Solar Energy Google Web Search

Custom Search

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

National Solar Jobs Census 2010 to rise ?

Though jobs in the solar energy industry are on the rise, Illinois is lagging behind other Midwestern states in solar industry development, according to a new report from The Solar Foundation.

According to the National Solar Jobs Census 2010, the solar industry employed an estimated 93,000 workers as of August, though only 533 are employed in the state, according to Environment Illinois.

Sixteen of those jobs are located at Solar Service Inc., based in Niles, Ill, which began installing solar equipment in 1977 and, according to Brandon Leavitt, president of the company, installed the first solar system in the state.

“I got into [solar energy] because it’s a less expensive way to do something [and] the fuel is free,” said Leavitt. “It’s a real simple choice and you can get out there and talk about it, but talking about it doesn’t change people’s minds. You have to do it and show them how it works.”

While other states in the Midwest, including Michigan and Wisconsin, ranked fourth and fifth in the nation, respectively, Illinois did not make the top 20 states employing individuals in the solar industry.

The report has identified 16,000 solar employment sites nationwide, which combined, contribute to roughly 1 percent of the country’s energy portfolio.

“So many of our issues are linked to energy, [such as] unemployment, health and balanced trade,” Leavitt said, remarking on the country’s need for energy reform and policy changes in Illinois.

Despite Illinois’ shortcomings, many environmental groups are optimistic on the state’s solar outlook.

“We have this window of opportunity right now we need to take advantage of in order to create a lot of jobs, which we know are going to be created across the U.S.,” said Miranda Carter, field associate for Environment Illinois, a citizen-based advocacy organization. “We just want them to be created here in Illinois.”

Despite the poor economy, 50 percent of the national solar industry is expected to add jobs in the next 12 months. According to the report, this comes at a time when the U.S. economy is expected to grow at a rate of 2 percent for the same period.

Environmental organizers in the state seem to agree the barrier to solar industry growth in Illinois is largely a result of the state’s current policy.

“[The outlook] is positive,” said Michelle Hickey, program coordinator at the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “We’re really at a precipice of a great opportunity and now it’s really a matter of policy helping us pave the way for a lot of jobs and growth.”

According to the ISEA and Environment Illinois, there are several policy changes that could help Illinois achieve a more robust solar industry. The state’s net metering program is one of the policies most closely related to individual residents.

Net metering allows homeowners to install renewable energy generators in their homes—at least a portion of the unused energy can then be sold back to the energy grid for retail credit. Under the state’s current law regarding solar equipment, net metering is limited to small installations.
HQRP 20W Mono-crystalline Solar Panel 20 Watt 12 Volt in Anodized Aluminum Frame plus HQRP Coaster

According to Carter, 16 states currently have limits more than 25 times higher than Illinois—allowing more installations to be built by big box stores and communities, among others. She proposes the state raise its limit.

The two groups also agree the state should authorize the financing of Property Accessed Clean Energy, which would allow residents to install solar panels with no out-of-pocket costs. Instead, it would be paid for with savings on their energy bill throughout time.

“In a lot of other states around the country, solar has had a lot of help getting off the ground, so that’s why we’ve seen growth in other states and why Illinois is kind of lagging,” Carter said. “We haven’t had all of those policies that would help it move forward.”

Though solar currently makes up less than 1 percent of the state’s energy output, all three organizations are hopeful of Illinois’ solar future.

“If we’re able to make these steps then solar will do great in Illinois and we’ll get a lot of benefits like job creation and less pollution,” Carter said.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Solar Energy Pros and cons

Solar Energy Pros:

Solar panels give off no pollution, the only pollution produced as a result of solar panels is the manufacturing of these devices in factories, transportation of the goods, and installation.

The production of energy from the use of fossil and some renewable fuels (e.g. wind turbines) can be noisy, yet solar energy produces electricity very quietly.

One of the great pros of solar energy is the ability to harness electricity in remote locations that are not linked to a national grid. A prime example of this is in space, where satellites are powered by high efficiency solar cells.

The installation of solar panels in remote locations is usually much more cost effective than laying the required high voltage wires.

Solar energy can be very efficient in a large area of the globe, and new technologies allow for a more efficient energy production on overcast/dull days.

Solar panels can be installed on top of many rooftops, which eliminates the problem of finding the required space for solar panel placement.

Another great pro of solar energy is the cost. Although the initial investment of solar cells may be high, once installed, they provide a free source of electricity, which will pay off over the coming years.

The use of solar energy to produce electricity allows the user to become less dependent on the worlds fossil fuel supplies.

Solar Energy Cons:

The major con of solar energy is the initial cost of solar cells. Currently, prices of highly efficient solar cells can be above $1000, and some households may need more than one. This makes the initial installation of solar panels very costly.

Solar energy is only able to generate electricity during daylight hours. This means for around half of each day, solar panels are not producing energy for your home.

The weather can affect the efficiency of solar cells.

Pollution can be a con of solar energy, as pollution levels can affect a solar cells efficiency, this would be a major con for businesses or industry wishing to install solar panels in heavily polluted areas, such as cities.


Above is a list of many solar energy pros and cons, and although not definitive, you can see how the number of pros relating to solar energy, greatly outweighs the cons of solar energy.

The main reason we are not seeing a large amount of solar energy technology installations is due to cost, and unfortunately, as the price of fossil fuels remains lower than the initial investment towards the currently