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Cool, cost-effective comfort | Hawaii Renovation, November 16, 2014

Everyone knows Alternate Energy Inc. (AEI) is Hawaii’s Mitsubishi Elite Dealer, renowned as a leader in high-quality PV sales and installation. Now, kamaaina are discovering that AEI is the expert in Mitsubishi air conditioning as well, offering everything needed for the ultimate cool, energy-efficient home.

Ross Kutsunai, a project developer at AEI, says his customers are increasingly asking for Mitsubishi AC systems — either as a complement to a new solar PV installation, or as a logical next step after they’ve experienced a Mitsubishi solar system for a few years and have seen how much money they’re saving on electricity. “Customers often come to us well aware that Mitsubishi Electric’s efficient, quiet, high-quality AC systems are the gold standard for home cooling,” he said.


"Air conditioning with AEI was the second best decision I made after PV." - Wes Chong, Honolulu

Wes Chong, a Waialae Iki resident and one of AEI’s thousands of satisfied solar PV customers, recently found out for himself how accessible a state-of-the-art Mitsubishi air conditioning system from AEI can be. He said, “We had our PV system installed by AEI about a year ago, and the savings on my monthly electric bill were immediate — it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. We worked closely with AEI’s in-house engineers, who designed our system to generate a bit more power than we were currently using, to allow for our future energy needs. This summer, after enjoying our terrific PV system (and tiny electric bills) all year, I decided to invest in air conditioning with Alternate Energy. This was the second best decision I made. We loved working with Ross, and the guys that installed my PV and AC were very knowledgeable and worked fast and hard. Would I recommend AEI to my friends? Absolutely.”

Bruce Ekimura, founder of AEI, said, “Mitsubishi Electric cooling and heating systems are the top choice among contractors and consumers. They are without a doubt the most trusted brand for reliability, service and support, and it is our honor to install them for our customers.”

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Founded in 1993, as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, Alternate Energy has become Hawaii’s one-stop source for the ultimate energy-efficient home. One call puts the finest PV, HVAC, solar water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar attic fans and electrical contracting to work for you today. AEI is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua Street in Honolulu. The company may be reached at 808-842-5853 on Oahu and 808-872-9592 on Maui.

ALTERNATE ENERGY INC.
contact // 842-5853 (Oahu) • 872-9592 (Maui)
address // 803 Ahua St., Honolulu, HI 96816
web // www.alternateenergyhawaii.com

Photos courtesy of Alternate Energy Inc.

Article Source: Hawaii Renovation

Be smart, stay cool | Hawaii Renovation, September 14, 2014

Summer may be over, but in Hawaii, the heat is here year-round. Fortunately, there have been tremendous technological advances in the HVAC industry, especially with proven innovators like Mitsubishi Electric.

Now is a great time to install new air conditioning or upgrade an outdated system. The pros at Alternate Energy Inc. (AEI) offer these tips for getting the very best system and installation:

Invest in the best product you can afford
A good AC system should last you for a decade or more. You want one that is cutting-edge efficient, technologically advanced, aesthetically pleasing and problem-free. That’s why AEI sells Mitsubishi Electric HVAC systems exclusively. Mitsubishi is consistently recognized by contractors as the No. 1 preferred brand with the highest quality rating. Plus, Mitsubishi’s patented INVERTER technology and high SEER efficiency rating mean substantial energy savings.


"Since we had the PV installed about a year ago, this was the first item that saved me from a high monthly electric bill. After reviewing my monthly bills and having credit, I decided to invest in an AC with Alternate Energy. This was the second best item. But it all started with Ross, [our project developer]; he was very instrumental in my using AE." - Wes Chong, Honolulu

Choose a contractor with staying power

How long have they been operating in the state? Will they be around to service your system in the future? A long-time kamaaina family business, AEI has over 20 years of contracting experience in Hawaii and thousands of satisfied customers. They hold the prestigious Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor status.

Also, ask how competent are the installers? AEI’s licensed HVAC installers (C-52) and electricians (C-13) are proud employees, not subcontractors. They expertly handle any electrical needs that may arise pre- or post-installation. AEI’s design engineers design the best-fit solution for your AC installation, while an administrative department handles all City & County building permits and HOA requirements.


"The guys that installed my PV and AC were very knowledgeable and worked fast and hard. I would certainly recommend AEI to my friends." - Wes Chong, Honolulu

Check out the warranties
This is your insurance against any future problems. AEI offers an attractive two-year Workmanship Warranty, and Mitsubishi backs that with a seven-year parts/seven-year compressor manufacturer’s warranty.


AEI holds a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor status

Get the full picture
When you invest in home cooling, it’s wise to review your entire energy profile. Is solar water heating, PV or electric vehicle charging in your future? AEI will see the bigger picture, to fully optimize your overall energy-efficiency.

Can the contractor help you pay for it?
AEI has an exclusive partnership with Central Pacific Bank, to help you pay for your new AC. AEI’s Just Cool It Now Sale offers a PV + AC bundle, saving you up to $1,500 off a new AC system with the purchase of a PV system; and an AC Only Special, with a savings of up to $250 off per room (some restrictions apply) — while supplies last!

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Founded in 1993, as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, Alternate Energy has become Hawaii’s one-stop source for the ultimate energy-efficient home. One call puts the finest PV, HVAC, solar water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar attic fans and electrical contracting to work for you today. AEI is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua Street in Honolulu. The company may be reached at 808-842-5853 on Oahu and 808-872-9592 on Maui.

ALTERNATE ENERGY INC.
contact // 842-5853 (Oahu) • 872-9592 (Maui)
address // 803 Ahua St., Honolulu, HI 96816
web // www.alternateenergyhawaii.com

Photos courtesy of Alternate Energy Inc.

Article Source: Hawaii Renovation

Preparing for Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

Alternate Energy's office will be closed tomorrow, Friday, August 8th, 2014, due to the expected Hurricane Iselle.

All installations and service scheduled for August 8th have been rescheduled.

August 9th installations and services will remain as scheduled, weather permitting.

Be Prepared:
• To prepare your system for the hurricane, there is no need to power off your system during the storm unless there is damage.
• If you experience a power outage, your PV system will also lose power but will begin working again as soon as power is restored to your property.
• As a licensed solar contractor, your panels have been properly installed to withstand winds of up to 105 mph.
• Look out for and remove any debris or objects that might blow or fall onto your panels.

For more details and information on hurricane preparedness, check out Hawaii News Now's Hurricane Checklist at http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/352185/hurricane-checklist.

We will be happy to provide service if you experience any damage, or would like us to check your system after the storm. Thank you and stay safe!


- AEI team

Exclusive Mitsubishi 265W Panels Now Available for AEI Customers

We are proud to offer Mitsubishi's latest innovation, the MLE-265W module. The 265W modules, tested and guaranteed by Mitsubishi, are being previewed exclusively in Hawaii before hitting the international PV market.

What does this mean for your PV system?

Higher Power Output
  • Unique half-cut, four bus bar, monocrystalline cells increase module efficiency
  • Improved output tolerance - 265W offers better tolerance (-0/+5%) to ensure expected power generation
  • Proprietary cell surface texturing process increases light absorption
  • Straight electrical tabs ensure integrity of electrical connections and increase current flow
  • Cells matched for electrical uniformity produce high power output and reliability

High Reliability
  • Industry-leading 25-year linear performance warranty offers 5.5% more power output than standard tiered warranties
  • Corrosion-resistant design allows installation next to saltwater
  • 4-layer protective junction box reduces risk of failure from water or dust intrusion, enhancing reliability and safety
  • Sturdy frame allows mounting in portrait or landscape orientations
  • High static load rating of 5400Pa to endure high wind and snow loading

Mitsubishi Electric Quality
  •10-year materials and workmanship warranty guarantees quality
  • Automated production lines ensure consistent high quality in every cell and module
  • Each cell and module flash tested to ensure rated level of output
  • Aesthetically pleasing black frame and cells
  • Made with PV wire for safe use with transformerless inverters
  • Lead-free solder protects health and the environment

And as always, Alternate Energy pledges to:
  • Never propose more panels than a customer needs
  • Never inflate its list price to make “discounts” look more appealing
  • Always conduct business with honesty and integrity, and offer the highest quality product, installation and customer service possible

Call or email us at 842-5853 or sales@alternateenergyhawaii.com - we're here to help you find ways to save on utility costs. And remember to connect with us on Facebook for our most recent updates!

Image Credit: Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc.

Cooling comfort, efficiency | Hawaii Renovation, July 20, 2014

Summer is here. It’s time to turn your dream of a cool, air-conditioned home into a reality. Alternate Energy Inc.’s (AEI) new Mitsubishi Electric HVAC Division can bring the industry’s latest and most efficient cooling technology to your home or office today.

A Mitsubishi Elite Dealer long renowned as Hawaii’s leader in residential PV sales and installation, AEI is becoming equally acclaimed for its top-notch HVAC and electrical contracting service. All designs and installations are done by AEI’s in-house team of electrical engineers, HVAC journeymen and licensed electricians, who are proud employees of the company, not subcontractors.

Sales director Craig Kawamura said, “Our customers love having us as their one go-to contractor, to handle everything related to home comfort and efficiency. They also really appreciate the option to have us install PV, solar water heating, solar attic fans and even electric vehicle charging, to maximize their home’s energy-efficiency into the future.” Mitsubishi Electric’s efficient, quiet, high-quality HVAC systems are the gold standard for home cooling.

The advanced ductless technology offers not only the industry’s highest SEER efficiency ratings, but also allows you to enjoy more precise comfort in one or multiple rooms. Because you can control the temperature in individual rooms, you avoid the energy waste of having to cool or heat rooms you are not using.


Let AEI's own licensed HVAC and electrical journeymen take care of your entire HVAC installation.

Mitsubishi’s inverter technology also enhances efficiency. The inverter-driven compressors instantly and automatically adjust to changing room environment conditions, to deliver ideal comfort, while only using the energy that’s needed.

One more extremely important point of difference: AEI takes care of all City & County building permits and Homeowners Association requirements. Kawamura cautions that other contractors may make the homeowner deal with permitting, or worse, not pull permits at all, and have unlicensed electricians do the electrical work. This can cause problems down the line, when it comes time to do more electrical work or even sell your home.

AEI also offers a 2-year workmanship warranty on its HVAC installations (compared to the traditional 1-year warranty offered by most); and, as a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor, the company offers a 7-year parts, 7-year compressor warranty.

This summer, make your cool, comfortable dreams come true. Founded in 1993, as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, Alternate Energy is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua St. Call the company today at 842-5853 (Oahu) or 872-9592 (Maui), or visit online at www.alternateenergyhawaii.com.

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Founded in 1993, as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, Alternate Energy has become Hawaii’s one-stop source for the ultimate energy-efficient home. One call puts the finest PV, HVAC, solar water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar attic fans and electrical contracting to work for you today. AEI is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua Street in Honolulu. The company may be reached at 808-842-5853 on Oahu and 808-872-9592 on Maui.

ALTERNATE ENERGY INC.
contact // 842-5853 (Oahu) • 872-9592 (Maui)
address // 803 Ahua St.
web // www.alternateenergyhawaii.com

Photos courtesy of Alternate Energy Inc.

Article Source: Hawaii Renovation

Why HVAC works best | Hawaii Renovation, June 22, 2014

Summer is here, and air conditioning is beginning to sound downright heavenly. Meanwhile, as solar PV has become a household name in Hawaii, the utility has put the brakes on PV installation in some high-penetration areas.

As a result, we’re seeing a handful of new companies offering so-called “solar AC,” or hybrid PV/air-conditioning systems, that claim to bypass the need for approval from the utility. But as we all know, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. How does the solar AC fad measure up to the industry’s finest traditional heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems?

Solar AC is a new technology that employs complicated circuitry and a lot of complex parts. Manufacturers are new, unproven outfits, mostly based in China, with no track record in the industry. Most disturbing, there is confusion as to whether the system requires a Net Energy Metering (NEM) agreement. Some providers claim it does not, while the utility insists that it does. Tax credits are also questionable.


Let AEI's own HVAC journeymen and electrical journeymen take care of your entire HVAC installation.

Compare that to the peace of mind that comes with simple, tried-and-true technology. “With today’s extraordinary improvements in HVAC technology, air conditioning systems are more efficient than ever,” said Craig Kawamura, director of sales at Alternate Energy Inc. (AEI). AEI installs Mitsubishi Electric’s inverter-driven, ductless HVAC system, a system up to 40 percent more efficient than standard systems.

Combined with Mitsubishi‘s premium-quality solar PV panels and guaranteed tax credits, you’ve got a quick return on investment on a system that will serve your family for decades. And by keeping the systems simple and separate, you have ultimate flexibility with rooftop PV module location and HVAC condenser units, enjoying maximum power production and performance.

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Founded in 1993, as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, Alternate Energy has become Hawaii’s one-stop source for the ultimate energy-efficient home. One call puts the finest PV, HVAC, solar water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar attic fans and electrical contracting to work for you today. AEI is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua Street in Honolulu. The company may be reached at 808-842-5853 on Oahu and 808-872-9592 on Maui.

ALTERNATE ENERGY INC.
contact // 842-5853 (Oahu) • 872-9592 (Maui)
address // 803 Ahua St.
web // www.alternateenergyhawaii.com

Photos courtesy of Alternate Energy Inc.

Article Source: Hawaii Renovation

Turning your home into an energy-efficient oasis | Hawaii Renovation, May 18, 2014

Alternate Energy Inc. (AEI) has become Hawaii’s one-stop source for the ultimate energy-efficient home. So much more than a photovoltaic (PV) provider, the renowned solar company now provides a full range of products and services to make your home the most comfortable, energy-efficient and money-saving paradise it can be.

According to Craig Kawamura, director of sales at the kamaaina solar company, Hawaii’s surge in PV popularity has resulted in homeowners becoming aware of the many other ways a home can be energy-efficient. Now, one call to AEI can put the finest solar PV, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), solar water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar attic fans and electrical contracting to work for you.

“Our customers can choose from our menu of services, or combine them all for the ultimate energy-efficient home,” Kawamura said. “We take care of everything, and they’ll enjoy comfort and savings for decades to come.” Here’s a peek at AEI’s expanded offerings:

AEI specializes in top quality solar PV installations, featuring high-efficiency Mitsubishi electric panels. AEI handles system design, installation, permitting and net metering paperwork, and offers generous warranties and renowned customer service.

AEI in-house solar techs installing Mitsubishi Electric solar panels

The highly qualified journeymen and apprentice technicians in AEI’s HVAC division design, install and maintain the latest Mitsubishi heating/cooling systems, the gold standard in HVAC. As more homes are generating their own electricity from the sun, qualified electrical contracting from folks who know PV is critical. At AEI, all installations are done by the company’s in-house team of licensed electricians, not subcontractors.

AEI Mitsubishi Electric HVAC installation

A truly energy-efficient home starts with solar water heating, since hot water heating can account for 40 percent of a family’s electricity bill. It’s also where AEI got its start more than 20 years ago. To celebrate, AEI is offering a $1,000 solar water heating discount through May 31. Combined with the current $1,000 Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program (HEEP) rebate, that’s a whopping $2,000 off, just in time for the summer sun.

Aurora solar water heating panel installation by AEI

Let AEI install an electric vehicle-charging outlet and extra solar panels, then let the sun power your ride. No more trips to the gas station! Also, installing solar attic fans before investing in AC or PV can greatly reduce the number of solar panels or air conditioning muscle you’ll need.

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Founded in 1993 as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, AEI is well-equipped to transform your home into an energy-efficient, money-saving paradise today. AEI is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua Street in Honolulu. The company may be reached at 808-842-5853 on Oahu and 808-872-9592 on Maui. Visit the company website online at www.alternateenergyhawaii.com.

ALTERNATE ENERGY INC.
contact // 842-5853 (Oahu) • 872-9592 (Maui)
address // 803 Ahua St.
web // www.alternateenergyhawaii.com

Photos courtesy of Alternate Energy Inc.

Article Source: Hawaii Renovation

PV and AC make the perfect pair | Hawaii Renovation, March 30, 2014

It’s all over the news: Tens of thousands of Hawaii families have made — and are still making — the switch to solar PV, getting their energy for free from the sun instead of from pricey fossil fuels.

Alternate Energy Inc. (AEI), a Mitsubishi Elite Dealer renowned as Hawaii’s leader in residential PV sales and installation, has helped a majority of these families make the switch. But over the past few years, they’ve discovered an interesting phenomenon. Not only has this shift to solar made homes less dependent on the utility and its skyrocketing prices, but it has helped families realize that a high-quality air-conditioning system is now within their reach — especially if they’ve been relying on old-fashioned window units to cool their homes.

Craig Kawamura, director of sales at AEI, said customers are clamoring for Mitsubishi HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems either as a complement to a new solar PV installation, or as a logical next step after they’ve lived with solar for a few years and have seen how much money they’re saving on electricity.

He said, “We’re hearing it every day: ‘Now that I’m getting my energy from the sun, I can feel good about installing or upgrading an AC system for my home.’ They are also seeing firsthand the quality of the Mitsubishi Electric product, and they want more.”

Alternate Energy is meeting that demand with the launch of its Mitsubishi Electric HVAC Division, featuring the new ductless system, with special “Beat the Heat” pricing available now through April 30. AEI’s qualified journeyman and apprentice technician teams design, install and maintain the new heating/cooling systems with the same precision and expertise they are already known for with the Mitsubishi PV product.

What sets AEI’s HVAC Division apart:

• AEI offers a two-year workmanship warranty (compared to the traditional one-year warranty offered by most).

• All installations are done by AEI’s in-house team of HVAC Journeymen and licensed electricians, who are proud employees of the company, not subcontractors.

• AEI takes care of all City & County building permits and Homeowners Association requirements, ensuring a smooth installation and much less hassle for the owner.

• As a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor, AEI offers a seven-year parts/seven-year compressor warranty.

AEI's in-house HVAC Journeymen and Apprentices install all Mitsubishi Electric HVAC ductless split air systems (Photo: Vance Tsuda, Lead Project Manager)

Mitsubishi Electric’s efficient, quiet, high-quality HVAC systems are the gold standard for home cooling. The company’s advanced ductless technology offers not only the industry’s highest SEER efficiency ratings, but also allows you to enjoy more precise comfort in one or multiple rooms — while saving on energy bills and contributing to a greener Hawaii. Unlike traditional duct systems, Mitsubishi offers the flexibility to transform any room into an oasis of comfort. And because you can control the temperature in individual rooms, you avoid the energy waste of having to cool or heat rooms you are not using.

Mitsubishi’s inverter technology is another important factor that makes its systems dramatically more efficient than traditional HVAC systems. The inverter-driven compressors instantly and automatically adjust to changing room environment conditions to deliver ideal comfort while only using the energy that is needed — no more, no less.

Another benefit is cleaner air. Did you know that the air quality inside your home can often be worse than the air quality outside? Mitsubishi uses a sophisticated multi-part filter system to remove contaminants as it circulates within a room. The hybrid catechin filter absorbs odor-causing gases. A blue-enzyme, anti-allergen filter reduces germs, bacteria and viruses, and it helps trap dust, pollens, mites and other particles that plague allergy sufferers. As a result, you enjoy pristine air 24/7.

Bruce Ekimura, founder of AEI, said, “Mitsubishi Electric cooling and heating systems are the top choice among contractors and consumers. They are without a doubt the most trusted brand for reliability, service and support. We are thrilled to launch our new Mitsubishi HVAC Division and we look forward to offering this new product and service to our customers.”

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Founded in 1993 as one of Hawaii’s oldest kamaaina solar companies, Alternate Energy is located in Mapunapuna at 803 Ahua Street Call the company at 808-842-5853 (Oahu) and 808-872-9592 (Maui) or visit www.alternateenergyhawaii.com.

ALTERNATE ENERGY INC.
contact // 808-842-5853 (Oahu) • 808-872-9592 (Maui)
address // 803 Ahua St., Honolulu, HI 96819
web // www.alternateenergyhawaii.com

Photos courtesy of Alternate Energy Inc.

Article Source: Hawaii Renovation

How Solar Energy Helps the Hawaiian Economy

Solar energy is booming in Hawaii. More and more, residents are seeing the advantages of installing solar panels, attic fans, and water heaters. The upside includes lower bills, a cleaner environment, and increased energy independence.

There is another huge upside to the increase in solar installation: It improves Hawaii’s economy.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which solar energy has led to economic growth in the state.

Tax revenue is generated

A renewable tax credit provided by the state of Hawaii covers 35 percent of the actual cost of commercial, multifamily, and residential photovoltaic projects, according to Sun Wize and the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy & Efficiency. For every tax credit dollar invested in commercial PV, $7.15 is circulated into the local economy. In addition, each dollar “leads to an additional $55.03 in sales and generates $2.67 in new tax revenue.” More money is going towards the state budget because of solar power, and the state saves money by relying less and less on oil, which it has to import. The importing of oil alone costs the state $5.09 billion annually (or $4,000 for every Hawaiian resident), according to HawaiiEnergy.com.

Residents can spend their money elsewhere

Hawaii has the highest electric bill rate in the nation. The average family pays $175 per month or $2,100 per year on electricity alone, according to HawaiiEnergy.com. Cost of living in Hawaii is already high, even without the cost of power included. When Hawaiians switch over to solar, they save an average of $270 per month on all of their utility bills, including their electric bill. The savings can total upwards of $64,000 over 20 years. When residents save that kind of money every month, it frees up their wallets and fuels money back into the local economy. When people have more income, they eat out more, go to the movies, shop, and spend money in local stores.

More jobs are created

As more Hawaiians sign up for solar energy, jobs are created. In 2012, over 119,000 Americans had jobs in the solar energy sector, 1,000 to 2,499 of which were in Hawaii. Solar is one of the fastest growing industries operating in the United States today, and it is especially growing in Hawaii. The types of jobs that come out of the solar energy industry include: a solar installer, who secures the systems onto homes and businesses, a technician, who supervises all installations and services systems, an engineer, who develops and plans out the systems, and a project manager, who oversees the whole process. There are also the administrative workers at the companies, salespeople, customer service representatives, graphic and web designers, and marketers working behind the scenes. Jobs have also been generated for workers because of the shipping, finance, and distribution aspects of the industry. In addition, solar energy industry has led to the creation of 20 percent of the jobs in the construction sector. From August 2012 to August of 2013, the unemployment rate in Hawaii dropped from 6.1 percent to 4.3 percent, which, in part, was helped by the solar industry. The Solar Energy Industries Association found that amongst all of the solar energy companies in Hawaii, there are 1,600 employees.

Behind the scenes workers at AEI.

As people continue to catch on and install solar panels and devices on their homes, the cost of these systems is going to keep decreasing. The solar power industry is only growing, which means that more jobs and opportunities for skilled labor will be popping up. Thanks to solar energy, Hawaii’s economy is strong and only getting stronger.

Image Credits: Taxes by Flickr User 401(k)2012, Solar Workers by AEI Facebook.

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7 Ways Solar Energy Will Continue to Power the Future

Where Solar Energy is Headed

Did you know that in one hour the sun produces enough energy to power the globe for an entire year? While solar energy is generally known for being used by early adopters, advances in solar photovoltaic efficiency, weight, size, and price are bringing solar panels into the mainstream. As technology and research continue to advance, solar energy continues to become a more reliable source of energy. Consider the facts:

  • The sun remains a massive source of renewable energy. Experts estimate that sunlight alone could provide 10,000 times more energy than the globe consumed at the turn of the 21st century.
  • The Obama administration is the third to order the installation of solar panels on White House premises. This mirrors the administration’s promise to drive clean energy growth leading up to 2035.
  • Solar stocks continue to soar in the energy sector. While stocks like Facebook, Twitter, and Apple continue to dominate headlines, the strength in solar stocks is indicative of a positive future for the industry.

With so many indicators reflecting the growth of solar energy, it’s no wonder that more households are considering powering their lives through the sun. But exactly how bright will solar power’s future burn? Research and funding is needed to keep solar cell technology advancing, of course, but many of the industry’s most innovative advancements are already here. Improvements in technology are redefining the way solar energy powers the world.

Photovoltaic Cells Harness Solar Energy

To make solar energy more sustainable and affordable for the public,research and funding has been invested to meet technological challenges and fuel innovation. Solar panels utilize the photoelectric effect, where small electric currents are created when specific substances are exposed to light. These panels are called photovoltaic cells (PV cells).

Operation of a basic photovoltaic cell

Crystalline silicon PV cells are most common, but the silicon cells are only 18-24 percent efficient in harnessing solar energy. Since film cells can be made from a variety of alternative materials, newer components are being used to create lighter and more efficient cells. Multijunction cells, for instance, boast 43 percent more efficiency. Newer iterations of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) are also being developed for greater functionality.

The PV cell still remains the most popular material used in solar panels. With the latest models boasting 44.7 percent efficiency, it’s clear that further improvements may develop rapidly. Just four months ago, the efficiency of a multijunction photovoltaic cell was a full point lower at 43.6 percent. Aside from better materials and a more optimized structure, the method of wafer bonding plays a major role in the efficiency of the cells. Alternatives such as concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar farms are known for efficiency, but aren’t expected to replace PV cells anytime soon. New technology, greater efficiency, and lower prices will continue to propel developments in the energy sector and make it more accessible to the public.

For Solar Panels, Thinner Means Stronger

Aside from increased efficiency and affordability, one of the greatest developments in the energy sector is improved weight and size of solar panels. In fact, General Electric has recently announced its plans to build a thin-film solar plant in North America. According to Forbes, innovations like this are directly contributing to the fall of both “hard” and “soft” costs for solar panels.

As the cells used to harness energy become more efficient, the panels themselves become sleeker and lighter. In fact, the Georgia Research Tech Institute published a case study about 3D solar cells and miniature “towers” that are more efficient than traditional panels. For homeowners, recent developments in solar panel technology are creating less obtrusive ways to power the home.

To create thinner panels that are just as effective, researchers and engineers aim to control the propagation of light, since it’s such a crucial consideration in photonics. A careful design of all the smallest details makes it possible to control light and energy very efficiently. This technology can also be applied to other areas such as LED and DFB lasers, says Dr. Juntao Li at State Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Materials and Technology.

Is Asia Predicting the Future of the American Market?

Three of the four largest manufacturers in solar panel equipment are outperforming projections by a whopping 32 percent, according to a recent Bloomberg report. Solar energy is booming in China and Japan, where stocks are riding high as well. It’s expected that solar prices may rival those of traditional utilities within the next few years. Similar stock increases and competitive prices are occurring in Germany.

The Star Clock at the JR Sapporo Tower in Hakkaido, Japan is entirely powered by its solar surface.

The solar trend in America appears to be following in the footsteps of Asian markets, especially in Hawaii, which is considered one of the eleven largest markets in the world. As the portfolio of innovative technology continues to improve and prices continue to decrease, it’s clear that solar technology is going to define the way we power our world.

Currently, PV systems offer the most advanced technology, only costing $5.50 per watt after taxes in incentives. In the state of Hawaii, it takes approximately 4-6 years to pay off a typical photovoltaic system after installation. Once the cost of installation is paid, homeowners enjoy free electricity for the lifetime of the system.

Since 1976, the state of Hawaii has offered Energy Tax Credits, which have been amended throughout the years. These incentives, coupled with the latest in solar technology, are making alternative energy more appealing to homeowners and business owners alike. From cost savings to tax incentives, improved efficiency and greater technology, solar energy in Hawaii is the most trusted source of renewable energy.

As the first state to implement grid parity for photovoltaics, Hawaii continues to be a leader in adapting alternative energy. By 2030, Hawaii is expected to have a renewable portfolio standard upwards of 40 percent. Since the average solar panel pays for itself within 4-6 years in Hawaii, it’s no wonder that mainstream consumers increasingly invest in it.

While PV systems have boasted incredible innovation in the last 5 years, it’s clear that the solar sector is still developing a portfolio of improvements that will reduce costs and improve efficiency for years to come.

Image Credits: Star Clock by Flickr User Arjan Richter, Solar Photovoltaic by Gil Knier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons