Archive | Green Energy

Solar Powered Gas Station in San Francisco, California

Solar Powered Gas Station

If you ever have the chance to drive down Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA be sure to find Oak Street.  On the corner you can’t miss the big Shell Gas station and their solar power system which is an incredible sight.  Not only is this system the focal point of the gas station, but it gets tons of sunlight as well.  There are so many perfectly mounted solar panels with what looks like a 21-23 degree angle tilt towards the southern skies.

What is so ironic about this solar powered gas station is that on the day of the video, gas prices were over $4.61 per gallon.  Who knows, someday there may be electric filling stations on this corner as well for people with electric vehicles to load up on clean electricity.  That would sure be a major change, and probably many years off still, but it is possible.

Although you don’t see these types of filling stations often, there is another example of a solar powered gas station just to the North.

As the drive to become more and more energy independent continues, the chances are great that gas stations will move forward with implementing this energy source to take care of their needs.  It is not clear of the exact amount of kilo watt hours of electricity that these particular panels are producing, but there definitely is no shading problems within view.  And because they are facing a major street, the worry of new buildings someday blocking the sun is minimal.

Whether or not Royal Dutch Shell is the manufacturer of the solar panels on this station is also a mystery.  But because Shell is so heavily involved in energy production, they also have gotten involved in the solar industry.  Are they planning on implementing solar cells on all of their gas stations in the future is anybody’s guess at this point.  It sure would make some of us happy though.

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The Reality about Solar Energy Businesses

Presidential Candidates Views On Solar

Solar businesses are in perilous times.  No matter what the reality is and what the future will hold for solar power in the United States society moving forward, there are for some differences between what Mitt Romney and President Obama feel are the priorities.  Whether you listened to the Denver debate or not, it seems clear that the Romney campaign is upset with the previous funding that helped the green energy movement a few years ago.  Whether it was 90 Billion dollars, or a much smaller amount, solar funding and investments in clean energy is once again a hot topic.

PV solar panels

Small solar electric system.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Romney camp seems overly pessimistic on the opportunity that solar power can offer the United States.  And what is scary is that there are many people who also think that solar energy won’t work (recent article).  In his comments that nearly half of the solar companies which received loans and other financial assistance are now out of business was just the beginning.  It seems that if he was elected president, he would rather pour money into dirty energy projects compared to the long-term research that clean energy requires.  And why is this?  What are the goals of this country?  Do we really want to push back the date of our true energy independence?  And I’m not just talking about fossil fuels and oil from other countries.  We all live on planet earth.  And because everyone agrees that there is a limited amount of resources on the planet, doesn’t it seem useless to develop and invest even one dollar more into this soon to be obsolete energy plan?

The Obama Administration has not been perfect, and they have most definitely not made perfect decisions towards solar.  But perfection is never possible.  What is more important is the advancements that the US green economy has already made, and the future goals that are even more important.  Obama understands that clean energy is important.  He understands that billions of dollars are necessary to lower our energy dependence on foreign sources.  And he knows that we still have a long way to go in all areas of clean energy.

Solar Energy in the Future

The future of solar is bright.  The sun is still shinning, and solar panel electricity output is continuing to grow.  Utility companies are not going out of business, and more and more homes are installing solar panels on their roofs.  But more is needed.  Much more.  One example of necessary change is with regards to the utility companies who are one of the biggest obstacles at the moment to the solar industry.  Not all, but many of the large utilities have imposed rules and regulations which make installing solar panels virtually impossible for many homeowners.  Yes, the electric lines are their property, and they should be in control of them.  And yes, a PV solar system does connect to the utility grid.  That is true.  But to impose un-acheivable rules and requirements for the average solar contractor just to make sure that a home does not have solar must be changed.  This is where either of the presidential candidates could do a whole lot of good.

Solar Businesses Next Move

What is the next step for the solar industry?  Everybody who is even remotely involved with clean solar power needs to buckle down and strap on your boots.  Change is nothing new to this expanding industry, and the next four years will undoubtedly see more of it once again.  Whether solar module prices continue to fall or once again rise is uncertain.  But what is definite is that the more solar energy we produce as a country, the better off everyone will be.  We all have a responsibility to our planet to preserve it as much as possible.  Better yet, let’s all try to leave it better than we found it.  That is going to take a team effort, especially to overcome the political, local, and financial challenges that are in-front of us.  If the solar businesses give up now, it will be a total loss, but if we continue to move forward the rewards both financial and environmental are limitless.

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Residential Solar Systems

Excellent Examples of Good Looking Residential Photovoltaic Solar Cells and Solar Hot Water Systems:

Last week I was on the look out for some nice photos to share with everyone, and I came across a home that really caught my eye.  You can see from the pictures that this home is definitely part of the green and clean energy revolution, and with both solar electric and solar hot water system running next to each other, there is a great chance that the energy bills at this house are lower than the neighbors.



What was most fascinating to me was that a home that is in a relatively expensive part of town, (you can see in the background a few of the Oracle Towers down on Redwood Shores), was willing to take a chance and go solar in such a high profile location.  So many homeowners that obviously have the money to afford solar electric systems still decide not to go solar because they are worried about what their neighbors might think of the solar panels.  And that’s entirely understandable.  Some people feel that solar panels can make a house look terrible and its correct.  But on the flip side, and this home is proof positive, solar panels and solar hot water systems can also make a home look incredibly amazing and beautiful.


What most of the population fails to recognize is that most homeowners are not trying to make a fashion statement in terms of coming up with the new trend for good looking houses by adding solar panels.  Instead, most homeowners are interested in finding ways to create longterm savings in terms of their energy bills and also benefiting from doing something good for the environment which might allow our planet to survive for many generations other than our own.

In my opinion, the time is starting to change however, solar installers are becoming more educated on different ways to integrate solar panels to the roofs of houses.  And let us also give credit to the manufacturers of the solar panels too.  They have come a long way in producing high quality, efficient, solar cells that can also look very good on the roof of a home.


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Solar Power Through the Years

You don’t have to have extensive scientific knowledge or a construction management degree to know that solar power is not a new idea.  After the 1839 discovery that a solar cell could convert sunlight into electricity, and, later, the 1876 discovery that a solid material could change sunlight into electricity without extensive moving parts or heat by William Grylls Adams, the western world became fascinated with solar power and its possibilities. Though costly and impractical, Auguste Mouchout created the first ever solar powers steam engine as early as 1861.
And even back then, solar energy was old news. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and North American Native Indians began recognizing and harnessing its powers as far back as 400 B.C.
Though the power of the sun and the benefits of utilizing it have been around almost as long as man has been, we didn’t really begin looking at it in mainstream applications until the 1950s. Given the depletion of global fossil fuels and the problems associated with them, we’re now in the position of needing this technology. Everyone from builders, manufacturers, and even standard office or residential buildings, has been embracing the sun as the renewable and versatile power that it’s always been. Our younger generations are being taught at every level of education- from primary school up to university students earning a construction management degree- how important and essential solar power is for our world.
Almost no new construction in the western world is completed without a keen eye on its environmental impact and this means that solar power technologies are being streamlined and made assessable in applications large and small. By the time the 90s rolled around well over a million homes could boast some type of solar power installation.
For also long as we can remember, the sun has always warmed us and lighted our way. In today’s world, we rely on those things more than ever before. With every new advancement or installation of solar power, the sun continues to shine down on us, as though beckoning us to find even more ways to harness its near limitless power.

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Solar Panels To Generate Power for Electric Cars

All Electric Solar Powered Cars

One of the most exciting inventions that the world came across was that of the automobile.  But as most scientists agree on, the burning of fossil fuels is harming our planet and may eventually lead to our extinction as a human race.  With this as the background for new thinking and discovery into solar power and specifically the way we look and use the great invention of the car, let’s all take a good look at how solar might get us all out of a huge mess.

There are many great thinkers and scientists working nearly 24 hours a day on different ways to control and solve the energy issues that face our planet.  Solar panels just might be able to provide a key to long term success.  Below is an equation that will try to unfold some of the mysteries that exist between automobiles that are powered by electricity, and if they make great financial sense or not.

One of the questions that everyone wants to know is, how much electricity and solar power would really be needed to power up, or rather to charge the batteries of an electric vehicle.  The answer is not too difficult to figure out.  We do need to know just a few variables.

Solar and Electric Powered Car Variables:

Kilo Watt Hours per mile:  .4  kwh needed per mile driven

Average miles driven per Month: 1,000

Solar Sunlight hours per day at home: 5

So, let’s figure out the size of a solar system that would be needed to propel a fully electric car 1,000 miles per month.

Here is the math:

1,000miles * .4kwh/mile = 400 kwh needed

400kwh/30= Solar system must produce 13.33 kwh/day

13.33kwh/5 sunlight hours= 2.66 kw per hour of sunlight need to be produced

2.66 (1.2) = 3.2 kW DC solar system would propel an electric car 1000 miles per month

3.2 kW system at $6/watt = $19,000 Total Cost

Minus a 30% Solar tax credit

= $13,440 Net Solar System Cost after Tax Credit

So, if you look at the alternative situation, lets say you buy a car that runs on gasoline.  And you need to buy $4/gallon gas for the year, and the MPG of the car is 30 MPG.  That would mean you would need to buy: $1,600 of gas per year.  If you had the car for 10 years and the gas prices remained the same(which I doubt will be the case) that would be around $16,000.  Of course there is a benefit from the time value of money, but you can at least get an idea for what the options are.


I personally would rather have an electric car, and pay for the electricity to charge it, which might be around $60/month.

Hopefully, we will see some considerable changes and advances in batteries and solar power over the next few years which will make solar powered electric cars mainstream.

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Why Not Solar Powered Lighthouses?

solar lighthouse

Santa Cruz, CA Lighthouse


Have you ever seen a lighthouse that was powered by solar energy? Or have you ever looked at a lighthouse during daylight and wondered if solar panels could power the light?

Today in many coastal towns there must be some green people looking to do this. Or maybe there are a few lucky lighthouse locations around the planet who have already begun taking advantage of excellent sunlight for electric needs.

There is no known recorded data on what the average roof space for lighthouse buildings is, but this lighthouse in the picture we will use as an example. It appears to have about lengths of about 20 feet by a width of 12 feet. That equals 240 square feet of roof that could have solar panels on-top. But since this roof could not possibly use all the space, let’s assume we can get 150 sq feet for panels. That would equal approximately 10 PV panels on the roof which would mean about 1.75 kW of solar panels.

A 1.75 kW system makes about 250kwh of electricity per month. Or about 8kwh each day. That means you could run a 800 watt light bulb for about 12 hours each night.

If an 800 watt light bulb can power a lighthouse, then maybe solar would be an option for many coastal towns.

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Solar Becoming More Economical

In a new report from some of the leading scientists who track the energy production industry, there are new reports that solar energy produced from solar panels is going to cost the same or less to produced in the near future when compared to fossil fuels.  The significance of solar energy being cost effective to produce may dramatically change the entire world economy.  As electricity becomes cheaper to produce, we will most certainly begin to see many more vehicles running off electricity which will over time reduce the need for oil production.

The automobile industry is already looking at ways to increase the use of hybrid vehicles and other electrically propelled modes of transportation.  The reality is that fossil fuels such as oil are becoming increasingly expensive, and there is no end in sight.  Solar power derived from sunlight shining from our sun is something that has remained a constant for thousands of years and is not expected to end anytime soon.  Up until now, the cost of solar panels and the electricity they produce has been much more expensive to comparable fossil fuels, but the dollar values of the oil compared to photovoltaic solar cells is altering that whole equation.  There are estimates that as close as the year 2015 solar might be at parity with fossil fuels in terms of cost (according to a recent news article about solar and fossil fuels.)

The actual math that is necessary to determine which is giving the consumer the most electricity or energy for their buck is a very complex set of math.  For instance, the solar tax credits and renewable energy credits that some states and the US Federal Government are issuing very well may not last very much more into the future, so the numbers will have to be re-checked and adjusted once again.  But as the technology becomes more and more advanced, there are certainly going to be ways to capitalize on solar energy for many decades into the future.

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SolarTAC Bringing New Solar Technologies to Colorado

With the beginning of the summer, there is all kinds of excitement taking place in Aurora, Colorado as SolarTAC decides to set up shop within the city limits with big hopes of becoming the leader in the solar energy side of green technology for the future.  This new company is focusing exclusively on solar technologies, and finding ways to innovate new ways to bring solar power to the masses to help the environment.  There is much to be excited about for everyone all over the country, especially for those in Colorado.

With over $6 Million dollars invested by heavy hitters in the energy world with big names such as Sun Edison and Xcel Energy, there is already much anticipation that this company is going to produce great products and services.  Colorado has been known to offer a wide range of innovation not only in the green tech fields, but also in the networking and engineering areas, so the addition of a focused solar company should fit in perfectly with the local populations.

Much of the hopes of the local college students like those graduating this year from the University of Colorado at Boulder Engineering School are hoping to make their mark in the global economy within companies like SolarTAC.  The impact of bringing new solar technologies to life from idea to production and eventual use is one which has a very strong value proposition to young graduates.  A large focus group from several Engineering Schools found that solar and renewable technologies are now more popular amongst graduating students as potential employers even when compared to larger and more established Internet companies like Google and Yahoo!.  This is definitely a change in thinking from just one decade ago.  And one which just might help the United States gain the upper hand in becoming the world leader in green tech.

As for SolarTAC in Aurora there has not been very much press related to what the current pipeline of products and services is going to be, however there has been much speculation that they are already in the development of several different solar ideas that may be available in the near future.

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Germany: Stopping Nuclear and Going Solar

The year of 2011 is already shaping up to be one of the most important years for solar energy all over the world. As every country is dealing with a growing need for energy, there are all sorts of ideas and concerns about how to meet energy demands worldwide. Just yesterday, Germany, the largest European economy announced it’s new plan to stop the use of all nuclear power plants over the next two decades. This is a very big decision, and one which will require Germany to re-engineer it’s domestic energy program entirely.
This decision to stop the energy production of nuclear power in Germany is based partially on the nuclear disaster that is taking place in japan following their nuclear meltdown. With so much attention directed towards the helplessness of both the Japanese government and people following the disaster, it became clear that Germany does not want to be in a similar situation someday.
There are several options for Germany to meet the current and future energy demands. Investing in the country’s current and future solar energy programs would most certainly allow Germany to become the world leader in solar panel technology. Another aspect of clean energy and green technology which Germany will be looking to is the solar heating and hot water solar options that exist.
Besides becoming more environmentally friends, the solar industry can also help to bring great jobs to Germans. Some estimates predict that the solar and renewable energy sectors could mean over 200,000 jobs for German people.

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