Posts in Category: Technical

Commercial Buildings, Part II

You’ve heard about solar energy, maybe you think it’s great for some people’s houses, but have you considered what it might do to boost your revenue from your commercial building? Let’s consider for a moment what might have happened if you had Installed a solar energy system on your most recently-completed building.

For the second installment in this series, let’s look at commercial structures made for retail.

Small Storefront Retail

If your most recent building was built for small storefront retail, then your situation is probably most like that of an apartment building. While sometimes a retail structure is built and then sold to someone else to manage, in this case we’ll look at one that you have built to keep.

Like an apartment building, you’re on the hook for operations and maintenance of that structure. You get the bills for electric use in common areas and those areas that are your responsibility such as lighting and signage. Maybe you even supply your tenants with electricity. If you get any electric bills at all, you know that over the long term that cost is unpredictable. The utility can raise your rates or change your billing structure without much warning, and you only get to react to it.

A solar electric system that offsets those bills will allow you to be proactive in controlling those costs. Plus, in the long term once your savings has recouped the initial cost of the system, your operating costs are that much lower because the fuel that powers that system is free. If you’re planning to keep your building for more than a few years, you will get to the point where it will be paying you.

You also have another option for recouping the initial cost of a solar electric system. You can sell the power you generate from your system to your tenants. In effect, you can be their electric utility – at least in part – giving you an entirely new revenue stream that you could not have had by any other means.

Large Retail

If your most recent building was built for a large retail establishment, then you will be especially interested in attracting and keeping tenants. Obviously, solar can do nothing for the building’s location, traffic pattern, or nearby homes or businesses. But many large corporations these days are looking for ways to be “green.” The presence of a solar array on your building can contribute to these companies’ green marketing effort, and such a building’s offering may be an attractive differentiator to them over a competing location. Companies may choose your building simply because it has a solar array on it. And they would be willing to pay a premium to get it.

Solar energy can be a cost-effective amenity to help keep your building occupied, at a dollar amount that can be recovered (usually with margin to spare) in the lease.

In the same manner as the small retail scenario, you have another option for recouping the initial cost of a solar electric system. You can sell the power you generate from your system to your tenant(s). In effect, you can be their electric utility – at least in part – giving you an entirely new revenue stream that you could not have had by any other means.

End of Part Two

We’re just getting started! Stay tuned for more….

Links

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/nearly-40-of-us-electricity-could-come-from-rooftop-solar

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Apple-Now-Operates-on-93-Renewable-Energy-Worldwide

http://www.greentechmedia.com/research/subscription/pv-pulse

http://www.sustainablecitynetwork.com/topic_channels/energy/article_a69b138a-005b-11e6-9618-3fc427da5fb8.html?utm_source=SCN+InBox+e-Newsletter&utm_campaign=b146985471-SCNNewsletter_Vendors&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_11e7ac761c-b146985471-188903137&mc_cid=b146985471&mc_eid=68f1b6af48

 

Commercial Buildings, Part I

You’ve heard about solar energy, maybe you think it’s great for some people’s houses, but have you considered what it might do to boost your revenue from your commercial building? Let’s consider for a moment what might have happened if you had Installed a solar energy system on your most recently-completed building.

For the first in this series, let’s look at commercial structures made for living.

Apartments

If your most recent building was built for apartments, then you’re on the hook for operations and maintenance of that structure for as long as you choose to keep it. You get the bills for the plumber, the painter, the handyman, the electrician, and the ones who fix broken walls and trim. You also get the bills for electric use in the common areas. Maybe you even supply your tenants with electricity or water or gas. If you get any electric bills at all, you know that over the long term that cost is unpredictable. The utility can raise your rates or change your billing structure without much warning, and you only get to react to it.

A solar electric system that offsets those bills will allow you to be proactive in controlling those costs. Plus, in the long term once your savings has recouped the initial cost of the system, your operating costs are that much lower because the fuel that powers that system is free. If you’re planning to keep your building for more than a few years, you will get to the point where it will be paying you.

Condominiums

If your most recent building was built for condos, then your outlook may be fairly short-term. While some may be interested in continuing to hold the building for the long term, most do not. If you like to hold your condo structures long-term, then see the section above on “Apartments,” because that probably applies more to your situation. If your goal is to get the structure occupied, have the HOA take over, and then move on, then this section is for you.

What will make you most successful? Certainly, a fully-occupied condo structure. What will encourage that? It must be an attractive property. Obviously, solar can do nothing for the location of the structure, nor for its configuration, interior, amenities, etc. But solar can be attractive to many people. Studies have shown that as people’s personal wealth increases, so does their concern for the environment. A condo that comes with solar pre-installed can be a market differentiator for those people, and can attract them to your structure over a competing complex. Solar energy can be a cost-effective amenity to help sell condo units, at a dollar amount that can be quickly recovered (usually with margin to spare) in the price of the unit.

End of Part One

We haven’t even touched on non-residential buildings yet. There’s a whole world of commercial structures out there, and future installments to this blog should attempt to address these other structures. We’ll talk about solar on buildings made for small storefront retail, large retail, food service, hotel/motel, office space, manufacturing, and specialty structures like churches, convention centers, and other venues that are open to the public. Stay tuned…..

Links

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/solarcity-launches-solar-for-affordable-housing

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ChargePoint-Launches-An-EV-Charging-Product-Tailored-for-Apartments-and-Con

https://solarpowerrocks.com/solar-trends/solar-for-renters-does-it-work/

 

 

Condominium Living

OK, so you like the idea of solar energy.

You like the idea of the money you could be saving. You like the idea of generating your own power from the sun. You like the idea of being green and doing things that are good for the environment. You are energy-conscious now but wonder what more you could be doing. You like the idea of making an investment that pays you and, at the same time, one that benefits the world that our children will inherit.

“Yes, But … I Live in a Condo.”

I’m here to tell you that all is not lost. I’m here to tell you that you are not stuck. I’m here to tell you that you have a way to get what you like. I’m here to tell you that Nemeth Energy Solutions has the unique way out of your dilemma.

“But I Can’t Put Things Outside, Right?”

Many condominium covenants allow owners to install items outside. Your homeowners association (sometimes referred to as an HOA) may allow you to install gas grills, pole lights, barbeque pits, hot tubs, gardens, and other items. Solar energy can be one of those items.

“Oh, My Homeowners Association Will Never Go For That!”

Not everyone can install solar energy on a condominium. I’m here to tell you that we can do the work where others cannot. Homeowners associations are responsible for taking care of the buildings in the complex. Most will be highly skeptical of anyone who wants to make changes to one of them or to the property around one. This skeptical attitude will lead the homeowners association to reject most proposals – and you may have experienced this yourself, or know of your neighbors who have. Most solar energy installers do not have the credentials to do this work, and because of this they (and you) would face that same skepticism and rejection. Mike Nemeth, president of Nemeth Energy Solutions, has the professional credentials that can convince wary homeowners associations that the work will be done well, done right, done in an attractive manner that’s easy to maintain, and done so that your building is protected.

“Do I Have Choices?”

This can apply whether you live in a townhouse or townhome, a duplex, a triplex, a four-plex, a multi-plex, a detached condominium, or in some cases even a multi-floor condominium. If your homeowners covenants and your situation will allow it, then you can choose from some options! We can install solar on your roof, or you can opt for a solar awning, a solar shed, a solar carport, a solar pergola, or something completely unique. Any of these can be hooked into your electric service and allow you to start saving money and helping our environment – work-free and tax-free.

“OK, So Now What Should I Do?”

There are plenty of possibilities; all that’s left for you to do is call us or contact us here, and get started. Nemeth Energy Solutions will work with you to design a solar energy solution that meets your needs, is attractive, and will give you many years of money savings!

“Has Anybody Tried This Before?”

If you would like to research what has happened across the country with condo owners and solar energy, we invite you to check out the following links. Know that some of these articles describe conditions in states other than Iowa, so if you have questions about how this information applies here, please call us or contact us here and we can help.

http://www.motherearthliving.com/mother-earth-living/how-to-go-solar-condo.aspx

http://www.dcsun.org/solar-for-condos/

http://brightstarsolar.net/2011/02/solar-power-for-condominiums/

Our Invitation

We look forward to hearing from you and helping you take charge of your electric bills and get for yourself an environmentally responsible and financially profitable solution. Just call us or contact us here and we’ll get started!

What About New Super-Efficient Solar Cells?

solar energy, residential solar energy, commercial solar energyEvery so often, we hear about advances in solar cell efficiency that get people talking. There are advances in silicon, organic materials, perovskites, various exotic chemistries, and even quantum physics. These offer some exciting possibilities for the future, and some of these may end up allowing us to harvest more power from the sun in a smaller area. Smaller solar cells that produce more power means that solar can be helpful in more places.

Possibilities

Smaller and cheaper solar arrays are just more attractive. Right now, the cost of solar is rivaling that of conventional sources. No new coal plants are being built in the US, despite growing demand for electricity. Utilities are adding megawatts of solar energy every year. There are more workers in the solar energy industry in the US than there are people working in oil and gas extraction.

Like any industry, this can only be helped by less expensive equipment.

More efficient solar energy equipment means that more of a building’s electricity use can be covered by solar. Smaller arrays producing more power mean that smaller homes & buildings can benefit. There can be other uses like camping, remote living, transportation, and road signs, among many others.

For some interesting reading:

https://adalidda.net/posts/Dm9DkS8GttT8yHANh/epfl-scientists-achieve-the-highest-yet-reproducibility-for
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/01/harvesting-more-energy-from-photons.html
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2015/06/strengthening-solar-cell-performance-with-graphene.html
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2015/02/carbon-nanoballs-can-transform-the-renewable-energy-supply.html

How Soon?

All of these advances that we hear about are all done in a lab somewhere, often in a university setting. Universities are noteworthy for overlooking the practical considerations of the science that they’re doing — and that’s OK for research and learning. But there’s a giant step between research and a practical product. It often involves many years of testing and trials and failures and successes. The product that is produced using the university science has to comply with thousands of regulations on its way from raw materials to finished product, and may look little like the original research.

Historically, things take many years to go from lab to product, and most don’t make it at all. The reasons that many solar advancements don’t make it into a product can be:

  • It doesn’t work in the hot and cold temperatures that it would be exposed to outside, from Alaskan winters (yes, there IS solar in Alaska) to Arizona deserts.
  • It degrades or goes bad after just a few years, just by itself.
  • It degrades or goes bad after just a few years of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  • They are difficult (read: expensive) to incorporate into easy-to-use modules.
  • They are built from expensive, hard-to-get, or hard-to-find materials.
  • The product requires hazardous or toxic materials that add to manufacturing costs.
  • The hazardous materials add cost to salvage or recycling, which must be figured in from the start.

What We Have Today

Today’s solar modules are made from silicon, which is one of the most abundant, cheap, and safe materials known to man. If you didn’t know, it comes from sand. Common, everyday sand; highly processed, yes, but easy to find and easy to use.

The silicon cells are processed using various toxic gases, yes, but the handling of these materials is well-known and well-controlled, and the finished product is not toxic.

Every year, silicon cells get more efficient. Year-by-year, the technology that we have today gets better. Often, by the time a technology advance gets out of the lab and into a product, this steady advance of current technology ends up better than the lab technology.

Why Wait for The Lab?

Most of the advances currently in the lab will never show up. Some will, and those will be great! But all those years of waiting for the next big thing means that you will have missed out on years of benefit that you could have had. Think of the years that you may have already missed out on saving money. You don’t have to miss out any more – so take charge of your future – just contact us here and Nemeth Energy Solutions can help you start saving today.

5 Things You Must Know Before Building A New Home!

iowa solar energy, eco housing iowa, eastern iowa solar energy
 
Building a new home is quite an exciting experience, which can sometimes become overwhelming. However, it is quite a routine procedure for your home’s builder, which is why you have to be an active participant in all of the aspects regarding your home construction process in order to ensure that you end up with the home you’ve truly dreamed of. 
 
Building a new home can’t be a passive process, since there are plenty of decisions that have to be made by you. If you’re unwilling or unable to make such decisions, you’ll ultimately force the builder to make them and run the unfortunate risk of having a home that doesn’t turn out the way you’ve envisioned it. Let’s take a look at 5 things you need to know about building your new construction home:
 
1. Know the numbers
 
Before you actually begin to building the new home, it is important that you run some number that determine whether or not you can really afford the home you desire. The majority of house plans provide a cost-to-build tool that can provide an exact estimate of construction that is based on where you are building it. This number includes the total construction costs, funds for the slush account and down payment, tax benefits, and other associated calculations.
 
2. Check your builder’s reputation
 
There are numerous amounts of builders out there, but not all of them have been created equal. Perform some research in order to understand which ones have the leading reputations. Whether your perform this research online or receive recommendations from friends and family members, find out if the builder is respected for performing quality work. 
 
3. Construct with the resale option in mind
 
Regardless of how much you truly love the home that you’re building, it’s statistically unlikely that it will become the final home you ever live in. Keeping this fact in mind, you need to take into consideration its potential value of resale. Try not to add too many upgrades that overprice the home for its specific neighborhood. In addition, don’t choose things that are way too out of the ordinary.
 
4. Think green, think solar energy
 
Make sure that you perform your research in order to maximize the energy/efficiency of your home’s design. Today, there is nothing more important for your home’s energy efficiency than solar energy. The solar energy panels are able to convert the provided sunlight into electricity. Using solar energy will reduce the new home’s electric bills but needs to be designed properly, which Nemeth Energy Solutions will do. It’s also better, cheaper, and more reliable to install solar on a new home than after the home is finished. Adding solar won’t delay the day that the house will be finished, and the work can all be done before you’re living in the house!
 
5. Don’t neglect the punch
 
Part of your final phase of constructing a new home is going over the “punch list”. A punch list is the list that has been created at the final stages of construction, which shows that still needs to be done or repaired in the new construction home. You and the contractor will create the list a week before closing when you go through the final walk through. You should take notes every time you visit the construction site or perform a walk though.

What does Nemeth Energy Solutions do?

solar energy, nemeth solar energy

Who are we? 

We are a one-stop-shop for your solar energy needs.

Permits?

Financing?

Paperwork?

We handle ALL of this for you.  Not only that, our president, Mike Nemeth,is a Licensed Professional Engineer, so we have our own on-site engineering that’s knowledgeable and involved with projects. Often, you will see companies outsource work to licensed engineers as it is necessary, but with us, we handle all details in house.

What do we do?

We’re changing the landscape of how we use energy, one building at a time.  We believe we all have a social responsibility to make use of greener technologies as they come available. Solar energy is just that.  When you utilize solar energy, not only are you maintaining that social responsibility, but you are also massively decreasing your utility bills. Not only that, but the federal government and the State of Iowa may allow you to deduct 30%-45% of the cost of your new system from your corporate income taxes!  Did you know that? 30%-45%!

We hate to keep going on and on about the same subject, but when that subject is saving money…we’re going to do it anyway.  So, now we know that you can deduct the renewable energy system on your taxes.  Let’s talk about where else you will be saving money.  Your investment grows every year, obviously because energy prices are not going down and are always increasing, and how about this?  Because solar energy takes the place of electricity you would otherwise be using, that money you are being essentially paid back is tax free!

There is just no way around knowing that solar energy is the way to go for homes and businesses, both.

 

Where do you get more information?

We are available to talk with you about whatever your questions may be. Our president is passionate and excited about the future of renewable energy and would probably be the best person to talk to in the area.

Now, if you prefer to research online first, here are some suggested readings:

How the Solar Industry Delivered a Pivotal Policy http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc/blogs/2016/03/behind_the_scenesh.html

How Businesses Can Play a Role in the Energy Revolution http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc/blogs/2016/02/how_businesses_canp.html

US Solar Industry Provides More Jobs than Oil and Gas Extraction http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/US-Solar-Industry-Provides-More-Jobs-Than-Oil-and-Gas-Extraction

We would also suggest reaching out to current solar energy users if you would like more information beyond this.

When you’re ready to take charge, start saving some money, and take on that social responsibility, just fill out and submit the form found here. We’ll start with a survey of your property and energy needs, and work with you from there to determine the best system to fit your unique situation.

If you’re not ready to begin just yet, but can think of someone that is, we actually have something for you.  We have a gratitude program. When you refer someone or a company to Nemeth Energy Solutions and that referral results in a business deal, we’ll send you a cash reward!  This isn’t chump change either, this is good stuff.  Check it out at nemethenergy.com/referral-program.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

You Never Know When They’ll Show Up

Quote I heard recently (not my quote, and I’m probably paraphrasing): “Using renewables is like hiring the alcoholic: you never know when they’ll show up for work!” This is a pretty common argument against wind/solar energy, and it’s the idea that because wind and solar are so unpredictable – you have to have backup generation for those times when the sun is down or the wind is still – therefore the stuff is not necessary.

Those who repeat this idea are only showing their ignorance.

In reality, the utility companies have to deal with generator outages all the time. Any power station can go offline at any time, if something breaks or if the power plant’s controls just trip it off. There had better be backup generation on the utility’s network to pick up the slack, or there could be big problems. Does this mean that the faulty power station was unnecessary because it had to have backup? That’s ridiculous, right? Nobody thinks like that. But people who don’t like renewables have no trouble applying this faulty logic.

Consider the nuclear power plant, producing hundreds of megawatts of power. It’s tough to replace one of those if it goes offline. But it does. Every year or so, that power plant has to go completely offline to refuel or do other necessary jobs. Some other generators have to pick up the slack. Because this power plant has to be shut off every so often and replaced by other generators, does that mean that it is not necessary? Nobody will make that argument.

In true objective reality, data shows that having a mix of solar and wind on a geographically-distributed utility grid is fairly reliable. It’s reliable because it’s aggregated: somewhere the wind is blowing or the sun is shining (yeah, unless it’s night!). And what isn’t producing fully is backed up by other generators.

Just like a fully fossil-fuel grid does today.

What’s All This Net Metering Stuff, Anyhow?

(with apologies to the late Bob Pease for the title)

Net Metering? What is THAT?

It’s actually pretty simple. If you have a solar or wind energy system working on your property, the power company just takes the amount of power you use, subtracts the amount of power you produce, and charges you for the difference (or the net amount – it’s usually a financial term). When you’re using more power than you’re producing, your power meter spins like usual. When you’re producing more power than you’re using (like, on a sunny day in the springtime), then your power meter spins backwards. At the end of the month, when the utility takes its reading, it’s reading the difference between what you’ve used and what you’ve produced; the net energy, read off your meter.

Ok, so say you usually use 500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) every month – if your electric rate is around 15 cents per kWh, that’s a $75-a-month electric bill.

So say your solar array produces, oh, 3,000 Watts. During the day in full sun that’s 3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) produced for every hour of full sun. At 15 cents per kWh, you’re making 45 cents an hour (doesn’t sound like much, does it? But wait…). Here in Iowa we get about 4 hours per day on average of full sun (some say 3.5 hrs, some say 4.5 hrs – i say 4 to make the math easier), so you could expect to produce about $1.80 of electricity per day. Times 30 days, that’s $54 per month of electricity that you’ve produced with no effort on your part.

At the end of that month, the electric company would charge you $21 instead of $75.

$75 – $54 = $21. Yep, it’s that simple.

Does Solar Energy Need Batteries?

Question:

If I get a solar electric system, what kind of batteries will I need?

Answer:

You don’t need any.

You may *want* batteries, and I’ll explain why, but batteries are not required for a solar electric system. The simplest (and least expensive) solar electric system generates power from sunlight hitting special panels, and supplies that to the electric utility. The whole purpose in doing things this way is financial: the electricity you generate gets subtracted from your electric bill & you only pay the difference.

You may want batteries if you:

  1. are not hooked up to a utility. This could be the case for a cabin, or an outbuilding that is far from a power-line hookup, or you could choose to not get hooked up at all.
  2. want or need to keep some or all of your power on if the utility power is off.

There is a little care & feeding associated with batteries, so they are not for everybody. And they aren’t free, so a solar electric system with batteries will cost more than one without. There are legitimate situations where batteries should be a part of a system, but not every system needs them.

You Can’t Push Power

Here’s some basic circuit theory for you today.

You can’t push current nor can you push power down a wire.

But wait! My generator produces 1000W, that’s power, right? Not necessarily. Your generator produces a voltage across a pair of wires, that’s all. If you have nothing hooked up to those wires, you get no power sent anywhere. There’s nothing to use it, so it isn’t produced. Your generator doesn’t produce extra power only to have it disappear; physics says it can’t work that way. Once you hook some kind of load (a resistor, say – a light bulb, refrigerator, stove, etc.) across those wires, now current can flow and power can be delivered to that load. But only the amount of power will be produced that will satisfy that load, and no more. Ohm’s Law has something to say about that: Voltage = Current times Resistance, or Power = Voltage times Current. Your generator will produce a certain voltage, no more no less. So the lower the resistance you put across the output wires of the generator, the more current will be flowing in the circuit. The amount of current depends on the size of the load. And because of that, the amount of power (generated and delivered) depends on the size of the load.

What about my solar array or my wind turbine?

If you have it hooked up to the utility, all of your neighbors (and you) have things plugged in. Those are loads, and something has to supply them. As it turns out, you share the supply of those loads with the utility, up to the maximum capability of your solar/wind system. As long as you’re hooked up to the utility, unless you’re a mega-producer of electricity you will be delivering as much power to those loads as you can produce because those loads will demand everything you can supply.

Makes sense? I hope so, because i’ll refer to this again when we discuss Net Metering in a later posting.

 

Wind Turbines In Town?

The Question:

I am frequently asked, “That’s fine about solar, but can I do anything with wind?” If it turns out that they live in town, I have to say “no.” Yes, getting a permit for a wind turbine on a city lot would be challenging, but there’s an overriding consideration.

The Real Answer:

Consider that in a wind turbine installation, you have a rotating piece of machinery at the top of a tall tower. That machine needs to be serviced every so often – greased, inspected, etc. How do you service something that’s stuck on the top of a tall pole? Most commonly, you tilt the pole down to the ground so you can conveniently service the turbine. If you have an 80′ pole, you need about 100′ of clear space to bring the pole down and have room enough for the blades. This also means that you need enough land and access behind the tower to be able to winch it down.

It’s tough to find that much space in the city.