New Solar Installation Record

Approx. 500,000 homes installed solar in the United States in 2012 – (Solar Energy Industries Association). That’s a 76% increase over 2011!

We’re so glad to see wider scale adoption of clean energy, and not just because we’re in the solar biz. We’re in this business for the betterment of our collective ecological situation. So GO GREEN in ’13!

Solar Installation Congratulation

That’s a nice new record, 500,000 homes with new solar installations. What’s more astonishing is the substantial increase in American solar installations from the previous year. This shows a very significant movement. Over 3.3 gigawatts of solar installations occurred across the USA in one year. Congratulations to all of those home owners who got tired of constantly paying high electric bills; tired of being forced to be more energy efficient with each passing year.

complete solar kit, ready to install system

Beat The Solar Installation Record

Our congratulation is for their wise choice to move to away from energy efficiency, to energy independence.

For the rest of you, we want to help you beat that 2012 record!

What if you didn’t have to shop around at retail to try to find panels, inverters, framing/mounting, et cetera?
What if you could get a complete solar package deal, engineered for your location and ready to install, RIGHT NOW?

Solar Kit Package Deal

For a limited time, while supplies last, even though Fonon Solar is a manufacturer that usually deals with b2b, we are offering our 5kW AP3 (American Private Power Plant) direct to home owners.

Get ’em while they last!

We make it easy for you to join the movement.

Make your own electricity; be your own power plant.

Get this complete system, a ready to install solar kit.

You can find your own installer, or we’ll do it for you (extra charge).

Private Power Plant

Personal power plant
With our American Private Power Plant (AP3TM) one can produce electricity right where one intends to use it, minimizing line losses and maximizing energy efficiency.  AP3 provides long term energy independence, it is affordable, and it’s seamless to operate. This power generation equipment is a turnkey distributed energy generation system — your private power plant.

In the first quarter of 2012, the installed cost for a commercial PV solar energy system averaged $4.63 per Watt.  Dramatic declines of installed costs have brought solar’s levelized cost of electricity, a metric that considers lifetime costs associated with energy technologies, down to between $0.11/kilowatt hour (kWh) and $0.25/kWh. These system prices are making solar more competitive with electricity generated from conventional sources. This “grid parity” already exists under specific circumstances in some states.

The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is equal to 30% of the cost of the power plant, with no maximum credit. Eligible solar energy property includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity. Combined with the tax benefit of accelerated depreciation and applicable state, local, and utility incentives up to two-thirds of the cost is covered.

Distributed Energy Generation (DEG), also called on-site generation, produces power at the point of consumption. A revolution in electricity supply, DEG will one day replace the current centralized generation model, where electricity is produced in large centralized facilities with coal, oil, gas and nuclear fired power plants. The benefits of DEG include decreased transmission line losses, lower emissions, and minimal impact on the environment.

AP3 systems feature photovoltaic modules, inverters, electrical components and support structures provided by Fonon Energy Group.

How does a photovoltaic power plant work?

make electricity with your personal power plant

Œ1. Power Generation System

Photovoltaic modules convert sunlight to DC electricity. This power is then combined into “strings” of predetermined wattages. These strings are supported by either ground or roof support structures designed to maximize the sun’s energy and provide compliance with all State and local building codes, including fire and wind loads.

2. DC Energy Collection System

The DC Energy Collection System pulls together all the energy from the module strings. Combiner boxes are located throughout the Power Generation System connecting the strings in parallel forming sub-arrays. The sub-arrays help to reduce cabling and typically include over-voltage protection and string current monitoring.

Ž3. DC to AC Conversion System

Electricity from the DC Energy Collection System is gathered and converted into AC electricity through the DC to AC Inverter System. This system contains solid-state converters that transform the DC power into utility AC power. The system optimizes the power output through advanced electronic algorithms which then connect to the AC Collection System.

4. Energy Storage System

Excess energy not immediately used by the facility is transferred to the Energy Storage System and later introduced back in to the AC to DC Conversion System when the Power Generation System stops producing.

5. AC Collection System

AC electricity from the DC to AC Conversion System is distributed into typical 120/220 or 227/480 volt circuits and prepped for distribution to the building’s standard circuits.

6. Grid Interconnect

The Grid Interconnect ties the system to the existing system. Included at this point is a net meter that allows for energy tracking both in and out of the building’s system. The on-site facility uses the energy it needs and then feeds any excess energy to the electric grid and you receive credit for that power generation.

7. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)

The SCADA system monitors and reports on the production and performance of the systems. Output, use and module production are tracked through an integrated monitoring system.

Power Plant Specifications

The AP3 series is developed to be modular and scalable. By combining individual modules, any size system can be created for any application from 25 kW to 1 MW and beyond. Each module comes as a complete turnkey system with all necessary equipment and balance of system components.

Solar Potential video from TedX

Solar Potential — Insane (VIDEO) (via Clean Technica)

  Here’s an interesting solar energy video shared by Clean Technica.

[Read more…]

Tracking Energy Storage Projects

More than 700 Energy Storage Projects are Announced or Operating around the World, According to Pike Research Tracker (via Green Building Elements)

Energy storage projects are increasing steadily, both in terms of the project pipeline and the number of projects deployed and operating. Two factors are influencing that expansion: first, demand for energy storage is increasing as utilities learn more about energy storage technologies and become less…

[Read more…]

Energy Independent Communities

energy independent communities

Energy Independent Communities’ 25 x 25 Resolution

The American vision for energy independent communities is to create “green” power areas that generate 25 percent of their electricity and 25 percent of their transportation fuels from renewable resources by 2025.

Nature provides us with all that we need. Some of what is provided will run out, much of it will constantly renew and never expire. While we are not provided with electricity that we use to power so much of our everyday lives, we are given renewable resources that can be harnessed to make our own electricity. We can almost abandon the resources that we use so much to produce power now, (coal, oil, gas), that will run out. Instead, we can utilize the cleaner, renewable resources, along with some technology, so that most of us can equip our houses and businesses to run independently, off the grid so to speak. This lean, clean, green power model is what many governments are now promoting.

Beyond Energy Independent Communities

Living off the grid is a step further than being independent of the power company. Energy independent communities are those that can operate without depending on the grid, but aren’t necessarily completely off the grid. Energy independent communities can still connect to the grid in a way that the power companies will buy electricity from the individual energy efficient little power generators within the community, and use it to supplement the old style of power it supplies to other homes and businesses that have not yet bought into the make your own electricity program.

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin does a great job of promoting energy independent communities by publicly honoring those that assert that they will realize the 25 x 25 resolution.

It’s not surprising because Wisconsin and Iowa do a good job of promoting renewable energy through their Office of Energy Independence Web sites. Many states have such an office, but these two states have active Web sites promoting their belief and participation.

Do you know of a community or neighborhood that commits to the 25 x 25 Resolution? Let us know below.

Office of Energy Independence

Having an Office of Energy Independence signifies a state’s realization that renewable power is not only a trend, but is taken seriously. Which states promote such progress toward the creation of their own renewable power sources with an actual Office of Energy Independence?

Move to energy independence

If you search Yahoo or Google for the words office of energy independence, several links to different American states’ independent power source offices are found:

  • Iowa
  • Wisconsin
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Indiana

Iowa and Wisconsin have several pages in the top 30 results, so their Web sites must have more content about their own office of energy independence than all others.

Iowa Office of Energy Independence

Iowa’s Web site for their office of energy independence states their purpose: “The office will align state government efforts for achieving energy independence through partnerships with business and industry, community leaders, government and public agencies, and other stakeholders.” They publish on their Web site frequently about renewable power sources, and on other sites about their activities.

Iowa refers to their initiatives as their New Energy Economy. Obviously, more than any other state in the U.S., Iowa’s view on clean and sustainable power sources is different, bigger, more important.

The Office of Energy Independence – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s office of energy independence states their purpose: “generating electric power and transportation fuels from renewable resources; capturing more of the emerging bioindustry and renewable energy market; and leading the nation in groundbreaking research that will make clean energy more affordable and will create good paying Wisconsin jobs.” Their office of energy independence Web site is full of information about their green activities too, but they represent it as something they’re doing, not that it IS their new economy.

Perhaps no state has as big a stake in clean and sustainable energy development as Iowa and that’s why they refer to it as their economy, and have so many articles and updates on the topic.

What makes the states of Iowa and Wisconsin so conscious of this important topic?
Is it that the other states don’t have offices devoted to the movement toward independent power sources?
Do they have such departments, but no documentation on a Web site about it?

Tell us what you think with a comment below.

Energy Generating Vehicle Development

Fonon Energy Generating Vehicle

Energy Generating Vehicle

The ability to transport mobile power plants via Energy Generating Vehicles to remote, even desolate locations is being made a reality by Fonon Corporation. In a press release on November 27, 2012, Fonon Corporation announced its intent to develop advanced Energy Generating Vehicles (EGV) that can contain a power storage capacity or be accompanied by a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

Fonon development of photovoltaic (solar) Energy Generating Vehicles will fill needs of mobile power generation for smart tactical micro grids. The new energy generating vehicle (EGV) will solve electricity creation and storage problems for use on the battlefield and in emergency situations.

The Need For Energy Generating Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Operational Energy Strategy is to integrate energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing demand for energy on the battlefield and bases. EGVs will greatly increase power provision efficiency in the field; limit the risk troops face as they use, transport and store energy; and minimize defense dollars spent on consuming energy.

FEMA has also displayed great need for this solution at emergency sites where electricity has not yet been restored while they respond to, and help recover from disasters.

How Energy Generating Vehicles Work

EGV’s allow for mobile deployment of vehicles that produce energy at the source where it is consumed. Equipped with photovoltaic energy generating systems, these vehicles can be used to power the on-board systems or to energize a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). battery energy storage system for EGV's

Used as a stand-alone energy source, a BESS provides remote locations with a dependable source of energy. These batteries never loose their charge while not in use, and can be deployed fully charged or in conjunction with energy generating vehicles, and can be recharged while deployed in order to provide a constant energy source for mobile command stations or emergency management scenarios.

An armored container can house the BESS and form a power hub so that any military or emergency response vehicle can be directly connected to the power hub.

The Future Looks Bright: ONR, Marines Eye Solar Energy

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is looking to the sun for energy in an effort to help Marines do away with diesel-guzzling generators now used in combat outposts, officials announced Nov. 29. The Renewable Sustainable Expeditionary Power (RSEP) program seeks to create a transportable renewable hybrid system that can provide Marines with electricity for a 15-day mission without relying on fuel resupply convoys that often become targets for adversaries.

“This program takes on a number of power-related challenges and ultimately will allow the Marine Corps to take a big step toward its goal of using fuel only for mobility purposes by 2025,” said H. Scott Coombe, product manager for RSEP, a collaboration between ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism and Sea Warfare and Weapons departments.

“This is a very interesting multidisciplinary problem we’re trying to solve,” Coombe said. “There are multiple heat transfer issues as well as optical, electrical and control/optimization challenges.”

ONR has enlisted the help of three industry teams—led by Raytheon, Battelle and Emcore—that have developed concepts for hybrid systems that use sunlight, heat and fuel to create electricity. One option is to combine a Stirling engine with a solar concentrator resembling a satellite dish that can harness the power of 1,000 suns. Another is to use powerful solar cells to collect sunlight in conjunction with an efficient solid oxide fuel cell.

These systems must be smart enough to independently switch back and forth from solar when the sun is out to fuel at night or when there is heavy cloud cover. They also have to be compact enough to fit on a small trailer towed by a Humvee so they can be hauled to forward positions. So far, solar concentrators have been too large to carry around the battlefield.

“These systems will be used in forward-deployed locations where we don’t want to have to go to resupply.” Coombe said.

Researchers expect a successful product will reduce fuel needs by 40 percent for expeditionary power systems, with a continual output of 3 kilowatts. It also will be much quieter than current systems and have the potential to use biofuels.

“The RSEP program is a key initiative in the Marine Corps’ expeditionary power systems portfolio for advanced power sources that embrace renewable energy systems as a means to reduce fossil fuel requirements,” said Mike Gallagher, program manager for expeditionary power systems at Marine Corps Systems Command, which will work with ONR to transition the technology to the field. “This directly supports the commandant of the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Energy Strategy and vision for highly lethal, agile and efficient combat forces.”

RSEP is a five-year Future Naval Capabilities program. ONR will evaluate the industry teams each year and could keep working with one or more of the industry products or continue to explore other options for renewable power sources.

“We’re going to learn a lot from all the different approaches and make sure we capitalize on all the successes and lessons learned going forward,” Coombe said.

A video on ONR’s YouTube channel provides more information from Coombe, Marine Corps officials and the industry teams.

By Eric Beidel, Office of Naval Research  ARLINGTON, Va.

The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.


Installed Price of Solar Photovoltaic Systems in U.S. Continues to Decline

Posted By jonweiner On November 27, 2012 @ 9:00 am In News Releases

Berkeley, CA — The installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

The median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11 to 14 percent from the year before, depending on system size, and, in California, prices fell by an additional 3 to 7 percent within the first six months of 2012. These recent installed price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008.

The report indicates that non-module costs—such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems—have also fallen significantly over time.  “The drop in non-module costs is especially important,” notes report co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, “as these costs can be most readily influenced by local, state, and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers.” According to the report, average non-module costs for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30 percent from 1998 to 2011, but have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. As a result, non-module costs now represent a sizable fraction of the installed price of PV systems, and continued deep reduction in the price of PV will require concerted emphasis on lowering the portion of non-module costs associated with so-called “business process” or “soft” costs.

The report indicates that the median installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size.  Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011.  Report co-author Galen Barbose, also of Berkeley Lab, stresses the importance of keeping these numbers in context, noting that “these data provide a reliable benchmark for systems installed in the recent past, but prices have continued to decline over time, and PV systems being sold today are being offered at lower prices.”

Based on these data and on installed price data from other major international PV markets, the authors suggest that PV prices in the United States may be driven lower through large-scale deployment programs, but that other factors are also important in achieving installed price reductions.

The market for solar PV systems in the United States has grown rapidly over the past decade, as national, state and local governments offered various incentives to expand the solar market and accelerate cost reductions.  This fifth edition in Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun report series describes historical trends in the installed price of PV in the United States, and examines more than 150,000 residential, commercial, and utility-sector PV systems installed between 1998 and 2011 across 27 states, representing roughly 76 percent of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the United States. Naïm Darghouth, also with Berkeley Lab, explains that “the study is intended to provide policy makers and industry observers with a reliable and detailed set of historical benchmarks for tracking and understanding past trends in the installed price of PV.”

The study also highlights the significant variability in PV system pricing, some of which is associated with differences in installed prices by region and by system size and installation type. Comparing across U.S. states, for example, the median installed price of PV systems less than 10 kW in size that were completed in 2011 and ranged from $4.90/W to $7.60/W, depending on the state.

It also shows that PV installed prices exhibit significant economies of scale. Among systems installed in 2011, the median price for systems smaller than 2 kW was $7.70/W, while the median price for large commercial systems greater than 1,000 kW in size was $4.50/W.  Utility-scale systems installed in 2011 registered even lower prices, with most systems larger than 10,000 kW ranging from $2.80/W to $3.50/W.

The report also finds that the installed price of residential PV systems on new homes has generally been significantly lower than the price of similarly sized systems installed as retrofits to existing homes, that building integrated PV systems have generally been higher priced than rack-mounted systems, and that systems installed on tax-exempt customer sites have generally been priced higher than those installed at residential and for-profit commercial customer sites.

State agencies and utilities in many regions offer rebates or other forms of cash incentives for residential and commercial PV systems.  According to the report, the median pre-tax value of such cash incentives ranged from $0.90/W to $1.20/W for systems installed in 2011, depending on system size.   These incentives have declined significantly over time, falling by roughly 80 percent over the past decade, and by 21 percent to 43 percent from just 2010 to 2011.  Rather than a direct cash incentive, some states with renewables portfolio standards provide financial incentives for solar PV by creating a market for solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), and SREC prices have also fallen dramatically in recent years.  These declines in cash incentives and SREC prices have, to a significant degree, offset recent installed price reductions, dampening any overall improvement in the customer economics of solar PV.

The report Tracking the Sun V: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2011, by Galen Barbose, Naïm Darghouth, and Ryan Wiser, may be downloaded from: [4].

In conjunction with this report, LBNL and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have also issued a jointly authored summary report that provides a high-level overview of historical, recent, and projected near-term PV pricing trends in the United States.  That report summarizes findings on historical price trends from LBNL’s Tracking the Sun V, along with several ongoing NREL research activities to benchmark recent and current PV prices and to track industry projections for near-term PV pricing trends.  The summary report documents further installed price reductions for systems installed and quoted in 2012.

The joint NREL/LBNL report, Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections, may be downloaded from: [5]

The research was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Technical Contacts: Galen Barbose (510) 495-2593, [6]; Ryan Wiser (510) 486-5474, [7]

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit [8].

Article printed from Berkeley Lab News Center:

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Senate gives green light to Pentagon green energy

 By DONNA CASSATA | Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Wednesday gave the green light to the Pentagon’s investment in green energy.

By a vote of 62-37 on Wednesday, the Senate backed an amendment that would delete a provision in the defense bill prohibiting the military from spending money on alternative fuels if the cost exceeded traditional fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. The Pentagon has opposed the provision that a sharply divided Senate Armed Services Committee added in May.

The Navy and Air Force have pushed to use more biofuels to operate its aircraft and ships, with military leaders suggesting a greater reliance on alternative sources in the next decade to ease dependence on foreign oil.

“It should tell us something that in an era of reduced Defense Department budgets, our senior leaders remain fully committed to this effort. We should support them in these commonsense approaches,” said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., sponsor of the amendment.

The strong bipartisan vote reflected the growing business of alternative fuels in states such as Iowa and Kansas as well as the Dakotas as 11 Republicans joined 49 Democrats in backing the measure. Two Democrats from coal-producing states — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jim Webb of Virginia — voted against the amendment.

The Senate finally began work Wednesday on the far-reaching, $631 billion defense policy bill for next year — six months after the Armed Services Committee acted on the legislation and the House passed its version. The bill authorizes money for weapons, ships, aircraft and a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel.

The total is $4 billion less than the House-passed bill, and House-Senate negotiators will have to work out the difference in the closing days of the year.

During the debate, Udall pointed out that the Defense Department consumes approximately 330,000 barrels of oil a day and this year, the military has already spent $15 billion on fuel. Based on increased oil prices, the amount is $2.5 billion more than the department had planned and another month remains.

To deal with the rising costs and reliance on foreign oil, the department is exploring alternative fuels.

The Pentagon is pushing for $1.4 billion in next year’s budget for investments in clean energy, including hybrid electric drives for ships, more efficient engines, better generators and solar power.

“As one of the largest landowners and energy consumers in the world, our drive is to be more efficient and environmentally sustainable,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a speech in May to the Environmental Defense Fund. “We have to be able to have the potential to transform the nation’s approach to the challenges we are facing in the environment and energy security. We’ve got to look ahead to try to see how we can best achieve that.”

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma have pushed to limit Pentagon investments in clean energy, arguing that in a time of defense budget cuts the Pentagon can’t afford spending money on green energy projects.

Inhofe has gone further, saying earlier this year that Panetta has a “real war to win, and he should not be wasting time perpetrating President Obama’s global warming fantasies or his ongoing war on affordable energy.”

The Senate bill extends, for one year, the divisive provisions on the handling of suspected terrorists that snagged the legislation last year. The legislation would deny terror suspects, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. It also would require military custody for foreign terrorist suspects linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates and involved in plotting against or attacking the United States.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., with the support of conservative Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced an amendment to the bill that stipulates the government cannot detain a U.S. citizen or legal resident indefinitely without charge or trial even in with the authorization to use military force or declaration of war.

“If we give up our rights, have we not let the terrorists win?” Paul said in arguing for the amendment, which may be voted on later this week.