Archive for the ‘Solar Power’ Category

Solar Energy, Drip Irrigation, and Revolutionized Farming Methods

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Solar energy has been making waves (or should we say, rays?) in the way energy is consumed and produced, and now it’s beginning to bring change to rural and underdeveloped areas. In Benin, a small country in West Africa, photovoltaic panels are powering drip irrigation systems in the district of Kalalé, which has made strides in improving their food production.

The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), launched a plan in 2007 to put solar-powered drip irrigation systems in two dry and rural West African villages, Dunkassa and Bessassi. Combining two forms of technologies – solar power and drip irrigation – that had known success separately but were not often used in conjunction with one another, SELF helped bring water to the arid areas so crops could get the water needed to thrive.

With the dry season making up half of the year in Benin, the country has had a deficit of fresh vegetables, contributing to ongoing issues related to malnutrition and sickness, especially in children.

Traditionally, drip irrigation systems have been powered by diesel engines that bring reservoir water through pipes and to the plant roots. SELF envisioned these irrigation systems running off of solar power in an economical fashion. Though the dual solar-irrigation systems cost around $25,000, according to SELF, the ROI is seen in two to three years. The conclusion? Though the initial overheard costs are higher, solar still proves to be cost effective over time, especially with the rising prices of fuel.

With a grant from National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge Initiative, SELF is moving forward to shed more light on the situation in West Africa, bringing solar systems to homes, schools, health clinics, and more. It’s one step towards bringing their solar integrated development model to the developing world.Over time, this technology will be utilized in the United States to provide similar benefits by leveraging solar power in innovative ways.

CQI Associates implements solar, wind, and renewable energy projects for public and private clients all around the country, and is committed to developing economical, green energy plans to create a more sustainable future.

To learn more about our services, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit CQIAssociates.com today!

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Sources:

Solar Energy Brings Food, Water, and Light to West Africa

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Benefits of Solar Energy: Tips from Maryland Energy Consultants

Friday, December 14th, 2012

From government agencies to the private sector, the last decade has seen a significant rise in solar power investments, aimed at leveraging additional sustainable and renewable energy sources for common use. With the global push towards seeking green alternatives to power our homes and businesses, staying up-to-date on the benefits of solar energy is a worthwhile endeavor.

Solar power produces a photo-electric effect by harnessing electrons emitted by certain compounds like metals when they have contact with light, or photons. Solar panels use energy channeled through photovoltaic cells – which issue electricity by way of sunlight converted into a flow of electrons.

Here are just a few of the reasons solar power is such a compelling energy source:

1. So long as the sun keeps shining, solar energy can be renewed an innumerable amount of times, cutting down on the need for use of non-renewable resources, like fossil fuels, which are used to power our cars, machines used in product manufacturing, and the like.

2. Solar panels, especially those that make use of technologies that minimize reliance upon the sun’s schedule, can make homeowners and businesses more self-sufficient by decreasing the need for conventional electricity suppliers.

3. Providing additional incentive to utilize solar power, many local and federal governments provide rebates and other monetary enticements for those who install solar panels or solar hot water systems.

4. Homeowners and businesses who invest in solar panels will see a quick return, and as an added bonus, any electricity produced that isn’t needed for powering their building can be sold back to utility company for electricity credits.

5. Solar electricity produces zero emissions, and solar panels are unobtrusive, require little maintenance, and produce silent energy that can be used to power buildings everywhere.

CQI Associates is a leading provider of energy and environmental consulting, servicing Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, and Illinois.  We consider it our responsibility to provide energy and environmental management services that allow our clients to increase profitability by minimizing operating costs. From small businesses to national accounts and private residences, CQI offers solar, wind, and renewable energy project development and operation that make for sustainable energy solutions.

To learn more about our energy management, auditing, certifications and more, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit CQIAssociates.com today!

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Sources:

Solar panel brief history and overview

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Solar Power News: Creating Green Storage Solutions for Renewable Energy

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Solar energy has a sunny outlook as a renewable energy source, and energy industry experts are seeking to make this type of energy more accessible with technology that will cause it to be less reliant on the unpredictable whims of Mother Nature. For the average consumer, this translates to a more affordable and reliable means of solar powered energy, allowing homeowners to become self-sufficient when it comes to powering their homes.

A team of professionals at Harvard University, spearheaded by engineers and chemists with the goal of creating a storage battery to harness solar energy, has been awarded a year-long $600,000 innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. The endowment makes up a small part of the $130-million “OPEN 2012” program, offered through ARPA-E, meant to facilitate the production of groundbreaking energy technologies.

The goal behind transforming the battery system for renewable energy storage, deemed a “flow battery,” is to provide economical, grid-scale electrical energy storage based on small, environmentally conscious organic molecules. Because solar power is considered an intermittent energy source due to its dependence upon weather and the sun’s power, stationary storage of solar power needs to be made better available. In so doing, reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels as a source of energy will begin to decline, making more sustainable solutions viable for energy consumers.

Flow batteries are rechargeable fuel cells with the capacity to store vast amounts of electrical energy as liquid chemicals, meant to be externally stored in tanks in order to allow designers to autonomously size electrochemical conversion hardware and chemical storage tanks. These pieces of equipment are responsible for setting topmost power capabilities and energy capacities, respectively.

In order to create a cost-effective storage solution for renewable energy sources like solar power, the team at Harvard working under the ARPA-E’s grant is attempting to utilize small, organic, plant-based molecules  that can be artificially synthesized economically as a chemical and used for storage in flow batteries. The team expects its approach to reign over existing flow batteries with its potential for higher power density, increased efficiency, economical chemicals, and safe means of storage. Should the project succeed, the Harvard scientists anticipate their work to make renewable energy like solar power more accessible due to the ability to make the energy available at all times, rather than only intermittently.

Flow batteries have the potential to help facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to a more sustainable means of producing energy.

How will this technology trickle down to benefit consumers of solar power? The improved flow battery will translate to greater reliance on solar energy to power homes, reducing the need to source energy from conventional utility suppliers, creating greater access to economical energy solutions. Want to learn more about how solar powered energy can benefit you? Tune back soon to read about the advantages of solar power!

The energy experts and consultants at CQI Associates are at the forefront of providing economical and eco-friendly energy solutions. To learn more about our energy management, auditing, certifications and more, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit CQIAssociates.com today!

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Sources:

Greener Storage for Green Energy

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Renewable Energy News: Is there a Bright Future for Solar Power?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Renewable energy accounted for about 13% of the total United States utility-scale electricity generation in 2011, placing the U.S. behind just China in total electricity generation from renewable energy. And while solar power was responsible for less than 1% of all renewable-generated electricity in the U.S. last year, the use of solar energy is growing rapidly.

1. In the first quarter of 2012, developers installed 85% more solar panels compared to the first quarter of 2011.

2. Total U.S. shipments of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in 2011 hit a record high, increasing from 2,644,498 peak kilowatts in 2010 to 3,772,075 peak kilowatts in 2011, a 43% increase over 2010. Peak kilowatts stands for peak power. This value specifies the output power achieved by a Solar module under full solar radiation.

3. From the beginning of 2010 to the end of June 2012, 1,308 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale solar capacity has come online, more than tripling the 619 MW in place at the end of 2009.

4. The Energy Information Administration projects solar power to reach 18,000 megawatt hours per day in 2013.

solar use

Interesting Facts about Solar Power in the United States

1. Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on the planet, with 173,000 terawatts striking the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.

2. The first solar cell was built in 1954 by Bell Laboratories.

3. The space industry has utilized solar power since the 1960s, when they began harnessing solar energy to provide power to spacecraft.

4. The world’s largest solar energy project, consisting of 350,000 solar mirrors, is underway in California’s Mojave Desert.

Prices continue to fall, but Obstacles remain

As prices of both solar cells and solar modules continue to fall – solar cells dropped from 1.13 in 2010 to $0.92 in 2011and solar modules (a packaged connected assembly of photovoltaic cells) dropped from $1.96 in 2010 to $1.59 in 2011- the feasibility of solar energy use in the U.S. continues to increase. And these prices are expected to keep dropping in 2012 as solar technology advances.

price of solar energy

Still, there are hurdles that the solar industry must still address, such as soft costs (permitting, zoning, and hooking the solar system to the power grid). On average, these soft costs can add more than $2,500 to the total cost of a solar energy system.

As you can clearly see, solar power is not going to take over the energy industry in 2012, but we are headed in the right direction!

To learn more, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit CQIAssociates.com today!

CQI Associates has saved our public and private commercial clients well over $1,500,000,000 based on our energy and environmental program and project saving recommendations.

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