We live in such a fast-paced world that it’s impossible to stay current with all the media being published daily. We get it. Work and life get busy and while we may be subscribed to all the most popular blogs and newsletters, it’s understandable that not everything gets clicked or read.
To take a bit of the pressure of knowing all the big industry news and talking points, we’ve decided to give you a hand and put together a list of the most popular industry-related blogs and articles with our takeaways so you can stay informed without investing too much of your time.
Greentech Media (GTM):
A mainstay in the renewables industry, Greentech Media has been reporting on industry happenings since 2007.
Outlining the increase in the adoption of solar energy, this article from May 2019 explains that not only has the U.S. hit the 2 million solar installation milestone but it has also done so in record time, stating that getting to 1 million installs took 40 years. Analysts from Wood Mackenzie also expect that number to increase to 4 million by 2023.
The article also concludes that some of the main blockers in the increase of solar adoption include the slowing of installations due to the decline of SolarCity/Tesla while the imposition of import tariffs had much less of an effect than previously thought.
The main takeaway: Even though solar has been rapidly growing as of late, it still has a long way to go to catch up to the other players in the renewable energy market.
Written by Barry Cinnamon, CEO of California's Cinnamon Energy Systems, this article from December 2019 attempts to dispel some of the common misconceptions about home battery systems.
As someone well-versed in the solar industry and the technology available, Cinnamon explains that whole-home battery backups are impractical for the majority of homes. He mentions that while off-grid homes do exist, they can rely on battery power alone because they’re built to be more energy efficient in the first place. Most homes built to rely on the grid are not as efficient and will likely need more power than can be stored in a battery.
The article concludes by mentioning that the best way to go with the current technology is to design solar-coupled battery backup systems instead. These would ensure that homes could stay powered at all times without needing to spend an excess of money on energy storage.
The main takeaway: While battery-powered homes seem great in theory, they don’t really hold up in practice unless your home and appliances are extremely energy-efficient. The best course of action is to add a battery to a grid-tied system to get the best of both worlds.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):
SEIA is the national trade association for the United States solar industry, representing it since 1974. Their website is a great resource for anyone in the industry, providing solar news, information about policy changes and highlighting events relevant to its readers.
With changes to the ITC starting to take effect, it’s no surprise that this post is one of SEIA’s most visited. This article is such a good resource for anyone in the solar industry, we even referenced SEIA’s fact sheet in our own article about these changes.
The article begins with a few facts about the ITC and the solar industry in general, for example, SEIA states that the ITC “has helped the U.S. solar industry grow by more than 10,000% percent since it was implemented in 2006”. They also mention that “despite progress, solar energy still only represents 2.5% of energy production in the United States”.
It concludes with more information about the ITC, explaining that it is currently at 26% federal tax credit but will drop to 0 for residential projects and a permanent 10% for commercial installs.
The main takeaway: With an annual solar growth of 52% since the ITC was enacted, it’s hard not to be upset that it’s going away. It’s important to continue to use the fact that it’s being phased out when meeting with prospective clients who might be on the fence about buying right now to create a sense of urgency.
Another popular post on SEIA’s website is this page containing information and factsheets about recycling PV products.
The article explains that there are a few things to note about solar panels in terms of their lifespan. Firstly, “solar equipment can last for decades, particularly with proper maintenance.”. On top of that, panels can also be recycled or refurbished when they near the end of their lifespan.
The post mentions that since solar panels generally have a lifespan of 25 - 30 years, many of the first wave of systems are nearing the end of their lives so plans to recycle or dispose of them need to be put in place to deal with the waste.
SEIA mentions that some of their members already have recycling/disposal programs in place and then provides some handy links for their recycling program as well as factsheets explaining what to do with equipment that is past it’s prime.
The main takeaway: While solar is a good source of renewable energy, it’s important to have a plan and resources in place for any materials that are no longer viable.
Solar Power World (SPW):
Active since 2011, Solar Power World has been the number one source for all things solar-related in the U.S. market, publishing blogs, news, webinars, podcasts and more.
Even though this article is from April 2019, it’s still quite relevant in terms of what’s out there as far as new tech in the solar space.
The main takeaway from this post is that attempts to create better alternatives to traditional solar systems are still being made with some success. Manufacturers are trying to re-invent the wheel in terms of what we traditionally see as “solar panels” with mixed results.
The blog highlights a few different alternatives to traditional solar products such as CertainTeed’s Apollo II solar shingles which are smaller, rackless solar panels that give a more streamlined look to the system. Also mentioned are the Luma solar roof and DeSol Power Tiles, both offering a mix of normal tiles and solar cells to provide a more uniform look to the roof.
The main takeaway: It’s clear from this article that solar energy systems have come a long way from their inception and the innovation in the space is nowhere near slowing. While we may not be there quite yet, it’s interesting to see companies step up and try something new.
With all of the advancements solar technology has made in recent years, it’s no surprise that this article from January 2020 all about solar trackers is picking up steam.
While rooftop solar is always a great option, ground-mounted systems can be extremely versatile and generate a lot of power depending on how much land space is available. One way to maximize the energy production of these systems is to install them on trackers that follow the sun as it moves throughout the day.
This article explains the differences and pros/cons of both single-axis and dual-axis trackers:
Single-axis trackers: These have shorter racking heights and require less space than dual-axis trackers. They don’t help generate as much electricity as dual-axis trackers but the fact that they don’t need as much space is a plus.
Dual-axis trackers: Installed on a single post, these trackers can hold more than 20 panels and generate 30 to 45% more energy than fixed-tilt systems. They’re typically used for residential or small commercial systems but are also seeing utility-scale installs as well. Dual-axis trackers are also harder to clean due to the heights the systems can reach.
The main takeaway: Not only has panel technology come a long way in recent years but so have the systems they are installed on. It’s important to stay informed on all the new options available to installers so you can give your clients the options that are best suited to their needs.
We know life is busy and it’s not always possible to stay up to date with all the important news and articles available online. Now that we’ve saved you some time, keep that momentum going by switching so a solar software that will help shave hours of generating solar proposals off of your day.
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Article by: Christine Hannivan for Solargraf.