Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘solar energy’

Powerful Solar

From Technology Review
by Kevin Bullis
14 September 2012

A startup’s novel way to dice up semiconductor wafers is leading to some of the world’s most powerful solar panels—they convert over a third of the energy in sunlight, compared to about 15 percent for conventional solar panels. Now that company, Semprius, has announced that it will open a factory in Henderson, North Carolina, later this month to manufacture them. Although the opening will mark a significant milestone for the company on the way to commercialization, the technology is still at a relatively early stage of development: the factory will produce only a few megawatts of solar panels, compared to the hundreds of megawatts that silicon solar panel factories make.

For more about the technology, which Technology Review chose as one of the top 10 emerging technologies this year, see “TR10: Ultra-Efficient Solar.”

Read entire article at Technology Review.

Community Solar Power

From TriplePundit
by Andrew Burger
7 August 2012

Community-Owned Solar Power on the Rise in the U.S.

Conditions are right for growth in community-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. With more than 1-MW of community-owned solar garden projects in development and a pipeline of an expected 5-MW more this year, Martifer Solar USA and the Clean Energy Collective intend to capitalize on the improving situation.

The two partners are leveraging their respective strengths in the U.S. solar power sector to bring an increasing amount of local, community-owned solar power capacity online – Los Angeles-based multinational Martifer Solar USA in PV manufacturing and systems installation and Clean Energy Collective in community-based renewable power project development.

“With demonstrated success in Colorado and net metering legislation on the table in California, now is the time for community owned solar,” Martifer CEO Raffi Agopian stated in a press release.

Unique partnership model

A pioneer in the field, Clean Energy Collective (CEC) has developed an innovative business model and technology for developing community-based clean, renewable power generation. Partnering with solar PV manufacturing and installation companies such as Martifer Solar USA, it develops large-scale solar and renewable power facilities that are “collectively owned by participating power utility customers.”

A core aspect of such efforts is CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeter system, which “automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems, enabling all utility customers to easily have clean, renewable power credited directly on their monthly utility bills without modifying their home or office,” CEC explains.

Colorado a hotspot for community-owned solar power
Colorado’s been a hotspot for CEC and Martifer Solar USA’s solar gardens. The two worked together in 2011 to build the 858-kW Garfield County Airport Solar Array – the largest PV installation of its kind in the U.S. when it was completed. The project also garnered national recognition when it won the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) “2012 Photovoltaic Project of Distinction Award.”

Despite their optimistic outlook, CEC and Martifer Solar USA recognize the challenges related to developing community-owned solar PV installations in the US. That’s where their partnership really yields dividends, Spencer explained.

“We invested heavily in the development of the solar garden concept, but someone has to execute. Martifer Solar USA has done so in the past and achieved the results we wanted; we are pleased to enter into new contracts with them this year, and see many more on the horizon.”

Read complete article at TriplePundit.

Solar Payback in California

Dear Gabriel,

As the most anti-environmental Congress maintains their relentless pursuit of dirty energy and dirty pollution in Washington, California is on the verge of a game-changing decision that could help nearly double the amount of customer-produced solar power in our state.1

The California Public Utilities commission (CPUC) will vote next month on a plan that would fix a loophole which currently allows utilities to unfairly limit benefits to producers of solar energy in California, (a program called net metering.)

Naturally, many utilities are fighting back hard. But if the PUC hears from enough Californians there’s a very good chance they could move forward with this important plan which would be a boon to solar power in the Golden State.

Tell the Public Utilities Commission: Support solar in California! Close the loophole that allows utilities to restrict access to net metering.

The net metering proposal under consideration is technical, but here’s how it works:

When a solar system produces more energy than it uses, that energy goes into the grid, and utilities credit the customer on their electric bill with the retail value of the energy provided.

Utilities are supposed to provide net metering credits to customers for renewable energy equaling 5% of California’s energy demand. But because no uniform standard exists for calculating the 5% cap, some utilities use a cheapskate formula that results in about half the net metering credits than the law originally intended.

The proposal at the PUC would fix the problem, making more net metering credits available to Californians. This would help ensure continued growth of rooftop solar around the state, and our clean energy industry.

That would be a very big deal for clean energy in our state. But PUC needs to hear from a lot of Californians to make it happen. Please submit a comment now:
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6881726&id=39180-266627-AGy71ix&t=7

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

So Far and Yet So Close

What a difference a few decades make. It seemed like just a few years ago, the only way family or friends connected with one another while traveling was by postcard or letter. The messages usually arrived 2-3 weeks after sending them, so you could have had a zillion things happen in the meantime or be back home by then. My parents must have worried quite a bit while I was gone to England and Ireland to visit hospices, back in the 70s.

Now, there is wi-fi, internet, cell phone, Skype and text messaging. Our youngest son Shona is presently in Paris “on our way to the Louvre” and is able to keep us up to date with their travels and even send photos. Of course, he’s not sharing “everything” with us, but quite a bit. The first night they were in Barcelona, his traveling companion Genna was sick. The day before they were to leave for Paris, Shona got sick. Luckily, the 3rd person on their adventure, Mariah, has been fine the entire trip, so far. Even though we worried, it was such a relief to be able to hear from him when he wasn’t feeling well and then finding out this morning that they are all doing great.

Other than the discovery of penicillin; Galileo’s confirmation that earth is not the center of the universe, but simply one of many planets; the invention of the telephone, solar energy, waste treatment and access to clean water; women’s liberation and human rights; the invention of the internet has got to be included in the list of world-changing developments.

Well, I’m going to move from this technological marvel of instant publishing called the blog and go see if there are any new messages from Shona on Facebook.

Solar Mike Keeps Shining

It must be excruciatingly frustrating to have the answers, see the solution and know that the technology works, but feel like you’re shouting into the wind. The old adage, “If a tree falls in the forest, will anybody hear?” could aptly be rephrased, “If someone shouts in the middle of a crowd, will anybody listen?”

Mike Arenson, better known in California, as Solar Mike, has diligently and consistently advocated for solar energy use for over thirty years. He and many others across the country, have proclaimed, from the highest mountain tops and the lowest valleys, that the answer to our energy shortage, energy “problems” and energy waste, is already at hand. They have been installing solar panels for businesses, homes, green houses, hot water heaters, hot tubs and swimming pools for decades.

Some people say it isn’t cost effective, that the cost, per kilowatt-hour, is cheaper with gas and nuclear energy. That use to be true, but now the rates are nearly equal. It takes an investment to get started, although many federal, state and county programs now give rebates for those wishing to install solar panels. Costs are declining and tax credits are on the rise.

I won’t talk about the politicians, agencies and businesses that seldom, if ever, mention or think of using solar power as an alternative to fossil fuels (though thought many more are now doing so), but I must say that we seem to be drowning in abundant sunshine while trying to stay afloat with sinking barrels of oil!

If you’re wondering whether I practice what I preach, we had solar panels installed 12 years ago, enough to meet all our electrical needs. We are tied in to the local power company grid and our meter often runs backwards, giving us credit during the spring and summer months for the fall and winter. Our unit also includes a battery back up system. When the power companies lines are down or there is a blackout, our lights keep burning and the refrigerator and computer keep humming along. During the sporadic blackouts in California, we stay lit, unaware that they have even occurred until hearing about it on the news or looking down the street and seeing it’s all dark. With energy prices always rising, we have already paid off our initial investment.

The panels fit nicely on the roof of our home’s design and are barely visible from the street. They can be placed in numerous locations, depending on your situation and do not hurt the ascetics of your home. Solar is especially valuable in hot, humid climates with abundant sunshine, including the southern U.S., South America, Africa and Asia.

While people in The States talked about becoming less dependent on oil, especially from other countries, and the continuing concerns about oil exploration, war and the environment; Solar Mike and his colleagues, have been providing the solution. With more patience than an old-
growth redwood, Mike has proceeded with one person and one home at a time.

Personally, I don’t see how he and those like him have kept their sanity. I would have been screaming, yelling and knocking my head against a wall long ago and said “forget about it”. I would have let somebody else make the effort and struggle to change our old ways of thinking about energy. I would have said, “Some day, someone will do something about this.” That “some day” is already here and has been for Solar Mike and a core of devoted sun worshipers who help convert the big orbs rays into energy.

I have no doubt that these pioneering solar advocates will continue plugging along with the patience of all the saints, until America wakes up and realizes these solar-shelled turtles of persistence passed the finish line far ahead of the fossil hares.

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