Everybody knows Nebraska has lots of wind. In fact, our designation as having the 6th greatest potential in the US for wind has been mentioned many times. How many realize that we are also #9 in solar energy potential? In fact, Nebraska has plentiful supplies of ALL FOUR areas of renewable energy potential, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal.
When we discuss solar energy, we are talking about the discreet use of the sun's energy to transfer heat (thermal solar) into water or air OR the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity (photovoltaic or PV solar). While both using the same sunlight, they are very different.
PV solar costs $4/watt (roof mount) installed, and has very little maintenance in its 25 year lifetime. Solar is perfect for offsetting high energy loads in the summer time, when energy usage is at its highest, annually.
NRES can assist you with thermal solar designs and installations. We have installed numerous solar thermal collectors, both water and air on the energy farm and Nebraska Green Fuels station. If you are interested in thermal solar for heating or hot water contact us and make an appointment.
Passive or thermal solar is also a low maintenance item and works off of basic principles of physics like convection currents and thermal storage. It is an amazing field in itself and offers tremendous benefits to those that properly utilize these techniques. These offer tremendous opportunities to harness the suns' energy with low cost, low maintenance designs.
If you are considering solar energy as part of your renewable energy portfolio, NRES can help guide you to those who will best be able to help you.
Energy Farm Solar:
On the energy farm we utilize a 24VDC back up power system. The farm has been off the grid for about eight years. There has been over 4.2 kW of solar PV installed on the farm including two passive solar air heaters, a solar heated shower and a solar hot water heater.
There are three different solar PV mounts that we are currently using on the farm: a couple ground mounts, a passive tracker mount, and a couple roof mounts. Each way costs different and takes various hours to install. They generally range within $4/watt -$6/ watt installed costs and now solar is significantly cheaper, with a high internal rate of return than wind.