• 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
Brian Czech
17 February 2019

What’s Really Green and What’s Really New

Ask Americans what the Green New Deal is all about, and you’ll get two basic answers. Most often you’ll hear, “It’s about moving to renewable energy in order to fight climate change.” You’ll also hear, from a camp further right, “It’s all about socialism!”

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. 


Featured

Some things to pay attention to in Arizona

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


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 approves rate decrease as directors argue about solar power and batteries.

Last week, SRP wrapped up their public pricing process at a final rate setting board hearing.
The board approved new rates for SRP customers, which will translate to a $1 to $4 decrease in monthly bills.
The board also voted to lower rates for solar customers, approve three new options for solar customers, and adopt a new battery/storage incentive.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/energy/2019/03/25/salt-river-project-decreases-rates-customers-but-solar-debate-rages/3245669002/.

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

General News

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.

Interesting Videos

Solar Application & Integration

APPLICATION - IMAGE 01Active and passive solar systems equipment - that hardware and elements which capture the sun’s energy for heating bath and wash water; heating swimming pools for extended season use; generating electricity to power devices; cooking food; warming and cooling buildings, etc. Solar equipment use is growing in Arizona neighborhoods, cities and towns.APPLICATION - IMAGE 02 Buildings are incorporating solar as part of the basic equipment package. People want to use solar equipment because it is cost effective, resource saving, simple to use and understand, and there is a logical, direct and unencumbered energy resource in the sun as it moves across the sky.


Solar equipment which provides for a building’s performance and the residents needs, is no longer some “future” thing - Today, solar elements and panels are part of the mainstream with other element of in the building equipment palette - electric service and distribution; gas meters and pipes; water meters and piping, water heaters, fire sprinkler systems; waste water pipes and vent stacks; air conditioners; evaporative coolers; heating systems; television receivers and connections; phone lines and junction boxes; etc. All these systems are integral elements of a buildings’ operation in meeting human needs as well as comforts. To this list, and in many cases, replacing some items on the list, Arizonans are incorporating solar devices, equipment, and design elements. Reasons for this incorporation may vary - from saving money to saving the environment, and the applications range from use of a solar hot water heater to photovoltaic panels to cool towers.

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Just as in the use of any other type of equipment, the use of solar can have a direct impact upon a building - its’ performance, its’ look, even its’ form and shape. At the same time, the building also has an impact upon the optimal use of solar strategies and equipment used - affecting both placement and performance. To assist Arizonans in the use of the sun as another element of the citizen’s energy mix, the State of Arizona has enacted legislation that clearly stipulates that there can be no prohibition to the use of solar energy. This legislation has the intent and effect of both encouraging as well as protecting Arizonan citizens right to solar utilization.


ISSUES: (top)

Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions

APPLICATION - IMAGE 05 As Arizona’s population and economy grow, there is also growth in the building market. Increasing numbers of people means more buildings, and meeting the need for more buildings results in developments and subdivisions. These developments reflect the public’s desire and demand for neighborhood identity and integrity, and to this end developments often have defined conditions of building and site appropriateness, identified as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.

Historically, CC&Rs were drafted to mitigate, among other things, unsightly installations of roof-mounted equipment of television aerials, evaporative coolers and heating/air conditioning equipment and unkempt yards and properties. Definitive CC&R’s established an aesthetic standard in order to maintain visual integrity, which was believed to be a primary element in maintaining property value. Some of todays CC&Rs have precise definitions down to building style, materials, and even color. Unfortunately overly restrictive CC&Rs promote situations where all buildings look alike and there is no visual interest and disallowance for variation, reducing a neighborhood “look” to one of sameness and boring homogeneity.

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subdivisions


Today, subdivision requirements have a common restriction - generally, no equipment visible on a building, most notably the roof. In order to maintain an aesthetic of clean lines and building form, equipment such as coolers, air conditioners, and television aerials must be located elsewhere or be visually screened. This prohibition accomplished its’ original purpose in screening or removing unsightly mechanical equipment from the skyline and placing it out of view.


Unfortunately, this “no equipment on the roof” restriction comes into conflict with optimal conditions of solar equipment placement, effective solar equipment utilization, good solar design, and sometimes is even in direct conflict with Arizona law encouraging use of solar energy. Ideally, the installation of solar equipment should be achieve optimum performance for the Owner, but restrictive CC&Rs have negatively impacted performance by forcing placement of equipment in situations of limited exposure to the sun; locations that require longer runs (of piping, wiring, etc.) than necessary; locations which require restrictive, and sometimes costly, screens; and/or placement of equipment in less than optimum exposure angle to the sun, each and all of which provide less than optimal results for the building owner.


APPLICATION - IMAGE 08 Recently, in litigation involving a Home Owner Association’s (HOA) attempt to restrict residents use of solar equipment on building rooftops (the only, and most effective, place it could be used), Arizona courts ruled against the restriction, and reinforced the solar rights of Arizona citizens. Additionally, the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA), has initiated workshops and activities with HOAs throughout Arizona to provide effective and appropriate definitions and implementation of solar equipment incorporation standards, in order mitigate future conflicts between homeowners and HOAs, and to meet State legislative intent. To this end, the Az. Department of Commerce Energy Office has supported AriSEIA in this endeavor, and continues to be a resource for Arizona citizens.

Design and Aesthetics

APPLICATION - IMAGE 09 The desire for optimum equipment performance of equipment often results in the need to mitigate site specific conditions through additional structure - mounting solar panels on racks for proper tilt angles and exposure. These racks, placed on roofs for optimum exposure, have come under fire and rejection from Homeowner Associations committed to maintaining the aesthetic qualities of the neighborhood. While effective in establishing proper orientation and attitude of solar panels toward the sun, these installations project a discontinuity with the building design and are perceived by many as ugly and unsightly appendages to otherwise attractive buildings.

Today’s subdivisions have fallen into stylistic characterizations (Santa Fe style, California tile roofs, etc.) instead of evolving from appropriate environmental response which would result in a truly Arizona style. Subdivisions are laid out with numerous considerations - density, views, circulation, etc. with little or no consideration is for basic tenets of good energy, solar and environmental design.

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Energy issues are met by adding insulation and efficient mechanical systems without consideration of using positive aspects, or mitigating negative impacts of the site and the climate to reduce both the amount of equipment used, and the amount of energy required to run it. Effective energy benefiting actions involving orientation, building shape, space planning, amount of glass, and/or incorporation of active and passive solar and energy efficient equipment as part of the building shell are overlooked. Desert houses face west into the intense sun; roofs are flat in snow country; inordinate areas of glass wrap buildings forcing residents to take defensive measures; and building forms and structure do not readily allow for integration of solar equipment as part of the building’s fabric.


APPLICATION - IMAGE 12While the idea and ideal of maintaining a neighborhood character and quality is desirable, current design and construction practices make integration of solar strategies and equipment problematic, and when coupled with CC&R restrictions regarding solar equipment, provide conditions for conflict, penalties, litigation and unhappiness - all which are counter to the heart of a neighborhood environment and value - one of belonging and being a part of shared community, and being able to use Arizona’s most prevalent resource - the sun.

APPLICATION - IMAGE 13Solar integration is easily implemented in the design and construction of a new building - equipment and element incorporation can be executed to make the project a seamless and integrated “whole”. Proper building orientation and siting can be determined. Appropriate building form can simplify the incorporation of equipment into the structure. Proper space planning can optimize the distribution systems related to solar equipment use (piping, wiring, etc.).


APPLICATION - IMAGE 14More problematic is the integration of solar devices and elements into the existing Arizona building stock. 

Existing buildings come in an array of orientations, forms, roof shapes, construction and materials - some very compatible with use of solar strategies and integration of equipment, and others contrary to good solar design posing problematic conditions for the building owner wishing to use solar. Even award winning Arizona architecture suffers from this poor consideration, with glass walled boxes in the dessert. Sites may not have any appropriate location for a solar installation. Building roofs may not have appropriate angle or orientation to the sun. Restrictive CC&Rs may prohibit the placement of equipment on a effective south facing roof, or require screening that may effectively reduce equipment performance, or force placement of equipment in locations which effect performance.


APPLICATION - IMAGE 15Whether it be new or old buildings, Arizonans respond positively to the idea of an integrated “whole”. Additions and renovations that provide a visual continuity are more readily received and enjoyed than those projects which have additions are perceived as unsightly because of their incompatibility of form or integration. What is needed is a result which meets both the functional requirements of the equipment and aesthetic sensibilities of the people, providing the best for Arizonans and Arizona architecture.

Of course site and situation, and type of system play a role in where equipment winds up. A passive thermosiphon hot water system with separate storage may have a lower location for panels than a hot water heating system which uses pumps, which would allow for panels to be placed on the roof. Photovoltaic panels may be fixed systems integrated into a sun struck roof, or be ground mounted for ease of access or for use with a tracking system.


TOWARD SOLAR EQUIPMENT USE AND INTEGRATION (top)

APPLICATION - IMAGE 16 The sun’s movement is in a predictable pattern. As the earth makes its annual elliptical trip around the sun, its axial tilt provides for the seasonal changes in the northern hemisphere. The summer sun is high overhead and its appearance and impact are longer in duration and more intense during summers, whereas the sun’s appearance is shorter in duration and lower in the horizon as it traverses the winter sky. Like all applications that use the sun’s energy, exposure is a primary and critical element. While simple direct exposure will get results, ideal positioning provides the optimum performance of any piece of solar equipment, whether it is a solar water heater, a photovoltaic panel, a solar cooker or even a passive solar heated building.

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The 3 primary aspects of optimizing performance of solar equipment are uninterrupted exposure to the sun through orientation; appropriate angle to the sun (tilt angle); and effective placement. 

Orientation

APPLICATION - IMAGE 18Maximum performance of solar equipment and passive heating strategies is based on continued exposure to the sun. Outputs are optimized when there is clear connection to the sun for the entirety of daylight hours - the more exposure to the sun, the more water can be heated, the more electricity generate, and the more heat can be generated for comfort. Collector locations must be face the sun’s path as it traverses the south sky, free of shade, for the entirety of daylight hours.

Tilt Angle

APPLICATION - IMAGE 19Solar water heating is most effective when it can provide hot water under coldest conditions - i.e. winter. The winter sun is lower on the horizon so the ideal angle of a collector should more vertical (to 45 degrees). Solar pool heating is more in demand in the colder parts of the year so this angle of exposure can be equally important. Solar cooking in the winter is more effective. This tilt angle is a very necessary condition for optimizing solar equipment use.

Positioning and orientation have significant impact upon the performance of any system. For example an array of PV panels tilted to the sun produces over 50% more electricity than one, which is simply vertical. 

Location

APPLICATION - IMAGE 20Location of equipment is a critical consideration. Placement optimizes conditions by having short runs of delivery - water heated by a solar collector should have as short a run to the storage and/or use as possible to minimize transfer heat losses. Electrical installations benefit from short delivery systems. Reduced runs mean less material, less labor and materials for installation, less maintenance in the future, and less overall cost.

An additional benefit of solar equipment placement is one that directly impacts the shape and form of a building, adding visual interest as a byproduct of the solar functionality. Passive solar buildings take their form and shape from the direct relationship in using nature’s resources. Axial elongation along the East/West axis to provide more southern exposure and minimize unwanted east and west exposures to intense summer sun; roof forms and/or elements which incorporate solar equipment and strategies; specifically calculated overhangs to protect from summer sun high in the sky while allowing for the access of lower angle winter sun; vertical forms of cooling tower projections; recessed windows and doorways for thermal tempering; and colors and textures which enhance taking advantage or mitigating conditions.

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APPLICATIONS AND EXAMPLES (top)
Implementation of solar equipment and solar strategies have a range of options, from integration on site to integration as part of a building. Currently, there are 2 major pieces of solar equipment - solar water heater systems (panels, piping, storage) and photovoltaic panels (electricity generation from sunlight, wiring, electrical equipment, electrical “storage” for off grid installation) , with a number of other pieces of solar applications like cookers, roof ponds, thermal chimneys, cool towers, etc.

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water heater

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pv

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roof pond

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cool tower


Arizonans have been resourceful, creative and ingenious in the incorporation of solar equipment and strategies into their lives and their sites. Rural Arizona, in particular, has less governmental and subdivision restrictions regarding codes and CC&Rs, more sense of rootedness, and more commitment to using solar and renewables. The variations of solar integration range across the State from urban areas to rural sites, and they all are responses to conditions, type of equipment and application, and needs of their Owners. Integration may result in the following applications:

1) Equipment placement adjacent to the building

* Ground mounting

In some cases, if there is appropriate access to the sun, ground mounting has been used successfully in Arizona for fixed photovoltaic panel arrays as well as individual panels on trackers, which follow the course of the sun to optimize operation. Panels mounted in open areas on a site allow for freedom of operation and movement necessary for a tracking system, and/or for ease of installation, access for maintenance and adjustment for both tracking and fixed systems.

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tracker
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rack
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tracker

This may also be an appropriate integration strategy for passive hot water heating systems, which use non-mechanical thermosiphon circulation methods for heating water for personal use, or for use in radiant heating of floors. Since hot water rises, and cold water settles, the thermosiphon water heating system has water, heated by the sun at the collector, naturally rising to a storage tank or through radiant heating pipes embedded in floors, and the colder water from the storage tank or the floor system, is circulated back to the panel. This convective loop runs continuously as the sun shines and works well as long as the collector panel heating the water is below the level of the delivery or storage system. Some applications with south sloping sites, place collector panels below the floor level of the house to capitalize on the thermosiphon effect of this passive approach.

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Prescott house
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Wright house

APPLICATION - IMAGE 32In these ground-mounting applications, solar equipment is located in response to the ease of location, ease of access, and direct and easy maintenance or in response to the terrain, type of equipment, and end use - sloped site integrating a passive thermosiphon water heater with end use being heating of a building and/or for domestic purposes. Some such installations have integrated equipment as part of a building element such as a porch or deck.

In all cases, proper orientation as well proper tilt angles can be easily achieved, thereby having equipment operate at its optimum in providing electricity and/or hot water.

* Separate structure mounting - 

APPLICATION - IMAGE 33Sometimes, equipment is mounted on, an adjacent structure. Photovoltaic systems that are completely off-grid and provide for the entirety of electrical service of a house require an extensive amount of batteries in order to store enough electricity for nighttime and overcast day usage. Use of batteries entail the need for an extensive amount of space as well as an area that is well ventilated in order to dissipate the hydrogen gas that is formed. Some applications provide a dedicated structure for this purpose and incorporate the photovoltaic panels and equipment such as inverters into the structure, thereby minimizing runs between panels, inverters, and storage.


Solar water heating systems used for heating pool water in order to extend the swimming season, can be incorporated into trellis and shading structures that are part of a patio and pool area. Since there is no necessity for storage (the pool water is heated directly) this provides a direct connection with short runs and minimal line loss inefficiencies. 


2. Equipment placement as additions to the building (top)

APPLICATION - IMAGE 34Equipment can be mounted directly on the building as a separate element or appendage. While solar elements can be attached to any part of a building that has good southern exposure to the sun, the most advantageous location at the roof. Roofs generally provide a condition of unencumbered and unshaded access to the sun’s path, and the location puts equipment out of the way. Additionally, a roof application can allow for placement of equipment directly above other elements of a system (hot water tank, mechanical room for photovoltaic equipment, etc.) thereby reducing runs which may reduce commensurate installation and materials costs, and reduce transfer losses.

 

APPLICATION - IMAGE 35Ideal exposure of photovoltaic and solar water heating panels is to the south and at an angle which maximizes the performance of the panels. Since the winter sun is available for a shorter time than in the summer, and is lower to the horizon, equipment performance is optimized when tilted at an angle that puts it perpendicular to the sun’s rays. This tilt angle has a direct impact on the output of the system. Summertime conditions are less a factor, primarily because there is so much sun for a longer period of time.


Many existing and new buildings are not properly sited for optimum south sun exposure, nor have roofs designed and constructed with proper tilt angle orientation to the sun. Some have no tilt at all, incorporating the prevalent Santa Fe flat roof style. These conditions force owners to live with, or mitigate negative conditions.

* Rack installations

APPLICATION - IMAGE 36 Equipment can be placed on roof-mounted racks which place panels at the correct orientation and angle to the sun. Rack mounted panels can be used to mitigate conditions of poorly oriented roofs; roofs with improper tilt angles, and flat roofs. While effective in providing proper conditions for equipment performance these installations are perceived as unsightly and incomputable with the building design, and have been the crux of recent conflicts between homeowners and their Home Owner Associations (HOA). While Arizona courts have made judgment in favor of the homeowner in this conflict, the fact still remains that some rooftop solar installations still have the issue of visual incompatibility with the building form and design.

* Screening

In order to address the issue of visual discontinuity and intrusion, some installations have incorporated screen elements which prevent viewing the equipment and racks. While screening can be executed in a manner to blend with the building architecture in flat roof situations, it is much more problematic in pitched roof and poor orientation conditions. Screening and other such visual barriers must be large enough and spaced from the equipment sufficiently in order to minimize shading which negatively impacts performance. The addition of visual screening also adds cost to the solar installation.

* Flush Mounting

Equipment can be placed flush to existing roof slopes in order to provide a compatible installation with the building’s architecture. These installations can incorporate trim, which visually integrates the equipment into the roof structure. Arizona owners and contractors have successfully installed solar equipment that is visually compatible with existing roof pitches and materials, and having the aesthetic impact equivalent to a skylight. 

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While effectively providing visual compatibility, such placements result in less than optimal performance of equipment due to less than ideal orientations and exposure to the sun. 


3. Integrated Installations (top)

APPLICATION - IMAGE 39 Combining building form and optimal functional requirements of solar strategies and equipment, this approach integrates solar equipment and strategies as a part of the building fabric and architectural expression and design, sometimes coupling multiple energy and resource efficiency strategies. The building planning, design and construction provide appropriate conditions for energy efficient operations and integration of active and passive solar equipment.

* Solar Integrated Buildings

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An integrated solar energy building incorporates ideal conditions for both passive and active solar applications, from space heating and cooling to power generation to incorporation of solar hot water systems. Integrated energy buildings, and building elements, are correctly located in terms of orientation, and exposure to the sun and correctly structured to provide appropriately angled roofs and elements for optimal solar equipment performance. Additionally, an integrated solar energy building is one that evolves its design and expression - its character and style - from the attributes of its solar (active and passive) and energy characteristics.

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Integrated systems solar buildings vary in execution and expression, even while maintaining common attributes and premises related to environmental conditions and resources in both passive and active solar applications.

Orientation to the south allows for use of the sun for passive heating purposes in cold climes and for mitigation of negative west and east sun heat in dessert conditions. This is also an ideal condition for solar equipment performance. In some projects, south facing roofs are angled to appropriate tilt angles and equipment is mounted directly as another “skin” to the building fabric. It is known that an array of PV panels tilted to the sun produces over 50% more electricity than one which is simply vertical. Collectors, whether water heating or photovoltaic, become one with the building form and expression.

APPLICATION - IMAGE 42 APPLICATION - IMAGE 43

solar integrated south facing roofs

* Building Integrated Photovoltaic Systems

New developments in photovoltaic systems are bringing panels that both generate electricity and are part of the roofing system. This dual function application easily incorporates to solar building design and construction that provides appropriate roof pitches for optimum solar exposure. The photovoltaic system, a solid state semiconductor technology converting the sun’s energy directly to electricity, without moving parts, making noise or making emissions, is developed as a Building Integrated PV system which integrates this technology into the building construction, sometimes replacing or integrating with existing construction materials that form the building’s exterior “skin” - i.e. the roof or wall system. The PV system then becomes a dual-purpose element, not only generating electricity for the inhabitants but also acting as the roof and/or wall of segment thereof, of the building.

Appropriately oriented and pitched roofs are also compatible for inclusion of solar hot water panels that benefit from ideal exposure and placement and benefit the building design with integrated design elements much like skylights add visual interest to roof lines.

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Integrated Solar/Energy Building Elements (top)

Not all integrated energy applications must encompass entire roofs on a monolithic building block. Buildings derive aesthetic interest from their component elements like clerestorey windows, chimney structures, overhangs and facia designs, and from building massing and variations in wall planes.

APPLICATION - IMAGE 46 APPLICATION - IMAGE 47 APPLICATION - IMAGE 48

The integrated solar energy building incorporates solar equipment and applications into this scale of building element. A north facing rooftop clerestorey windows can provide the structure for south facing solar equipment on the back side, thereby combining two functions - one of introducing daylight - the other of producing hot water and/or electricity, within the same structural element.

APPLICATION - IMAGE 49 APPLICATION - IMAGE 50

APPLICATION - IMAGE 51This solar/day lighting element can also include openable windows and glazing to facilitate building natural ventilation exhaust of unwanted interior heat. Now there are four functions for the one building element...

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it provides natural illumination

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it provides for natural ventilation and building cooling


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it provides a place for solar water or photovoltaic panels, and...

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it provides an interesting and dramatic building design element.

Examples of element/solar integration is the placement of photovoltaic panels as a part of the building eave system, and the integration of water heating solar panels into a south wall. 

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Multiple functional building elements is a strategy that lends itself to solar installations in existing buildings. While it may not be desirable to incorporate a solar device into an existing building fabric because of renovation costs, it may be quite feasible and desirable to do a single modifying action that has multiple applications including solar. Besides improving functionality to a building, the multiple energy/solar modification pays for itself with savings that is realized in energy efficiencies, and in savings realized in the use of solar equipment. It is a modification that will pay for itself in energy saved and in the increase in property value. 


Solar applications are a growing reality in the building landscape. Traditional perceptions of aesthetics, appropriateness, and value are changing in response to the realities of energy and environmental considerations, need for energy security, and desire for energy stability and self-sufficiency. Buildings are incorporating environmental design strategies in response to site conditions, and available natural resources, and are incorporating solar equipment and devices, which impact building design and construction. Buildings that integrate solar attributes and equipment define themselves in a form and expression that reflects local conditions and resources. The careful and considerate integration of solar, energy and environmental elements into the building, whether existing or new, is a benefit that manifests itself as the basis of a truly indigenous and local architecture (images below are examples).

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This presentation was constructed by the Arizona Solar Energy Association for the Arizona Solar Center, Inc. under contract with the Arizona Dept. of Commerce Energy Office, funded by the Dept. of Energy Million Solar Roofs program. Materials and information were provided by a number of sources.


Financial support for this presentation has been provided by the Arizona Department of Commerce (Energy Office) and the U.S. Department of Energy through (DOE) Grant No. DE-FG51-01R021250. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Energy Office or U.S. DOE. The State of Arizona and U.S. DOE assume no liability for damages arising from errors, omissions or representations contained in this presentation.

Quick Facts: Residential Photovoltaic

Updated November 16, 2016
  1. A home solar system is typically made up of solar panels, an inverter, wiring (meter and disconnect switch) and support structure.
  2. A typical rooftop solar electric system is connected to the utility grid and relies upon the grid infrastructure for backup power. It will not operate in the absence of utility power.
  3. A modest PV system will pay for itself during the life of the equipment, generally several times over.
  4. Solar increases the value of your home.
  5. Solar equipment helps protect you from rate increases and fuel cost uncertainties.
  6. Use of solar helps decrease air pollution problems related to burning fossil fuels.
  7. Solar Energy is measured in kilowatt-hours. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts. 
  8. To figure the cost of a photovoltaic system the system size is multiplied by the installed cost per watt.  A 1 kW system that costs $4 per installed watt would cost $4,000 (1,000 x $4 = $4,000).
  9. Larger systems have a lower cost per watt.
  10. Solar energy systems qualify for state and federal tax credits and exemption from Arizona sales tax.  The effective cost of a solar system can be reduced by utilizing an Arizona state tax credit (25 percent up to $1000) and a federal tax credit (30 percent). These credits can be used to reduce tax payments, but are not refundable. The Arizona tax credit is claimed using Forms 310 & 301.  Available at Arizona credit tax forms. The $1,000 is a cumulative limit per taxpayer.
  11. A one kilowatt solar system that cost $4,000 to install would be reduced by a $1000 state tax credit and $1200 federal tax credit.  The out-of-pocket cost would be $2800.
  12.  A photovoltaic energy system generates units of energy measured in kilowatt-hours.  One kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the amount of electricity needed to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
  13.  A 1 kilowatt home solar system will generate approximately 1,500 - 1,680 kilowatt-hours per year in Arizona (varies with location, orientation, any shading, and other factors).  The average Arizona utility electric rate is $0.12 a kilowatt-hour – meaning the energy offset by a 1 kilowatt solar system is equal to $201.60 (1680 x $0.12 = $201.60).
  14. If a 1 kW photovoltaic system cost $2800 to install (after incentives), and saves $201.60 a year in electricity costs – the simple payback period would be 14 years. This does not include the savings made by not paying higher future utility rates on the saved energy.
  15. There may be some utility fees that reduce these savings
  16. A typical Arizona home generally has an electric utility service rated at 200 amperes.  This generally limits the size of the inverter to about 8,000 watts without extra costs.  An inverter rated at 8,000 watts can generally use a photovoltaic array rated at up to 10,000 watts (10 kilowatts).
  17. If the photovoltaic array is in an area with shadows, or must face other than South, the performance will be affected.
  18. In one hour more sunlight falls on the earth than what is used by the entire population in one year.
  19. Remember- Use of solar helps decrease air pollution problems related to burning fossil fuels.

Quick Facts: Solar Hot Water

Updated: January 20, 2014
  1. Solar water heaters pay for themselves in 3-10 years, depending on your hot water use and whether you are comparing to gas or electric water heating.
  2. A simple passive system only adds about $15/month to your mortgage and pays for itself long before your mortgage is paid off.
  3. The total costs (initial cost, fuel, maintenance) over the life-ycle of a solar water heater is one of the lowest of all water heating systems available.
  4. Solar increases the value of your home and provides an appealing sales feature.
  5. Your solar equipment has value independent of your house. You could sell your solar equipment or take it with you when you move.
  6. Take advantage of state and federal income tax credits (25% up to $1000 state; 30% federal) and exemption from state sales tax.
  7. Utility companies offer rebates for the purchase of solar equipment including solar water heaters. Check with your utility to see if any rebate applies in your area.
  8. Increased use of solar will help decreases environmental problems caused by burning fossil fuels.
  9. Use of solar energy creates quality local jobs by expanding the local solar industry.
  10. Use of solar provides you with more independence in your personal life.

A Field of Mirrors

When the Abengoa Solana CSP plant went online in October of 2013, it was the largest working parabolic trough plant in the world (since surpassed). Solana covers more than 1,900 acres in central Arizona and it created over 2,000 construction jobs and 85 permanent jobs. These numbers do not take into effect the number of indirect jobs created as a result of the injection of capital into the community and state.

Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility, has contracted to purchase all the power generated by Solana for 30 years. On a daily basis, APS determines how Solana should produce and store its energy in order to best meet local demand. The 3,200 concave mirrors concentrate light onto the heat transfer fluid, heating it to 740 degrees Fahrenheit. About 270 miles of pipe transport the fluid to the power block where it can either be sent to the steam generator to boil water and create steam to drive two 140 megawatt turbines, or it can be sent to one of 12 giant salt tanks to be stored for later use. The salt tanks can hold the heat from the fluid for up to six hours. When electricity is needed, the heat in the hot salt is transferred into another holding tank where it is converted into steam to produce electricity.

One major drawback of CSP plants like Solana is that they need significant water for their cooling operations; however, the project’s land was previously designated for agriculture and the plant uses 75% less water for solar energy production than its previous designation.

Abengoa estimates that under optimal conditions, Solana can produce enough electricity to power 70,000 homes.

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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