• 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
  • Home Battery Systems

    Rooftop solar panels are common in Arizona thanks to abundant sunshine, but to get even more use from the technology, homeowners are beginning to pair them with large home batteries. Batteries allow homeowners to store their surplus electricity, rather than send it to the grid in exchange for credit from their electric company. 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 Home Battery Systems
  • 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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Tue, Sep 25, 2018
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Some things to pay attention to in Arizona

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:

Notices:

Environmental Achievement Recognition Award

Call for Entries

Is your business or organization a sustainability leader? The city of Scottsdale wants to honor your exemplary achievements.

The Environmental Quality Advisory Board is accepting nominations for its next Environmental Achievement Recognition Award. The award honors environmental excellence in areas such as green building, resource conservation and waste reduction. Eligible candidates include businesses, associations and organizations located in Scottsdale. Learn more about the award program and nominate a worthy candidate.

Past Award Recipient - Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

The Board's inaugural award recognized Hyatt Regency Scottsdale for the resort's many and diverse accomplishments that were "designed, engineered, cost analyzed and then approved by business executives because the return on investment made sense." The Hyatt was originally designed and constructed in the late 1980's. It was not until 2009 that a concerted effort was made towards energy efficiency and other green improvements starting with the installation of  a cool roof and solar thermal (hot water) system. The cool roof showed immediate results by reducing interior temperatures by 8-10 degrees, while the solar thermal panels supplied 100 percent of the domestic hot water used in the resort, providing for significant energy savings.

The green transformation continued with renovation of the guest rooms and other interior spaces, including installation of LED lighting, thermostats linked to occupancy/vacancy sensors, high efficiency plumbing fixtures, and textiles made with recycled materials. Seventy percent of the removed fixtures, textiles and building materials were recycled or donated to local organizations for reuse. Recycling containers were strategically placed throughout the resort, including every guest room.

The resort's Canyon Market began selling refillable beverage containers in lieu of plastic bottled water and water stations were installed  throughout the property. 28,000 square feet of turf grass was replaced with artificial turf resulting in 3.8 million gallons of water saved annually. The turf conversion also  increased the marketability of these areas as event spaces, thereby increasing revenue opportunities. The parking area was retrofitted with LED lighting and equipped with free electrical vehicle charging stations for guests and associates.

As a result of these and other improvements over a seven-year period, the Hyatt team reduced consumption of electricity by 20 percent, natural gas by 30 percent and water by 25 percent; and increased recycling by 15 percent.

Congratulations again to the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch!

Contact: Anthony Floyd, green building program manager, city of Scottsdale, afloyd@ScottsdaleAZ.gov, 480-312-4202.

You may also visit the Green Building Program at www.ScottsdaleAZ.gov, search "Green Building Program".

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Solar Architecture in Ancient Greece

According to Socrates, the ideal home should be cool in summer and warm in winter. But Socrates' ideal was not easy to accomplish 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. The Greeks had no artificial means of cooling their homes during the scorching summers; nor were their heating systems, mostly portable charcoal-burning braziers, adequate to keep them warm in winter.

Modern excavations of many Classical Greek cities show that solar architecture flourished throughout the area. Individual homes were oriented toward the southern horizon, and entire cities were planned to allow their citizens equal access to the winter sun. A solar-oriented home allowed its inhabitants to depend less on charcoal - conserving fuel and saving money.

Some Barriers to Implementation of PV Systems

Building Permits:

Scottsdale requires a structural engineer report on the specific structure for residential PV and DHW. This costs a minimum of $500, usually higher. However, this has identified some potentially dangerous residences.

The Cities of Gilbert and Mesa do not require any permit for residential systems that do not involve changes to the main service electrical panel. The City of Mesa extends this to commercial systems. In Mesa the exemption includes the parking canopy construction as “just another mounting structure for the solar". A zoning review may be required in Mesa unless there are existing canopies and the solar canopy fits in with the others. However, if a building permit is needed in Mesa, it generally takes ‘only’ 20 working days, but Mesa is on a 4-day/week schedule so this means 5 weeks.

Plan review and permits generally add about 2% to the cost of a PV system.

The Cities of Gilbert and Mesa have generally accepted roof layout requirements intended to improve fire fighter safety in the event a house fire requires roof ventilation or other fire fighter roof access. Since building permits are not required, there is no formal check on this unless complaints are filed. There are many residential PV systems that do not conform to this requirement. 

A recent project to install a covered parking canopy with a PV system on residential property in the City of Phoenix was a permit problem. In Phoenix simple PV systems can have a building permit issued ‘over the counter’ the same day with a set of properly designed plans. Not so simple with a large PV system on a separate parking canopy, located on a hillside lot. First of all, the Residential counter in the permit office takes a quick look at the plans and says “We are not staffed to review a parking structure, you need to go to the Commercial counter (another wait), then the Commercial counter looks up the property and states “This is residential, we cannot handle residential, go back to the Residential counter”. After insisting that the supervisors of these counters discuss this, they decide that two separate permits (structure and PV) are needed. The structure permit starts with a Site Plan that must include the square footages of the lot, hillside designated area, under roof area, disturbed areas, etc., all based on the original building permit for the lot many years ago. If the present owner of the lot does not have this information, one must wait for the City of Phoenix to search the archives. This took weeks and several meetings with zoning. Only after a building permit for the parking structure has been issued can a separate permit for the PV system be issued, and not over the counter. The whole procedure can take three months.

Concentrator photovoltaics (CPV)

Concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) is a photovoltaic technology that generates electricity from sunlight. CPV photovoltaic systems use lenses and curved mirrors to focus sunlight onto small, but highly efficient, multi-junction (MJ) solar cells. To keep the sun focused on the relatively small solar cells, CPV systems use solar trackers to keep the focus on the solar cells and sometimes use a cooling system to further increase efficiency.

 

Some good general references are:

 

Green Rhino Energy- Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV)

An Arizona example: Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest

Barriers to PV Implementation

There are many barriers to wide scale adoption of photovoltaic systems in Arizona.  Some of these are:

  • Costs
  • Suitable installation area
  • Electrical Code limits
  • Building Code requirements
  • Fire Code requirements
  • Homeowner Association rules
  • Electric Utility:
    • Policy/billing
    • Technical Limits
    • Legal

The cost of photovoltaic systems is continuing to decrease due to improvements in the technologies for photovoltaic modules and the inverters required to convert the dc electric power from the photovoltaic modules to regular ac electric power.  Some items are increasing, such as wire, mounting structures, electrical apparatus (switches, meters, conduit).  There are now many financing options to direct ownership that reduce or eliminate the upfront initial costs. The majority of residential photovoltaic systems being installed (2016) are now leased.

Many homes and commercial buildings simply do not have suitable areas for installing photovoltaic modules.  Some residential developers actively design the roof orientations to make photovoltaic modules installation difficult or impossible, mostly because they find it easier to sell new homes in a development when they all look the same.  This is not illegal, but is not in the spirit of an Arizona law (ARS: 33-439.  Restrictions on installation or use of solar energy devices invalid; exception).  There are utility restrictions on transporting electric power and water between properties, such as placing a photovoltaic on nearby property.  More information on this is in <link to new article "Arizona Solar Laws">.

Safety is always a major concern.  Except for some small low voltage photovoltaic systems (yard lights, etc.), many safety codes and standards apply in order to assure safe operation.  The National Electrical Code, re-issued every three years, is the main electrical safety code, but there are requirements in Building and Fire codes that limit photovoltaic system installations.  One relatively new requirement in the Building and Fire codes is to require clear access paths on roofs for first responders (firemen, etc.).  Another relatively new requirement in the National Electrical Code (2017 version) requires that the roof mounted module area have an automatic shutdown such that when the ac power is disconnected all the voltages are reduced to safe levels (the dc voltages would otherwise increase when not connected).  These requirements are generally reinforced in the building permit process.

In Arizona the electric utilities are essentially building barriers to photovoltaic systems by reducing direct and indirect incentives for photovoltaic systems.  See the discussion in our Economics section Economics of Photovoltaics.

In some states, the electric utilities offer a billing option for Aggregated Net Billing wherein photovoltaic energy produced on one property or billing meter can be administratively applied to another account, perhaps with a small transaction fee.

Sometimes the existing utility electrical distribution system simply can not safely accept the proposed photovoltaic output.  Those planning commercial size photovoltaic systems should check with the serving utility.

Recent (2015-2016) experience from an PV contractor: Some Barriers to Implementation of PV Systems

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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