At Solar Energy World, when we analyze property for a solar array, we take into account several factors, including energy usage, and available roof space or land for maximum sun exposure. Indeed, exposure to sunlight is the most important factor when it comes to generating solar power, simply because without sunlight, solar panels cannot work.
Deserts are a desirable location for large scale solar installations because of their sunny climates, and the amount of space available. According to the DESERTEC website, more solar energy hits the deserts of the world within six hours than is consumed around the world in one year.
The European Union is poised to take advantage of the immense amounts of solar radiation in the Sahara. Covering an estimated 6,500 square miles of the Sahara with solar panels and wind turbines, the EU will begin importing electricity by 2015. It may sound like a lot of space, but considering the vast size of the Sahara, it would take only one percent of the surface area covered in solar panels to provide enough electricity for the entire world.
Another development in the world of solar power is the concept of using the ocean and other bodies of water for solar power. The oceans make up the majority of the earth’s surface, and, similar to deserts, they are exposed to a lot of sunlight. There are no trees, or buildings to worry about on the high seas, after all!
Of course, there are a few obvious obstacles to placing solar panels on the ocean, namely finding somewhere to put them in the first place. According to this article, several companies are planning to build floating solar islands of steel and plastic, that will be set to drift on placid bodies of water.
Another risk to floating solar arrays? Hurricanes and tropical storms could pose a threat. Included in the design for these solar islands is the ability for the entire floating structure to submerge, in order to avoid storm force winds.
Referenced in this article:
“Europe Will Be Powered by Solar Panels in 5 Years“, ImpactLab
“This Island Paradise is for One thing Only, Solar Power“, FastCoExist
One of the many benefits of solar power is that the industry has the potential to help boost the economy. But how exactly could this happen, and what is the reasoning behind this statement?
Solar Creates Jobs
A demand for solar power means that more materials will need to be manufactured, and more systems will need to be designed and installed. These tasks all require skilled and specially trained employees, which means that higher demand for solar power will lead to job growth in the renewable energy sector. In fact, various news sources have recently reported that job growth in the solar energy industry has outpaced the overall growth rate.
Solar Power Reduces Energy Dependence
A buzzword in the recent election was “energy independence”. The sun belongs to no one, and its energy is present everywhere. The sun cannot be taxed or tariffed, and once your solar panels are installed, there are no price fluctuations or negotiations about the cost of fuel. Solar energy is not owned or supplied by any entity in particular. Therefore, using the sun to our advantage is a step toward energy independence.
Solar Power Saves Money
No one enjoys paying bills, and your electric bill is probably a large expense. The cost of heating and cooling your home will make up the largest portion of your energy bill, and, depending on how energy efficient your home may be, the heating or cooling system may be running most of the time. These necessary expenses add up quickly, and that means that homeowners have less of their hard earned money to spend on other goods and services, because it must be paid to to gas and electric companies.
Solar power can free up more spending money, because it can significantly reduce or eliminate an electric bill. This means that homeowners that choose solar will have more money to spend, instead of being tied to rising electricity rates. Just imagine how much money could be saved by homeowners with a home solar system, and an electric vehicle!
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With the possibility of a winter storm later this evening, you may be wondering how the snow could affect the performance of your solar power system.
Your solar panels will continue to function when conditions are less than sunny, so while heavy cloud cover may slightly decrease your solar power production, the solar panels will still produce electricity using the solar energy that does reach them.
Luckily, it does not look like we will get too much accumulating snow (but you never know!), so this particular winter event should not interfere with solar power production very much. However, during a more significant snowfall, a blanket of snow would effectively block the sun’s rays, halting power production.
So what could be done to fix the problem, and start generating power again? Usually, the snow will melt relatively quickly, and this is accelerated on steep rooftops as the melting snow tends to slide off of the surface. Otherwise, the snow will have to be manually removed, either by sweeping it off (safely, of course), or using a leaf blower or other device to move it or melt it.
By Samantha J. Majka
The severe weather this weekend left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity, and efforts to restore power are still underway. Many homeowners with solar power may find their neighbors asking them whether or not they still have power, or prospective solar power customers may be wondering if switching to solar would prevent blackouts in their home.
Will my solar panels generate power during an outage?
The solar panels installed on your roof or on your property will certainly continue to generate electricity because they will absorb sunlight and solar energy as they do every day.
Will my home be immune to neighborhood power outages?
This depends on the set-up of your particular system. The majority of solar powered homes are still connected to the power grid, which is how net-metering works. When solar panels produce electricity, it flows into the grid, and the production is monitored and credited to a homeowner’s account (this is when your meter will roll backward). This is how excess electricity is stored, and it is how a home that may not be 100% powered by solar panels maintains power. Being connected to the grid means that the power supplied by the solar panels on your home flows back into the electrical grid.
You will notice that the majority of times, power outages are due to a disruption somewhere between the electricity supplier, and homeowners. For example, during the most recent storm on the east coast, power lines were snapped by high winds or downed trees. The power plant may still be fully capable of producing electricity, but there is a breach in the system (such as a broken power line) that prevents the supply from reaching the consumer, and it affects every consumer in that service area. Solar powered homes that are connected to the grid contribute to the production of electricity, but are not immune to blackouts that affect the entire community.
However, if you store the power generated on-site, you reduce the risk of a blackout. Doing so requires the installation of a battery backup system. This requires battery storage onsite, and is more costly than the typical net-metering approach, but it does mean that your home will continue to run on electricity even when the rest of the neighborhood does not.
If your home is connected only to the battery backup system, and is independent of the grid, your solar panels must be capable of meeting all energy needs of the home, 100% of the time; being disconnected from the grid means that there will be no backup option if the solar-generated electricity is depleted.
For a more detailed explanation of the available options, and to see which solution is right for you, contact a Solar Energy World representative, today!
By Samantha J. Majka
Solar Energy World is the fastest growing installer of solar power systems in the region, and we are pleased to see such an increase in both solar power installations and interest in solar power in general. Naturally, interest tends to generate a lot of questions, and some of the most common questions are in regards to the performance of solar power in what some may consider “less than optimal” conditions. This is a great question, and it is completely understandable that consumers would be concerned about the performance of their solar panels in cloudy weather, or after sunset. Rest assured, if you make the switch to solar power, you will not be left in the dark after sunset, or have to worry about “running out” of power when the sky is cloudy. Your solar panels will continue to generate electricity, even on cloudy days, and, just like electricity that is generated by other means, solar electricity can be stored for a later use.
The solar energy that hits the Earth’s surface every hour is enough to power the entire world for one year. The trick is to capture this energy, and while solar panels do not collect every bit of energy that hits them, efficiency is improving. Fortunately for consumers, as the efficiency is improving, solar power is becoming more and more affordable (especially with solar lease). Needless to say, it is entirely possible, depending on the size of your solar panel system, to generate more energy per day than is required to satisfy the energy needs of your home.
So where does the excess energy go? One way to store this energy is through the use of battery systems. Batteries store the solar electricity for use at times when the sun is not shining, such as at night.
An easier and cheaper solution is store solar power in the existing electrical grid in a process known as net-metering. Your home is already connected to the electrical grid when you use power from a conventional source. The excess electricity generated by your solar panels “overflows” back to the grid, and back to the electric company. This builds up an electricity “credit” that you can tap into when the sun is not shining. You can see proof of this for yourself, as the electric meter on your home will actually run backward when you are generating more power than you are using. In some states, you can sell this excess electricity back to the electric company in the form of “SREC’s” or “Solar Renewable Energy Credits”. This means that you can be paid for having solar panels on your home or business, which shortens the payback period for the initial cost of installation.
You can learn more about solar energy and solar power by liking Solar Energy World on Facebook.
By Samantha J. Majka
At Solar Energy World, we focus on bettering the planet. Usually, and most obviously, this is through the installation of solar power systems. In addition, under the umbrella of creating a better, greener planet, falls community outreach. This year, for Earth Day, Solar Energy World partnered with two Maryland schools for events that focused on educating students about the facts and benefits of solar power.
Solar Energy World representatives visited Eagle Cove School in Pasadena on Tuesday April 24th, and St. Joseph School in Cockeysville on April 25th. Students participated in a presentation by Jose Cespedes, Solar Analyst, and then competed in a race with solar powered race cars that they had built themselves.
The presentations consisted of an educational speech, a small experiment, and a question and answer session. Students also passed around mini versions of the solar panels that Solar Energy World installs on homes and buildings. We were particularly impressed with the excellent questions posed by student participants!
The second half of the events was especially exciting, as students and teachers moved outside for the solar car race. A week before the event, Solar Energy World provided solar powered race car kits to both schools, and teams of students assembled and decorated their cars. The winning teams from both schools received a prize of a pizza party provided by Solar Energy World.
Please visit Solar Energy World on Facebook to see more pictures and video of the races. A special thank you goes out to the staff of Eagle Cove School and St. Joseph School for inviting us to participate in their Earth Day celebrations.