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New technology contributes to dramatic solar industry growth

flickr / AravaPower

The cost of solar power has dropped significantly in recent years. Between 1977 and 2013, the overall cost associated with solar power plummeted an amazing 99 percent.
There are several reasons for this development, including the reduction in price for solar panels and new technology, such as software provided by geoAMPS, that supports the development and operation of solar panels for homes and business, as well as utility-scale solar panel fields.

Solar panel prices have dropped more than 75 percent since 2008. That has contributed to a dramatic increase in solar panel installations. Last year, installations reached a record 5.1 gigawatts (GW), increasing the national total to nearly 13 GW. That’s enough to power nearly 2.2 million American homes.
And, installations are increasing. In fact, the U.S Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts that wind and solar could produce 15 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020, 27 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.
The drop in solar panel prices, while significant, is not the only factor spurring the growth of the solar power industry. New technology is a significant factor as well. Advancements in technology have led to improved equipment that makes solar panels more efficient. Research has led to the production of materials to make solar cells more and more efficient. In fact, the most advanced cells currently in existence are capable of efficiency levels of more than 40 percent.
Scientists looking into increasing solar panel efficiency are taking a new look at a physics phenomenon first seen nearly 50 years ago in glowing crystals. The process is called singlet fission. It enables a single photon of light to generate two electrons instead of just one. This conversion has the potential of increasing solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
geoAMPS, a technology company in the Columbus, OH area, offers software products that enhance efficiencies of developing utility-scale solar energy projects. Specializing in software solutions to manage land rights and infrastructure assets, geoAMPS streamlines the process of obtaining right of way to develop and large solar panel field.
altAMPS is one in the product line developed by geoAMPS. This powerful, intuitive software was tailor-made for solar and other renewable energy projects. It enhances efficiencies through each phase of development, construction and ongoing operation. The software is a paperless, comprehensive solution for end-to-end management of new or existing renewable energy projects.
altAMPS is filled with time-saving tools, such as lease management, meteorological tower management, royalty payment calculator, bulk update, automatic reminders, payment tracker and scheduler, workflow and import-export capabilities, all of which make this powerful software invaluable for companies involved in renewable energy.
altAMPS’ robust and configurable framework provides compressed sequence times and complies with each organization’s unique business processes. With the added ability to access information through mobile applications, detached tools, geographic information system (GIS) maps and smart devices, altAMPS delivers process efficiency, error elimination and measured cost savings.
Utility-scale solar energy considerations include environmental issues, such as land disturbance; and impacts to land use, specially designated areas, impacts to soil, water and air, vegetation, and wildlife. While solar power facilities reduce the environmental impacts of combustion used in fossil-fuel power generation, there are some adverse impacts associated with utility-scale solar facilities.
For example, large solar panel fields require large areas for solar radiation collection. Such facilities can interfere with existing land uses, such as grazing, wild horse management and minerals production. Construction of these facilities requires the clearing and grading of large areas, which can result in soil compaction, alteration of drainage channels and increased erosion. There can be ecological impacts, such as adverse impacts on wildlife and interference with rainfall and drainage. Cultural and paleontological artifacts and cultural landscapes may be disturbed.
GIS mapping, available with altAMPS, provides essential information on the project area. Developers gain data on each parcel, including ownership and other title information. GIS reveals necessary information about topography, existing infrastructure, existing utilities, land use and environmental assessments. Planners can review and monitor the project area through color-coded maps and layers that provide 3-D visualization.
By providing an integrated geospatial view of an organization’s planned utility-scale solar panel field, GIS helps facilitate the siting of such a project, as well as its development and ongoing operation.
Due to decreasing costs, advancements in technology and increased awareness of the need to convert to renewable energy sources, solar energy is poised for an unprecedented surge.
Visit the geoAMPS website, or call 614-389-4871 to discover how geoAMPS products and services can help advance solar energy projects.
Dan Liggett is Communications and Public Relations Manager for geoAMPS, a technology company in the Columbus, OH area that specializes in software solutions to manage land rights and infrastructure assets.

This article also appears on:
The Energy Collective
Daily Energy Report
Renewable Energy World
Alternative Energy eMagazine

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