While I was away from blogging (about two months)

data science

It has been at least a one year journey pursuing the Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science. However, for the last three months, I slowed blogging here to concentrate on finishing this program, because Microsoft announced they are going to retire the program by December 31st, 2019 after meeting the objectives in an emerging industry.

I thank God, family, friends, and colleagues for their encouragement in the process. I have learned new skills which I believe will be valuable to my career.

I also take this opportunity to thank Microsoft and EDx for making this program possible and for putting together an industry-driven program that teaches conceptual skills and provides hands-on experience to help succeed in future projects. 

The program has provided me with new skills to be more productive while discovering new opportunities. It will be exciting to see how to link data science/machine learning with renewable energy here in this blog reneenergy.com

I am sharing my final capstone project for this Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science here on this blog to experience some possible valuable information that we might share here to assist in decision making for going solar or adopting renewable energy technology. In this particular capstone project, we used a dataset adapted from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s (FFIEC) and applied the skills learned in the program to predict mortgage rates in the USA for a dataset with 200,000 unique IDs. This was done in the month of November 2019. For more information, please review below:

Thank you!

How much time does it take to charge a solar phone charger?

1. Why solar phone chargers?

With the rapid development of the solar PV technology, the benefits of the technology continue to increase since now we can use solar energy to directly power your cellphone and other gadgets in your household using, for instance, a portable solar generator or a stationary solar generator depending on your intended use of solar energy.

A solar phone charger comes in handy for people that do a lot of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, camping, mountaineering, cycling, canoeing, caving, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, running, sailing, skiing, skydiving, and surfing. Since most of these outdoor recreational activities involve traveling to remote places away from the grid, having a portable energy source would help to solve the problem, especially if you need to charge the battery of your cellphone when far away from the power grid.

In most cases, when people travel and need to charge the battery of their cellphones, they use their car chargers by plugging them in their car charging port to keep using their mobile phones. However, in some cases depending on the activity of the day, you will need to solve the problem with a solar-powered phone charger, especially when your recreational activity involves hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, etc.

One way to solve this problem is using a solar cellphone charger that incorporates an external battery pack attached to a series of solar panels that can be connected to the general electric supply or to the connector of an automobile vehicle lighter for charging the battery in the absence of solar light. Although it is a good thing to have a solar charger that can recharge all of your battery-powered electronic equipment such as your GPS, smartphone, camera, or flashlight and that can be recharged easily as well using solar panels.

2. So, how long does it takes to charge your solar phone charger?

Basically, a solar phone charger uses solar panels to charge a rechargeable external battery pack which in turn charges your cellphone. By knowing that solar panels would produce electricity even on cloudy days, your solar phone charger can charge the battery of your phone if there is some sunlight to trigger the electrons on your solar panels creating electricity (movement of electrons).

solar phone charger

How long your solar phone charger takes to charge the battery of your cellphone depends on the wattage of your solar panel. High wattage means more solar power is harvested by your solar panel per unit time and depending on your external battery pack size, it is a matter of time depending on the types of solar batteries being charged.

3. Charging a solar phone charger.

Before we answer this question, let us understand the external battery pack that is being charged through the solar panels in your solar-powered phone charger. Solar batteries vary in several parameters, including capacity, output, size and weight and there are three types of solar battery banks:

• NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries, usually the rechargeable AA or AAA batteries which are sold in packs.

• Lithium-ion batteries are the most common for portable battery backs.

• Lead-acid batteries not great for portability, because they are heavy and bulky, but very reliable when it comes to power output and capacity.

So, how long it takes to charge your solar-powered phone charger is a little complex and it is advisable to understand some electrical terminologies to understand the concept of charging your solar batteries:

• V — Voltage (electrical potential in the system, measured in volts). The higher the voltage, the more power you get out of a battery. A car battery has 12V and a USB port is usually fixed at 5V.

• Amps (A) – Current – the amount of electricity. General plugs are rated at 9A while big power devices like air conditioning (AC) systems are rated at 15A while smartphones draw current at 1A.

• Watts – Wattage (power measured in W) which is voltage (V) multiplied by Current (Amps)

Hence, if you have any of the above two numbers you can figure out any of the numbers. Batteries and gadgets like your smartphone are considered as small power and are measured in Amp-hours (Ah) or milliamp-hours (mAh) since 1Ah = 1,000 mAh which includes the rate of charging your solar battery bank.

Since most gadgets, including cellphones today, charge off USB (fixed at 5 V) we can calculate the time taken to charge your solar-powered phone chargers as (power bank capacity) divided by (power generated by the panel) using the parameters provided by the manufacturer. For instance, the manufacturer has set a certain number of amps needed to get a healthy charge in a reasonable amount of time.


solar phone charger

So, if your cellphone is drawing a current of 1A we know that phones charge off USB at a voltage of 5 Volts, then such a cellphone draws 5V x 1A = 5W and considering for instance how long it takes to charge the following solar phone charger using solar? i.e. the Amazon, Solar Charger Power Bank 25000mAh Portable Charger Battery Pack with Three Outputs & Dual Inputs Huge Capacity Backup Battery Compatible Smartphone, Tablet, and More.

As we have noted above, this type of solar charger will depend on several factors. First, what is the current output of the solar panel? If the solar cellphone charger claims a 2W panel, it will produce electricity of 400 mAh at 5V (assuming there are no losses). That’s 400mA per hour, then if the capacity of this solar power battery is 25000mAh as rated, then 25000 mAh divided by 400mA is approximately 62.5 hours to fully charge your solar battery pack in the sun. Therefore, you probably need to buy a few pairs if you plan to stay outdoors for a long period while also plan to keep these solar battery packs topped off.
solar phone charger

Powering your mobile-phone using a solar phone charger.

solar phone charger

As the solar photovoltaics (PV) technology continues to advance we are seeing a lot of technological breakthroughs that use photovoltaics to help power homes, gadgets as well as businesses. These technological breakthroughs range from solar generators for homes, solar chargers, solar panels for RVs, and many other solar PV gadgets.

When it comes to solar phone chargers, they can be used to charge your phone by the use of solar panels and they are useful in remote areas not connected to the grid. A solar phone charger is a portable device or gadget that is solar powered or uses solar panels to supply electricity to electronics. An extended-life battery pack is usually included in a solar phone charger to store electricity for later use.

solar phone charger

Although you can still own a solar phone charger if you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking camping etc to use it to recharge your phone or your camera. Just like there are so many brands of solar phone chargers today, there are also many types of the same and most of which can be purchased on Amazon.com. Below you can find a review of some solar phone chargers:

1. [Quick Charge] OUTXE 20000mAh IP67 Waterproof Solar Phone Charger (Dual Input 4A) Rugged Power Bank with Flashlight

This is one of the solar phone chargers that people can use if they tend to spend a lot of time outdoors as it is specifically designed for outdoor trips. It’s shock-resistant, so it won’t automatically be severely damaged in the event of a fall. It’s also dust-resistant and water-resistant, which should make all the difference in the world even for people who don’t plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities with their phones.

solar phone charger

Specifications

  • Capacity: 20000 mAh(20Ah*3.7V=74Wh)
  • Battery Type: Li-polymer Rechargeable Battery
  • Waterproof, Rugged, Shockproof, Crushproof, Dustproof
  • SunPower Solar Panel: 2W, 400mA
  • Flashlight Luminous Flux::200lm
  • Micro USB Input: DC 5V/2A(max)
  • Type-C Input: DC 5V/3A(max)
  • Quick Charge Output: DC 5V/3A,9V/2A,12V/1.5A (max)
  • Smart Output: DC 5V/2.4A(max)
  • Dimensions: 170×86×30 mm / 6.7×3.4×1.2 in
  • Weight: 525g /18.5 oz

The high conversion efficiency solar panel should work effectively for all purposes.  It’s also a great device to use in emergency situations. The LED flashlight function should also make it that much easier for people to get around during the dark. You can buy this type of solar phone charger at Amazon.com.

2. Solar Charger,Dizaul 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank Waterproof/Shockproof/Dustproof Dual USB Battery Bank for cell phone,iPhone, Samsung, Android…

This cell phone solar charger was designed to be more durable and effective more broadly. It was made with a sort of anti-skid protecting effect. The football grain design ensures that. This should make it that much easier for all people involved to be able to hold onto this cell phone solar charger. This cell phone solar charger was also designed to be shock-resistant as well as water-resistant, making it that much more durable than it would be otherwise.

Specifications: 

1. solar phone charger Battery Type: Li-Polymer Battery
2. Capacity: 5000mAh
3. Input: 5V/1A
4. Output: 5V/2X1A
5. Product Dimension: 142*75*13.6 mm
6. Product Weight: 146 g
7. Solar Panel: 5.5V/1.2W
8. AC charging time: about 6-7 hours

The free hook makes it easier for people to be able to hang the device on luggage for long periods of time. As such, this is just the sort of device that will be handy for the individuals who are trying to travel frequently and who want to keep their devices charged all the while. You can buy it at Amazon.com.

3. JETSUN 16750mAh Solar Charger Sunpower Panel Solar Power Bank Portable External Battery with 2-Port Dual USB Backup Battery – Blue

With a 16750 mAh power bank, this solar charger has a particularly high capacity for a device in its product range. The compact solar panel should be easy for people to use and to store if necessary. The 2 built-in LED torch should make it that much easier for people to be able to actually see in the dark if necessary. However, this is certainly the sort of device that will charge efficiently and effectively in sunlight, so it has a lot to offer in both extreme lighting conditions.

Specifications: solar phone charger

  • Battery type: Li-polymer battery
  • Solar panel: single crystal 1.8W
  • Material: ABS+PC+Silicone
  • Input: DC 5V/2.0A
  • Output: DC 5V/2.1A
  • Charging time by outlet: around 8~10 hours

With the dual output USB ports, people are actually capable of charging two different devices at the same time. This is going to make it that much easier for people to keep all of their devices going and to go green in general. This is a charger that’s more useful as a result.

Lots of solar cell phone chargers emphasize durability these days. This one is even more effective than most others in that regard. It’s wear-resistant in addition to being water-resistant, shock-resistant, and dust-resistant. As such, it’s a cell phone charger that will not be vulnerable to the majority of environmental hazards out there today, making it that much easier for people to be able to use it for years.

It’s certainly a good choice for customers who tend to enjoy a lot of hiking and camping. The metal hook makes it possible for people to use the device hands-free and for them to be able to store it in that manner while they’re hiking or traveling. This is a device that should manage to solve a lot of problems for different customers at the same time. You can buy it at Amazon.com.

4. Solar Charger, F.DORLA 20000mAh Solar Power Bank Portable Charger for Camping External Battery Backup Charger with Dual 2 USB Port/LED Flashlights for iPhone Android Cellphone

The built-in 20000mAh high capacity polymer battery has much more to offer people than almost anything else that they’ll find on the market in this particular product category, making it that much easier for them to be able to charge their devices. This is a device that should charge very easily in the sun because of its high battery capacity.

This is a solar charger that was designed to be as portable as possible. It’s very lightweight and it was designed with a sort of hook that will allow people to easily hang it on a backpack at any point. This is a device that should last for a long time, given the estimated number of recharging times that it should have when used properly.

Specifications: 

  • Capacity: 20000mAh
  • Input: 5V/1.6A ( highly recommend)
  • Output: Dual 5V/2.1A
  • Product Dimension: 5.7 x 3 x 0.67in
  • Product Weight: 8.8oz
  • Battery Type: Li-Polymer Battery
  • Operation Temperature: -10~50℃
  • Flashlight Work Time: 55~65 hours

You can buy it at Amazon.com. People could use this device in order to charge two smartphones at the same time if they wanted. They could also easily charge a cell phone and a tablet at the same time. It should work well under emergencies. With its high capacity battery, people can expect their devices to work for a long period of time after they have been fully charged with a device like this one.

5. YOUNGFLY Dual 20000mAh Solar Charger Sunpower Panel Power Bank Waterproof, Dust-Proof, and Shock-Resistant Led Light, With Compass + USB Cable + Hook (Green)

The built-in intelligent protection system should be able to help people get through significantly more emergencies than they would otherwise. Some people might be worried about the dangers of overcharging with solar chargers. This is a device that is equipped with over-charge protection as well as over-voltage protection, over current protection, over-discharge protection, and short circuit protection.

solar phone charger

Specifications:

  • Battery capacity: 20000mAh
  • Solar panel: 1.5W
  • Input voltage: DC 5V 1.0A
  • USB output 1: DC 5V-1A
  • USB output 2: DC 5V-2A
  • Color: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Black
  • Size: 13.2cm x 7.2cm x 1.8cm – 5.19inch x 2.83inch x 0.70inch

With a capacity of 20000mah, people should be able to charge a wide range of different devices very effectively just after they give this device enough sun exposure for a little while. It’s that effective. People can charge their cell phones, smartphones, GPS devices, tablets, cameras, and many other devices as a result of this solar cell phone charger. For a lot of people, this is a device that could literally be life-saving during a particular camping trip.

solar phone charger

People can use the metal hook in order to hang the device on their backpacks effectively. There are also small LED lights that people can easily use as flashlights. This is just the sort of thing that can make a huge difference on a camping trip. It can make just as much of a difference on a long road trip. One way or another, a device like this can hold enough energy to allow people to effectively keep their devices going. You can buy this at Amazon.com.

You could also shop at Amazon for a solar-powered phone charger.

Simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

going solarEven though going green is a simple concept that can save your business thousands of dollars or even millions, it does not come easily and that is why many businesses, especially small businesses shy away from investing in going green.

However, as much as some going green concepts may require huge investments to make an impact, some greening strategies may be easy and cheaper to implement and thus could be referred to as “low hanging fruit”. Such ideas could be as simple as switching from incandescent light bulbs to energy-saving light bulbs or just going paperless and using emails for correspondence and so on. This article attempts to explain some tips that your business can start to implement without having to invest a lot of money.

Going paperless

going paperless
Firstly, going paperless is one concept that can be easily implemented in your business. It all requires conducting a simple analysis to determine whether it is possible to eliminate using a lot of paper for your business. Such an idea can save your business a lot of money while helping with sustainability since it can save thousands of trees from being cut down.

It may require writing down a strategy explaining the details of how to implement going paperless. Going paperless could start with implementing paperless document storage that allows you to securely store and back up important files and documents, for instance in a cloud storage space.

It may also require scanning existing documents and using electronic communication for your meetings and correspondence. It might take time to eventually switch to paperless, although looking at the sustainability benefits, it is a worthwhile cause. It is estimated that companies spend about $8 billion per year managing paper and that it costs an organization an average of $20 to file a document, another $120 to find a misplaced document and $220 to reproduce a lost document. By going paperless, research shows that digital companies tend to be 50% more profitable, generate 13% more revenue, and are valued 19% higher than their industry peers.

Switching to energy-saving light bulbs

Energy saving bulbs

If your business still uses incandescent light bulbs, you can switch to replace them with more efficient and cost-effective lighting that include halogen bulbs such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which typically use about 25% to 80% less energy and can last 3-25 times longer. Even though the initial price for energy-saving bulbs is higher than that of incandescent light bulbs, the long-term savings are significant saving your business some money that you could put to other good use. Switching to energy-saving bulbs can reduce your office lighting energy consumption by up to 35% and because of they last long you won’t need to replace them as often.

Switching to energy-saving appliances

If your business still uses appliances such as servers, computers, printers, scanners that are not ENERGY STAR rated, you might want to consider switching to them to help you reduce your energy bill and go green. For instance, your business can start with switching to ENERGY STAR certified servers, data storage, networking, and uninterruptible power supplies which perhaps can be a little bit on the higher side but could save your business a fairly huge amount of money in the long-term. For instance, ENERGY STAR certified servers can save $60 to $120 annually in electricity costs.

Switching to solar

Many small and big businesses are switching to solar because of the need to save money and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time. Going solar is one of the low-hanging fruit to going green because business owners can install solar without having to own the PV system and hence using solar power while only paying for the solar power utilized in each billing period. Using such a flexible solar panel financing mechanism has helped to eliminate the high initial cost of solar panels, thus helping many businesses to switch to solar. You can learn more about this concept of going solar at the EnergySage online solar marketplace.

There are many other strategies to save your business money while going green. You can subscribe to this blog to learn more about going green concepts.

What is the cost of installing solar panels in Atlanta?

solar panel calculator

The cost of going solar vary from one state to the other depending on several factors, including but not limited to solar incentives available, availability of solar renewable energy credits, regulatory support and the effectiveness of obtaining multiple solar quotes to assist you with getting the least solar cost available in the market.

If you are looking to go solar in Atlanta, you want to find out what solar incentives are available and that you can claim to help reduce the overall solar cost. In some states that have rebates offered by the state government, the overall cost of installing solar panels can be reduced significantly, by up to 50%. However, in Atlanta, the state of Georgia does not provide any direct solar incentives to the end-user.

In most cases, local utility companies such as GA power have developed utility supported incentives to encourage the use of solar PV in Georgia such as the $0.17/kWh Georgia power solar buyback program. In addition, electric cooperatives such as the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation (Jackson EMC) which is one of the 39 not for profit membership-owned electric cooperatives, offer its members up to $4500 cash rebates off their solar installation. It offers $450 per kW installed with a 10kW maximum ($4500).

Regulatory support for solar panels in Atlanta

Regulatory support for solar panels in Georgia is improving and the Georgia Cogeneration and Distributed Generation Act of 2001 allows, but does not require net energy metering to be adopted by utilities.

According to the law, investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives can offer bi-directional metering to their customers with eligible technologies such as solar PV systems, wind turbines, etc and up to 10 kilowatts (kW) for residential applications and PV systems of up to 100kW for commercial applications. For instance, Georgia Power does not offer a specific net energy metering tariff and any excess generation is credited to the customer’s next bill at a predetermined rate filed with Georgia Public Service Commission.

Solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) are not available in Georgia since the renewable portfolio standard is none-existent in GA. SRECs exist as a result of the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). An SREC can be worth as over $300 in certain states and a 5kW PV system can produce SRECs worth $500 to $3000 depending on the value of one SREC, which can be worth $50 to $300 per SREC.

So, what is the cost of installing solar panels in Atlanta?

Even without SRECs or RPS, the cost of installing solar panels in Atlanta can still be reduced using the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offered by the federal government, local utility supported solar programs such as the GA power solar buyback program and using platforms like the EnergySage.

Online solar marketplaces like the EnergySage offer an online system that screen solar installers that are qualified to install solar panels in your community.

When you submit your details you receive different quotes from different solar installers and such competition allows reducing the cost of installing solar panels in your local area. Getting multiple solar quotes is one way of reducing your overall solar cost.

In addition, you can estimate your cost of installing solar panels in Atlanta using a solar panel cost calculator available here and see what are your potential savings based on the solar incentives available in your local area and solar panels offered by your local installers. Get started today using this solar panel calculator or get more details about your specific cost of installing solar panels in your local area.

Solar incentives for going solar in Delaware

solar panel calculator

Natural gas is one of the energy sources used in many places in Delaware, however solar, wind and other renewables are also growing among homeowners and businesses.

With the reduction of solar panel prices in Delaware, solar adoption rates continue to improve. Also the government provides solar incentives to assist solar buyers to reduce the upfront cost of going solar.

The main incentive reducing the cost of installing solar is the investment tax credit(ITC) which is offered by the federal government, while the state of Delaware has one of best Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) legislation to encourage generation of power from renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. The RPS in Delaware mandates about 25% of electricity to be generated from renewables by 2025.

With the RPS, if you own a solar power system, you can sell solar renewable energy credits to the utility company for a credit through net metering. Net metering allows for solar owners to feed extra solar power into the grid hence reducing the cost of solar even further.

The state of Delaware does not offer any specific rebates or tax credits to reduce the cost of installing solar. Also Delaware does not provide tax exemption for the value of solar PV systems and hence increases your property tax instead of reducing it.

Solar leasing and solar power purchase agreements are also available in Delaware, however when you apply these modes of paying for your PV system you cannot claim any tax credits because you don’t own the system. The only benefit is avoiding the high upfront costs of going solar and reduced energy costs in the long-term. 

What is the cost of installing solar panels in Delaware?

Considering the above solar incentives you can reduce the average cost with more than 30% if you decide to own the PV system, instead of leasing it.

For instance, you can claim the 30% investment tax credit and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) for a 5kW PV system costing about $17,000 to reduce this by at least 30% to $11900 and then when you generate SRECs you can sell between $300 and $1500 per year.

One single SREC is equivalent to 1,000 kWh of electricity and for a 5kW PV system you can generate about 5,000 kWh, which will earn you about five(5) SRECs per year.

So the cost of installing solar panels in Delaware is depended on very many factors as you can see and hence it also depends with other external factors such as where you source your solar panels, whether you have access to information that helps you to compare and contrast different quotes from different solar installers etc

EnergySage provides a great online solar marketplace where you can compare solar quotes from different solar installers based on site specific characteristics such solar potential, local solar incentives, local policies supporting solar energy and other factors.

Get started today with this solar panel calculator to determine your cost of installing solar panels in Delaware.

Solar tax credits, solar cash rebates and other solar incentives to help reduce the cost of going solar.

solar incentivesIn addition to the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that offers up to 30% to reduce your overall solar PV cost; many states have solar rebate or incentive programs that are targeted to encourage uptake of commercial and residential solar PV.

Also, many states use regulatory mechanisms such as net metering, solar renewable energy credits (SREC), renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) to increase solar installations.

Solar financial incentives such as state rebates and local utility incentive programs are also part of the policy and regulatory support to encourage wider adoption of solar PV.

Many states in the USA provide solar incentives to reduce the cost of going solar and encourage wider use of solar energy for individuals and businesses interested in going solar.

Solar Rebates

What are the common solar incentives offered by states that help to significantly lower your solar panel cost?

1. Solar Tax Credits

Arizona is one of the states that enjoy a very high solar potential and ranks in the top ten solar states in the U.S. In addition, it has one of the best solar incentives for promoting wider solar applications. The state of Arizona has developed, solar incentives, rebates and tax credits to help reduce the cost of going solar.

For instance, in addition to the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), many states like Arizona have developed additional tax credits that deduct a portion of the cost of the solar PV system.

This allows solar PV buyers to deduct a certain percentage of their PV cost from their taxes like the federal ITC.  For instance, Arizona in addition to the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC), it offers 25% residential solar energy credit, solar system sales tax exemption, and property tax exemption on added home value from solar system. Applying the above federal and state tax credits, Arizona has some of the lowest cost of solar panels in the country.

According to EnergySage, a 3kW PV system would cost $6,694.00 Nationally with Federal Tax Credit applied, but would only cost $4,907 in Arizona after applying federal and state tax credit etc. EnergySage is  a well-known online solar marketplace that provide multiple free solar quotes to over a million customers annually.

2. Solar Cash Rebates

Additional incentives such as cash rebates are offered to further reduce the PV cost anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. These cash rebates are offered from the state, local utilities or energy cooperatives. Cash rebates are set for a limited time and end once a certain amount of solar has been installed.

For instance, in the state of Georgia, the Jackson EMC residential members can get up to $4500 off their solar installation.  Jackson EMC offers these cash rebates at $450 per kW installed, with a 10kW maximum.

Jackson Electric Membership Corporation (Jackson EMC) is one of 39 not for profit membership-owned electric cooperatives located in the U.S. stateof Georgia with service in the North-East metropolitan Atlanta area.

Jackson EMC coverage includes a ten-county area stretching from metro Atlanta, north to Gainesville and east to Athens and has district offices in Gainesville, Jefferson, Lawrenceville and Neese. Hence, Jackson EMC members in these areas can combine the Jackson EMC solar rebate with the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) to lower the cost of going solar. However, cash rebates are designed in a way to only assist solar buyers that meet a certain criteria. For instance, for a solar buyer to qualify for the Jackson EMC cash rebate, they must meet a few of the following requirements.

  • A solar buyer must be a Jackson EMC member
  • Rebates are not payable to entities that own solar panels or that leases them to members
  • EMC members must own the solar systems
  • It must be a residential application for a property owned by the EMC member etc

The above are just some of the solar incentives applied by states or entities found in the states such as energy cooperatives, local utility companies etc.  Every state is different and some states like Arizona offer very good incentives to significantly reduce the cost of going solar.

Hence, depending on the state that you live in, it is worthwhile to determine to what extent you can reduce the cost of going solar with tax credits, cash rebates, net metering, solar renewable energy credits (SREC), renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS)and so on.

We have partnered with organizations such as EnergySage that have smart online tools like a solar panel calculator or a solar panel cost calculator that is able to determine how much solar incentives are in your local state or area by just typing in your address. These tools will consolidate all the state tax credits and rebates that are available to help reduce your cost of going solar.

solar estimates

Going solar in Atlanta, GA

going solar in Atlanta

Every state has its own specific policy, regulation and other factors that affect adoption of solar PV or renewable energy in general. For instance, Georgia (Peach State) has its own specific incentive programs to promote residential and commercial solar in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, Athens, Sandy Springs, Macon and other parts of Georgia.

Georgia is endowed with a good solar potential and has a solar installed capacity of 1563.11 (MW) and was ranked 11thin the country in 2017 with about 174,771 state homes powered by solar. The solar installed capacity is expected to increase to 2,379 MW over the next five years. As of 2018, solar companies in the state included 51 Manufacturers, 110 Installers/Developers, 107 others.

Georgia gets most of its energy from natural gas, nuclear and coal. Renewable energy such as solar PV contributes a small portion of the total energy mix. For instance, in 2017, natural gas accounted for 41% of Georgia’s net electricity generation, while the state’s four operating nuclear reactors accounted for 26%, coal accounted for 25% and renewable energy, including hydroelectric power contributed 8%. However, Georgia uses more electricity than it generates and hence receives additional electricity from other states.

Of the 1563.11 MW installed solar capacity, the majority of it is utility scale solar while distributed solar (residential and commercial PV systems) has struggled to gain traction mainly because Georgia has relatively cheap power with an average retail cost of power of only 10 cents per kWh.

Other reasons why distributed solar has been slow is lack of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS),which requires that public utility companies get a certain amount of energy from a renewable source and failure to meet such targets results in public utility companies to pay penalties.

In many states, RPS and net metering are complementary to promote the use of solar energy, especially in states where the RPS regulation is effective. Net metering allows a solar PV host to feed excess power on to the grid for a credit on their electric bill and the public utility is able to meet the RPS requirement set by the state.

In 2015, third-party solar purchase agreements (PPAs) were approved in Georgia. This means investors can buy solar PV equipment and sell power from the PV system to the host, without the customer having to own the PV system. This way the investor charges a monthly fee for the use of solar electricity.

In most cases, this charge is slightly lower from that of the local utility, however for states like Georgia with low electricity tariffs than the average cost of solar per kwh, the PPA rate is higher in many cases.

In the Georgia context, the third-party system owners or the investor are exempt from regulation as an electricity service provider if the system generates no more than 125% of the customer’s maximum annual peak demand.

In addition, the state of Georgia currently does not have state incentives to support residential and commercial PV systems as applied in many US states to help lower the high initial cost of solar PV.

Currently, the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) from the Federal government is the main incentive which solar customers can claim on their annual taxes after installing solar PV. However, local utility companies such as GA power have developed utility supported incentives to encourage the use of solar PV in Georgia such as the $0.17/kWh Georgia Power Solar Buyback Program.

For more details about going solar Georgia, check this solar panel calculator to determine your PV cost, savings and utility supported incentives available in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, Athens, Sandy Springs, Macon and other parts of Georgia.

Five (5) things to know about going solar for your business

going solar for business

Before going solar for business, it is a good thing to find out the benefits or facts and figures that can help you make an informed decision about investing in going solar. Below you will find information as well as tools that you can use to get started in the right direction.

1. More than 100 of the fortune 500 companies have gone solar

Today, more than 100 of the fortune 500 companies have adopted the idea of going solar, including Walmart, Target, Apple, IKEA, Intel, Microsoft, and the list goes on. Switching to solar by these companies tell us that they see going solar as a great idea because of anticipated social and economic benefits.

Going solar presents businesses with opportunities to decrease their operational costs, lock-in energy costs for years to come (about 25 years which is normally the life-span of most solar panels) as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

2. EnergySage marketplace data shows that a 75% reduction in energy costs is achievable with going solar

According to the EnergySage marketplace data collected over time, it has shown that an average commercial property owner paid $1,950 in monthly electricity bills before going solar and after their solar installation, their electricity bill was reduced to approximately $500, which translates to a 75% reduction. It is such data that helps to shed light on the economic benefits of going solar and the potential money savings that can be achieved in the long-term.

The advancement of solar PV technology is one of the major breakthroughs to helping it to be adopted because of the decrease in solar panel cost. Also, both the private sector and the government have helped to introduce solar PV to companies and businesses as an innovation to help them reduce their energy costs while promoting sustainability.

3. Advancement of the Solar PV technology and the resultant reduced cost of going solar

The advancement of solar PV technology is one of the major breakthroughs to helping it to be adopted because of the decrease in solar panel cost.

About 10 years ago, in 2008, the cost of a solar panel installation was $8.82 per watt compared to just $3.14/watt today, according to EnergySage. In addition, to the cost of solar going down, the government provides incentives to increase the adoption of solar. It is well-known that solar PV requires a high initial cost before adoption. For instance, EnergySage estimates show that the average commercial PV system costs for a 25kW to be $51,625; 50kW to be $103,250; 100kW to be $206,500 and a $250kW is about $516,250.

Research and development efforts have helped to reduce the solar panel cost while both the private sector and the government have helped to introduce solar PV to companies and businesses as an innovation to help them reduce their energy costs while promoting sustainability.

4. Financial instruments such as ITC makes it possible to go solar

The above figures of different sizes of commercial PV systems tell us that any business will require a huge upfront investment to be able to go solar. However, with government tax credits, specifically the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and state rebates help to reduce this financial burden to the end-user. On the other hand, solar leasing and solar power purchase agreements (solar PPA), which are implemented in some states are good financial instruments used by solar companies to help business owners implement solar PV in their companies with no money down. No money down solar is a very effective financing tool even though it is not implemented in all the states in the U.S. You can learn more about this concept here.

5. New solar mapping tools are available to help get the data you need to determine your potential savings when you go solar.

Last but not least, the availability of solar mapping tools created by the government in collaboration with the private sector. This development has led to the creation of online solar marketplaces like EnergySage which help online users determine their solar potential and shop for the best solar panels. Normally online users locate their business or home by just typing their physical address to retrieve their specific solar data set that is special to their address.

In this case, users are advised about their solar potential or how many solar panels are required to be installed, how much they can save with going solar, what solar panels will be ideal for their building and so on. These tools have the potential to present multiple solar quotes to individuals and businesses and help them find the best solar quotes before making a decision to going solar. Click here to get started with the EnergySage by calculating how much you can save when you go solar.

Off-grid solar systems –Great Option for Energy Access

off-grid solar systemsThe World Bank estimates about 1.06 billion people do not have access to electricity and more than 3 billion still use fuels like wood, charcoal, coal and dung for cooking and heating.

This is a big challenge to solve for many national governments and the issue is normally in rural areas of developing countries that do not have access to the grid.

Due to the scattered nature of rural households in developing countries, there is no critical mass of people to be connected to the grid. This makes it very uneconomical for the private sector to make energy investments in rural areas when it comes to connecting households and institutions to the grid. As a result, rural electrification is not attractive for the private sector; national governments continue to rely on donors or public funds to assist in rural electrification.

Rural electrification is mainly expensive because of the need to extend grid. Grid expansion is expensive in these areas because of scattered households or institutions and hence can take a long time before such an investment can pay for itself.

However, off-grid solar systems are designed to work on-site without the need for a grid and can be great solution for helping millions or even billions to have a source of clean energy while switching away from traditional fuels that affect the health of many people in the developing world. For instance, switching to solar PV or implementing solar PV can help to connect millions of sub-Saharan Africans with solar power. Please see this article for how solar packaged solutions can be used to solve the energy problem in Africa.

Off-grid solar systems: is it the solution to access to clean energy?

Yes, but it depends. In my opinion, the challenge to access to energy in many countries in the developing countries can be solved using decentralized renewable energy systems such as off-grid solar systems, wind power systems etc.

However, solar energy will be the best option for access to energy because of its abundance and availability in many places of the world. Because of the abundance nature of the solar resource in many developing countries, off-grid solar has a great potential to be a viable solution that can be relied upon. Also since the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) continue to go down every year, solar energy stands out as one of the best solutions for future energy. On the hand, wind energy resource is limited because not all places have a wind potential to generate power, but you can tap a lot of solar energy anywhere there is sunlight.

The approach taken to implement off-grid solar systems really matters to make it happen

The implementation of these technologies may need the private sector to take a leading role while the government and international donors taking a facilitation role (technical assistance)

The technical assistance provided by the government and donors will be in the form of research studies to identify potential sites with a great amount of renewable resources and the right technologies, for example off-grid solar systems that can be used to tap these resources. The government and the private sector can partner to provide technical assistance for supporting local entrepreneurs develop renewable energy businesses that help to electrify remote areas.

Private sector driven electrification using decentralized renewable energy systems can help to solve the challenge to energy access.

Also, the government and financing institutions supported by donors can target local entrepreneurs to built their capacity when it comes to project origination, project development & project financing.

The private sector can learn from their successes and failures to continue to improve on their business acumen. I think having local entrepreneurs implementing these projects will enhance accountability and commitment to working in these projects to help reduce losses and working towards making a profit. This will ensure entrepreneurs are properly trained to build quality projects so that they can recoup a return on their investment.

Implementing a profit driven approach to access to energy in remote areas may help to accelerate it, but the government will still need to create an enabling environment (policies and regulations) to make it happen. Quality standards will help to improve implementation of different technologies while environmental and safety standards will protect communities and villagers affected by the technology adopted.

Technology transfer and partnerships

Not all developing countries may have the renewable technologies to electrify these areas and hence technology transfer with the development of mutual partnerships will help to create or transfer the right technology to these countries. Technology transfer can be in the form of hardware (technological equipment) or software (specialized skills and knowledge).

On the other hand, partnerships could be South—South cooperation or North—South cooperation to enable technology transfer and implementation of renewable energy systems at the village level or community level where it is needed to help transform communities to be productive (businesses) and obtain social services (churches, hospitals, schools etc) in an efficient manner.

Implementation of off-grid solar systems

Off-grid solar systems can take the form of mini-grid or micro-grids that could be hybrid or stand-alone. This solar powered mini-grid or micro-grids are sustainable and affordable AC power solution compared to power supplied only from diesel generators. These off-grid solar systems will reduce dependence on the ever-increasing cost of diesel fuel.

There are so many companies that offer these solutions for powering rural areas and when implemented by locals and in cooperation with international technology providers, rural electrification can be accelerated. With off-grid solar systems there is no need to invest in the expansion of the existing grid. Switching to solar PV is great option for access to energy in rural areas of the developing world. Solar PV packaged with the latest storage (battery) technologies offer a great technological solution to power homes or communities that are currently relying on traditional biomass (wood) or charcoal, dung etc. Off-grid solar systems are also good to mitigate climate change. 

Uses of Off-grid solar systems

When it comes to energy access, off-grid solar systems can be used in the following areas:

  • Off-grid solar systems can be used for agro-based businesses mainly found in rural areas. For example: solar water pumps for irrigation and livestock; solar and solar hybrid solutions for processing and distribution of crops e.g. through milling, drying, chilling, freezing etc.
  • Solar power systems for electrifying public institutions, schools, healthcare centers and other community institutions. Such institutions will enable people to work longer and efficiently. Power can be used to power fridges or freezers (for preserving food, vaccines, medicines), computers or other medical equipment found in hospitals.
  • Off-grid solar systems can be used to power rural communities and enable various services for the villagers such as pumping of drinking water, powering radios &TVs;, computers, cellphones, refrigerators etc

SunPower Solar Panels Review – Why SunPower has some of the best solar panels in the solar PV market?

SunPower Solar Panels Review

Not all solar panels are created equal and when it comes to finding the right solar for your home or business you want to select the best equipment that is worth your money.

You also want to make sure that you will get a return on investment for the type of solar panels that you are planning to install on your roof or in the space available.

You may want to research about solar panels from SunPower and this SunPower solar panels review could be great start for you.

SunPower Solar Panels Review

SunPower is one of the leading solar panels manufacturers in the world and has been manufacturing solar PV panels for the last 33 years with its global headquarters based in San Jose, California. It has offices in North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia. Its solar panels have one of the highest solar panel efficiency in the world (SunPower® Maxeon® cell technology).

Solar panels from SunPower are some of the best in the world because of their high efficiency and high reliability compared to most panels in the market today. SunPower also has been in the solar business for decades and has a leading role when it comes to solar innovation and solar manufacturing best practices.

SunPower solar panels come with the best product warranty of up to the lifespan of its solar panels which is about 25 years. This compared to conventional solar panels is way high and differentiates itself from its competition. Normally, most solar panel manufacturers offer product warranties of between 10 to 15 years.

Why SunPower stands out in the solar market?

Solar panels from SunPower have the highest solar panel efficiency in the market. Solar panel efficiency is usually expressed as a percentage (%) and it is the ability of a solar panel to convert sunlight into electricity. High efficiency solar panels even though a little bit expensive than low efficiency solar panels; require less space because the high the efficiency, the fewer solar panels are needed to produce solar power and vice-versa.

SunPower solar panels produce 25-39% more solar energy compared to most solar panels in the market. Solar panel efficiency from SunPower ranges between 22.4% – 22.9% and hence represents the highest reported efficiencies in the solar industry for the monocrystalline/polycrystalline PV technology. For example, SunPower® X-Series panels deliver 38% more power while SunPower® E-Series panels deliver 31% more power compared to conventional solar panels from other market players.

High solar panel efficiencies come handy for houses or businesses that want to go solar, but have no enough roof space. Such houses or businesses may want to consider installing high efficiency solar panels such as those from SunPower in order to reduce space requirements.

Secondly, SunPower has invested a lot in research and development (R&D) and have proved to have the most durable solar panels in the market. As such, solar panels from SunPower have the longest product warranties compared to other solar manufacturers. SunPower panels average only 0.25% power loss per year over the first 25 years and it predicts its future PV panels will have a useful life of more than 40 years. In addition, SunPower panels ranked #1 in Fraunhofer durability testing. SunPower claim that one out of every 20,000 panels has been returned under warranty.

Third, SunPower Corporation is listed in the NASDAQ: SPWR stock exchange and is known to design or manufacture the highest efficiency solar panels with the highest reliability in the market today. SunPower caters for all market segments in the solar industry including residential, business, government and utility-scale PV systems.

Lastly, SunPower has a long track record in the solar panels manufacturing with a total solar energy generated from its solar panels of over 18 million megawatt hour (MWh). When it comes to research and development, SunPower has more than 750 patents for solar technology and has invested heavily in its R&D programs to improve solar panels efficiency, quality and the general performance of its solar panels.

Finding the right SunPower solar panels for your home or business

With this background, you’re probably interested in researching more about SunPower solar panels to find out what solar panel model will be the right one for your home or business. When it comes to solar panels and technology, SunPower has the following solar PV models for your review i.e.

  • SunPower X-Series Solar Panels
  • SunPower E-Series Solar Panels
  • SunPower P-Series Solar Panels

These PV technologies come with different solar solutions, including, but not limited to:

For more details, you may want to visit SunPower’s website. If you want to make comparisons with other solar brands, visit EnergySage to compare the pricing, solar panel efficiency or just the best solar panels that you are able to afford based on your specific situation.

Finding the right solar for you may not be as easy as it sounds and may be affected by several factors, including but not limited to affordability, size of the PV system, solar potential, financing as well as the size of space available to install your solar panels. Other site-specific parameters such as shading may affect your solar PV decision and you may want to use online solar tools such as a solar panel cost calculator to check for any obstructions or shading that will affect you solar potential.

Such a solar panel cost calculator uses LIDAR technology to simplify the process of determining your site-specific solar potential, costs and solar savings that can be achieved when you install solar panels on your rooftop.

Join EnergySage today and start your research process aided with online tools that will help you make more informed decisions, including but not limited to knowing your solar potential, which solar panels will be best for you, how many solar panels you need to go solar and determine any shading that might be obstructing your rooftop.