In theory, solar power has always been the perfect solution to our energy needs. Not only do our lifes and the lifes of nearly all living organisms on our planet depend on the light from the sun for energy needs, but our fossil fuels all came about because of the sun. And the renewable energy advocates are right with their mantra that “If we cover a small part of the Sahara Desert with solar panels, we can power the world”. If the sun’s energy was effectively harnessed, which it can be with modern solar technologies, all of our global energy needs could be met with solar installations. This begs the question, why aren’t we doing it then. We are not using solar for our energy needs because it is still very cheap to take fossil fuels from the ground and in addition we have a huge global infrastructure which has been built up over the last 100 years to excavate, transport and harness those fuels. However this is changing as electricity becomes the most important energy source powering our homes, businesses and entire economic systems and as solar costs plummet.

There are two ways to capture the sun’s energy to produce electricity: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Solar Photovoltaic (PV). As the name suggests, CSP plants produce electricity by concentrating the sun’s rays, usually to boil water. Yet, despite the fact that CSP off the shelf components have been around for many years now, the technology has never really gained much traction.  Part of the reason is that it has not been able to push its costs down particularly in comparison to solar PV. Plus, clear skies for direct sunlight are needed (ruling out most of Europe and a lot of Asia for deployment), and the systems need to be large in scale  making them unsuitable for rooftops or decentralized installations.

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In this installment of “Going Off-Grid with Solar” we are going to learn how to size our off-grid system’s PV array & battery bank size using a fictitious example to show how to calculate your own system.

This will not be too granular in detail to keep it very simple and easy to replicate for your own needs.  Some simple calculations and you’re well on your way to determining just how much PV you will need as well as how much storage is going to be needed.  So, let’s just dive in.

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The city of Saratoga Springs will soon move forward with a project creating a 2-megawatt solar array to provide power at the city landfill.City Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan said the city’s contractor, SunEdison, was successful in obtaining support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through the Governor’s NY-Sun Competitive PV Program.

NY-Sun is a $1 billion initiative of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to advance the scaleup of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. According to the governor’s office, SunEdison and the city of Saratoga Springs were selected among a competitive field of applicants.

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In this video, Amory Lovins explains how since 2008, half the world’s new electricity generating capacity has been renewable, and why the lower cost, lower risk, and scalable mass-production of modular technologies like wind turbines and solar panels is out-competing central power stations in the world market.\

ASES Solar Tour

Homes, Schools & Businesses Nationwide Participating In 19th Annual ASES National Solar Tour To Help Capital Region Residents Cut Energy Costs, Enjoy Tax Credits & Assert Their Energy Independence

[(NYS Capital Region, October 4, 2014)] – Capital Region NYSES (New York Solar Energy Society) joins the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and hundreds of solar-savvy installers and grassroots organizations throughout America to showcase thousands of solar-powered homes, schools and businesses ―  in the Albany Capital region and across North America — for the 19th Annual National Solar Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event.

The event,  slated for Saturday October 4th is showcases the solar technologies your neighbors are using to 1) drastically reduce monthly energy bills, 2) reduce harmful carbon emissions, and 3) enjoy rich tax credits and cash incentives as they improve their property values.

“The ASES National Solar Tour shows families and businesses real-life examples of how their neighbors are harnessing free energy from the sun to generate electricity, warm and cool their homes, heat water and slash monthly utility bills,” Carly Rixham – Executive Director
American Solar Energy Society said.

On October 4 [Capital Region NYSES] will hold open house tours of more than a dozen homes and businesses in the greater Capital area.

The self-guided tours in recent years attracted more than 150,000 people in 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Tours afford participants the direct perspectives of homeowners and installers about the costs, processes and economic and environmental benefits of going solar. The tours also give The Capital Region a glimpse at how a variety of solar systems look in and around structures with different architectural styles.

“The National Solar Tour demonstrates an array of practical and economical solutions available right here, right now. It encourages neighborhood conversations addressing the growing need for clean energy,” said ASES Executive Director, Carly Rixham.

This Tour is free and open to the public Learn more about sponsoring, hosting or volunteering for a tour in your community at:


22 Sep 2014

Going Off-Grid with Solar

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There are a number of system types that can be considered when making this move toward energy independence. Some of the questions that you want to start thinking about are:

Do I want my home to be completely off-grid or do I want the ability to have grid power should the need arise?

I have already installed a grid-tied PV system on my home, can I use my existing system and still have the ability to go off-grid?

I’m not sure I’m ready to invest in a battery based system; however, I would like to plan on adding that to my future or existing PV system.  What options are there for me?

    Now that you have started to think about these questions and which of these applies mostly to your situation we can begin to understand how these relate to the different types of off-grid PV systems.

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How to install solar panels when your roof isn’t an option


 If your roof can’t support solar panels, try adding them to ground or pole units throughout your property.

Want to add renewable energy but don’t have a roof that can support a solar array? Don’t abandon the possibility of solar energy if your roof isn’t an option. Look to unused areas of your property instead.

Solar panels can be placed on parking canopies or ground- and pole-mount units. These additional configurations can achieve the same output or greater as a rooftop installation.

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House on Solar PanelsWhat if you could get a 20-year, no-money-down loan for a home solar photovoltaic (“PV”) system costing up to $25,000 with only a 5 percent to 7 percent interest rate? And then pocket the 30 percent investment tax credit worth $7,500 or possibly more?Too good to be true?

This loan does exist, mostly thanks to a 90 percent loan guarantee through the Federal Housing Administration’sPowerSaver Pilot Program and its $25 million in grant funds to help banks roll out the program. Generally speaking, banks securitize the loans against the homeowner’s equity, taking a secondary/subordinated lien position against the first mortgage (if there is one).

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