Blinded By The Light: Myths and FAQs about Solar Energy

Local News

Charlie Ricketts, CEO of Dakota Solar Energy, is excited to dispel some of the myths regarding Solar Energy and answer some of the frequently asked questions he gets when he talks about solar power. He’s found that a few come up often and he appreciates the opportunity to set the facts straight.

 Charlie recently accepted a seat at the table with the Bismarck State College — National Energy Center of Excellence Energy Services Advisory Committee. His vast knowledge of the solar industry will help BSC meet the growing demand for careers in the renewable energy industry.

How do solar panels perform in colder climates?

Solar power is generated by the sun’s light, not the sun’s heat. As long as the sun is hitting the solar panels, it will generate electricity. Solar panels actually lose efficiency in hotter climates — making colder, sunny environments the most ideal for solar production. In fact, the solar industry is thriving in colder climates.  Minnesota was ranked 16th in solar jobs in 2017.

How do Solar panels hold up to hail?

Solar panels used today are tested and certified to withstand hail up to one-inch in diameter falling at 50 miles per hour. Though solar panels are not hail proof, they will take most of what Mother Nature has in store for us with ease. In the event that a catastrophic storm does happen, if the solar panels are destroyed, it’s fair to assume so is everything else. And homeowner’s insurance would step in to replace everything — including solar equipment.

Do you need batteries with Solar Energy?

The answer is no. Grid-tied solar systems do not need to store the power because it is tied to the utility grid. It flows freely from the solar panels to your electrical devices, and any excess power flows into the grid. In fact, the utility company, in some cases, pays you for the power you generate. Batteries perform a very unique function that allows solar power to be stored on-site and can be used to prevent interruptions in power and a host of other benefits. Batteries are not needed to turn the sun’s energy into electricity.

Does North Dakota receive enough sun for solar energy to work?

Yes! North Dakota ranks very high in annual sunlight hours. In fact, during certain times of the year, North Dakota can out-produce California and even Florida in solar power generation. The Sun is an incredible source of energy. In a single hour, the amount of energy that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in a year.

How much would it cost to just get the basics if someone is wanting to start it in their home?

Solar energy costs are associated with specifics in mind and it’s impossible to provide estimates on usage needs or sizing requirements. Each project is completely different. From the amount of energy needed, installation options, utility company and so on.

Editor’s note: A number of reference sources online use the following general rule of thumb to give people an idea of how much energy solar panels generate. It’s a rough, rough aid in making “tabletop estimates” in dollars: 8-10 watts per square foot of solar panels under direct sunlight. Solar efficiency has improved some in the last few years, raising the power output per square foot. This is not an estimate generated by Charlie Ricketts, but pulled from several online sources related to solar panels and solar energy.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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