Category Archives: Solar Power

5 Benefits of Solar Panels for Schools and Universities


For most people, solar panels are synonymous with residential and commercial use. People put solar panels on their homes to cover electric bills, and augment their commercial buildings to draw new business and “go green.” But what happens when solar panels are added to the layout of schools or universities? Today, solar panel installations in schools are becoming more popular.

As it does, it’s decreasing the environmental impact of these institutions and making them greener and more eco-friendly. In many cases, eco-friendly universities may also see increased enrollment and greater interest levels across the student base.

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Thanks to these perks, it’s a trend solar installers, students, teachers, and citizens alike can expect to see much more of.

Why Should my School go Solar? 5 Smart Reasons

Solar panels for schools have many benefits. In addition to decreasing an institution’s carbon footprint, solar panels also generate a great deal of power. Here are a few of the most significant benefits of solar panels for schools:

1. Solar Panels Work Well on Most University Roofs

Most residential homes have pitched roofs, which can make adding solar panels difficult. Universities and schools, on the other hand, typically have flat, expansive roofs made of materials that are ideal for solar panel installation.

In addition to providing plenty of open, unshaded space for solar panels to work to their highest potential, these roofs are also unlikely to feature sensitive materials, like wood shingles, which can make solar installation more challenging. Since roof angle and material have a major impact on the effectiveness of solar arrays, this is excellent news for any college or university that wants to install panels.

2. Solar Power Will Reduce Operating Costs for the School

Electric prices have risen over the past ten years. Because they use a great deal of electricity, schools and universities have been some of the primary victims of these price hikes.

Fortunately, solar power is a free source of energy, found in abundance throughout the world, and advanced technology and skilled installers have made it even more accessible for institutions.

In fact, colleges and universities have access to some of the least expensive (in terms of cost-per-watt) systems available. As systems get larger, their cost per watt price falls. This means colleges and universities can enjoy affordable power without the guessing game of the grid.

3. Solar Power Could Help Boost Enrollment

Solar power is cutting-edge and attractive to eco-minded students, teachers, and supporters. As such, a college or university that installs a solar panel system could easily see an increase in enrollment.

This is especially true in competitive areas, where having solar panels on a building could be the factor that distinguishes one university from its competitors in the eyes of potential enrollees.

When modern students choose schools, many of them look for options that offer environmentally-conscious practices, renewable power, and eco-friendly facilities. As such, some colleges and universities have even established Sustainability Offices designed to drive the institution’s green initiatives forward.

When these things all come together at a single institution, it’s easy for that school to gain a reputation for innovativeness and creativity.  Not only do solar panels produce energy, but they also stand out as a unique social and cultural symbol.

4. Solar Power Provides Unlimited and Reliable Energy

For universities, schools, and residences alike, solar power systems offer a dependable source of unlimited energy. While fossil fuels are a finite source of energy, solar power is not. Designed to work on cloudy days, in part sun, and even in wintery environments, solar panels can generate a significant amount of power for universities and schools that install them.

5. Solar Arrays at Colleges Helps Drive Solar Power Forward

To invest in solar panels, people need to see them at work, first. Since universities are busy public places, campuses that install solar panels do the important work of driving the solar industry forward by providing greater exposure for solar arrays. This is especially true for universities that install large, campus-powering systems.

Unless people have the opportunity to see solar panels at work, they can feel relatively strange and alien. Luckily, students, faculty, and visitors who come into contact with solar panels on university campuses have the opportunity to learn how the arrays work. This helps familiarize people with the panels and, hopefully, inspire them to invest in solar energy on their own accords.

What About Solar Panels for School Grants?

When residential owners want to install solar panels on their homes, they’re eligible for grants from the federal government to help cover the cost. Luckily, the same is true for colleges and universities. Today, there are many different federal programs available to schools that want to install solar arrays.

For example, the Department of Energy introduced the SunShot Initiative in 2011, which supports research and development surrounding solar energy, and establishes projects designed to reduce the cost of obtaining it. In fact, the initiative’s primary goal has been to make the price of solar energy comparable to that of fossil fuel-based electricity by 2020.

Programs like these can go a long way toward offsetting the price of solar installation for schools and universities and making them that much more accessible for establishments that are interested in exploring them.

The Future of University Solar Installs Looks Bright

Today, colleges and universities have a great deal to gain when it comes to the installation of solar panels. Ideal for reducing energy bills and cutting costs associated with powering a school’s facilities, solar panels are an eco-friendly addition that can also have wide-reaching social and cultural impacts, and companies like Sandbar Solar are installing more and more of them.

When students see a university taking steps to go green and reduce their carbon footprint, it could easily impact the student’s attendance decision and result in higher enrollment numbers for the school.

What’s more, since tax rebates and credits are available for schools that want to install solar panels, it’s an affordable option that will pay off down the road.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

25+ Reasons Living in an RV (Recreational vehicle) is Better Than Living in a House


“It’s like a house!” That’s everyone’s reaction when they first see a recreational vehicle. But of course it’s like a house, and it is actually a house. A recreational vehicle is a towable motor vehicles fitted with bathroom, kitchen and sleeping facilities. In other words, an RV is a travelling permanent home. Those that use these movable homes on a full-time basis are commonly referred to as “full-timers” and live a location independent lifestyle.

As much as most folks think that living in a recreation vehicle is pathetic, it is in reality a lot of fun and it is time for the world to see it as for its true value. For those who see a recreation vehicle as a “joke,” here are 25+ valid reasons why you should change your perception and think of it as a better option than living in a house.

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1. Perfect for Vacationers

RV living is fit for people and families that are choosing an easier way to see parts of the world while maintaining their incomes. Vacations cost far more less when you RV travel as opposed to when you have to stay in hotels and have to eat in restaurants.

2. Environmentally friendly

Use limited essential resources in a manner that is not wasteful because it is not easily accessible for use, for instance, water. Some of the RVs also burn biodiesel or waste vegetable oil to make them more environmentally friendly than modern travelling. One can also use solar power for electricity by simply installing them on the RV.

3. Good for some career opportunities

RVers work remotely to support life on the road. Some careers can be easily started in an RV like scenic photography, software development, blogging, and videography. This gives one the freedom to travel without experiencing high transportation expenses because it is all about living on the move.

4. Retirement Benefits

RV can help you enjoy your retirement benefits while at the same time having fun. As a retiree, you can sell your home and buy an RV to travel around the world for as long as it can take you. As opposed to your home which is in a fixed location, the RV can take you to warmer climates during the winter and colder climates during the summer. Furthermore, your children will have grown and it will just be the two of you or just you, alone and bored.

5. Expand relationships

An RV guarantees you finding new and different social situations through social events as opposed to a fixed home. Some examples designed for RV livers include ice cream socials, dinners, live entertainment, and group exercises exposed through RV parks and camp grounds. People who live in RV parks tend to form cliques. It gives you more chance to meet people.

6. Enjoy travel opportunities

The benefits of travelling enjoying breathtaking views normally cost. But with an RV, one gets to be exposed to many new people, places, foods, and ideas than someone who stays at a fixed home is not able to enjoy.

7. Less work

For an RV, it takes a very short time to clean the whole house. There are no lawns to water and mow, large areas to clean, walls to paint or garages to organize. There is no yard work. Maintenance requires less work and money than a house, you can renovate the trailer by simply painting it again.

8. More free time

You definitely have more time to yourself because an RV has limited space. You will also use less time to clean and working from home cuts back the time for travelling to and from the office. At the end of a day work, you can just sit back and relax because there will be less to do than in a house.

9. Financial freedom options

RV living gives you many financial options. It gives you the flexibility and opportunity to choose whatever works for you financially. You can take advantage of seasonal work in different locations. This depends on the person’s ability to make sound decisions regarding how they spend their money and the circumstances in which they are in.

10. Save more

With an RV, you can use cost reduction methods to lower expenses such as not staying in one place for months which results in the payment for electricity, cable and water bills. Cooking your own food and limiting meals bought from restaurants also saves money. If you stick to simple choices, you can avoid spending much. If you do your math well by buying a reasonably fair priced RV, know how to economically repair and maintain the RV, finding an affordable campground, and locating where services are convenient; then you will save more.

11. Fit for outgoing personalities

If you have a sense of adventure and have a social lifestyle, an RV is better than living in a house. Notably, an RV will enable you get to meet new people and experience different ways of living. Furthermore, it is suitable for people that embrace a nomadic lifestyle. Also, it suites the lifestyle for those interested in travelling and camping rather than living in one location.

12. Own one loan-free

It is easier to own an RV loan free than owning a house loan-free. Owning a house means being overweighed and stressed by loan repayments and mortgages.

13. Spend time outdoors

RV lifestyle promotes outdoor activities other than sitting indoors. An RV has a tiny space that gets you sick after staying in for a while, encouraging you to go outdoors and stretch. It encourages one to spend time outdoors because it is a new place after a period of time, and most campsites have great places to enjoy outdoor activities.

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14. Keeps you organized

Because it is a small space, it makes a small mess seem like a big mess and encourages you to clean up regularly. It is also easy to organize because you own less stuff. Above all, it is easy to maintain a regular routine.

15. Can relocate easily

If you don’t like your current living location, then get an RV. With it, you can easily move at an easier cost compared to relocating to a permanent home. Also during relocation in case of a house, you have to consider if you own the land you are currently living on, the sale of the land, or the purchase of new land and the additional cost of constructing a new home in a more suitable location.

16. Mobility

An RV gives you the flexibility of going wherever you want, whenever you like. You can never have to stay in one spot for longer than necessary. With an RV, you can travel practically anywhere in the country, knowing that you have a place to sleep and something to eat.

17. Less expensive

An RV Is less expensive compared to a house, especially in the terms of the money you spend on day-to-day basis. Parking fees are quite affordable compared to owning a piece of land to build a house and the payment of annual land rates.

18. Freedom

An RV gives you freedom and as such, you won’t be restricted by what you can do, and where you can go. You can wake up one morning and decide to go anywhere you want or do whatever you want. It also gives you the freedom to see the world the way you want to and do it on your own timetable.

19. Much more fun

No periods of time are exactly the same. The experiences you get from each location you visit with an RV is different as opposed to staying at the same place for a long time, sometimes even a decade without ever moving.

20. Quality of life is rewarding in an RV compared to living in a house

Living in an RV affords a good quality of life. You are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle. It allows you to keep eating healthy because you have home-cooked meals no matter where you travel. It also keeps you physically fit because you spend time outdoors as opposed to living in a house where you can spend all day watching TV.

21. You have fewer things in general

An RV is a big promoter of minimalism. The temptation to buy more things or things you do not need is gone because there is no room for storage. Without big closets and rooms for storage, you will be forced to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Living in an RV helps you to be aware of everything you own.

22. Amazing views for less such as living near the ocean or lake

With an RV, you can live near the ocean on prime real estate without it being too expensive. You can also easily change your location views from the ocean, the rainy forest, or in the middle of a city at very minimal expense.

23. Grow closer relationships and spend time with loved ones

Whether you live as a family in an RV or just you and your spouse, people tend to grow closer with each other in adventurers situations. One is not limited by space between each other like in a house, but close to each other and can easily start conversations about the experiences and everything going on around you.

24. Good for personal growth

The exposure to different types of cultures and the numerous experiences during travel with an RV is great for personal growth. Totally moving away from the everyday people around you will give you a sense of independence and stability.

25. Flexibility

Apartment renting and home loans keep you stuck at the same spot whether you like it or not. Having an RV offers flexibility. Because of flexibility, one can up and move to a different city for a job opportunity without spending a lot of money.

26. Value experiences

With an RV, it teaches us to value the memories you make while on the road. It reconnects us with nature and exposes the natural world around us as opposed to living at a permanent place.

Image credit: Greg , flickr

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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Sun, Wind and Water: Africa’s Renewable Energy Set to Soar by 2022


There has been a loud cry for clean, more efficient, less carbon sources of energy all over the world. About 22 percent of electricity on the world is produced by renewable energy, while the remaining 78 percent is by the use of fossil fuels — gas, coal, etc. This accounts for the massive global warming worldwide; and also the desertification, gully erosion and flooding experienced in some parts of Africa.

Africa too is having a shift towards the use of renewable energy. Countries like South Africa, Ethiopia, and few other countries are making headway in the use of renewables. Energy officials have said that the strong demand for power in Africa would give rise to the use of renewables in the next 5 years.

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So many communities in African nations (especially Sub-saharan Africa) just have access to electricity by the advent of the use of renewable energy in those places. Much more people now have access to power.

In Nigeria, the Energy commission have forecast that by 2030, Nigeria would need about 200,000MW of power to be able to effectively distribute electricity to it’s citizens. This can’t be achieved by the use of gas alone; but more of the renewables — sun, wind, and water; and even biomass; because of the current rate of production (which is about 5,500MW).

In some places in Nigeria, power has become affordable and easy to access. For example, in Ofetebe community in Edo State, Nigeria, a solar mini-grid produces 4kW of electricity to power a community borehole, a clinic, 30 households, a barber shop and relaxation spots like a video parlour. The cost of installation was about N4.8m, the mini grid will last for 30 years: an investment of N500 per month for each household. The community would therefore enjoy electricity every day, 365 days per year.

Ghana is currently building what is to be Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant with $400m, which will consequently produce 155MW (the Nzema Solar Project). Kenya is also planning for sufficient solar power to provide more than half of the country’s electricity by 2016. Construction of the plants that would help achieve such is expected to cost $1.2bn. (For the same amount, Nigeria could build about 1,000km of gas pipelines – but this would constitute only 10% of what she needs).

The use of renewable energy in Africa is really growing. Paolo Frankl, head of the renewable division at the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) had this to say, “A big chunk of this (growth) is hydro because of Ethiopia, but then you have solar sources in South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia and wind in South Africa and Ethiopia as well.”

He forecast that the installed capacity of renewable energy in the Sub-Sahara region would almost double the current 35 gigawatts to above 60 gigawatts under the right conditions. Ethiopia has a set of hydro-power projects that are being constructed, this includes the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam along the Nile River that will produce about 6,000 megawatts when it is completed.

This is sufficient for an averagely populated city for a year. “Africa has one of the best potential resources of renewables anywhere in the world, but it depends very much on the enabling framework, on the governance and the right rules,” Frankl told Reuters on the sidelines of a wind energy conference. The advocacy for a low-carbon energy source to reduce harmful greenhouse gases is a form of threat to industries who use fossil fuels, as well as beneficiaries of such.

In Africa, South Africa’s state-owned electricity company, Eskom, best illustrates the effect of the shift from fossil energy to renewable energy. The company has shown reluctance to sign new deals with independent power producers, according to analysts.

In May 2017, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) said that the energy regulator agreed to probe into Eskom’s refusal to sign the agreements that delayed almost 3,000 megawatts

in new solar and wind projects. Mark Pickering, chairman of SAWEA, said on Wednesday, “Our government does not appear to appreciate the forces of nature.”

Eskom’s reluctance to sign the new power purchase agreements for two years has delayed investment of $4.03 billion, and affected investors’ confidence with the record of at least one wind turbine being closed down. “The continent has a lot of potential, but the problem is financial and political issues, so all of our projects are being delayed for quite a long time, like with Eskom,” said Mason Qin, business development manager for southern and eastern Africa.

Hence, the strong demand for less carbon energy, and the prospective plans of African nations regarding electricity, and the demands to achieve such plans, has projected that, only by the use of renewable energy can these be achieved. 5 years would be sufficient to make this shift in Africa much clearer.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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Why is an Oil Company Leading California’s Biggest Solar Power Project?


The quest for sustainable energy, especially solar energy, has been one fraught with difficulty, with one of the main obstacles being the power of the oil and gas juggernaut.

This is why the news that Aera Energy, owned jointly by ExxonMobil and Shell, would be partnering with GlassPoint Solar to create the largest solar energy project in California came as such a surprise to the world when plans were announced on the 29th of November 2017.

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The site of this ambitious project is located in Belridge oilfield, one of the largest in the country, which is just west of Bakersfield. It will be the first of its kind in the world – a project that will begin to use solar power instead of other sources of energy to provide energy to oilfields. The project is set to take up 770 acres and will rise to build an 850 MW solar thermal facility to power the oilfield and a 26.5 MW photovoltaic facility to provide electricity to the location.

The project’s purpose is simple: to generate steam that can be used to assist in the oil extraction process when it is injected into the ground. Heavy oil is created through this process, as the steam heats oil in reservoirs so it can be pumped up to surface level. Belridge’s oil production is at 76,000 barrels a day today. By using thermal energy from the sun instead of traditional gas, this project will do wonders for the environment.

The aim is to be able to create a whopping 12 million barrels of steam annually, which will serve as a replacement for the 4.9 billion cubit feet of natural gas that would have been needed to create the same amount of steam. This will save an estimated over 376,000 metric tons in carbon emissions – roughly as many as 80,000 cars would produce annually.

But was has led a traditional energy corporation like Aera Energy to make the leap into assisting in the production of renewable, sustainable energy? There are a multitude of reasons beyond the simple desire to help better the environment.

The biggest factor that could have led to this decision is the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy. With solar power, large investments are necessary, but following that, you receive more than your money’s worth back as fuel production is essentially free aside from any necessary maintenance costs. As mentioned, without solar power, 4.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas would be needed to produce 12 million barrels of steam per year – and the price of that is $3 per cubic feet, which adds up to $15 million savings annually. In terms of carbon credits, the estimated savings are about $5 million annually.

On top of all that, participating on solar and renewable energy projects could be good for any company in the long run – especially in California, where the costs of running a business can be high enough to demand a better performance and social acceptance.

The project is even more doable due to California’s extension of its cap-and-trade system on carbon dioxide emissions, which now goes on till 2030. Without this extension providing legislative support as well as regulatory stability, funding the project, which is ahead of its time and may not become economically profitable as a whole for a few more decades, may not have been possible.

Aera Energy won’t be working with an inexperienced company, either. Glasspoint has built glass houses for Berry Petroleum and has worked to make similar solar powered generators for steam with Petroleum Development Oman that involved a $600 million contract, in the Middle East where natural gases aren’t quite as evenly distributed. It has also made the top 100 list by Global Cleantech that features up and coming, innovative and promising companies in solar power.

Is this sort of partnership set to be a new global trend? Perhaps. A total of five other similar plants have been built around the planet using similar technology, though with some differences, of which three have had GlassPoint’s involvement. Meanwhile, in Norway, Statoil – one of the biggest oil corporations in the country – is working on a similar project in Brazil, and oil giant Shell is working on exploring the possibilities for one in Australia. Statoil has also been making strides in wind energy.

Many environmental groups feel that this project is step in the right direction, though some enthusiasts may feel more ambiguous about its goals. GlassPoint’s Senior Vice President, Sanjeev Jumar, stated during the project’s press release that his company’s partnership with Aera Energy indicates how energy is working hand-in-hand globally, demonstrating how both renewable and non-renewable energy companies can converge. Aera Energy is estimated to wind up spending around $250 million on the mutually beneficial project, and it’s estimated that the Belridge Solar project will begin functioning by the year 2020, when it will start to produce the highest energy output of any power plant of its kind in California.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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