August 15, 2017 0

Whether you own solar panels, are a customer of our commercial solar services or are an astronomy aficionado, Monday is going to be an exciting day. On August 21, 2017, the moon will pass between earth and the sun. The moon will block the view of the sun in many parts of the country, some partially and a few completely.

The last eclipse of this kind was in 1979—and the national electricity grid was completely different back then. Solar panels were rare during that era; today solar power is growing in leaps and bounds. The increasing presence of solar panels makes many wonder what the eclipse means for those households and businesses powered by solar.
What will happen for solar users when the sun is eclipsed on Monday for two minutes and 43 seconds? Will the country’s utility scale solar energy plants go dark?

NERC Does Not Expect Reliability Issues

The good news is that experts do not believe we will experience blackouts. Much attention and planning has been directed at preparing for the eclipse’s impact. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a nonprofit regulatory body that works with the entities controlling the grid, does not anticipate reliability issues for the bulk power system. Their analysis was shared in their 2017 Summer Reliability Assessment published in April.

While sunlight will be obscured during this monumental event, demand and supply play a role in how electricity will be affected. The eclipse’s path of totality starts in Oregon and moves east towards South Carolina over a 90 minute period. Solar generators directly in the path of totality will be most affected the most during the eclipse. In those areas, other sources of power will increase output to compensate for the temporary decrease in solar energy. Only 17 solar photovoltaic generators fall in this category, most of which are located in eastern Oregon. Those not directly in the path of totality will be less affected.

Preparing for the Future

What we learn during this eclipse will help us better understand and plan for the next one, which occurs in 2024. By then, solar power may be ubiquitous—it has grown approximately 68 percent per year over the past 10 years. The eclipse on August 21 will help us better prepare and discover how well the country’s system works when the sun goes dark.

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August 3, 2017 0

August 2 was Earth Overshoot Day, and while it sounds like one of those quirky internet holidays, it is not one that our solar consulting services company celebrates. In fact, it’s a day no one will celebrate. It’s the date when the population’s demand for natural resources in a given year exceeds the planet’s capacity to replenish them. Formerly known as Ecological Debt Day, it marks the point when the yearly deficit truly begins.

The Concept

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network. This international group strives to changes how the world manages climate change and its ecological resources. They developed the Ecological Footprint, which measures the natural resources remaining on our planet against demand. To determine Earth Overshoot Day, they calculate how many days of the year that the Earth’s biocapacity can fulfill the population’s demand. The remaining number of days left during that year represents the overshoot.

Since Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 2, this means that every day until 2018, we are operating at a deficit of natural resources. This means that all the natural resources used from now until then are unsustainable. It’s a scary prospect considering we are barely halfway through the year.
The first Earth Overshoot Day was devised by Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation in London. In 2006, the think tank partnered with Global Footprint Network to launch the first campaign for the overshoot concept. That year, Earth Overshoot Day happened in October. If you do the math, you’ll find that in just over 10 years, we’ve already “lost” two months.

Contributing Factors

Much research shows that the three major factors affecting our dwindling natural resources include deforestation, overfishing and the emission of greenhouse gases. A way you can quickly contribute towards reducing this resource deficit is to go solar! Solar panels use no combustion and therefore emit no greenhouse gases to generate power. Going solar will reduce your carbon footprint and ultimately save you money on utilities.

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April 20, 2017 0

Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day. It’s the perfect time to consider going solar if you haven’t already. Solar energy was first harnessed

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