Most reasonable people agree that the Earth is warming, and that humans are the main cause. But even reasonable people disagree on what we should do about it. At one end are the true believers, like physicist James Hansen, who recently argued that oil executives should be put on trial for crimes against humanity. At the other are the truly doubtful — like Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who helped block a Live Earth concert from being held on the Capitol’s grounds last year — who are convinced that the environmental cost of climate change will prove less disastrous than the expense of curbing it. In between there’s plenty of room for rational disagreement.

But here’s something all Americans — except maybe Exxon shareholders — should be able to agree on, regardless of where they fall on the green spectrum: more renewable power would be a good thing. Greens support alternative energy, like wind or solar, because it helps de-carbonize our energy supply and reduce pollution. Skeptics support it because with rocketing fossil fuel prices — and the U.S.’s increasing dependence on oil imported from less-than-friendly regimes — renewables can offer homegrown, politically safe price relief. It’s a win-win in a world that seems ever more zero-sum.

So, why isn’t the government doing more to scale up renewable power? Blame our political system, which Al Gore recently described as “sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.” Case in point: the federal tax credits for renewable energy, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Passed as part of the 2005 energy bill, the credits encourage businesses to invest in alternative energy. Utilities that produce wind power earn 2 cents for every kilowatt generated over the first 10 years of a project’s operation. For solar energy, tax credits can be worth up to 30% of the cost of a project. These credits are modest — especially compared to the billions of dollars in subsidies lavished on the fossil fuel industry — but they’ve helped renewable power explode over the last several years, with wind energy growing at 45% last year and solar just slightly less.

If the renewable credits do expire (Congress, jammed in a partisan gridlock, refuses to renew them), they’ll save taxpayers a little money — maybe $1 billion, or less than half a week of the Iraq war. But the cost to the economy — not to mention the fight against climate change — will be far greater. Navigant Consulting, an international firm that studies the energy industry, estimates that the expiration of the renewable tax credit would result in approximately $19 billion in lost investment, and 119,000 lost job opportunities in the U.S. That’s because renewables, while getting cheaper all the time, still cost more than fossil fuels. Subsidies can help bridge the gap as renewable technology improves — but that will happen only if businesses can produce solar or wind power at scale, which will happen only if investors can be assured that the tax credits won’t suddenly disappear, says Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. (Hear Resch talk about the renewable tax credits on this week’s Greencast.)

This year, Congress has repeatedly found itself stalemated over the renewal of renewable credits. Supporters of the credits haven’t been able to overcome opposition by Republican senators, the White House and a handful of fiscally conservative Democrats, who won’t vote for the credits unless they’re paid for as they go. Supporters have tried paying for the credits by rescinding tax breaks for oil companies; they’ve also tried raising the funds by eliminating tax loopholes that benefit hedge fund managers. Even though oil executives and hedge fund managers are perhaps the most widely hated two groups in America, neither plan has worked.

The potential loss of these credits has already impacted development. Acciona, a large Spanish renewable company that launched a major concentrated solar power plant outside Vegas this year, says similar projects will be impossible in the future without an extension of the tax credit. Abengoa, another Spanish company (European companies have dominated this space, largely because their governments provide significantly more generous subsidies to renewables), is planning to build the world’s largest solar plant in Arizona, but the CEO of its solar arm told me recently that the project could fall apart if the credit doesn’t come through.

If we’re serious about reducing carbon emissions, we’ll need a much larger renewable energy sector than the one we have — and that will mean bipartisan government action, in the form of carbon caps and subsidies that dwarf the miniscule tax credits now available. Our government’s inability to cooperate and fund an invaluable energy program that costs less than a $1 billion a year is simply unreasonable — no matter what you think about global warming.

For more information about solar opportunities in Nj and PA contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email

Many consumers come to us asking about prices and figure that is the only barrier to purchasing a wind power system, although it goes much further than just prices. When putting up a wind power system you have to consider the following points:

1. Does your project site at least have 10mph wind speeds? check your wind speed here.

2. Does your property have at least a half acre with unobstructed views?

3. Does the city zoning allow a structure 42′ feet tall?

4. Does your utility company have an interconnection agreement?

5. Have you considering speaking to your neighbors to let them know you maybe purchasing a wind power system that maybe visible from their home?

Typically the city will require building permits to put up a solar or wind power system and there will be a fee for building permits you have to pay to the city. The city may also require tower engineering drawings that you may have to get from a certified engineer if you are building a custom tower to put up your wind turbine.

Should you want to know more about wind and solar opportunties in NJ and the Phila area, email or call HBS Solar 856-857-1239


AUSTIN, Texas — Texas, headquarters of America’s oil industry, is about to stake a fortune on wind power.

In what experts say is the biggest investment in the clean and renewable energy in U.S. history, utility officials in the Lone Star State gave preliminary approval Thursday to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from gusty West Texas to urban areas like Dallas.

“People think about oil wells and football in Texas, but in 10 years they’ll look back and say this was a brilliant thing to do,” said Patrick Woodson, vice president of E.On Climate & Renewables North America, which has about 1,200 megawatts of wind projects already in use or on the drawing board in Texas.

Texas is already the national leader in wind power, generating about 5,000 megawatts. But wind-energy advocates say the lack of transmission lines has kept a lot of that power from being put to use and has hindered the building of more turbines.

Supporters say Thursday’s 2-1 vote by the Texas Public Utility Commission is critical to getting that energy to more people.

“We will add more wind than the 14 states following Texas combined,” said PUC Commissioner Paul Hudson. “I think that’s a very extraordinary achievement. Some think we haven’t gone far enough, some think we’ve pushed too far.”

Most of Texas’ wind-energy production is in petroleum-producing West Texas, where nearly 4,000 wind turbines tower over oil pump jacks and capture the breeze that blows across the flat and largely barren landscape. The new plan would not directly build a slew of new turbines, but would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts. One expert said that is enough to power more than 4 million Texas homes.

Supporters predict the plan will spur new wind power projects, create jobs, reduce pollution and lower energy costs. Texans pay some of the highest electric rates in the country, in part because of congested transmission lines.

Texas electric customers will bear the cost of construction over the next several years, paying about $3 or $4 more per month on their bills, according to Tom Smith, state director of the consumer group Public Citizen. But he predicted that increase would easily be offset by lower energy prices.

Smith called Texas’ current transmission lines a “two-lane dirt road” compared to the “renewable energy superhighway” the plan would build.

“We have all these wind plants up and operating. What we’re asking for is the superhighway to get the energy to the cities,” Smith said. “This will send signals to manufacturers all across the world Texas is ready to be a world-class player in renewable energy.”

The plan still needs to receive final approval later this year from the PUC. The transmission lines would not be up and running for three to five years. Who would build them and other details have yet to be worked out.

Environmentalists and landowners have launched protests against wind turbines from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Idaho and Texas’ South Padre Island, complaining that wind turbines spoil the view and threaten migrating birds.

But the turbines are already in West Texas, a sparsely populated region already pockmarked with oil drilling and exploration equipment. And this project will build only transmission lines.

PUC Commissioner Julie Caruthers Parsley was the lone dissenter, arguing the plan may add too much power for the electric grid to handle. She also worried it could delay other projects, such as construction of nuclear reactors.

The conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation said companies that build wind and solar farms should bear more of the cost of the new lines, and it warned that those power sources cannot be expected to consistently produce abundant energy.

Even with the run-up in natural gas prices, more gas plants would be a good backup “because the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the time,” said Drew Thornley, a policy analyst for the organization.

The wind energy industry has benefited from the support of billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, who is planning to build the world’s largest wind farm on about 200,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle. When completed, Pickens’ 2,700 turbines will be capable of producing enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes.

Pickens has become an evangelist for wind power as a way to break the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, launching an advertising blitz in which he warned: “I’ve been an oilman all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”

“It’s a good decision,” Pickens spokesman Jay Rosser said of Thursday’s PUC vote. “It recognizes the important role wind in Texas will play in meeting the state’s growing energy and energy stability needs.”

To learn more about alternative energy sources in NJ and Phila surrounding area email .  Call HBS Solar 856-857-1230

Solar energy used to be considered the energy source of choice for the tree hugging, granola eating set. Since then the cost of fossil fuels has skyrocketed and virtually every major power supply conglomerate has raised the rates of supplying the public with electricity and other sources of energy.

Suddenly, solar energy is not looking so bad anymore and with the help of public pressure, solar energy investment trends now encompass the spending of not only the private investor by also the governmental backer.

Meeting the energy needs of the average home is overall not an expensive proposition and many a homeowner has chosen to combine the understanding that environmental damage must be avoided while a stable form of sustainable energy is still much preferred to periodic blackouts.

Although in the past the cost of the photovoltaic panels on a home was considered prohibitive, anymore this technology is hailed as a long term investment and those who are investment savvy recognize the trends and are willing to enter in for the long haul.

While private solar panels now present sleek and technologically advanced additions to any home, the commercial applications are also quite impressive. Areas in California and other locales where sunlight is plentiful now sport vast fields of nothing but solar panels harnessing the sun’s energy power and those who got in on the ground floor of this investment opportunity are laughing all the way to the bank.

Yet it is not too late. Solar energy investment trends prove to be a long-lived proposition and most likely will be around for a while yet.

To learn more about the growing solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area you can call HBS Solar 856-857-1230. We are a strategic partner of BP Solar offering a full 25-year warranty on the solar equipment and a full 10-year warranty on the installation. Email

As reported in

Two years ago, under the auspices of the American Wind Energy Association, a group of us from the wind industry began working with the Department of Energy, General Electric, AEP, and many others to take a hard look at what it would take to get 20% of America’s electric supply from wind energy. The resulting report is helping lay the groundwork for a dramatic change in our approach to energy. For years, the wind energy community has argued that smart investment in transmission, siting, manufacturing and technology could allow wind power to take the main stage for our nation’s electricity. The report largely vindicates that belief, outlines the benefits, and illuminates the path to get there.

These past months have underscored the serious shortcomings in U.S. energy policy. $140 oil, $4 gasoline and run-ups in the cost of coal and natural gas are taking us to new price plateaus. Energy cuts across nearly ever issue that matters to our daily lives — economic well-being, national security, global climate change. As our energy woes devolve from concern to crisis, it is time we look more seriously — and honestly — for answers.

Renewables alone will not solve this crisis. Those of us with years in the industry know both the promise and limitations of renewable energy, and readily acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. But renewables can make an enormous dent in the problem. According to our report, a move to twenty percent wind would decrease carbon emissions from electricity by twenty-five percent. Twenty percent wind would support about 500,000 jobs in the U.S., 150,000 of which would come directly from the wind industry. Revenues to local communities in the form of property taxes and other payments would run more than $1.5 billion annually. Twenty percent wind would significantly reduce demand for natural gas, our most versatile and cleanest-burning fuel, which is incredibly valuable for heating, petrochemical production, transportation and other uses.

All of these things can be achieved.

Similar investment in solar power could mean an additional 10% of our energy could be supplied by the sun. And long term investment in increased energy efficiency, including cars that can be powered by electricity, will mean a substantial reduction in our dependence on foreign oil.

What will be required is a national commitment on the part of elected leaders and substantial investment by the business community. There are certainly constraints to our ability to multiply our wind farms at such a serious rate, but, as the study suggests, these obstacles can be overcome. Chief among them is the need for significant new energy infrastructure, especially extensive transmission lines.

We have reached a turning point. Wind energy is no longer the pet project of environmentalists. It is a serious business with serious players, including General Electric, Mitsubishi, Siemens, and many other global titans. It is also part of a real answer to some of the most serious problems we face. If we combine our efforts to expand renewables with strong efficiency standards and a substantial increase in conventional domestic energy production, we can be within reach of solving our energy crisis.

This is not the kind of quick fix that Washington so often hopes for while doing nothing in the interim. There are no quick fixes. If we are going to confront our energy crisis successfully, we have to be focused on the long game. In ten years we were able to take our wind energy company from a two-man operation to the multi-billion dollar business it is today. In a similar time period Texas has seen wind grow to the point where we get nearly 5% of our electricity from the wind. We can get a lot done when we set our minds to the task. A national commitment today will mean economic growth, good jobs, a safer country, and a healthier planet. It’s time to get moving. :

Our Perspective

The alternative energy markets are taking steps to become mainstream. Solar and Wind are becoming the new buzzwords.

The future is now!

To learn more about solar and wind opportunities in NJ and PA contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230.

Smart Solutions for Smart Businesses

You may also email 

PA Solar Grants

July 15, 2008

PA is taking strides to bring solar to the state. Gov Rendell has been a big proponent but currently all funding and incentives are held up in the legislature. I think you will see more movement in the coming months. We will be bringing you updates as the are approved.

In the meantime you will find various funding programs below that you can contact to try and get a jump start.

This post is a list of where to get information, help, and most importantly, MONEY, for energy efficient improvements for your small business or home if you live in Pennsylvania. Enjoy.

1. EMAP, the Environmental Management Assistance Program was created by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers which have consultants to help you (for free) in anything dealing with Energy Efficiency. Here you can sign up for an energy assessment and someone will come out and see where you would best be benefited by energy efficiency improvements. You can also call 877-ASK-EMAP and get a free consultant to answer any questions about energy efficiency.

2. The Small Business Advantage Program grants money for energy efficiency upgrades like solar power and pollution prevention. That’s free money…. but they’re out of it. Gotta wait till next year.

3. “Growing Greener” is a PA program with a boatload of cash ($600 mil) to dole out for green projects. Here’s how to apply.

4. “Energy Harvest” is another PA grant program where Pennsylvania fights for Federal grant money. Energy harvest is closed for 2007 but go here to be notified when it reopens.

5. “AFIG,” The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program is a fairly small PA grant program with money for things like bio diesel, so if you want to convert your old diesel benzo you might be able to get some free ducats here for that…. But no money for rims :-(… I checked.

6. Yay, more acronyms… The PPAA, or Pollution Prevention Assistance Account Loan Program has low interest loans for small business taking on projects to reduce waste, pollution, or energy use (yay, that mean solar power!). You can get up to 75% of the cost of the project at a rate of, no kidding, 2%… BAM!

7. SAG, the Site Assessment Grant Program funds up to 80 percent of the cost of a site assessment. It’s closed for the time being… call 717-772-8951 to find out if and when it re-opens. Also, while you’re at it, another program out of money that will reopen is PEDA, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority from which you can solicit money….. next year.

8. NEWPA offers some low-interest loans for small business complying with some energy efficient practices.

Hope this helps… this covers the vast majority of ways to get free money or cheap money in Pennsylvania for your solar power projects.

For more information contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230. Email you questions to


Thanks to the State of New Jersey encouraging the use of green energy through its Clean Energy rebate program, it seems solar panels are cropping up all over the state.  From school rooftops to farmers to individual homes, using solar energy has become cost effective in the Garden State.

And now, New Jersey’s water utilities are also tapping into the power of the sun.

New Jersey American Water, the state’s largest water utility, now has the state’s largest ground-mounted solar electric system. Located at its Canal Road Water Treatment Plant in Somerset County, the 500-kilowatt ground-mounted system was designed and built by Dome-Tech Solar, a premier solar energy firm serving industrial and institutional clients in the northeast. The system includes more than 2,800 solar panels and New Jersey American Water expects it will be able to supplement 15% of the peak usage power needed to run the plant with solar energy, saving approximately $125,000 a year in reduced energy costs.  During peak production periods, the electricity produced by the solar system would be enough to meet the average electricity demand of more than 500 New Jersey homes. 

As part of its overall campaign to reduce energy expenses, now and over time, New Jersey American Water is working to keep its costs down, which may enable the company to pass those savings on to customers.  In fact, with the rebate from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, the solar system alone will pay for itself in about seven years, possibly creating larger savings as the system continues to produce energy for many more years.

 “The state’s largest ground-mounted solar electric system by New Jersey American Water sets an excellent example of clean energy solutions that make sense for New Jersey businesses and residents,” said New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Jeanne M. Fox.  “The solar rebate that the NJBPU is providing the company—almost 60 percent of the project’s cost—will help advance solar technologies that lower energy costs, reduce peak load and serve as an investment in the health and environment of Garden State residents for years to come.”

“New Jersey American Water’s corporate vision is driving today’s achievement—installing and activating the largest ground mounted solar energy system in New Jersey,” said Tom Kuster, president of Dome-Tech Solar. “We applaud New Jersey American Water for its long-term view and willingness to take action now to harness clean, renewable energy, reaping benefits today and well into the future for the company and its customers.”

This past December, the Atlantic County Utility Authority also took advantage of New Jersey’s commitment to green energy by dedicating the United State’s first wastewater treatment plant to be powered by a system that combines solar energy arrays with a wind farm. By capturing energy from the sun and the Atlantic Coast winds, rather than burning fossil fuels, the hybrid solar-wind power plant will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 2500 homes and displace the need for an estimated 24,000 barrels of oil per year.

The panels for the system contain photovoltaic solar cells that are made of silicon, a semi-conductor material that directly converts sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaic cells are sensitive to light and will produce an electric current when exposed to sunlight. The panels are being installed by WorldWater/Conti as part of a contract that provides the ACUA with ownership of the solar power system. The ACUA will be responsible for maintenance and operation of the alternative energy system. All electricity produced by the solar panels will be used for ACUA operations at the wastewater treatment plant; none will be sold to the power grid.

The new power plant is also one of the largest hybrid solar-wind power plants in the world. The 8 megawatt (MW) hybrid solar-wind power plant will generate an estimated 40,800,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually. In addition to cost savings, there are significant environmental benefits solar and wind energy bring. The reduction in fossil fuel generated electricity needed will translate into an annual reduction of over 460,000 tons carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is the main gas associated with global warming.

The entire solar energy system, that will cost $3.25 million, is also supported by a $1.9 million rebate from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Office of Clean Energy and a low-interest loan from the New Jersey Environmental Trust.

The efforts by the BPU have made New Jersey a leader in solar power generation comparable to California. The state now produces 4.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 4, 500 homes, from solar power. Only three years ago, the state produced just 1 megawatt.

If New Jersey American Water and the Atlantic County Utility Authority’s plant’s are as successful as planned, they both may serve as models for the rest of the country.  

For more information about becoming part of the solar solution contact HBS Solar. Email us and ask about our free solar proforma


Acciona's Nevada Solar One concentrating solar power plant.
Acciona’s Nevada Solar One concentrating solar power plant.
Acciona / PR NewsFoto

Smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the Las Vegas area gets around 330 days of sunshine a year. February 22, however, was not one of them.

That was bad luck for the Spanish renewable power company Acciona Energy, which had chosen that day to publicly inaugurate its new Nevada Solar One (NS1) thermal power plant, around 30 miles from Sin City. The sky was darkened and violent winds rattled a canvas tent that held dozens of Acciona executives, energy experts, journalists and even a few celebrities like the astronaut Sally Ride and the ubiquitous green actor Ed Begley, Jr. But while the unusual weather might not have put the Solar One complex in its best light (or often, any light at all), it didn’t dampen the potential that the plant represented. “NS1 shows that solar power is a proven solution for the U.S.,” said Acciona North America CEO Peter Duprey, who helped run the project. “This is the way of the future for power generation.” (Hear Duprey talk to TIME’s Bryan Walsh about the plant and the potential for solar on this week’s Greencast.)

NSI is solar power with a twist: it harnesses the heat of the sun, not just its light. Instead of directly converting sunlight into electricity with photovoltaic panels — the kind you might see on rooftops — solar thermal uses rows of specially curved parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight on a pipe full of synthetic oil. The sun’s energy superheats the oil, which is then used to boil water into steam. The steam runs turbines, which generates electricity. The technology is as simple as any fossil fuel plant, and cheaper by material than the technologically complex photovoltaic panels. It can be more easily built up to utility-scale than photovoltaic solar — Acciona’s plant, which began operation last year, produces 64 megawatts of electricity for the utility company Nevada Power, enough to light up 14,000 homes. The company’s Spanish competitor Abengoa just announced a plan to build a 280-megawatt solar thermal plant outside Phoenix, which would be the largest such project in the world.

All you need is a lot of sun, a lot of space and a lot of mirrors — and NS1 has all of the above. 182,000 parabolic mirrors are spread over 400 acres of flat desert, creating a glistening sea of glass visible from miles away. Up close they’re shaped like shallow satellite dishes, chasing the sun’s movement as it passes through the sky. On the cloudy day I visited, the plant was running at less than full capacity, and some of the mirrors were turned downwards to block the force of the wind, which had the glass vibrating. Although the plant might look like fragile, it’s not; plant manager Robert Cable told me as we tour the facility that NS1 has only lost around 10 mirrors in 9 months of operation. “This is not a special project,” he said as we drove through corridors of mirrors. “These things work. We’re here to make money.”

That last point has held up solar thermal in the past. Though the basics of the technology are over 100 years old, NS1 is the first major solar thermal project to be built in over 16 years. Unlike solar photovoltaics, which can be useful on a house-by-house basis, solar thermal really only becomes competitive once it reaches utility-scale. It’s all or nothing, and in building the plant, Acciona stuck out its neck. “No one was taking the risk to develop this technology,” said Acciona CEO Jos� Entrecanales. “We had no real evidence, no real certainty of efficiency.”

Bryan Walsh talks with Peter Duprey, the CEO of Acciona Energy North America, the U.S. arm of the Spanish wind and solar giant Acciona, at the dedication of the company’s new solar thermal plant outside Las Vegas

But Nevada was a good place to try. The American Southwest receives plentiful sunshine and doesn’t lack for the sprawling space solar thermal plants need; plus, the state implemented aggressive policies in support of renewable energy, requiring at least 5% of its power to come from solar by 2015. (Nevada now leads the U.S. in solar energy.) Without that renewable portfolio standards, Entrecanales says, it’s unlikely Acciona would have been able to build NS1. “It would have been a very risky venture.”

With the success of NS1, Acciona is planning on adding an additional 500 megawatts of solar thermal power in the U.S. by 2011. That’s just a fraction of the new power capacity a growing America will need over the coming years, but there’s a chance that with the right federal policies, solar thermal could contribute far more. Its proponents believe that alone among major renewables, solar thermal has the capacity to displace fossil fuels on the utility scale, perhaps eventually taking up a quarter or even half of the national power supply. A study published in Scientific American in January sketched out a grand plan where by 2050 similar solar thermal plants would cover 30,000 square miles of the mostly empty American Southwest. To provide power at nighttime, excess energy produced during the day would be stored using compressed air or molten salt. (In the former, solar power is used to compress air in an underground cavern, which is released as needed to power turbines; in the latter, the sun heats salt, which retains its heat for hours, enough to keep the plants running at night.) The authors estimate solar could supply 69% of U.S. electrical needs by 2050, enough to free the country from its reliance on coal and foreign oil. To get there, however, the government will need to put a price on carbon and implement reliable subsidies for the solar industry, so companies like Acciona can invest for years ahead.

For now, that future is still a desert mirage. Less than 400 megawatts of solar thermal have been deployed in the U.S., and Entrecanales worries that a lack of water could limit the growth of the technology in the very desert areas that receive the most sun. It also hurts that the federal investment tax credit on solar power is due to expire at the end of the year, and it’s not clear that a distracted Congress will renew it in time. But even on a cloudy day in Nevada, the future looks bright for solar thermal. “This is a wonderful technology,” said Begley Jr. “We’re headed in the right direction. We’re getting there.”

Our Perspective:

New advances are being made to harness the suns’ rays and making solar a viable alternative resource.  Solar has been around for awhile, it is just that the ROI was too long.  With rising energy prices, the general public is now turning an eye toward these alternatives. In the next 5 to 10 years you will see solar, wind and geothermal  taking a long awaited front seat.  The future is to be found with these alternative resources.  Here it was right in front of us all this time.

To learn more about solar opportunities in NJ and Philadelpia area contact HBS Solar. You may email and ask about our free performa.

Saw an intersting article in Huffington Post green section. Thought I would share it with you.

July 10, 2008


A “solar concentrator” might sound like something an evil genius comes up with to destroy the Big City in a comic book, but it’s actually a way to make solar power more accessible. Engineers at in MIT’s electrical engineering and computer science department recently made it possible for regular old windows to harness solar energy and power a building with it.

Marc Baldo, associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT, led a team of scientists that used special dyes to coat the windows, which helps them effectively absorb the light. The light is then successfully collected around the window edges by solar cells (see the rad photo). Baldo and his team knew solar collectors had been used in large, pricey mirror setups, and thought they could work on a smaller scale.

In an article set to be published in tomorrow’s issue of Science, Baldo reports that solar collectors increase the amount of electricity a solar cell can harness by a factor of over 40, and they can make existing solar panel systems 50 percent more efficient. Those are some sunny numbers. That efficiency could make solar power cheaper. In addition, three grad students from the research team are starting their own company, called Covalent Solar–gotta love that name–to bring this technology to a store near you. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for it…after I figure out how to get my windows to close completely.

To learn more about the growing solar opportunities email


July 14, 2008

Solar cells absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity.

This is known as the photovoltaic (PV) effect, “photo” meaning light, and “voltaic” from voltage, or electrical potential.

Solar, or PV, cells are most commonly made from crystalline silicon. Each cell is a wafer thin disc that has been subjected to a process called doping. Minute amounts of phosphorous are added to form the very thin upper (or n-type layer), and minute amounts of boron are added to form the somewhat thicker lower (or p-type) layer.

This process turns the silicon from an insulator into a semi-conductor, and leaves the cell in a state of electrical equilibrium.

That is, until the vital ingredient, sunlight is introduced.

Solar Basics 

Metallic electrical contacts and an anti-reflective coating are added to the front surface of the cell, and an aluminized conductive material is placed on the back surface of the cell. Wiring completes the circuit.

When photons of sunlight strike the cell, electrons are released. They are moved through the silicon and are picked up by the electrical contacts. They move into the external circuit in the form of direct current (DC) – the type of electrical current in a regular battery. The power flows through the load (for example, a light bulb or a motor) and back into the solar cell on the lower side, completing the circuit.

The entire process is self-contained – there are no moving parts and no materials are used up or given off.

Layers of a Solar Cell
The solar or photovoltaic cell is the basic component of your solar electric system. Each cell alone produces only a small amount of electricity.

Solar cells are connected together and encased in a protective shell behind a sheet of glass to form a module or solar panel. Each panel has a metal frame and is equipped with connectors and can be transported and installed safely and easily.

Your solar electric system comprises a number of modules or panels that are variously arranged into a solar array. The particular configuration chosen will determine the amount of electricity your system produces.
To learn more about going solar contact HBS Solar. You may email us