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Peel & stick solar fulfills the need … for speed!

| Thursday May 8th, 2008 | 26 Comments

lumetaLogo.jpgOne of the major challenges facing the global energy sector is the amount of time it takes to develop new energy resources. Even if you didn’t care about the negative externalities, environmental impacts or climate change contributions of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, it takes a long time (and billions of dollars) to drill deep holes, excavate or detonate massive mines, build pipelines and railways, construct power plants and high-voltage power lines … as a famous recent American President and avowed fossil fuel aficionado likes to say, “It’s hard work.”
Which brings us to a major and under-appreciated advantage that most clean energy technologies have over traditional, “let’s burn more rocks” resources like coal and oil: speed to market. Because there are no pollution concerns and related air quality permitting requirements, renewable energy projects can be developed with lightning speed – especially medium-sized commercial projects where the power will be used on-site.


Just how fast? Real fast. As in very, very fast. OK, maybe that’s not clear enough for you – I’ll admit, it’s hard to describe exceptionally velocitous rapidity with mere adjectives. For a sample of speed, watch as two solar roofing engineers with California-based roofing contractor DRI Energy install 2.25 kilowatts’ worth of their proprietary Lumeta PowerPly modules on a roof in San Leandro in just under 35 minutes:

The key innovation in the Lumeta PowerPly is the use of standard roofing adhesives to affix the modules to the roof, rather than traditional racking systems. There are two advantages here – one, roofers everywhere work with these adhesives, and so are familiar with their performance and how to use and install them; and two, by eliminating the drilling and bolts associated with a racking system, the contractor not only saves a ton of time (did I mention this installation went up fast?), but also saves the integrity of the roof system: the last thing you should want to pay for is to have someone go up on your roof and put a bunch of holes in it.
And this is just the beginning. The emergence of time-saving innovations in the clean energy industry is likely to step up in the coming years as demand for the services escalates along with concerns about global warming and energy costs. And the fossil industry moves about as fast as … well, about as fast as a fossil. If the Lumeta PowerPly is any indication of what’s to come, I’ll bet that over the next few years, the clean energy sector will reach scale and start operating with a full head of steam. The fossil fuels fossils won’t know what hit ‘em.
(This post is now available Digg-free at Calling All Ants)


▼▼▼      26 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Merkhava

    If you are not going to sell your solar product to individuals at a fair price as opposed to wholesale selling only to corporations, then you are irrelevant. People want energy independence – Freedom from the pollution grid and relief from elitist blood sucking. So do the right thing. Sell to us, not just to them.

  • talkimposter

    I agree… these types of easy to install systems have to become available to consumers in off the shelf retail environments.
    Residential consumers should only need an electrician to setup/install/upgrade their electrical panels and the required interconnects. After that residents should be able to mount and connect their panels as the video clearly shows in a very easy and straight-forward manner.

  • Matthew Lewis

    Hi Merkhava! You’re absolutely right about the irrelevance of commercial-scale solar – just because it’s the fastest-growing sector in the global renewable energy market and has the greatest chance of rapidly reducing pollution, why should businesses provide that service – especially if it doesn’t suit your very specific needs?
    I suspect that, given your expertise and ideas on how to solve this pressing issue, you could probably be a successful solar entrepreneur. There is plenty of opportunity to convince investors of the greatness of your ideas.

  • Terry Roaster

    elitist blood sucking? Umm…. sorry I just had to repeat that.

  • Matthew Lewis

    Actually, we elitists prefer to drink blood – sucking is messy and somewhat uncivilized, though there are regions where it’s still considered appropriate.

  • Paul

    2.25KwH unit on a commercial building? Wow, that’ll cut down pollution. Office lighting alone must run several factors higher than that. Whereas three of four of these on a residential building would make a difference, and word would spread fast. Assuming they’re not taking the piss on pricing.

  • Damian Casale

    If I’d paid for that install I would have two comments for the guys who installed it:
    1. Stop walking on my expensive solar cells.
    2. Get your toolbox off my expensive solar cells.

  • Chris

    These comments are for the most part extremely negative. At least recognize the positive here people: solar energy is becoming more and more viable! That’s good news no matter how much you people want to stink it up.

  • Max H

    I would like to thank M Lewis and T Roaster for including some delightful sarcasm in a much needed criticism of the “if you cant solve everything all at once with one single solution RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX on your first foray into the COMPLEX and expensive energy market, then please go screw a goat you capitalist overlord serving single-celled coward” dumb-ass-internet-troll-scape.

  • Hugh Joe-King

    Can I stick one of these on my back to power my iPod?

  • Anonymous

    yea works fine on my itouch, unlimited battery!
    idiot…..

  • Paulo

    Renewable solar energy, especially this system, will over time become more accessible to consumers. But for now, I say let the corporations get it first. They are the ones who are using up most of the energy anyway. It’s a trickle-down effect. Be patient my friends.

  • Carl White

    “I would like to thank M Lewis and T Roaster for including some delightful sarcasm in a much needed criticism of the “if you cant solve everything all at once with one single solution RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX on your first foray into the COMPLEX and expensive energy market, then please go screw a goat you capitalist overlord serving single-celled coward” dumb-ass-internet-troll-scape.”
    Haha… can I hire you to write insults? Good ones.
    Certainly any step toward simple installation that doesn’t involve poking holes in rooftops is welcome.
    The problem with businesses dropping off the grid first is that it means higher, not lower, prices for households, as the power companies struggle to balance costs with declining incomes. So, I share the frustration of the first poster, in being effectively barred from being able to preemptively drop off the grid first.
    That being said, it’s like complaining about being charged a fee by a boat that’s come to pull you out of the ocean and rescue you. I’ll still take the rescue.

  • Doug

    This article doesn’t mention the disadvantages of peel and stick: radically reduced output from the cells due to very high temperature (no air current behind them to cool them), increased cooling load on the building (dark surface transfers heat into roof), and the higher cost of the “modules.” I’m not sure the reduced installation time necessarily makes up for these shortcomings.

  • muddyh2o

    how many panels do i need for 1.21 gigawatts?

  • muddyh2o

    how many panels do i need for 1.21 gigawatts?

  • webwalker

    You can’t do 5th grade math?
    Then you don’t deserve the technology.

  • fbifido

    2.25 kilowatts / 6 panels = 375 watts per panel
    1.21 gigawatts / 375 watts = xxxxxxxx panels
    my office building runs about 7840 KwH 30days

  • peace

    muddyh2o – Nice “Back To the Future” reference. I think some of the edified posters here didn’t get reference.

  • peace

    muddyh2o – Nice “Back To the Future” reference. I think some of the edified posters here didn’t get reference.

  • passivesolar

    If I remember correctly from the book, it was 1.21 jigowatts.

  • Energy Guy

    Some of you have some bad information. I happen to work for a general contractor, in the Bay Area, where one of the DRI Energy offices is located (and where this video was shot). These proprietary panels are going through UL Listing and have passed all the major test and are slotted for distribution in June of 2008. These panels are available to the residential public, but, do not have a very good application for a comp or clay tile roof. For DRI Energy’s “Residential Solutions” you need to visit their website at: http://www.dricompanies.com/ResidentialSolutions.aspx. They have unique patents on both s-tile and flat tile solar solutions…

  • http://www.green-energy-products.com Ken

    Actually there is already a pretty good peel & stick technology out there – I just installed a ~4.8 kw system on the roof of my home in Miami Beach – checkout the blog if you want http://www.3001northbayroad.com

  • weee

    Looks like progress to me.
    I’m in the UK so we don’t have huge amounts of sunshine but I’m not going to let that stop me – let me know when I can buy them in the UK and I’m in.

  • Harold Warren

    Hey… I agree with everybody that wants cheap solar at home. I would like that too… but this is great to see happening.
    Why? Not just because it is a step in the right direction for the planet, but for consumers as well.
    The busier the solar sector becomes, the more demand AND competition for the technology…. it may take a little while, but look what happened with microwave ovens.
    When that new technology came out, the product options were first sold for commercial use, were light-years behind what most American homes now have ( as far as ability for use) and cost a small fortune to purchase. Now microwave ovens are pretty inexpensive… but it took having a market for the product for the product to evolve and for there to me an economy of scale to reduce per-unit manufacturing expenses.
    This looks like it has real potential…

  • stop green path

    if it can save a few million acres of fragile desert wilderness, i am totally on board. residential and commercial point of use applications must be included – it’s remote “utility scale” projects that need to be SCRAPPED for a million reasons (entrenching monopolies, increasing costs, waste, manipulation, fires and unreliability, environmental devastation, groundwater depletion, etc.). let’s get these things up NOW! and get on those legislators to start offering us a few of the huge advantages they give to Big Energy!