U.S. Dept of Energy, Solar Energies Technology Program: Provides a separate section for builders about integrating solar into their projects, including links to state-offered incentives and cost estimating tools. www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pv_builders.html
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Renewable Resources Data Center: Includes data, models, tools, and links for integrating solar. www.nrel.gov/rredc/solar_resource.html
American Solar Energy Society: Provides a wealth of information about integrating solar, upcoming events, news, links to state and local chapters, and other resources. www.ases.org
The Solar Energy Industries Association: In addition to being a legislative advocacy group, the SEIA provides information about PV/solar systems integration, news, events, and data, among other resources. www.seia.org
Southface: A non-profit entity, Southface provides builders with tips for planning for, sizing, and installing a residential PV system, as well as costs and payback. www.southface.org/solar/solar-roadmap/residential/residential_pv_options.htm
Database for State Incentives for Renewable Energy: Refer to this Web site for a comprehensive list of incentives in your state, and check with your utility provider for additional incentives. www.dsireusa.org
Whether making a pitch internally to offer PV as an optional or a standard feature or selling it to buyers, consider the following points in solar’s favor:
- Higher property and resale value
- Reduces grid-provided electricity and cost, especially peak-use times and rates (usually midday, when PV is operating at peak performance)
- Hedges against future price increases for traditional energy sources
- Cost premium partially offset by utility rebates, tax credits, net metering, and quality building practices
- Taps an unlimited, pollutant-free energy source
- Reduces the demand for more and upgraded or expanded energy-producing facilities and distribution conduits
- Can be easily pre-wired for future installation and accommodates expansion
- Offsets or mitigates carbon emissions
Global Solar. PowerFlex Solar Strings offer a pre-connected format for the company’s flexible Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) cells, allowing manufacturers of solar products and modules (i.e., the end products installed on houses) to more easily fit thin-film cells into their manufacturing processes. The CIGS cells are made on a bendable substrate, the company explains, making it more adaptable in shape and size and thereby allowing for new and innovative designs. 520.546.6313. www.globalsolar.com.
Sharp. Poly-crystalline modules feature a textured solar cell surface that increases light absorption and improves efficiency, while a bypass diode minimizes the power drops under shady conditions. The module achieves an STC maximum power rating of 187 W and a 12.7% conversion efficiency, and is designed for the company’s solar racking system. Sharp’s OnEnergy system offers custom designs and delivers a complete package of all components and fasteners. 800.765.2706. www.sharpusa.com/solar.
SunPower. SunTile roof tiles and solar panels provide a built-in look for various roof finishes. The tile product suits S-shape and flat tile profiles; each panel measures 17 by 59 inches and achieves an STC power rating of 63 W. Panel-designed products integrate with various roof finishes, measuring 61.39 by 31.42 inches and achieving an STC maximum power rating of 210 W and a conversion efficiency of 16.9% per panel. The company’s solar cell technology delivers up to 50% more power than conventional cells and converts up to 22% of available sunlight into electricity. Both systems are available with optional online monitoring service. 877.787.6527. www.sunpowercorp.com.