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Solar Power

What is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)?


What is Concentrated Solar Power?

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is a type of solar thermal energy used to create electricity on a large scale. This is not the type of solar energy you see collecting through panels on your neighbor's rooftop. CSP is an important solar technology for homeowners to be aware of because it has the potential to provide significant amounts of clean, renewable energy that could be provided to you by your utility.... read more

What is a Certified NABCEP Solar Installer?


The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, or NABCEP, is a professional organization with the most highly recognized PV solar and solar thermal installer certification program. The goal of the organization is to raise consumer standards and promote consumer confidence in the field of solar energy. The mission of NABCEP is also to create a level of quality control for the solar industry.... read more

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Power

When talking about Solar Electricity, we are usually talking about Photolvoltaic (or PV) Solar Power. Photovoltaic Solar Power is solar energy which is converted into electricity using pholtovoltaic solar cells. This is done through the use of specialized machinery.

The ability to capture Photovoltaic energy was first discovered in the mid 1800's, but it was not until 1954 that a team of researchers at Bell Labs found a way to create enough electricity for PV energy to be of any use. This was done (and still is done) through the use of silicon semiconductors. Semiconductors only conduct electricity when exposed to light or heat (as opposed to conductors, which always conduct electricity and insulators which never conduct electricity). The captured light moves along a circuit from Positive-type semiconductors to Negative-type semiconductors in order to create electric voltage.... read more

What is Solar Energy?


What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy has been used by mankind since... well, forever (ever fry an egg on the sidewalk?)! Solar energy takes advantage of the sun's rays to generate heat or electricity. It is an infinitely renewable resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner.

There are two types of solar energy – passive and active. Essentially this means how it converted into useful energy.... read more

Bay Area Family Goes Solar to Save Money

Check out this blog post from 3rdGenBruin about how going solar can actually save you a lot of money:

First, I moved to solar for economic reasons, not environmental reasons. The environmental stuff is nice and I’m glad I’m able to do my part, but I really did this to save money.

The company I’m using is SolarCity. They are fairly popular in the Bay Area, but I think they are moving nationwide if they haven’t already. I chose them for two main reasons: 1) lease program (described below) and 2) good reputation in a nascent industry.

The process started with a call and them coming out to do a site audit. They have to check the slope of your roof, look for shade issues (tall trees, buildings, etc.) and a few other factors. I was lucky in that I basically had an ideal setup. This doesn’t happen for everyone. First, I have a two story house and the roof gets lots of sun. Second, I have nearly the ideal slope for solar. From my latitude in northern California, either the ideal is a 22 degree slope and mine was 23 degrees or vice-versa. Basically, I was 1 degree off from perfect. This was for both my south facing and western facing roof slopes. ... read more

Jack Johnson's Green Recording Studio

Jack Johnson secured a spot in our Five "Green" Bands and Musicians list earlier this fall.   Now, let's take a look at his green recording studio.

  • The studio is solar-powered.
  • The insulation is made out of recycled denim instead of fiberglass
  • The appliances are energy-efficient and the light bulbs are CFL
  • The furniture is secondhand
  • The toilets are dual flushing, meaning you can select either #1 or #2 for...well, going #1 or #2.  (The latter uses more water for the flush)
  • The wood throughout the studio was reused
  • The roof has recycled shingles and a duro-last green roof

 ... read more

Brooklyn, NY: Home to the World’s First Solar-Powered Sound Stage

Brooklyn's Broadway Stages now has the very first solar-powered sound stage in the WORLD!  Broadway Stages, a film, music video, and television studio, has produced such hits as HBO's Flight of the Conchords, the Meryl Streep movie It's Complicated, and more.  ... read more

Sunny Trash

Moving from Burlington, Vermont to Boston, Massachusetts meant a lot of change for me, the most immediately noticeable being more crowds, more tall buildings, and more startled close calls when trying to cross the busy streets. One small thing, though, was an abundance of these wherever I went:

Big Belly trash compactor They're Big Belly solar trash compactors, although being a simple country boy I didn't know this right away. Basically, they're public trash bins that compact the trash that the receive. They have a hatch on the front, a solar panel on top, and a few blinking lights to indicate readiness to receive trash.

The compactor collects all of its own energy for compaction, and it does so either rarely or silently; I've never heard one make any noise. The device was interesting, but at first I didn't understand what good it did-- after all, compacting the trash doesn't make any of it disappear.... read more

Is Sprint really a green company?

Newsweek's annual Green Rankings came out last week.  Some of the companies that make the list are surprising.  Last year I was baffled that McDonald's made the list.  (McDonald's actually dropped over 50 spots in the list since last year's rankings!)   In another surprise, Whole Foods ranked lower than Wal-Mart.  One trend I noticed is that technology companies have many of the top spots.  

This year, Sprint clinched the sixth spot on the list, right behind Dell, HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and Intel.   I've been a Sprint user for over 10 years, and recently when I was in my local Sprint store to get my Android fixed, I noticed some green phones as well as a link to the Sprint Green website.... read more

The Vatican Going Green

Back in 2007, news broke that the Vatican was planning to go green.  The Pope said that they aimed to be the first carbon-neutral state, which didn't come to fruition, but they have still made efforts such as using solar panels and a solar generator.   Last year, Inhabitat wrote that the Vatican was planning to build the largest solar power plant in Europe.   ... read more

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