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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Important Tips Linked To Solar Street Light Manufacturer Selection

Posted by SEPCO

3/27/14 9:30 AM

SolarStreetLightManufacturer.jpgWith the pressure on to conserve energy, many companies and local authorities are installing solar powered street lights. These lights not only help save money, but also help reduce the pressure on power generation plants thus helping reduce greenhouse emission production. It also helps reduce pressure on the power grid thus helping divert the energy to other sectors and industries which need it more. When planning to purchase a large number of solar street lights, it’s important to keep certain factors in mind so as to select the right solar street light manufacturer and brands. Below are some of these factors which will help make more informed decisions:

The amount of light required

Street lights are meant to light up large areas thus requiring the solar lights to be bright. It’s important the radius each light eliminates be taken in to consideration thus allowing the distance between lights to be calculated. This makes it possible to determine the number of solar street lights that are required and helps estimate the cost. The larger the radius covered by each light, the fewer the number of solar street lights you need, thus helping reduce solar street light purchase and installation costs.

Solar light maintenance tips

It’s important to keep in mind that street lights are a public utility and therefor tend to be mishandled. This makes it important to select solar street light which is made using strong materials which will prolong the usable life.

Insect and animals management

Keep in mind that the lights tend to be an insect attraction and require to be completely sealed to prevent insects and other animals seeking shelter inside the lights. It’s common to find small animals like rats and squirrels finding their way in to street lights and making themselves at home since the lights provides a source of warmth during the cold winter nights. Also make sure the lights are strong enough to support extra weight. This is because you are bound to find birds perching on the solar street lights which can result in breaking of the lights.

Preventing and avoiding corrosion

The materials used to make the lights also require being corrosion resistant to prevent deterioration over short periods of time. Today, there are several alloys and plastic materials which can be used on the lights to help prevent corrosion. On some parts of the light anti-corrosive materials can be used to coat the metals and prevent any damage from heat and water.

Reduced wiring and maintenance requirements

It’s also important to take the wiring in to consideration to help reduce the maintenance requirements. Today NANO technology has resulted in miniaturizing most electronics including solar street light controls. This means that they have all the required components inside the street light. They have an in-built solar charging unit, battery cells and an automatic light sensor which turn the solar light on and off. Select solar lights which offer a one in all solution thus helping reduce maintenance and repair requirements.

The cost of solar street lighting

When price comes to question, many people will consider just the tag price but with solar street light section several other aspects come in to play. To begin with it’s important to consider the area covered by the lights. Keep in mind that the wider the radius covered results in the requirement of fewer street lights. This makes it important to make the required calculations so as to determine each street lights “light span”. This measurement will help determine the number and eventually the cost of the solar street lights. Also take time to calculate other aspects such as the maintenance and repair costs linked to the solar street lights.

For companies, property developers and local government authorities that purchase a large number of street lights, the above points play an important role towards selecting the right solar light manufacturer, brands or models. Every aspect must be taken in to close consideration to make sure you get the most effective solar street light which delivers abundant lighting and results in the least amount of maintenance requirements.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Street Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

What the Solar Tax Credit Can Do for Your Solar Installation

Posted by SEPCO

2/18/14 9:30 AM

30_Tax_CreditSolar has come down in price a lot over the last couple years; however, it is still out of reach for a lot of people. There are different tax credits available that can help cut down the out of pocket costs of solar and provide an incentive to installing solar. Here is a basic overview of the federal tax credit available to residences and businesses alike.

The Federal Tax Credit for solar installations allows for a 30% tax credit on costs at installation. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) states that 30% for solar, wind and fuel cells is available and 10% for geothermal and microturbines. The maximum incentive is $1,500 per 0.5 kW of solar installed, so there is a cap to the tax credit. Microturbines is only $200 per kW. If you install solar on your business and want to claim the tax credit, you need to fill out IRS Form 3468.

Residential Federal Tax Credits include solar electric, solar hot water, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps and fuel cells. There is no maximum on most of these for the credit and it is 30% all the way around. There is more information on DSIREUSA’s website along with Energy Star and you will need to fill out IRS Form 5695.

Both Federal Tax Credits are available till the end of 2016 as of now. This may or may not be extended beyond and we won’t find out for quite some time. If you are looking for money to help your solar installation, make sure to push while the money is still available.

State incentives vary depending on what state mandates are available. Hot solar states provide better incentives then states that aren’t pushing for renewable energy installations. To find out what incentives are available in your state, DSIREUSA’s website is the best resource. You can also contact your local power authority to find out if they provide additional incentives for using solar on your home or business.

The final resource I will leave you with is 1BOG. They work with your local solar companies to help you get the best value. I personally have worked with them and it is a breeze. You type in your location and they will contact the local solar providers and set up appointments with you. The solar providers will come out and assess your home and provide you a quote for the system and installation. There are a lot of solar companies that will even deal with all the tax credits, rebates and such, find you money to help with the purchase, and quote you what is left. To read more about my personal experience, check out Solar Power is More Feasible than I Thought.

Solar is completely feasible, but make sure you jump on board while the financial help is still available. What other questions about going solar do you have? Let me know below and I’ll make sure to answer them.

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Topics: Solar Power, Clean Energy, Solar Tax Incentives

What if the US followed Germany’s Renewable Energy Policies in 2014

Posted by SEPCO

1/9/14 9:30 AM

SolarGermany.jpgGermany is leading the renewable energy industry for the last couple years, far in front of most of the rest of the world. What do you think would happen if the US followed suit and put in place the same or similar policies? Would we be able to catch up? Would we finally have some energy independence?

First off, the US doesn’t have an overall renewable energy policy. Each state is left to do what it feels like with no overall governing force. Subsidies are still going to oil and other dirty forms of energy. Some money is being pushed into renewable energy; however, it is still a fraction of the amount being spent every year. Developing clean energy policies is a necessity to get us on track and money needs to be spent on these forms of energy.

Germany has clear set goals and the government is funding the projects to make it happen. They have already reached over 20% energy produced by renewable energy and are quickly moving towards their goal of 35% by 2020. Honestly, I think they will make it there before. I’ve even had the firsthand experience seeing a nuclear plant in Germany completely surrounded by wind power stations and the nuclear plant was off. That was an amazing sight (I wish I grabbed a picture though).

Best of all, corporations don’t own the majority of the renewable energy in Germany. Actual citizens own the power. Here in Florida for example, FPL owns some renewable energy plants and gives money to homeowners who want to put solar on their house. Sounds great, right? Not really, as FPL only gives a tiny amount of money, all of which is gone within minutes of the funds being released. If you don’t have a good solar company fighting for you, you will miss out on getting it. And what about the extra power you feed into the grid? FPL won’t pay you for that. They’ll give you a credit towards your bill if you ever use more than you produce, but after a year, the credits are reset back to zero. A win for FPL, but a loss for homeowners wanting to use solar and use the credits to help pay for the change.

WindGermany.jpgWell that’s Florida and people dealing with FPL. Other states have other policies and there are power companies that will actually pay you for your excess power. But what about states like Arizona. They are now charging their customers who use solar energy a fee. The fee is small, but what is it going to do to solar installations in Arizona. Especially since the sun is great in Arizona, making solar a great option for homeowners and businesses alike.

Instead of fighting this renewable energy changeover, the government needs to get on board and push good policies to get us finally in the right direction. Instead of dropping pennies out there to help homeowners make the change, put policies in place that stops the feed of subsidies going to oil, coal and other dirty forms of energy and get the money where it will have a better ROI. Instead of literally burning the money away, let’s let it shine for many years to come by implementing better renewable energy policies in the US. The US is moving towards renewable energy, but putting country wide policies into place will ensure our energy independence faster and more efficiently in the new year.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy: Companies are Going Clean

Posted by SEPCO

4/9/13 9:30 AM

Green CompaniesIt seems more and more companies are starting to look to clean energy as a source of power. Apple recently announced 75 percent of its corporate facilities and data centers use renewable sources for power and they own the nation’s biggest privately-owned solar array. Their 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility can create 42 million kWh of renewable energy each year with less impact on the environment and climate. Apple is not the only powerhouse company jumping on the clean energy bandwagon. Google uses renewable sources to power more than 30 percent of their operations and is working toward ultimately having 100 percent of their power come in the form of clean energy.

Renewable sources include wind, solar, hydro and geothermal power, and these have a more positive effect on our environment, climate and health than fossil fuels or coal. Unfortunately, the world is very dependent upon these fuels for electricity and power generation and in the United States, they are the number one source for global warming emissions and a major contributor in air pollution. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, renewable energy resources generate electricity with few negative effects, and could provide up to 40 percent of the country’s electricity within the next 20 years. The installation costs can be pretty high and it may not be possible to fulfill all of your energy requirements from renewable energy like Apple and Google want to do, but by using the most effective technologies, a company can get close. The benefits of using clean energy generally outweigh any downsides.

After the cost of installation, solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal energy systems cost nothing to run. Most will need periodic maintenance, but these sources could produce enough electricity to create excess. Plus, if you use an hourglass slewing drive within the system, you can get 30 years of reliable performance and cut back costs even more.

  • Sticking to natural energy sources means you won’t be affected when gas and electricity prices increase.
  • Users of clean energy don’t need to worry about wastage because it can be regenerated.
  • Focusing on renewable energy sources allows for the remaining oil, gas and coal supplies to last longer and be used where clean energy can’t be substituted.
  • The government may be able to help fund a project if it creates renewable energy.

Author Bio: Kinematics is the world's largest slewing drive manufacturer with a production capacity of over 4,200 units per week. Kinematics Manufacturing Inc. began in 1996 as a small operation outside of Los Angeles. Founder, Brent Morgan, designed specialty gearboxes, then machined, assembled and shipped them one at a time from a small, 50 m2 rented space. Kinematics delivers custom-engineered solutions to customers in 23 countries from its 14,500 m2 facility in Jiangsu, China and two distribution warehouses in Europe and the United States.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Renewable Energy

Solar Power Ensures Microgrid Expansion well Beyond 2013

Posted by SEPCO

1/31/13 9:30 AM

As a result of solar power becoming increasingly affordable and easier to install, many areas are using them to create their own Microgrids. Here is a look at how solar panels are helping to encourage Microgrid creation and what the future holds for solar energy in residential areas.

The Benefits of Solar Energy

In order to appreciate the reasons why so much money and technological research is being invested in solar power it is worth considering the benefits that this energy source has to offer. Solar energy can boast two main attributes, not only is it a sustainable resource but it is also completely renewable, so unlike fossil fuels we will never run out of it. It also enables homeowners and communities to generate their own source of electricity and reduce or maybe even eliminate their dependency on the main grid. Solar power produces zero emissions and is good for the environment especially when you compare it against fossil fuel generated electricity. Many governments around the world are embracing this concept of powering our homes and a good number of them offer financial incentives or even rebates to encourage individuals or communities to change to this cleaner and more cost effective source of energy and power.

Microgrid

Delivering Energy Locally

As the focus continues to intensify on producing renewable energy, Microgrids are considered to be the most viable way of approaching the subject of grid modernization and reducing dependency on the national grid network. Microgrids are essentially scaled down versions of the centralized electricity system that are able to deliver local power needs in the same way as a national network is expected to do. The fundamental difference of course is that a Microgrid offers communities the opportunity to control and regulate their power source on a localized basis which allows for greater customer participation in the electricity enterprise.

Scalable Growth of a local Microgrid

A Microgrid is essentially a collection of solar panels connected together to create a network that is capable of providing power to communities who are either looking at trying to reduce or eliminate their need to use the national network and at the same time, want to improve energy efficiency, control costs and reduce the impact of carbon emissions. Microgrids are the next generation of energy supply and should not be viewed as simply a backup system and they also have the ability to harness power for everyone within their vicinity by pooling together the solar panels in use rather than the less efficient way of each property having an individual stand alone panel. They use specifically designed software and power electronics to store the power generated in order to provide energy on a 24 hour basis and not just when the sun is shining.

Microgrids are understandably a very welcome solution in areas where there are significant power outages or in local communities where there is limited access to the national network. Linking up solar panels and creating a successful Microgrid is a viable way forward for every home and community to obtain their power in the future and that includes urban as well as rural areas that would benefit in many ways, such as substantially reducing emissions as well as creating the opportunity for reduced energy costs as the network grows.

Yogesh Mankani is an environmental researcher and consultant. He enjoys sharing his finding with the public through blogging. Visit the #1 site to shop and compare energy rates Save On Energy.
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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Power, Clean Energy

How is Solar Technology Being Adopted in the UK?

Posted by SEPCO

1/24/13 9:30 AM

Sunrise
TEKN Photography

As the oil dries up, the planet chokes in smog and we career blissfully toward an apocalypse of our own creation, the need for green energy has become more urgent than ever. With cold fusion still a distant impossibility, scientists and leaders are desperately scrambling to concoct a solution to the biggest problem of our times. Wind farms are sprouting up, debates are raging and consensus still looks far away. But all is not lost; from recycling to solar energy, the general public are supporting renewable resources in droves. Here we take a close look at the prevalence of solar energy in the UK; who is using it and why:

Regions: Who Goes Green?

Solar isn’t used uniformly across the country, far from it. For example, the amount of panels installed across Scotland and especially the Highlands is almost negligible. Obviously, this isn’t a surprise: the Highlands can have as little as 711 hours of sunshine annually, compared to nearly 1,500 for the UK. With winter seeing as little as 1 hour of sunshine per month in some areas, the idea of solar power doubtless seems like a daft Southern fantasy.

The trend continues down into the extreme north of England; Newcastle and the Northumberland area installing more solar panels than Scotland, but still relatively few. It isn’t until we hit Leeds that the first spanner appears in the works: although the city receives an average of 50% less sunlight than London, solar panel installations are in the top bracket. How come?

Well, a 2012 study measuring the ‘greenness’ of UK cities came to the conclusion that the richer a city is, the greener it is likely to go. Leeds may not compete with the capital, but it is ‘wealthier’ than nearby Manchester; and both are richer than Liverpool, which ranked bottom of the green list. Looking at the map of solar distribution, we can see that Manchester has fewer installations than Leeds, while Liverpool barely outranks the Scottish Highlands.

A vague correlation of wealth and ‘greenness’ continues across the country (with some outliers), until we hit the South. By the time we reach the notoriously sunny South West, only a handful of areas such as Torbay rank any lower than the top bracket for solar panel installation. Even traditionally poor, rural communities that haven’t been swamped by moneyed refugees from London rank highly. The obvious conclusion to draw is the opposite of the Scottish one: in the South West (avg. hours of sunshine, 1600 – 1900 annually), the benefits of going solar are immediately obvious.

The London Riddle

One of the most immediately striking things about the distribution of solar panels is the comparative lack covering London. Located in a high potential area (map) and famously crawling with wealth, the modest number of installations (at times comparable to the Highlands) seems counterintuitive. Despite being ranked as one of Forum for the Future’s top 10 sustainable UK cities (#10); the leap to harnessing solar seemingly has not yet been made.

One answer could be the great disparities between incomes in the population. For every enclave of super-rich bankers luxuriating in their millions, there are several more areas suffering real deprivation (Hackney famously suffered a 186.4% rise in long-term youth unemployment last year). No matter what subsidies are on offer, splashing out any amount on solar installation is an impossibility for those on the bottom of the economic ladder.

Another factor to take into account would be the high instance of renting in the capital, even where the middle classes are concerned; along with the widespread use of social housing. Put simply, unless you own a home with room for installation (immediately discounting flats), there is little point in even enquiring.

At the end of the day, solar is just one of many alternatives to fossil fuels currently on offer to UK residents. While it may not be practical for everyone, for those who can take advantage, it’s encouraging to see its use beginning to take off. Will it continue to rise in the face of economic Armageddon? Only time will tell.

This is a contributed report from UK based insurance company, PolicyExpert.co.uk. Find out how solar panels affect your home insurance by visiting their site.

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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Power, Clean Energy

Green Ways We Can Improve Our Cities (Infographic)

Posted by SEPCO

12/6/12 9:30 AM

The environment is in danger, but fortunately, going green can help save the environment from further degradation. One of the things that people can do to save the environment is reduce waste consumption by encouraging recycling. Seventy-five percent of the waste in the United States is recyclable. However, studies have shown that only five percent of it is recycled.

Converting from heating oil to natural gas can also save the environment. Gas is much cleaner than oil. It also burns 30 percent less carbon dioxide. New York City plans to totally eliminate its use of heating oil by 2030. Natural gas is not only better for the environment, but it is also cheaper.

Additionally, the environment can be saved if there were more electric cars available. Electric cars use 50 to 60 percent less petroleum than regular cars. Furthermore, some people argue that electric cars perform better than regular cars.

Green Ways We Can Improve Our Cities

Source: Best Sociology Programs

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Topics: Clean Energy, Infographics

Green Energy Jobs - The New Revolution in Energy Jobs

Posted by SEPCO

11/21/12 9:25 AM

LightBulbSunRiseYears ago, no one thought in terms of ecological home and building designs. Today it's the norm, as the world turns toward sustainable energy. As this revolution expands, it will prove to be the catalyst for new jobs, in an industry sector that will have a wide range of different opportunities. The building designs of today, will give way to future designs that will include:

  • energy efficient ratings
  • construction materials, that reduce carbon footprints
  • micro-renewable, and
  • recyclability

These are a just a few of the changes that will be part of the building designs of tomorrow. Before buying a home, people will ask for energy audits, and use these as a part of their decision making process. Business startups now include those that will help homeowners to reduce energy, and make homes more saleable, by increasing its energy efficiency. It will also include large industrial buildings that need to save money by employing energy saving techniques and green resources.

Green energy will lead to a host of new job classifications across the world. These jobs are available today for those qualified, and will expand rapidly in the future as new technologies come online. The pace of technology is picking up almost on a monthly basis, and future job seekers will need to stay educated on all the new techniques that industries will employ. Companies will be looking for workers that are certified by national organizations, and for workers that maintain their qualifications by upgrading their knowledge base, as technology innovation expands.  

Energy renewable resources and energy efficiency will dominate the next decade as companies expand into areas of:

  • solar
  • wind
  • geothermal technology
  • oceans
  • hydropower
  • gas from landfill sites
  • municipal solid waste

Energy efficiency areas that will produce new jobs include:

  • maintaining appliances with energy star ratings
  • lighting in homes and offices that are energy efficient
  • thermostats that are programmable
  • combing power and heat for cogeneration
  • manufacturing equipment that is energy efficient, and
  • buildings that are LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

People who are educated in these disciplines will be able to find employment in a number of areas. Currently state and the federal governments are offering grants and scholarships to people wishing to study in these areas. Most studies can be done through online education sites that are part of recognized institutions, and can be schedules around times that are suitable to those studying.

New job opportunities are opening up today and more are expected in the future. Currently universities are already training people to fill these openings, and the more education people have in this area, the more choices will be available to them. Online websites are being developed to help companies fill their current searches for green energy employees.

Now is the perfect time for people who want to change careers, soldiers returning home, and those facing long-term unemployment, to start studying to fill these positions. Green energy jobs will continue to evolve in different areas over the next ten to twenty years, and education especially in the field of Solar Training & Certification, will be the main qualification and driver of who is chosen to fill a position.

The "Green Revolution" is expected to provide millions of jobs worldwide and those educated in these areas will have the security of long-term job security.

Everblue’s mission of "TRAINING EARTH’S SUSTAINABLE WORKFORCE", addresses the environmental and climate challenges facing the global community, through exceptional hands-on training and education. We specialize in providing intense green jobs training for government employees, architects, engineers, property managers, facility managers, and general contractors.

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Topics: Guest Post, Clean Energy

What is NET ZERO

Posted by SEPCO

10/25/12 9:55 AM

NET ZeroNet Zero can be looked at in a multi sectional or holistic approach of reducing Energy, Water, and Waste on a facility or home. 

ENERGY - Produce as much energy as the facility or home uses. 

The first thing to look at in a facility or a home is to analyze how much energy is being used and how to best reduce that energy consumption.  Some of the things that should be completed first are to retrofit all appliances to an Energy Star appliance.  Analyze your air and heating options and put in automatic controls or occupancy sensors on your lighting fixture.  Replace all lighting fixtures to LED or Fluorescent lamps.  Possibly upgrading to higher insulation and roofing materials.  Once all of these steps have been completed, then you are ready for the final investment, a renewable energy production system.  For example, adding solar photovoltaic modules to the home, a solar hot water heater, etc.  If this was completed first you would only be able to generate enough energy for possibly just what you were able to reduce.  The first and main goal in energy reduction to obtain net zero is REDUCTION. 

WATER - Net Zero water installation limits the consumption of freshwater resources and returns water back to the same watershed so not to deplete the groundwater and surface water resources of that region in quantity and quality over the course of a year.

Strategies such as harvesting rainwater and recycling discharge water for reuse can reduce the need for municipal water, exported sewage or storm water. Desalination can be utilized to convert briny, brackish or salt water to fresh water so it is suitable for human consumption or irrigation.

To achieve a net zero water installation, efforts begin with conservation followed by efficiency in use and improved integrity of distribution systems. Water is re-purposed by utilizing grey water generated from sources such as showers, sinks, and laundries and by capturing precipitation and storm water runoff for on-site use. Wastewater can be treated and reclaimed for other uses or recharged into groundwater aquifers.

WASTE - To reduce, recover and reuse waste streams.

The approach to creating a net zero waste installation is similar to creating a net zero energy installation. The first approach to achieve net zero reduces, reuses, and recovers waste streams, converting them to resource values with zero landfill over the course of a year. The components of net zero solid waste start with reducing the amount of waste generated, re-purposing waste, maximizing recycling of waste stream to reclaim recyclable and compostable materials, recovery to generate energy as a by-product of waste reduction, with disposal being non-existent.

Every day, more recycling strategies are developed moving beyond metals, paper and cardboard to include mattresses, glass, plastics, batteries, computer printers and motor oil. The best strategy is to consider the waste stream when purchasing items, reduce the volume of packaging, reuse as much as possible, and recycle the rest. A true cradle-to-cradle strategy considers the end state at the time the purchase decision is made. A net zero waste strategy eliminates the need for landfills, protects human health, optimizes use of limited resources and keeps the environment clean.

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Topics: Green Ideas, Clean Energy

27 MW Solar Power Plant Unveiled in Bermuda

Posted by SEPCO

9/20/12 9:30 AM

If things go as planned, a new massive solar power plant with a total capacity of 27 MW will be built on a 56-acre section of the LF Wade International Airport. The massive solar power project would also lead to as many as 200 construction jobs, most of which would be filled by locals.

The entire power plant would include 83,000 state-of-the art solar panels, which together would produce about 44.7 GWh every year – roughly the same amount of energy it takes to power 4000–5000 homes. Bermuda`s total power consumption was 651 GWh in 2010, but the island has reduced their usage since then.

SolarPowerBermuda

Image credit: SolInvictus.

The solar panels will be stationary without tracking, but faced south for better absorption of sunlight.  What would happen in case of cloudy days? That`s where the battery bank comes in. During good and sunny days when there is an excess of power generated, some of the electricity can be stored chemically in batteries for later use. In other words, the battery keeps the power output constant. The battery bank is expected to last somewhere between seven and nine years.

“Not only will this project eliminate the need for an additional fossil fuel electricity plant to be built, but it will also be producing clean renewable energy, resulting in a positive impact on our environment” states Tim Maderios, the CEO and operations director for Sol Invictus,

The company had previously announced that they would build and install three new 14 MW diesel generators, which not exactly go under clean ways to supply energy. Fortunately, if everything goes as planned, the solar power plant would replace the need to install those diesel generators.

Estimations of costs have fallen between $200 and $300 million depending on how much land the company is granted for construction. The entire project comes with a warrant of 25 years, which guarantees a certain power output and workmanship. The solar power plant will be visible from Causeway and Tucker`s Town.

“The sunshine that falls on our shores is one of Bermuda's long-standing natural resources, and we feel that it is Bermudians who should benefit socially, economically and environmentally from this resource,” Mr Madeiros said.

Author: Mathias Aarre Maehlum is an Energy and Environmental engineering student from Norway and created EnergyInformative.org a few months back to learn more on the topic of renewableenergy.

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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Power, Clean Energy

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