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May 25, 2018

Duke Energy NC Solar Rebate

duke

Recently Duke Energy announced a solar rebate for North Carolina customers. The rebate is intended to help home owners, businesses, and non-profits cover the up-front expenses for solar systems.

Here is how it works: No more than 90 days after the installation of the solar system, the installer sends in an application on behalf of the customer that is then approved by Duke Energy. The rebate is allocated at a rate of 60 cents per installed watt for residential projects, 50 cents per installed watt for business projects, and 75 cents per installed watt for non-profit owned projects.

Max Rebate Available
1. Residential – $6,000
2. Commercial – $50,000
3. Nonprofit – $75,000

For example the owner of a 10 kW residential system would be awarded $6000 ($0.60 X 10000W). Duke Energy has funded this program with $62 million dollars with the goal of tripling ownership of solar systems in North Carolina, but the funding will dwindle rapidly as people, businesses, schools, and churches use this incentive. Contact us for details or if you want to find out about how much you can save!

April 30, 2018

Large Residential Systems

What if your roof space is not large enough to fit your solar system or you simply would prefer to place it elsewhere? There are a myriad of options in this situation, but lets take a look at three common ones: Ground-mount systems, Solar Pergolas, and Verandas.

 

Ground-Mount SystemsgroundThe ground-mount solar system is the least expensive of the three options because of its simplicity. Most ground mount solar systems can be assembled fairly quickly after the posts have been set. A great benefit of this option is the accessibility of the system. After snow falls one can simply brush it off the array to keep production going. Another great benefit is that since it is a separate structure from the home it can be oriented directly south at the perfect angle. Visually however, it does not quite fit the environment unless one has a plot of land larger than average so that it does not stand out. Because of this many home owners associations do not allow it, but in rural environments they are common.

Solar PergolasPergolaThink of the solar pergola is as ground-mount system in which the frame is wood instead of steel and aluminum. It is a bit more complex than the basic ground-mount, but what the pergola lacks in simplicity it makes up in aesthetics that allow it to fit into the residential setting. Its dual purpose of renewable energy and shade allow the pergola to be located over the back porch or deck so that the yard remains open for the kids to play. Pergolas are a very common addition to homes, and because of this few home owners associations will take issues with it. Finally, its proximity to the home makes it possible to integrate electrically with minimal landscaping.

 

Verandascover

The Veranda is essentially an extension of the roof structure of your home. This option is for those that seek a solution that looks less like an addition and more like part of the original house. The veranda matches the color and material of your home’s roof but retains the openness of the pergola. A major benefit of the veranda is that tilt angles for ideal system performance can be used (whereas most pergolas are flat). There are also many variations in style and detail that can be incorporated to produce the ideal and aesthetic appearance. Like the pergola, with its close location to the home, landscaping is minimal.

Of these three options, the direction that one chooses to proceed can be influenced by any number of factors that constitute a priority such as cost, aesthetics, landscaping, or solar system performance. At Humium we will work with you to find your ideal solution and make it happen!

March 24, 2018

2 Reasons To Go Solar During Spring

An early Springtime morning, deep in the English Countryside, and the sun shines down through the beech trees onto a carpet of bluebells.

When is the best time to install a solar system? If you read the title then you probably guessed it: Spring!

There are two main reasons why Spring is the best time to install a solar system, and the first is production. Power is a combination of current and voltage. During winter solar system voltage increases significantly, but shorter days and lower radiation levels yield low current. Summer is the exact opposite with low voltage and high current. Spring and Fall are the perfect medium. What makes Spring better is another weather phenomenon: rain. The regular incidence of rain keeps the panels cleaner and boosts production, making Spring the ideal time.

The well balanced weather patterns previously mentioned have a two-fold effect. Cool spring days make for very comfortable installers, installers that can work faster because heat-related hazards such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, or roof burn are much smaller concerns this time of year.

Spring will be here for about another month, while you enjoy the weather think about how much better it would be if you had a solar system pumping out energy for your home!

February 19, 2018

Solar Tariff

Tariff

So you may have heard about a solar tariff, lets talk about that. Here is a quick run-down.

It is essentially a fee (starting at 30%) on the cost of solar modules or solar cells and will decrease by 5 percent every subsequent year. It is currently in effect and its final year will be 2021.

Tariff Breakdown

Analysis by different sources (such as Energy Sage or Greentechmedia) tend to converge on an additional 3%~4% (about $650) as its impact on the total cost of a solar project. A cost increase of 4% leaves options for how different segments of the solar industry can respond in order to keep as much of that away from home or business owners as possible.

The good news is that on the manufacturing side of the industry prices will continue to decline the way they have been for at least the last 20 years. On the application side of the industry, you can rely on us at Humium Energy to use our different tools and options to optimize your project so that your solar investment is as profitable as possible. We’ve got your back!

January 8, 2018

A New Material For Solar Cells?

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The ability to transform the energy of the sun into electricity has already changed energy markets around the world. Last year more than 90 gigawatts of solar power were installed globally — equivalent to the energy generating capacity of Turkey. However, researchers believe that in coming years solar power could become even more efficient and cheaper than it is now. While most solar cells today are made from silicon, a key area to watch is the development of new materials for solar cells. One of the most promising of these is a family of crystals known as perovskites (named after the Russian geologist Lev Perovski). Certain perovskites are very good at absorbing light, and have been shown to have a power conversion efficiency of 22 per cent, on par with traditional silicon cells. Perovskites have so far outperformed other new solar materials — such as dye-sensitised solar cells or organic photovoltaics — in their ability to absorb the sun’s power efficiently. The rapid pace of improvement of perovskite solar cells since they were first tested less than a decade ago has left many scientists optimistic for their progress. There are still some significant hurdles to overcome before perovskites are suitable for commercial deployment. Because the crystals dissolve easily, they are unable to handle humid conditions and must be protected from moisture with sealed glass plates. Also, while scientists have achieved high efficiency with very small perovskite cells, they have not been able to replicate the effect with larger cell areas. “The perovskites are certainly not as stable as silicon,” says Michael McGehee, professor of materials science at Stanford University. “So that’s the main challenge. The other is just that it is so new — it hasn’t been scaled yet, and factories haven’t been built. It will take some time.” No company manufactures commercial perovskite solar cells at large scale yet, although one, Oxford PV, an offshoot of Oxford university, has a pilot production facility for perovskite solar cells in Germany.
 
The academics and small companies researching perovskites will, for the time being, struggle to match the high levels of funding going into silicon research. “It is hard right now to go head to head with silicon and beat it,” says Prof McGehee. “The reason is that they already have massive economies of scale.” In the near term, one solution advocated by Prof McGehee is the use of “tandem” solar cells, which layer a perovskite on top of traditional silicon. The perovskite cell, which is semi-transparent, captures certain wavelengths in the visible spectrum of light, allowing other wavelengths to pass through and be captured by the silicon cell underneath. Prof McGehee’s research has shown that a tandem cells are 10 per cent more efficient than silicon cells alone. It could be a way for the new material to break into the silicon-dominated market.
 
“If you go on top of silicon, you are essentially upgrading something that is a $30bn per year market and offering silicon companies something that can improve [their output],” he explains. If the hurdles of scale and stability can be overcome, perovskite solar cells have the potential to change the economics of solar power, as they are much cheaper to produce than silicon cells. Perovskite crystals can be produced at relatively low temperatures, unlike silicon which requires a tremendous amount of heat to make a wafer. “The hope is to make [the cost] pennies per watt. That is the goal of these solar cells,” says Nitin Padture, director of the institute for molecular and nanoscale innovation at Brown University. “The versatility and the possibilities of these materials are quite exciting.”

From Financial Times

November 7, 2017

Life

Open Calendar

When purchasing a machine it is common for us to estimate its value at least partially on its lifetime. We use the word “life” to refer to the time period or beyond which the machine no longer offers significant value to the owner. Automobiles, for example, regularly last for at least 10 years or up to 150000 miles. Many stick around longer.

The biggest ticket item in the solar system are the panels. They can represent one third of the cost of the system, so how long are they good for? Solar panel performance today is guaranteed by the manufacturer for 25 years. Many cite this as the lifetime of the panels but really this just represents when the panels are guaranteed to be operating at 80% of their factory rating. Beyond this, the panels may continue producing a significant output for 10 years so that in total a solar system can output useful power for a solid 35 years.

Panel lifetime also varies by climate. In an interesting study, a 20 year old solar system degraded in power output by only 3%.

September 19, 2017

Storage vs Security

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What are we after when we store things that are vital or important to us? Security. Energy is no different. Security is confidence, comfort, and rest of mind. Its the proverbial warm and fuzzy feeling.

For many, energy security is embodied in the generator. Generators are nice because they are easy to set up, however they cost money to run and gasoline seems to without fail be in short supply during the emergency scenarios when the need of generators is greatest. We all remember the feeling we had as we pulled up at the gas station before a major storm and find the pumps bagged-up and out of order because of hordes of people on panic-driven gas runs.

For many others a battery system offers us our security solution; it is usually fed by a fuel source that we can rely on even during emergencies. The trouble with battery systems is that they are not exactly simple to the lay man and when they are they are expensive.

What would a middle ground battery/energy security solution look like for us? It would be simple. It would give us access to some storage but not so much that cost careens out of control. It would utilize a simple and perhaps autonomous method for replenishing and sustaining itself while giving the home enough power to run critical loads. It would also be easy to activate in emergencies.

Solutions are on the horizon.

 

August 14, 2017

Solar neighborhood fly over_1

 

A Simple Future for Solar.

For prospective customers the least expensive integration point for solar energy is at the front of the construction process. Imagine this. Entire neighborhoods with homes that have rear roofs facing in a general southern direction. Families tour the neighborhood, looking at houses, schools, parks, and so on. They tour a home that they like and eventually will come to love. After viewing kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, they step into the back yard where they discover the cherry on top: 20 sleek and shiny solar panels completing the picture of the serene landscape. Spread over the life of the mortgage the cost of the system in monthly payments is minuscule. Monitoring included, Warranty agreement included. Simple purchase and simple operation. Why not?

As a society we expect our homes to come with in-door plumbing. We expect them to come with artificial ventilation (HVAC). Are these things cheap? Yes and no. No because of the amount of science, development, installation work, and planning that goes into ensuring that the home has these features as standard equipment (and if you want premium equipment you can expect to pay more). Yes because when these features are required for every home, most of the costs are spread over the thousands of projects that the companies manage. It culminates in solutions that are much more affordable, even to the customer with the most modest budget. In the state of California there is a county for example that has taken the lead in this approach by writing solar energy into the local residential and commercial building code. Time will reveal the effectiveness of this approach on progress toward renewable energy portfolio goals as well as reducing market prices for solar energy systems, but it is this kind of thinking that will usher in next age for solar energy: the age of normal rather than novel.

July 18, 2017

Your Power, Your Profit Radio Broadcast 7/18/17

Solar 2 money

On this radio broadcast we get into the environmental and financial comparisons between solar energy and hybrid/electric vehicles! Have a listen!

 

 

July 9, 2017

Scale!

Scale

Tip:
What do you do when you want to go solar but you do not want a full solar system? Maybe you want to take a more gradual approach or you want the array to be larger than a certain size on the roof. Because each system is composed of individual panels, solar systems are being very scalable. Most homes need about 7 kW to fully meet their needs but your system does not have to be that large. You can start at 3 kW ($5800) or even 2 kW($4400). There are solar systems with as little as 1.2 kW (4 panels). If you are unsure, try small first for some time and then scale up to watch your savings grow!