According to BloombergGreen, 2020 was actually a record year for solar! To say the least, 2020 and it’s wicked step-sister, 2021, have been trialing, but despite the many downfalls we’ve collectively indured this year, we’ve made some big strides in the effort to curb our collective CO2 production also, and that’s a big step in the right direction. Globally, solar energy investments continued to increase in the past year, and as Verity Ratcliffe states in the BloombergGreen article, “A record amount of renewable energy capacity built [in 2020], thanks largely to investments in China and the U.S., according to the International Renewable Energy Agency” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-05/china-u-s-made-2020-a-record-year-for-renewable-power-growth?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_medium=social&utm_content=climate&cmpid=socialflow-twitter-climate); the article continues on to read, “China, which is both the largest market for clean power and the world’s biggest polluter, built 72 GW of wind energy and 49 GW of solar in 2020, according to Monday’s report. The U.S. installed 29 GW of renewables, almost 80% more than in 2019” (see report summary, here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-24/renewable-power-beat-fossil-fuels-in-eu-for-first-time-last-year). I’m not sure China will remain the world’s largest polluter if they keep this pace up for renewable installation, but I’m glad to see that the world is finally start to collectively solve this problem.
I was really hoping to not have to go here, but it seems our fair state is dead set on halting progress when it comes to energy security. Before we dive into the bills at hand, let’s explore quickly how bills become laws in Texas.
First, while many of the forty-nine other United States have legislative sessions year-round, the Texas legislative session only lasts roughly six months every other year (See ‘How often does the legislature meet?’ here: https://house.texas.gov/resources/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=The%20Legislature%20of%20the%20State,regular%20session%20is%20140%20days.). So, if you have the desire to research suggested bills and make public comments, the good news is you only really have to pay attention for a short period of time, the downside of course is that you will have a lot of work to do and little time to do it in if you want to prepare your statements and submit them in time to be considered by your representatives and the legislative body.
Now, as for how a bill becomes law in Texas, see here: https://house.texas.gov/about-us/bill/. Basically, bills are put forth by either the Texas Senate and will be preceded with an ‘SB’ for Senate Bill XX, or a member of the Texas House of Representatives and will be preceded with an ‘HB’ for House Bill XX (XX correlates to the numbers designated to the bill). Once a bill is introduced, it is put before the respective chamber during the “first 60 calendar days of a regular session” (https://house.texas.gov/about-us/bill/), where it is then assigned to a committee. During the committee process, bills may be either formally or informally heard, and may allow for public testimony, or may not – thus it’s important to keep track of when they will be added to the committee calendars for discussion, and be sure to contact your representative prior to that discussion if you wish to provide an opinion, outside of providing public testimony of course which must be done on the exact day the bill is presented in the chamber and public comments are admissible. If passed in either chamber, the bill goes to the subsequent chamber to be read and amended (if applicable), and finally passes to the Governor’s desk. This part is crucial since it’s the last step our local government takes before a bill becomes law, so please check out the following paragraph from the same link:
“Upon receiving a bill, the governor has 10 days in which to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature. If the governor vetoes the bill and the legislature is still in session, the bill is returned to the house in which it originated with an explanation of the governor’s objections. A two-thirds majority in each house is required to override the veto. If the governor neither vetoes nor signs the bill within 10 days, the bill becomes a law. If a bill is sent to the governor within 10 days of final adjournment, the governor has until 20 days after final adjournment to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature.” (https://house.texas.gov/about-us/bill/).
Awesome! Now that you understand exactly how bills become laws in Texas, it’s time to read up on a few bills that could increase the cost of solar and wind in Texas:
- SB 3 (https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/SB00003E.pdf#navpanes=0),
- SB 1278 (https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/SB01278I.pdf#navpanes=0), and
- HB 4466 (https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/HB04466I.pdf#navpanes=0).
Check them out within the links provided, and add your thoughts within the comment section below; or, call your representatives today to voice your opinion!
Perhaps you’re not the type of person that just does something because “everyone else is doing it,” which is of course smart, but you might be interested to know that celebrities aren’t just sipping cocktails by the pool, they’re also going solar! It’s no surprise that California has lots of sunshine, making it a very appealing place for solar panels, in fact it’s the #1 state in the US in solar production according to the Solar Energy Industry association, or SEIA (https://www.seia.org/research-resources/top-10-solar-states-0). While it pains me to write this, at least in this race, Texas came in second. Even though their careers have taken them in some very funny/dramatic turns, celebrities such as Will Ferrell, Scarlett Johansson, and Jim Carrey decided to invest in this renewable energy source, see the full list here: https://www.purepointenergy.com/blog/2016/may/10-celebrities-who-support-solar-panels/.
Though most of today’s solar panels are nearly equivalent in efficiency, it’s important to understand what you’re paying for, and why you might want to go with a higher wattage panel in some instances, versus a lower wattage panel which is likely a cheaper system, in others. For a simple example, using the same type of materials, a 290-Watt panel will be less efficient than a 390-Watt panel. The higher the wattage, ignoring all other factors, the higher the efficiency. Seems easy, right? The truth is that the quality may vary depending on the type of materials used, and the way in which each solar cell is built, however again, we’re talking in almost negligible differences in productivity. Let’s take a look at why:
According to CleanEnergyReviews, “solar panel efficiency is determined by two main factors; the photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency, based on the cell design and silicon type, and the total panel efficiency, based on the cell layout, configuration and panel size” (https://www.cleanenergyreviews.info/blog/most-efficient-solar-panels). This article may seem somewhat cumbersome, however it outlines the key differences pretty well – check it out! The author goes on to explain that “The efficiency (%) of a panel is calculated by the maximum power rating (W) at STC, divided by the total panel area in meters,” however if you’re not designing a system yourself, this equation isn’t the most important part – it’s understanding how this will impact your system and your budget, based on your current and perceived energy usage. Again, to understand why – let’s keep digging! If you keep reading on to find the image below, you might start to see the differences in panels the article is referencing – for example, take a look at the labels below each to note the difference between the silicon types: “multiple busbars (MBB), and passivation type (PERC)” – while we’re here, also note the percentages at the bottom of each label – the variance is only ~7% from the lowest efficiency panel, to the highest efficiency panel, however the cost difference can be significant. Keep in mind, this is not to say that the lower efficiency panel is poor quality necessarily, since you might not need the amount of energy that the higher-efficiency panels produce (these are often used for commercial projects, instead of residential homes).
Finally, this article goes on to list the top efficiency panels from 2021 (see below, updated as recently as February of this year), but the paragraph just below it really outlines the whole picture, saying “what matters most is the manufacturing quality which is related to real world performance, reliability, manufacturers service, and warranty conditions.” Please do continue reading through the end – not only is it an interesting read, but it just might help you make a more informed decision when selecting the solar panels for your solar system. For questions on the information outlined within this article, give us a call today! We’re happy to walk you through it or provide you with a free quote for your home or business.
* List of the most efficient solar panels announced and expected to reach high volume production during 2021 – Residential 60 to 66 cell size format size panels only – Last update Feb 2021.
Here we are again, rapping up another sunny weekend! I hope you had a lovely, restful Saturday and Sunday, because we’ve got another fabulous week of solar installations ahead. The department of energy (DOE) has recently announced a new plan to cut the cost of solar significantly – check it out here: https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-announces-goal-cut-solar-costs-more-half-2030 – even as the cost of solar is already a viable competitor to gas and oil prices today. For a quick look on the solar energy forecast for 2021, check out the following link from pv-magazine: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/01/11/renewables-to-dominate-new-u-s-capacity-in-2021-with-solar-leading-the-way/. If you’re ready to take a look at a quote and see if solar is right for you, give us a call today, or feel free to reach us in the chat window!
If you’re like me, and thought that the Spring Equinox fell on March 21st every year, you would be wrong for 2021! I was waiting to post about it until today, however the first official day of spring was yesterday, March 20, 2021.
What is the spring equinox? It’s a sign that the days will continue to start getting longer and longer, but for a more scientific answer, check out the following link (https://www.space.com/vernal-equinox-2021-spring-arrival-equal-day-night) which states, “Spring will officially arrive on Saturday morning (March 20) with the occurrence of the vernal equinox. That occurs when the sun will be positioned directly over the Earth’s equator at 09:37 Universal Time; 5:37 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time or 2:37 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. At that particular moment, the sun will appear to shine directly overhead from a point 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of Meru, in Kenya; a city of approximately 241,000 residents.
From that moment, until the occurrence of the summer solstice on June 20, the sun will appear to migrate northward and the length of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere will continue to increase. As the altitude of the midday sun gets progressively higher, the arc that it takes across the sky will also increase. On the date of the equinox, the sun will rise due east and will set due west.”
What does this mean for solar customers? Now is the time to go solar and start saving on your monthly electricity bill! With summer just around the corner, and longer days, full of sunshine, those solar panels are poised to help support the high energy demand on the grid, and keep your house cool even when we get to those triple digit days. Call us today for a free quote!
If you’ve been following along with our blog this week, you know that: 1) energy usage isn’t just increasing in the U.S. – it’s increasing all over the world; 2) energy production is meeting energy consumption in a few countries, but severely lacking in many other countries outside of the U.S. and China (which will lead to blackouts), and 3) that Carbon Dioxide – a harmful greenhouse gas associated with climate change – is not produced when using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, or hydro-electric energy.
If this is true, what’s the solution? This is where things get really interesting! For many years, climate scientists and activists have been the only ones sounding the alarm on climate change, however thanks in large parts to their efforts (and to the increase in the price of non-renwable resources like oil and gas), world leaders are finally starting to listen. In December 2015, 196 countries signed the Paris Climate Accords! This was monumental because no other agreement of it’s kind had included such a wide array of countries all advocating for the same cause: the reduction in climate change. To learn more about what this agreement entails, check out the following link: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement; or for a more detailed look, check out the full text of the Paris Climate Accord here: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf. With this agreement, each country designated their own goals for CO2 reduction – which means if you’re thinking about increasing the energy efficiency of your home, you’re not alone! Almost every country in the world is doing the same thing, and hopefully if we work together, we can see notable changes before it’s too late.
Well, we made it to March! Hopefully this means we’re out of the woods and on our way to spring and sunny weather. For a few interesting facts about the third month of the year, check out the following: https://www.almanac.com/content/month-march-holidays-fun-facts-folklore.
March is a great month to start thinking about home improvements. With the crazy weather subsiding, and before the scorching temperatures begin, it’s a great time to go solar before those energy bills climb back up again. With the winter storm behind us, some people may still be working on simply fixing the storm damage that was done in February! If this is you, please know we are here to help, and there are a ton of resources for you to make this happen, such as:
- Apply for the FEMA disaster assistance program: https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20210220/texas-survivors-affected-winter-weather-can-apply-federal-disaster
- Upon applying for FEMA assistance, you will also be asked to submit an application for the SBA Disaster Assistance loan: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
- If your home/business was not impacted by the storm, but you’re still interested in making home improvements, a HELOC loan may be right for you. Learn more here: https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/heloc/
- Then, if you’re only interested in repairing your roof or going solar, we’ve partnered with financial institutions Sunlight Financial, Sunnova, and Mosaic to help you out.
For more information about any of these options, please give us a call today!
Well, thank God that’s over – mostly. The snow has now melted and things are starting to get back to the usual 70-degree weather for many Texas residents. Unfortunately the same is not true across the state, and this week has exposed major inequities and inefficiencies in our energy sector. If you do not have power or water, please give us a call and we’ll do all we can to help. Last week was really tough, and this week we’ll be examining what we can do to prevent more weeks like this in the future. Stay tuned.
That said, if you still don’t have power or water and are in need of resources, please check the following links:
- Austin: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/texas-blackout-mutual-aid-donation-1129703/
- Dallas / Fort Worth: https://feedthepeopledallas.com/ and https://dallas.eater.com/22288804/dallas-mutual-aid-organizations-camp-rhonda-feeding-unhoused-people-winter-storm-2021
- Houston: https://www.mutualaidhou.com/
- San Antonio: https://www.saoemprepare.com/Plans/RegionalMutualAid
Other links throughout the state:
For some odd reason, Texas has decided to really show out this year and give us not just one, but three or four possible days of snow! So while in years past this knowledge may have seemed irrelevant for us down here in the lone star state, this year we will need to equip ourselves with hats and gloves and new skills to deal with sub-freezing temperatures. The good news is that your solar panel production should remain largely unimpaired by the snow, according to Simpleray, and since Iowa gets more snow than Texas annually, I will defer to their better judgment on the subject: https://www.simpleray.com/resources-and-informations/solar-panels-after-snowstorm. The short story is that due to the heat produced by the silicone tiles, and the angle at which they’re installed on your rooftop (or in a ground-mounted system), snow should melt off of them relatively quickly, and even if it stays for a few days, winter days are not as important for solar production as summer days, which we all know will be here before we know it! So go out there and have some fun – or stay inside and enjoy the warmth – but whatever you do, don’t worry about your solar panels. The snow will melt soon enough, and that Texas summer heat will be here to make up the difference in your energy production.