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 Current Word » Energy

Archive for the 'Energy' Category

Cheaper solar installations

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The need for highly specialized labor and custom installations drives up the installed cost of solar to about $7 per watt nationwide, or roughly $35,000 for a 5 kW installation, before government incentives.

Korman wants to bring the cost down to about $21,600 or between $4 – $4.50 per watt. To achieve this goal, GE would offer a standardized kit that includes modules that output low-voltage alternating current (AC) power instead of the high-voltage direct current (DC) power of most modules. Roofers and electricians can safely install these lower voltage systems on standardized mounts, eliminating the high cost of installation.


Wikipedia – Micro-inverters

Latest and greatest – Enphase M215

These in-panel or attached DC-to-AC inverters are relatively new to the market, and should have a huge impact on the cost and improve the reliability of these systems. Awesome!

Wonky political question – If the government susidized a $35,000 installation down to say $20,000, would manufacturers still have strong incentive to bring the cost down on their own?

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Solar Power, Technology | Comment now »


China’s growing fleet of cars

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

“I think the strains on the global oil delivery system due to China trying to put in place a whole new US sized vehicle fleet in the space of the decade 2010-2020 are likely to be very profound, and I expect it to cause serious disruptions in the global economy.”


Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Energy, Investing | Comment now »


Electricity Use

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

– turning up/down the thermostat in summer/winter
– delaying the inevitable turning on of ac/heat
– shutting down electronics at night, especially computers
– being more conscious of turning lights off
– using less hot water – shorter showers, more efficient use of the laundry machine / dryer

It can be done!

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Conservation, Energy | Comment now »


Steven Chu

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

So, let’s see. He has had a career focused on energy, is clearly passionate about the subject, isn’t enthusiastic about making ethanol from corn, thinks we need higher gas taxes, favors nuclear power, favors alternative energy funding, favors higher energy efficiency, and is pro-science. That’s exactly how I would describe myself, so from my perspective I love the choice.

Quotes from Chu’s papers and some additional commentary can be found on The Oil Drum. I have to say, I’m a fan as well. He’s smart, he’s a physics guy, he likes nuclear and hates coal, and he’s a member of the Pigou club. This guy should do some good.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Energy | Comment now »



Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Hmm. Granted the shape is heavily influenced by the need for low wind drag numbers, but still, pretty fugly. Couldn’t they have put just a little more effort into style?

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Conservation, Technology | 1 Comment »


Solar Geekery

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Wattsun Solar Trackers – when fixed PV arrays simply aren’t acceptible. Neat. I’d probably have to do some customization of these so they could be lowered to the ground during storms. The last thing you want to see is your precious investment blow away on a windy day. :)

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Solar Power, Technology | Comment now »


Home Power Magazine

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

One of the main things I’ve learned about going solar is that it involves a lot of very complex issues – hardware, performance, weather / temperature, state law, federal law, local power company policies, etc. If you don’t plan things out and do your research, you’ll screw yourself. FYI, finding information, especially vendor related information online on solar power is a royal pain in the ars. I came across Home Power Magazine while doing my research and purchased a subscription. I recently received my first issue and was blown away – detailed articles on actual setups, wiring diagrams, hardware reviews, performance reviews of panels, and tons of vendor information search engines never turned up. Home Power will help clear up a lot of questions and illuminate all the issues. If you’re thinking of going solar, I highly recommend you pick up a subscription.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Solar Power | Comment now »


A Day In The Life Of A Home PV System

Friday, July 25th, 2008


Also, Florida just passed a renewal of their renewable energy incentive rebate program (up to $20,000.00 off the cost of the system @ 4.00 per watt), and a requirement that all power companies serving Florida must provide net-metering agreements to residential customers by 2009.

Related – Going Solar

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Energy, Solar Power | Comment now »


Going Solar

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I’ve been living in a gated community now for almost 7 years. I’ve enjoyed it but there are disadvantages – close in living, homeowners associations, traffic and tourists, and a lack of space / seclusion. One of the options I’m considering for a real estate investment is to rent out my current house and buy another place I’ll enjoy more. My current place fits perfect as a long term rental property based on the research I’ve done so far, and a new house will give me the opportunity to do some things I can’t do in a covenant based community.

One of the things I’d really like to do is go solar for electric power. In the community I current live, I can’t install panels on the roof as it’s a violation of rules and regulations, and I don’t have a large enough back yard to install the more advanced stand-alone photovoltaic tracking systems. A new house on a plot of land would allow me to do so. I also think it would make for a really cool technology experiment in green living.

So I’m looking at good property I can build on and existing homes on nice chunks of acreage (1-10 acres would be nice). As far as solar goes, it’s actually pretty easy to do, there are various different types of residential system to choose from, each providing different levels of energy output. The more energy out, the higher the cost and space requirements. Initial investments range from 10K to 50K, with a return that should pay for the investment over a period of 10-15 years. After that you’re making money off it. Plus, heck, going green feels good, and hopefully drops your carbon footprint into negative digits.

If you’re curious here are some links to companies and sites that provide information on the technology and systems. It’s a basic list at this point, but I’ll be updating it with more information as I continue the research.

General Information –

Florida Solar Energy Center

Provider Directories –

Florida Solar Energy Industry Association

National Solar Provider Directory

Example Systems and Cost –

Home Solar Solutions

Silicon Solar

Full Circle Solar

Government Programs –

State of Florida $20K installation rebate – This program has been so popular the initial budget was met, there’s now a waiting list to receive it.

Federal Solar Tax Credit – Enacted by Bush 2005, and extended recently through 2008, a 30% tax credit on the purchase of solar voltaic systems.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Conservation, Solar Power, Technology | Comment now »


Energy Data

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

The mother load –


Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Energy | Comment now »