With solar panel prices falling more than 80 percent in the last few years, many solar companies are turning their attention to reducing the cost of installing them. Two leading solar companies, Solon Energy, based in Berlin, and Trina Solar, based in Changzhou, China, have announced new designs for mounting solar panels to roofs—the companies say these designs can reduce the installation time by more than half, greatly reducing labor costs. The new designs reduce or eliminate the tools and hardware needed to install solar panels, and standardize solar installations, which have largely been ad hoc, reducing the time needed to design them.
While solar panels themselves used to account for most of the cost of large solar installations on commercial rooftops, the modules now account for about 40 percent of the cost. The rest comes from things like the necessary hardware, power electronics, and labor—which alone accounts for about 30 percent of the total.
Mounting solar panels on the flat rooftops of commercial installations typically involves anchoring long metal racks to the roof to create a framework that will angle the panels toward the sun and hold them together. Installers bolt the panels to this frame, wire the panels together, and electrically ground the racks.
Clean energy has become a dirty word in presidential politics.
In their second debate, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama each tried to outdo the other’s love of fossil fuels: Obama extolling his record on oil and natural gas production, Romney vowing to take “advantage of the oil and coal we have here.” The Republican candidate has ridiculed the administration’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel maker, and accused Obama of living “in an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy.”
The candidates’ coolness to renewable energy comes at a time when the domestic supply of traditional energy sources, such as oil and natural gas, is at an all-time high. And yet this failure to make the promise of renewables a keynote in the debate is a huge missed opportunity. In particular, it ignores the dramatic reduction in the cost of photovoltaic solar power worldwide and the considerable benefits to U.S. consumers and the environment.
The untold story of this campaign is that what killed Solyndra may turn out to be a boon for the nation. “Economically and technologically, the game is over,” said Bill Powers, a San Diego engineer and board member of Solar Done Right, a group that proselytizes for rooftop solar power. “The hang-ups in the U.S. are strictly political.”
Over the past five years the price of photovoltaic panels has plummeted 75 percent, due largely to a glut of Chinese-made panels. The fall in prices rendered technically advanced photovoltaic panels, like those produced by Solyndra and other U.S. companies, too expensive to compete.
Not to be confused with what could be the biggest storm ever to hit the United States, SUNdy – a large-scale offshore solar farm concept by global consultancy and certification firm DNV – was unveiled at Singapore International Energy Week on Thursday last week.
The core feature of the floating solar concept is a hexagonal array of 4,200 solar panels – roughly the size of a football pitch – which floats on the sea’s surface. The ‘solar island’ would be capable of generating 2MW of power, with multiple islands joined together to create an offshore solar field of 50MW or more, producing enough electricity for around 30,000 people.
“The island has been optimised for solar capability and cabling efficiency,” says Kevin Smith, Global Segment Director for DNV KEMA’s Renewable Energy Services. “The solar arrays are divided into electrical zones feeding electricity produced into two main switches collecting the power for voltage step up at a central transformer (2MVA 480/34.5kV). From the offshore solar farm’s central island, 30kV electrical transmission lines connect, tying other islands in series to form a close loop and continue to the electrical sub-station onshore for grid connection.”
Sanjay Kuttan, managing director of the DNV Clean Technology Centre in Singapore says SUNdy’s thin-film 560W solar panels are flexible and lighter most silicon-based modules, allowing them to undulate with the ocean’s surface. “The key to creating an ocean-based structure of this size is the use of a tension-only design. Rather like a spider’s web, this dynamic, compliant structure yields to the waves, yet is capable of withstanding considerable external loads acting upon it.”
This concludes my meditation on handicapped devices for the home. It was never meant to be a catalog or even a realistic sampling. After all, this is a blog about energy and the environment. That said, this is a blog that envisions humans being good to the planet and using nonpolluting energy sources not as living in a cave huddle around a fire. It is actually about improving the efficiency and quality of life for everyone including the handicapped. Today’s post is one from my deep past. My grandmother was in a wheelchair for 30 years. Her legs were paralyzed from the waist down. We had a Hoyer lift in our home for that whole time. So this is for you Treva where ever you are.
Hoyer’s Heavy-Duty Power Lift features a power operated base with a clearance of 4.5″. The 6-point cradle design maximizes patient comfort, and the long padded handles offer a plethora of grip choices. This lift also features an extended reach for floor pick-up capabilities. Emergency stop and power manual lowering for added safety. Optional upgrade model features a scale for convenient weighing.
Power operated base
6-Point cradle design for maximum patient comfort
Long, padded handles offer a plethora of grip choices
Extended reach for floor pick-up
Emergency stop for added safety
Power manual lowering
700 lbs. Weight capacity
One Hoyer Heavy-Duty Power Lift with Optional Scale
I have been talking about a workshop regarding being handicapped and the last disability that I tried out was an arm amputation. They used a fancy belt to tie down one of my arms. They chose my dominate hand to immobilize so I would get a stronger effect. I have to admit that it made things pretty difficult. Opening doors was ok, but writing was nasty and do not get me started on going to the bathroom. They asked us to commit to picking a handicap and “living it” for a week. I chose to be an amputee and did it for 5 days. It made going to college a big deal.
And on a separate note, there is some confusion about whether these things we have been discussing are aids or aides. Some people including google seem to be confused about which one is right to use so I have been using them interchangeably. I am no word geek so you can figure proper usage out on your own. Thus people get around it by calling it assistance.
COMFORTABLE FOAM WEDGE
Our new, polyurethane foam wedge allows you to relax more comfortably in bed with less back and neck fatigue. You can sit upright or lay back, simply by changing its position, for visiting, reading, writing, watching TV, or other activities. Unlike stacked, lumpy pillows, this lightweight foam wedge maintains its shape and position during use. It features a removable, machine washable, white zippered cover that breathes for comfort, and will not retain heat. Each wedge is 24″ x 24″ wide, in a choice of three different elevations. Use the Available Options drop down menu to choose the wedge that’s right for you. #HEFW40-
When I played at being deaf, it was surreal. They challenged us to try to participate in a activity while experiencing one of the handicapped conditions. I was hungry and they did not provide lunch so I went to the student cafeteria and ordered as best I could by speaking, but there were a few things I had to write down. I also smacked into people a couple of times because I could not hear people coming at me. To top it all off it made the room all bright and glarey. Some kind of weird sensory enhancement I guess. Anyway it was pretty cool. This post is not about hearing however, it is about Bathroom Safety Products.
Bathroom Safety Products & Hygiene Aids for Homecare
As life progresses, you adjust. Through these changes, EasierLiving.com bathroom safety products and hygiene aids can help you hold on to your sense of independence and dignity – whether recovering from surgery, an injury, health condition or simply just advancing in age.
If you or a loved one needs help with bathing, using the toilet, or creating a safer place for both, EasierLiving.com can provide you with all the bathroom safety products and hygiene aids to make homecare easier.
The experts at EasierLiving.com have carefully selected the best among thousands of bathroom safety products used in nursing homes and hospitals, so you can now have access to the same, high-quality items best suited for home use, not to mention, peace of mind.
The bathroom can be a dangerous place for anyone, let alone someone with a disability or limited strength and balance. Make you or your loved one’s bathroom safer with our selection of bath grab bars, safety rails, shower seats and more bathroom safety products.
I promised that I would talk about the Child’s Playhouse today and I will but I have not talked about my experiences both of the other three disabilities and the week long pledge I took. The playhouse was a put together model of 2 huge rooms, built on a scale as if human adults were children. Each of the two rooms illustrated many of the challenges children face like tables, counter tops, drawers, and cabinets (the organizers quickly pointed out that they were not saying children WERE handicapped much like pregnancy can be described as a disease but it is really not), and the second room had furniture, peoples legs and a partial staircase. It was so cool because to get to stuff, especially if you couldn’t talk you had to climb on things. The stairs were a huge challenge and kinda scary as was walking around peoples legs. It was big fun. Here is another thing that helps the disabled and I got to tell you from trying to open the door to the playhouse – it was real hard.
To assist disabled individuals toward independence, or for anyone who finds a closed door a problem… Power Access 2300 residential door opener makes access by opening the door and egress by closing the door easier.
No modification of the door or jambs
Plugs right into a regular 115vac wall outlet
Complete instructions are packed with every door opener
Virtually maintenance free
Fits in most interior and some exterior door applications
Left and right hand door openers are available (hand can be changed in the field in a matter of minutes)
Low profile model, for limited room above the door
Door opener opens and closes the door
An Array of Companion Controls (wired or wireless)
I was recounting in the last post about a “handicapped” workshop that had an amazing experiential component to it. There were 4 common ailments included that everyone got to try out: being blind (which I have described), being in a wheelchair which was kind of boring but boy has that changed since 1977, having an arm amputated and being deaf. Like I said the wheelchair experience was just rolling around in this large open space. They did not want us to take them outside because we could break them or we could be hurt ourselves. They did give each of us a cautious trip down some stairs at the door to the outside. There were three of them and it was creepy. My grandma was in a wheelchair so I did it better than most.
They had an extra attraction called being a child, which I will talk about tomorrow. So here is a wheelchair lift.
I attended a workshop on being handicapped at the University of Wisconsin, Madcity. It was maybe one of the most amazing things I have ever done. They let you experience 4 common handicaps. They also supplied a fifth experience, that of being being a small child and then insisted that we move around the campus or in the foyer of the students union a little. Everyone fought over the 3 or 4 wheelchairs that they had. I picked being “blind” instead, so they blindfolded me and gave me a stick. They led me around for a little bit and said, “lets go outside”! I mean it was amazing, the sounds and the smells and stuff. But the hardest part was for me to stop putting my hand out in front of myself. So anyway, to be “brand fair”, we will do a couple of days on home elevators. Plus some other handicapped stuff for the home.
In the past elevators in the home were, for the most part, only obtained by the extremely wealthy: they were more of a luxury item than an accessibility need. However, now with advancements in technology, home elevators have become ideal for accessibility, convenience, and adding unique value.
As we get older, arranging our home to suite our needs becomes more difficult. Not only because of the extra work involved, but also because adjusting to the changes that aging brings can feel uncomfortable. Home elevators allow people the ability to comfortably age in place. If an elevator is already in our home, then by the time it becomes a necessity we are already accustomed to it. Familiar surroundings are increasingly important as we enter our tender years, as we can begin to rely on more of our long term memories. Similarly, moving to a home that is more accessible can be inconvenient and disorienting. Including a home elevator in our building plans makes for a much more convenient long term solution.
Having a home elevator also makes moving items safer and more convenient. Instead of carrying a heavy or awkward load up the stairs, an elevator can be used. In turn the chances of injury are lessened, as well as the time it takes.
Building vertically as opposed to expanding a single level home can also be more cost effective. Land values are going up, making a single level expansion more expensive than adding a floor onto a home. However, with expanding vertically we have to take into account our possible accessibility needs in the future. A home elevator is a beneficial solution because it adds uniqueness and value to your home while providing all of the additional benefits of comfort, ease and convenience.