Our Future’s Bright With More Solar Energy

Thanks to the great presenters Jason Edens, Dennis Eisenbraun, and Dr. John Bagu and all who attended Fargo’s first State of the Sun Solar Symposium yesterday.  Did you know Germany is the country with the most solar energy generated and that North Dakota actually has a better sun resource than they do?

Solar applications can be very effective in specific applications like small solar thermal water heating, helping heat cold outside air as it makes it’s way to the furnace (Transpiration) and for generating electricity as passive power to offset peak retail costs of electricity.   If you’d like to learn more about any of these: Visit www.RREAL.org

Here’s a article about some of the sunny event:

Published March 08, 2012, 11:30 PM By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

Bright ideas at solar meeting

Sun power advocates tout myriad uses in green, renewable energy
FARGO – Solar power advocates gathered Thursday to discuss the potential of the abundant, renewable energy on a day deemed to have the most active solar activity in five years.

Although the region is noted for its wind energy, advocates said solar power is increasingly becoming an affordable power alternative.

Case in point: A solar demonstration project by Moorhead Public Service completed this summer is generating more than 21,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, a bit more than predicted.

The project shows that, with federal energy tax credits and depreciation allowance, solar power can be viable, especially for businesses, said Dennis Eisenbraun, a manager at Moorhead Public Service.

“For a commercial business, you could have a very rapid payback,” he said, estimating a solar-panel power project could recoup its investment in five to 10 years.

Residential customers, who do not have the benefit of a depreciation allowance, would take about a third longer to get a financial payback, Eisenbraun said.

Moorhead’s three arrays of solar panels were installed at a cost of about $99,500 – with help from a federal grant – between the city’s twin wind turbines near the Centennial ballpark on the north side.

Because of a global manufacturing glut in solar panels, costs are attractive, but panelists at the program, in the Fargo City Commission chambers, said prices probably will start to rise later this year.

Installed, the cost for most solar panel projects ranges from $5 to $7 per watt, said Bill Schwankl, who runs Alternative Energy Services of Fargo, a business that installs wind and solar power units for farms, homes and businesses.

“The prices at the moment are unbelievable,” said Jack Hanson, a solar energy consultant from Valley City.

Unfortunately, North Dakota eliminated a renewable energy tax credit. Also, not all utilities still buy surplus power from customers who generate their own, he said.

“The Legislature and utilities have to get on a different track,” Hanson added, saying society benefits from development of renewable energy.

Jason Edens, director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in St. Cloud, Minn., said alternate energy sources often are criticized for relying on tax incentives to be affordable.

In fact, he added, the oil and gas industry is heavily subsidized by incentives. “So it’s not a level playing field,” Edens said.

The solar panel discussion and presentations were hosted by the city of Fargo’s first “State of the Sun Solar Symposium.”



Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522