Frequently Asked Questions - All FAQs

FAQs - All FAQs
  • Install a Domestic Hot Water system (DHW)
  • Install a Grid tied PV system
  • Install a non-grid tied PV system (attic fan, yard lights, shed power)
  • Install a wind energy system (if the location is suitable)
  • Install skylights
  • Install pool heating
To understand you energy usage, get a summary from your utility. 
A power tower is a type of concentrating solar power (CSP) technology that uses flat mirrors which track the sun and reflect light onto a collector at the top of a tower. The PS10 and PS20 facilities have been operated since 2006 and 2009, respectively, in Spain by Abengoa Power. The PS20 plant utilizes 1255 heliostats spread across 210 acres to produce steam in a collector at the top of a 541' tower. The steam turns turbines to generate 20 MW of power.
A smart grid is a segment of the electrical distribution grid that uses information and communications technology to gather data, such as information about the plentiful availability or short-term shortage of electricity from grid suppliers and the electricity demand-oriented behavior of consumers, and act on it in an automated fashion. As more homes and businesses become equipped with solar electric systems, and eventually with energy storage devices, smart grids will become more and more important in terms of balancing electricity supply and demand on a real-time basis. The main goals of smart grids are to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.
Passive solar uses building and site elements and natural processes to accomplish a given task (comfort, water heating, air movement, etc.) with no, or minimal, mechanical and electrical equipment. Active solar technologies include PV and solar water heating systems and utilize mechanical and electrical equipment.
  • Technological strides are not necessary. PV is at least 35 times more efficient than biomass in converting solar energy to electricity today.  Improvements are being made as the industry expands at a very rapid rate.  We were growing at a compounded rate of about 35% per year until 2004 when we saw a ~50% growth rate for the next several years. In 2008, the worldwide PV market size nearly doubled, led by Germany and Japan, and it doubled again in 2010. In recent years, manufacturing and installations in China have been dominant factors. 

  • What we need is volume production - The industry has not and is not expecting "breakthroughs." The technology has been known for over twenty years.

  • That said, improvements do continue. Check out SunPower . They have the most efficient PV modules on the market and the aesthetics of their 300 Watt module are unmatched by any competitor.  They could dominate the US market in the next 2-4 years.

Please see the Arizona Solar Center Calendar (not presently implemented- will return soon)

To many, PVs lead the way because costs are dropping rapidly, supplies are increasing, emissions are non existent, there are few if any moving parts, the maintenance effort is small, transmission lines can be minimal or even absent. Passive solar design is even better; that is, design our buildings so that we don’t need as much electricity in the first place.
In Germany solar development owes much of its success to their so-called feed-in law.  Here’s a web site that concisely describes how it works: .

Here are the basics

  • The "Feed-in Law" in Germany permits customers to receive preferential tariffs for solar generated electricity depending on the nature and size of the installation. Under the new tariff structure introduced in 2004, the base level of compensation for ground-mounted systems can be up to 45.7 euro cents/kWh. PV installations on buildings receive higher rates of up to 57.4 euro cents/kWh.

  • The Feed-in Law fixes tariffs for approved renewable energy projects for a 20-year period from the plant commissioning and will apply incremental price cuts. Tariffs were initially set at 48.1 cents per kilowatt hour for solar energy, 8.6 cents per kWh for wind, from 9.6 to 8.2 cents per kWh for biomass, 8.4 to 6.7 cents per kWh for geothermal and 7.2 to 6.3 cents per kWh for hydropower, waste and sewage gas.

  • Some German states have subsidy programs for PV installations that can be used in combination with the national Feed-in Law.

In other words, the German government subsidizes solar power in order to help it get a firm footing.  They do the same, as it says above, for other renewables, but at a reduced rate. 

In Japan , the competing cost of conventional electricity is so much higher that it goes a long way to make solar an economically sensible choice.
  • I want to be more environmentally responsible, using sustainable resources.
  • I want to lock in my cost of energy.
  • I want to generate my own electricity.