The Switch to Solar

Thinking about installing solar panels on your roof?  Well  kudos to you for recognizing, embracing, and doing your part to ensure the future of renewable energy and sustainable growth.

But now the hard part, where can you go to get impartial answers to all of your solar questions?There are generally quite a few solar panel installation companies and more and people installing solar on their homes, but the chance that you will get an unbiased view, find a true expert, or even have multiple friends or colleagues who have spent the time and money to go solar is probably pretty slim.

But don’t worry, CityLab Fellow Julian Spector recently talked to some solar energy experts and compiled a list of questions and answers that should help even the biggest solar novice on what you should think about before switching to solar.

dave-pflieger-solar-panel-1393880_960_720Some of his findings were pretty obvious, like whether or not your roof can actually support solar panels. Well, to begin, you can’t install panels when your roof is in shambles, and you will want to make sure any roofing repairs that need to be done are completed before installation, not afterwards— since it can be expensive and time-consuming to remove panels, fix your roof, then reinstall them. You also need to ensure that your roof isn’t heavily shaded. What good are the panels if the sun can’t even reach them? In addition, some property and homeowner or neighborhood covenants may not allow the installation of panels for a variety of reasons – some of which are purely aesthetic.

You’ll also want to consider what kind of solar energy you want to use. Contrary to popular belief, solar is not a one size fits all proposition. There are actually two types of solar power: photovoltaic and thermal. Photovoltaic converts sunlight to electricity, while in the case of thermal solar power, solar energy is used to heat water or air for use indoors. Using solar power for thermal energy is much less common than converting the power of the sun into electricity.  Then there are the more difficult questions:  which solar installation companies are trustworthy and reliable; should I lease or buy; what should I worry about in a solar contract; how do I connect to the grid?  For those and other questions, check out the article for useful resources and links that will help you not only get a much broader picture of solar power, but will also ensure if you take the plunge, you not only help the environment, you get a good return on your valuable investment. Good luck!

Google’s Renewable Goal

Google wants to be completely powered by renewable energy by 2025.

Such a transformation would be a major accomplishment for the entire connected globe. Just imagine the sort of visibility renewable energy would gain if one of the most outwardly successful businesses was completely run in an environmentally sustainable way.

Even though renewable energy growth in the U.S. is steady, it still has a long way to go. In order to realize their dream, Google has turned its attention beyond the American shores and is looking towards Taiwan.

dave-pflieger-google-chrome-1326908_960_720Less than a week ago, the tech behemoth announced its intention to provide a (still undisclosed) amount of seed funding to Center for Resource Solutions. CRS is a nonprofit that brings sustainable energy to market. With Google’s funding, they hope to tap into the Taiwanese market, which is significant for at least two reasons. First, Google already has a data center there. If they want to see how they can grow a fully sustainable location first, there no better place to choose than one in a smaller market. Secondly, renewable energy in Taiwan is monopolized by a company called Taipower. Another company could bring some much needed competition to the sector, and the implications that follow are massive.

Right now, the presence of a singular company makes it hard to purchase energy in large quantities; it’s logistically not an option for a company to turn completely away from fossil fuels. But Google’s announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. The Taiwanese political landscape is changing, and a party that has made renewable energy one of it’s planks has just taken control of the nation’s governing body.

CRS’s inclusion in the market will allow for more transparency between consumer and provider, and it is expected that will lead to more companies besides Google being willing to spend on renewable energy.