Is my site suitable for a renewable energy system installation?

 All of our projects begin with an in-depth site survey and analysis, with a proposal handed to you - free of charge.  However, before we visit your site we will contact you with some basic questions to eliminate unnecessary site visits so we can continue to offer low prices.  Here is an idea of what we’re looking for.

Solar Photovoltaic
It is best to have unshaded south-facing roof space for optimum energy production.  Southwest, west-facing and flat surfaces are suitable as well.  The roof should be in fairly good condition.  If it needs to be replaced soon, that should be done before a solar installation.  If your site doesn’t meet any of these requirements, you can opt to install a pole-mounted array if you have an unshaded area on site, though this option is more expensive.  Typically photovoltaic systems requires about 120sq. ft. of panels to produce 1 Kw of AC electricity.  Commercial systems are typically larger and vary widely in their space requirements.  Look around on the south side of your site.  Are there young trees that may shade the rooftop or pole-mount array in a few years?  Will there be tall buildings built there?  A free site survey is the best way to assess the suitability of your site.

Solar Hot Water
The site requirements for solar hot water systems are very similar to that of photovoltaics.  It is best to have unobstructed south-facing roof space for optimum thermal collection.  Southwest, west-facing and flat surfaces are suitable as well.  The roof should be in fairly good condition.  If it needs to be replaced soon, that should be done before a solar installation.  Solar thermal collectors require about 3/4sq. ft.of collector area to create one gallon of hot water.  Commercial systems are typically larger and vary widely in their space requirements.       

Microhydro
Sites that have streams may be suitable for a microhydro generator.  There are many factors that determine whether a microhydro system is practical and economical for a given site.  Flow rate, head level (elevation change from intake point to the turbine), and distance from the turbine to the electric load are all determining factors in the viability of microhydro.  See www.homepower.com/basics/hydro/ for a more complete explanation.  

Wind
Wind turbines operate most efficiently and last longer when situated in laminar-flow airstreams.  Laminar-flow refers to the directional uniformity and lack of turbulence in the wind.  Turbulence reduces efficiency and adds more wear and tear to the turbine.
To take advantage of laminar-flow winds, a wind turbine must be mounted on top of a tower or pole that is at least 30 ft higher than anything within a 500 ft radius.  For some sites, like those with 200 ft redwoods nearby, it is impractical and expensive to mount a turbine that high and other sources of energy should be examined.  Since the tower can often be more expensive than the turbine, it can be very misleading to only consider the price and output of the turbine itself.
Wind speed is another important consideration.  The energy content of wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed.  If the wind blows twice as fast, there is eight times more energy available.  Wind speed in any given location is affected by a number of factors, including roughness of the terrain, nearby obstacles and weather.  The most accurate way to measure wind speed is to mount an anemometer with a data logger on a pole at the same height of the proposed turbine and gather data over a period of one year.  There are wind-speed maps available for the entire US but these cannot reliably be used for siting a wind turbine, given local variations due to topography, obstructions and microclimates.