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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

10 Fun Facts about the Renewable Energy Industry

Posted by SEPCO

7/30/13 9:30 AM

BNEF total MJI came across the great blog post the other day and wanted to share it with you. It was the 10 Renewable Energy Statistics you Might not Know and it hit the nail on the head. You can also check out the original post for more information and great links. Here is a quick overview:

1. It is estimated that renewable energy will rise at the rate of 25% of global gross power generation in 2018. 2011 global growth was at 20% and in 2006 it was 19%. This is good news.

2. Hydropower is the leader in global renewable generation and accounted for 16% in 2011.

3. Wind and solar power are the newest forms of renewable energy generation, but they are quickly moving forward with their production doubling to 8% of global renewable generation in 2018 from 4% in 2011.

4. Of all the places in the world, Germany is the leader in solar energy production as they have installed more solar then the rest of the world combined.

5. Iceland uses predominately hydropower, to the tune of 75%, and the rest comes from geothermal, solar and wind.

6. Global renewable generation exceeded the electric consumption of China in 2012.

7. China is the leader in hydropower production accounting for 40% of the growth in global power capacity through to 2018.

8. Wind power is the next leading form of renewable energy being deployed in 75 countries in 2018. China again is the leader in this form of renewable energy with US, Germany, Spain and India in the top 5 countries.

9. Six of the top 10 countries for wind power generation come from Europe and include Germany, Spain, UK, Italy, France and Portugal.

10. Even though renewable is on the rise in the US to the tune of 150% by 2040, it will only make up 16% of global generation mix by that point.

What other fun facts can you think of about the renewable energy industry? Let us know below.

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Topics: Renewable Energy

Economic Benefits of High Quality Solar Outdoor Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

7/25/13 9:30 AM

High Quality Solar Outdoor LightingIn addition to the economic benefits from elimination of grid-connected electricity there are additional benefits of high quality solar outdoor lighting, including:

  1. No line voltage, trenching, or metering:
    Since there is no need for trenching, wiring between lights or metering required, the cost savings on installation can be huge. Since most of the cost for traditional lighting is through trenching and brining in the grid power, solar is the go to choice.
  2. No impact from grid power outages: 
    Each system is stand alone and self-contained with its own power source any grid power outage will not cause an outage of the entire solar system.
  3. Able to employ battery backup for cloudy or rainy days:  
    In most cases, the battery system is sized for 3 to 5 days autonomy, the solar lights will continue operating even when sun radiation is not available
  4. Distributed light and power - no single point of failure for enhanced security:  
    Since  each solar light is powered by itself and not connected to the rest of the lights, there is no risk of a complete system failures, as in a grid connected system
  5. Easy to install with quick connect plugs:  
    The solar system components are modular and designed for easy installation within a few hours.
  6. No scheduled maintenance for up to 5-7 years: 
    Most of the materials and components of the solar system are maintenance free.  For example, the life expectancy of PV panels is 10 years maintenance free.
  7. No cost of replacing concrete, asphalt or landscaping from trenching:  
    Time and money is saved when installing the solar lighting systems since there is no need to remove concrete or dig trenches for cables.  The civil work is mostly limited to installing a pole.
  8. No cost of transformers or meters to be added for electric service:
    There are significant savings due to the fact that transformers or meters are not required for the installation of solar lights.
  9. If applicable, possible qualification for savings from various state/federal taxes:  
    Several tax incentives are available for the deploying solar systems, which make this alternative even more e attractive economically.
  10. Controlled charging to prolong battery service life: The controllers installed in the solar system provide features such as low/high voltage disconnect, to protect the system and improve its performance. 
  11. Reduced emissions of criteria air pollutants from utility electricity production:  
    Solar power does not pollute unlike the power normally produced by the utility companies.
  12. Self-contained-light on/off controlled by automatic daylight sensing or preset number of hours:
    The controllers installed in the solar systems allow for the programing of the lights to respond to the specific needs of the application, such as, having illumination from dusk to dawn, or any other combination.
  13. Safe 12 volt / 24 volt circuit with little to no risk of electric shock: 
    The fact that the solar lights operate with DC 12- 24 V, eliminates the risk of electric shock that at higher voltage could be fatal.
What other benefits should we add to the list?
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Topics: Solar Lighting, LED Lighting

Make your Landscape Green with Solar Power

Posted by SEPCO

7/25/13 9:30 AM

Solar YardI came across this great article last week Greening Your Landscape with Solar Power and wanted to share it with you as it was full of great information. It provided information on all types of solar equipment you can use for your landscaping needs.

Solar Lawn Care Equipment

A gas powered lawnmower emits the same amount of pollutants as 11 late model cars in just one hour. That is a lot of pollutants. And on top of that, it is estimated that American homeowners spill a total of 17 million gallons of fuel when filling the yard equipment according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Talk about a lot of waste.

Solar-powered electric lawn equipment can change the way a homeowner cuts grass, trim hedges and blow leaves. They can save on gas and are completely emissions free. These tools are completely cordless and are also much quieter than standard gas powered equipment. They also provide less breakdowns since there are less moving parts. “The electric equipment is five times less noisy than gas-powered trimmers and blowers, breaks down less and requires less maintenance,” says Bob Blundon of Connecticut, who founded the eco-friendly landscape company Mother Earth Care. Blundon has also noticed the solar-powered design makes the yard equipment lighter and easier to maneuver.

Solar Lights

Once your lawn and landscaping is manicured to perfection, solar lights can help showcase all your hard work. From pathways, decks and tiered lamp posts, you can create and inviting glow and utilize the space after dark without increasing your electric bill. Plus there is no need to trench all that beautiful landscaping.

Today, solar lights use LEDs which have a much longer life span (up to 100,000 hours) than former incandescent light bulbs and provide a much better light. “If you used solar lights a few years ago, you probably remember them as providing very little light, being unreliable and on top of that, not staying lit very long,” says home improvement expert Murray Anderson. “Solar lights have changed a lot over the years.”

Solar Fountains

Do you have a pond or other water structure in your yard? If so, utilizing solar power to run the pumps and fountains is a great option. Water structures create a warm, serene atmosphere and tranquil environment. The systems include a battery backup so you can choose when your water fountain will operate, even on cloudy days or when you are entertaining guests. “A fountain with the solar panel built-in is useful for those water features with a spray. Pumps with a separate solar panel are best for waterfalls, man-made creeks and other water features of this type,” advises the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Department.

Solar Gardening Innovations

Vineyard owners and farmers with small or mid-sized fields can benefit from a solar-powered gardening robot, controlled by a smartphone. Created in France, the Vitirover uses GPS coordinates to determine exactly where to cut grass and weeds, with sensors to keep the blades away from vines and crops. It can even roll up and down hills with a 15 percent grade or below.

For those tired of back-breaking gardening or tending crops, the Wunda Weeder allows users to lie face down on a four-wheeled frame to weed flowers or harvest vegetables. Designed by Australians, the self-propelled electric machine is powered by a solar panel that offers shade from the sun or rain.

What other ways can you think of using solar power in your landscape?

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Green Ideas, LED Lighting, Landscape Lighting

3 Ways to Be Green in Small Spaces

Posted by SEPCO

7/18/13 9:30 AM

LED LightWhen living in a small apartment or home, you may think that you are already doing your part to help the environment by economizing and taking up less space in the world. However, there are many other simple ways to resolve to live more ecologically and responsibly!

Trim the Fat

That isn’t meant to be a poke at your waistline, instead it’s a way to start your new green lifestyle. In small homes or apartments, free space is more valuable than ever. Resolve to get the junk cleared out before you start any other green projects. Cleaning out your home and getting rid of useless clutter is a great way to recycle, notice any pest control problems, and give you more area to breath and be active. If your treadmill is filling up with excess clothes, and your kitchen table is overcrowded with unnecessary appliances, consider taking an inventory of what you have and resolving to donate what is superfluous. You can even organize a community donation project with those in your apartment complex or neighborhood to donate as much as possible and get everyone living providently!

Consider Indoor Gardening

Though you may not feel like the kind of person that could ever grow anything, taking advantage of all the ways to grow your own organic fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to be more ecological as well as conscious of your own nutrition and health. If you don’t have even enough room to grow plants on your window sills, there are still many ways to indoor garden! Growing plants in your kitchen with LED grow lights is a great way to get fast growing organic plants at home. The special grow lights will give your fruits and vegetables the much needed light to photosynthesize and have you making a fruit salad in no time!

Monitoring the Energy

Whether it is how long the oven is on during the day, or how high or low you crank the thermostat, being conscious of your energy while living in a small space, is a great way to prepare you for provident and ecological living when you have a larger apartment or home. There are many ways to manage and monitor your energy such as: getting a programmable thermostat, dimmers on your light switches, and investing in solar panels!

The great thing about solar energy in small spaces is that since you have less that will be consuming energy, revamping your home with solar panels and solar products can be incredibly affordable. Whether you are in a condo, townhome, or starter home, solar energy can provide you with the energy needed through summer days and winter nights so you can regulate the temperatures in an ecological and environmentally conscious way.

So whether you are in a small space temporarily or long term, realize your own potential for ecological and economical living in your home and start saving space and energy!

Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and enjoys learning and trying anything new when it comes to green living, home improvement, and DIY

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Battery Storage and Off-Grid Solar Power & Lighting Systems

Posted by SEPCO

7/16/13 9:30 AM

Battery storage plays an absolutely critical role in all off-grid solar power and lighting systems. In essence, all the energy produced by the solar array is stored in deep cycle gel batteries, which in turn provides on-demand power to the light fixture or device (ex. security camera, wi-fi, meter etc.)

One of the most common mistakes that many companies in the industry make is designing a system with insufficient battery storage (i.e. anything less than 4x’s the daily load requirement) which will invariably wreak havoc on a system in two ways. 

First and foremost, the system will fail under bad weather patterns (not a matter of IF the bad weather patterns occur, but WHEN!) simply because cloudy weather significantly reduces the solar array’s energy production capacity. With less energy stored in the batteries each day, combined with a constant load amount, it’s only a matter of time before insufficient back-up battery power storage is depleted, thus causing the system to fail.

Solar Power Battery Storage

Bad weather patterns notwithstanding, a system designed with insufficient battery storage will also experience a much higher ‘depth of discharge’ which simply means that the batteries will forced to work much harder because the daily load requirement uses a much higher percentage of the battery’s useable capacity each day. A high depth of discharge significantly reduces the overall life expectancy of the batteries to the point where instead of changing the batteries every 5 to 7 years, the system owner will be forced to change the batteries every 2 to 4 years.

At SEPCO, every solar lighting system we design has a minimum of 5 times daily load requirement with 7 to 10 times (or even more) daily load requirement in geographic areas with very low solar insolation like Northeast and Northwest US. This ensures not only ultra-reliable year round system performance, but also provides a robust, cost effective 5 to 7 year battery life expectancy.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power, Solar Lighting Design

Implementing Green Home Security

Posted by SEPCO

7/11/13 6:30 AM

There’s no question that your home needs to be protected; however, if you’re an environmentally-conscious person and don’t want to implement security solutions that have a negative impact on the ecosystem, you might have a difficult time finding suitors.

While there are plenty of home security systems available to you, those that have been created with careful consideration of their environmental effect are just now starting to gain traction.

house keys

We’ve seen all manner of energy efficient appliances, so it was just a matter of time until other household electronics begin to follow suit. You’ve still got to do some searching, but it’s getting easier to find security companies that are taking part in the green initiative.

Regardless of how you feel politically about the topic, it does save you money and lower your electric bill, which is something we all can agree is a good thing.

So here are a few ways that you can go green in terms of your home security system.

1. Led Technology -- Light emitting diodes (LEDs) last much longer and consume less energy than most other sources of light. Since it is such an efficient type of light, most security systems will use them for screens and light-based indicators. This is going to make a particularly big difference if your security system uses technology that has a video feed or monitor of some kind.

2. Wireless Options -- Once again, this is an area where a lot of security systems are moving to, because aside from being more economically friendly, wireless systems are just more popular and easier to manage.

Wireless technology uses less electricity; however, if you have a larger building where materials and distance can interfere with performance, wireless technology may pose some minor issues. In general though, for smaller homes and offices, wireless systems will work flawlessly.

3. Environmental Controls -- Some security systems are able to alert you about temperature leaks, water damage, carbon monoxide and other environmental factors that could be affecting your home.

These controls usually have settings that will automatically notify you when the temperature rises above or below a certain number, or when it detects other drastic changes or inconsistencies in your home’s ecosystem.

4. Just the sign -- It’s unfortunate, considering the amount of work companies put into their technology, but the most effective component of a security system in deterring burglars might just be the small sign that security companies allow you to put outside in your front lawn.

Some companies will sell you the rights to use just the sign. If a criminal sees that sign outside your home, they’ll almost always move on to a house that doesn’t have one. Whether you decide to invest in just the sign or entire security system, it is vital that you invest in some kind of security solution to deter burglars.

Protecting your Home and Staying Environmentally Friendly

Installing more electronics in your home never feels like a “green” thing to do, but it can be done responsibly and in such a way that is environmentally safe. Technology has come a long way, and as electrical components become more and more efficient, you can probably rest assured that a security system will fall safely within the realm of eco-friendly products.

In fact, many home security companies, such as Protect America, have implemented programs to try to stay green. When searching for a security system, be sure to consider how environmentally-friendly their products and services are.

About the Author: Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California whose writing covers everything on home security, DIY, family health, marketing and much more. She makes sure to follow these tips when it comes to keeping her home and family safe. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook to learn more eco-friendly tips. 

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Topics: Guest Post, Security Lighting

Happy 4th of July with Articles and Fun Facts

Posted by SEPCO

7/4/13 9:30 AM

Happy 4th of July
We all here at SEPCO wanted to wish you all a happy and safe 4th of July. We also picked out a few links with some great information on the history and fun facts about the 4th we thought you’d enjoy:

US Census Bureau the Fourth of July 2012 Facts

ParkRideFly USA 20 Fun Facts about the 4th of July

Washington DC 10 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day in Washington, DC

Taste of Home 4th of July Recipes

Travel Channel Best US Fireworks Displays – Slideshow

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Topics: Holiday

Solar LED Parking Lot Lights for Oconee Park and Ride

Posted by SEPCO

7/2/13 8:30 AM

Solar LED Parking Lot LightsOther new features of the Oconee Street Park and Ride lot and surrounding area include three new bus shelters, an information kiosk, security cameras, an emergency call station, bicycle lockers for travelers, an upgraded traffic signal at the State Route 10 Inner Loop on-/off-ramps and Oconee Street intersection, area sidewalk and pedestrian crossing improvements, and a U-turn lane at the intersection of Oconee Street and State Route 10 Outer Loop on-/off-ramps.

This project also incorporates many green initiatives, including pervious concrete and celled aggregate parking bays to reduce run-off and encourage recharge of rain water into the underlying soils, rain gardens to provide treatment of contaminated run-off, tree plantings, and solar-powered LED lighting.

Solar Parking Lot LED lightsThe solar powered LED parking lot lighting systems consist of a 340 Watts solar power system with a 448 Amp Hour battery assembly powering a Genesis LED light fixture. This system is sized to provide dusk to dawn lighting with 8 days autonomy for cloudy weather. This ensures the safety and security of the travelers and their vehicles by providing proper lighting for the Oconee Park and Ride.

The Oconee Street Park and Ride was funded through a $2.4 million Federal Transit Administration grant as a Congressional Earmark in 2004 by then-Representative Max Burns. The project was initially approved in May of 2007 by the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission. The Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration were also involved in the planning of the lot. G.P.’s Enterprises Inc. of Auburn, Georgia began construction on the lot in May 2012.

For more information about the Oconee Street Park and Ride lot, call the Athens Transit Information Line at 706-613-3430 or contact Butch McDuffie, Athens Transit Director, at butch.mcduffie@athensclarkecounty.com.
Img Source: http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2013-01-24/oconee-st-park-and-ride-opens-public

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

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