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The Sunetric Blog

Solar Adds Up: $125,000 Saved Since 2009 on Hickam AFB

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This photo is of the monitor on the solar Hydrogen Fuel Cell Facility that we installed on Hickam Air Force Base two years ago:

At 26¢ a kilowatt hour (the current electric rate), Hickam have saved over $125,000. A happy customer and a perfect example of just how much solar can save!

See how much you’ll save with solar: check out our Solar Calculator. It only takes a few seconds:

Solar Savings

Find out how much you could save with a Sunetric-installed system.

Sunetric a Finalist for APEC 2011 Hawaii Business Innovation Showcase

Monday, August 15, 2011

We are honored to be among the thirty finalists considered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2011 Hawaii Business Innovation Showcase, a program created by the APEC 2011 Hawaii Host Committee to exhibit local businesses while the APEC Leaders’ Week is in session in November.

As Hawaii’s Solar Authority, we are proud to be an important part of the technology and renewable energy companies selected by the committee, and are excited at this opportunity to promote sustainable technology in Hawaii and beyond.

It is an incredible honor to have the APEC meeting hosted in Hawaii and we graciously thank the Hawaii Host Committee for this opportunity to represent our islands.

More information available at Pacific Business News.

Facts on PV Panel Manufacturing

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Solar energy has more potential applications than any kind of renewable energy. As air and water pollution continue to be a problem from coal burning, gas, and nuclear power plants, the use of photovoltaic panels could have the biggest impact on abating pollution problems globally. Yet most of us don’t know how PV panels are manufactured.

Making conventional photovoltaic, or PV panels, has become a straightforward process, and the costs of production continue to decline. The basis for solar panels is silicone, similar to the material that circuit boards are made of. The crystalline silicone solar panels that are often seen on rooftops, roadsides, and in clustered arrays start as flat discs cut from a larger sheet. The discs are then polished and substances called dopants are added, which serve to alter electrical charges in the panel. Metal conductors are soldered to each disc and the panel is formed into a grid-like structure by aligning the conductor wires. A photovoltaic cell is formed and the assembly is covered by a layer of glass that supports the structure. Thermally conductive cement, which attaches the solar cell to a substrate in the back, is used to prevent overheating.

Newer types of panels use more advanced manufacturing processes. One breakthrough in PV panel manufacturing is amorphous silicone solar panels, which are much thinner than the standard variety. Their thickness can be measured in micrometers. Vapor deposition of silicone creates a multi-layer solar cell in a continuous manufacturing process. Individual layers absorb specific parts of the light spectrum that comes from the sun. For some amorphous solar panels, one row of solar cells can be in the shade and the rest of the panel will still collect sunlight and generate electricity. Their composition is much less delicate than that of crystalline silicone, so amorphous panels are less likely to break when being handled.

The viability of solar energy has generated competition in building more efficient, less expensive PV panels. Different designs have been developed, even for panels that do not use silicone. Conductive plastics have been developed into lenses and mirrors that rely on the laws of physics to focus sunlight onto small photovoltaic components. Solar sensitive dyes and inks have also be formulated that can act as photovoltaic elements, and even more cost effective are printing press systems that can churn out photovoltaic materials very quickly.

While solar power is limited only by the availability of sunlight, PV panels are becoming thinner and cheaper. It is possible for anyone to install them and advanced designs can even take the place of shingles and tiles. Solar materials can be used to decorate the facades of buildings, and allow for self-sufficient power generation for homes and businesses. With the flexibility and low cost of PV systems, ease of production, and government incentives becoming more commonplace for using solar energy, there is almost no excuse not to take advantage of the sun’s mighty power.

Kiana Wilson is the Winner of the Recycle Energy Scholarship!

Monday, August 1, 2011

In March, we announced the Recycle Energy Scholarship with our partners Lex Brodie’s and GreenFleet Hawaii. This weekend, we were incredibly proud and excited to award our winner, Kiana Wilson, with a $1,000 scholarship check for her to employ as she begins her career to environmental technology and alternative energy.

Kiana’s scholarship application was tremendous. Even at her young age, she has an impressive list of accomplishments in the field of environmental technology and alternative energy. We trust that Kiana will use her scholarship award to better herself and help to create a better future for us all. Some excerpts from her application:

As a sophomore I successfully extracted a fair amount of ethanol from Morinda citrofolia [noni], a native Hawaiian plant, which earned my way to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Reno Nevada. Using a refractometer and centrifuge, I worked with a BYU Chemistry Professor, testing how much ethanol can be extracted from this native Hawaiian plant. The International Science Fair is the world’s largest pre-college science fair, where 6 million students compete and only 1500 finalists are selected to showcase their research and analysis. I was fortunate enough to win the District Fair and be qualified to attend the International Competition. I also shared my project at a renewable energy expo hosted by the University of Hawaii and was mistook for a graduate student (when I was only 14).

After this experience I was motivated to focus on renewable energy technologies and spent two years learning about a $200 million dollar wind farm that was built next to our high school. I was one of the only videographers allowed to document the construction project and interview the construction workers. As a junior I explored another renewable energy method by doing an in-depth research project on using used oil as gasoline by converting it with a large-scale centrifuge. I attended the Kahuku Science Academy and studied Chemistry and Physics with Dr. Kevin Baize and Dr. Dale A Hammond after school for two semesters.

I have also spent months studying aquaponics. I am fascinated by the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants in aquaponics and how ancient Hawaiians were once the masters of sustainability by raising large amounts of fish in ponds and lo‘i fields.

In addition to her magnificent set of accomplishments, Kiana also spent three years on the Kahuku Debate Team, won first place nationally in a video documentary competition with her ‘Don’t Text and Drive’ entry, is part of the National Honor Society, and was instrumental in establishing the first film club at Kahuku High School. She is a leader and a dedicated and good-natured individual, and she greatly deserves this scholarship award.

Sunetric truly believes that our youth is our greatest renewable resource and that by investing in them we are investing in a better future. We are happy to present Kiana with this $1,000 scholarship this afternoon and after reading her application, trust she will use it to better herself and help to create a better future for us all. Kiana is a shining example of a student who will use this scholarship to better herself and also better the future for all of us.

Our keiki are our future, but they are also our present – our greatest renewable resource. When we invest in them now, we enrich the entire community and ensure a smarter, healthier, better future. At Sunetric, our devotion to sustainability and innovation in environmental technology extends beyond full-service solar, and the opportunity to offer this scholarship and directly assist in the education of an environmentally-minded and dedicated young person is extremely rewarding and important to us.

We are proud of Kiana and cannot wait to see just how she changes our world for the better.

Kiana with her scholarship check from Sunetric.

At the scholarship check presentation: Kiana Wilson’s father, a KSSK representative, Sunetric CEO Alex Tiller, Kiana’s mentor, and Lex Brodies President Scott Williams.

More photos here!

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