Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘solar’

Here Comes the Sun

Be part of the solution.
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Creating a better world with the 2 most abundant resources on earth: solar power and people power.

Vote Solar works at the federal, state and local level to implement the policies and programs that build robust solar markets — and pave the way for a transition to a renewable energy economy.

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Vote Solar is a national nonprofit organization working to bring solar into the mainstream with grassroots action and technical expertise.

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America’s energy problems — from economic crisis to global climate change — will only be solved by a national transition to renewables. Clean, homegrown, reliable solar energy is ready to play a large part of the solution. It is the fastest growing energy source in the world, but we have still just scratched the surface of solar’s vast energy potential. In order to bring the technology to scale, we need to bring down costs. Vote Solar works to build the economies of scale necessary to bring solar into the mainstream.

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The Vote Solar Initiative Web Site

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.

Your Time Has Come!

From Solar Girl and Lunar Boy – Stories
by Gabriel Constans

Solar Girl and Lunar Boy

“Good night,” their Mom said, as she turned on the night light by the closet.

“Sweet dreams,” said father, as he switched off the lamp and blew them both kisses.

“Good night,” Angelina replied.

“Good night,” Corey whispered, pulling the covers up around his neck.

The bedroom door had been closed but a few minutes when Corey heard something in the corner. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh,” it wheezed, then “Hoooeeerrrahhh.”

He turned towards his sister’s bed, but couldn’t see her under the covers.

“Angelina . . . Angelina . . .,” he whispered, not wanting the monster or whatever it was, to hear him. There was no reply.

The breathing grew louder and sounded mad. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!”

“Mom . . . Mom! Help!” he yelled.

“What is it Honey?” his mother asked, coming into the room.

Still holding the covers tightly around his neck, his eyes wide with fright, Corey nodded towards the corner of the room. “Over there,” he said, “it’s over there!”

“There’s nothing,” his mom said. “Look.” She walked to the corner, returned and kneeled by his side. “Go back to sleep Hon. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” She kissed him on the forehead and left.

He wanted to believe her; he really did, but as soon as the door closed it started again, only louder. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!”

Corey almost stopped breathing. Before squeezing his eyes shut, he saw a large swirling shadow in the corner. It was spinning like a top and was bigger than a giant bear. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!” it hissed. It didn’t have eyes, but he knew it was looking right at him.

“Dad . . . Dad! Help!” he screamed and started to cry.

“What is it son?” his father said, opening the door and turning on the light.

“There . . . over there,” he pointed, “in the corner!”

“I don’t see anything,” his father replied. “You must have been dreaming.”

“No,” he said. “It breathes loud; really loud!”

“Sometimes the night can be scary,” his father said, stroking his son’s forehead, “but there’s nothing there, it’s just your imagination.”

“It’s . . . it’s not my . . . my manation,” he said, shaking his head side to side. “It’s real.”

“Dreams can seem very real,” father said. “Look at your sister, she’s sound asleep. If there was something loud it would have woken her, don’t you think?”

Corey glanced at his sister’s bed, but only saw her covers. “But . . . but she’s seven,” he said. “She’s not scared of anything.”

“She can get just as scared as you,” father grinned. “If there was something in this room, she’d know it.”

“But . . . but I heard it,” Corey said, “I even saw it!”

“Now now,” father said, tucking in the covers around Corey’s neck. “Go back to sleep. Everything will be OK.”

“Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!” the monster moaned, not long after father had left the room and closed the door. “Your time . . . mmmh . . . has come!” it belched, swirling closer to the foot of Corey’s bed, blocking out any glow from the night light.

Corey’s mouth opened without a sound.

“No it hasn’t!” he heard someone yell. “YOUR time has come!”

He turned his head and saw his sister, in her pajamas, standing on her bed with her arms stretched towards the ceiling. A bright light glowed from her chest. As her arms dropped, the light moved from her body and became a ball of energy between her hands. “It’s YOUR time,” she said, “to stop scaring my brother. LEAVE US! NOW!” she commanded, as her hands guided the ball of light towards the shrinking shadow.

“It’s gone!” Corey shouted. “It’s gone! How did you do that?” The ball of light hovered, vibrating in the same corner where the monster had been.

“It’s easy,” his sister replied, sitting on the side of the bed.

“Easy?”

“Yeah, easy,” Angelina said, “when you’re Solar Girl.”

“Solar Girl?” Corey said, sitting on the edge of his bed. “Who is Solar Girl?”

“I am,” she replied.

“I wish I could do that.”

“You can,” she said.

“No I can’t,” Corey replied. “I’m only four.”

“But don’t you know who you are?” Angelina asked.

“What?”

“You’re Lunar Boy.”

Corey’s mouth dropped open. “I’m who?”

“Lunar Boy.”

“Who is Lunar Boy?”

“You are. You’ve always been Lunar Boy; you just forgot.”

“But I can’t do that,” he said pointing at the floating light in the corner.

“Yes you can,” she said, “You just need to find your own inner light.”

“How?”

“I’ll show you how I do it,” she said, standing and taking his hand. “Here,” she said, putting her hand over her heart. “It comes from here. It’s always here, but sometimes we are too scared to remember.

Corey took his hand and placed it on his chest. “Now what?”

“Close your eyes breathe slowly and say, “Like the sun.”

“Like the sun,” he repeated.

“I am full of light.”

“I am full of light.”

“I shine inside and out.”

“I shine inside and out.”

“I am energy.”

“I am energy.”

“I am a star.”

“I am a star.”

“I will shine forever.”

“I will shine forever.”

The next night, after their mother and father had turned on the night light, shut off the lamp and closed the door, Corey and Angelina heard and saw the shadow, even bigger than before, come through the closet doors towards their beds.

“Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!” it gurgled.

“It sounds like water from the bath when it goes down the drain,” Angelina said, but Corey was too frightened to laugh.

“Angelina,” he said, “I mean Solar Girl . . . do something!”

“No,” she said, “it’s time for Lunar Boy.”

“I can’t,” Corey said. “It’s too big and scary.”

“Yes you can,” she said. “Just do it. Don’t think about it, do it.”

Corey quickly climbed on top of his bed. The swirling shadow monster was almost upon him. His body was shaking, but he closed his eyes, put his hand on his chest and took a slow breath. He heard his sister say, “Like the sun.”

“Like the sun,” he repeated and continued.

“I am full of light.”

“I shine inside and out.”

“I am energy.”

“I am a star.”

“I will shine forever.”

His toes and fingers prickled with heat, as light flowed from the center of his body, shooting out through his hands. He opened his eyes. His arms were raised and his palms turned outward. The light was so brilliant he could barely see.

“You did it!” he heard Angelina shout. “You did it Lunar Boy! It’s gone!”

“I did,” he said. “I really did!”

“Now it’s for real,” Angelina grinned.

“What’s real?” asked Corey.

“You’re a real member.”

“Member of what?”

“Of the Inner Light Club.”

“I am?”

“Yes, forever and ever.”

When they were tucked into bed the next night and their mother went to turn on the night light, Corey said, “Mom, that’s OK.”

“What?” she said, turning the light on as usual.

“You can turn it off,” he said. “We don’t need it anymore.”

“Are you sure Hon?”

“Yeah,” he said, turning towards his sister and smiling.

“OK,” their mother said.

Just before she turned out the lamp and closed the door, Solar Girl winked at her little brother, Lunar Boy and they closed their eyes in the dark for a good night’s sleep, knowing they were always safe with the Inner Light Club.

Read more children’s stories in Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

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

Paying for Clean Economy

From Nation of Change and Yes! Magazine
25 January 2012

A Jump Start for the Clean Economy
by Maria Gallucci

A little-known source of clean energy funding could prove a crucial job-creation engine in the states, as federal support diminishes and they seek fresh growth drivers.

Every state can create clean energy funds, or CEFs, which are typically supported by a small surcharge on monthly electricity bills. So far 22 states have done so, generating $2.7 billion overall for the clean technology sector during the past decade. Most have used the money to install tens of thousands of solar panel arrays, wind turbines and biomass facilities.

But a few states have gone further by broadening investments to include technology research hubs, fledgling cleantech startups and green job training programs. The idea is to use the money, which today totals some $500 million a year, to help develop all the components of the clean economy and stimulate the creation of thousands of permanent local jobs.

The strategy is still experimental, but it could turn these CEFs into a major source of economic growth, according to new report published today by the Brookings Institution, a public policy group, and the Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic organization. The report outlines a four-part policy strategy for every state to adopt this “next generation” of CEF spending.

Clean Energy Funds were originally set up more than 10 years ago to help decarbonize state energy systems in the face of climate change. According to the report, the funds have already helped bring forward 72,000 renewable energy installations the country urgently needs.

But times have changed, said Mark Muro, a report co-author and director of policy for Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program. “Economic development has emerged as a parallel and complementary interest to carbon reduction … There’s been a sharpening concern that the country really needs to look to supporting the emergence of cutting-edge technologies” as a way to start new industries and create jobs, he told InsideClimate News.

According to the report, retooling these state-level funds “could not be timelier at this moment of federal gridlock and market uncertainty.”

Congress isn’t expected to approve new funding for green technologies in 2012 after the 2009 stimulus—which poured tens of billions of dollars into clean energy projects—dries up. And policymakers won’t likely reinstate key federal subsidies that lapsed at the end of 2011, including the Energy Department’s 1705 loan guarantee program, whose bankrolling of the now-bankrupt California solar firm Solyndra sparked a Republican-led effort to scale back President Obama’s green agenda.

“We all need to be thinking about where we are going to get policy and finance support for further economic development in clean energy,” Muro said. “As it happens, the clean energy funds are there and in a position to innovate.”

The Evolution of CEFs

The country’s first CEFs popped up in places with aggressive renewable energy goals, like California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Other states gradually followed suit, namely in the East Coast and Midwest.

They used the cash to get more solar panels on rooftops and wind turbines in the ground, which they hoped would help make renewable electricity as cheap as coal. Affordable clean power would have another benefit: it would unleash consumer demand for solar and wind, and spur new jobs in installation, manufacturing, among other areas.

But some states saw that the high cost of renewable power generation wasn’t the only obstacle to realizing the promise of the green economy. In order to build lasting cleantech industries, they’d have to subsidize research and development for new technologies, like advanced biofuels, electric vehicles and highly efficient solar panels, and eventually build a ready workforce and supply chain for manufacturing.

And so, starting a few years ago, a handful of states began experimenting with ways to transform their CEFs by linking the money to strengths in their economies.

For New York, that has meant sending some of its CEF money into its growing number of regional clusters, where high-tech companies, universities and research institutions that have similar industry focus share expertise. In 2009, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which administers the state’s CEF and other clean energy programs, saw a chance for those regional clusters to help a rising crop of clean energy startups become viable companies.

The Clean Energy Business Incubator program has given $1.5 million from the CEF to each of six business incubators, which assist cleantech entrepreneurs in organizing, staffing and funding new businesses. Together, the incubators work with around 70 companies, whose products range from analytical tools that measure wind energy resources to energy management systems and mounting devices for solar photovoltatic installations. The money gets doled out over the course of four years as companies pass certain milestones, like completing a business plan or attracting private investments.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Ihangane – Current Projects

The Ihangane Project provides funding and programmatic support for projects that are generated from people living in underserved communities that are most impacted by HIV. Ihangane means ‘to be patient’ in Kinyarwanda, the native language of Rwanda. We believe that by supporting smaller projects that have been generated by those living in areas hardest hit by HIV, we can make sustainable improvements in the lives and health of people living in those communities. We believe that with patience, one person at a time, one idea at a time, one project at a time, we can make a lasting positive impact on the lives of many!

We Invite You To Learn More About Our Current Projects!

Solar Power
Women’s Artisans Associations
Nutrition for HIV-Exposed Children

Donate to The Ihangane Project.

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.

Stop Talking About Clean Energy

It only takes me a few minutes to say out loud, “Here they go again.” Every time I hear a politician, commentator or policy wonk tout the need for our country to become energy independent and develop “future” technology that doesn’t pollute, reduces green house gasses and makes us less dependent on foreign oil (and all the conflict that creates), I want to choke on their oratory fumes. They talk about it like a religious mantra, but never put it into practice.

The “future” technology and know how is already here and has been for some time. What’s lacking is the awareness of its existence, the fear of changing the economy and the will to transform our present infrastructure and dream big. We’ve done it before at home, with The New Deal and the space program. We’ve done it abroad with The Marshall Plan. We’ve done it repeatedly for unnecessary wars and wasted billions in defense contracts, instead of creating new energy and life-giving technology.

Ten years ago, when our family put solar panels on our home, I thought we’d found the answer, but it turns out that that was small potatoes. Even though solar energy is dropping in price and there are rebates and incentives galore, not everyone can afford the initial costs, nor is it easy to convince people to do so. People in the northern half of the U.S. can’t always use solar because it’s difficult to store and save the energy produced for a cloudy day. By all means, I hope individuals and companies continue to put ever more efficient panels on their roofs, buildings and parking garages and have dispersed energy sources, but not that alone.

Photovoltaic solar energy (panels on your roof), combined with wind, hydro-electric and hydrothermal sources, are all a big step in the right direction, but could take half a century to spread and be adopted nationwide. If we stop and look in the mirror, there’s been another alternative all along and it’s about to light up the world.

While searching the web for photovoltaic solar companies, I happened upon some sites that spoke about thermal solar energy. Like most politicos and environmental junkies, I didn’t have a clue to their existence, let alone know what thermal solar was.

Solar thermal works by using special mirrors that reflect the sun on to long pipes filled with water. The heat from the sun boils the water, which produces steam to turn turbines. The energy from the turbines is then transmitted to the electric company. The companies that have developed this technology have also figured out a way to store the energy produced for future needs (a rainy day). It turns out that there are several companies already building these systems and is placing them in the Nevada desert and have contracted with Pacific, Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and other large power companies in the U.S.

By using a 90 mile by 90 mile square area, these systems could provide enough energy for most of the country. Solar thermal facilities in the North African desert could produce adequate amounts of energy for most of Europe. There are similar desert areas in Asia, Australia and South America. Since China, India, the U.S. and Europe are the leading emitters of green house gasses, it makes sense to first convert their energy sources (oil, nuclear and coal) to thermal solar so the rest of the planet can breathe and adapt the same technology for their countries social and material needs.

The beautiful thing is that there is no pollution, nor emission of green house gasses in the process. It works with our existing infrastructure and could be improved in the near future by building new transcontinental power lines. The parts for these power plants are being built now. They will be soon be up and running. Combined with the use of all-electric vehicles, which can (by this time next year) get up to 250 miles per charge and charge in minutes (due to recent battery advances), our nation could be oil free within a few decades.

These essential changes in how we produce and utilize energy can accelerate if (and the “if” is the part that is so maddening and beyond my control) politicians, media moguls and large businesses are willing to get fired up, transform the job market and put their financial and political will behind a new Marshall Plan for U.S. energy. It will take much less time to change the source of energy for a few power plants than it will to change the habits and availability of new energy sources for millions of Americans.

Having realized that photovoltaic energy is a drop in the bucket, compared to thermal solar, has given me hope and perspective. When I arise in the morning and look in the mirror, I am reminded that the simple combination of sun upon glass can literally save our planet. If we can only get the politicians and those running for office, to stop talking about “future” energy independence and start talking to those who already have the technology out on the table, we can make these dreams a present reality.

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