There is hardly anyone who can deny clean, cheap electricity is a good thing. Yet, the ability to take wind, water or solar energy and put it into a practical application that can meet global demand has fallen far short. Whether used in large or small-scale applications, renewable energy technology has been at best a supplementary resource.
You’d have to look long and hard to find someone who doesn’t know that solar energy has many advantages when used in the home. Cost-saving is the most often cited benefit. Sunlight is free, and so is the energy it generates. But, residential solar energy systems are still a little too expensive for you to embrace the concept without knowing exactly what returns you’ll get from your investment.
The Solar Foundation released A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Encouraging Solar Development through Community Association Policies and Processes to help homeowner association (HOA) boards and other community leaders effectively bring more solar to their communities.
Change is inevitable, but often does not come easily. For years, many people have resisted the chance to invest in solar panels for their homes. Most sight the high initial cost as the reason they haven't invested. Others claim that they don't understand solar panels and how solar energy can have an impact on their life.
There are a number of companies, government entities, non-profit agencies and research organizations that devote themselves wholly to furthering solar technology. Providing eco-friendly, energy efficient solutions to households across the world will have far reaching benefits to everyone involved. Understanding how solar panels work and how they can have an effect on your life can go a long way in dispelling myths and affirming truths.
Active Solar is basically the use of a designed & manufactured system to gather the “Solar Energy” emitted by the Sun daily (rather than the “passive” design of the building itself). The two sub-categories of Active Solar are PV (Photo-Voltaic = generating DC voltage) and Thermal (generates heat directly for Domestic Hot Water use). Both of these system types are symbolically recognizable with some type of “panel” mounted assembly, typically on near south-facing roof slopes.
“Solar Energy” discussions of the two distinct types are frequently muddled: Passive Solar & Active Solar. Ironically the “Active” version, with the symbolic PV (Photo-Voltaic) roof panels generating electricity is usually the first visual image when hearing “Solar Energy”. We’ll discuss Active later and the significance of both working in tandem.
One of the biggest challenges with getting people to adopt residential solar applications is to help overcome the initial investment needed. With numerous state and Federal tax incentives available, there is no greater time to invest in solar energy than now.
Our region’s electric power companies’ fuel mix is:
Non-Hydro Renewable 3%
(Source: U.S. EPA)
Electricity from the Sun
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta (NWUUC) is combining energy conservation and a 22.7kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system to reach its goal of a zero carbon emission facility.
The first phase of the solar PV system is a 20-module array installed in January 2009. Upon completion of all phases of the PV system there will be a total of 108-modules covering the sanctuary roof.
When completed the solar PV system will generate 2,540kWh/month or 30,480kWh/year of clean electricity.
Offsetting the same amount of electricity generated by coal-fired utility power plants will have the equivalent of one these annual positive effects on the environment:
- 47,905 pounds of carbon dioxide not released into the atmosphere
- 50 barrels of foreign oil not imported
- 2,466 gallons of gasoline not consumed