Solar energy may someday be a more viable option for Virginia residents

Two electric engineers from Virginia Tech have developed a way to make solar energy a more sustainable option for consumers. If enacted widely, it could help Virginia reach its voluntary goal of reducing energy consumption statewide a total of 10 percent by the year 2022.

In the states aggressive Virginia Energy Plan of 2007, officials outlined a strategy that would significantly reduce the states impact on the power grid. However, many of the steps businesses and homeowners are being asked to take to increase their energy efficiency do not necessarily maximize on their preservation potential.

Solar panels are one energy source that are a difficult sell for many consumers, as their function is dependent on whether or not there is sufficient sunlight on a given day.

The idea developed by the Virginia Tech engineers uses a Distributed Energy Storage System (DES). The DES would utilize specially designed batteries that could store solar energy before the electricity hits the market, allowing for the creation of a power backlog.

The design of the DES was outlined in a paper authored by a Virginia Tech doctoral candidate and his professor. The proposal also won the Best Student Paper award at the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Power 2012 Conference in Anaheim, California.

If utility providers in Virginia decide to pursue these advances in solar panel technology, the program would join a number of recent initiatives to help improve the Commonwealth's environmental impact. Recently, utility provider Dominion Virginia Energy outlined an analytics project that would be the basis for grid improvements that are expected to save residents 3.5 to 4 percent on their monthly bills.

For residents looking to do their part in helping Virginia be more environmentally conscious, an energy audit from a home inspection contractor can show them how residents can eliminate unnecessary waste and create more energy efficient homes