Roof tiles shine light on latest in solar technology (San Jose Mercury News)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Sustainable Business & Living iForum : One Thread
Published Saturday, April 22, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News
Roof tiles shine light on
latest in solar technology
BY DENA AMORUSO
Special to the Mercury News
[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]
HERMAN GYR and Lisa Friedman care about the future of the environment. The family owns an electric car. They compost their food and grow organic vegetables. In their new 3,000-square foot home on Roble Ridge Road, the couple opted for ``solar tubes'' throughout so that more natural light could sift into the dwelling's interior spaces. Even their low-energy refrigerator was specially ordered from Denmark.
But what gets people's attention is their roof.
``Neighbors who pass by comment on the intensely shiny, dark blue color of the tiles, reflecting both sun and sky,'' said Friedman. Their roof -- rather, their tiles -- is actually hard at work.
Their new custom home sports the latest in energy-saving innovations: photovoltaic roof tiles. Gyr and Friedman were among the first homeowners in the Bay Area to install the tiles, which garner the sun's rays.
The science of this type of solar technology can be described as light energy translated by silicon into electrical energy using panels or tiles (in this case). The energy is harvested at a junction box and attached to the home or building's electrical wires.
Atlantis, a Sacramento-based company, has tiles called Sunslates, which marry silicon chips to slate-like roof tile, creating electricity from sunlight. Sunslates can gather 90 percent to 100 percent of the electricity needed to sustain the average home.
``Let's face it,'' Friedman says with a laugh. ``If the grass on our front lawns is smart enough to take advantage of a free source of energy and light, then we, as humans, are at least as intelligent as grass.''
Gyr and Friedman run a management consulting firm from their home office, helping companies plan future strategies for growth, and are the authors of a book, ``The Dynamic Enterprise.''
The solar electric tiles can soak up more than enough solar power to ``credit'' the home's electricity meter during the day (literally spinning the electric meter backward), and debiting the meter during darker hours. This is called ``net metering.'' The surplus power feeds into the utility grid and is stored there specifically for that purpose. The system's power can also be backed up with batteries in case of emergencies, making it a wholly self-contained electrical system. The system meets local and national building codes and offers a 50-year roofing warranty and individually replaceable tiles.
In the 1970s and 1980s, solar panels were the rage among the renewable-energy conscious. But they were bulky and rather ugly, standing out from the roofs rather than blending in. The newer photovoltaic tiles work under the same concept, but they have a distinct advantage over the first-generation solar panels. They can be installed by a roofer without special training or the need to drill holes, they don't leak and they blend in with the rest of the roof. The new systems meet local and national building codes.
Now, new home-builders are using these environmentally ``green'' tiles for their new home communities, mostly as an option for home buyers, and the near future may find builders offering them as a standard feature as their popularity increases.
``Ideally, we'd like to look 10 or 20 years down the road with the vision of every new home built crowned with PV tiles,'' says Tor Allen, president of the Rahus Institute, a Bay Area non-profit organization dedicated to resource efficiency, with a focus on ``renewable'' sources of energy.
Allen's organization also supports Palo Alto Utilities in its renewable energy projects, including workshop training for area architects, guiding them in the installation and planning of the photovoltaic tiles. Lindsay Joiner is the marketing engineer who heads up the PV program for Palo Alto Utilities, introducing the concept and providing information about the products to builders, contractors, city inspectors and building permit granters in the Bay Area.
Utility companies across the country have begun to form partnerships with manufacturers of environmentally correct products such as these, footing the cost for up to 50 percent of the product for builders.
PV-tiled roofs have been used in the Sacramento Valley by home-builders Prodigy Homes and Regis Homes of Northern California. Regis Homes put photovoltaic tiles on one of its model homes in the environmentally conscious college town of Davis, hoping to trim operating expenses for air conditioning and lighting. ``And it worked great,'' said senior vice president Bill Heartman. ``It cut the energy bills significantly.''
While the initial investment (anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 depending on the square footage of tile used and the size of the home) is more than some home-buyers may customarily spend on many new home amenities, many of the buyers feel the trade-off was well worth it over time, Heartman said.
``Our reasoning is that if the technology is already in place for environmentally pleasing and clean products like this, we have a responsibility to make the world a better place by using them,'' said Friedman.
Dena Amoruso is a Sacramento-based freelance real estate writer who specializes in new home construction issues, products and trends.
-- Anonymous, April 28, 2000
David found some links to post...
...United Solar is now shipping their much-anticipated Uni-Solar roofing products. These durable photovoltaic modules replace conventional roofing materials, which protect against the weather like premium roofing and generate clean solar electricity to power homes and commercial buildings. ...
-- Anonymous, April 29, 2000
...Atlantis, a Sacramento-based company, has tiles called Sunslates, ...
Atlantis Energy ... (great roof picture)...
Paper on SUNSLATES for the 14th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in Barcelona '97
-- Anonymous, April 29, 2000
...Tor Allen, president of the Rahus Institute, a Bay Area non-profit organization dedicated to resource efficiency, with a focus on ``renewable'' sources of energy. ...
Rahus Institute: Solutions for a Sustainable World
The Rahus Institute is a 501c3 non-profit, research and educational organization with a focus on resource efficiency. The primary goal of The Rahus Institute is to accelerate the implementation of resource efficient technologies and practices through research, development, demonstration, education and policy change. The Insititute is currently developing projects that aim to promote the use of renewable energy in California.
...Allen's organization also supports Palo Alto Utilities in its renewable energy projects, including workshop training for area architects, guiding them in the installation and planning of the photovoltaic tiles. ...
Palo Alto Utilities (City of Palo Alto, California)
Future Green Power Program: Now Palo Altans can choose how much of their electric bill will go towards supporting future renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and hyro power! If you would like to sign up for the Future Green program, call (650) 329-2161. For more information about how you and other City of Palo Alto Utilities customers can help the environment, call the Future Green Information Line at (650) 329-2443.
Energy Advantage Program: Obtain financing or rebates for energy efficiency improvements that will make your Palo Alto home more comfortable, lower your utility costs, reduce pollution and help the environment. For more information about 0% interest loans of up to $10,000 and rebate options, call (650) 329-2241 and request a program kit.
Photovoltaic (PV) Partners Rebate Program: PV Partners offers eligible Palo Alto residents and businesses a rebate of $4.00 per watt for installing and generating electricity from a photovoltaic (PV) system. For more information call (650) 329-2241.
Future Green Power Program: FAQs
Q. What is "green power?"
A. "Green power " is the name given to energy generated from natural, renewable resources. The California Energy Commission (CEC) considers solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and waste-to-energy, and small hydroelectric (30 megawatts capacity or less to qualify) as renewable energy.
California currently gets about 89% of its electricity from a combination of natural gas, large hydroelectric, coal and nuclear sources. These are known as "brown power." The remaining 11% is generated from existing green, or renewable, sources. ...
[Lots of questions answered]
-- Anonymous, April 29, 2000
...PV-tiled roofs have been used in the Sacramento Valley by home- builders Prodigy Homes and Regis Homes of Northern California. Regis Homes put photovoltaic tiles on one of its model homes in the environmentally conscious college town of Davis, hoping to trim operating expenses for air conditioning and lighting. ...
[Aside note: used to live in the University town of U.C. Davis... and it is HOT during the summer! -- Diane]
Regis Homes of Northern California, Inc.
REFLECTIONS AT MACE RANCH
Located just outside Sacramento Reflections, Davis- Reflections is located in the Master Planned Community of Mace Ranch in the charming city of Davis. Plans feature up to 1,800 square feet. The two distinct floor plans combine the latest architectural designs with outstanding exterior and interior amenities. A truly unique option offered at Reflections is Atlantis Energy's "Sunslates", a photovoltaic roofing system. This system provides up to 90% of the daily power usage and in turn lowers utility costs and impact on the environment. To reach reflections from Sacramento, take I-80 west and exit right on to Mace Blvd. Take Mace Blvd to Alhambra drive, turn left, and then turn right on Fifth Street. Reflections is on the left. Prices start in the mid $190,000's. For more information please call (530) 297-7183
-- Anonymous, April 29, 2000
Thanks for these David!
American SunCo (SunTracker 8)
More Light = More Power
The amount of power produced by a photovoltaic panel depends upon the amount of sunlight it is exposed to. More light means more power.
To intercept the most sunlight, a photovoltaic panel must be positioned so that the sun's rays arrive at the panel directly; perpendicular to its surface. When a photovoltaic panel is not aimed directly at the sun, it does not intercept as much light as it can. And consequently, it does not produce as much power as it can. ...
Other interesting links...
U.S. GLOBAL RESOURCES
Greenhouse, Nursery, Aquaculture and Agricultural Systems
Providing greenhouses, nurseries, agriculture and aquaculture systems to the international marketplace, U.S. Global Resources (USGR) is an international company with over 57 years of experience with the engineering, sales, and installation of agricultural systems and products. ...
THE GAS PRODUCER - SCIENCE AND CONSTRUCTION
The gas producer should operate on any solid fuel. We have even tried using old tyre treads and dry sugar cane. We are told that cattle dung will work. We have used charcoal but not used coal. No doubt it would provide more KM's per tonne than wood.
Just as you would choose the best burning wood for your fireplace or slow combustion heater, you naturally choose the best available wood for the firebox. A fill of pine offcuts would only make 40% of the KM as a fill of yellow box or redgum. We reckoned on about 2,000 km per tonne of wood (2km/kg). This should be improved by the addition of steam to an expected 2,500-3,000 km per tonne. The amount of water used is about the same as the gallonage of petrol that would be consumed. ...
UEE Energy From Waste - EFW Exchange
Alternative Energy Section
David Rezachek's Home Page If you are interested in Solar cars, Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, Renewable Energy, Whistleblowing, or political intrigue - check out these links -
"The Demise of the Ka'ahele La Solar Car Program", "Race The Sun", and "Winning at Any Cost". ...
-- Anonymous, April 29, 2000