, some American manufacturing companies such as Suniva are asking the American government to put tariffs in place. However, here’s the interesting thing about Suniva — the Examiner reports that this company is actually majority Chinese-owned. So in that case, it’s Chinese companies in the U.S. asking officials to put tariffs on products from Chinese companies outside the U.S. That’s kind of a depressing assessment of the situation we find ourselves in when it comes to manufacturing actual solar equipment — the good news, though, is that aside from potential tariffs, solar is hitting a critical mass point of affordability and feasibility right now. That makes now an excellent time to capitalize on the opportunity, and get solar projects in place before costs go up.

In the Charlottesville region and around the Central Virginia area, Sun Day Solar can help. We’ve helped many local clients to put all sorts of small business and residential solar systems in place.

 

Although we can see solar panels popping up on top of houses and everywhere else, we’re also getting new indicators of the renewable energy boom from other places.

 

Just this past week, the New York Times ran an interesting op-ed that really constituted a scathing indictment of the coal industry, under the title: “Using the EPA to Prop Up Big Coal.”

 

Enumerating the ways in which coal’s days are numbered, NYT quoted Chris Beam, President & Chief Operating Officer of Appalachian Power, as denying the possibility that West Virginia is going to expand coal-fired energy production.

 

“We’re not going to build any more coal plants — that’s not going to happen,” Beam is quoted as saying.

 

Instead of propping up the moribund coal trade, many utilities, including the big players in Virginia, are adopting new practices to accommodate customers who want to use or even generate solar and wind power. Beam’s comments underscore a change at Appalachian Power that ends up boosting the rise of solar and other renewables.

 

The process of net metering involves individual customers setting up their own solo projects on their properties, and actually getting utility credits for the energy that they don’t use.

 

Net metering is something that many utilities across the country have been fighting for a number years — but there are signs that they’re giving in.

Just this past summer, other New York Times coverage showed how utilities are trying to push back against net metering in different ways, for example, by invoking egalitarian intent, arguing that not everyone can build their own solar systems. There seems to be a powerful utility lobby opposing the concept of net metering — but that’s not stopping it from happening.

 

In a June 17 report at Power to the People, local renewables advocate Ivy Mains talks about how Virginia customers can successfully net meter up to 20 kW, and use credits rolled over from one month to the next.

 

For more on how this works, Appalachian Power customers can get net metering information straight from the company here.

 

Regardless of how much utility lobbyists are dragging their heels, in Virginia, Appalachian and Dominion are putting net metering policies in place. That’s great news for early adopters who have already jumped on the solar bandwagon and set up their own on-site projects.

 

However, it’s not too late to get involved by any means. This is an excellent time to look at your property and start thinking about where you could place solar panels — where there’s adequate sunlight and enough space, and where this kind of energy generation would be most needed.

 

Sun Day Solar can help. We have experience assisting customers in Charlottesville, Virginia and the surrounding Central Virginia area in quickly and efficiently setting up affordable ways to harness the power of the sun. We understand local incentives and benefits and can help you to plan accordingly — let us assist you in coming up with the right ways to take advantage of all the opportunities that Virginia residents have right now, to move to renewable energy.

 

In the earlier days of solar energy, many of us thought of using natural sunlight to generate electricity as a kind of hippie pipe dream, the kind of thing that Arizona mystics do while they’re out in the desert messing around with crystals.

 

These days, you’re seeing solar panels on your neighbor’s roof — at your local college, and really all around town. And big names are jumping on the bandwagon to add their own push for renewables. Some of this support is coming from unlikely places — for example, would you think of “the Terminator” as a guy who would champion solar in America?

 

If not, take a look at what Arnold Schwarzenegger has been doing and saying recently. This is a guy who’s been in the public eye for a long time, but not as ‘progressive’ or ‘lefty’ – from his early movie days to his rise as California’s governor, Schwartzenegger’s been more of your ‘brawns over brains’ type of guy.

 

With that in mind, it seems that some of the backward tilt of America’s energy policy under the current administration has pushed Schwarzenegger and a lot of other independent voices to speak up quite a bit.

 

He’s not just restricting this evangelism to California, either — a 2016 article shows the governor visiting Kuwait to talk to military personnel there about the prospect of solar energy on American bases.

 

“I am here in Kuwait filming at different military bases about green energy,” Schwarzenegger said, according to a U.S. Army press release. “I think it is really unbelievable and so fantastic that the military is now thinking about making some of the bases green.”

 

More recently, Schwarzenegger has made headlines with state initiatives aimed at clean air and reduction in pollution, with Schwarzenegger reportedly contending this summer that state leaders don’t have to wait for the feds to endorse a particular policy, and that the United States did not really pull out of the Paris agreement.

 

Nor is Arnold the only state leader to champion solar — we have a lot of this kind of groundswell happening in Virginia with Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaking very clearly about promoting solar energy across the state. We have our state utilities getting on board, maybe grudgingly, but we also have major retailers like Amazon investing in solar at a rapid rate.

At Sun Day Solar, we help Central Virginia small businesses and households to embrace the power of solar and get in on the ground floor of a major change in how we source energy across America. Solar is becoming the way of the future, and small rooftop projects or other kinds of new local infrastructure can help individual property owners to back up their personal philosophies about energy with real, concrete action. Ask us about what’s practical for your property, and how to afford excellent solar installations that will help you harness the power of the sun.