what is the cost of solar panels
Solar Panel Financing, Solar Panels

What is the cost of solar panels?

what is the cost of solar panelsThe solar photovoltaics (PV) technology continues to advance every year and its applications are increasing ranging from on-grid solar, off-grid solar, hybrid solar (PV), and portable solar solutions.

All these applications use solar PV technology as the primary component to generate solar electricity for homes or commercial places. As a result, the cost of solar panels is the main driver of the price of such systems despite whether they are on-grid, off-grid, hybrid, or even portable applications.

Since the year 2010, the price for solar panels has declined by over 70% and continues to decrease by at least 10% every year. Today(2020), the average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.57 to $3.35 according to EnergySage.

Comparing this price to the price of solar panels of about $76.67/watt in 1977, the cost of solar panels has declined by over 99% resulting to the use of solar panels to big equipment like 2000MW utility-scale solar PV power plants to even on very small gadgets like solar cell phone chargers.

The goal of research and development (R&D) is to reach higher efficiency and lowered solar panel costs. In addition to first-generation solar panels (wafer-based solar panels), R&D efforts have introduced second-generation solar panels which are the thin-film solar panels and third-generation solar panels that incorporate organic materials such as organometallic compounds and inorganic materials.

A faster and an easy way to know what is the cost of solar panels

The EnergySage provides a platform where you can compare the technical parameters of many solar panels before requesting a quote for them. You can compare and contrast at the EnergySage solar marketplace as there are thousands of solar panels available today that differ in the solar panel type, cost, wattage, and warranty offered.

For more information, you can visit the EnergySage solar panel marketplace to obtain more information about the solar panels you may be interested in and obtain a quote.electric vehicles
For residential systems, the size of residential solar systems ranges from 3kW – 10 kW, and their cost will vary anywhere between $15,000 and $40,000 depending on system size and availability of incentives.

This cost is also dependent on solar PV parts, the labor, overhead, and permitting fees. In general, you will realize that the bigger the system is, the cost per watt is also low. The average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.57 to $3.35, and solar panel costs for an average-sized installation in the U.S. usually range from $11,411 to $14,874 after solar tax credits.

Amazon.com is another platform you can use to purchase different types of solar panels, especially for off-grid applications such as portable solar panels for RV, portable solar panels for backpacking, portable solar panels for hiking, portable solar panels for travel trailers, portable solar panels for campers.

At Amazon.com, you can compare pricing for these types of solar panels and reading customer reviews for such types of solar panels. You can also check other different solar PV gadgets such as solar generators, solar phone chargers, solar lighting, and solar water pumping solar panels.
solar panels

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best solar panels
Off grid solar systems, Portable Solar Generator, Solar Panels, Solar powered cell phone charger

What are Portable solar panels for RV?

RV solar panels

Portable solar panels for RV are solar panel kits that are off-grid and hence not connected to the grid and can be used to generate solar power for a recreational vehicle (RV).

Portable solar panels for RV are a great solution and an alternative to diesel generators providing clean power to your RV and saving you money at the same time. Portable solar panels for RV come with portable solar panels, adapter kits, battery, charge controller, and an optional power inverter.

How do RV solar panels work

An RV PV system requires solar panels connected to a charge controller to ensure that your batteries don’t overcharge and using the batteries to store energy charged from sunlight. The inverter is connected and is used to convert DC electricity to AC electricity. Proper cables are used to connect all the components together and after proper installation is done according to your RV roof size, you can start enjoying the benefits of solar power in your RV.

RV solar panels

Advantages of portable solar panels for RV

  • RV solar panels help you to save money because once you have bought the solar panel kits, you don’t need to worry about fuel costs. It is a great alternative to diesel-powered generators. RV solar systems are almost maintenance-free because there are no moving parts in the RV PV system
  • RV solar panels give you the freedom to travel even to the most remote areas where there is no electric grid.
  • RV solar panels generate clean and quiet renewable energy as they do not burn fossil fuels hence they are good for sustainability.

Disadvantages of portable solar panels for RV

  • RV solar panels will need extra space on your RV and for RVs with limited space, this might be cumbersome.
  • Because there is no sunlight at night, and depending on the size of your RV solar panel system, you might need extra batteries which means more space is needed.

How much do solar panels for RVs cost?

Most portable solar panels for RV will have a power wattage of between 100 watts to 400 watts and depending on your power needs, that is, how many appliances you have in your RV and whether you are using your system for refrigeration; the ideal PV system is about 800 watts. Thus, assuming your 800 watts RV PV system has five (5) hours of direct sunlight, you’ll produce about 4,000Wh of solar power per day. Hence, the cost of your portable solar panels for RV will depend on your electrical load or appliances in your RV.

There are various brands of RV solar panels that you can buy online at Amazon, including but not limited to Renogy, Eco Worthy, HQST, and many others. Most of the solar power systems are often sold in kits which include solar panels, a system monitor, wiring, and connectors. For more information about the pricing for your portable solar panels for your RV check out the various brands of RV solar panels at Amazon.com.
solar panels

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off-grid solar
Going Solar, Off grid solar systems, Portable Solar Generator, Solar Generators, Solar Panel Financing, Solar Panels, Solar powered cell phone charger, Solar Water Pump, Sustainability

Why off-grid photovoltaics (PV)systems?

How has solar PV technology advanced?

off grid solar

With the decreasing cost of photovoltaics (PV), going solar is becoming more cost-effective and adoption rates continue to increase for both on-grid and off-grid applications. The solar PV technology continues to advance to provide power solutions for both businesses and individuals. From a very massive utility-scale power plant providing over 2GW (2000 MW) of generating capacity to a 4 or 5-watt panel for charging your cellphone or mp3 player, it is proof that solar PV technology has advanced and has very many applications. Research and development (R&D) efforts for photovoltaics continue with the aim of determining the right combination of materials to enhance or increase solar panel efficiency to generate more electricity per unit area of the solar panel.

When it comes to off-grid solar, more solar applications are developed with the aim of powering rural areas. Rural electrification, especially in developing countries, has been made more cost-effective since grid extension is still very expensive in rural areas. Scattered households and lack of a critical mass of households to make grid extension more cost-effective are one of the major reasons why the private sector does not find incentive in developing many rural grid electrification projects without subsidies from the government.

Many rural electrification projects using grid extension has remained a project for governments and non-governmental organizations. However, because of the reducing solar panel cost, the private sector is increasingly getting involved in many rural electrification projects that use innovative business models such as pay-as-you-go (PAYGO)  and other off-grid solar projects to provide electricity to rural communities in developing countries.off-grid solar

Solar PV and rural electrification

With the right mix of technologies, off-grid solar PV systems can help to overcome the barrier to rural electrification without grid-extension. This can also take the form of off-grid solar PV combined with other sources of energy including, but not limited to wind power, bioenergy, geothermal, and small hydro resources. However, apart from solar energy, many of these other forms of renewable energy resources are site-specific and would work well where such resources are available and from a sustainable source.

Off-grid solar has numerous applications and solar is in abundance in most rural areas where it is needed because of its wider applications. A lot of food is grown in rural areas and off-grid solar would play a vital role in providing water from the wells through solar water pumping irrigation as well as other productive uses, especially in agriculture. Also, since many people have cellphones today, charging cellphones using solar power would be ideal, especially in areas not connected to the grid.

Off-grid solar also means portable solar solutions providing emergency power or standby power where there are many power outages. Some of these portable solar solutions include solar generators, solar battery chargers, and other portable solar gadgets. Solar lighting options for homes or street lighting are also applicable in rural areas.

Of all the above off-grid solar applications, solar water pumping for irrigation would provide many sustainability benefits in both short-term and long-term, creating jobs in the agricultural sector, especially in dry areas that can be transformed for growing food crops. On the other hand, off-grid solar would also provide a huge sustainability impact for homes through improving livelihoods with solar electrification.

Off-grid solar water pumping for irrigation:

For dry off-grid areas, solar photovoltaics can provide water for irrigation using solar water pumps and is more cost-effective compared to diesel-powered water pumps considering the long-term costs. The life-cycle cost of a solar water pump used for irrigation will be lower because once the solar water pump has been bought, there will be no lifetime fuel costs associated with the solar water pump.

solar irrigation

However, a diesel-powered solar water pump will continue to rely on diesel over its lifespan. The solar water pump to be used will depend on many factors including the size of the farm, power rating (voltage rating), flow rates, and so on. There are two major types of solar water pumps: surface and submersible solar water pumps. Learn more about solar water pumps in this article.

Off-grid solar for rural electrification:

Rural electrification comes in many ways including, but not limited to grid extension, microgrids powered with renewable energy, or powered with fossil fuels. Powering rural areas using solar is increasingly being applied in many developing countries because of the reducing cost of solar panels. As such, solar PV is used as a clean technology to mitigate climate change with the right combination of technologies and with the right financial instruments.

Looking into the future, the centralized grid power system in rural areas will not be common as many investments will be used to develop decentralized power systems because of economics and the need to mitigate climate change using decentralized renewable energy systems. Also, solar packaged systems, as well as innovative business models such as pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) models, will continue to penetrate in rural areas of developing countries helping to provide affordable power to rural communities while mitigating climate change.

Renewable energy micro-grids such as off-grid solar PV systems with battery storage will overcome the high costs of grid extension. Standalone off-grid solar systems will be more ideal for rural electrification in areas where grid extension is expensive, and households not concentrated in one area, but scattered over a large area where grid extension could be expensive. Learn more about solar packaged solutions and rural electrification.

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going solar
Going Solar, Off grid solar systems, Solar Panels

Are hybrid-solar PV systems worth it?

solar photovoltaicswind power

Hybrid-solar PV refers to combining solar photovoltaics (PV) with renewable energy technologies such as bio energy, wind turbines, geothermal etc or with conventional power technologies like diesel powered generators. Because of the intermittent nature of solar PV, developing a hybrid-solar PV helps to stabilize the grid or to produce power continuously in off-grid rural areas. Also, hybrid-PV systems have been used in micro-grids in rural areas of developing countries to substitute for fossil fuels while helping to mitigate climate change.
In some cases, for example with renewable generation that is affected by temperature, hybridization with PV can be used with renewable resources that are affected by high temperatures. For instance, during the hot summer seasons, the solar generated peak for the solar PV augments the capacity for the geothermal generated base load power increasing the power yield for the geothermal solar PV hybrid system.

So why have a hybrid-solar PV system?

  1. The peak operating times for wind and solar systems for example can occur at different times of the year and hence use of hybrid-PV systems is necessary to produce more power than needed which can be stored in energy storage (batteries) or sold to nearby neighbors in areas with net-metering schemes.
  2. Most hybrid -PV systems operate in off-grid areas, that is, mostly in developing countries in places not connected to the grid. For instance, most hybrid-PV systems will be charging their storage batteries mostly during off-peak hours when a lot of power is not being consumed directly by the available electrical loads which are mostly switched off. For instance, if the hybrid is a solar PV wind power system, the power will be generated and stored in batteries during off-peak to be later used at peak hours, that is at night when there is less solar PV electricity generated by the solar panels.
  3. Solar PV diesel hybrid system mainly used in rural areas can be used to lower fuel costs while helping to reduce the risk of high fuel prices and reducing carbon emission as PV will off-set part of the diesel that could have been otherwise consumed if PV was not included in the power plant.
  4. Solar PV hybrid systems can be programmed through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help maximize power output during peak hours. Energy analytics provided through software can help the system to learn from historical data and help in planning to boost the performance of the hybrid system. From data analytics, the system can be programmed to store a specific amount of power in storage and to use it at a specific period in peak times when it is definitely needed.
  5. When diesel power needs to be replaced for climate mitigation, hybrid PV systems combined with wind or bio fuels powered generators can be used to off-set carbon emissions associated with diesel powered generators.

The above are just a few hybrid solar PV options which could be feasible based on many factors such performance, size, economics and the underlying objectives of a project. Interested about going solar? Learn more about how much you could pay for a solar power system by using this solar calculator. 

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geothermal
Artificial Intelligence Technology and Machine Learning

Hybridization of solar PV and geothermal.

geothermal energy

Both geothermal power and solar Photovoltaics (PV) are renewable sources of energy, although geothermal unlike solar and wind energy is not intermittent and hence can be used as a base load power just like other conventional sources of energy powers like large hydro or diesel power generators.

Geothermal energy is a type of renewable energy which is generated within the earth and can be used directly for heating or transformed into electricity.  Geothermal power comes in three ways or power plants, that is, dry steam, flash and binary depending on how the hot water is cooled either under high pressure/low pressure to cool it (Flash) or when the hot water is passed through a secondary liquid with a low boiling point to turn it into vapor to drive the turbine. With dry steam power plants, the steam from the ground is used directly to drive the turbine while producing electricity.

Despite, the technology employed to drive the turbine and produce electricity, geothermal is site specific and not all places in the earth are endowed with geothermal resources. However, according to IRENA, geothermal energy can be sourced virtually everywhere although the vast majority of geothermal resources of economic value that are suitable for power generation are located to close areas of volcanic activity – for example, situated along plate boundaries (majority of the pacific), mid-oceanic ridges (such as Iceland and the Azores) and the rift valleys (such as the East African Rift) or near hot spots (such as in Hawaii).

Currently, about 20 countries use geothermal energy with the United States being the largest producer of geothermal in world and with the largest geothermal field. However, Geothermal energy is more prevalent in Iceland which has about 600 hot springs and 200 volcanoes and producing about 25% of its energy from geothermal power. Other countries that are endowed with a great resource of geothermal energy resources include Kenya, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Italy etc

Solar PV integration with Geothermal Energy

Hybridization of renewable energy technologies is one way of solving, especially the intermittent nature of solar or wind power. In addition to use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve grid stability issues for utility scale solar and wind generation, using base load renewable energy systems such as geothermal instead of conventional power sources such as large-hydro and fossil fuels is one way of stabilizing the grid while decarbonizing it at the same time.

Countries rich in the geothermal resource including USA, Kenya, New Zealand, Iceland, Philippines etc, have benefited from this renewable resource while using it as a base load because of its constant and clean power available in all seasons.

However, depending on the geothermal technology employed (i.e. dry steam, flash or binary), the geothermal power plant output can be affected by the increased ambient temperatures during hot summer temperatures as noted by (DiMarzio et al. 2015). DiMarzio et al. 2015 captured one of the first ever geothermal plant in the world to integrate geothermal, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal for the Stillwater geothermal project which is located in Nevada, USA, and owned and operated by Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (EGP-NA).

power grid

DiMarzio et al. 2015 notes that the first phase of the project began with a geothermal plant, a 33 MW gross binary plant which was commissioned in 2009 and later in 2012 an additional 26MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power was added to increase the output tailored to complement the geothermal plant output degradation during hot summer temperatures. During the hot summer seasons, the solar generated peak for the solar PV augments the capacity for the geothermal generated base load power increasing the power yield for the geothermal solar PV hybrid system.

However, every technology has its own limitations and when it comes to producing electricity from geothermal for example, the geothermal resource aspects such as temperature, pressure, flow or non-condensable gas content may change over time resulting in decreased power yields. Hybridization of geothermal with solar PV is a more cost effective option to mitigating this problem, because reworking the already depleting well may not be succesful while running a new well runs the risk of a dry or unproductive well (DiMarzio et al. 2015).

geothermal springs

When it comes to integrating solar PV with geothermal renewable resource for residential applications, this article captures some of the aspects of how solar PV and a geothermal heat pump can work in tandem to help regulate your home’s temperature using electricity provided by solar PV. Just like at utility scale, these two technologies even at residential scale can be complementary to help provide the power, heating and cooling for your home. For more details, how these two technologies complement each other at residential scale, check out this article.

Reference sources:

DiMarzio et al. 2015 : The Stillwater Triple Hybrid Power Plant: Integrating Geothermal, Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal Power Generation, Proceedings World Geothermal Congress 2015, Melbourne, Australia, 19-25 April 2015.

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solar phone charger
Off grid solar systems, Solar Panels, Solar powered cell phone charger

Solar Charger, Portable Panel Charger

Whether you are a fun of off-grid travels or camping with your friends or family, having charged electronic devices is essential, especially for emergency situations and navigation and enjoying your trip.

In case you are planning to make one of those off-grid trips, a solar phone charger comes in handy, especially if you intend to extend your trip in areas not connected to the grid. Hence, along with your other traveling plans, you would want to ensure you have a reliable source of portable power to charge your electronic gadgets.

One of the gadgets that almost everyone has nowadays is a cellphone and using a cell phone solar charger can help to keep it fully charged, despite your location.

When it comes to buying some of the best solar chargers today, Amazon provides a great place to start with because of a wealth of information it provides its customers. Amazon reviews its prices regularly and has numerous customer reviews for most products and before you buy any product you can review what other customers are saying about the product.

For instance one of the solar phone chargers that is highly rated on Amazon and a #1 best seller on Amazon is the: Solar Charger, 25000mAh Battery Solar Power Bank Portable Panel Charger with 36 LEDs and 3 USB Output Ports External Backup Battery for Camping Outdoor for iOS Android (Black)

This solar charger is a portable power bank for all kinds of digital devices like smartphones, tablet PC, MP3/MP4, hand-held games console, etc

The solar phone charger has three(3) USB ports suitable to help you charge your cellphone and tablet at the same time and is powered by solar energy, it is ideal for outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, camping or for off-grid areas that may not have an AC power outlet. 

The solar charger has a built-in 25000mAh Li-polymer battery that is larger enough to charge an iPhone XS for 7.4 times, a Galaxy S9 Plus for 5.7 times, an iPad Pro for 1.6 times! 

It has two charging methods one for charging with an electric outlet (5V/2A) adapter and when charging through the solar panel. The blue indicator light is on when charging with the adapter, and the green indicator light is on when charging with a solar panel.

As of February 2nd, 2020, this solar phone charger had about 2,269 customer ratings making it one of the most reviewed solar phone charger on Amazon. It scored 4.5 out of 5 star rating and hence being one of the best rated solar phone chargers on Amazon. 

Out of the 4.5 the following is a breakdown that helps to understand the star ratings each of the 2269 ratings provided from 5 star all the way to 1 star. 77% of the customer ratings were 5 stars, 11% (4 stars), 4%(3 stars), 2% (2 stars) and 1% (1 star).  And by feature, customer ratings were 4.8, 4.7, 4.5 , 4.5 4.5 and 4.5 as shown  below: 

  1. Built in light (4.8)
  2. Brighteness (4.7)
  3. Water resistance (4.5)
  4. Battery life (4.5)
  5. Charging power (4.5)
  6. For traveling (4.5)

Based on the above customer ratings, this solar phone charger is rated as #1 best seller on Amazon.  It has about 246 answered questions regarding the performance and use of the Solar Charger, 25000mAh Battery Solar Power Bank Portable Panel Charger with 36 LEDs and 3 USB Output Ports External Backup Battery for Camping Outdoor for iOS Android (Black)

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going solar
Artificial Intelligence Technology and Machine Learning, Electric Vehicles (EVs), Energy Efficiency for homes and businesses, Going Green, Going Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Business

Grid stabilization with increased renewable energy.

AI and solar PVWith the growing environmental concerns about climate change and the need for decarbonization, many private sector organizations, governments, and civil society have committed to a 100% renewable energy future.

As of late 2016, more than 300 cities, municipalities, and regions including Frankfurt, Vancouver, Sydney, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Oslo, Scotland, Kasese in Uganda, Indonesia’s Sumba island and the Spanish Island of El Hierro have demonstrated that transitioning to 100% RE is a viable political decision.

It is no doubt such ambitious targets to transition to 100% renewables will require new tools, concepts, and technologies to cope with the increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid. The good news is that technological developments, in the artificial intelligence and analytics space have already created tools and solutions needed to enable the decarbonization of the economy according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As such, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has developed solutions in its recent report on the “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future” which provides a toolbox of solutions for policymakers and guidance on how to apply them system-wide in a coherent and mutually-reinforcing way.

In particular, these solutions center around the application of digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data and analytics in increasing flexibility in the system for larger integration of renewable energy.

According to IRENA, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, the Internet of Things and batteries are innovative solutions that will enable massive solar and wind use and amplify the transformation of the power sector based on renewables.

Why AI, Big-Data, and Analytics?

The increasing electrical loads such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) as well as decentralized renewable energy power such as rooftop solar PV systems, commercial solar, and wind power systems will need a more stable grid or a smart grid.

A smart grid is able to learn and adapt based on the load and amount of variable renewable energy put into the grid as a result of having lots of rooftops solar PV, other extra loads to the grid such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries and pumped hydro) and increasing decentralized intermittent renewable energy.

AI and Internet of Things

Without a smart system using artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, grid operators will definitely not cope with the changing electrical loads and the increasing penetration of renewable energy into the grid.

Also, at its core, AI is a series of systems that act intelligently, using complex algorithms to recognize patterns, draw inferences and support decision-making processes through their own cognitive judgment, the way people do.

How can AI support the large integration of renewable energy?

Since renewable energy is very intermittent in nature as we would expect because there is no constant wind or solar generation due to weather changes, renewables such as solar and wind can be unreliable and many utility companies utilize energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) to deal with this issue.

Excess solar or wind power is stored during low demand times and used when energy demand goes high. As a result, AI can improve the reliability of solar and wind power by analyzing enormous amounts of meteorological data and using this information to make predictions and knowing when to gather, store and distribute wind or solar power.

smart grid AIOn the other hand, AI used in smart grids can be used to balance the grid especially when rooftop solar and other decentralized renewable energy are involved and put into the grid. AI systems utilizing neural networks or complex algorithms to recognize patterns associated with various loads (electric vehicles or energy storage) and increased rooftop solar or other forms of distributed energy (wind or solar) which can make the system to be unstable. The most efficient way to balance this variability in the system is through AI in analyzing grids before and after they absorb smaller units, and in working to reduce congestion.

The IRENA’s report Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future explains these new AI tools and digital technologies that will support the deployment of renewables as the power sector complexity continues to increase.

According to IRENA, most of the advances currently supported by AI have been in advanced weather and renewable power generation forecasting and in predictive maintenance. However, in the future, AI and big data will further enhance decision-making, planning and supply chain optimization while increasing the overall energy efficiency of the energy systems.

For the renewable energy sector, AI and analytics can support it in several ways such as better monitoring, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy.

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solar phone charger
Energy Efficiency for homes and businesses, Off grid solar systems, Portable Solar Generator, Solar powered cell phone charger, Sustainability

Five(5) benefits of a solar phone charger

With the growing environmental concerns of climate change and the decreasing prices of solar PV, solar energy is trending in many sectors, including but not limited to power homes and businesses. Also, portable solar solutions including portable solar chargers or solar phone chargers are trending with increasing awareness about renewable energy. This article attempts to explain five(5) benefits of using a solar phone charger:solar phone charger

  1. A solar phone charger is portable and uses clean energy to help you charge your electronic devices. Once you have selected your solar cell phone charger, whose cost can be estimated to range anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the brand and features included, a solar phone charger is very portable as it can be carried anywhere to charge your cellphone. A solar-powered phone charger comes in handy, especially used during traveling or outdoor activities. Since it is portable during the day when there is sunshine you can use it in your picnics, hikes or when camping to use it to charge not only your cellphone but also your iPad, portable speaker, humidifier, etc.
  2. A lot of people especially in rural areas mostly in the developing world are not connected to the grid. As such, having solar chargers and other solar PV systems like solar panels and solar batteries are being used to produce power for both households and commercials helping to solve the energy access issue.
  3. A solar phone charger would probably be the main source of energy in off-grid areas to power cellphones. For instance, in Africa, around 640 million people don’t have access to a grid and where some people do have access to the electricity supply is unreliable and unstable. As a result, solar PV has become one of the main sources of energy to power homes and businesses using one of the most consistent and promising approaches to tackling this huge obstacle to energy access, that is, off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo.
  4. A solar phone charger uses solar energy – a renewable energy source. Even though energy from a solar charger might seem trivial or does not have an impact in terms of how much you can save when it comes to energy because cellphones or smartphones use a trivial amount of electricity. For instance, iPhone 5 uses 3.5KWh/year and costing about $0.41/year to charge them while Galaxy S III consumes 4.9 KWh/year at $0.5/year primarily because of the Galaxy’s larger battery. However, this might not impact you, but considering the aggregate impact (about 5 billion cellphones around the world) in terms of energy reduction from the grid and the increasing demand for mobile phones worldwide; your usage of the Sun’s energy to power your phone probably has an impact, if you look at it from a system’s perspective.
  5. A solar phone charger is one step to energy efficiency when you aggregate the number of cellphones from a system’s perspective. Currently, there are about 5 billion cellphones around the world according to GSM intelligence. Users for smartphones are expected to increase by 2023 to over 7 billion. Smartphones consume more energy depending on how many wireless data the device is using as well as the amount of power consumed in making those wireless connections. As a result, when not using energy from renewables, a solar phone charger can help in reducing your carbon footprint.

From a system’s perspective, electronic gadgets or even electric vehicles powered using solar power will have an impact in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced while increasing the energy efficiency consumed in the long-term.

Some of the best solar phone chargers have been reviewed on Amazon. When looking for some of the best solar phone chargers, it is important to evaluate the number of devices that can be charged, the time it takes to charge, and overall durability when selecting a model.

Five great products on the market have been evaluated through Amazon to help determine which solar charger best meets your needs. You can learn more at Amazon.

To understand your energy profile and GHGs that can be reduced while going solar using a solar panel calculator can help you figure out your sustainability benefits. Learn more about how you can check instantly whether solar is right for you.

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electric vehicle
Electric Vehicles (EVs), Going Green, Sustainability

IBM research unveils a new battery free of heavy metals

electric vehicle batteriesWith the increasing demand for solar powered buildings, solar powered vehicles (electric vehicles(EVs) ) and smart grid power solutions; it is certain that there will be high demand for batteries. Many batteries including nickel and cobalt batteries pose an environmental threat to our natural ecosystem because of heavy metals.

From a system thinking perspective or a life-cycle basis – EVs, as well as all other going solar concepts, need alternative battery or storage solutions to significantly increase their environmental performance compared to conventional diesel or gas-powered vehicles.

For instance, in this article concerning EV sustainability issues, we saw that EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. As such, even with sustainable recycle and re-use programs to tackle the threat to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future, the development of sustainable materials or building new EV batteries that are zero in heavy metals will help to tackle these concerns from a system perspective.

Technological breakthroughs at the IBM research could help to solve the battery sustainability challenge:  

Researchers at the IBM research just unveiled recently a new battery discovery than could revolutionize the entire battery industry and help to solve the EV and going solar sustainability challenges when it comes to the elimination of heavy metals.

According to IBM research, it discovered a new battery which will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements for our energy infrastructure. IBM research has discovered chemistry for a new battery that does not use heavy metals or other substances with sourcing concerns because the materials for this new battery are able to be extracted from seawater. Consequently, this lays the foundation for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods as noted by IBM research.

The new battery technology is also very promising because of its performance potential as determined in its initial tests which proved the new battery has faster charging time, higher power and energy density, storage energy efficiency and low flammability compared with the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, the new battery design could outperform lithium-ion across several sustainable technologies because it uses cobalt and nickel-free cathode material, as well as a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. As such, this new battery design and chemistry includes a unique combination of the cathode and electrolyte demonstrated an ability to suppress lithium metal dendrites during charging, thereby reducing flammability, which is widely considered a significant drawback for the use of lithium metal as an anode material.

Lithium-ion batteries seem to be current battery technology at the moment, however, if new the battery discovery by IBM research is proving to perform better technically and environmentally, this discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries.

According to IBM research, the new battery will have a huge potential because of its flammability, cost and charging time.  It can reach an 80% state of charge with its configuration for high power at less than five minutes as shown during its current tests. IBM research is also using AI and machine learning techniques to mine huge data points that have helped to speed up this research and with better accuracy testing and the set hypothesis.

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Internet of Things
Artificial Intelligence Technology and Machine Learning, Electric Vehicles (EVs), Energy Efficiency for homes and businesses, Going Green, Going Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Business

Future of solar in a smart building.

smarthomeBecause of the volatility of global oil prices, the cost of energy will continue to increase proportionately and especially when our energy demand continues to depend on finite fossil fuels. Similarly, the cost of energy for an average building in the USA or globally will continue to increase proportionately when the main source is from fossil fuels because the price for energy continues to increase due to volatility of oil prices. Solar PV and increased connectivity is an option that seems very promising and could help to reduce or mitigate the issue of climate change and increasing energy prices.

The advent of AI in energy management

Artificial intelligence technologyThe advent of new technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and blockchain allows for smart building energy management systems that can provide monitoring made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics and via wireless connections.

Looking in the future, solar is likely to be sold as a core part of the smart building concept that includes a building energy management system, energy storage, Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and smart appliances. This makes more sense because sourcing all the energy from solar will help to save more money and help to achieve sustainability. Also, EV and smart appliances can help to balance the grid for instance, electric vehicles can be used as temporary storage to connected appliances to reduce power usage when needed.

IoTAlso, in the energy management space, lighting and HVAC integration are the two most common systems integrated into the smart building strategy to reduce the energy footprint, but the IoT industry has opened the door to more sensors and hence increased intelligence through data collection. Some of the most common IoT sensors have applications for smart metering, occupancy sensors, water detection, humidity sensors, contact sensors, and carbon monoxide detection among many others.

Internet of Things

The whole idea of making your building smart is to allow you to make more informed decisions about the building based on the data it provides. Data is aggregated via IoT (Internet of Things) controls and sensors in a web-based platform that can be monitored, controlled and acted upon in real-time or perhaps using your cellphone. The main advantage of having a smart building is to help facility and property managers gain insight into the detailed workings of their locations and gather useful data to improve building performance and efficiency.

Advantages of integrating solar in a smart building:

  •  Smart buildings utilize machine learning algorithms and can be able to forecast your energy consumption and through demand response mechanisms solar consumption by the building can be increased in times of high solar generation and vice-versa. Through IoT smart appliances can be remotely controlled digitally to adopt on-site demand. For instance, heat pumps, heat storage batteries and air conditioning units can be optimized with solar generation and be a way of using excess solar electricity as heat.
  • Battery storage and smart electric vehicle charging when integrated with solar PV could significantly increase solar consumption for some households and businesses and especially when solar PV is combined with battery storage.
  • Deep machine learning and artificial intelligence when integrated with your smart appliances and solar can help to forecast and manage generation and consumption as well as voice activation technology to make systems more user-friendly.
  • Generally, smart buildings through optimization increase energy efficiency, comfort and safety and with solar PV, more energy is saved reducing your energy footprint.

This article explained how the smart building concept can help to reduce energy consumption and allow for the integration of solar PV, EV charging and IoT helping you reduce your energy footprint to achieve sustainability. However, a key question is whether these smart building technologies can currently pay for themselves? Do they currently increase or decrease the return on investment on installation when combined with solar?  EnergySage is a great starting point to help you figure out your energy savings when it comes to going solar.

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