Author: USA Clean Energy

Building a Solar-Ready Home

With more investment and awareness of renewable energy sources such as solar power, it has become far more accessible and cost-effective to add as a home improvement or included in building planning and construction. So, what is the best way to prepare a home to go solar?

USA Clean Energy Association explains that the most efficient way to make sure a home can harness solar power effectively is to factor this into its construction plans. This ensures that the roof has enough space for, and can hold enough solar panels. The orientation of the roof can also be calibrated to make sure that the panels capture as much sunlight as possible.

The following post discusses solar-ready homes, the benefits of converting to solar energy, and why it is being implemented into new-build housing.

What a Solar-Ready Home Needs

A house or building project that is being made solar-ready has to consider the following requirements:

• Enough Space for a PV System

200 square feet of roof space should be marked out in the plans for solar panels. This area shouldn’t be obstructed or overshadowed, so care should be taken to make sure other roof objects, such as chimneys and dormers, don’t block the light.

• The Right Positioning

To make the best use of any available sunlight, solar panels should ideally be installed to be South-facing. A roof pitch between 30 and 45 degrees will also assist in capturing power.

• A Robust Roof

Solar panels add additional weight onto a roof and as a result the rest of the structure. Care should be taken that the roof is designed to bear the extra load.

• Solar-Ready Electric

To make sure the home can utilize solar energy, a conduit is required between the solar panels and the electrical panel inside the house. The home’s electrical panel should also be compatible with a PV (photovoltaic) system and there should be enough space left nearby to install PV inverters and any other necessary equipment.

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Why Solar Energy is a Quality Investment

Harnessing solar power not only helps the environment by providing a clean source of energy, but it is also a cost-saving investment.

A household generating their own solar power can cut down on energy bills and has access to a backup energy source should the grid suffer a power outage. They can also earn money by selling excess power back to the energy company.

Setting up a PV system used to be a costly venture. However, advancements in technology over the last decade have led to a drop in the price of solar panels by 60%.

Why New-Builds are Solar-Ready

There are a whole host of benefits as a result of installing solar panels for both homebuilders and potential buyers.

Not only is it significantly cheaper to install solar panels when a home is being newly built, but it also adds value to the property. Homebuyers are much more likely to pay a higher price for a home that is solar-ready than one that is not due to the reduced bills and investment value.

Builders can also be incentivized through initiatives in certain states if renewable energy is factored into the construction of their homes. It also makes their homes more saleable compared to competitors without the option for solar panel installation.

France’s Plan for Renewable Energy in Urban Areas

In a February speech, French President Emmanuel Macron honored the country’s industrial past while prioritizing its renewable energy-based future.

Speaking in Belfort, France, a city well-known for its engineering industry based on turbines and railways, Macron discussed his goal to increase the country’s capacity for renewable power 10-fold and become carbon neutral by 2050.

It’s part of an overall $1 billion “France 2030” investment plan centered on renewable energy projects to address the ever-present climate crisis. It also showcases France’s commitment to energy transition outlined in 2015’s Paris Agreement.

USA Clean Energy Association discusses below France’s Plan, Macron’s speech, and clean energy initiatives.

Renewable Energy Targets

France’s energy plan for the future is already taking shape. In late November, it approved legislation requiring lots with more than 80 parking spaces to be covered by solar panels.

According to the French government, this plan may generate 11 gigawatts of power, the same amount needed to power millions of homes and the amount of power created by 10 nuclear reactors.

The government also plans to pursue installing solar panels on highway-adjacent vacant land and agricultural spaces.

It’s just the beginning. France wants to install 190,000 square meters of solar panels in over 150 railway stations by 2025. By 2030, it wants 1.1 million square meters in place. The goal: a 25% reduction in energy consumption.

Changing the Status Quo

Macron’s goals are ambitious and considered lofty by his critics. In its commitment to renewables, France has pledged to up its renewable energy share to 32% of its total energy consumption.

It also wants to increase the share of total renewable energy production to 40%. In an earlier renewable energy pledge, France missed its goal of increasing its renewables share to 23% in 2020, missing it by nearly 4%.

About 50% of the country’s renewable energy output comes from decades-old hydropower plants. Nearly 72% of France’s total energy production is through nuclear energy, with fossil fuels and renewable energy accounting for 18%.

To hit the 2050 goal, its renewable energy output needs to not only diversify but become more efficient.

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Other Initiatives

France has invested heavily in offshore wind farms. In September, it installed 80 offshore wind turbines off its western coast, and by the end of the year, it hopes to have its first-ever offshore wind farm running in Saint Nazaire.

That wind farm is expected to produce power to fill the needs of about 700,000 residents or 20% of the area’s energy consumption needs. It took nearly 10 years to launch.

Developing other sources of clean energy is a major goal within France’s urban environments. Gas and oil account for 2/3 of France’s total energy consumption, and it is reportedly looking into how to shift to alternatives such as hydrogen fuel and other low-carbon fuels.

Macron has further pledged that in the near future France will abandon coal, gas, and oil as energy sources. If that happens, it will become the first major nation to do so.

Solar Global Market Report

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2022 may be remembered as the year that solar was set on track to overtake the fossil fuel industry. With the Inflation Reduction Act now signed into law, market analysts predict that the solar industry will grow roughly 40% in the United States alone. Considering that the US currently accounts for 16% of global energy consumption, this will spur a major shift toward solar power over the next decade.

Yet, it didn’t take an act of Congress to drive consumers toward the solar industry. With energy prices at their highest in decades, global interest in off-the-grid power supplies has been growing steadily in recent years. USA Clean Energy Association reviews some of these trends and discusses how they are affecting the global solar market outlook below.

Solar Industries Just Earned Billions of Dollars in Tax Breaks

Despite its name, the Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant piece of legislation in American history to support and invest in green energies. The bill not only extends the Investment Tax Credit for solar producers through 2030 but also awards additional tax breaks to solar battery manufacturers and individual homeowners who invest in new panels.

Thanks to these provisions, the US solar industry is projected to create nearly 550,000 new jobs in an industry that currently employs 4.3 million people globally and is already growing at a rate of 9% annually. This is expected to generate just short of $400 billion of investment for the industry, pushing it to new heights around the world.

Consumers Turn to Solar Power

As solar technology continues to become more efficient and affordable thanks to innovations in photovoltaic cell manufacturing and battery storage, an increasing number of consumers are turning to solar power to meet their energy needs. In particular, many homeowners are now choosing to install solar panels and batteries to insulate themselves from power outages and rising energy prices.

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This is particularly true in markets where energy deregulation has led to volatile prices. In the commercial sector, solar power is also becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce operating costs. Businesses of all sizes are now turning to solar to power their operations, with some even installing solar panels on their rooftops.

The trend toward solar power is also being driven by a growing awareness of the environmental benefits of renewable energy. With the effects of climate change becoming more and more evident, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Solar power is one of the most effective ways to do this, and as awareness of its benefits grows, so too does demand.

The Bottom Line

The global solar industry is growing at a remarkable pace and could soon rival long-standing energy titans in the fossil fuel industry. This growth is being driven by government investment (both in the US and internationally) as well as a growing interest among consumers looking to cut their energy bills while helping to protect the environment from added carbon emissions.

Solar Considerations for Homeowners and Builders

Solar is a wise decision for many homeowners, as well as a considerable investment.

The modern world necessitates clean energy to ensure sustainability for generations to come. And homeowners designing their dream abodes or looking to retrofit solar power systems onto their existing houses are presented with the perfect opportunity to do so.

USA Clean Energy Association discusses how solar is the way forward, and what to consider for installation of solar for new builds and existing homes.

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New Build Solar Considerations

Homeowners looking to build a solar-ready home need to think about a few technical points and guidelines to ensure their design is fit-for-purpose from the start.

The NREL report, Solar Ready: An Overview of Implementation Practices, defines the primary considerations. The most prevalent of which are as follows:

• Orientation and Shading

Placement is key when designing a solar-ready home, as is the roof angle. For instance, sloped roofs benefit from PV panels on the south-facing portion for optimal performance.

The smallest amount of shading can limit the output from solar systems, so homeowners must consider removing surrounding vegetation and situating their panels away from neighboring buildings.

• Roof Design

Before choosing a roofing material, builders must consider the weight of PV equipment — the roof must support it. The requirement tends to be three to six pounds per square foot.

Reducing the amount of non-solar equipment on the rooftop maximizes the space for PV systems. Plus, determining whether roof warranties include solar installation contract terms is vital.

• Zoning Laws

Local zoning laws or permit regulations may limit on-site solar developments. Thus, it needs accounting for during the planning phases.

• Solar Power System Design

Considering load requirements during the planning phase eliminates any future PV installation issues. Homeowners should decide whether their building needs uninterrupted power or energy storage to ensure the building design can accommodate future integrations.

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Retrofitting Solar Considerations

New builds are stressful, but homeowners are given more opportunities to create a solar-ready design. Those with existing abodes must work with what they have by considering:

• Location and Roof Incline

For best results, homes must be in an adequate solar radiation area to ensure optimum sunlight coverage. Hopeful solar-havers should observe the sunlight distribution throughout the year to determine whether installing PV systems would be beneficial.

The roof should be inclined to provide an optimum angle of interaction between the surface of the panels and the sun’s rays.

• Home’s Energy Requirement

If owners want to go off-grid, solar can meet their building’s energy requirements. However, the PV solar system must be sufficiently configured to meet the demands. Hence, it’s a critical calculation before choosing the type of installation.

• Solar Type

There are two dominant solar techs — photovoltaic and thermal.

The former uses cells to create electricity from sunlight, whereas the latter utilizes sunlight to heat air or water.

Ideally, homeowners should choose the one that makes more financial sense. For instance, investing in thermal solar is advised for those living in areas where heating fuel is expensive compared to electricity.

Overall, solar technology is an excellent investment for many home builders and owners, provided they carefully consider their options.