• New Discovery Could Improve Organic Solar Cell Performance

    While there is a growing market for organic solar cells ­­– they contain materials that are cheaper, more abundant, and more environmentally friendly than those used in typical solar panels – they also tend to be less efficient in converting sunlight to electricity than conventional solar cells. Now, scientists who are members of the Center for Computational Study of Excited-State Phenomena in Read more
  • Know Your Rights

    Arizona law protects individual homeowners’ private property rights to solar access by dissolving any local covenant, restriction or condition attached to a property deed that restricts the use of solar energy. This law sustained a legal challenge in 2000. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of homeowners in a lawsuit filed by their homeowners association seeking to Read more
  • Home Battery Systems

    Rooftop solar panels are common in Arizona thanks to abundant sunshine, but to get even more use from the technology, homeowners are beginning to pair them with large home batteries. Batteries allow homeowners to store their surplus electricity, rather than send it to the grid in exchange for credit from their electric company. Read more
  • Solar Hot Water

    There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't. The typical solar water heater is comprised of solar collectors and a well-insulated storage tank. The solar collector is a network of pipes that gathers the sun's energy, transforms its radiation into heat, and then transfers that heat to either Read more
  • Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

    (Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009) Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit State: Federal Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies Applicable Sectors: Residential Amount: 30% Maximum Incentive: Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximumSolar water heaters placed in service before Read more
  • Solar Building Design in Arizona

    The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases Read more
  • How Not to- Battery Connections

    Photo shows the situation after a battery discharge test at 300 amps was terminated on a 1530 AH IBE battery string when one post melted. During the discharge test all cell voltages are logged. The sum of the cell voltages was 2.73 volts lower than the 48-volt string voltage. This is an average of 118 mv per inter-cell connection, 5-10 Read more
  • 1 New Discovery Could Improve Organic Solar Cell Performance
  • 2 Know Your Rights
  • 3 Home Battery Systems
  • 4 Solar Hot Water
  • 5 Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
  • 6 Solar Building Design in Arizona
  • 7 How Not to- Battery Connections

Blogs

  1. Solar Center Blog
  2. Guest Blogs
Lucy Mason
06 January 2018

Wishing you a wonderful and Happy New Year!

The year 2017 has gone by quickly, and AriSEIA has accomplished a full and active agenda to further solar and renewable energy in Arizona. 

Geoff Sutton
25 November 2017

In the desert south-west the intense sunshine and long summer days result in uncomfortable and even dangerously high temperatures for about four months.


Will add Guest Blog content here
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Featured

Some things to pay attention to in Arizona

SRP is proposing three new Price Plans for Rooftop Solar

SRP is proposing three new price plans for residential customers who produce their own energy with rooftop solar and other technologies. Two of these options have no demand charge associated with them. See the SRP Proposal. Be sure to open the 'View graphics'. Specific rates are not shown. The Arizona Solar Center will have further details later.

FRAUD ALERT

Attorney General Warns About Deceptive “Solar Initiative” Flyers

PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a warning today about deceptive flyers appearing on residences in the Phoenix area that promote a solar energy effort.

The flyers claim to be a “Public Notice” from the “Maricopa County Solar Initiative,” and claim that “Arizona and the Federal Government ITC (26 USC § 25D) are paying to have solar energy systems installed on qualified homes in this neighborhood.” The flyers tell consumers to call to schedule their “site audits.” Consumers who call are subjected to a solar sales pitch by a private company. In addition, the Maricopa County Solar Initiative’s website improperly uses a modified version of the county seal, but the “Solar Initiative” is linked to a private business and is not associated with the county. The “Solar Initiative” is also not registered to do business in Arizona.

Similar flyers previously appeared in Clark County, Nevada, this summer, and law enforcement officials there have warned that the “Clark County Solar Initiative” notices are deceptive.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has aggressively prosecuted businesses masquerading as government agencies, including obtaining consent judgments against “Mandatory Poster Agency” and “Compliance Filings Service,” resulting in full restitution for Arizonans totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A picture of the “Public Notice” is below:
A picture of the improperly modified county seal used by the “Solar Initiative” is below:

If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, you can file a complaint online at the Arizona Attorney General’s website. You can also contact the Consumer Information and Complaints Unit in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, and outside of the metro areas at (800) 352-8431.

Source:https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-mark-brnovich-warns-about-deceptive-solar-initiative-flyers

Also covered at: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2018/11/26/deceptive-flyers-circulate-arizona-promoting-solar-energy-effort/2115597002/


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Caution- News leads open in new windows. Warning- These news links are automatically generated by others such as Google News and are not reviewed by the Arizona Solar Center, Inc. We are not responsible for link content.

War On Solar

Solar Roots Documentary - Movie Trailer

Considerations in sizing a PV system in Arizona

This discussion is limited to simple residential or small commercial utility connected PV systems without storage. The situation is complex. If a PV system is too large to be economical, the owner is stuck with it. Smaller systems can be enlarged. Rates below are as of January 2019. The smaller electrical suppliers such as municipal systems and co-operatives are not covered in this article. If corresponding information is submitted to the Solar Center it will be included.

General considerations:

  • How many PV modules can be installed on a roof or ground mount
    • Shading by items on roof or trees
    • Orientation and tilt
    • Tradeoff of higher efficiency (higher cost) PV modules
    • Multiple orientations vs. inverter technology (ability to mix orientations)
    • Available roof area generally limits the array size
  • How much current can be fed back to the utility depends on several factors:
    • There are two basic connection methods per the National Electrical Code (NEC), Supply Side (also called Line Side) and Load Side (more common, connected via a circuit breaker in the main service panel).
    • Load side connection is limited to using an inverter(s) that have a maximum output such that the sum of the inverter outputs multiplied by 125% is less than 20% of the listed ampacity of the buss conductors in the main service panel. (for example: a 7.7 kW inverter with a maximum output of 32 amps x 125% = 40 amps requires a 200A service panel if the main circuit breaker is 200 amps.)
    • Larger Load Side connections are possible if the rating of the main circuit breaker is reduced (load calculations by a licensed electrician required).
    • Upgrade the main service panel to a solar ready panel.
    • Consider a Supply Side connection. Usually difficult on residential unless the meter and panel are separate enclosures (not the more common all-in-one design).
  • Consider the economics that vary with the utility and selected rate schedules:
    • The utilities have different rates and requirements. The main considerations are utility purchase rates for any excess production (PV output at any time exceeds the energy consumed, Fixed charges based on PV rating or inverter rating, and demand charges. Time of Day rates may further complicate the analysis.
    • Take APS as a starting point since their policy is more pro solar than SRP or TEP. The days of residential net metering are now long gone, APS now uses meters that measure the instantaneous export power and APS credits this monthly at $0.1161 per kWh (for new PV systems with applications completed before August 31, 2019). APS On-Peak Energy Charges in the Summer range from $0.24314 down to $0.05750, depending on rate schedule and the corresponding demand charge. A simple summary is available at https://azsolarcenter.org/summary-of-residential-rate-plans-for-aps-customers-with-an-on-site-distributed-generation-system. It is difficult to determine an optimum rate selection. One factor to consider is that APS charges a monthly Grid Access fee of $0.93 per kWdc of the PV array rating. This adds up over the years and needs to be considered when deciding on an array rating.

There are residential PV system size limits: The PV array nameplate capacity cannot be larger than the following electrical service limits:

a) For 200 Amp service, a maximum of 15 kW-dc.

b) For 400 Amp service, a maximum of 30 kW-dc.

c) For 600 Amp service, a maximum of 45 kW-dc.

d) For 800 Amp service and above, a maximum of 60 kW-dc

For commercial systems APS offers net metering (Rate Rider EPR-6) and has a size limit that the facility’s nameplate capacity cannot be larger than 150% of the customer’s maximum one-hour peak demand measured in AC over the prior twelve (12) months.

  • SRP is different. Residential solar customers are required to the use the E-27 rate schedule with its high demand rates, but low energy rates. Any monthly excess is credited at $0.037 to $0.0633 per kWh, much lower than APS. SRP does not have a monthly fee based on PV array or inverter size. If the PV system is over-sized, the excess energy is only worth $0.037 to $0.0633 per kWh.

For commercial PV systems SRP uses an hourly net metering procedure (BUYBACK SERVICE RIDER) in which any excess balance each hour is purchased by SRP at the Hourly Indexed Energy Price - $0.00017/kWh, basically the wholesale energy price at Palo Verde less a small handling charge. This averages $0.020 to $0.030 per kWh. This procedure makes it difficult to accurately forecast value of any excess credits.

  • TEP will pay new solar customers 9.64 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for their systems' excess power, a price that reflects average market costs over a recent five-year period. Customers who file applications after Sept. 20, 2018 to install private rooftop solar systems will keep their initial export rate for up to 10 years. The export rate will be updated annually to reflect market prices for solar power, but will not be allowed to fall more than 10 percent. New solar customers also can choose from two existing Time-of-Use pricing plans, which offer lower rates during most of the day, on weekends and holidays. TEP offers Fast Track™ easy approval for simple PV systems of 10 kWac or less.
  • Some utilities in Arizona, such as tribal based utilities do not pay for any excess energy, but allow the back feed.

Other considerations.

    • A typical residence will use 6,000 to 20,000 kilowatt hours per year on average. A typical older small well insulated home in Phoenix that is basically unoccupied during the day uses 9,253 kWh per year. Most homes have a 200-amp service entrance and as such can only connect inverters of 7.7 kW (Load Side connection) without expensive alterations. A 7.7 kW inverter can handle PV arrays of up to about 11 kW. An unobstructed South-facing 11 kW array will produce about 17,600 kWh/year.
    • For Phoenix weather a South-facing 1 kW array at a tilt of 10° will produce about 1,600 kWh/year. Face the array to the East or West and the 1 kW array at a tilt of 10° will produce about 1,500 kWh/year. Please do not think about facing the PV array to the North, a waste of good equipment.
    • Increasing the tilt up to about 30° increases annual output, but reduces summer output when the energy is more valuable.
    • Minimum tilt is 5° to avoid dirt build up along an edge or corner.
    • Use of PV arrays larger than the inverter nominal rating (consult manufacture specifications for maximum PV array size for the inverter) can result in “clipping” when the PV array output exceeds the maximum power rating of the inverter. Difficult to estimate, but common in the spring and fall when the array rating is more than 110% of the inverter rating.
    • Demand charges- If a rate with a demand charge applies, the PV system may reduce the demand charges if the demand coincides with the solar resource.
  • Costs and savings.
    • The major installation cost components are:
  1. PV modules
  2. Inverter(s)
  3. Structure to mount the PV modules
  4. Required disconnect switches and meter base
  5. Wiring
  6. Other electronic parts such as optimizers and rapid shutdown devices
  7. Design, drawings, and permits
  1. Federal Tax Credit
  2. Arizona Tax Credit
  3. Any financing or lease related costs
    • Operational or monthly costs- APS charges a monthly Grid Access fee of $0.93 per kWdc of the PV array rating.
    • Reduction in purchased utility energy- The output of the PV system will be used to first reduce the local load and any excess and any excess will be exported to the utility. The value of this reduced purchase of energy (and related fees and taxes) is the energy price for the customer at the time period as per the discussion above.
    • The various utilities have different policies on credits for any excess energy:
  1. APS Residential- Calculates a credit at the fixed rate shown above (@0.1161/kWh).
  2. SRP Residential- Any monthly excess is credited at $0.037 to $0.0633 per kWh, depending on the rate in effect at the time the excess was generated.
  3. TEP Residential and small commercial - Calculates a credit at the fixed rate shown above (@0.0964/kWh).
  4. APS Commercial- Annual net metering with any excess credit as a monetary bill credit at the end of the year at the fixed price of $0.02895/kWh.
  5. SRP Commercial- Hourly credits are the product of the hourly energy sold to SRP and the adjusted Hourly Indexed Energy Price (market price), generally $0.020 to $0.030 per kWh.
  • Summary
    • While several services and software packages can estimate the PV array output, it is difficult to accurately estimate how well it will coincide with the building energy need.
    • The benefit of net metering is that this mis-match between solar generation and load is less important.
    • The larger the PV system, the larger the percentage sold as excess to the utility.

Of course it is not this easy, there are other considerations in a PV system design. Some further items that the PV system designer may need to consider:

  • The layout of PV modules on a roof needs to be considered:
  • The Authority having Jurisdiction for building permits may require a structural engineer report on the ability of the roof to accommodate the additional weight and wind loading.
  • The input requirements of the inverter such as voltage limits and ability to efficiently connect PV modules installed at differing orientations. The situation may require use of microinverters (one per PV module, or other electronic devices.
  • Any equipment needed to meet the rapid shutdown requirements of the adopted version of the NEC.

With all the above information, the Solar Center recommends the following procedure:

  1. Gather at least one year of electrical bills and extract the monthly energy used in kWh, the cost, and if applicable demand data. The utility may be willing to help you on this.
  2. Decide on some basic objectives. It is not simply “reduce my cost of electricity”, but may include a willingness to help improve the environment, etc. There are purchase and lease alternatives to consider.
  3. Get input from several experienced solar installers, try to avoid high pressure sales by marketing organizations. Deal only with licensed installers. Arizona law places the primary warranty responsibility on the installer, not on any company that may have sold the system and contracted actual installation to others.
  4. Free services such as Google Earth have good 3-D images of most metropolitan areas of Arizona.
  5. Determine:
    1. The maximum PV array size that will fit the structure per the guidelines above.
    2. The maximum inverter size that can be connected to your main service panel.
  6. Make sure the bids conform with #5 above.
  7. Ask for both monthly and annual projection of PV system output and estimated savings (based on the rate schedules and excess buyback policy of your electric supplier.
  8. Compare this with your objectives.
  9. Ask many questions about the make/model of the offered PV modules, inverters, and equipment warranty.
  10. Ask about small and larger systems to determine the relative expenses and savings.
  11. Arizona laws- Consumers buying, financing or leasing a solar distributed energy generation system (“System”) must receive certain disclosures from the manufacturer and solar installers regarding warranties, payment obligations, performance data and major System components as set forth in A.R.S § 44-1763. A good example of this is the APS form https://azsolarcenter.org/images/PDF/APS-Consumer%20Acknowledgement.pdf
  12. Discuss the proposed system with your utility. SRP and APS offer reasonably good advise and can advise on the best rate tariff for your situation, they have access to your history. TEP is less approachable as they do not accept phone calls to the solar department, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New electric generating capacity in 2019 will come from renewables and natural gas

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has some interesting statistics on the evolving mix of energy technologies. Old power plants are removed from service and new sources, mostly renewable, are being added.

According to EIA’s latest inventory of electric generators, 23.7 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity additions and 8.3 GW of capacity retirements are expected for the U.S. electric power sector in 2019. The utility-scale capacity additions consist primarily of wind (46%), natural gas (34%), and solar photovoltaics (18%), with the remaining 2% consisting primarily of other renewables and battery storage capacity.

  • Wind. A total of 10.9 GW of wind capacity is currently scheduled to come online in 2019. Most of the capacity will not come online until the end of the year, which is typical for renewable capacity. Three states—Texas, Iowa, and Illinois—will be home to more than half of the 2019 planned wind capacity additions.
    Natural gas. Planned natural gas capacity additions are primarily in the form of combined-cycle plants (6.1 GW) and combustion-turbine plants (1.4 GW). Most of the natural gas capacity is scheduled to be online by June 2019 in preparation for high summer demand. Of the planned natural gas capacity additions, 60% will occur in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana.
  • Solar photovoltaics. Nearly half of the 4.3 GW of utility-scale electric power sector solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity additions are located in three states: Texas, California, and North Carolina. In addition to the electric power sector, other sectors, such as the residential and commercial sectors, also install solar PV, e.g., distributed PV or rooftop systems. In addition to utility-scale capacity, EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook expects an additional 3.9 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2019.

Scheduled capacity retirements for 2019 primarily consist of coal (53%), natural gas (27%), and nuclear (18%), with a single hydroelectric plant in the state of Washington and other smaller renewable and petroleum capacity accounting for the remaining 2%.

  • Coal. Most of the coal retirements are scheduled to occur at the end of 2019. Half of the planned retirement capacity for coal is at a single plant, Navajo, located in Arizona that first came online in the 1970s. The 4.5 GW of coal-fired capacity expected to retire in 2019 is relatively small compared with the estimated 13.7 GW that retired in 2018, which was the second-highest amount of coal capacity retired in a year.
  • Natural gas. The scheduled natural gas retirements (2.2 GW) consist mostly (2.0 GW) of steam turbine plants. The natural gas steam turbine plants that are scheduled to retire are all older units that came online in the 1950s or 1960s. Most of the retiring natural gas steam turbine capacity (1.6 GW) is located in California.
  • Nuclear. Two nuclear plants totaling 1.5 GW are currently scheduled to retire in 2019. The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, located in Massachusetts, is scheduled to retire in May, and the remaining unit at the Three Mile Island Power Station, located in Pennsylvania, is scheduled to retire in September.

More information is available from the source: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=37952

Massive Asian Renewable Energy Project will generate 11,000+ MW in Western Australia

Long Term Large Scale Renewable Energy Project

This is an interesting project involving the Governments of Indonesia, Singapore and Western Australia, as well as large energy users and Nyangumarta people in the Pilbara.The Asian Renewable Energy Hub will generate 11,000+ MW of renewable energy in Western Australia. 5,000+ MW will be dedicated to large energy users in the Pilbara region, which could include new and expanded mines, downstream mineral processing and the large scale production of hydrogen for domestic and export markets. 6,000 MW will be exported to South East Asia through undersea High Voltage DC transmission cables.

7,000 square kilometres (2,700 square miles) of prime land in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia was selected to accommodate at least 7,500+ MW of wind turbines and 3,500+ MW of solar photovoltaic panels. Outstanding wind and solar resource and large project scale will result in competitive, firm renewable energy generation.

Learn more at https://asianrehub.com/

Solar Thermal Electric Systems

Solar thermal power (electricity) generation systems collect and concentrate sunlight to produce the high temperature heat needed to operate conventional steam-cycle plants to generate electricity.  A good primer on this is available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (https://www.eia.gov/) at https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=solar_thermal_power_plants

A more detailed description is available on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy

The technology seems simple, but the details are complex.  Large systems are needed to produce electrical energy at competitive costs. High temperatures increase the efficiency, but result in high pressures for the fluid that is used, and fluids that can be toxic. 

Since these systems use various means to concentrate the sunlight on a receiving surface, require a means to keep the sun focused on the receiving area and they need direct sunshine.

Many of these large systems have had difficulty the anticipated energy and/or have had operational problems. One large and expensive system in Arizona has been in the news: Underachieving Solana Solar Plant Keeps Polluting Arizona's Air

About

  • Welcome to the Arizona Solar Center

     This is your source for solar and renewable energy information in Arizona. Explore various technologies, including photovoltaics, solar water heating, solar architecture, solar cooking and wind power. Keep up to date on the latest industry news. Follow relevant lectures, expositions and tours. Whether you are a homeowner looking to become more energy efficient, a student learning the science behind the technologies or an industry professional, you will find valuable information here.
  • About The Arizona Solar Center

    Arizona Solar Center Mission- The mission of the Arizona Solar Center is to enhance the utilization of renewable energy, educate Arizona's residents on solar technology developments, support commerce and industry in the development of solar and other sustainable technologies and coordinate these efforts throughout the state of Arizona. About the Arizona Solar Center- The Arizona Solar Center (AzSC) provides a broad-based understanding of solar energy, especially as it pertains to Arizona. Registered Read More
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