Category: Commercial Solar

PV Power is a Positive Net Energy Producer

PV Power is a Positive Net Energy Producer

Since 2000, huge investments have been pouring into the solar industry, and it has grown exponentially. Many focus just on the financing or the return on investment of solar. It’s also important to keep in mind why solar got so big. Was it the promise that it would have less impact on the environment?

What about the “energetic costs” used to create the solar industry? For the first time since the solar boom started, the electricity generated by all of the world’s installed solar panels last year probably surpassed the amount of energy going into manufacturing more modules.

Read more about how PV solar is a net energy producer.

“Pallet Specials” Offer a Price Break on Going Solar

“Pallet Specials” Offer a Price Break on Going Solar

Pallet Special. Get better than pallet pricing on Grid-tied Solar Power Systems. Wholesale Solar is offering a deal on their solar power systems that include full pallets of ET solar panels.  Wholesale Solar’s “Pallet Special” Grid-tie Solar Power Systems are made up of one or two full pallets of twenty-six ET solar panels and are ready to ship. Equipped with the necessary components and a wiring diagram, the pricing of the solar panels in these systems is lower than their already low pallet pricing, Racking is not included but can be estimated at $65 to $75 per solar panel for a basic mounting solution.

“Pallet Special” Grid-tie Solar Power System packages are available in three technologies: SolarEdge, Microinverter and the more traditional, and usually more cost effective, centralized inverter.  Systems either include 245-watt or 300-watt ET solar panels.

View “Pallet Special” Solar Power Systems here.


Tariffs Imposed on Chinese Will Cause Price Rise for All Solar Panels

Tariffs Imposed on Chinese Will Cause Price Rise for All Solar Panels

As you may have heard, the International Trade Commission and the United States Department of Commerce have been investigating whether Chinese solar module manufacturers are trading unfairly in the US. The initial ITC ruling in March found that the Chinese government unfairly subsidized Chinese solar module manufacturers in violation of Trade Commission rules.

On the 17th of May, the Department of Commerce announced that they were preliminarily imposing much greater tariffs on Chinese-made solar cells and modules containing these cells than previously estimated. The rate is roughly 32% for most of the major companies and up to 250% for many manufacturers. Modules from American manufacturers will almost certainly be higher priced and in short supply as soon as large developers seek out now lower priced domestic product.

The immediate result of the decision is that solar panels will soon cost about 10-30% more.  Modules already in the US are unaffected at the retail level.

Buy your solar panels before prices rise.

New Mexico… One of the Nation’s Top Producer of Crude Oil Emerges as Solar Leader

New Mexico… One of the Nation’s Top Producer of Crude Oil Emerges as Solar Leader

Solar ArrayNew Mexico, one of the nation’s top producers of domestic crude oil, is emerging as a leader in solar. In 2011, it ranked fourth among the states for the amount of solar power installations. In 2010, the Land of Enchantment was in seventh place.  Why the sudden boost? Their utilities are under a tight deadline to provide power from renewable energy sources by the end of this year.  There are also plenty of incentives that have been enticing homeowners and business owners whether they’re on or off the grid. Solar incentives in New Mexico mainly come in the form of tax credits and exemptions, net metering and production based-incentives.  Read more.

Be Prepared April 2nd for the Oregon Solar Feed-in Tariffs. You Could Earn Tens of Thousands of Dollars.

Be Prepared April 2nd for the Oregon Solar Feed-in Tariffs. You Could Earn Tens of Thousands of Dollars.

What you'll Profit when You invest even in one of our midsized systems using even the lowest incentive rates
Even with the lowest incentive, you’d earn tens of thousands of dollars when you purchase one of our mid-sized solar power grid-tie systems.

In the state of Oregon, if you “go solar”, you stand to earn thousands of dollars. This may sound incredible, but it’s true. If you’re a customer of one of Oregon’s investor-owned utility companies—Pacific Power, Portland General Electric and Idaho Power–you can apply for a Feed-in Tariff. If you are accepted, your utility company will pay between 25 cents to 41 cents per kilowatt your solar power system generates. Rates depend on the county you live and the solar power system you intend to use. Look it up here.

Applications are being accepted April 2nd starting 8 am for one day only. Last year’s were fully subscribed to in 15 minutes. This year it’s not gong to be  “First Come, First Serve”. Participating utility companies will be randomly selecting applications via a lottery over a 24-hour period. Those who qualify will get the “jackpot”.  To be safe, however, we recommend, that you submit your application in on the 2nd. Be sure to double check with your utility company regarding deadline.

Read more about the Feed-in Tariffs and other incentives available to Oregonians.

Investing in solar is a no-brainer in Oregon.

Investing in solar is a no-brainer in Oregon.

An Offgrid Solar Power Home in Oregon

Making the decision to invest in solar in the state of Oregon should be a no-brainer. Why? Because it is one of the most supportive states in the nation when it comes to “going green”. If state and federal incentives and tax credits are combined, a home or business owner  can recover as much as 80 percent of their costs!

Financial support varies slightly for the two different types of solar power systems–off-grid and grid-tie. Off-grid and Grid-tie Solar Power Systems can take advantage of:

  • A Personal Tax Credit for residential systems up to $6,000 or up to 50% of equipment costs.
  • A host of energy efficiency rebates and loans. (Reducing your energy needs translates into a smaller system with a better price tag.)
  • Property tax exemptions.
  • The 30% Federal Tax Credit, which can be applied to equipment and installation costs for commercial or residential systems.

Owners of Grid-tie Solar Power Systems also can take advantage of:

  • Net-Metering Programs, which allow owners to sell the excess power their system generates back to their utility company for credits.
  • Rebate Programs with their utility companies
  • Incentive-based compensation. (Some Oregon utility companies pay their customers for the amount of power their systems generate over a ten or fifteen year period.)

Read more about Oregon solar incentives.

Federal Renewable Energy Cash Grants Expire Forever on December 31st

Federal Renewable Energy Cash Grants Expire Forever on December 31st

What are Federal Renewable Energy 1603 Grants?

These grants were set up to enable  small businesses to invest in renewable energy systems that weren’t paying enough taxes to take advantage of the full 30% Federal Tax Credit for Renewable Energy.

How far along does my project need to be in order to qualify for the 2011 1603 Grant?

  • 5 percent of your equipment costs need to be incurred by 12/31/2011, or
  • Construction of your system needs to have started between 1/1/2009 and 12/31/2011. Generally, construction begins when “physical work of a significant nature” begins.

Who is eligible to apply and what do I need to know?

  • Applicants will not be able to get a tax credit AND a grant.
  • Residential solar power systems are not eligible.
  • Covers other forms of renewable energy systems including wind, solar thermal electric and more.
Solyndra, Innovators or Crooks?

Solyndra, Innovators or Crooks?

Solyndra had a great idea. They developed solar technology that promised to be cheaper than silicon. The Department of Energy believed in the venture enough to loan $500 millions dollars of Recovery Act funding. Private investors put their money down, too. They didn’t foresee that the cost of silicon would drop sharply and that China would ramp up and produce super low-cost silicon PV.  And, of course, they didn’t foresee that they would go bankrupt.

Piggy Bank
Is Solyndra a prime example of the government wasting our tax dollars?

Is Solyndra a prime example of government wasting your tax dollars on renewable energy?  Many folks have been making this claim. But do they know that Solyndra is only a tiny fraction of Department of Energy’s green-energy loan program, and that it is the only DOE loan to default so far? Solyndra’s loan guarantees are also infinitesimal compared to those of both fossil fuel and nuclear companies. Investigations reveal that there was no real scandal in the loan process. It’s also normal to have a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail.

What happened with Solyndra actually points to positive change. Competition in solar technology has become so fierce that we are fast fowarding to the day when the cost of solar power will equal the cost of electricity from our utility company.

There is a lot of talk lately about Moore’s Law in regards to solar. In the computer technology field, Moore’s law says that the number of components that can be placed on a chip doubles every 18 months. According to Scientific American, if Moore’s Law were applied to solar power technology, we would eventually have the solar equivalent of an iPhone—very cheap, mass produced energy technology many times more effective than the giant and centralized technologies it was came from.Solar PV Cost per Kwh

Over the span of thirty years, the cost of solar cells has reduced 7 percent each year on average. If this continues, the cost of solar will be just over 50 cents  per watt in 20 years. PV modules historically have been about half the installed cost of a solar power system. With the cost of installation falling at the same rate as solar panels, the cost of solar in the U.S. will cross the current average retail electricity price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour in 2020. In fact, given that electricity prices are currently rising a small fraction per year, prices will probably cross earlier, around 2018 for the country as a whole, and as early as 2015 for the sunniest parts of America. Read more.

Solyndra was blindsided by a field that’s growing exponentially.  It’s clear to us now that solar power is here to stay.

The Effect of Shade on Solar Panels

The Effect of Shade on Solar Panels

Just a little shade can affect a solar panel ‘s power output dramatically. Diffuse shade from a “soft” source, like a distant tree branch or cloud can significantly reduce the amount of light reaching a solar panel’s cells. “Hard” sources stop light from reaching solar cells, such as debri or bird dropping sitting on top of the panel. If even one full cell is hard shaded, the voltage of a solar panel drops to half in order to protect itself. If enough cells are hard shaded, the module will not convert any energy and will, in fact, become a significant drain of energy on the entire system over time.

Partial Shading of Cells on a Solar Panel
Partial cell shading that reduce solar panel power by half.

Partial shading of even one cell on a 36-cell solar panel will reduce its power output. Because all cells are connected in a series string, the weakest cell will bring the others down to its reduced power level. Therefore, whether half of one cell is shaded, or half a row of cells is shaded, the power decrease will be the same and proportional to the percentage of area shaded, in this case 50 percent.

When a full cell is shaded, it can use energy produced by the remainder of the cells, and trigger the solar panel to protect itself. The solar panel will route the power around that series string. If even one full cell in a series string is shaded, as seen on the right, it will most likely cause the module to reduce its power level to half of its full available value. If a row of cells at the bottom of a solar panel is fully shaded, the power output may drop to zero. The best way to avoid a drop in output power is to avoid shading whenever possible.

A solar panel affects an array in much the same way a single cell affects a solar panel. In a centralized inverter system, where panels are strung in series, if only one of the solar panels is shaded in an array, the rest of the solar panels’ output diminishes.

When choosing a grid tie solar power system for their home or business, folks often prefer the tried and true technology of a centralized inverter systems. And the price tag on these is pretty good. When you consider the effects of shading, however, it’s easy to understand how microinverter and SolarEdge systems have become so popular.

While using different technologies, both SolarEdge and Microinverter systems allow each solar panel in an array to maximize power output independently, thereby maximizing a system’s power generation. If one solar panel is shaded in either of these systems, the rest of the array’s panels can still operate at full capacity. (SolarEdge provides DC to DC power optimization for each solar panel, while microinverters provide DC to AC optimization at the module level.) Both of these systems allow solar panels to be facing different orientations giving you more design flexibility if part of your installation site is in the shade. A centralized inverter system requires panels to facing the same direction.

Read more about SolarEdge, Enphase Microinverter and Centralized Inverter Systems.


Texas…The Big Oil State is Big on Solar

Texas…The Big Oil State is Big on Solar

Solar Panel Installation in Galveston Texas When you think of Texas, you think of big oil, but did you know that Texas ranks 16th among the states for installed PV power? The nation’s largest consumer of energy is quickly becoming one of the nation’s leaders in solar. And, as the second largest state, Texas has plenty of room to expand, and plenty of sunshine to harness.

To boost the trend in solar, some Texans are lobbying to get a consistent state solar incentive program. Currently, residents can get various funding for their PV projects through their utility companies, and can combine these with the 30 Percent Federal Tax Credit and various property tax credits. Net metering programs are few and vary greatly among the utility companies.

Some utility solar incentive programs are fully subscribed to for 2011, but there are quite a few fantastic deals out there. Wholesale Solar is encouraging Texans to research their own utility companies to find out what is being offered. Go to Texas page on the Dsire Database of State Incentives, scroll down to the “Utility Rebate Program” to look up your utility company. If you find that rebates at your utility company are fully subscribed for 2011, keep this website bookmarked and keep informed of next year’s rebates.

There Are Some Great Rebates Worth Pursuing in Texas
El Paso Electric, Oncor, and Swepco are a few utility companies that have 2011 rebates still available as of September 2011. They offer $2.00 per watt rebate for residential projects and $1.75 per watt for non-residential, with exception of Oncor. Oncor offers $1.50 per watt for non-residential projects. Read more here.

San Antonio’s CPS Energy Solar Initiative Rebate Program offers their customers tiered incentives that range from $1.65 to $3.00 per watt, based on the calculated expected performance of the system. Solar projects get up to $200,000 of the total project cost on residential and commercial installations. Read more.

Austin Residents Get a Bonus Incentive Through the End of September
Austin Energy customers are now eligible for a temporary bonus incentive through the end of September. Increasing the $2.50 per watt rebate to $3.00 per watt. Systems must be installed by September 30, 2011, to be eligible for the $.50/Watt bonus. The yearly cap per household has been raised from $15,000 to $18,000. Read more.

Read more about Texas’s Solar Incentives here: