State-Sponsored Solar Programs

While long-term savings on monthly energy bills can be expected with the installation and use of solar panels, there are also solar tax credits (or investment tax credits), providing up to 30% of the cost of the installed system (depending on the state) to help with short term savings. One of the greatest things about tax credits are that they are often available for both residential and commercial buildings alike, along with having no cap on the value that can be claimed. 

 Tax Incentives, Rebates, and Other State-Sponsored Solar Programs

In addition to programs helping to reduce taxes, there is also potential of a cash rebate from the state, municipality or utility company. This rebate offered is often 10-20% of the system cost, helping to reduce the cost of the initial installation. One of the most common state rebates offered are Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), in the locations where there is a specific percentage of solar power utilities must generate as required by law. In those states, SRECs are purchased by a utility from the homes with solar power systems have been installed to meet the requirement, while the purchase helps to add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the household income annually.
Also, there are Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs), which offer a kilowatt per hour payment credit for electricity that local solar systems produce. Offered from some local utilities, the difference between the SREC and the PBI, is that PBIs don't have to be sold through a specific market, where SRECs are usually required by some in-state manufacturers, and the rate of the PBI is determined at installation.

Additional solar power system incentives include; accelerated depreciations, subsidized loans and tax exemptions. Accelerated depreciation allows businesses to write of the solar energy system while the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) increases tax return on solar power investment for up to 5 years. A great benefit of the MACRS when this is available, is up to an additional 30% reduction in system cost, when the MACRS is calculated. Subsidized loans help finance the solar panel system at a low interest rate from the state, a non-government organization or the utility company, for a limited time when state or other rebates are first presented. Then, tax exemptions are simply applied as property value increases with the installation of the solar power system. Additionally, it often means that the purchase of the solar system is exempt from state sales tax.

With all of these incredible savings, rebates and growth, there is much to benefit financially with the installation of solar power systems, in addition to the benefits of solar energy to the environment. 

 Written by Sara McIntosh

Sara McIntosh is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the web field for approximately 11 years now. With a degree in English, Sara has been writing about many different industries and topics, including sustainability for Greenergy Eco Villages in 2017. Sara has done work in blogs, articles, and copywriting. 


Steps Toward Carbon Neutrality

Countries and Cities Advancing Toward Ban of Fossil Fuel Cars...Steps Toward Carbon Neutrality

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen the development of hybrid and electric cars, and the ability of the automotive industry to start working toward the minimization of fossil-fuel burning. While there are many technological developments worldwide in hybrid and electric cars, many countries and cities are planning their future goals for a complete ban of fossil fuel cars in new car sales, and eventually perhaps, on their streets entirely.

Currently, most electric cars sold globally are sold in: China, the U.S., Japan, Canada, Norway, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. While there are not currently any requirements as to the purchase of hybrid or electric cars in these countries, there are many cities that have created goals for the requirement of zero emissions autos throughout their streets in the future...

Countries that have already stated ambitions of future bans of fossil fuel cars include China, India, France, Britain, Norway and Germany. Initially, most of these ambitious countries have determined goals by which all auto sales in these countries will be required to be electric vehicles or hybrids,the earliest of which is Norway requiring all autos sold by 2025 to be zero emission vehicles. 
Other countries also share the goal of dramatically increasing electric vehicles on their city streets. In that light, two other countries with a goal of mandating electric auto sales, in this case required by 2040, include France and Britain, with the additional British goal that by 2050 all cars on the national streets will be required to have zero emissions. There are at least eight other countries that have stated potential targets of gaining electric cars and zero emissions, while the goal is not yet solid; Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Korea and Spain. 

Additionally, a global  movement is gaining momentum toward required zero emissions and carbon neutrality in the generation of electricity in certain countries. Over the past decade, there have been four nations openly in the race for carbon neutrality, a net zero carbon footprint or zero carbon emissions: Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Costa Rica. With electric cars to help with those steps, the additional nations that will be requiring zero emissions nationwide will add to the worldwide growth of carbon neutrality. In addition to the changes in transportation, there will be updates to energy production and industrial processes to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions for improvement of the national and global environment. 
Cities with the ambition of moving toward zero emissions, have set goals to go completely fossil fuel free in their vehicles. Oslo, Norway and Madrid, Spain have stated an initial goal of fossil fuel free vehicles for new cars by 2019, with Paris and London stating a goal of 2020. Copenhagen and Athens have presented a goal of 2025, then Hamburg with a goal of 2035.
Additional cities that have presented similar goals include: Chengdu City, Brussels, Mexico City, Vancouver and New York City. While the specific dates may not have been set as of yet, urban planners have worked inside these cities to help work toward construction and planning of bike paths and pedestrian traffic that will limit the large amount of car roads previously there. 
We’ll see what all these cities may have to present for their growth in the step toward carbon neutrality in the coming years. It's great to know that so many global cities are planning for renewable energy as the main source for municipalities and vehicles. The ability to keep the world running in a more carbon neutral manner will add to the need for improvements in sustainable technologies.

 Written by Sara McIntosh Sara McIntosh is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the web field for approximately 11 years now. With a degree in English, Sara has been writing about many different industries and topics, including sustainability for Greenergy Eco Villages in 2017.  Sara has done work in blogs, articles, and copywriting. 


Sustainable agriculture

In most traditional farming of the past, a significant amount of carbon and nutrients are removed from soil without being replaced. Major contributing factors to the depletion of healthy soil are over-tilling the land and monoculture (or growing one type of plant on a farm). From processes like these, there is the removal of nutrients from soil, leading to poor fertilization from year to year, as well as the increase of an environment ripe with bugs and vermin. Basically, the farmer slowly loses control of the farm as a whole when the quality of the soil is not managed over time.

Sustainable agriculture works to make sure that farming is done in ways that protect ecosystem quality. It is important for the farmer implementing sustainable agriculture techniques to understand the relationship between all organisms and the environment, along with the importance of maintaining nutrients within soil, water and air, and the environment as a whole.

Some examples of sustainable agriculture include those on farms that work to satisfy human food and fiber needs. There are others that enhance environmental quality and agricultural economy through improvement of natural resources. 
Sustainable agriculture makes efficient use of non-renewable resources, as the loss of these are one of the leading issues in depleting nutrient levels in soil and other needed areas for the farmland. All of this works together for the improvement of the economic value of farm operations and quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

In focusing on possible improvements of the farmer's carbon footprint in implementing sustainable agriculture, there are the points of balancing sun, air, soil, water and nutrients, all needing replenishment in one way or another. While sun and water often remain in the standard value of their region, some issues with poor irrigation and other water values that can always reduce quality of agriculture. Then there is also the need for soil nutrition to help maintain long-term quality growth. 
Carbon, nitrogen and oter nutrients can be added with recycling crop or livestock manure for natural fertilization, through the growth of legume and forage crops for nitrogen added to soil. Another example of sustainable farming is the independent production of nitrogen through the Haber process that uses hydrogen from natural gas or possibly electricity.  
Also important is the ability to manage long-term crop rotations while still working to help improve the farmer's carbon footprint and the quality of life in their land. Natural fertilizer processes help with the soil, while there is also the importance of maintaining use of natural water resources and management of the level of non-renewable energy resources used on the farm to help maintain proper levels of phosphate and nitrogen in the land. 
With the added efficiency on the farm, certain crops, plant and animal waste, tree and plant croppings, etc..can also be used as sources for biomass/ biofuel. It's all about nature management and planning for quality land and growth.

Written by Sara McIntosh 
Sara McIntosh is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the web field for approximately 11 years now. With a degree in English, Sara has been writing about many different industries and topics, including sustainability for Greenergy Eco Villages in 2017.  Sara has done work in blogs, articles, and copywriting.