I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

in surfing solar websites i found this forum and thought it would be a good place to ask (after doing a little forum searching first of course...) for some good resources & educational/certification programs.

I've been an architectural project manager for long enough and would like to make a career change to something a little more beneficial to society than a CVS on every corner.... like a solar powered CVS on every corner (if they just have to be there...).

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,207 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    Well, welcome. There is a lot to be learned, and I can't think of a much better place than here. poke around a while, and ask questions, and watch others asking questions too.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    Check out these links for examples of workshops, online courses, brick-and-mortar programs, and certifications:

    http://www.solarenergy.org/
    http://www.sanjuancollege.edu/documents/MathSci/RENG/content/REeFlyergfxlres.pdf
    http://ceret.us/ceret/DegreesPrograms/default.shtm
    http://www.nabcep.org/

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    We would ALL like to know it all :roll:

    Also try www.homepower.com
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    "I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy..."

    :D Not in this life! Haha Ain't gonna happen. :D

    But it an honorable goal, thats for sure and yes, this is a good place to start.


    .
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    Thanks for the replies and recognizing my outlandish goal... ;)

    Besides my immediate desire to understand how PV panels collect energy, basic system understanding, etc..., what has held solar power back from going more mainstream (besides politics & big oil)?

    if i had to guess i would guess that efficiency, storage & cost were the big factors. But w/ the sun being as dependent as it is I don't understand why solar power technologies have not been developed to a mainstream application yet. It seems like battery technology is finally accelerating now (at least in smaller applications).

    anyway - obviously i've got some reading to do.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,869 admin
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    Well, from my side, big oil and big politics certainly made my 3kW Grid Tie system possible... Big Oil (British Petroleum) supplied the solar panels and Big Politics (California State Government and US Federal Government) overcharged/over-taxed/over-regulated and gave me almost $10,000 in cash and tax credits for the installation.

    In reality, RE energy is not cheap... Right now, power is probably $0.10 to $0.35 per kWatt. My Grid Tied (no battery) solar system power costs, at least, $0.14-$0.17 / kW (after rebates, no loan payments, no present value/future worth calculations) or $0.25 per kWhr before rebates (assuming I don't have any major failures/damage in the next 25+ years).

    I am using the utility as my giant battery for about $5.00 per month--(plus buying any extra power than I can't generate myself--but so far, I am generating more than I use after almost 2 years).

    Not bad--but if you have to supply your own battery/inverters/chargers and use backup generator--you are probably looking more at $1.00 per kWhr in actual costs... Batteries are not cheap, and only last 3-15 years (depending on a lot of things). And since you can only really store a few days of power--you have to watch your winter usage and may need a generator/wind turbine to make up for bad weather...

    All assuming you have the sun available to generate the power. South Western US is not bad for solar--but much of the rest of the country does not have as much sun available... Let alone local shading (trees, buildings), room for panels/wind turbines, etc.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    I've just taken my first, very small step, into this world so I have no expertise. I have read about solar systems, however, through the years.

    A major issue, in my limited perspective, is not the panel per se, it's the batteries. They are expensive, heavy, use 'nastyt' chemical mixes, and do not last long. It seems, from what I read, that the panels are continuously improving, but storage (in battery form), needs some major technology boosts.
    There has been some improvement there through the development of 'plug in' automobiles.

    I'm sure it can be done, like so many things, if there is financial incentive.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    In my view, there are several major issues.

    One is to keep looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption. It’s typically cheaper to cut use (i.e., buy an Energy Star fridge) than to generate and store the renewable energy required to run an old beast. We also need to do more with solar water heating, especially in the warmer states.

    The pros and cons of various sytem architectures is another issue. Grid-interactive systems like Bill’s have their merits. Their (subsidized?) cost per kWh of energy produced is relatively low, and they produce power during the day, when the load on the grid is typically highest, thereby helping to reduce peak load on the grid. That's a good thing.

    But, grid-interactive PV energy systems have their drawbacks as well. They don’t produce much power in poor weather, and none at night, so consumers must still have a grid-connection to meet their energy requirements. The cost of installing (burying?) utility lines to low-density homes, farms and ranches is not trivial. And, because of UL 1741 “anti-islanding” requirements, battery-less grid-interactive system produce no power – zero, zilch, nada – during a grid outage, and they typically do not interface with typical generators.

    Battery-based PV energy systems do indeed require expensive, nasty, heavy, and potentially dangerous batteries, and their cost per net kWh of energy produced is relatively high. But, a well designed system will continue to supply power when the weather is poor and at night, and they work when the grid is down. Modern quality batteries like those from Rolls/Surrette and GNB have life expectancies of fifteen to twenty years, and AGM batteries are essentially maintenance free.

    A battery-based grid-interactive system coupled with time-of-use (TOU) rates may be an interesting hybrid solution. Such a system would power a home and charge the batteries at night when grid power is cheap, power the home from the PV array and/or batteries during the day when grid power is expensive, sell excess PV energy back to the grid during the day, balance the load on the grid (reduce daytime load, increase night time load) and provide a backup energy source for the home when the grid is disrupted.

    Hmmmm…..

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    thanks for the information guys. I've got a couple books on the way:

    Solar Revolution: The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry
    &
    The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won't Run the World

    ...so i can get the yin & yang on the topic. Anyone here digested these books?

    I passed a couple of the Solar Store trucks on I-17 the other day headed up to Flag. Good to see them out and about.
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    They just aired "Saved by the Sun" on PBS last night - it would be worth seeing if it comes up again soon.

    For history, I'd check out "From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity" at a local library for a perspective.

    It wouldn't hurt to Google "photovoltaic documentary"
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    i believe the title was dimming the sun and yes it was thought provoking to see it again.
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    Sorry Neil, it is "Saved by the Sun"

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/solar/

    and why I know

    http://www.solar-guppy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=539&highlight=pbs
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    hep me as me memry seems ta be failin me.:confused::cry: sorry if i remembered wrongly, but none the less a great one hour show.
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    There IS another documentary on "global dimming", though, to be fair.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I would like to learn all there is to know about solar energy...

    that may have been the one i saw.
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