Recent Updates

  • 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

Reminder- Arizona tax credit information is available here: Arizona Tax Incentives

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The Arizona Corporation Commission has posted a PROPOSED RULEMAKING REGARDING INTERCONNECTION OF DISTRIBUTED GENERATION FACILITIES.

Proposed new rules covering connecting to the utility power grids in Arizona has been posted and a notice by the Hearing Division to hold oral proceedings to receive public comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on March 28. 2019. at 10:00 am. or as soon as practicable thereafter. in Room 722 at the Commissions offices in Tucson. Arizona and on March 29, 2019. at 10:00 a.m. or as soon as practicable thereafter, in Hearing Room No. I at the Commissions offices in Phoenix. Arizona.

A somewhat complex NOTICE can be downloaded at http://docket.images.azcc.gov/0000195373.pdf

UPDATE 1-24-19: ACC approved new draft interconnection rules At their Jan. 16 meeting, Commissioners preliminarily approved a set of rules that could help link renewables and batteries to the grid, making it easier for customers across the state to utilize.

There is a good description of these new rules and their significance at: https://tinyurl.com/ya24baws

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.

APS announces 2018 ended with 16,479 applications and 14,818 installations: 

APS 2018 PV

Note: APS applications peak in August due to deadlines to freeze APS purchase rates for 10 years.

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/


Upcoming:


Events

War On Solar

Solar Roots Documentary - Movie Trailer

Solar Architecture in Ancient Greece

According to Socrates, the ideal home should be cool in summer and warm in winter. But Socrates' ideal was not easy to accomplish 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. The Greeks had no artificial means of cooling their homes during the scorching summers; nor were their heating systems, mostly portable charcoal-burning braziers, adequate to keep them warm in winter.

Modern excavations of many Classical Greek cities show that solar architecture flourished throughout the area. Individual homes were oriented toward the southern horizon, and entire cities were planned to allow their citizens equal access to the winter sun. A solar-oriented home allowed its inhabitants to depend less on charcoal - conserving fuel and saving money.

Some Barriers to Implementation of PV Systems

Building Permits:

Scottsdale requires a structural engineer report on the specific structure for residential PV and DHW. This costs a minimum of $500, usually higher. However, this has identified some potentially dangerous residences.

The Cities of Gilbert and Mesa do not require any permit for residential systems that do not involve changes to the main service electrical panel. The City of Mesa extends this to commercial systems. In Mesa the exemption includes the parking canopy construction as “just another mounting structure for the solar". A zoning review may be required in Mesa unless there are existing canopies and the solar canopy fits in with the others. However, if a building permit is needed in Mesa, it generally takes ‘only’ 20 working days, but Mesa is on a 4-day/week schedule so this means 5 weeks.

Plan review and permits generally add about 2% to the cost of a PV system.

The Cities of Gilbert and Mesa have generally accepted roof layout requirements intended to improve fire fighter safety in the event a house fire requires roof ventilation or other fire fighter roof access. Since building permits are not required, there is no formal check on this unless complaints are filed. There are many residential PV systems that do not conform to this requirement. 

A recent project to install a covered parking canopy with a PV system on residential property in the City of Phoenix was a permit problem. In Phoenix simple PV systems can have a building permit issued ‘over the counter’ the same day with a set of properly designed plans. Not so simple with a large PV system on a separate parking canopy, located on a hillside lot. First of all, the Residential counter in the permit office takes a quick look at the plans and says “We are not staffed to review a parking structure, you need to go to the Commercial counter (another wait), then the Commercial counter looks up the property and states “This is residential, we cannot handle residential, go back to the Residential counter”. After insisting that the supervisors of these counters discuss this, they decide that two separate permits (structure and PV) are needed. The structure permit starts with a Site Plan that must include the square footages of the lot, hillside designated area, under roof area, disturbed areas, etc., all based on the original building permit for the lot many years ago. If the present owner of the lot does not have this information, one must wait for the City of Phoenix to search the archives. This took weeks and several meetings with zoning. Only after a building permit for the parking structure has been issued can a separate permit for the PV system be issued, and not over the counter. The whole procedure can take three months.

Concentrator photovoltaics (CPV)

Concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) is a photovoltaic technology that generates electricity from sunlight. CPV photovoltaic systems use lenses and curved mirrors to focus sunlight onto small, but highly efficient, multi-junction (MJ) solar cells. To keep the sun focused on the relatively small solar cells, CPV systems use solar trackers to keep the focus on the solar cells and sometimes use a cooling system to further increase efficiency.

 

Some good general references are:

 

Green Rhino Energy- Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV)

An Arizona example: Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest

Barriers to PV Implementation

There are many barriers to wide scale adoption of photovoltaic systems in Arizona.  Some of these are:

  • Costs
  • Suitable installation area
  • Electrical Code limits
  • Building Code requirements
  • Fire Code requirements
  • Homeowner Association rules
  • Electric Utility:
    • Policy/billing
    • Technical Limits
    • Legal

The cost of photovoltaic systems is continuing to decrease due to improvements in the technologies for photovoltaic modules and the inverters required to convert the dc electric power from the photovoltaic modules to regular ac electric power.  Some items are increasing, such as wire, mounting structures, electrical apparatus (switches, meters, conduit).  There are now many financing options to direct ownership that reduce or eliminate the upfront initial costs. The majority of residential photovoltaic systems being installed (2016) are now leased.

Many homes and commercial buildings simply do not have suitable areas for installing photovoltaic modules.  Some residential developers actively design the roof orientations to make photovoltaic modules installation difficult or impossible, mostly because they find it easier to sell new homes in a development when they all look the same.  This is not illegal, but is not in the spirit of an Arizona law (ARS: 33-439.  Restrictions on installation or use of solar energy devices invalid; exception).  There are utility restrictions on transporting electric power and water between properties, such as placing a photovoltaic on nearby property.  More information on this is in <link to new article "Arizona Solar Laws">.

Safety is always a major concern.  Except for some small low voltage photovoltaic systems (yard lights, etc.), many safety codes and standards apply in order to assure safe operation.  The National Electrical Code, re-issued every three years, is the main electrical safety code, but there are requirements in Building and Fire codes that limit photovoltaic system installations.  One relatively new requirement in the Building and Fire codes is to require clear access paths on roofs for first responders (firemen, etc.).  Another relatively new requirement in the National Electrical Code (2017 version) requires that the roof mounted module area have an automatic shutdown such that when the ac power is disconnected all the voltages are reduced to safe levels (the dc voltages would otherwise increase when not connected).  These requirements are generally reinforced in the building permit process.

In Arizona the electric utilities are essentially building barriers to photovoltaic systems by reducing direct and indirect incentives for photovoltaic systems.  See the discussion in our Economics section Economics of Photovoltaics.

In some states, the electric utilities offer a billing option for Aggregated Net Billing wherein photovoltaic energy produced on one property or billing meter can be administratively applied to another account, perhaps with a small transaction fee.

Sometimes the existing utility electrical distribution system simply can not safely accept the proposed photovoltaic output.  Those planning commercial size photovoltaic systems should check with the serving utility.

Recent (2015-2016) experience from an PV contractor: Some Barriers to Implementation of PV Systems

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

    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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