Tag Archive | "solar energy"

Why Should I Get Solar Panels

Why Should I Get Solar Panels?

This was written by Mathias Aarre Maehlum of Energy Informative.

In this article we are taking a look at the most important factors to determine whether or not solar power is going to be affordable in your particular situation. Let’s first look at the most important reasons for why you should invest in solar:

Lower Your Carbon Footprint

We all know that we face a major challenge here on Earth – We need to stop pumping out carbon dioxide and other climate gases into our atmosphere. A part of this is to stop our dependence on oil, gas, coal and other non-renewable and polluting energy sources.

By purchasing solar panels for your home, whether it is to cover small parts of your energy consumption or to disconnect from the electrical power grid altogether, you are making a difference.

Insolation – How Much Sunlight is Available?

Insolation is a word used to describe the amount of sunlight that is available in a certain location. The higher this value is, the more electricity you can generate.

Beware that insolation and heat levels go hand in hand, meaning that some places might require specific types of solar panels that are more resistant to high temperatures.

Most people place too much emphasis on solar insolation. Is it really that important to have access to a lot of sunlight if I want to invest in residential solar power? The most important factor when it comes to whether or not solar is a viable solution for you are the following:

Financial Rebates

Germany is good example of a place where the government has put in place subsidies for people that invest in solar systems, allowing the industry to flourish. As much as 25,000 MW of the world’s total solar power output is generated in Germany.

Net Metering

Net metering/feed-in tariff schemes allow homeowners to send the surplus electricity generated by their solar panels (that would otherwise go to waste or to a quite inefficient and expensive battery system) to the utility power grid. The grid is many ways a massive battery where energy is stored in terms of the power meter going in the negative direction. Net metering and FIT-schemes are the two main determining factors for whether solar power is going to be good decision.

Go to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to find out what financial models are put in place where you live.

UK introduced a feed-in tariff scheme almost two years ago, which has lead to solar power in this country growing by a factor of 41. This is a country where the amount of annual solar insolation is far from ideal, but financial incentives from the government pushes the growth forward.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Solar PV

Solar PV Still A Good Investment Despite Feed-In-Tariff Reductions

This guest post is by Simon Colley of http://www.renewablesguide.co.uk.

Solar photovoltaic systems better known as Solar PV are still proving to be a sound investment despite the latest round of cuts to the solar feed-in-tariff.

Solar panel electricity systems have excellent green credentials; capturing the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells doesn’t emit any CO2 making it an incredibly environmentally friendly technology.

For those home owners who are thinking about installing a renewable technology to generate electricity, but are yet to do so, should not discount solar pv systems. Despite some of the negative press that has been published in recent months as a result of reductions the Government has made to the solar feed-in-tariff, home owners should not be put off installing solar pv systems as a way to generate electricity.

The latest round of cuts is a natural progression of the feed-in-tariff scheme which is not exclusive to the UK. Any subsidy scheme needs to be sustainable over the period of time it runs and therefore reductions in tariffs are common place. However, the justification for the reductions is the significantly lower investment costs to get the technology installed and up and running, meaning that in the long term there are still financial benefits for businesses and home owners.

As recently reported by Solar Guide, even in the last 12 months the cost to install a solar PV system has fallen considerably. Take a 4kWp system, today the cost to install this type of system typically ranges between £7,000 and £8,000, compared to one year ago when it would have cost approximately £13,000. While the feed-in-tariff rates have fallen it’s savings like this which still makes investing in solar energy worthwhile as fantastic returns can still be gained.

The benefits of using solar pv systems to generate electricity continue to impress and prove a great return on investment opportunity. Home owners and businesses opting to install solar technology can dramatically reduce their electricity bills and significantly reduce their carbon footprint – a typical home using a solar pv system can save over 1 tonne of CO2 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust. There is also the payments that can be earned by installing an eligible system through the solar feed-in-tariff, which currently stand at 16p/kWh, plus there’s the opportunity to earn more if you produce more electricity than you need as you can export it back to the national grid at a rate of 4.5p/kWh.

When you see reductions in the solar feed-in-tariff plummet from 43.3p to 21p, which is what it was up until December 2011, and from 01 August it’s dropped further to 16p, it’s no wonder the initial reaction has been alarming, but once you dig a little deeper there is proof that there are still great returns for those wishing to start producing their own renewable energy using solar technology.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Samsung Galaxy S III Solar-Powered Charger

Samsung Galaxy S III Solar-Powered Charger Coming Soon

Announced on August 13, 2012, Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. is launching a solar-powered charging case for the popular Samsung Galaxy S III smart phone. Following the successful launch of the EnerPlex for the iPhone 4S Ascent Solar now will have a solar charger for two of the most popular cell phones on the market.

Although the Samsung EnerPlex case will not debut in the United States until later this year, it is expected to launch in time for the holiday shopping season this year. It will first debut in South Korea this October.

“The EnerPlex charger is the only protective case for the Samsung Galaxy S III which leverages the lightweight qualities and superior aesthetics of our CIGS solar technology. It will extend the usage time of the Galaxy S III while preserving the high level of design quality that consumers demand. Samsung customers can now incorporate transformational solar technology into their everyday life, improving the performance of their smartphone without compromising style,” Ascent Solar President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Victor Lee said.

The solar cells have been incorporated into the Galaxy S III cell phone case with a very thin battery to harness the solar energy. As the phone is already known for being extremely light Solar Technologies says the charger will add little additional weight and the battery life will be increased significantly.

More about Ascent Solar Technologies

Innovative leaders in the solar energy sector with photovoltaic products, Ascent Solar Technologies is the manufacturing pioneer of flexible thin-film solar panels. Lightweight and extremely durable Ascent Solar is bringing solar power into our everyday life.

CIGS photovoltaic technology

Leading-edge CIGS photovoltaic technology on flexible, plastic substrate.

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Germany Makes New Solar Power Record

Germany Makes New Solar Power Record

After Fukushima Germany was quick to close several nuclear power plants and reactors for fear of similar disaster. A shift into using photovoltaic panels and alternative energies has led them to setting a new solar power record. These panels will be joined by other sustainable energy sources by 2022 when the remaining nuclear stations are closed.

Do We Want Nuclear Power Plants?

Nuclear power plants supply about 20% of the power in the United States and almost three-fourths of its “clean-air” energy. Generated from uranium, a resource that is mined and nonrenewable, it’s hardly an environmentally friendly option. Once used up the waste becomes radioactive waste and needs to be stored in special containers buried deep underground, until it no longer proves to be a hazard. This is usually within a mountain.

Approximately 3 million Americans are living close to an operating nuclear power plant, within approximately 10 miles. And after last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan Americans are not the only ones concerned about the dangers of using nuclear power plants for energy.

From DoSomething.org: “11 Facts About Nuclear Disaster

Japan has had three nuclear power plan accidents since 1999. The most recent accident in 2011 at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant occurred after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that damaged cooling systems.

In fact, countries around the world began rethinking their nuclear energy strategy. There are over 400 nuclear power plants around the world in thirty countries. However, Germany stands out in removing their nuclear energy systems.

Germany’s Reaction to Fukushima

Immediately after the Fukushima incident Chancellor Angela Merkel made an announcement that marked a significant shift in their energy policy. Germany shut down the seven oldest nuclear reactors. Later in May 2011, another announcement was made to completely get rid of nuclear energy by 2022.

New Solar Power Record

Germany’s solar power plants are helping to replace the remaining nuclear power stations as alternative energy. Equal to 20 nuclear power plants, at full capacity, the solar energy plants produced 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour. That set a new world record. It also met one-third of the electricity Germany needed on a work day (Friday). This helps prove that industrial nations are capable of meeting a large amount of their needs with sustainable energy sources, if not all.

Conclusion: Nuclear Energy Is Not Sustainable

Nuclear Power Plants Being Shut Down

With the need to mine uranium to generate nuclear energy, it cannot last forever. Uranium is not renewable. And as uranium mines continue to be used up nuclear power plants will eventually be replaced.

Why not replace nuclear power plants now? Let’s replace the nuclear plants with renewable energy plants, like Germany. In addition to solar energy, plans are in place to add other renewable energy sources, such as bio-mass and wind energies to meet their needs.

How long until nuclear power plants have until uranium is gone? Do you think that we should start shifting our energies sources to more renewable options?

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Solar Lights for Camping

Solar Lights for Camping

This is a guest post by Rob Lobitz who plays an active role in promoting alternative energy sources and believes “Earth” day should be everyday.

Your definition of camping might vary quite a bit from your neighbors, but whether you will be sleeping in a tent under the stars, spending a weekend at the lake in your RV or roughing it in a rented cabin for a few nights, you will benefit from having at least one or two forms of lighting readily available. There are several options, from battery operated flashlights to a good old fashioned campfire, but one possibility that you might not have considered is cheap solar lights. Solar powered lights are available in a variety of configurations and several of these are ideal for camping. Learn about the choices presented and decide which of them is right for you.

Solar powered lanterns are ideal to hang inside of your tent at night or carry with you as you walk about in the early morning hours. These solar lights typically use LED light bulbs, so they emit a bright light that increases visibility. In addition, LED lights are durable, making them an ideal choice for the rugged terrain you are likely to experience.

You have probably seen solar powered stake lighting. Perhaps you even have some lining your walkway or edging your driveway. Consider bringing some of these along on your next camping trip. You can push them into the ground to light the way to the latrine, or stick them around the perimeter of your campsite for a bit of extra security.

Hanging solar lights are another variety that many people use in their own backyards. These are also ideal for camping. You can hang them around the awning of your camper, dangle them from trees near your tent or decorate the front porch of your cabin. Along with providing added luminosity, they add an air of fun to your surroundings, which is especially enjoyable if you are camping with a large group of friends. Finally, consider investing in a solar powered emergency light. These handheld lights often provide alternate power sources such as a backup battery or even a hand crank, should you find yourself in a crisis. The light will help you find your way and may help rescuers locate you more quickly. While camping is a fun activity, you should always take steps to keep yourself safe.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Build Your Own Solar Panel

Build Your Own Solar Panel

Global warming is changing the planet with temperatures rising all around the world. As this continues and the prices of energy continue to rise people are looking for more affordable ways to get energy. More and more homeowners are realizing that energy resources are not as renewable when you use traditional sources. That’s why so many are learning that it is possible to build your own solar panel.

Build Your Own Solar Panel

Solar panels are typically reserved for homeowners with more spendable income. They are not cheap and without the right financial resources it limits the number of houses that will be able to use this technology. It can cost thousands of dollars to have a professional install a solar energy system for your house. That’s a reason why so many are looking to do it themselves.

Completely Build Your Own Solar Panel Or Get A Kit?

While it is possible for people to build their own solar panels, they are not as large as needed to produce the wattage necessary for your entire house. So if you are planning to build your own solar panel it’s recommended that you get a solar panel kit. They are more affordable than hiring the professionals, but more effective than building one from scratch. They will come with everything you need to successfully build your own solar panel in your garage. Even larger, well-known, companies like GE are producing solar panel kits for homeowners. They are realizing that homeowners want affordable solutions to get energy. This is making it easier to find a kit.

With the instructions provided you’ll have build your own solar panel in no time. If you want to venture into the process of making your own solar panel there are many guides available to walk you through the process. Why not get the entire family together and everyone can learn exactly how you collect solar power and turn it into electricity. Be sure to find a guide that is easy to follow and detailed when you begin to build your own solar panel.

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Solar House

Ways To Make Your Heating More Environmentally Friendly

This is a guest post by Pat of Apple Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling your home can account for over 50 percent of your home’s energy use, so upgrading your heating system can make a big impact on both your environmental impact and your utility bills. New equipment will make a huge difference in your fuel consumption, and if you switch to one of the many sources of renewable energy to heat your house, can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Here is some of the ways you can make heating your home more environmentally friendly.

High Efficiency Furnaces and Boilers

The furnaces and boilers that you have installed in your home today are much more efficient than those built even ten years ago. Some new gas furnaces have an AFUE rating of up to 97 percent, which means that 97 percent of the fuel burned goes to heating your home! This is possible because of some equipment new features, such as electronic ignition, a sealed combustion chamber, and variable speeds that allow high efficiency furnaces and boilers to precisely control the amount of fuel burned and utilize almost all of the heat energy produced.

Geothermal

Geothermal heating is not a new technology, but it has gained a lot of popularity in residential homes over the last few years. Geothermal heating uses the heat naturally present under the surface of the earth by piping down liquid (usually water or a combination of water and refrigerant) to absorb the energy. The heat from the liquid is extracted by a heat pump which heats air to be disturbed throughout the home. This system needs very little maintenance, since most of the components are underground, and takes very little energy to run (just enough to power the heat pump). This heat source is completely renewable, and the process can be reversed in the summer to cool your home as well. There are many different types of geothermal systems, from horizontal loops to open loops, so a solution can be found to fit most geographies and climates.

Solar

Beyond using solar energy to provide your electricity, there are quite a few options for heating and cooling using the power of the sun. Active solar heating involves heating either air or liquid with sunlight that can be circulated to heat your home. Liquid solar systems are usually designed to work with radiators, similar to the heat distribution from a boiler, and air systems are more typically used for individual rooms with a fan to disperse the hot air. You can also buy heat pumps and air conditioners equipped with solar panels to provide the electricity needed to power them. Solar hot water heating is another popular option for those not ready to completely overhaul their current system, and even that small change can lead to considerable household energy reduction.

If you cannot afford to upgrade your heating and cooling system right now, you can reduce your heat loss (and therefore for energy consumption) by making sure your home is properly insulated and sealing up any air leaks. Even something small like putting up curtains over your windows can not only make your home more comfortable, but also ensure you are wasting as little heat as possible. When you are ready to upgrade your current HVAC system for a more environmentally friendly one, be sure to research all of the green options available.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Solio Classic Solar Charger

There's a reason some things are "classic". Solio's Classic Solar Hybrid Charger offers the greatest range of compatibility with your devices, right out of the box! Award-winning, compact and versatile. Solio stores power from the sun or electrical socket freeing you to recharge your mobile phone, iPod, GPS, game system and other handheld devices anywhere, anytime.

A fully charged Solio will recharge the average phone up to two times, or give you up to 15 hours of MP3 music. Solio's intelligent internal circuitry and Adapter Tip System lets you charge devices at about the same rate as their dedicated wall chargers.

Solio generates free and clean energy – immediately. Replacing your wall and car chargers with the Classic Solio Solar Charger is an easy way to reduce your ecological footprint not to mention keep your gadgets fully charged when you need them.

 


 

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Do We Really Need Solar-Powered Robots to Mow Our Lawn? Are we that lazy?

I just finished watching Wall-E with my husband so pardon my little ranting before I explain about the new Automower™ Solar Hybrid Robots by Husqvarna. How much are we going to rely on machines? After that cute movie about a robot falling in love, it makes you think about how lazy we can be if someone, or something, does our job for us. Here in the states we love our green lawns. It's almost a status symbol, it doesn't matter whether we're in a drought or not (Southern California) – we want a green lawn. I wonder if it makes us see "nature" in our suburban homes. If you live in the city or suburbs, it can be difficult to get back to nature. Believe me the parks around here feature ducks and pigeons – I was amazed at all the squirrels I saw in Sacramento. I know, it's sad.

 


The future of gardening is here; a new lawn mower is in town.

 

Now that I got my ranting and raving out about humans being lazy and wanting a robot to do our dirty work – the Automower™ Solar Hybrid is a neat little gadget combining solar power and electricity. So if you want a nicely trim lawn and you want a lawn mower, this could be the lawnmower of your dreams. In addition to the human-powered lawnmowers, the biodiesel lawnmowers, and the electric lawnmowers – a robot sounds like the easy road to be more Earth friendly. It's solar-powered, 90% recyclable and automatic – it knows when to recharge itself!

Made by Husqvarna, a company based in Sweden and the world's largest manufacturer of chainsaws, lawn and garden equipment. You've probably seen their items under the Craftsman brand name at your local Sears. This little solar-powered robot to cut 3/4 acre of grass all by itself. Equipped with collision sensors it knows when it comes across furniture, pets, and trees. But does it really need an anti-theft protection built in? Probably – it is something all the guys in the neighborhood will want. All you need to do is stick a little wire into the ground around the perimeter and it'll take care of the rest. I think some of the neighborhood kids will be out of a Summer job.

Sources:
Husqvarna.com
CleanTechnica.com

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