Solar Hot Water is Where the Money Is

By |June 26th, 2012|

(SCE now offers rebates for electric-displacing solar water heating (SWH) systems in its service territory.  Call us for more information at 805-497-9808.)

A huge market globally, solar hot water is an almost untapped market in the U.S. that’s still innovating and cutting costs.

There are about 200 million solar water heating (SWH) systems in the world. There are about one million systems in the U.S. Year-on-year numbers, even during the recession, showed SWH to be an expanding domestic industry.

There are approximately 100 million residential water heating systems in the U.S., according to Sunnovations CEO Matt Carlson, and just under half use electricity, fuel oil or propane. “I’m looking at a market of 50-million-plus homes that don’t use natural gas to heat their water,” he said. “That’s a pretty sizeable market, and that’s where the opportunity is.”

Eight million water heaters are sold yearly in the U.S., Carlson said, at a cost of $1,000 […]

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Solar Power More Competitive than People Realize

By |May 24th, 2012|

Are the decision-makers entrusted with determining the future of energy infrastructure operating under an outdated understanding of the cost-competitiveness of solar power? In many cases, the answer is yes, according to a paper released last week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

In “Reconsidering the Economics of Photovoltaic Power,” BNEF CEO Michael Liebreich and nine collaborators document the precipitous decline in the price of solar power since 2009. “Average PV module prices have fallen by nearly 75% in the past three years,” they write, “to the point where solar power is now competitive with daytime retail power prices in a number of countries.”

Those facts so quickly upended what had been conventional wisdom (i.e., solar power is prohibitively expensive) that the new economics of solar power apparently caught decision-makers flat-footed. Here are the authors’ conclusions:
• The shift in prices of solar technology carries major implications for policy and investment decision-makers, especially when […]

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US to put tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels

By |May 17th, 2012|

U.S. trade officials ordered tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels of as much as 250%, according to SolarWorld AG’s U.S. unit.

The decision is likely to help U.S. solar-equipment manufacturers, although it could stir trade tensions with China.

The Department of Commerce has ordered tariffs of 249.96% for some amount of imports of Chinese solar cells and panels, while products made by Suntech Power Holdings Co. will have tariffs of 31.22%, products made by Trina Solar Ltd. will have tariffs of 31.14%, while other unnamed companies will see tariffs of 31.18%, SolarWorld said.

The department was scheduled to release a decision on the tariffs Thursday as part of an investigation into accusations that Chinese solar-panel makers receive unfair government subsidies and sell their products in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production.

In a related decision in March, the department imposed tariffs of between 3% and 5% on imports of Chinese solar […]

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California Launches Solar Hot Water Public Awareness Campaign

By |May 7th, 2012|

For many Californians, taking action to help the environment is already a way of life, from recycling and using low-flow showerheads to weather-proofing their home and driving a low-emission vehicle. Now the California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program is encouraging all Californians to take the next step in their green routine with solar water heating.
“The time is now to learn more about solar water heating and the CSI-Thermal Program.”
The four Program Administrators — California Center for Sustainable Energy® (CCSE) in the San Diego Gas & Electric Company® territory; Pacific Gas & Electric Company® (PG&E); Southern California Edison Company® (SCE); and Southern California Gas Company® (SoCalGas®) — have launched a statewide outreach campaign to educate the public about solar water heating technology and spread the word about the rebates that are available through the program.

“Earth Month is the perfect time of year for people to think about what more they […]

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More Small Businesses Are Taking the Solar Plunge

By |April 25th, 2012|

Installing solar power at their Shelter Island, N.Y., Ace Hardware store seemed like the right thing to do for the planet, say owners David Gurney and Meredith Page. But now that the brother-and-sister ownership team have the system, they’re finding that it’s also good for their wallets.

Solar power was once just a luxury for well-funded corporate citizens like Wal-Mart and Google. But with the price of solar components plummeting, and rebates and other financing sweetening the pot, more small businesses are considering whether to run on the oldest form of energy. That’s especially the case for those that have hefty power needs and operate in states where power is pricey. “Solar was once for a tree-hugger-type mentality,” says Scott Maskin, president of solar installer SUNation Solar Systems in Oakdale, N.Y. “It’s evolved to a financial decision.”

China has blasted into the solar industry in the past decade, and while that’s been […]

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Solar Power Has High Return on Investment, report says

By |April 16th, 2012|

According to a report by SBI Energy, the return on investment for solar power is better than for any other source of renewable energy, thanks to big technological improvements expected to drive down costs. The report said the cost of solar energy is expected to be $1 per watt by 2020, with the typical payback period down to three to five years instead of seven to 10 years.

The “Global Solar Inverters Markets” report by SBI said the cost of large solar power will decrease by half about every 10 years. Solar energy could get as low as $0.50 per watt by 2030, according to SBI, with the widespread adoption of photovoltaic inverters and an increase in low cost production by Asian markets.

“During 2011-2012, we expect a short-term lull in the European Union PV market, primarily due to FiT rate cuts and regulations on farm land usage for ground mount installations,” […]

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Solar Week in review

By |April 16th, 2012|

As with many recent weeks, news from the solar industry and market shows that solar is blooming despite facing pricing uncertainty and other challenges. While some places are enacting new programs to incentivize solar, some companies and projects are being threatened by a variety of factors, from a slow-moving turtle to falling module prices.

One of the places where falling prices most affected the solar market is Pennsylvania where the state’s solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market slumped because people adopted solar more quickly than expected. The SREC market was limited by how much solar power utilities were required to buy and when there was enough solar, the price of SRECs dropped. Now, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 and others are supporting HB 1580, which would increase the amount of SRECs that utilities must buy, thereby, increasing the price of the credits, making solar more valuable.

Meanwhile Los […]

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Feed-in-Tariffs: Europe’s Way of Encouraging Solar Power Arrives in the U.S.

By |April 10th, 2012|

With the news that the LA City Council has granted LADWP the power to enter into feed-in-tariff agreements, here is some news on how FIT’s are working in Europe and other parts of the U.S.

Solar cells adorn the roofs of many homes and warehouses across Germany, while the bright white blades of wind turbines are a frequent sight against the sky in Spain.
If one day these machines become as common on the plains and rooftops of the United States as they are abroad, it may be because the financing technique that gave Europe an early lead in renewable energy is starting to cross the Atlantic.

Put simply, the idea is to pay homeowners and businesses top dollar for producing green energy. In Germany, for example, a homeowner with a rooftop solar system may be paid four times more to produce electricity than the rate paid to a coal-fired power plant.

This month […]

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Solar but Were Afraid to Ask

By |April 9th, 2012|

Q: How much does a residential PV system cost?
A: In general, the bigger and more complex the system, the more it will cost. PV systems with batteries cost about 30% more than systems without batteries. Grid power is reliable so most people get an on-grid PV system without batteries. For example, a home in Southern California Edison territory consumes $250 per month utility electricity.  A 3.23 kilowatt PV system with a 300 square feet PV array will save on average $150 per month. This PV system will cost $11,560 and save over $128,000 in electricity during its 25-year power warranty. A larger PV system will cost more but will produce more energy and save you more money. Call SES and get a free quotation for a PV system designed to meet your needs.

Q: How much money will a solar electrical system save me?
A: A properly designed and well installed PV […]

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LADWP Approved for Solar Feed-In Tariffs

By |April 5th, 2012|

The LA City Council said yes to LA DWP for 150 megawatts of solar.

After years of contention, the Los Angeles City Council has granted the city’s utility, the biggest municipal utility in the U.S., the power to enter into contracts with solar power producers at above retail rates.

The council delegated to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA DWP) the right to enter into up to 150 megawatts of feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts with commercial and residential solar power producers.

Like a similar program proposed by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2008, the contracts pre-approved by the City Council allow the DWP to purchase, at an above retail rate (tariff), the electricity fed into the utility’s grid by solar system owners over a pre-designated number of years.

A demonstration FIT plan previously approved by the City Council and already budgeted by DWP allots $58 million over twenty-two years to support […]

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