Why install a solar battery? Batteries allow you to store solar energy and reduce your dependence on the grid. In turn, you use more solar power and fewer fossil fuels! How do solar batteries work? Most solar panel systems are connected to the grid and still rely on grid energy when they are producing below […]
Definitions Before we dive into all the inverter details, here is a little refresher on how solar panels work. To generate electricity, sunlight shines on a panel and this panel converts the solar energy into DC current. This current flows to the inverter where the it converts DC current to AC current. Your home uses […]
We can talk about energy independence on both a global scale and individual level. On an international level, energy independence refers to producing sufficient energy in the United States to meet our country’s energy needs. If we can meet our needs by producing energy domestically, we will not depend on resources from foreign countries. Being dependent on other countries allows for energy prices to fluctuate based on events like wars, politics, or changes in supply and demand.
For example, the US is heavily dependent on other countries for oil and gas. Because of this, gas prices vary throughout the year. Take the energy crisis of the 1970s. A war in Israel caused oil shortages, and therefore huge spikes in gas prices in the United States. More recently, gas prices have seen an increase across the US due to increased demand for oil post-pandemic. The fluctuating price of gas creates instability in the US energy economy and is unpredictable to consumers.
So, if US could produce most of its own energy, then foreign affairs that change oil or energy prices would not have such a large effect on the economy like they do today. Thus, increasing energy independence will create more economic stability and security. Currently, renewable energy the most important way that the US can produce enough energy to sustain its population. Increasing the proportion of US energy that comes from renewables would greatly decrease our dependence on other countries.
Energy independence also exists on an individual level. One of the main benefits of producing your own energy is energy security. With renewables such as solar panels, you know that you will always be able to produce your own energy regardless any problems with the grid. This is especially beneficial here in New England because of all the hurricanes and inclement weather that cause frequent power outages. Something as simple as a tree falling on a powerline during a storm can takedown the entire grid in an area for multiple days. However, if your home produces its own energy, there is no need to worry about this during a storm.
The second benefit of household energy independence is price predictability. Just like oil prices, electricity prices fluctuate based on the cost of fuels, consumer demand, local or global regulations, location, and more. When you produce your own energy with solar panels, you will always know the cost of your energy, because it will be free! Although installing a solar panel system comes at a high cost, you can plan for this. There are many different financing options to help you pay for the system. This type of payment is much more predictable than traditional electricity prices, which change due to a variety of factors and therefore are harder to plan for.
Similarly, traditional electricity prices tend to increase in the summer and winter, when there is high demand for heat and AC. However, with renewable energy you don’t need to feel guilt or stress over making your house a comfortable temperature!
Lastly, there are a variety of environmental benefits that you can feel good about when you produce your own renewable energy. So, producing your own energy can provide you security and predictability, as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
What is the energy transition?
The term “energy transition” is another phrase often used when talking about energy independence. Energy transitions are global shifts from using one type of energy to another. For example, humans transitioned from wood power to coal in the late 19th century.
However, now this term simply refers to the decarbonization of energy, or the switch from fossil fuels to renewables. The transition has already begun, as around 12% of energy consumed in the US comes from renewable sources. However, we still have a lot of work to do. This new energy transition to renewables will be the way that we achieve energy independence on both an individual level and a global scale.
Adapting Oil and Gas Companies
Many recent studies and reports have pointed to the continued rise in popularity in the future of solar power. A report called Energy Goes Green interviewed 100 CFOs of oil and gas companies and found that 38% of these CFOs believe that solar power will be the leading alternative energy source by 2023. The report demonstrated that these CFOs recognize solar energy as an important opportunity for their business. Solar is not only cheaper than traditional oil or gas, but it is also easier to generate solar energy once the infrastructure is built. Additionally, because of increased demand and better technology, the cost of installing solar power systems has decreased. For these reasons, many of these energy companies plan on implementing solar power as a part of their business.
However, these companies aren’t planning to switch to 100% renewables anytime soon. They face many roadblocks. For example building new infrastructure is expensive. Also, there are currently high tariffs on imported materials used to build solar panels. But, these CFOs do recognize that consumer demand and new technology will continue to lower the cost of solar energy, and they are willing to adapt to renewable energy sources as long as they stay in demand and the prices stay low. This is a big step, considering that these companies are currently 100% focused on fossil fuels.
Energy Consumption Mix
More evidence of the future of energy prices is outlined by a study reported in the Joule Journal. This study found that increasing the US energy bundle to 90% renewables by 2050 would be cheaper than keeping energy consumption as it is. Currently, the average cost of electricity in the US is 13 cents per kilowatt hour. This rate is even higher in Massachusetts and Rhode Island (21 cents and 18.6 cents respectively). The new energy bundle that is 90% renewable would cost about 3.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
Current Energy Demand
Currently, the demand for renewable energy is continuing to grow as fossil fuel consumption falls in the United States. According to the latest EIA report, this April renewable energy provided 25.7% of the total electricity produced in the US. As of this April, fossil fuels contributed a smaller percentage of total electricity than renewable energy, contributing only 22% compared to 25.7% from renewables.
So, the future is bright for solar! Evidence shows that renewable energy consumption is rising, and prices are falling as compared to fossil-fueled powered energy. Even large oil and gas companies recognize this trend as a business opportunity. So, now is a great time to make the investment in solar panels to continue the energy transition!
What is the largest indicator that a given house will have solar panels? It is not what you may think! According a study done by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, geographical distance from a house with solar panels is the largest indicator of if a given house will have solar panels. This means […]
Good News For Rhode Island Solar!
This week has brought some good news for Rhode Island solar: The Rhode Island Commerce’s Renewable Energy Fund has renewed its funding incentives for solar projects on brownfields. Brownfields are contaminated or polluted sites. They are often old industrial parks or commercial areas. This incentive funds solar developers and encourages them to build solar farms on brownfields. The state allocated another $1 million to the initiative because it saw so much success in 2019 and 2020.
It can take a lot of time and resources to decontaminate a brownfield and make it safe enough to be redeveloped. So, turning brownfields into solar farms is a safe and effective use of this contaminated land. Additionally, since Rhode Island is such a small state, using brownfields are a perfect way to install more solar power without cutting down trees or damaging any other environments. This initiative will help Rhode Island reach its goal of reaching net zero by 2050!
SunPower Corp on Tuesday said some of the solar cells and panels it produces overseas will be excluded from the Trump administration’s 30 percent import tariffs, sending the company’s shares up 15 percent.
SunPower is based in San Jose, California but produces most of its solar products in Mexico and the Philippines. The company has publicly lobbied for its products to be exempt from the tariffs, arguing the funds it was spending on duties were being diverted from investments in American jobs in research and development and domestic manufacturing.
The exemption covers SunPower’s premium, high-efficiency interdigitated back contact (IBC) cells and modules, which the company argued stood apart from the cheap, commoditized imports that dominate the market and were the target of the tariffs.
“With today’s decision that SunPower’s highly differentiated IBC cells and modules are excluded from tariffs, we are able to turn the page,” SunPower Chief Executive Tom Werner said in a statement.
U.S. President Donald Trump in January announced a 30-percent tariff on all imported solar panels, an opening salvo in an escalating global trade dispute he said was aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers and other businesses rebound from years of decline. Much of the U.S. solar industry protested the move, saying it would chill one of America’s fastest-growing sectors.
SunPower, which earlier this year agreed to buy a U.S. solar manufacturing facility in Oregon from SolarWorld Americas to expand production in its home market, said the deal would close before the end of this quarter.
SunPower said the decision by the U.S. Trade Representative to exempt some of its products from tariffs would be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.
SunPower shares were up $1.01, or 15 percent, at $7.59 on the Nasdaq. SunPower is majority owned by France’s Total SA .
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Bill Berkrot)