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The Sunetric Blog

Oil Hits $100 a Barrel, Hawaii Inflation Accelerating — Now is the Time for Solar!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As global markets respond to the protests in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East, it is being widely reported that the price of oil has breached $100 in the United States. Now more than ever, solar is a great choice for Hawaii. A staggering 90% of Hawaii’s energy is derived from burning fossil fuels, and we import 51 billion barrels of oil annually. As the price of oil steadily rises, electricity rates in Hawaii will skyrocket, as they did in the summer of 2008.

Furthermore, the Honolulu Star Advertiser recently reported on inflation in Hawaii in 2010, highlighting a 13.1 percent increase in the price of electricity and a 6 percent increase in gasoline prices. Compounding inflation and the global energy economy clearly spell disaster for energy prices in Hawaii.

Your investment in solar will pay for itself in about 5 years, and you’ll enjoy lower electricity bills and a reliable guard against the increasingly expensive fluctuations in energy rates in Hawaii. Explore your solar options now, and protect yourself from the uncertain future of fossil fuels.

Sunetric and KBC Featured on TriplePundit

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunetric’s solar installation project at Kona Brewing Company was recently featured on TriplePundit for their Green Brewhaha series, a “quest to find sustainability in the brewing industry.” TriplePundit specializes in the intersection of environment, individual, and business (their three P’s are “people, planet, profit”), and they interviewed Rich Tucciarone, the VP of Brewery Operations at KBC. You might be surprised to find out just how far KBC has gone in their commitment to being an environmentally friendly brewery, and their example is inspiring.

What makes your brewery sustainable?
It’s a long list! In 2009 both our Hawaii pubs became Certified Green Restaurants by the Green Restaurant Association. The Kailua-Kona brewery produces Hawaii’s first and only certified organic beer, Oceanic Organic Saison. This summer we completed a 228 kW solar generating system which allows nearly 60 percent offset of our current electricity usage.

Read the full interview on Triple Pundit

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For Large-scale Wind Power Generation, Look Up!

Monday, February 14, 2011

We who advocate for clean, renewable alternatives like solar and wind power are up against a big roadblocks. As things presently stand, renewables have a ways to go before they reach cost parity with fossil fuels. Conventional wisdom suggests that parity will come when the costs of fossil fuels are equal to those of solar technologies (actually, when environmental damage, related illnesses and military costs to protect sources are factored in, we’re already there). As far as wind power goes, even on the windiest places on earth, it’s doubtful that covering the landscape with wind turbines (which nobody wants to look at) would even come close to meeting our current and growing energy demands.

But… what if we looked to the windiest places off the earth? For large-scale wind generation, that might be just what we need to do.

Winds at ground level, even in Hawaii, are not constant – and except during the hurricane season, not usually strong enough to be cost-effective in replacing conventional forms of electrical generation. 16,000 feet up, it’s another story; jet stream winds have the capability of generating 100 times more energy than ground-based wind turbines – and at half the cost of the lowest rates in the country (so, about .02-.04c a kilowatt hour). While each of the small, independent companies currently involved in developing this exciting new technology are pursing slightly different paths, the basic concept is a flying wind turbine, stationed in the jet stream, delivering electrical energy to the ground via a series of aluminum cables.

As you might expect, realization of this idea is not without considerable challenges. The main question is: how do you keep the generator aloft and control it without the risk of it crashing to the ground? Another problem is maintenance. Even conventional aircraft such as helicopters require frequent and substantial maintenance after only a few hours of flight, and even in flight, helicopter rotors require constant fine adjustments to their pitch (angle). 

One Canadian company, Magenn, has plans for a generation system that is suspended by means of a helium balloon. Another company based in California is experimenting with an alternative arrangement of multiple rotors that would address the issue of adjusting the pitch for every small change in conditions. Meanwhile, scientists at a university in the Netherlands have built a model that uses elaborate kites.

Controlling these devices from the ground also presents many challenges and will require some highly sophisticated computer hardware and software. 

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p>But the technology exists, and for large-scale wind power generation, it may be closer than we think.</>

The Solar-powered Beer Sweepstakes Winners!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In October, Kona Brewing Company flipped the switch on their 229kW Sunetric solar energy system. In the months since, they’ve continued brewing the excellent beer for which they’re known, harnessing the power of the sun to offset more than 60% of their electric usage in the process. For Kona Brewing and for Sunetric, the installation is something to be proud of — they’re making a huge dent in our islands’ dependence on fossil fuels and inspiring families and business-owners alike to do the same.

As we were getting ready for the Kona Brewing Co. PV system launch, we ramped up the excitement with the Solar-powered Beer Sweepstakes, and more than a thousand people entered! The three lucky winners below will each, along with a guest, be flown over to Kona, get a rental car and hotel for a few days, and enjoy a personal tour of the Brewery and its new photovoltaic system. Not to mention a draft beer tasting and dinner for two! Without further ado, here are the Solar-powered three:

Eric Storm

Eric is a musician and DJ and owns his own graphic design business, Absouloot Design. He lives on Big Island, where he’s installed his own home photovoltaic system, offsetting half of his electricity usage. Eric’s favorite KBC beer is Pipeline Porter. Eric will be bringing his wife with him on his Kona trip and is looking forward to seeing Kona Brewery’s PV system!


Jeff Eshelman

Jeff works for the IT department at Oceanic Cable, and is thinking seriously about going solar himself. His favorite Kona Brew is also Pipeline Porter, and he plans to bring his wife, Andrea, with him to Kailua-Kona on their trip!


Michelle Ogata

Michelle is a registered nurse at Wahiawa General Hospital. Though she is already enjoying the benefits of a solar hot water heater, she’s interested in putting up a photovoltaic system at her home as well. She has three kids aged 7, 12, and 16 and hasn’t been to the Big Island since she was a little girl. She’s eager for her trip to KBC!


We’d like to thank Kona Brewing Company for working with us on this project and making the groundbreaking PV system and this sweepstakes a reality. And a big mahalo to everyone who entered the Solar-powered Beer Sweepstakes as well! Keep your eyes on the Sunetric Facebook page for more chances to win solar prizes, and let us know when you’re ready to go solar yourself! Get your free evaluation here.

Proudly Announcing: The Recycle Energy Scholarship

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We at Sunetric know that our children — our keiki — are our future, and that they will shape the world they come to inherit. That’s why we do what we do: in providing and innovating in alternative energy, we work to ensure they grow up in a beautiful, healthy world, and hope to inspire them to carry on sustainable lifestyles. Now we’ve taken it a step further.

Along with our partners Lex Brodie’s and GreenFleet Hawaii, we are incredibly proud and excited to announce the GreenFleet Hawaii Recycle Energy Scholarship. Alternative energy technology is going to become a much bigger, more exciting, and vital field with each passing year, and our children need to prepare today for the energy challenges of tomorrow. The Recycle Energy Scholarship is designed to help local students aiming to study renewable energy, sustainability, and related fields.

Download the Recycle Energy Scholarship Form PDF now. (Don’t wait! Forms are due by June 30, 2011!)