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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

MDNR Maple Bay State Park Solar Boat Ramp Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

8/29/13 7:30 AM

MDNR Boat Ramp LightingSEPCO was recently contacted by MDNR to provide lighting at the Maple Bay State Park for their boat launch and parking areas. The lights were needed to provide safety to boaters and park goers, but the cost of trenching standard electrical, putting in a meter and boring under the concrete to get the power where they needed it was cost prohibitive. This is where solar lighting was their perfect solution.

Provided were two lights to provide lighting for four hours after dusk and turn back on two hours before dawn. The lighting is provided by a Viper fixture and is powered by a 125 Watt solar power assembly. These systems have a backup of up to 5 days of no sun; which is important in the winter for Michigan.

The installation of the lighting was only part of a large project at the Maple Bay State Park boat launch area. They also provided other features such as a two lane launch ramp, two courtesy piers and vehicle trailer parking areas. They also installed naturalized storm water management system and barrier free accessibility, which greatly enhances the service to the boating public.

This is not the first project completed at a boat ramp in Michigan; however, it is the first to use the bright LED Viper fixture. Our other projects included power flood fixtures using compact fluorescent lamps. With the life expectancy and lumen output of the LEDs being superior, LEDs will surely start to be installed more frequently.
Blog Parking Lot Lighting CTA
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Topics: Parking Lot Lighting, Area Lighting

Solar School Zone Flashing Beacon for Child Safety

Posted by SEPCO

8/27/13 9:30 AM

Solar School Zone Flashing BeaconOur children are our future, so keeping them safe is number one priority. Since school is a requirement of being a child, making sure there are flashing beacons in school zones is important for children’s’ safety when walking or biking to school. It also keeps traffic at a much slower rate than normal and tries to warn drivers of children also being taxied by their parents.

The flashers must operate without fail during school traveling hours. The school zone flashing beacons can be activated by a remote, switch or spring loaded timer by the crossing guard or by a programmable clock that works without anyone touching it throughout the school year. Any of these options work well depending on the needs of the school.

Solar school zone flashing beacons are a great solution since most areas do not have underground power readily available where the school zone is active. Drop down transformers cost a lot to install, and if there is a grid outage, the school zone flashers will not operate. The solar will work without fail any time the flashers are needed, even for special occasions different then school hours.

Remember, as with any solar application, there is not a one size that fits all. Using properly sized solar system will ensure that your system runs flawlessly no matter what the weather condition is. The system should have a backup of 5 days for times of bad weather. This will ensure the school zone can still work even during periods of heavy rain or snow.

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Topics: Traffic & Warning Flasher

Sustainable Energy for All - What Will It Take? (Infographic)

Posted by SEPCO

8/22/13 9:57 AM

I found this great infographic on Pinterest the other day and wanted to share it with you. What would it take for there to be sustainable energy for everyone in the world? The infographic goes over three main global goals that need to be implemented; Energy Access, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 

Implementing modern energy access to everyone in the world would allow everyone to have access to the power. Doubling energy efficiency would lower our overall energy usage world wide. Finally, doubling the installation of renewable energy would allow for a sustainable future. All these should be our goal for 2030. Check out the infographic below.

Sustainable Energy for All

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Topics: Infographics

How Superior is Solar Power to Coal-burning Methods?

Posted by SEPCO

8/20/13 9:30 AM

How Superior is Solar Power to Coal burning MethodsAs with all technology, innovation and development coincide with popular interest. As more consumers and corporations look towards renewable energy methods, providers are working diligently to develop improved efficiency. As solar is getting a boost in technology, where does that leave coal? Supporters for coal go to great lengths to discredit solar use as being "premature" and "not cost effective." However, those arguments are seeing less traction than they did in the mid 2000s.

Although it's true that developing a solar array is more expensive to build than a coal-firing plant in the short term, what about maintaining power levels over time? What many skeptics fail to include is the operational costs of each compared to the other. How do they compare when stacked side-by-side over a span of a decade?

1. Continued Functionality - In order for coal-firing plants to maintain power levels for the community, thousands and thousands of tons of coal is consumed yearly by the United States alone. According to HowStuffWorks.com, a single light bulb that is on 24 hours per day could consume up to five pounds of coal over the span of a year. That is a single bulb in a single residence.

Solar energy requires no other additional consumable resource in order to power that same light bulb. Although deep-cycle batteries will vary on maintaining power levels during night-time and other situations, that same light bulb could be illuminated almost indefinitely. Skeptics may try to point out that the sunlight is a consumable resource as it will eventually end. This argument is moot when considering if the sun were to stop providing light, we'd have more pressing problems on Earth than arguing over efficiency.

2. The Downline - A great deal of fuel and other expenses are wrapped up in producing coal to keep our power plants creating electricity using pressurized steam and a turbine. Train loads and semi-trucks that burn diesel fuels for nothing more than transporting coal could be used for other practical purposes. Insurance premiums for coal miners and the life expectancy alone could be cause for alarm for companies.

Solar power is virtually self-sustaining. Sure, there are workers and maintenance staff on hand to make sure that the plant continues working. A panel could malfunction and have to be repaired. However, there are no shipments of fuels to worry about or life insurance policies to be paid for those who have a reduced lifespan.

3. Power Production - Currently, solar arrays are coming close to being comparable to coal-firing power plants. In fact, materials and methods are being developed in order to vastly decrease the cost and improve efficiency panels can pull energy from sunlight. Some arrays are being developed that produce more power than some of the coal-firing counterparts across the United States, and future developments are expected to do so as well.

Setting aside the fact that there are no emissions produced from the actual usage of a solar array compared to coal-firing burners, these are just a few ways that make solar arrays superior to the alternative. As costs to develop solar arrays continue to drop, the days of coal and oil burning plants are growing short. Popularity has driven the continued success of innovation and solar has grown to be more than the "fad" that skeptics assumed it would be in the early 2000s. If this kind of growth continues, coal-firing plants may be all but extinct by 2030.

Author Bio: This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.

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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Power, Renewable Energy

Solar Lighting Solutions from Big to Small

Posted by SEPCO

8/15/13 9:30 AM

When it comes to the solar lighting industry, there are many different types to consider. There are large industrial lights that light up a huge area down to the smallest single LED light for around a home’s walkway or for accent lighting. Knowing exactly what your expectations are for the amount of light will help you best choose your perfect solar lighting solution.

USVI 1Large Solar Lighting Solutions

Large industrial lights can be used for parking lots, security on perimeters, along streets and roadways and even on some of the largest billboards. These lights use high powered fixtures and require a larger amount of solar power. Highly efficient and off grid allow these types of lights to be the best solution to an area where grid power doesn’t already exist and is costly to bring in.

Medium Solar Lighting Solutions

In the middle you have solar lights that produce light perfect for signs, decorative pathway, commercial landscape, flags, bus stops and building structures. These lights are typically use lower wattage fixtures as the amount of area being lit is much less. Their solar is also smaller in size to produce the needed power for the application. These systems are perfect for almost any type of application as they can be located anywhere without disturbing the surrounding area by needed trenching of wires.

Small Solar Lighting SolutionsSmall Solar Lighting Solutions

The smallest lights are typically found in a home improvement store. These lights range from a single LED to about 5 Watts of light. Their solar panels are very small, will only operate the light for a couple hours a night and they do not provide much reliability. However, these are perfect for the typical home landscape lighting needs. Since atmosphere and boundary markings are typically all that is used at a residential location, these are the perfect type of solar lights as they are inexpensive and allow for installation anywhere around the yard.

Next time you are looking for the perfect solar lighting solution, make sure to know what your expectations are and the needs of the project. Talk to your local solar lighting solutions expert and they can walk you through finding the perfect match to your needs.

Img Source: HomeXGardens
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Topics: Solar Lighting

Photovoltaic Street Lights Provide Sustainability

Posted by SEPCO

8/13/13 9:30 AM

Photovoltaic Street LightPhotovoltaic street lights are becoming more popular and are popping up all over the world. There are so many benefits to using photovoltaic street lights, but improving sustainability is my personal favorite. Here’s why.

Photovoltaic street lights provides economic sustainability –

By providing a solution that is sustainable, the economy can only benefit. Increasing jobs for development and installation allows for unemployment rates to decrease. Providing a lower utility to the cities and municipalities means tax dollars can be spent on more beneficial applications such as improving schools and other public facilities. And having a green alternative gives the area a sense of pride in helping lower their impact on the environment.

Photovoltaic street lights provides environmental sustainability –

Using photovoltaic street lights provides a reduced reliance on fossil fuels as the power is self-contained and provided daily by the sun. This impact initially lowers emissions into our atmosphere. Also a much forgotten aspect is the lower installation requirements. Since the poles are set with no underground trenching, less heavy equipment is required to complete even the largest installation.

Photovoltaic street lights provides social sustainability –

Using photovoltaic street lights provides a benefit to the future of a community. With global warming and environmental issues coming to a head, using a sustainable source of energy for lighting shows that the community cares about its future. It also provides increased security for the area by providing adequate lighting to areas that may not currently be properly lit. Finally, it allows people to utilize areas after dark for community gatherings.

Providing a sustainable solution in the world today will ensure we are able to provide a better future for tomorrow. With more cities and municipalities moving towards sustainable practices, photovoltaic street lights can help push forward to a future of lowered fossil fuel reliance and overall increase in economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Blog Street Lighting CTA

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Street Lighting

Solar Bus Shelter Lighting for Traveler's Safety

Posted by SEPCO

8/6/13 8:30 AM

Solar Bus Shelter Lighting Bus shelters are all around the world and provide shelter and lighting for travelers using the transit system. A lot of bus shelters also provide information and advertisement that passengers can check out while they wait. These shelters consume energy between 50 Watts in LED and 200 Watts in incandescent. When you multiply this by the total bus shelters in a single city, they consume quite a lot of energy. There is energy saving options available to cut costs to the city and still provide the lighting needed for safety.

Switch to LED

Switching the incandescent lamps over to LEDs can save the city a lot of money. LEDs use much less energy and provide better, brighter light.

Combine with Solar

By adding solar energy to these bus shelters can save the city even more money as there is no more need for grid power. These solar bus shelter lighting systems become self-containing and can have the solar power installed on the roof of the existing shelter or on a pole nearby.

Reduce Operation Times

Chances are there are no people in bus shelters after the transit stops. In this case, having the bus shelters properly lit after that time is a waste. Instead you can either have the lights turn off after this time, or dim down and only go back to full intensity when someone enters the shelter.

Solar Bus Shelter AdvertisementEverybody wants there bus shelters always lighted and even more when there is advertisements, but what happens when there is a power outage. No light for several hours maybe depending how efficient the power companies are. This is when the solar comes to work don’t have to worry about that for a really long time.

The entire system is maintenance free for five years or longer; and all you have to do then is change out batteries. That is five years of not worrying about your bus shelter providing the light it needs to every day of the year. And the advertisers will be happy as their ad is always illuminated.
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Topics: Solar Lighting, Bus Stop & Shelter Lighting

5 Amazing Renewable Energy Videos

Posted by SEPCO

8/1/13 9:30 AM

Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy

Take a look at a great video from a recent TED.com conference that goes over a great innovation to energy storage. This video features a way to “invent our way out” of the energy storage crisis to be able to harness renewable energy at all times, store the power, and use that stored power to feed the grid to keep up with the energy demands at all times.


Renewable Energy and the Energy Transition

Here is a great video showing why moving towards renewable energy is needed and how Germany is actually able to do this. Definitely shows how one country is doing it and how the rest of the world should follow in their footsteps.



The Future of Renewable Energy: Quayle Hodek at TEDxMaui 2013

Yes, another TED talk, but there is a ton of great information from TED. Quayle talks about how he is working to convince companies to use renewable energy. He also explains on why renewable is at its tipping point and will eventually win overall for power.


The Artificial Leaf - Renewable Energy - Horizons

Harvard professor Daniel Nocera created a device that is working towards storing solar energy when the sun is down. Using water to split the hydrogen cells from oxygen cells and using the hydrogen at night to power devices. This could change how we do energy storage with solar energy.


The future of energy?

Cambridge University talks about how the demand of energy continues to skyrocket and ways to either improve our use of energy or find carbon neutral ways of producing energy. They cover wind energy and the pros and cons of this form. They also talk about ccs research and ideas for moving forward. They also go over ways to use less energy and improve efficiency of using the materials we already have.

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Topics: Renewable Energy

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