TYPES OF SOLAR ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

Most of the energy that we use in our daily lives can be traced back to the sun. Biofuels like wood and ethanol are a direct result of plants using the energy of the sun to grow. The wind is generated because of the different levels of heating around the Earth, which causes the air to move so that we can capture it and utilize it using wind turbines. Even fossil fuels like coal and oil are born out of the plants that turned sunlight into stored energy billions of years ago. The plants died, got buried in the ground and transformed themselves into fossil fuels. Experts used this information to develop multiple different types of solar energy technology.

The two main technologies that we use today to turn available sunlight into electricity are solar photovoltaics and concentrating solar power. We also use solar energy to heat buildings directly without converting it to electricity. Let us take a deeper look.

SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAICS

Photovoltaic cells are what you are thinking about when you refer to solar panels or solar power. This is the most common method of turning the available sunlight into electricity. Although the technology was invented way back in 1839, it was not used commercially till the 1940s. Nowadays, solar panels have become an indispensable part of the energy sector and are used widely, from family homes to utility owned large installations. Residential solar energy is currently the fastest growing solar energy segment currently, and the installation and ownership costs of solar panels have gone down drastically as an increasing number of people are beginning to realize its benefits. Home Energy Services focuses their services on saving money for homes and businesses through residential and commercialbuilding’s solar panel installations.

As a matter of fact, you have enough rooftops that are suitable for solar panels and they currently satisfy close to 40 percent of the country’s energy demand. Since the fuel is clean and free, it has the potential to save a lot of money for you on your utility bills.

CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER

This is the second most commonly used form of solar energy technology and is quite different in nature to solar panels. In this method, we use reflectors to concentrate the available sunlight onto a high-efficiency collector where it proceeds to heat up a fluid like molten salt, water or synthetic oil. The heated fluid generates steam, which is used for driving electric generators.

These plants usually operate on a large scale and even the smallest of them generates thousand times the power that a typical rooftop home system generates. However, these plants take a long time to build and end up taking up a whole lot more space than conventional solar panels. Most importantly, they can cost millions of dollars to build. So it might be difficult to fit these on the roof of your house.

SOLAR HEATING

The third most common use of the technology is to use the available sunlight to directly heat up buildings. For instance, solar water heating can supply hot water to an entire building by running the water supply through a solar energy collector, where the energy of the sun is used to heat up the water before it is sent back into the building. It can save up to 14 percent of the average electricity bill. So offsetting it can put a real dent on the utility bill.

The improvements and innovations in solar energy technology have made it easier and cheaper than ever to install solar panels. The installation hardly takes a day and the system will work as long as the sun shines.

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NET ENERGY METERING 3.0 INFORMATION

Net Energy Metering 3.0 (NEM 3.0) is the incoming law created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The new tariffs and fees will impact both residential and commercial solar systems built in California. 

As this notice is posted in November of 2022, the Proposed Decision from the CPUC outlining the proposed NEM 3.0 terms is expected soon. This comes after a year’s delay. Once the new agreement is finalized and passed into law, there will exist a designation of the deadline under which new systems will continue to qualify for NEM 2.0 rates. 

The new NEM 3.0 rates will be designed to lower the value of electricity during the daytime hours, when solar is producing, and increase the value of electricity during the evening hours, when solar homes and businesses purchase electricity. In short, NEM 3.0 will create a “sell low, buy high” proposition to new solar system owners. 

To Californians looking to install a solar system on their home or commercial building, the NEM 2.0 rates will be preferred. As of this post, the solar industry does not know the details of how different the NEM 3.0 rates will be from the NEM 2.0 rates. 

Please use the HES Solar website as a resource to learn more, and please take our offer to speak with an HES Solar Energy Consultant at no obligation.

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Robert Laverty

Senior Energy Consultant, Residential

Robert Laverty joined the HES team in the summer of 2018, bringing his ten years of solar design experience and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound with him. Robert is dedicated to finding solutions to help families produce and store electricity in order to reduce their reliance on grid power as well as help reduce their household’s carbon footprint. Robert’s experience as a newspaper editor as well as his involvement with the sustainability-focused Rocky Mountain Institute drives him to constantly seek out innovative ways to meet energy needs through renewable resources as well as helps him share those ideas with Southern California homeowners. When not at work or volunteering time with his church or community, Robert spends time with his wife and two sons or pursues his passion of fly fishing.
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