Category Archives: video

The New Story of Solar Energy

The second birth of solar energy started in 2009, and has grown from a technological curiosity to one of the fastest growing energy markets worldwide, with the potential for profound social and ecological impacts. However, solar energy constitutes only around 1% of the global energy mix. How did we get here, and what are the innovations needed to realize the true potential of solar energy in the future?

Rob Andrews is the CEO and co-founder of Heliolytics, a technology company developing advanced optical inspection techniques for large solar energy facilities utilizing robotic technology. He was previously the director of Calama Consulting, a solar energy performance consulting firm, and has worked with solar energy clients globally to develop system monitoring and maintenance plans, optimize plant performance, and integrate new technologies.

Solar Power Plant in Africa to Supply Europe

By 2018, a large solar power plant in the Tunisian part of the Sahara desert may start sending power to energy-hungry Western Europe. The company running the plant says once it is fully operational it will generate almost twice as much electricity as an average nuclear plant and supply two million homes in Europe.

Click here for complete article.

A Robot that Cleans Solar Panels

By Tom Lombardo, Engineering.com

Deserts are ideal locations for solar farms – they get a lot of sunshine and the land is relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, their arid nature means that a lot of sand flies around, and sand on a photovoltaic panel blocks valuable sunlight, decreasing its output. Depending on location and weather conditions, dusty panels could decrease solar farm production by 3% to 15% in a given month. Periodic cleaning ensures that the panels get as much light as possible, but it’s a labor intensive process that may not pay for itself.

Ecoppia, an upstart company out of Israel, has an innovative, water-free solution: the E4 robotic PV cleaning system that dusts the panels using a self-cleaning microfiber cloth.

Please see link above for complete article. Video below courtesy of Ecoppia.

NRG Energy Readies Disaster Relief Vehicle for Nationwide Service

As hurricane season begins, the employees of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) are preparing to help affected coastal areas by championing a new concept called “Power2Serve” – anchored by a 42-foot disaster relief vehicle and 26-foot trailer combination designed to deliver immediate power, emergency shelter, access to news and information and Wi-Fi internet connectivity to those in need. The vehicle was unveiled today to crisis management officials in the home city of NRG retail subsidiary, Reliant.

NRG purchased the commercial grade vehicle from a stock car racer and, drawing on expertise from across the company, modified it to suit its new mission. At the same time, approximately 400 NRG employees from across the country signed up to staff the vehicle as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and “ServeCrew” community volunteers. CERT members receive training in search and rescue operations, medical response, disaster psychology, shelter operations, and basic fire suppression. ServeCrew members are qualified to set up power charging stations, assist residents in filling out necessary forms and applications, and provide IT support.

“The Power2Serve vehicle is a way for NRG to be more involved in our communities as part of future disaster relief efforts – harnessing our collective skills and knowledge in a creative, hands?on way to respond quickly to help affected people,” said Fran Sullivan, senior vice president of plant operations. “It’s an opportunity for us to bring electricity to impacted residents in times of urgent need, to do whatever we can to make their lives a little better.”

The Power2Serve vehicle and trailer, along with three smaller, complementary vehicles providing additional services as needed, will be dispatched in coordination with local, state, and federal disaster relief authorities. The large unit has sleeping accomodations for seven volunteers and is completely self-sufficient, powered by a 10 kilowatt solar array, a 20 kilowatt diesel generator and a 10 kilowatt auxillary diesel generator.

Additional features include:
– An enclosed 50 x 20 foot pavilion to provide cooled or heated temporary shelter for residents
– Numerous flat panel TVs to show news or weather broadcasts
– 100 charging stations for cell phones, cameras, small tools and power equipment
– Wi-Fi and satellite service, and tablet computers to access email and the internet

The Power2Serve initiative is just one example of NRG’s commitment to improving the quality of life in local communities through employee-led volunteerism, donations, and corporate grant matching. Earlier this year, employees across the company raised $428,000 for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. And last year, NRG contributed $5.4 million and 17,000 volunteer hours to benefit over 700 charitable organizations.

About NRG

NRG is at the forefront of changing how people think about and use energy. We deliver cleaner and smarter energy choices for our customers, backed by the nation’s largest independent power generation portfolio of fossil fuel, nuclear, solar and wind facilities. A Fortune 500 company, NRG is challenging the U.S. energy industry by becoming one of the largest developers of solar power, building the first privately-funded electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and providing customers with the most advanced smart energy solutions to better manage their energy use. In addition to 47,000 megawatts of generation capacity, enough to supply nearly 40 million homes, our retail electricity providers – Reliant, Green Mountain Energy and Energy Plus – serve more than two million customers. More information is available at www.nrgenergy.com. Connect with NRG Energy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @nrgenergy.

Materials scientists make solar energy chip 100 times more efficient

Scientists working at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) have improved an innovative solar-energy device to be about 100 times more efficient than its previous design in converting the sun’s light and heat into electricity.
Read complete article at phys.org

Toxic Land Generates Solar Energy in New Jersey

New Jersey is turning eyesores into solar farms. The U.S. state has become a leader in solar energy capacity. Energy from the sun now comes from contaminated land not suitable for development.

Solar Industry: Then & Now – AMECO Solar CEO Patrick Redgate

AMECO Solar CEO Patrick Redgate discusses his nearly 40 years
in the Solar Energy Industry: Then & Now

How did you get started in the solar industry?

I got into solar because I was working for an engineering firm in Saudi Arabia in the 70’s. When I came back from Saudi Arabia, I said this is not sustainable. That’s probably not the word I used, but that’s a really popular word now and it’s really an important one because when I came back to America I realized this isn’t a business that I wanted to do. I wanted to get in the business of saving the planet. Now however, solar has been a rocky road and in the meantime we have learned that solar is really just a part of the mix. There are many other energy generating technologies that are important for us.

How has the hardware changed? What improvements have you seen?

The kind of hardware we used to install commonly was generating heat and that would be heat for people’s homes and hot water for businesses, swimming pools. In fact that technology has really ripened and is mature now. But what we’ve seen now is that photovoltaics have come down in cost and photovoltaic is the science of generating electricity. Electricity is so expensive to get in any other way because of not only the economic costs, but the environmental costs. Photovoltaics are now something I never thought I would see in my lifetime available for everybody for any application that they want.

What were some of the challenges facing you when you were starting out and what are some of the challenges now?

The biggest challenge when we started out was first of all locating products that made sense. And without any track record or understanding it was our job really to discover what was out there. Sometimes I think we were just lucky. We picked the right products and those products did us well. But we are pretty conservative in how we choose what we represent and what we install. We don’t manufacture, however in the 70’s we actually did manufacture because the offerings were so limited. By the mid 80’s there were over 280 domestic manufacturers of Solar Products available to pick from. So we had a big job, to understand what was good, what was bad, what worked, what didn’t. We had to work our way through all the claims and figure out and understand if this was a good fit for our customer base.

Now in today’s world the market has changed to the point where there are only a few domestic manufacturers of solar in the United States and a lot of the competition in the photovoltaic field and electric field is coming from China simply because they have a government directing their programs. They understand the benefit of solar and they have a vision, but we have a laissez-faire economy. And so the nice thing to see is that solar is doing quite well even in a laissez faire economy, but manufacturing costs are very high and we still have a lot more foreign manufacturers to pick from than we have domestic manufacturers.

Net Metering is the term given to the act of selling energy back to the energy companies. What are your thoughts on their future use?

Well actually, electric generation for home owners and businesses would not really be technically or economically feasible for the great number of our customers without Net Metering. Net Metering was passed by the California legislature I think it was in 1996 and it was done as an incentive to…it was done as a…you can deregulate the utilities, the utilities can deregulate themselves, as long as they provide Net Metering. Net Metering is simply the way that people sell energy back to their utility. They generate power during the day, the utility buys it back from them at the same price they bought it – they bought the energy the last time. So it is not a good business model for the utilities. They can’t generate power and buy it back at the same price they sell it, but it really makes the economics here work.

As far as Net Metering’s future is concerned, I think that it’s already been written that only 5% of the customer base can go Net Metered and if that doesn’t change then the solar/electrical applications will really be left for people that want to power their electric vehicles or they want to sell their electricity at a wholesale price. And if they sell their electricity at a wholesale price, it may be feasible because the price for solar has dropped where that may be a good deal for everybody.

What’s your viewpoint on incentives and rebates? How do they impact the solar industry?

It’s hard to say the word sustainable and then ask for incentives. When we have a sustainable technology it should be able to offer the benefits that people would expect without having an incentive applied. But this is an industry that will not come into its own at this point without some kind of support from the government. And what we have seen for instance, the solar industry go to the point now where over 100,000 people are employed in the state of California where as 10 years ago it wasn’t – this couldn’t have happened without some kind of incentive and support. And also what we have seen happen is because of that support, prices have come down and we are at the point now where we really may not need incentives much longer.

When the current incentives end for solar, we’ll be faced with a market that is very well developed. People accept solar as an alternative. Will the pricing be good enough? We don’t know. But if the incentives are gone, the tax credits are currently in place until the year 2015 – that’s a huge break for the buyer. The California rebates are almost all gone and they were scheduled not to be gone until 2016 also, but it’s been so popular in California that the rebates have disappeared almost. They started out at $4.50 a watt and now they are down to .20 a watt now. So we are really at a small percentage – its almost ridiculous the size of the rebates compared to what it used to be.

I think the challenge that we face and the challenge that anybody in the solar business faces is to keep costs low enough so people can buy the solar and justify rather than just being green and employing locally and going sustainable. They are not only doing the good thing, but they are doing the right thing economically. And if we can get to the point where the tax credits are on the verge of going away, there will be a huge rush of many people that will want to buy solar before its gone and then the market will collapse. In my opinion, we need to reduce the support slowly and incrementally and predictably as has the state of California with the rebates. When the Federal Government reduces its support on December 31, 2015, this industry will be in for a big, big shake down.

Who are your target markets and how has that changed over the years?

We have done commercial, and industrial and residential applications, but because this is a business that has been ephemeral and there have been booms and busts, we have mostly concentrated on the small business and residential market place.

Do the jobs get bigger the longer you are in business?

We have done large projects. In fact in Long Beach we did the smallest system and the largest system. The largest system up to that point in history was the California community pool and the smallest system was done for my daughter’s science fair project. But we haven’t gone for the big bang; we aren’t a big union shop. This is a family owned company and we believe that we can really provide better service by keeping the operations close at hand.

You have run a successful business for almost 40 years. What advice can you give to young entrepreneurs today who dream of a career in solar energy?

There are so many different levels, it is a business like anything else; there is engineering, there is marketing, there is product development, customer relations. And if anybody would want to get into solar back when I did, I had to spend two weeks in the library to read every book there was and then there was nobody to give me advice. But the advice really is, just as any other business, if you can find a school that has a program that teaches you, you can become an installer. If you want to go to a business school it’s the same business environment we all lived in and so you can get a job with a solar company if you have a business degree. If you want to become a marketing person, there’s nothing more unusual about marketing solar or selling solar than any other product that’s out there. Again, we have the internet is a huge resource and it’s not just a matter of tapping somebody on the shoulder and saying can you help me. You can help yourself. If you know how to Google, you can get there pretty quickly.

What makes your company different from all other solar energy installation companies?

My favorite topic. We have the experience, we have the know-how and we are dedicated. We want to make sure what we do works because we’ve discovered our best resource for future customers are the ones we are working with today.

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About AMECO Solar
Since 1974, AMECO Solar has been dedicated to the concept that solar energy is the solution to our energy future. Solar energy is unlimited, non-polluting and free. AMECO Solar is committed to providing cost-effective and reliable solar systems and strives to offer the best components available. AMECO Solar believes that using solar energy is simply the best investment available to homeowners or businesses today, since the alternative to solar is just a never-ending monthly expense. Extensive Solar information can be found on their website: SolarExpert.com. Call today for a quick quote: 888-846-9411.