A typical 3kWp (kilo Watt-peak) solar system, which produces about 2 500 kWh of electricity annually, or the equivalent of two thirds of a typical American household`s consumption, will end up around $15 000. There is no doubt that purchasing solar panels turn off a lot of homeowners because of the high upfront costs and home insurance. In the last couple of years things have changed the situation for the better – Smart and creative financing models have been put in place to make solar power more affordable for Average Joe.
According to PV Solar Report, more than three out of four Californians prefer third-party-owned solar, which also happens to be the market share as of February 2012:
The same trend can be seen across the rest of the country as well – and it keeps growing. What are the different third-party-owned financing models that are available? › Continue reading
Almost everyone will want to have cheaper electricity which provides both an endless supply and is also good for the environment. A great way of achieving this is by purchasing and installing solar panels on your home; a great step towards reducing your carbon footprint.
Purchasing solar panels has become more and more popular within cities, villages and the suburbs alike; but there is still a vast majority of people reluctant to install their own, namely because they are not sure how installing solar panels may affect their insurance policy.
The largest misconception is that installing solar panels will increase the premium of a home insurance policy. Shopping around and comparing quotes will show that in most cases there will be no change to the cost of the policy and some insurance companies might even offer lower rates.
It is really important to have the solar panels installed properly, since shady construction work and installations might affect your right to make a claim. Always use a certified installer and a certified solar panel dealer. › Continue reading
Ask many people why they haven’t currently got solar panels and they’ll tell you that they’re waiting
for solar to become “affordable”, but without ever having researched it. Particularly over the last
12 months, the price of solar has come crashing down, and with many government incentives at
particularly high levels, now is a great time to think seriously about the investment.
Across the Pond, in the UK, it has just been announced that subsidies will have to be cut following
a 30% drop in the price of installed solar panels from April 2010 to December 2011. This change is
due to increasing competition in the number of solar installation companies, as well as increasing
competition among the manufacturers themselves.
The USA has a federal grant available of 30% of the installation costs. There are also extensive local
subsidies available. The hottest states for earning money with solar, at the moment, are California, New
Jersey and Pennsylvania, although it is worth a look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to help find out what’s available where you live. Generally, solar panels should pay themselves off in about 10 years. › Continue reading
The DOE laboratory I work for recently published some promising results of one of our fuel cell experiments. Researchers with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston recently found a way to get platinum to be more conductive. It doesn’t sound like much, but this is big for fuel cell technology. Anders Nilsson, one of the scientists involved explained that although fuel cell technology has been around for the past 100 years or so, it hasn’t been able to make any strides in the technology.
First, a little background on fuel cells. Fuel cells are the way we create energy from hydrogen. A fuel cell creates electricity from a chemical reaction involving oxygen and hydrogen. One of the most exciting things about fuel cell technology is that the only byproducts are two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, also known as water! Platinum is currently the best catalyst we have to use with fuel cells. However if you’ve looked at the price of platinum recently, you know that the costs can be astounding for even just a plain platinum ring.
Many researchers have looked for ways around using a commodity as high priced as platinum for fuel cells. In 2008, researchers at Wuhan University in China found a way to bypass the platinum catalyst used in most fuel cells. They used a nickel anode and a silver cathode, and a powerful polymer membrane that can withstand the harshly acidic environment of the fuel cell. This acidic environment is the main reason that the high-cost precious metals are necessary in the first place. This polymer membrane has not yet proved to be even close in performance to platinum, but has proven that the idea itself has potential.
Green cell phones are the topic of today’s Eco high/low. While green is a relative term here, alternate ways of charging your battery are emerging with more of an environmentally friendly spin. While this has yet to really gain traction, here are two options fairly new to the market, one an a uber chic (and most likely uber expensive) mechanical offering, the other a techno-savvy, but simple low cost design.
Ulysse Nardin Chairman Kinetic Cellphone – Eco Chic High
Created by a very well know watchmaker, the Chairman is an attempt to meld the complex mechanical movements common with old world style wristwatch artisans, with the newer high technology phones. With today’s youth choosing to go watch-less and instead depending on their cellphone clocks to provide them with the time, watchmakers are beginning to see the effects. Cellphones have become the new accessory among today’s youth, making other timepieces obsolete.
Leave it to Ulysse Nardin to capitalize this market with the introduction of a new cell phone bling unlike any other. It is ingenious in its own right, since most carry our cellphones in pockets or bags which are constantly moving while we walk, it provides the perfect charging mechanism. Since we are using kinetic energy to charge these phones, it is incredibly green, requiring no emission producing electricity. No word on cost, but with Ulysse Nardin watches priced in the thousands, and limited production numbers, I wouldn’t expect to see these at Best Buy.
Crank Cellphone Chargers – Eco Friendly Low
Technology in alternative energy generation is improving, and that good old crank style generator is becoming easier and more efficient. These devices provide reliable power generation to recharge your cell phone battery with a few minutes of winding everyday.
It is really the same concept as the kinetic device, but you are just doing all the winding at once by hand. If you have ever used one of the newer LED crank-style flashlights, you will know how relatively easy it is, and how long just a little bit of work lasts. As a bonus, most of these double as radios and/or flashlights, making them great to have around for power outages, emergencies and such. With prices ranging from $20-$80, it really is a bargain to be green.
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