Elon Musk’s latest move reflects his confidence in the future of solar


Elon Musk is no stranger to solar energy. He is the largest shareholder of SolarCity, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of solar voltaic cells. Just this week, the CEO of Tesla Motors has announced Tesla’s intention of acquiring SolarCity in a deal that could be worth more than $2.8 billion.

Musk wrote a post on Tesla’s official blog that the offer could bridge the vertical between home and car by utilizing what he deemed “the most sustainable energy source that’s available: the sun.”

The purchase is entirely up to Tesla’s and SolarCity’s shareholders; Musk has recused himself from the final purchase process.

If the plan goes through, it would add even more pull to the already massively influential Tesla Motors. Although market analysts are casting a lot of doubt about the merger, Musk says that the addition of SolarCity could eventually mean a valuation of $1 trillion.

Tesla has already worked with SolarCity in the past to develop PowerWall, a device that allows energy from a sustainable source (ideally the sun, but wind also works) to get stored for use while those sources are unavailable. PowerWall is available to both residential and commercial customers.

Tesla Motors has already put sustainable energy practices in the mainstream with their Model 3, Model S, and Model X vehicles. With SolarCity in the mix, solar cells could be involved with the production of future vehicles.

Renewable energy sources tend to get pooled together into one, no matter how different they actually are. With Musk’s interest in solar, some have asked what the move means for his impression on other renewable sources such as wind. A recent article in the Huffington Post highlighted this, and Musk made clear that he doesn’t see wind energy having a role in what he hopes to achieve in the near future. He told reporters that companies involved in wind energy are doing “fine”.

Faith in solar energy

Apart from a presumable large amount of road bumps in making the merger possible, the desire of Musk reflects his already growing confidence in the direction of solar energy. Although solar energy is growing at an alarmingly fast rate, there is still work to be done to make it more attractive at the residential level.

In his blog post, Musk said that fusing Tesla and SolarCity would allow for a more effective market reach; more so that either company would be capable of obtaining on their own. He made the point that those who either drive a Tesla or have solar panels installed in their home are more likely to be interested in the other service they don’t yet have.

At this point, there’s no saying where Tesla and SolarCity are going to be in regards to one another at this very moment, but it is a testament to the ground that solar energy is gaining.

How fast is solar growing? This figure should tell you.


Forty years. That’s how long it took one million solar energy systems to get installed in the United States. According to Green Tech Media, it is believed that the one millionth installation happened sometime around the end of February this year.

While those forty years were met with plenty of economic, technological, and cultural hurdles, the tide is quickly changing. Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Rhone Resch said in a statement that solar installations will hit the two million mark in just two years. 

Apart from the obvious trend away from reliance on the grid, Resch points out what this kind of growth will mean for job creation and overall economic growth in states where solar is catching on more and more.

Big Money. Big Power.

With a projected growth of another one million installations in two years, one can imagine the kind of money that’s behind it all. According to SEIA, the solar industry experienced investments within the $1.4 billion range in 2006. In 2015, that number went up to $16.8 billion. It’s also worth mentioning that between 2006 and 2015, jobs in the solar energy grew from 17,000 to 209,000.

Growth is big but the share of solar energy in America is still small. Just 1% of all power in the United States is generated through solar, but figures show that it could increase to 3% by 2020. This sounds small, but we’re talking some serious power. By the end of 2016, GTM Research projects that 16 gigawatts of power will be installed.

Currently, there is enough solar energy to power a state the size of Pennsylvania.

With this kind of growth, what has it meant for the electric grid? It’s easy to say that the sun hasn’t quite been shining on the slowing, yet drastically still dominant industry. According to Bloomberg, the growth of residential solar installations are cutting into the purchases that grid managers make from conventional planets.

Come 2019, the result could mean around $2 billion in lost revenue for standard power generators.

Need for bipartisanship.

There’s no doubt that the prowess of those involved in the solar industry has a lot to do with the success it has experienced in recent years. But a big reason for the growth also has a lot to do with cost-cutting programs implemented on both the state and federal level.

In his statement, Resch made his call for continued cooperation in Congress. “It is my hope that Congress continues to seize upon this vast potential, eventually instituting a solar caucus dedicated to the goals this congressional resolution spells out.”

In an effort to keep the momentum alive, SEIA has launched a #MillionSolarStrong marketing campaign to highlight the many accomplishments of the industry, as well as what’s expected to come. The homepage of the MillionSolarStrong features a wealth of information about where solar is headed, as well as the environmental impact that can be expected from the continuous growth of installations.




Amazing Facts About Solar


If you break things down, it’s truly amazing to see the capabilities of solar energy. This renewable energy resource is capable of so many different things…just take a look at some of these interesting solar facts:

Solar Radiation

The sun is located about 90 million miles away, yet sunlight reaches the Earth in approximately 10 minutes!
• About 173,000 terawatts (TW) of solar energy hits the Earth non-stop. To put that into perspective, 1 terawatt = 1 trillion watts.
• We measure solar energy in kilowatt-hours.
• In just one square mile, the Earth receives an estimated 1,366 watts of solar radiation.
• 30 percent of all received radiation from the sun gets reflected back to space.
Just 1 minute of sunlight could support the world’s energy demands for an entire year.

Demand for Solar

• Every 3 minutes, someone makes the switch to solar power.

Solar Panels

• Solar panels were first available in 1956. A lot has changed since then.
• The demand for solar energy is booming in the U.S. In the last three years alone, 60 percent of all solar panels were installed.
• Solar equipment lasts a long time. Expect panels to last a few decades.
• Solar panels still collect power on cloudy days. They simply are 10-25% less effective.

Solar as Renewable Energy Resource

• In the U.S. 13 percent of our energy comes from renewable energy resources, like solar.
• Specifically, solar power is currently generating four-tenths of one percent of the energy in the U.S.; yet that number grows every day.
A single home solar system can counterbalance 178 tons of carbon within 30 years.
• Some projections indicate that solar could become the leading global source of electricity by 2050.

Money Savings

Within a 20-year timespan, a solar home can save you around $20,000 on energy expenses.
• There is a 30% Residential Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that has been extended into 2019. It was recently extended—as it was set to expire on December 31, 2016.

Want to learn more about solar power? Explore these different solar myths and frequently asked questions.


4 Easy Ways to Go Green at Home


There are tremendous benefits in having a solar home. Not only does it save thousands of dollars throughout the years, but it also helps make a drastic improvement on the environment. Your single solar energy system cuts back on more carbon emissions than you’d assume. Your system can help offset 178 tons of carbon over 30 years!

With a solar home solar system, you are also increasing your property value. Solar systems look great and motivate potential buys to invest more in a home with clean, renewable energy. Currently, every three minutes, someone is switching to solar power—a clear indicator of its demand.

In addition to using solar power for your home, here are additional suggestions on how you can go green at home:


1. Adjust your Thermostat Accordingly

It’s always unpleasant to be too hot or too cold in the comforts of your home…but you should be aware that however high or low you set your thermostat will directly impact your energy usage (and subsequently, your energy bill). A good inside temperature (while you are at home) is around 68 degrees; and turned down a few degrees less while you are away from home.


2. Unplug or Turn off Unused Electronics

Many people let their computers sleep, rather than shutting them off ever day. It’s nice to be able to open your laptop and automatically be able to pick up where you previously left off. But, this also uses unnecessary energy. The same is true for leaving your cellphone chargers and other electronics plugged into the outlets when they aren’t in use.

So, it’s best to unplug or turnoff any electronic devices that aren’t in use—you’ll likely also be increasing the lifespan of these devices.


3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs and Appliancesenergystar

ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs and appliances are the way to go. An ENERGY STAR certified light bulb uses nearly 70-90 percent less energy than a traditional light bulb; they also last 10-25 percent longer. ENERGY STAR appliances are available everywhere— for virtually any home appliance. ENERGY STAR benefits include saving up to 20 percent on your utility bill…so swap out whatever you can for items featuring the energy-efficient label.


4. Use Fragrance-Free Products

lavender-products-616444_640It’s hard to imagine that something so simple as using fragrance-free products can impact the environment. But it’s true. Many soaps, lotions and cleaners have hormones that wash off and run into our lakes, rivers and ocean. These damage the ecosystem. It may seem like such a small thing, but consider all of the people and households that use fragrance products.

It all starts with you. You have a direct roll in either improving or destroying the environment. There are so many easy things you can do to help out. Remember this: all these small things add up. Be part of the change that you’d like to see.





US Congress Extends ITC 30% Incentive through 2019


In a move that provides a great source of relief to the solar industry, the 30% investment tax credit (ITC), arguably responsible for a significant portion of the industry’s growth, has been extended to 2019.

The decision by lawmakers will give solar projects around the country a chance to stay on top of their goals, and will grant the 30% credit to all projects that begin by 2019.

ITCLobbyists spent a better part of 2015 convincing congress to extend the ITC, which was set to fall down to 10% in 2017. If the ITC didn’t extend, some publications claim that the drop in 2017 would have been “disastrous”.

Current projects would have been rushed to be completed by 2016, subsequently leading to a massive drop in solar output. According to BusinessWire, the possible rush would have lead to a 17 gigawatt (GW) output to just a 6.5 GW output in 2017.

Although there might be future talk to keep the 30% tax credit alive past 2019, the current agreement is to drop to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and then to 10% after that.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the nation’s trade association for solar energy, applauded the decision to extend the ITC, listing out the many results that can come about.

According to a SEIA press release, the ITC will be attributed towards:

  • The addition of 220,000 new jobs by 2020, with a goal of employing 50,000 veterans.
  • Emissions cut by 100 million metric tons, “and replace dozens of dirty power plants.”
  • $133 billion+ “in new, private sector investment in the U.S. economy by 2020,” with growth being attributed towards small business. SEIA says that 85% of the 8,000 solar companies in America are considered small business.
  • A triple-rate growth in solar power by 2020, reaching 100 gigawatts. At this level, SEIA says that’s enough to power 20 million homes. 

At 100 gigawatts, that would represent 3.5% of all electricity generation in the U.S. Right now, according to Travis Hoium of The Motley Fool, total solar output accounts for 1% of all electricity.

Business Wire also pointed out that the ITC extension provides an advantage not only for the US solar industry, but for the global industry as well. Global installations could very well reach between 66 and 68 GW in 2016, eventually reaching 70+ GW in 2017.




Unique Solar Home Designs


Solar technology presents so many possibilities…and people are noticing. There’s a growing shift away from crude energy sources, such as natural gas, coal and oil; instead people are investing in sustainable, renewable energy. In fact, every three minutes, someone switches to solar. Homes that incorporate solar power no longer have to fully depend on power plants for their energy. This means that home energy costs are drastically lowered with the use of solar.

When you think of homes with solar panels, you may automatically envision huge, tacky panels from the 1990s…but that’s no longer the case. Solar power technology and all of its equipment is state-of-the art in both design and function. It’s even interesting to see how far some architects have used it in their designs throughout the globe.

Here are several incredibly unique solar homes:

1. Heliodome

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Heliodome is a solar house, built in the shape of a sundial. It is located in Eastern France. Considered a bioclimatic solar house, it’s odd angle ties in with the sun’s movements—providing optimal inside temperatures during every season. Source: Reuters


2. FabLab House


FabLab House is a solar panel-covered home, designed by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. It is part of Europe’s first Solar Decathlon in Barcelona, Spain. This curved design is especially great for combating hot summer weather.


3. Design by Elevate Structure Inc.


Elevate Structure Inc. helps create innovative structures that combine both innovation and sustainability. They created this elevated house design to blend nature with practical home living.


4. Domespace

A peaceful and natural setting for a Domespace home

Domespace is a rotating home, designed by Patrick Marsilli. This is just one of several house models, provided by the Solaleya Company, which creates sustainable housing solutions. They blend aesthetics, functionality and energy efficiency all together. Domespace can move towards or away from the sun—it can do so both manually or automatically. Not only is this rotating feature great for generating the most solar power, but it also provides different outside views. Apparently it is also earthquake resistant and provides great wind resistance (due to it’s aerodynamic shape).


As you can see, these designs are quite…different. While you probably aren’t looking to make a dramatic architectural mark, solar can and will beautify and enhance your home both inside and out. Contact us for a free quote!




Solar installations in Q2 of 2015 show continual growth of residential sector

New figures released this week show that residential rooftop solar installations within the US set a record in Q2 of this year. Findings released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA),  show that Q2 saw a record number of rooftop installations, beating out what was set in Q1. With 1,393MW of PV in Q2, the US has now surpassed 20GW of solar power.

The report revealed several key figures that indicate a favorable attitude toward residential solar systems within the United State. Some notable numbers include:

  • 1,393 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power installed in Q2, which according to SEIA is the seventh consecutive quarter where more than 1 GW of PV power was installed.
  • 40% of all electric generating capacity brought on-line in the first half of 2015 was attributed to solar power.
  • SEIA’s forecasting that 7.7 GW of solar power will be installed in 2015, which marks a 24% raise year-over-year.

U.S. PV installations Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight

It should be stated that the largest share of the solar market is still utility-level solar installations, but according to Ecowatch, residential solar installations have risen 70% year-over-year. Utility installations made up 729 MW of solar PV in Q2, which accounts for about 52% of all installations in Q2.

Passing the 20GW mark, SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch said that there is now enough solar power to light up 4.6 million US homes, which also reduces carbon emissions by more than 25 million metric tons per year.

Another item of note is the geographic diversity that is related to the solar sector. Greentech Media pointed out that ten states each installed more than ten MW of power in the second quarter, indicating a growing interest and support across the nation.

Utility PV Pipeline

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight


Many sources have pointed the continual growth of installations, especially in the residential sector, to the near-expiration of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at the end of 2016. SEIA has been actively calling for the expansion of the ITC, which is described by the SEIA as a “vital” component to the health of the solar industry. Visiting the SEIA site will allow visitors to make a contribution toward their mission to expand the ITC.




5 Simple DIY Tips to Cut Home Energy Use

Like investing in a residential solar system, there are other adjustments you can make around the house to save energy, cut costs, and live a more eco-friendly life.

Here are five simple tips to get you started:


When it comes to wasted energy use, every electrical device in your home contributes. Pretty much anything you plug in, even when it’s turned off, is drawing power at all times. Heating, cooling, water heating, and lighting are your biggest energy vampires, but smaller and more solitary electrical devices like TVs, computers, cell phone chargers, and kitchen appliances eat up your energy, too.

Your DVR? That consumes about 49 watts of power even while turned off. A single cell phone charger draws about 1 watt without a phone plugged into it, and up to 8 watts of power when charging a phone. Over time, this adds up!

Consider how you might unknowingly use energy. When not in use, unplug your electronics, or consider investing in an environmentally-friendly power strip like the Smart Strip, which cuts power to plugged-in appliances once you turn them off. Alter your habits today, and in time you could save up to 10% on your electrical bill.

Keep your AC maintained

Don’t take your air conditioning unit for granted. Regularly clean and replace dirty filters, and ensure all vents and returns are clean and unobstructed. Take a look at your unit outside, too. Is it clogged by any dirt, leaves, or mud? This can happen quickly and easily in all seasons—rain, wind, and falling leaves add up. Once a year, hire a certified HVAC technician to do an all-over inspection and cleaning.

Replacing a dirty filter alone can cut your energy usage by more than 5%, and checking on your unit regularly takes less than 10 minutes.

Close your blinds

We all love sunlight, but—especially if you’re not home during the day—it pays to keep the inside of your house shaded. Closing blinds during the day is a simple way to prevent the sun’s rays from heating your home unnecessarily.

Check the south- and west-facing sides of your home first. Once the sun really starts to shine, close your blinds. Even a little helps. Consider adding curtains, shutters, or awnings to save even more.

Consider composting

If you don’t already compost, you’ve probably considered it. And for good reason—composting not only saves landfill space, it cuts methane production, creates healthy fertilizer for your garden, and costs you next to nothing.

Every day, we toss items that could instead be composted and used; food leftovers and yard waste make up 20-30% of our “trash.” To learn more about how you can compost, check out this free guide published by the EPA.

Adjust your thermostat—even one degree

If there’s any lesson to be learned from this post, it’s that every small action counts. We all love to stay cool in the summer and stay warm in the winter, and if you have an AC unit you probably keep it at a set temperature all the time.

Experiment with that. In the summer, turn your setting up one or two degrees; in the winter, one or two down. Keep ceiling fans circulating air. Your body will adjust and you won’t sacrifice comfort, but you’ll save some energy and extend the life of your appliances.


A greener life is just around the corner! Start today. 





[VIDEO] Go Solar

Every way you analyze it, solar is the way to go. Here’s why:

Every 3 minutes, someone switches to solar. Making this change can reduce your overall energy costs by up to 40%. Within the span of 30 years, a solar power system can offset 30 tons of CO2. This is precisely why Americans are installing new solar panel systems every 3 minutes!

You’ve come to the right place. We have all of the facts you need to select the right company for your solar energy needs. All of your questions are provided on the see.solar frequently asked questions page.





PRESS RELEASE: buyCalls Enters the Residential Solar Industry

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buyCalls, an award-winning national advertising agency, is entering the booming solar energy industry.

Online PR News – 23-July-2015 – buyCalls, an award-winning national advertising agency, today announced its entrance into the booming solar energy industry.

Featured in Entrepreneur and Inc., the North Carolina-based agency specializes in national and local lead generation, lead brokering, and online and offline marketing support.

The country is on track to complete it’s one-millionth solar installation this year following a 36 percent increase in solar installations over last year. As prices continue to decline, technology improves, and the solar Investment Tax Credit prepares to drop from 30 to 10 percent, 2015 is set to become the industry’s best year yet.

“Moving into the residential solar industry has felt like a natural transition for buyCalls,” said founder David Petsolt. “For years, we’ve provided innovative marketing solutions to home and residential industry leaders, and are compelled by the growth of renewable energy. We’re excited to discover how we can, in our own way, contribute to it.”

About buyCalls

Based in Southern Pines, NC, buyCalls is an award-winning national advertising agency specializing in high-quality lead generation, lead brokering, and national and local marketing support for its clients. To learn more, visit www.buycalls.com.

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Lynn Crothers