Photovoltaics

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Can Mirrors Boost Solar Panel Output?

With panel costs headed higher because of a new tariff, reflectors might make a comeback

Posted on Feb 13 2018 by Joshua M. Pearce

Falling costs for solar power have ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. to an explosive growth in residential, commercial and utility-scale solar use over the past decade. The levelized cost of solar electricity using imported solar panels — that is, the solar electricity cost measured over the life of the panels — has dropped so much that it is lower than electricity from competing sources such as coal in most of America.


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Lobbying Helps Slow the Growth of Rooftop Solar

Worries grow that the appointment of a former utility lobbyist to an Energy Department role might sway federal policy on residential PV installations

Posted on Jul 11 2017 by Scott Gibson

The number of rooftop photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) installations has increased dramatically in recent years, but growth is slowing under the weight of market saturation in places like California, financial problems on the part of several solar panel makers, and well-organized lobbying campaigns by the nation's investor-owned utilities, The New York Times reports.


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Image Credits:

  1. Grange Farm / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

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Deep Sea Mining Could Spur Mass Solar Energy

Abundant supplies of a rare metal used in thin-film solar films has been discovered — but are the risks of extraction worth the reward?

Posted on Jun 20 2017 by Anonymous

By JON MAJOR

Scientists have just discovered massive amounts of a rare metal called tellurium, a key element in cutting-edge solar technology. As a solar expert who specializes in exactly this, I should be delighted. But here’s the catch: the deposit is found at the bottom of the sea, in an undisturbed part of the ocean.


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Image Credits:

  1. NASA Earth Observatory

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Large-Scale Solar Power Is Spreading Across the U.S.

Utility-scale solar power plants are no longer confined to the sunny Southwest, and these facilities are expected to provide a big boost to U.S. solar production

Posted on May 3 2017 by Cheryl Katz

This article was originally published at Yale Environment 360 and is reprinted here with permission.


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Image Credits:

  1. Swinerton Renewable Energy

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In Search of a DIY Guide to Rooftop PV

Why do so many books provide bad advice on residential energy?

Posted on Jan 27 2017 by Martin Holladay
prime

Most new grid-tied photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) systems are installed by solar contractors. Here’s what usually happens: the homeowners call up a few local solar companies; representatives come to the house to make a site assessment; the homeowners choose the contractor whose quote sounds reasonable and sign a contract for the work. The homeowners don’t even have to put up a ladder; all they have to do is sign a check.


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Image Credits:

  1. Countryman Press / W.W. Norton

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Nevada Reverses Unpopular Net-Metering Rule

Citing Abe Lincoln, the state's chief utility regulator gives solar installers some grounds for hope, but southern Nevada remains in limbo

Posted on Jan 4 2017 by Scott Gibson

Nevada's utility regulators have taken another swing at net-metering rules for residential solar customers, reversing an earlier decision and restoring more attractive rates to those in the northern part of the state.

In a draft order approved late last month, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada voted unanimously to restore retail net-metering reimbursements for new solar customers in NV Energy's Sierra Pacific Power Company service area, up to a cap of 6 megawatts.


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Image Credits:

  1. Coffee / CC0 via Pixabay

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A Caribbean Island Transitions to PV

On St. Eustatius, the local utility has installed a new PV-plus-battery system to supply 23% of the island’s electricity

Posted on Dec 16 2016 by Martin Holladay
prime

Most of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from power plants that burn coal or natural gas. Although an increasing percentage of our electricity comes from photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) arrays and wind turbines, there are two problems with these renewable energy sources. First, electricity generated by PV arrays or wind turbines is still somewhat more expensive than electricity generated by fossil fuel plants (although the cost of solar and wind continue to drop).


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Image Credits:

  1. Images #1 and #2: Martin Holladay
  2. Photo #3: Karyn Patno

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Nevada Solar Customers Win a Round

Customers who have already installed photovoltaic (PV) systems will keep full retail net metering

Posted on Sep 19 2016 by Scott Gibson

Homeowners in Nevada with photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) systems got some welcome news last week in the form of a unanimous decision by utility regulators allowing them to keep full retail net-metering reimbursements for the next 20 years.


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Image Credits:

  1. Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory / Wikimedia Commons

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Off-Grid in Canada: Solar Was the Only Real Choice

Craig Anderson doubles the size of his solar array and tinkers with the best installation angle for the north country

Posted on Aug 22 2016 by Craig Anderson

This is one of a series of posts by Craig Anderson describing the off-the-grid house he built with his wife France-Pascale Ménard near Low, Québec. Craig writes about the "Seven Hills Project" in a blog called Sunshine Saved. For a list of Craig's previous posts, see the list of "Blogs by Craig Anderson" in the sidebar below. This post originally appeared in November 2015.


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Image Credits:

  1. Craig Anderson

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Solar Panels That Don’t Look Like Solar Panels

SolarSkin panels mimic the look of grass, tile, wood shingles — even Elvis

Posted on Jul 22 2016 by Scott Gibson

A technology startup has developed a way to give crystalline silicon solar panels the look of grass, tile, wood shakes or just about anything else the buyer wants.

Sistine Solar promises to "elegantly marry form and function" and speed the adoption of solar energy by making solar panels beautiful to look at.


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Image Credits:

  1. Sistine Solar

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