Solar energy use in Michigan

Solar energy use in Michigan






Solar energy use in Michigan

            Heat and light that is harnessed from the sun is known as solar energy. Life on the Earth depends on this energy to survive. Solar power on the other hand is any kind of renewable energy that is acquired naturally like wave power, wind power, biomass, hydroelectricity and the heat and light from the sun. The term solar power however is used in conjunction with solar energy to mean the process of converting sunlight into electricity. Michigan is a state where enormous efforts have been made by the state legislation to increase and encourage the use of solar energy in the state in order to save money and to increase the level of eco-friendliness of the state.

The process of capturing the sun’s light energy and converting it into electricity involves the use of a cell known as the Photovoltaic cell. The cell uses the photoelectric effect to convert the light into electricity. The solar cells however have one major disadvantage; the electricity they generate must be consumed immediately since it cannot be stored for a long time. The concept of the production of electricity from the solar light energy was discovered in the 1800s. The idea however was not put into action until the late 1950s. This is because this is when the idea had the appropriate funding for it to go commercial. Once they hit the market for the first time, the solar power technology and panels were very expensive. This characteristic of the solar technology and panels still creates a hindrance for the technology to become deployed widespread across the world (Jones, 1987).

More recently however, there have been major incentive programs like tax incentives and rebates that are making these prices come down lower and lower and make it more practical for home-owners to install such technology. Such programs and incentives are offered in Michigan to encourage the use of solar power. The state of Michigan also has a program where the Photovoltaic Systems (PV) can be installed in such a way as to generate income for the consumer. This program involves the installation of the solar energy system and connecting it to a grid where several consumers can also fit their panels. This grid then is used to provide electric power to other areas at a fee.

The monies earned from this system are distributed to the participating consumers. Moreover, the monies are exempted from taxation to some extent. This program is suited to encourage the citizens of Michigan to install the solar power panels and this shall enable the generation of large amounts of electric energy that is eco-friendly. This avoids pollution, which has been on the increase in the state in the recent past. The credit received by owners of the photovoltaic systems is used to offset their charges for their electricity charges when using the main grid for electricity. Either the net meter cost becomes greater than or equivalent to the electricity cost for the consumer thus saving money. The owners of the systems may also provide more than their consumption thus earning income.

One of the advantages of the grid system is that it eliminates the need to have storage systems in place to store excess electricity. This is a major advantage since electricity produced by solar systems cannot be stored for a long time and therefore without the grid system most of it would go to waste. Most people in the Michigan area however were reluctant of purchasing the solar technology since indeed it was expensive. However, they had more reasons not to one of which was the lack of understanding how the energy really works. Most people think that only when the sun is shining is when the solar energy can be harnessed. However, this is not the case and the energy can be harnessed even in times of overcast days.

The site where the solar panel is placed is the most important factor to make an effective solar energy harnessing system. The panels have to be placed in a way that there can be maximum electrical production. For most of the Michigan area, this position is making sure the panels face south. The panels then are mounted either on the roof or on the ground level. However, care has to be taken to ensure that the area selected is free from being shaded for most of the day to ensure maximum contact between the panel and the sunlight. The solar modules produce direct current (DC), which should be converted to alternating current (AC) by the use of an inverter. Alternating current is what is used as electricity in most institutions. This conversion has to happen before the electricity is fed into the grid or the personal domestic system. In older systems there used to be one large inverter installed in the grid to convert the direct current to alternating current. However, the system had to change due to the personal domestic users (Jones, 1987).

The generation of solar energy has encouraged many business leaders to get interest in the sector. This is because most of them have noticed that the best venture in the regions economy would be to invest in renewable energy sources. The generation of renewable energy has seen the introduction of business alliances like for instance the Great Lakes Bay Economic Development Partnership. The partnership was formed by three companies Saginaw Future Incorporated, Midland Tomorrow and Bay Future Incorporated in the Saginaw Valley area in Michigan. The developments in this sector have also seen the invention of many solar appliances like roofing shingles that are much cheaper than the normal solar panels. These inventions constantly promote the use of the solar energy, which encourages a cleaner, healthier, energy efficient and safer world.

There is a constant growth of the use of renewable energy in form of solar energy in the state of Michigan. This is because of the increased incentives. The rate of growth has increased considerably to about 52 percent of newly installed solar energy harnessed every year. It is estimated that the rate shall constantly grow until the year 2013. Indeed the use of renewable energy sources has major advantages. One of them is the reduction of the rate of pollution significantly. There are social values in the use of the renewable energy sources like solar in the state of Michigan like the involvement of students who study Natural Resources and Environment in the monitoring of the system and the evaluation of its effectiveness.

Solar energy in the state of Michigan is used in the provision of electricity in most institutions like schools, colleges and churches. The energy is also used to heat water that is used for both domestic and commercial purposes. Examples of these institutions are like the School of Natural Resources and Environment in Michigan. The University for instance has installed a solar collector on top of its central power plant that helps in the heating of water for the entire campus’ needs. The collector has the ability to heat water up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This shall help the campus a great deal in saving on the costs of fuel. There are other examples like the Oakland University in Rochester. This university installed a photovoltaic demonstration project that uses the roofing shingles manufactured by a company known as Uni-Solar Manufacturing. The company is located in Auburn Hills in Michigan and is the largest producer of the photovoltaic systems (Jones, 1987).

The state of Michigan has increased its use of solar in homes and businesses. Though there are many developments and innovations that are coming up due to the solar energy harnessing bids, there is hope that some of these projects shall be of great help in the future to help eradicate pollution and promote the development of a greener world. If the technology remains in Michigan and is developed there, the state shall be a major player in providing insight on the subject and shall be among the founder states for the use of this kind of technology. The state might also be a hot spot for the generation of millions of dollars in income in the near future since the green energy shall be the next step in production of energy.


Jones, H. C. (1987). Residential Solar Energy Use in Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: The University Of Michigan.

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