Solar

SolarCity & Tesla Officially Set to Join Forces

Posted | 0 comments

Elon Musk has his fingers in a lot of pies, but now two companies he serves as chairman on will join forces as it’s been officially announced that Tesla is on track to buy SolarCity. As those in the innovative-know have been aware of for some time, Musk has a certain propensity for bold initiatives and out-of-the-box thinking. He’s the kind of innovator to reach for the stars, and literally has with Space X (a company he is bother founder and CEO of), so the tech world is curious to see what initiative will come out of the SolarCity-Tesla combination. Already Musk has revealed part of his plan to provide solar, battery storage and electric vehicles all under the umbrella of a single company in what he calls “end-to-end clean energy”, thereby making Tesla the one-stop shopping solutions for those with the financial liquidity to completely overhaul their lifestyles from fossil fuel to renewable energy. While expensive at the moment, with the opening of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada and their rolling out of the Tesla Model 3 at a fraction of the cost of the Model S or Model X, the cost to complete this transition could be affordable to many middle class Americans within the next few years. From there it is likely Tesla will seek to bring prices even lower — as seen in the transition from the Tesla Roadster to the Models X & S to the Model 3 — as their production capacities eliminate much of the soft costs associated with the creation of Teslas, home batteries, and the like. Now if we could just figure out renewable energy powered spaceflight… Read more...

Read More

Solar Powered Drones Soon to Take Flight

Posted | 0 comments

Here at Soveren, we are always interested in solar innovations, and as such we often pay attention to new initiatives even if they aren’t directly related to our operation. Facebook announced yesterday that they have successfully completed their first test flight of their new solar powered drone with the intent of constructing a fleet of them large enough to provide internet to the far reached of the world. It seems the Solar Impulse – the worlds first solar powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe – won’t be the only aerial craft harvesting the sun for long. The idea of a solar powered aircraft isn’t entirely new. In the 70’s American and British companies experimented with solar-powered flight with the creation of the AstroFlight Sunrise, the Mauro Solar Riser and the Solar one, none of which were very successful and the projects were all canned within a few years of the first models being produced. Today is a different story and the future of solar powered flight seems bright, especially when behemoths like Facebook decide to embark on what would once be considered far fetched missions such as using solar powered drones to provide internet globally. Read more...

Read More

Solar Explodes Worldwide as Installations Expected to Grow Exponentially Over Next Five Years

Posted | 0 comments

For those of us living in ecologically conscious communities, not secret that solar has been experiencing quite a bump in installations as we’ve seen panels appear on rooftops, over parking lots, large arrays rolling across green fields, and even unseen arrays now covering many warehouse sized buildings’ roofs such as Walmarts across the nation. The commitment to going green is no longer the expensive lifestyle choice it was in the the 80’s and 90’s — a time when the best argument for solar was the “eco-bling” factor — , but in the 2010’s solar has come down in price massively making it not only affordable but a sound investment. This is caused by a multitude of factors; demand worldwide has increased, increasing production and competition in the market which has brought prices down, technology has improved allowing solar PV to be more efficient than ever, and a general consciousness about the importance of moving away from a fossil-fuel-based energy economy has permeated conversations on governmental, utility, community and individual levels. Looking forward to the future we can expect to solar installations to increase exponentially as fossil fuel reserves dwindle, decentralized generation increases causing the need for a smart-grid which will be better equipped to deal with renewable energy production, and the impacts of climate change become increasingly undeniable to those who still have their heads in the sand. Read more about the economics of the future of solar here: http://www.rechargenews.com/solar/1439394/solar-on-track-to-reach-grid-parity-this-decade-frost-and-sullivan And here: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data...

Read More

Should Agricultural Land be Used for Solar?

Posted | 0 comments

Should Agricultural Land be Used for Solar?

Vermont Community Solar focuses primarily on ground-based solar arrays. These arrays require space, both for the physical array itself and enough land to the south of the array to ensure that the array’s will remain unshaded for the duration of the array. Over the course of 30 years land that could consist of rolling meadows and open space could be transformed; trees could spring up, buildings could be erected, power lines could be built, and all of this would affect the shading profile of that field. For this reason, it is important to ensure that enough land is reserved to ensure that these potential shading hazards don’t affect our arrays. Farmland offers the ideal venue for solar, as it provides the availability of building an array to the north end of a piece of agricultural land, with the land south of the array being farmed year after year, never allowing shading hazards to arise. Building an array on farmland, however, comes with criticism. Let me explain how we at Soveren feel about harvesting the sun rather than harvesting vegetable on land equally suited for both. As you probably know, Vermont is a rural state with about 80% of its territory consisting of forestland. The remaining 20% is made up of urban areas, farmland, and other land used for the pursuit of human activities. When we consider building an array, deforestation is not an option, therefore we must look within that 20% of deforested land for our site. Sure, we may fell a tree if absolutely necessary, but by and large our model calls for the preservation of the land our array will co-exist within. We feel our solar model can actually help the land in a few ways. Allow me to explain: The arrays are temporary installations, and the industry standard for an array’s lifetime is 30 years. Once the array’s lifespan has been reached, the poles we’ve driven into the ground to support the array can simply be pulled out. In the mean time the land our array occupies — which would otherwise be farmed year after year — is given a chance to lie fallow, given the soil a chance to replenish as wild, native plants are given a chance to grow and refresh the nutrient content of the soil reducing the need for petrochemical fertilizers to be applied. We can think of this as a sort of long-term crop rotation, where the harvest of vegetables is replaced with the harvest of energy. Alternatively, the land under the array does not necessarily need be left fallow, but rather be used to grow crops which prefer shade that could otherwise not be grown there, or allow grazing of small mammals such as goats, sheep, or even llamas (added bonus of not needing to mow the field in these cases), countering the nutrient-deplenishing practice of monoculture crops being grown in the same plot of land year after year, leading to soil degradation and erosion. In these ways, we feel our arrays are able to function symbiotically with the fields in which they reside; they allow the owner of the field to generate income they might otherwise seek through farming of the land, they allow the land to be replenished for future generations, and they allow for a host of different potential uses that could be employed which were previously less desirable or unavailable. For those reasons, we tend to disagree with the neighbors in Californias’ opinions expressed in the article attached. Neighbors: Solar farms will make land ‘industrial...

Read More

The Future of Solar Energy Will Be Multifaceted

Posted | 0 comments

When we think solar, almost all of us probably conjure up images in our heads of photovoltaic panels, and when we think large-scale, utility sized solar power plants many might imagine a sea of blue silicon stretching for as far as the eye can see. Certainly there are many solar power plants which live up to this image, but it is far from the only way we can harness solar energy to work for us. Concentrating solar energy using concave mirrors and harnessing the thermal energy produced is another way we can continue to harness the sun. Indeed, as we strive towards a greener energy mix — and eventually a fossil fuel-free one — we must use a multifaceted approach. Concentrated solar in the form of Power Towers will likely see increasing relevance. The reason concentrated solar has a large role to play will be in its ability to store the thermal energy acquired during the day for use during the night. Concentrated solar functions like most traditional power plants — from wood-fired to nuclear — in that there is a heating element is used to boil water into steam to turn a turbine which generates electricity. Power Towers are able to serve as essential enormous thermal batteries, where the heat (thermal energy) harvested during the day is used to maintain molten salt at incredibly high temperatures. The molten salt is then run through a pool of water where it causes steam to be produced, rise, spin a turbine, then be recondensed for another round. The thermal properties of the molten salt used make it ideal for heat retention and the Power Towers are able to produce energy 24/7 since their salt stays hot through the night. Additionally, since the generation of power is no longer coupled directly to solar exposure, but rather coupled to the thermal energy stored, it means that the plant’s electrical generation can be scaled up based on energy demands. This mitigates or eliminates the need to have fossil-fuel backup plants which can be put online when demand increases at peak times. Technology such as Power Towers will have a large role to play as we move forward into a clean energy future, unfortunately they aren’t something you can personally claim to own, nor will we likely see any homes advertising being 100% Power Tower powered anytime soon, so you still have a chance to get your solar bragging rights through PV and help us build the next phase of the clean energy revolution.  ...

Read More

The Worth of Solar Power

Posted | 0 comments

There is a growing understanding of solar power in the world, and as more investments are made in the industry the viability of this clean energy structure goes up and up. This combination, as well as a drive to move away from fossil fuels is spear heading a huge transition. In Vermont, net metering has taken off. So much so, that the exponential growth was more than even the Public Service Board and utility expected. Now there are new rules being created to make up for the huge changes that have occurred due to this growth. The rutland herald has written on this issue. You can read the full article here. Stay posted for the new rules and updates on the stars on net metering in Vermont. If you are still looking for panels in one of our community solar fields, there is currently availability in the Green Mountain Power Territory as well as Ludlow Electric. For more information call...

Read More