Solar energy grows from strong roots

solar energy part of mix
Solar will grow in 2018 as part of sustainable future Copyright: nexusplexus

Solar energy and other alternatives are making up a larger part of the energy mix in 2018. It comes as no surprise that Texas is a leader in solar, wind and other renewables along with coal, oil and gas. In terms of energy leadership, the Lone Star State has some significant advantages.

Geography is one of the most important. Our location lends itself to a high number of sunshine days with warm temperatures that keep snow and ice away. Beneficent geography also makes Texas a leader in wind energy as harnessing the wind that sweeps across the plains of west Texas generates clean, renewable energy. And, of course, we can’t forget the petroleum industry that first put Texas on the map.

The long history Texas has in the energy industry is important to our energy future. It’s no accident that our state leads in both traditional and renewable energy production. The knowledge and skill base that allowed Texas to thrive in the oil, gas and coal era is transferable to alternative energy.

In 2018, all of these forces will continue to play a role in making Texas a leader in solar and other renewables.  Here are recent examples of how our public universities are leveraging strong programs in energy science, created originally with a focus on traditional sources, to expand into the renewable and sustainable arena. See last week’s blog post for more.

For example, the University of Texas at Austin has a Solar Energy and Renewable Fuels Laboratory that is engaged in projects ranging aimed at improving current technologies and discovering new ones to forward the goal of providing clean, renewable and cost efficient power for human needs.

UT Austin also participates in the Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics, a project of the National Science Foundation Industry. The goal is to work with research institutions and industry to refine and improve current photovoltaic technology. Visit their website for a list of all projects and initiatives they are part of.

The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Texas Sustainable Energy Institute launched LeapTran in December 2017 LeapTran. In line with their mission of creating a sustainable energy future, the institute has received significang grants for projects such as renewable energy storage and the Sun Shot initiative. They recently received a $1.5 million grant from San Antonio’s CPS to improve power technologies.

In terms of energy leadership, Texas has it all: favorable geography, historical leadership in energy production, infrastructure and institutions that support the energy industry. What might be most important, though, is the can do Texas spirit!

What can you do to create your own independent energy future? Schedule a consultation today.

Solar panels and landscaping work together

Year round, your solar panels can continue to produce electricity that will lower your electric bill as well as other benefits consumers seek with solar energy.

However, to get the maximum value from your solar investment, you need to make sure that you take action to keep your panels productive.

One of the opportunities for greater solar production that homeowners sometimes neglect is their landscaping.

In a hot, humid climate such as the one here in Central Texas, landscaping can contribute both shade and cool summer breezes.

Trees are an important element in landscaping your yard. When you have solar panels, the selection and placement of trees is critical. They need to be placed properly to provide valuable shade without blocking sunlight from reaching your panels for maximum benefit. Choosing the right size and type of tree is also important to gaining both aesthetic value and climate control from your trees. Your goal is to reduce your homes interior temperature without diminishing the amount of sunlight available to generate solar electricity.

In addition to shade, trees have other functions in managing the heating and cooling of your home. A strategically placed row of trees can serve functions such as directing cooling breezes in summer and providing a windbreak in winter.

While we usually think about trees when we think of cooling shade, there are other ways to incorporate plants into your plan to keep your home more comfortable, reduce cooling costs and beautify your surroundings, too.

For example, a vine covered trellis can be used to shield southern facing windows from bright sun. Such an arrangement reduces cooling cost and creates an attractive landscaping feature, too. This and similar well-placed landscaping elements can have a surprising impact on the amount you pay to cool your home in summer.

Shrubs, groundcover and bedding plants all play a role in a beautiful, functional residential landscape, too. Studies show that well-designed landscaping can help reduce summer cooling costs as much as 50%. Working with a landscaper who knows how to utilize plants to help cool your home in summer and reduce heating cost in winter is an investment that will pay for itself in a fairly short time.

Savvy homeowner today are looking for home improvements that deliver value by helping them save money, reduce maintenance costs, increase comfort and aesthetic appeal.

Have you scheduled a solar consultation? It’s the first step to managing your electric bills!

Saving Money with Solar

saving money with solar
Saving more money with solar is possible

Saving money is the primary reason to go solar, and it starts with solar panels to lower utility bills. Photo voltaic solar panels are the most frequently used method for actively harnessing the suns energy and converting it into electricity.

A well-designed solar panel array with a battery back up system can significantly reduce electric bills. But it doesn’t stop there.

In addition to using solar panels to generate electricity, there are many ways to increase the impact of your investment in solar that will also enhance the comfort and appeal of your home.

As with any type of solar energy investment, the place to start is scheduling a solar consultation to assess your current situation. From there, you can determine what provides the quickest path to reaching your goals.

Did you know that your windows play a key role in how efficiently you use energy resources to heat and cool your home?

In creating a more energy efficient home, taking stock of your windows is a first step. Make sure that you have the right type of windows, that they are in good repair, that weather stripping is installed and that any leaks are sealed. When windows basics are all covered, there are a wide variety of products available to help windows do their job of regulating the amount of air and sunlight that enters your home.

Awnings are a great way to regulate the amount of sunlight that enters your home. Modern materials and design features can be used to make awnings attractive and adjustable, so they deliver maximum protection against the elements.

In summer, awnings block sun from entering the home and increasing the temperature. In winter, allowing additional sunlight in can raise room temperatures and bring in needed light. Especially for south and west facing windows, awnings are a cost-effective way to reduce cooling costs and increase interior comfort, too

Window screens can help reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches interior spaces in summer. In winter, when having more heat and light is desired, screens can be stored away. In hot, sunny climates like we have here in Texas, window screens can make a big difference in cooling cost and home comfort, too. Storm panels and shutters offer another adjustable option to control heating and cooling loss around windows. In warm climates, the problem most homeowners need to address is controlling sunlight and stopping the loss of cool air produced by the HVAC system.

Exterior features like awnings, shutters, solar screens and storm panels help reduce the amount of energy needed by the HVAC system. Drapes, blinds and other elements of window design and décor can all play a part in making your home both more comfortable while saving money with solar.

Saving money with solar starts with a consultation – schedule one now!

Solar Power in 2018

solar power 2018
Solar power will grow in 2018 Photo: (c) nk2549

Solar power will continue to expand in 2018. Why? Because solar power delivers benefits to both businesses and consumers. At the same time, leaders and visionaries around the world are dedicated to continuing the development of the technology necessary to improve the delivery of affordable, renewable, clean energy to communities around the world.

Here are a few stories, from our local area and around the world, that point to what’s on the horizon for solar energy around the world.

Just a few months ago, weather related disaster in both the Houston area and Puerto Rico brought intense focus on how important development of multiple energy resources and technology is.

  • In Houston, solar has gained traction in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey when many residents realized the wisdom of having a back up system of solar and storage.
  • In the face of complete destruction of the electric grid, Tesla stepped in completed a major solar project in record time. Before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electricity consumers paid high rates for electricity that was notoriously unreliable. Now, they see an opportunity to start over and reinvent their electric service.

Development of new storage technology is a critical factor in making solar energy both more efficient and more available. In terms of business opportunity, the development of improved solar and wind energy storage has tremendous potential for investors. There is significant research and development focused in this area. Currently, some innovators are working on improving the lithium ion battery while others are searching for other materials that will more effectively store energy produced from solar and wind.

Distributed solar – residential and commercial buildings equipped with solar panels – is now seen as an alternative to adding additional capacity to the grid. That’s because the peak hours of solar energy production coincide with the peak hours of energy use. Solar panels on homes and businesses are helping utilities to make the same level of service available by smoothing out the peaks and valleys of energy supply and demand. Austin Energy recently received a $4.3 million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy to bring more distributed solar to the Austin area.

Solar energy has advanced significantly in recent years and it is still a relatively new technology. As time goes by and the technology improves, more benefits and even greater potential has become evident.

Will you add the savings and other benefits of solar power to your plan for 2018? Schedule a solar consultation today.

Solar investment makes good sense

Solar investment is growing as residents, business and cities alike find that renewable energy makes sense. Texas is becoming a leader in solar energy, adding solar capacity that includes residential solar rooftops, large infrastructure projects and major businesses making significant investments in solar energy.

Though solar and other renewable energy sources may initially attract attention because of environmental concerns, it is their bottom line impact that is most frequently sited when the decision is made to invest in renewable energy. Helping to reduce pollution and contributing to a cleaner environment are secondary to the economic benefits.

Across Texas, cities are recognizing the power of solar to save their residents and businesses money on their electric bills. In addition to Austin, here are some other Texas cities that have recently made headlines for their commitment to or exploration of the benefits of going solar.

Houston was recently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner for their initiative that incorporates renewable energy into the cities electric utility program. With the aim of saving Houstonians money on their monthly bills, the city created a plan to use both wind energy and solar investment to save over $1.9 million dollars during the life of the project.

Georgetown, Texas has made numerous headlines in recent years as they invested in solar and wind production facilities. For this Texas city just north of Austin, a rational evaluation of all the alternatives showed that investing in the production of wind and solar would be the best way to manage the cost of energy over the coming decades. Like residential consumers, the city decided to invest in solar because they take the long view. Over time, owning the means to produce your own renewable energy protects against the ups and downs in the marketplace.

In late October of this year, the city of Denton attracted positive notice as they revealed the plan presented by a consulting group tasked with determining the best way to manage their public utility for the benefit of residents. The analysis predicts that by purchasing a combination of solar and wind generated electricity, Denton Municipal Electric (DME) can convert to using solely renewable resources in the near future. DME is a public utility, owned by the residents of the city. The utility board is currently evaluating adoption of the proposal.

For Texas residents, business and municipalities, solar, wind and other renewables represent an opportunity to grow something every city needs: jobs. Today, renewable energy production and associated services bring jobs to local economies. Who doesn’t want to save money, keep our environment clean and produce jobs for Texans?

Curious about how a residential solar investment can benefit you? Schedule your consultation today.