• New Discovery Could Improve Organic Solar Cell Performance

    While there is a growing market for organic solar cells ­­– they contain materials that are cheaper, more abundant, and more environmentally friendly than those used in typical solar panels – they also tend to be less efficient in converting sunlight to electricity than conventional solar cells. Now, scientists who are members of the Center for Computational Study of Excited-State Phenomena in Read more
  • Know Your Rights

    Arizona law protects individual homeowners’ private property rights to solar access by dissolving any local covenant, restriction or condition attached to a property deed that restricts the use of solar energy. This law sustained a legal challenge in 2000. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of homeowners in a lawsuit filed by their homeowners association seeking to Read more
  • Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest

    The Agua Caliente solar farm near Yuma features First Solar’s thin-film cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar modules. Located 65 miles east of the city of Yuma, Arizona, this plant is one of the world’s largest operational PV power plants with 290MW (AC) connected to the electricity grid. Read more
  • Solar Hot Water

    There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't. The typical solar water heater is comprised of solar collectors and a well-insulated storage tank. The solar collector is a network of pipes that gathers the sun's energy, transforms its radiation into heat, and then transfers that heat to either Read more
  • Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

    (Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009) Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit State: Federal Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies Applicable Sectors: Residential Amount: 30% Maximum Incentive: Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximumSolar water heaters placed in service before Read more
  • Solar Building Design in Arizona

    The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases Read more
  • How Not to- Battery Connections

    Photo shows the situation after a battery discharge test at 300 amps was terminated on a 1530 AH IBE battery string when one post melted. During the discharge test all cell voltages are logged. The sum of the cell voltages was 2.73 volts lower than the 48-volt string voltage. This is an average of 118 mv per inter-cell connection, 5-10 Read more
  • 1 New Discovery Could Improve Organic Solar Cell Performance
  • 2 Know Your Rights
  • 3 Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest
  • 4 Solar Hot Water
  • 5 Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
  • 6 Solar Building Design in Arizona
  • 7 How Not to- Battery Connections

Blogs

  1. Solar Center Blog
  2. Guest Blogs
Lucy Mason
06 January 2018

Wishing you a wonderful and Happy New Year!

The year 2017 has gone by quickly, and AriSEIA has accomplished a full and active agenda to further solar and renewable energy in Arizona. 

Geoff Sutton
25 November 2017

In the desert south-west the intense sunshine and long summer days result in uncomfortable and even dangerously high temperatures for about four months.


Will add Guest Blog content here
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Wed, Jun 20, 2018
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Some things to pay attention to in Arizona

SRP Board Elections were held April 3, 2018

The policies set by the SRP Board of Directors have had severe impact on the installation of residential PV systems in the SRP service area in Arizona, reducing the rate of new residential PV installations by 97% due to a major solar unfriendly change in rate schedules. SRP is a public power utility (in contrast to the investor owned utilities that are governed by the Arizona Corporation Commission) and as such is governed by its elected Board of Directors.

A slate of five Clean Energy candidates were on the ballot:

  • Randy Miller (at-large 14) Elected
  • Corey Hawkey (at-large 12) Elected
  • Sheila Motomatsu (Seat 10) Not elected
  • Jeffrey Grout (Seat 8) Not Elected
  • Dennis Michael Burke (Seat 6) Not Elected

Details at: SRP Elections link

ASEA REBOOT

The Arizona Solar Energy Association (ASEA), State Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society ASES), will be holding meetings in a follow-up to the-long awaited updated ASES‚  Chapters handbook and directives.

ASES evolution, in response to some problematic economic and operational conditions, has resulted in a hearty and robust context for the present and the future. ASEA is now responding with an appropriate updating, through local and statewide discussion. 

Interim Chair, Andy Gerl, a past ASEA Chair and Board member, is making arrangements for Arizona solar advocates and supporters, members and non-members, to receive both an update re: ASES adaptation and changes, and to discuss solar in Arizona and the “reboot" of the ASEA  context, goals and objectives, within the context of varied renewable energy groups within the State, such as AriSEIA (the solar trade association); various sustainability groups; Green Building organizations; the recently formed solar hot water businesses non-profit entity; research and development at the universities; and others.

For more information about the ASEA Reboot discussions, contact Andy at andrew@blazingsolar.com  or 602-799-5942

 

Meetings:

General News

Caution- News leads open in new windows. Warning- These news links are automatically generated by others such as Google News and are not reviewed by the Arizona Solar Center, Inc. We are not responsible for link content.

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azsolarcenter November 3, 2016 Solar Battles Playing Out On Arizona Ballot This Election: It may not be at the top of the... https://t.co/uYSRxv97YR
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New Discovery Could Improve Organic Solar Cell Performance

While there is a growing market for organic solar cells ­­– they contain materials that are cheaper, more abundant, and more environmentally friendly than those used in typical solar panels – they also tend to be less efficient in converting sunlight to electricity than conventional solar cells.

Now, scientists who are members of the Center for Computational Study of Excited-State Phenomena in Energy Materials (C2SEPEM) a new energy materials-related science center based at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), have solved a mystery that could lead to gains in efficiency.

They pinpointed the source of an ultrafast and efficient process that spawns several carriers of electrical charge from a single particle of light in organic crystals that are integral to this increasingly popular form of solar cells.

This process – called “singlet fission” because it is akin to the splitting of atomic nuclei in nuclear fission to create two lighter atoms from a heavier one – holds promise for dramatically boosting the efficiency of organic solar cells by rapidly converting more of sunlight’s energy to electrical charges instead of losing it to heat.

The research team found a new mechanism explaining how this reaction can occur in just tens of femtoseconds (quadrillionths of a second), before other competing effects can steal away their energy. Their study was published on Dec. 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

“We actually discovered a new mechanism that allows us to try to design better materials,” said Steven G. Louie, director of C2SEPEM, a DOE-supported center that includes researchers from Berkeley Lab; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Texas at Austin; and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Louie, a co-leader of the study, is also a senior faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and a professor of physics at UC Berkeley. C2SEPEM focuses on developing theories, methods, and software to help explain complex processes in energy-related materials.

In the splitting process, a composite particle composed of an electron, which has a negative charge, and its partner hole – a vacant electron position in a material’s atomic structure that behaves like a particle in carrying a positive charge – rapidly converts into two electron-hole pairs. This doubles the charge-carrying potential in the material while avoiding the loss of energy as heat.

“There’s a lot we still don’t understand about the fundamental physics of this process in crystalline materials that we are hoping to shed more light on,” said Jeffrey B. Neaton, associate director of C2SEPEM, who co-led the study with Louie.

Neaton is also the Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Sciences at Berkeley Lab, the director of Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, and a physics professor at UC Berkeley. “The computational method that we developed is very predictive, and we used it to understand singlet fission in a new way that may allow us to design materials even more efficient at harvesting light, for example.”

Louie noted that many past efforts had focused on just a few molecules within the material – in this case, the crystallized form of pentacene, which is composed of hydrogen and carbon – to learn about these exotic effects. But such approaches may have oversimplified the effects driving singlet fission.

“There have been many theoretical efforts to try to understand what’s going on,” he said.

In this latest study, the research team began with a large-scale view of the overall structure of the crystallized pentacene, and particularly its symmetry – the repeating patterns in its atomic framework.

“It’s like trying to explain the ocean by either looking at it molecule by molecule, or looking at a whole wave,” said Felipe H. da Jornada, a co-lead author of the study with Sivan Refaely-Abramson. Both are postdoctoral researchers at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley and are also affiliated with C2SEPEM.

“Our approach directly captures the whole crystal,” no matter the size, he noted.

The team used calculations performed in part at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, and supercomputing resources at the Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to develop, model, and test their new theories of the fission process.

“We believe these theories can also be applied to very different materials,” said Refaely-Abramson, “and in this sense, theory is very important.” Prior experiments had missed some of the important clues about the crystal structure’s role in the singlet fission mechanism.

See the full article at Berkeley Lab

How Not to- Battery Connections

meltdownPhoto shows the situation after a battery discharge 
test at 300 amps was terminated on a 1530 AH IBE battery string when one post melted.

During the discharge test all cell voltages are logged. The sum of the cell voltages was 2.73 
volts lower than the 48-volt string voltage. This is an average of 118 mv per inter-cell 
connection, 5-10 mv is the normal range in a properly connected battery bank.

Lesson learned: Bolts are not for current carrying. 
Bolts are to hold lugs, etc. in tight contact with electrical terminals.

 

Solar Building Design in Arizona

Cliffs

The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases in The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases in environmental concerns, coupled with diminishing resources and costly energy place even greater emphasis upon solar and renewable energies as an important part of Arizona's energy mix.

Solar utilization has a long history, beginning with some of the earliest structures in which humans lived. The early inhabitants of what we now call Arizona probably did not think of their homes as passively heated and cooled. They built them in response to the climate, to social and cultural standards and to their need for adequate shelter. They did not have available to them abundant energy resources or mechanical devices for moderating the indoor climate of their homes. So they used what was available - the sun, wind, caves, fire and available materials such as branches and sticks, and mud and stone. If necessary, they built several dwellings, including one for summer and one for winter.

Some of the earliest buildings in Arizona which took advantage of the sun were the cliff dwellings which, in many cases, faced south. While archeology shows that many cliff dwellings built during the same period and later, did not face south, those with the correct orientation provided a better level of potential comfort than those that did not orient to the south. Thus the low winter sun could enter and heat the people directly as well as heat the mud and stone walls of the apartments which remained warm in the cool nights, and during the summers, the cave roof shaded the dwelling from the direct rays of the sun keeping both people and structures cool.

Early desert dwellings included pit houses semi nestled into the earth with earthen berms which took advantage of the coolness and thermal stability of the earth; ramadas - outdoor, shaded work structures (cooking, etc.) which allowed breezes to blow through. Subsequently, multi-family dwellings called pueblos also incorporated ramadas. These two types of structures gave the inhabitants a choice between using the high mass adobe structure as a shelter from extreme heat and cold, or the low mass shelter (ramada) when it was comfortable outside. The ramada was also often used as an outdoor kitchen to keep the house from getting too smoky or warm.

Arizona's Environmental Diversity

All solar buildings are climate and site responsive. Arizona is a composite of differing patterns of elevation, temperature, solar radiation, humidity, wind conditions, vegetation, and terrain and even within the general climate zones of the state, there are local variations and factors to be taken into consideration. Arizona is defined into 4 general climate zones -

  • Sonoran Desert (Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, etc.) Zone 6
  • Basin and Range (Prescott, Payson, etc.) Zone 7
  • Colorado Plateau ( Winslow, etc.) Zone 9
  • High Mountain/Mogollon Rim (Flagstaff, etc..) Zone 3f

(See Arizona Solar & Weather Information and the State Climatology Office for specific and local data)

Arizona's environmental diversity leads to differing building design strategies and expressions, but also contain some shared design aspects. In areas of severe winter conditions (Flagstaff, Northern Arizona, etc. ) solar buildings can meet wintertime heating needs by capturing the sun's rays (and heat) in ways where warming can be immediate or stored for later use, while in the summer, cooling is easily provided by cross ventilation and shading. In areas of severe summer conditions (Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson, etc.) winter heating needs are easily met using the sun in a similar manner, and cooling can be achieved by proper site planning (orientation, landscaping, shading), materials selection and placement, space planning, building form, and use of the diurnal (day/night) cycle of heat flow coupled with passive and active solar equipment. Those temperate areas of Arizona, as well as those temperate times of the season in the areas of extreme temperature, can attain comfort by the use of fundamental solar planning, building materials, and ventilation.

Arizona has two rainy seasons, one in the winter and one in the summer. However, most days have some sunshine, and Arizona receives an average of 80-90% of the possible sunshine over a year's period.

Warm Zones

The desert zones are characterized by long, hot summers with high temperatures over I 00'F and lows in the 70's and 80's and diurnal (day/night) temperature swings of 30'. Winters are mild with highs in the 60's and 70's and lows in the 30's and 40's with occasional nighttime drops to freezing and below. Average January temperatures are 51.2 ' F in Phoenix, 55.4' F in Yuma and 50.9' F in Tucson. July high temperatures for the purposes of cooling system design are 107 'F in Phoenix, 109 'F in Yuma and 102 ' F in Tucson. Most of the year the air is very dry in the desert zones except during the height of the summer rainy season, when high humidity can cause much discomfort, particularly in the Phoenix and Yuma areas.

Passive (non-mechanical) heating potential in the desert zones is great and can easily provide 80-100% of the heating load. Passive cooling potential is greatest during the dry summer periods, but usually must be augmented with mechanical cooling during the most humid times. Heating and cooling designs must be considered in conjunction with one another.

Cool Zones

While more cooling than heating is needed in the desert zones, heating is the primary need in the basin and range and the high mountain zones. Summer nighttime temperatures drop low enough in these zones to allow adequate passive cooling if prevention of unwanted heat gains in the summer is incorporated. Summer high temperatures in the basin and range zone are in the mid 90's and the lows are in the high 50's and low 60's. The January average temperature is 37.1 ' F in Prescott and 32.6 ' F in Winslow. Summer high temperatures in Flagstaff normally reach the mid 80's but can get higher while summer lows are in the low 50's. The January average temperature for Flagstaff is 28 ' F.

Because of the high solar input, passive heating can provide 70 to 100% of the heating needs in the cooler Arizona climates. If passive heating and cooling are combined with proper means of controlling heat gains provided, little or no backup cooling is necessary.

Modern Solar Homes

Historically there are many examples of solar uses, strategies, and techniques In Arizona, but solar houses, as we think of them today, were not built until the 1940's. One of the earliest Arizona solar home designers was architect Arthur T. Brown who was instrumental in the design of an earth integrated passive solar home in Florence, Arizona in 1940, and other solar homes in the southern part of the state. One of his best known solar homes in Tucson incorporates a mass wall behind glass which stored solar heat in winter, keeping the house warm late into the evening. Brown provided for summer cooling with deep overhangs to keep the sun out; low vents on the north side and high vents near the south side ceiling for cross-ventilation; and the incorporation of evaporative cooling.

Definitions and Concepts

First and foremost, there is a great difference between an energy efficient building and a solar building. Solar buildings purposefully utilize the building's attributes of orientation, form, materials, and equipment to use the sun and other natural elements (earth, wind, water) to interact with solar and environmental conditions and resources to provide a unified, comprehensive approach to heating, cooling, lighting, water heating, cooking, etc.. A solar building, by definition, incorporates and builds upon energy efficient attributes, in its aggressive use and/or mitigation of environmental resources and conditions. An energy efficient building, while highly insulating and even efficient in its' energy consumption may not utilize the environmental resources that are available to provide for human comfort.

Solar building design approaches range from Passive Solar Buildings, (the building, form shape and materials are used to meet human comfort needs with little or no other power resources required) to Active Systems (mechanical devices powered by conventional and alternative energy sources are used to help collect, store, and distribute solar and renewable energy energy resource benefits and/or electricity to meet needs) to Hybrid Systems (a composite of the two).

Passive solar homes are those that use natural means -the sun - along with the heat transfer mechanisms of convection, conduction, radiation and evaporation to provide comfort. A passive building is designed to stay comfortable both winter and summer with little or no need for additional energy. Systems that depend on fans and pumps for their operation are called active. If a small amount of energy is used to run a fan and distribute heat (or coolness) throughout the house, the system is called hybrid. All require careful siting, spatial planning, and correct orientation to optimize effectiveness.

Solar design always considers the location of the building and the location of the sun. Since there are some basic rules of physics, and the sun's impacts change as it moves across the sky and is at differing angles to the earth's surface during the seasons, there are some fundamental rules of thumb for solar building design.

Sun Location

solar arcThe sun is our greatest ally in solar design. As the seasons of the year change, the sun's location in the sky changes. In the winter, the sun is very low in the sky. It rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. In the summer, it is very high in the sky, rising in the northeast and setting in the northwest. These differences in solar location throughout the year are one of the keys to solar design. It means we can take advantage of the winter sun to heat our homes while we can keep the summer sun out.

WINTER ORIENTATION - Optimum orientation to the sun in the wintertime will accommodate heating, in both the severe winter conditions of the high mountains and milder conditions of the low desert. Since the sun is generally always to the south of us (high in the horizon during the summer and low in the winter) maximum exposure is to the south for purposes of passive solar heating of a building and orientation of solar equipment (water heaters, photovoltaic modules, cookers, etc.). The "natural" form of the building to allow for direct solar access, would be elongated in the east/west direction. (DIAGRAM)

SUMMER ORIENTATION - Optimum orientation of a building in the summer tends to be the same - with minimization of east and west facades (due to intense early morning and afternoon low horizon sun impacts) and a major south facing facade with strong overhangs in response to the high angle of the sun during the main part of the day.

COOL COURTS/WARM COURTS - There are cold (north) and a warm (south) spaces adjacent to a building, and the use of cool courts and warm courts does much to mitigate negative climatic impacts upon a building as well as enhances the outdoor lifestyle that defines Arizona.

THERMAL TRANSITIONS - In areas of temperature extremes ( severe cold or severe heat), thermal decompression should be considered. As one moves from the outdoor temperature (-32 degrees or + 100 degrees), a series of transitions should occur moving a person from hot to warm to cool to comfortable (or conversely from cold to cool to temperate to warm). In hot climes this movement is from the direct sunlight (hot) to filtered shade (trees and vegetation) to a cooler zone of more dense vegetation, shade and fountains, to exterior structural elements (porches, verandas, etc.), to an "air lock" entry, to the heart of the building. This decompression pattern is also practiced, with differing natural and built elements, in cold weather design.

The advantage of this thermal decompression is two fold.

1) it allows for tempering the environment that surrounds the building, reducing the extreme temperature range between the exterior and interior of the building , therefore there is less demand to heat (or cool) a building at any given time, and

2) it allows for the human physiology to acclimate to temperature change in moving from 100 degrees to 74 degrees (or 20 degrees to 74 degrees). The negative problems caused by sudden thermal impacts upon the human body are well known, and mitigation of this condition is a beneficial by-product of good solar building design.

SOLAR BUILDING MATERIAL APPROACHES

HEAT FLOW - Heat always flows to cold, and the rate of flow is directly affected by the temperature difference - i.e. the greater the temperature difference the faster the heat flow and the type and density of a material.

Heat Transfer

In order to understand how solar design works, it is important to understand the basic physical mechanisms which make solar design possible. They are convection, conduction, radiation and evaporation.

Convection occurs when air or a liquid carries heat from warm surfaces to cool ones. When air or the liquid is heated, it expands, becomes lighter and rises. When it contacts cooler surfaces, it transfers its heat to those surfaces. The air or liquid then cools, becomes more dense and sinks. Thus a circular convective current is set up which moves heated air or liquid from warm objects or surfaces to cooler ones. This principle can be used to heat and/or cool.

Conduction describes the passage of heat through a materials such as the walls of a house. Depending on the material composition, the denser the object or material, the more quickly the heat will usually move through it, although a very dense, thick wall can inhibit rapid transfer of heat. Insulation, by its light density and trapping of air, resists heat transfer and thus reduces the amount of heat flowing through walls and roof areas.

Radiation describes the transfer of heat across space without warming the air in between. Sunlight is short wave radiation while heat is long wave radiation. Change in the type of radiation occurs when light (short wave) strikes a dark solid. Dark objects exposed to sunlight will get warm, even on a cold day. If you stand a few feet away from a brick wall that has absorbed solar radiation all day, you will still feel heat radiating from it after the sun has gone down. Heat radiation from a hot wood stove is another example of this mechanism.

Evaporation is a heat transfer process through which air can be cooled. Water added to nonsaturated (dry) air is absorbed and cools the air. Evaporative cooling processes can either be natural such as when plants give off moisture to the atmosphere or sweat evaporates from your skin, or they can be forced such as in a mechanical evaporative cooler. Evaporative cooling processes are enhanced with ventilation.

There are three primary solar design approaches to solar building design.

  1. Thermal Mass - The building structure and materials are utilized to meet the heating and cooling requirements by means of storing warmth and coolth. Materials of high thermal capacity and density are often used for both their characteristics to impede heat flow as well as storage of heat or cold. Typical materials include adobe and its' variations (rammed earth, etc.), brick, concrete, water, and composite thermal storage materials with integrated insulation and thermal breaks, etc.. The advantage of a high mass structure is that it is a part of the heating and cooling system and can carry on for a number of days in the face power failures or inclement weather. This capability also requires much less in the way of mechanical heating and cooling equipment. Enhancement of the high mass capabilities is achieved through the use of "out-sulation", the addition of an insulated external wall barrier.
  2. Thermal Skin - The building envelope is comprised of a highly efficient thermal barrier, effectively reducing the intrusion of summer heat or loss of wintertime heat. The reduction of unwanted summer heat gain to the interior and/or winter heat lost to the cold translates to a reduction in the need to provide replacement heat, or cooling, thereby requiring less equipment and less energy consumed. Typical materials include highly insulated heavier frame construction; insulation panels with integral frame structure; double envelope systems, straw bale construction, composite materials of insulation and structure, etc..
  3. Composite - The building envelope is a thermal "skin" approach with much of the building's interior elements of floors (exposed brick, tile, and concrete); walls (high mass thermal storage interior walls, bancos; and structural and decorative elements (masonry and/or encased water) providing the storage for natural heating and cooling.

Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

(Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009)


Incentive Type:   Personal Tax Credit
State:   Federal
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:   Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies
Applicable Sectors:   Residential
Amount:   30%
Maximum Incentive:   Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000
Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Solar water heaters placed in service before 2009: $2,000
Solar water heaters placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Wind turbines placed in service in 2008: $4,000
Wind turbines placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Geothermal heat pumps placed in service in 2008: $2,000
Geothermal heat pumps placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Fuel cells: $500 per 0.5 kW
Carryover Provisions:   Excess credit may be carried forward to succeeding tax year
Eligible System Size:   Fuel cells: 0.5 kW minimum
Equipment/Installation Requirements:   Solar water heating property must be certified by SRCC or by comparable entity endorsed by the state in which the system is installed. At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar. Geothermal heat pumps must meet federal Energy Star requirements. Fuel cells must have electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
Authority 1:   26 USC § 25D
Date Enacted:   8/8/2005 (subsequently amended)
Date Effective:   1/1/2006
Expiration Date:   12/31/2016
Authority 2:   IRS Form 5695 & Instructions: Residential Energy Credits

 



Summary:
Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 does not allow taxpayers eligible for the residential renewable energy tax credit to receive a U.S. Treasury Department grant instead of taking this credit. 

Established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal tax credit for residential energy property initially applied to solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008(H.R. 1424) extended the tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, effective January 1, 2008. Other key revisions included an eight-year extension of the credit to December 31, 2016, the ability to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax, and the removal of the $2,000 credit limit for solar-electric systems beginning in 2009. The credit was further enhanced in February 2009 by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1: Div. B, Sec. 1122, p. 46), which removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008.

A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States and used as a residence by the taxpayer. Expenditures with respect to the equipment are treated as made when the installation is completed. If the installation is on a new home, the "placed in service" date is the date of occupancy by the homeowner. Expenditures include labor costs for onsite preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year. The excess credit can be carried forward until 2016, but it is unclear whether the unused tax credit can be carried forward after then. The maximum allowable credit, equipment requirements and other details vary by technology, as outlined below.


Solar-electric property

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Note that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has published a five-page document that provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the federal tax credits for solar energy.


Solar water-heating property

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar in order for the solar water-heating property expenditures to be eligible.
  • The tax credit does not apply to solar water-heating property for swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Note that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has published a five-page document that provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the federal tax credits for solar energy.


Fuel cell property

  • The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt (kW).
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The fuel cell must have a nameplate capacity of at least 0.5 kW of electricity using an electrochemical process and an electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
  • In case of joint occupancy, the maximum qualifying costs that can be taken into account by all occupants for figuring the credit is $1,667 per half kilowatt. This does not apply to married individuals filing a joint return. The credit that may be claimed by each individual is proportional to the costs he or she paid.
  • The home served by the system must be the taxpayer's principal residence.


Small wind-energy property

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt, not to exceed $4,000, for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.


Geothermal heat pumps

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The geothermal heat pump must meet federal Energy Star program requirements in effect at the time the installation is completed.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.


Significantly, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 repealed a previous limitation on the use of the credit for eligible projects also supported by "subsidized energy financing." For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies.  


History 

The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a 30% tax credit (up to $2,000) for the purchase and installation of residential solar electric and solar water heating property and a 30% tax credit (up to $500 per 0.5 kilowatt) for fuel cells. Initially scheduled to expire at the end of 2007, the tax credits were extended through December 31, 2008, by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.  

In October 2008, the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extended the tax credits once again (until December 31, 2016), and a new tax credit for small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pump systems was created. In February 2009, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008. 

 


Contact: 
Public Information - IRS 
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20224
Phone: (800) 829-1040 
Web Site: http://www.irs.gov

About

  • Welcome to the Arizona Solar Center

     This is your source for solar and renewable energy information in Arizona. Explore various technologies, including photovoltaics, solar water heating, solar architecture, solar cooking and wind power. Keep up to date on the latest industry news. Follow relevant lectures, expositions and tours. Whether you are a homeowner looking to become more energy efficient, a student learning the science behind the technologies or an industry professional, you will find valuable information here.
  • About The Arizona Solar Center

    Arizona Solar Center Mission- The mission of the Arizona Solar Center is to enhance the utilization of renewable energy, educate Arizona's residents on solar technology developments, support commerce and industry in the development of solar and other sustainable technologies and coordinate these efforts throughout the state of Arizona. About the Arizona Solar Center- The Arizona Solar Center (AzSC) provides a broad-based understanding of solar energy, especially as it pertains to Arizona. Registered Read More
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