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"Saving Sunshine"
Keeping the Lights on with Batteries and Solar Power
Wish you could bottle that sunshine and save it for a rainy day? October storms will soon blow, but relief from the extended power outages can be found by combining renewable energy and batteries. To view this secure and environmentally friendly energy future, the public is invited to the premiere of “Saving Sunshine,” a half-hour DVD from the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association. A discussion of the film’s topics will follow.

PURCHASE THE DVD:
$19.95
LIMITED TIME OFFER:
FREE SHIPPING!

[WATCH THE TRAILER]

In plain language, master electrician and solar installer Bruce Hankins explains AC Coupling, the combining of a grid-tied solar electric installation with an off-grid battery backup system. This technology, made possible through advanced electronics, offers benefits for all users of the entire electric system—both those with and without solar. Bruce Hankins will be with us to lead a Q&A discussion following the movie.

Teachers, electricians, system installers, owners of grid-tied systems and solar advocates will find Hankins’ clear explanations in “Saving Sunshine” helpful in learning the specifics of an AC Coupled system and how it forms a local electric distribution system.

“I can’t hear you the generator is running.” “Well not any more, we’re out of gas.”

The topic is timely and offers a glimpse of what technology is available now and can be implemented through a mutually beneficial partnership of homeowners and utilities. The recent surge in residential photovoltaic installations and evolving inverter technology has increased applications of distributed generation. Distributed generation uses small-scale technologies to produce electricity close to the end users. One form of distributed generation is photovoltaic electricity with battery storage. Both scalable and renewable, it can offer several benefits, including lower-cost transmission and distribution, higher power reliability and security, and fewer environmental consequences than traditional power generators.

In Pennsylvania, almost all photovoltaic installations are grid-tied without battery backup. Although a small step in expansion of distributed generation, adding battery backup to existing PV systems is doable and with most of the costs being carried by the system owners, it requires minimal investments by utilities and public agencies.

[Berks Community Television] in Reading shot and edited the DVD, which was produced by
[Bullfrog Films] of Exeter Township and MAREA. The film was funded through a grant from the [Met-Ed Sustainable Energy Fund of Berks Community Foundation] and will be distributed through Bullfrog Films.

Additional Background and Detail
According to the National Academy of Science, bringing new sources of electric power to consumers may be as much of a challenge as creating it. Generating stations are usually built away from load centers because sites are easier to find and fewer people are disturbed by the accompanying noise, emissions and activity. This power must be delivered by a high-voltage transmission system that has become increasingly stressed in recent years as growing demand has outstripped capacity. New transmission lines are difficult to build because of uncertain cost recovery and public opposition. Building small plants near or at customer sites may become more important in order to meet demand and maintain reliability.

Upgrading the U.S. electric power transmission and distribution system to the level of a “smart grid” represents a significant investment, the science group states, but would yield numerous benefits. New technologies and equipment would improve reliability, resulting in fewer system failures and quicker restoration of power when blackouts occur. Unlike the current grid, a large fraction of generation could come from renewable and intermittent sources, benefitting the environment, and a modern grid would allow for the creation of wholesale energy markets, better price signals to customers, and a more distributed system of power generation.

   
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