Abundant Solar PowerSolar power is our most abundant natural resource. The amount of solar power falling on 135 square miles is greater than the peak capacity of all of the electric power plants on earth (1).
According to NASA: "Averaged over an entire year and the entire Earth, the sun deposits 342 Watts of energy into every square meter of the Earth. This is a very large amount of heat—1.7 x 1017 watts of power that the sun sends to the Earth/atmosphere system. For comparison, a large electric power plant would produce 100 million watts of power, or 108 watts. It would take 1.7 billion such power plants to equal the energy coming to the Earth from the sun—roughly one for every three people on the Earth!".
Nikola Tesla once remarked, "This new power for the driving of the world's machinery will be derived from the energy which operates the universe, the cosmic energy, whose central source for the earth is the sun and which is everywhere present in unlimited quantities. "
Solar thermal energy is power that is harnessed from heat given off by the sun, which is then used to drive turbines that convert it into electricity, or as shown here, it may also be used directly to heat water.
Solar Photovoltaics - unlike solar thermal - convert solar energy directly into electricity. According to the US Department of Energy, PV systems installed since 1988 provide enough electricity to power 250,000 American homes-- or more than 8 million homes in the developing world. Solar Photovoltaics can be integrated into roof tiles for personal homes, be used to produce energy on cloudy days, and could supply up to one-quarter of all our energy needs if solar panels were put on all sunny American buildings.
Installed Solar Capacity Increases
Reuters recently reported (Fri Mar 20, 2009) that the installed solar power capacity in the United States rose by 17 percent to 8,775 megawatts in 2008, the strongest growth in a single year. Reuters also notes that it was the third straight year of record growth for the solar industry and it is widely expected that 2009 will be another record year(2). Despite the credit crisis, 2008 will be remembered in the solar industry as a year where federal incentives were enhanced and extended for eight years.
Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extended many consumer tax incentives originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) and amended in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343)(3).
Solar Energy Systems > Solar Water Heating(4)
At least half of the energy generated by the "qualifying property" must come from the sun. Homeowners may only claim spending on the solar water heating system property, not the entire water heating system of the household. The credit is not available for expenses for swimming pools or hot tubs. The water must be used in the dwelling. The system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC). The tax credit is 30% of cost. All ENERGY STAR solar water heaters qualify for the tax credit. Use IRS Form 5695 (PDF). Must be placed in service before December 31, 2016.
Solar Energy Systems > Photovoltaic Systems(5)
Photovoltaic systems must provide electricity for the residence, and must meet applicable fire and electrical code requirement. Tax credit is 30% of cost. Use IRS Form 5695 (PDF). Must be placed in service before December 31, 2016.
With the new incentives and the increase in solar product sales and research & development, Infinergy Wind & Solar is dedicated to assisting the end-user by providing the latest proven products at affordable prices. With all of the incentives, its time to act and get started with solar energy!
- Alternative Energy News: Solar Power
- American Solar Energy Society
- BP Solar: Solar Savings Estimator
- Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)
- Homepower Magazine's Solar Electricity Basics
- International Energy Association
- Interstate Renewable Energy Council
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Geophysical Data Center - online calculator for Estimated Value of Magnetic Declination
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Center for Photovoltaics
- Sandia National Laboratories' Photovoltaic Systems Research & Development
- Stanford Solar Center
- U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) State Activities & Partnerships
- U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program
- (1) Davidson & Orner, The New Solar Electric Home (Ann Arbor, MI: aatec publications, 2008), p.2
- (2) "U.S. installed solar capacity up 17 percent in 2008", Reuters, 20 Mar 2009
- (3) "Consumer Energy Tax Incentives", U.S. Department of Energy Website
- (4) "Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency", Energy Star Website
- (5) ibid.