Solar Energy News | Clean Energy News Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:16:05 -0400 en-gb ( The US is generating far more solar energy than thought The US is generating about 50% more solar energy than thoughtIt turns out there is a whole lot more solar energy being generated in the United States than official reports indicate – about 50 percent more.

That’s a pretty big deal. When official reports fail to count almost a third of the nation’s solar production, it has a significant impact on policy and perception.

The Solar Energy Industries Association recent Solar Market Insight Report found that the U.S. generated about 30.4 million megawatt-hours of solar electricity in the 12 months that ended in March of 2015. That’s a stark contrast to the 20.2 million megawatt-hours the Energy Information Administration reported. In fact, solar generation accounts for more than 5 percent of all electric generation in Arizona, Hawaii and California now, according to the SEIA report.

An article in Greentech Media points out that this miscount could have major negative impacts on the solar industry and the consumers who currently use it or would like to invest in it in the future.

The EIA report is used to set state and national energy policies. It’s also used by the EPA to set environmental standards and goals for individual states. Without accurate information, it’s hard to set meaningful milestones. Beyond that, utility companies use that information to predict electricity demand and invest in new infrastructure.

The low solar count isn’t just just dangerous because it’s misinforming policy-makers, it’s also a problem for public perception.

While even the low solar tally coming from the official EIA report still indicates a new record breaking every quarter, it appears to the public that there is far less solar installed than there is in reality. That’s a problem because it makes initiatives like renewable energy tax credit and Sunshot look far more expensive on a per-megawatt basis than they actually are.

So, how did the EIA get it so wrong? The Energy Information Administration has historically been able to go to utility companies for all its data. Approaching those central sources has helped the administration keep track of the nation’s electricity generation capacity for decades. But times are changing. The utility company doesn’t own or control much of the country’s soalr generation. Rooftop solar systems are growing in popularity and affordability. They’re going up fast and utility companies aren’t even rebating the systems anymore, which means utility companies have less information about them now.

The solution could be a smarter grid that tracks inflow and outflow of power from residences and businesses. As we slowly transition from the status quo to a network of smart meters, official utility reports should be better at recognizing distributed generation.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 02 Jul 2015 22:20:46 -0400
Solar Impulse 2 proving the power of solar energy Flying across the Pacific Ocean isn’t such a big a deal these days. It doesn’t seem like there are many records to break or milestones to hit anymore. But one innovative new plane slowly piloted the world into a new era Tuesday.

The Solar Impulse 2 broke the record for the longest solar-powered flight in distance and duration as it reached the halfway point on its journey across the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:53:05 -0400
What US utilities can learn from Australia Westar Energy in Kansas last week joined a long list of US utility companies that foolishly believe they can stand in front of tidal waves with their hands up like traffic cops to stop the rising threat rooftop solar poses to their business models.

As US utilities tack on fees and try to charge customers with rooftop solar installations more than those without them to stem the tide, the rest of the world has already realized those punitive efforts are futile and will do little more than distract utilities and delay their inevitable demise.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:39:29 -0400
Rooftop solar industry booming Residential rooftop solar is making more and more financial sense to homeowners across the country, which is driving record industry growth.

There were 76 percent more residential solar installations in the first quarter of 2015 than in the first quarter of 2014, according to the US Solar Market Insight report from Greentech Media released this week.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:24:03 -0400
MIT study favors utility-scale solar over rooftop solar While MIT’s recent 332-page report on The Future of Solar is making headlines for it’s bullish outlook on solar energy’s ability to change our nation’s energy future, its position on residential rooftop solar isn’t so sunny.

The report could cause some issues for distributed solar generation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is prestigious and reputable.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 12 May 2015 19:29:42 -0400
Georgia legislature unanimously votes for third-party solar After the Georgia legislature unanimously passed a bill Friday to allow third-party financing for rooftop solar installation, advocates expect the state to see massive solar industry growth in the state.

The bill still has to be signed by the governor and media has reported that governor’s stance on House Bill 57 is unknown. But a unanimous vote in any legislative body is pretty impressive these days.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:19:19 -0400
Rooftop solar raises real estate values I recently went home shopping with some friends in Southern California. Aside from the striking price tags on the properties, two things stood out to me – swimming pools and rooftop solar panels are inherently desirable real estate inclusions.

Walking into an open house we stalked online, my friend’s husband said, “it already has a pool. That will save us $20,000.”

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:40:25 -0400
As public perception changes solar energy poised for explosive growth In his State of The Union Speech, President Barack Obama noted that Americans are flipping the switch on as much new solar power every three weeks today as they did in all of 2008. There are good and growing reasons for that explosive growth.

And all indications are that solar adoption in the United States will only continue to accelerate in the coming years. The reason: solar technology is advancing rapidly. It’s becoming more and more affordable and more and more popular.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:17:00 -0500
Solarize programs spurring East Coast solar installations Investment in rooftop solar along the East Coast is soaring, in part, because of popular solarize programs.

Solarize programs concentrate a solar installer’s marketing and installation efforts in a singe community to reduce overhead so community members can enjoy discounted solar installation prices. Cities can coordinate the events on their own, though many Eastern states are providing funding and marketing support for communities that decide to encourage residents to go solar.

Nearly 100 people attended a Solarize event in Avon, Conn. Earlier this month.

“It was a great workshop,” said Jill Appel with Astrum Solar, the installer selected to lead the Solarize Avon program. “It’s so energizing talking to be at these events because they’re all excited about it.”

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 21 Jan 2015 03:34:56 -0500
We could go all the way – these entities are going 100% renewable Going 100 percent renewable sounds like something that Masdar City is doing over there in the United Arab Emirates. It doesn’t seem like something an average American city, company or utility could pursue right now. But it is happening.

Several environmental groups are working to assist municipalities and businesses that are making the pledge to get all their energy exclusively from renewable sources like solar and wind. And more and more are committing to doing it.

Azaar, an environmental campaign organization recently submitted a petition to the United Nations featuring signatures from 2.2 million people around the world who support a push for 100 percent renewable resources.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:38:00 -0500
Glass artist incorporating solar into stained glass Solar panels are beautiful in their own way, but when a building is architecturally significant, it doesn’t work to slap a few panels on the roof and call it green. As demand for architecturally appealing solar increases, artists like Sarah Hall are gaining a new degree of notoriety.

Hall is a renowned glass artist best known for her beautiful stained glass pieces in iconic churches and prominent buildings throughout the world. But in recent years, her name is circulating in new architectural realms.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 06 Jan 2015 00:57:00 -0500
Solar+storage market to skyrocket Those working in the solar industry believe solar plus storage is our energy future and the market trends suggest they might be right.

Solar Power Generation International surveyed solar industry business owners asking what they see as the future of solar. While 1 percent of respondents said Concentrated Solar Power and 17 percent said rooftop solar or industry growth in new solar states, 27 percent voted for solar storage hybrid systems.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 22 Dec 2014 21:53:00 -0500
Utilities must evolve to survive with solar Telephone companies, cable companies, video rental services, taxi cab drivers, hotel operators, auto manufacturers… These are just a few examples of businesses that have had to evolve with the times or risk going extinct. Why should utility providers be any different?

They’re not. But few of them seem to recognize that the time for them to look to their next chapter isn’t just coming – it’s here.  

The news is packed with headlines about the precarious position traditional utility companies are in because of the threat posed by distributed generation. While rooftop solar provides less than 1 percent of the electricity in the US, the industry is growing so rapidly that utilities see the writing on the wall.

The Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for utility companies, has launched an aggressive campaign to slow the growth of distributed rooftop solar.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:25:00 -0500
West side is the best side for solar The west side is the best side of the roof for solar panels, according to new data analysis from Opower, which specializes in cloud-based software for the utility industry.

Opower released a detailed analysis this week of all its data on home energy use and solar panel orientation. Opower has information on more than 50 million households worldwide. Using that and public data on about 110,000 residential solar projects in California, Opower confirmed what another team of researchers found from a study of just 50 homes in Texas last year.

West-facing rooftop solar makes more sense than south-facing panels in our modern world.

While they generate 10 to 20 percent less electricity a year, they produce the most power when it’s most needed during the day.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 04 Dec 2014 18:17:00 -0500