Tag: photovoltaics

global solar

Solar – A Global Observation

Consumed by local solar events, it is easy to forget how global industry trends can also affect us. The US tariffs on the solar industry, for example, are a powerful reminder of the global economy and how closely tied we really are. With so much going on in the world of solar, we decided to explore a bit outside of our local industry, to understand what impacts the rest of the world might make.

USA

Two major events have occurred in the United States this year which have seen a ripple effect in the solar industry worldwide. No. 1 was California’s mandate to install solar on all new homes. No. 2 was the Tariffs imposed by the federal government.

Sunny California Goes Green

California committed fully to going green this year by mandating all new homes be built with solar panels starting 2020. While some argue that this command and control technique is not the best way to reduce carbon emissions (for any number of reasons), others think this will encourage the future development of the state commit to sustainability in architecture. Regardless of what side you are on, it means that homes will continue being built, and will require solar panels. Some homebuilders may consider pre-building and permitting homes to avoid meeting these new regulations, but homes will still be built beyond 2020. This will lead to an increase in solar module demand, and may increase the price of solar modules.

Trump’s Tariffs

The US solar industry has seen not one, but two sets of Tariffs to solar. The first was a 30% tariff on all solar cell and modules implemented in January 2018. Most recently, an additional 25% tariff has been imposed on imported products from China, including solar cells and modules. While it may be too soon to understand the full implications of these, two subsequent events have occurred. Following the initial imposition of 30% tariffs, $2.5 billion was lost in cancelled projects, not to mention the loss of jobs across the country. The second event that occurred was the increase in US based manufacturing plants. Some of these manufacturers are US based companies taking advantage of a higher barrier of entry to foreign firms; others are foreign firms seeking to circumvent the tariffs imposed.

Despite the increase in domestic manufacturing, the cost of foreign goods with high tariffs or the cost of domestically produced materials may have some influence on the price of solar in the US.

China

China continues to build solar cells and modules, in both China and the US. Recent Chinese government decisions to cut funding for solar could actually boost global panel production. Solar panels built in China are expected to see a significant fall in prices due to high manufacturing for current demand, but will likely not let up once domestic demand falls.

India

As India proposes to implement a 25% safeguard duty on solar panels from China, local solar companies are stockpiling solar panels from China. This stockpiling also contributes to an increased current demand for the Chinese solar panels.

Canada

So what does this all mean for us here in Canada? The US Tariff has already created reduced international solar cell and module demand, but has also increased local producers. China is currently encountering a high demand for solar cells and modules and has ramped up domestic and international production to keep up with the demand. These measures all create an increase in production and supply of solar panels. Furthermore, while the US pays more for imports and domestic products, Canadian solar installers can look forward to reduced prices due to the supply of modules and lack of tariffs.

 

Have other thoughts on global solar? Drop us a line! 

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how long do solar panels last

How Long do Solar Panels Last?

How long will solar panels last?

When deciding whether or not to buy and install solar panels, cost is a major factor. You want to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. A major part of that is the durability and reliability of your solar panels. Why would you spend $10,000 – $20,000 on something that will only last 5 – 10 years? We decided to answer some frequently asked questions about durability, reliability, and solar panel life span.

Solar panels are made of glass, so will they break?

The short answer is that they can, but that they shouldn’t.

The solar cells themselves are very fragile, but they are protected by a thick layer of glass and a durable frame. Solar panels are designed and tested to withstand even the most extreme conditions, from freezing rain to golf ball sized hail at 80 km/hour. Our rule of thumb is: If it will damage or break your roof, it may damage or break your panels. If you are expecting that kind of damage, however, you may have bigger problems than the durability of your solar panels.

What kind of testing is done on solar panels?

Manufacturers test their panels quite extensively to ensure they are durable and reliable. Solar panels can go through a variety of tests including being placed in a humidity chamber, Thermal stress tests, UV stress tests, pressure tests and force tests (being hit with objects). These tests are used to ensure the panels do not yellow, crack, break, or have mechanical or electrical malfunctions.

When purchasing solar panels as a part of a full installation, your installer should recommend the best solar panels for your climate and conditions. This is one of the reasons it is so important to find a qualified contractor, to ensure their analysis and recommendations are sound and will provide you with the results you expect. Word of mouth is our primary way of obtaining business, so if you are not satisfied, we know you won’t recommend us. This is why it is so critical for us to make sure you get the most durable, and reliable solar panels possible.

Do solar panels malfunction?

They can. Although it is not common, a panel could have an issue that could prevent it from producing electricity. You can monitor the production of each panel or on the entire system by getting a monitoring system. Before getting solar panels, be sure to ask about the manufacturer’s warranty in the event that one of your panels does malfunction. You might also consider purchasing a spare panel you can keep in case one of the panels does malfunction or loses production. While you may still be covered by your warranty, this will allow you to replace the panel right away while you wait for a resolution (such as the shipment of a new panel).

Solar panel lifespan

Solar panels do degrade over time. With technological improvements continually slowing the process of solar panels degrading, solar panels produced today degrade far slower than those even 10 years ago, at approximately .5% a year for a monocrystalline silicon panel (commonly used in residential installations).  “That means that a panel manufactured today should produce 92% of its original power after 20 years”.

Extra Protection

Make sure your solar panels AND the installation (labour) is warrantied, either by the solar panel manufacturer and / or by your solar contractor. Don’t forget to also call your insurance provider to see if your solar panels are covered by your home insurance.

Have any other questions about solar panel longevity? Call or email us to get your questions answered!

 

Gridworks Energy

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solar panel

What is a solar panel?

What is a Solar Panel?

We keep hearing about renewable energy, and how solar panels can help home owners reduce their carbon footprint and save (or even make) money. But what are solar panels, solar cells, solar modules and solar photovoltaic systems? There are so many words associated with solar that it can be a bit difficult understanding they all mean. So here it is!

Solar Cell

It starts with a solar cell. A solar cell, also known as a photovoltaic (PV) cell is an electrical device that converts the energy in light into electricity. These cells are made of semiconducting material, which means they can carry electricity. Because they do carry electricity, it is very important that they are installed by certified electricians, to prevent injuries and fatalities.

These solar cells are put together to form a module, which you would see as a stand-alone square or rectangle. We put these solar modules together to form a solar panel. The solar PV units used all together form what is called a solar array. A full solar PV system includes the solar array, plus all of the mounting equipment, hardware, inverters, and grid connection.

Cell:

 Solar Cell

Module:Solar Module

 

Panel:Solar Panel

Array:

 

System:

Solar PV System

Materials

What are solar cells made of? The most prevalent material used in the production of solar cells is crystalline silicon. This is a semi-conducting crystalline form of silicon either made of small crystals or a continuous crystal. Mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline are the two most commonly used types of crystalline silicon.

Mono-crystalline cells tend to be black in colour. In this form, the silicon is formed into bars and then cut into wafers. It is often more efficient and therefore more expensive.

Mono crystalline

The second common crystalline silicon used is Poly-crystalline. This type of module is typically blue in colour. Poly-crystalline is formed by melting silicon fragments together to form wafers, and is often less expensive because it is slightly less efficient.

Which material should you look for as a consumer? You may think you need the polycrystalline in order for your solar PV system to work well, but this is often not the case. While monocrystalline modules are typically more efficient, often times polycrystalline modules are just as effective. Ask your solar PV installation provider if you have any concerns about which ones they are recommending, and why they are suggesting either product for your solar PV system.

If you’re still not sure what you need, leave it to us! We will design a system custom to your needs and property. We’ll answer all your questions, and leave you with a high functioning solar PV system that will meet all your electricity needs for years to come!

Call us for more information!

(587) 405-9090