Category: solar

28
Jul
2016

Solar Energy: Let the sun shape the roof

Solar energy is becoming more affordable by the day (see blog post 3/16/2106).  Before long, the cost for solar power will become cheaper than grid-sourced.  Twenty years ago the payback on solar was roughly equal to the lifespan of the solar array.  Still, we designed our roofs to accept solar panels, looking forward to the day that the economic case could be made to mount those panels on a project’s roof.  Recently-built Solar Faber project has not had to wait for those panels – with a return on investment of over 5%, the economic case can now be made.  The big, south facing roof of the project was designed with that intent.  What’s more, if the sun shapes the roof, the roof shapes the interior of the house, adding height and interest.  It’s a two-for-one proposition that makes so much sense for both the environment and the quality of life for the building owner.

Solar energy: roof design

If the sun shapes the roof, the roof shapes the interior.

09
Mar
2016

Solar Power becoming dirt cheap

A new product will make solar energy dirt cheap.  Solar power used to have a payback of about 20 years. The lifespan of photovoltaic (PV) panels was about 20 years, making solar a difficult sell given the high cost. We knew one day the price of PVs would become cheaper than fossil fuels and that day is not far off. While oil prices are coming down, so are PVs –the price of solar and other green technologies are offering affordable options to renewable power.  In fact, some projections see the cost of solar becoming cheaper than fossil fuels within five years.  Researchers developing the new solar cell made with perovskites (current technology uses silicon), project the technology will cost just 10 to 20 cents per watt. Currently, solar costs around 75 cents a watt.  The  U.S. Department of Energy projects 50 cents per watt will allow solar power to compete with oil.

A new start-up Oxford Photovoltaics is commercializing the product.  Meanwhile, solar cells made with silicon are also coming down in price.  All this is great news for achieving net zero at an affordable cost. Solar power, green architects virginia