Author: Dr. Jim Carey

The Effect of Natural Disasters on Electricity Prices

Solar leasing promoters have long claimed that electricity costs will keep rising, but we haven’t see this happening – yet.  Actually, almost all of the standard generation sources are benefiting from lower costs – natural gas is low, coal is low, and nuclear is… well it’s not dramatically more expensive than it has been. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that prices are going to go up.

A Helpful Roadmap for California’s Certified “Smart Inverters”

Solar inverters are becoming more intelligent this year. California’s Rule 21, which is now partially in effect, governs the safety of PV arrays and their interconnection communications with the local investor-owned utility. 

The rule has three basic phases, of which the first came into effect Sept. 8 under a draft resolution of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The effective date for the other two phases has not yet been set, however a CPUC vote on the draft resolution is set for October 12, and a California Smart Inverter Working Group (SWIG) workshop on Phases 2 and 3 is scheduled for Nov. 17.

Swiss Solar Decathlon House Scores a Perfect 100 in Engineering

The Swiss Team took first place in engineering with a perfect score of 100 possible points. For the Engineering Contest, each competing house was evaluated by a group of prominent engineers who determined which house best exemplifies excellence in innovation, system functionality, energy efficiency, system reliability, and documentation through their project manual and construction drawings.

Bob Dixon, presenting the award said, “The jury believes the first-place house in the Engineering Contest offers comprehensive performance modeling that sports clear graphs, detailed explanations and a variety of representations. The quality of the thermal envelope is exceptional and carefully calibrated to the target climate with very good resistance to heat flow, a solid focus on airtightness, and high-quality components such as triple-glazed windows and sliding doors.”

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National Bioenergy Day is Wednesday, October 18

“Bioenergy” is use of any organic material, such as forest thinnings, residues, agricultural waste or urban wood waste, to generate heating, cooling and/or electricity. Many independent power producers across the United States and Canada produce electricity for the grid using bioenergy. Hospitals, college campuses, school districts and government buildings also use bioenergy for heat and electricity.

How to Balance the Solar Efficiency Equation

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s solar cell efficiencies chart depicts confirmed conversion efficiencies for research cells from 1976 to date, for several PV technologies. But as conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV modules approach peak efficiency, with the leap from lab to life—or from demonstration to mass production—occasionally taking over 30 years, the final question is: what is the additional watt class worth?

Do Solar Owners Love Solar the Way Gun Owners Love Guns?

There has been talk for years about the need for the industry to mobilize rooftop solar owners into one group that together would represent one large voice in favor of solar-friendly local, state and federal policy. With more than 1,000,0000 installations in the U.S., that voice would certainly be loud and strong.

A loud, centralized voice couldn’t be more important in U.S. politics right now, where the Trump administration is eying tariffs, policies and rules that could crush the solar industry. One such initiative is the recent DOE directive that is looking to re-write the rules around compensation for power plants, a move that would pay solar and wind facilities less than coal or nuclear generation for the energy they produce.