Here’s a breakdown of how solar panels are made. In simple terms they are just a series of individual solar cells that are soldered together (see earlier posting below for how the cells are made) and then sealed within a glass top and backsheet. Environmentally safe and easy to make.
Many people consider the AC inverter the heart of a solar PV system. It’s typically the electronics that converts the DC output of the solar module into the AC voltage needed to connect to the utilities’ power grid. There are a variety of companies making these AC inverters including SMA, Satcon, Delta, ABB, Fronius, Kaco, Enphase and many others. Enphase has an interesting solution in that they put an individual “micro” inverter physically on or at the solar modules thereby making the output, as they claim, a less dangerous and more easily managed 220VAC low amperage output that is already grid compatible. Some of the important things that AC inverters do are as follows:
– Provide good “end to end” power conversion in terms of Grid Integration and Interoperability (ie. Maximum Power Point Tracking and Low Voltage Ride Through)
– Anti-islanding (the inverter disconnects from the grid when grid power shuts down for any reason)
– SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) – Remote monitoring, control and reporting.
– There are also efforts to integrate DC arc monitoring and prevention into them as well.
Here’s a published list of our ideas. https://sunlution.wordpress.com/ideas/ We are seeking engineering, funding and commercialization partners. Please feel free to contact us with any interest (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Just like all the energy sources the US has adopted over the past 100 years have received subsidies (and many are still receiving), so has solar PV. While some of these solar subsidies and credits may have unique and unfamiliar names, they are all just merely means to help you offset the costs of your solar installation. Here are just some of the approaches currrently being pursued…
Federal and state rebates
With the adoption of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the subsequent Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, the US federal government provides a 30% tax rebate towards a residential solar power system with currenly no limit on how much can be claimed. There are also state level rebates as well. These federal and state level rebates are listed at the following website… www.dsireusa.org/
Many energy companies are implementing programs that allow residents to “sell” the extra solar PV electricity they produce back to their energy companies. If the customer’s system generates more than they consume the specially built meter simply spins backwards.
Renewable Energy Credits (REC)
RECs usually take form as a check written directly to the homeowner for a percentage of the system. Private companies (PPAs, module OEMs, etc) as well as utilities and state governments will offer these RECs at some predefined amount. For example, private companies will sometimes offer you a defined “per watt” deduction to a purchase if you buy their modules or tie into their system and then pursue the REC with the local utility.
Feed-in Tariffs (FiT)
FiT’s are a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies. It achieves this by offering long-term contracts to renewableenergy producers (like yourself), typically based on the cost of generation…which means you would get paid for the energy you produce.
Want to learn more about Idaho’s solar incentives (or lack of in some respects), here is a very good discussion… http://solarpowerrocks.com/idaho/
Click on the “system sizing” links at our page https://sunlution.wordpress.com/resources/
Also, aside from wearing a sweatshirt this winter, there are many things you can do to reduce your energy bill…caulking and sealing air leaks, adding high efficiency windows/doors/heating/cooling/lights, using “Energy Star” rated appliances, and even, adding and positioning certain types of landscaping can all have good positive effect on your energy consumption and costs. Many of these have relatively low initial cost outlays and can yield very quick return on your investment as well. Once you get them all done though, don’t forget that you can put in an environmentally clean solar PV system too!