Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?
Solar power has been around as long as the Earth and was used as early as ancient Egyptian times to heat homes. The first light converting photovoltaic cells were built in the 1880s that could generating energy from the sun’s light. It wasn’t until recently that solar energy became a viable energy source. Today, many technologies are available to efficiently collect the sun’s energy. Due to serious concerns over traditional non-renewable energy sources, more and more people are becoming interested and investing in clean solar energy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOLAR POWER?
Key features of solar power:
- Solar energy is a completely clean, abundant and free fuel source!
- Each day, enough solar energy falls on Earth to power the entire U.S. for 27 years.
- Because the sun shines on all areas of Earth, sometimes it is the most reliable and cost effective energy source available.
- Solar power can be used in small applications, as well as extremely large ones such as commercial buildings and entire cities.
- Solar energy is one of the only types of energy that can be generated just about anywhere.
- In recent years, the manufacturing cost of photovoltaic (PV) cells has dropped by 3-5 percent per year as government subsidies continue to increase.
WHAT IS A SOLAR SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR?
A solar systems integrator is the party, such as American Capital Energy, responsible for managing all steps behind the implementation of a solar power array. Responsibilities include financial analysis, project financing, system design, procurement, project management, installation, operation training and maintenance. The duty of a solar systems integrator is to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget and meet power production estimations.
DOES AMERICAN CAPITAL ENERGY INSTALL OR MANAGE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR?
No, we do not handle residential solar – only large-scale solar PV and solar thermal projects for commercial and utility clients. However, we applaud individuals that implement residential solar systems and encourage them to tell their local businesses and utilities to do the same. With everyone’s help, the United States can move towards using green power to provide energy to our businesses and homes.
WHAT IS THE LARGEST PV PROJECT AMERICAN CAPITAL ENERGY HAS UNDERTAKEN?
We are currently working with NV Energy to install a 20 MW ground mount system in Searchlight, Nevada. Construction is expected to be completed by December 2010. Once completed, this will be the largest project ACE has completed to date.
WHAT ARE PHOTOVOLTAICS (PV)?
Photovoltaics (PV) generate electrical power through the application of solar cells by converting sunlight directly into electricity. Materials presently used for photovoltaics include monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium selenide/sulfide.
WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO INSTALL A SOLAR ARRAY ON A BROWNFIELD?
While brownfields can sometimes present a challenging engineering exercise, this has become an area of expertise for American Capital Energy (ACE). Brownfields can be difficult to build on because new installations can penetrate the ground. ACE is able to build safe and secure arrays that use mounting systems that don’t need to breach the land.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THE ROOF OF MY BUILDING IS SUITABLE FOR INSTALLING SOLAR PANELS?
Between 60-65 percent of all commercial rooftop space in the United States is viable for solar installation, so chances are that yours is too. The most important factor when judging the viability of a rooftop is whether or not there is unobstructed access to the sun’s rays. Other important factors to consider are the durability, tilt and materials used for the rooftop. Different mounting technologies are needed for different types of commercial rooftops.
WHAT INCENTIVES ARE AVAILABLE IN MY AREA?
To review a database of state incentives for renewables and efficiency, please click HERE.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY AND APPLICATIONS?
The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, American Solar Energy Society and Solar Energy Industries Association offer a great deal of additional information on solar energy.
If you would like to hear about how a solar array can be implemented within your site, please contact American Capital Energy for strategic advice and counsel.