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Arizona Solar Center Blog

Commentary from Arizona Solar Center Board Members and invited contributors.

While blog entries are initiated by the Solar Center, we welcome dialogue around the posted topics. Your expertise and perspective are highly valued -- so if you haven't logged in and contributed, please do so!

Announcing the 2009 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Awards

Call for Entries

Along with our sponsors, SBIC is proud to announce the 2009 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Awards. This unique program recognizes the initiatives that shape, inform and catalyze the high-performance building market, as well as the real-world application of high-performance design and construction practices.
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Salt River Project and Tessera Solar to build Arizona solar project

Tessera Solar and Salt River Project have unveiled plans to partner on a 1.5MW solar project in Arizona, US.

Maricopa Solar will be the first commercial‐scale solar facility built using the new SunCatcher concentrating solar‐thermal technology, manufactured by Scottsdale, Arizona‐based Stirling Energy Systems.

Read entire article...

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ASU gets $14M to study creation of hydrogen fuel from sunlight

Arizona State University received $14 million last week to fund extended research on turning sunlight into fuel.

Read article...

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Solar futures at the foot of Everest

Passive solar homes could help to improve people’s daily lives and protect the environment on the Tibetan plateau.

The summer had only just started, but village elder Yuzhen was already looking forward to winter. Standing in front of her home in Tingri, Tibet, one looks up and sees the snowy peak of Mount Everest, also known as Qomolangma. The house is only 40 kilometres from Everest Base Camp.

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ACORE-EPRI Paper Identifies R&D Requirements for Expansion of Renewable Energy

Washington, DC, August 4, 2009 —The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have collaborated to identify research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D) requirements that would enable broad expansion of renewable energy.

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Submission & Advertising Options

Add your solar or renewable energy company to our Products and Services Directory. Arizona companies are allowed a complimentary listing. Companies outside of Arizona are required to pay $150 for initial entry (please write us for details). Most additional advertising options are the same for all companies. Note that we offer two different sizes of banner advertisment. Please see the options below. Payment may be made by check or via PayPal.

Companies Only
Description of Service

Basic Entry

No Charge

Company name, website link, telephone number and city, plus listing in one of the following nine (9) categories:

  • Architectural Design
  • Architectural Construction & Services
  • Professional Engineering Services
  • Solar Power Products & Installations
  • Solar Water Heating Products & Installations
  • Solar Cooling Products & Services
  • Wind & Other Power Source Products & Installations
  • Energy Efficiency Products & Services
  • Other Products & Services


  1. Companies that choose any advertising option below will be allowed a listing in up to three (3) categories.
  2. Arizona companies are those with a verifiable point of contact in Arizona: name, address and telephone number.
One or more of the following options may also be chosen.

Option 1


Add premium listing: placement at top of page in categories listed

Option 2


Add company logo and company description up to 75 words

Option 3


Add 150 x 100 pixel banner in right column of categories in which listed
(banner includes website or e-mail link)

Option 4


Add 350 x 80 pixel banner in main section of categories in which listed
(banner includes website or e-mail link)

Add new company

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Welcome to Our New Website

Welcome to Our Website

We completed our new website in January 2010 and closed off our previous ".com" site. Each page link on the previous site has been redirected to the appropriate new web page.

As we continue to improve this site, we welcome your feedback! Toward the bottom of most web pages, there is a link that reads, "Make content suggestion or comment to website editors." Clicking this link will allow you to give input on that page or topic. If you have more general comments, you may also use the last link ("Make Content Suggestion") in the Reference Menu at the bottom of the right column of every page.

Arizona continues to be a leader in developing and implementing solar technologies. As the Arizona Solar Center, we look forward to remaining a key information resource for you regarding all things solar in Arizona!

The Arizona Solar Center
May 26, 2010

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NABCEP Elects New Chair and Appoints New Member to the Board

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is pleased to announce two new appointments: Don Warfield of BP Solar and Jeff Spies of AEE Solar. Mr. Spies is based in Arizona.

Read full article.

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As Fossil Fuel Use Drops, Renewable Sources Soar To Over 11% Of U.S. Energy Production; Now Provide More Energy Than Nuclear Power

Washington DC -- According to the latest issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, production of renewable energy for the first third of 2009 (i.e., January 1 - April 30) was six percent higher compared to the same time period in 2008. Moreover, in April 2009 alone, renewable energy sources accounted for 11.1 percent of domestic energy production and exceeded the amount contributed by nuclear power.

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Italy Set to Become World's Second Largest Solar PV Market in 2009

An attractive feed-in tariff incentive and rapidly decreasing solar module prices have made Italy the most attractive PV market in the world. This year, Italy is set to become the world's second largest PV market after Germany, the undisputed leader.

Read entire article.

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How Not to Install Batteries - Connection Considerations

meltdownPhoto at left 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.

{slimbox images/articles/design/meltdown2.jpg,images/articles/design/meltdown2_sm.jpg,Meltdown} {slimbox images/articles/design/meltdown3.jpg,images/articles/design/meltdown3_sm.jpg,Meltdown}

View with bolt removed. Shows where
battery lead terminal was melted.

Detail of the low-cost battery connections.
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How Not to Install PV - Shadow Considerations

This PV array was installed under a tree and as a result the branches of the tree were casting shadows on the PV modules.

These shadows have a severe impact on system performance because the current produced by a PV module is determined by the least illuminated cell in the PV module. In this case all three PV modules have shadows cast by the over-hanging tree.

In full sun we measured an output of about 5 amps with the shadows shown above. There was also an area of sap over one of the solar cells (photo does not show this). After the branches were trimmed back, the current increased to about 9.5 amps. Cleaning the sap covered area increased the current to 10.5 amps, the expected value for the three PV modules.

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How Not to Treat Batteries - Maintaining Battery Electrolyte Levels

batteryDuring normal operation, water is lost from a flooded lead-acid battery as a result of evaporation and electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen, which escape into the atmosphere. One Faraday of overcharge will result in a loss of about 18 g of water per cell. Evaporation is a relatively small part of the loss except in very hot, dry climates. With a fully charged battery, electrolysis consumes water at a rate of 0.336 cm^3 per cell per ampere-hour of overcharge. A 5000-Ah battery overcharged 10% can thus lose 16.8 cm^3, or about 0.3%, of its water each cycle. It is important that the electrolyte be maintained at the proper level in the battery. The electrolyte not only serves as the ionic conductor, but also is a major factor in the transfer of heat from the plates. If the electrolyte is below the plate level, then an area of the plate is not electrochemically active; this causes a concentration of heat in other parts of the battery and “Sulfation” of the dry portion of the plates which may not be reversible. Periodic checking of water consumption can also serve as a rough check on charging efficiency and may warn when adjustment of the charger is required.

Since replacing water can be a major significant maintenance cost, water loss can be effectively reduced by controlling the amount of overcharge and by using hydrogen and oxygen recombining devices in each cell where possible. Note that these devices can overheat and cause battery damage if the battery is charged at a high rate. Read specifications carefully, the expensive “Caps” may need to be replaced before the end of battery life. Addition of water is best accomplished after recharge and before an equalization charge. Water is added only at the end of the charge to reach the high level line. Electrolyte expands as the battery is charged significantly increasing in volume. Therefore overfilling must be avoided because the resultant overflow of acid electrolyte will cause tray corrosion, ground paths, and loss of cell capacity. Gassing during overcharge will stir the water into the acid uniformly. In freezing weather, water should not be added without mixing as it may freeze before gassing occurs. Only distilled water should be added to batteries. Although demineralized or tap water may be approved for some batteries, the low cost of distilled water makes it the best choice. Automatic watering devices and reliability testing can reduce maintenance labor costs further. Although distilled water is no longer specified by most battery manufacturers, good quality water, low in minerals and heavy metal ions such as iron, will help prolong battery life.

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How Not to Do It

Following is a collection of common mistakes made when installing solar electric systems.

shade-pv How Not to Install PV - Shadow Considerations

This PV array was installed under a tree and as a result the branches of the tree were casting shadows on the PV modules.

orientation-pv1 How Not to Install PV - Orientation & Shadowing

Here the photovoltaic module is facing West and gets very little sunshine. In addition, a shadowing issue further reduces the output.

meltdown How Not to Install Batteries - Battery Post Meltdown!  What's the Ampacity of a 3/8" Bolt?

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

dry-battery How Not to Treat Batteries - Maintaining Electrolyte Levels

During normal operation, water is lost from a flooded lead-acid battery as a result of evaporation and electrolysis...

Please contact us if you have additional examples for posting here. These can be related to photovoltaic installations or to other solar technologies. We will arrange with you to get pictures and explanations. Thanks.
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AZ Solar Center Newsletter


The purpose of the AZ Solar Center newsletter is to update you on what is happening around the state of Arizona in the world of solar energy. Join our mailing list.

Other Recommended Newsletters

Renewable Energy World



Daily renewable energy news including top stories, briefly noted, today's news, as well as product and industry news.  Renewable Energy News offers a free "Renewable Energy E-Newsletter." Renewable Energy World is a premier source for RE news and information.

Arizona Governor's Energy Policy Update Newsletter


This newsletter is published by the Governor's Office of Energy Policy.  It contains verbatim excerpts from international and domestic energy and environment-related publications.

Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Newsletters


The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) publishes three newsletters:

  • Connecting to the Grid (monthly)
    -- focuses on the latest news on interconnection and net metering in the U.S.
  • State & Stakeholder (twice/month)
    -- contains the latest news about IREC members and other renewable energy stakeholders
  • Small Wind Energy (quarterly)
    -- features updates and news about small wind energy issues
Assoc. for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Ed. (AASHE) Bulletin


A weekly compilation of news, opportunities, and announcements related to campus sustainability (e.g., jobs, conferences, campus initiatives, publications, academic programs).

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ACC Considering PPA Regulation In Arizona

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) may begin making decisions on how to regulate solar power systems operating under power purchase agreements (PPAs). The Phoenix Business Journal reports that regulation could come later this year.

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IREC releases latest Solar Market Trends Report

IREC has just released its annual report, U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008. The report, authored by Larry Sherwood, provides public data on U.S. solar installations by...

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New Study Sheds Light on the Growing U.S. Wind Power Market

Berkeley, California - For the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. was home to the fastest-growing wind power market in the world in 2008, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Specifically, U.S. wind power capacity additions increased by 60 percent in 2008, representing a $16 billion investment in new wind projects. "At this pace, wind is on a path to becoming a significant contributor to the U.S. power mix," notes report author Ryan Wiser, of Berkeley Lab. Wind projects accounted for 42% of all new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2008, and wind now delivers nearly 2% of the nation's electricity supply.

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ACEEE Creates Job Calculator for Energy-Saving Stimulus Projects

Washington, D.C. (July 13, 2009): Today the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published a jobs calculator ( http://www.aceee.org/energy/national/recovery.htm ) for estimating the employment impacts of energy efficiency projects funded through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
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AZ Governor signs more solar bills

Two more bills (HB 2332 & 2336) to push demand for solar and renewable energy in Arizona were signed by Gov. Jan Brewer over the weekend...

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