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  1. Solar energy is one of the most useful forms of renewable energy because solar panels and the sun's own energy can be harnessed directly. Technically, solar energy is the radiant light and heat energy produced by the sun as it sends off massive energy from constant nuclear fusion. Here on Earth, though, solar energy is harnessed via "solar collectors" that convert light energy into more usable heat energy. Solar thermal collectors snatch up the heat by absorbing sunlight and solar radiation. Solar collectors can, in fact, refer to a number of different devices designed to harness the sun's energy. Roof-mounted solar hot water panels and solar air heaters are what a lot of homeowners might already be familiar with; concentrated solar power plants use more sophisticated and industrial-strength solar collectors. Concentrated Solar Power Plants and Residential Solar Options Concentrated solar power plants collect solar energy in a slightly different way. Solar towers and solar thermal collector dishes, which look similar to satellite dishes, are the two ways that concentrated solar power plants generate electricity by heating liquids that, in turn, power turbines aligned with electric generators. The fossil fuels that powered the industrial revolution did a great job of bringing greater infrastructure, communication, transportation and technology to the 20th century. The 21st century, though, will see renewables like solar, wind and geothermal playing a much more dominant role. Some people think ill of solar radiation (infrared and ultraviolet), but it can benevolently be used to power the lives of literally billion of people around the world. Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Solar Power Roof-mounted solar hot water panels, photovoltaic modules and concentrated solar power plants can provide that much-needed energy. The two kinds of solar power harnessed today are solar thermal and solar photovoltaic. The first kind of solar energy—solar thermal—is what most people automatically think of when they think of solar power. Solar thermal systems convert sunlight into thermal energy with the help of solar panels. So, what exactly are solar thermal systems good for? A lot of things that homeowners would find useful, as it happens. Solar thermal systems can be put towards space heating as well as heating water via a solar hot water system. Solar photovoltaic systems, on the other hand, entail converting sunlight directly into electricity with the assistance of photovoltaic cells. (Photovoltaics is the conversion of light—in this case, sunlight—into electricity with semiconductors and the photovoltaic effect.) Photovoltaic systems can be incorporated into homes, electric vehicles and green building designs to ensure energy independence and overall energy savings. The best part is that solar panels are incredibly reliable, need little maintenance and can last up to thirty years when you purchase from a reliable solar panel manufacturer. At the outside, solar panels only lose about half a percentage of their performance per year, which means that even after a generation, your home solar panels will still be harnessing solar energy at approximately 90% efficiency compared to when you originally installed them! The other nice thing about solar is that the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides homeowners a 30% personal tax credit for home PV and solar thermal technology purchases. Solar Power and Your Energy Bills Solar energy facilities are right now actually using something known as "concentrated solar power" to do things like boil water and convert sunlight more directly into electricity. Utility-sized solar energy uses concentrated solar power systems, power towers and dish engines to deliver megawatts of usable electricity to homes and businesses around the country. Solar energy is but one of the amazing forms of green energy out there today—renewable energy sources like wind, rain, geothermal, and hydro (water) energy are also part of the green energy picture. As you look at data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration you'll see that the eight most popular green energy sources of energy have all experienced an increase in usage over the last three years. How Much Can You Really Save? On a smaller scale, you and your family can expect to save a significant amount of money from month to month on your energy expenses by outfitting your home with roof solar panels. The exact amount that you save will have a lot to do with the region of the country that you're located in, possible buyback plans with utility companies in your area, the amount of electricity that your family uses, and the number and efficiency of your home solar panels. The cool thing about solar power is that there are a lot of tax rebate incentives for siding with solar, and solar power might even allow your family to send your electrical meter spinning backward. How? Although you can, of course, still take all the energy that you need from the utility grid in your area, after installing solar panels there's a good chance that you can become energy-independent. Perhaps, at that point, you might even sell back excess energy to your utility company for credit! That can potentially save you thousands of dollars per year since, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling constitute the largest energy expenses for most homes. Remember, solar energy is great for space heating. Save Year Round...and Sidestep Peak Rates The important thing to bear in mind with solar energy and your potential to save thousands every year on your energy expenses is that solar power systems consistently produce the best results when the sun is shining brightest.
  2. A recent study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that green (renewable) energy sources will account for some 60% of growth in the energy sector and attain to a market share of over $5 trillion by 2030. And in 2014, global investment in green energy jumped by 17%, much of the growth fueled by hydro power, but solar and wind contributing substantially as well. While all of this "green activity" is great for the environment, for eco-conscious consumers, and for owners of green businesses, it is also a boom from a business brokerage perspective. Why? Because the business brokerage industry thrives whenever large numbers of businesses are being created and sold to new owners — that happens with the highest frequency whenever an industry is surging and expanding (like the green industry is now). About the Modern-day Green Industry In order to broker green businesses, you have to have a clear understanding of how the green industry is built. This will aid you in giving sound advice to business owners and in properly valuating the businesses you help buy/sell. First, reducing environmental impact is not enough to make a green business succeed. It's true that achieving "green" status will tap into a customer base very concerned about environmental issues, but green businesses still need something more to offer. That something might be greater efficiency diversification of energy sources, or reuse/recycling of an otherwise wasted product. Some specific approaches within the green industry that are showing the most promise today include: Sustainable energy: This is the most lucrative of all green industries, and it includes both tapping into "free" sources like wind and solar, and manufacturing new energy products like bio-fuels. By providing a non-depleting energy source, these businesses offer energy-users long-term stability. "Cradle to cradle" design: This approach can be undertaken by almost any business-type, as it involves simply designing products in a way that makes them reusable and/or recyclable. It ends the "cradle to grave cycle" that makes our landfills overflow. "Green chemistry:" This refers to the improvement of manufacturing techniques involving chemical additives/reactions. The goal is to eliminate/reduce hazardous byproducts that could be as dangerous to people as to the environment. How to Become a Business Broker While training at an independent business broker school and then attempting a from-scratch start-up business is possible, the fact is that far more start-ups fail than do franchises. Investing in a business brokerage franchise that deals in green industry businesses gives you the advantage of a well known brand name that many potential clients already trust. It also provides you with the training and support network you need to excel in a competitive field. Help with financing and streamlined systems for opening new locations also help to make franchises a "turnkey investment" with relatively quick start-up time. Steps to opening a green business brokerage franchise include: Carefully selecting a franchise with which you share a basic vision and with whom you feel comfortable working long-term. Seeing if you meet the franchise's basic qualifications and then submitting your application. Meeting with franchise representatives or conducting phone/online interviews to gain final approval. Doing due diligence on the franchise contract and FDD (franchise disclosure document) before formally signing on. Go through the franchise's business brokerage training program and learn from existing franchisees as first-hand. Securing the financing, selecting the site, and organizing for your grand opening day. It helps if you have a business background so you can better understand the mindset of clients, and any experience in accounting/financing is also beneficial. However, if you have proven managerial skills, access to sufficient capital, and a willingness to persevere through the training, most franchises will accept you. Opportunity in the Green Industry The green industry is a great opportunity for business brokers, and getting into the business brokerage space is most easily accomplished by taking out a franchise highly respected in the industry and that provides you with adequate support.
  3. We're going to need more and more renewable energy sources in the coming generations to keep pace with tomorrow's energy demands. More intelligent and sustainable energy solutions translate into a world in which business growth isn't constrained in the least and a world where homeowners and business owners alike have more money in their pockets from one month (or one quarter) to another. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower can provide all the energy that our growing planet needs...and at an affordable, sustainable rate. We only need to be smart enough to harness what's right in front of us. Why Renewable Energy Franchises Can Meet Tomorrow's Demand If you counted up every man, woman and child around the world today you would, according to a United Nations estimate, come out with a number of just over 7 billion people. While that number might sound a bit steep, what's perhaps more surprising is that by 2050—less than two generations away—we'll have nearly 10 billion people to worry about. By 2100, that same United Nations survey estimates we'll be well over 11 billion people around the globe. The Time for Renewables is Now The time to get behind renewable energy sources is right now because we need to have the infrastructure in place to meet the growing energy needs of today's burgeoning population. The sooner we all embrace renewable energy sources the better. The U.S. government and Energy Star have already teamed up to start offering customer subsidies for products that are more energy efficient, greener or that tap renewable energy sources (e.g., solar and wind) more than their less efficient counterparts. Everyone realizes that we need to move towards renewables right away in order to move away from finite energy sources that cause pollution and contribute to global warming. Renewable energy is often cheaper and almost always cleaner than finite energy sources like oil and coal. There's also a real need to create jobs right here in America, which renewables can help with. There's a good chance that renewable energy will first be used as a complement to traditional, finite energy sources before being used more independently to cut global CO2 emissions, reverse some of the causes of climate change, and promote more energy diversity for more Americans. In short, renewable energy can help to create new jobs all across America, make our country more energy independent (and less dependent on foreign oil), and perhaps even create whole new energy sectors to power global growth over the coming generations. Get In on the Growth: Renewable Energy Franchise Up to this point, we've talked about growth from the standpoint of population growth anticipated over the coming generations and business growth that needs to at least keep pace to survive. What many people don't know is that the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that total renewables' contribution to the electric supply will increase by over 11% by the end of this year. Solar photovoltaic is slated to perform especially well through 2017 as well; states like California, Texas, and Georgia are expected to make the strongest contributions to the uptick in gigawatt power coming from cutting-edge solar photovoltaic renewable energy. Renewables Have Become a Booming Industry Our population growth and increasing energy demands actually call for an innovative solution. Renewables are just that, and the renewables sector is now appraised at over half a trillion dollars and growing.