July 12, 2010
As part of the Recovery Act, President Obama announced that the DOE is loaning out $2 billion to build solar energy plants. Abengoa Solar will be building one that, when completed in 2013, will power up 70,000 homes. The Concentrated Solar Plant (CSP) will also store part of the energy, a first for the US.
Abound Solar Manufacturing will get $400 million to build plants in Colorado and Indiana. Aside from the obvious clean energy benefit, the plants will create about 1,500 permanent jobs and 2,000 for construction.
Via White House
July 9, 2010
There has been so much bad news of late that it is nice to hear something good is headed to Haiti. Sun Dog Solar, located in Chatham, NY, has built a mobile relief station built out of an old shipping container. The 20 ft. box is wired to solar panels to bring free energy for cooking and boiling water to a village named Merger, right outside Port au prince.
The company will also be donating wheelchairs, shoes, clothing, tents, dry food and other necessities. They would also like to build solar ovens and panels for the country that could still use an assist. Contact Sun Dog Solar if you would like to help the cause.
June 10, 2010
Idaho will soon have its first solar facility. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter announced that Sunergy World will construct a $45 million power plant this fall. To be located near the Boise Airport on a site that used to be a dump, the plant should produce 10 megawatts of power, enough energy for 1,200 homes per year.
Via Daily Tech
May 31, 2010
The Solar Electric Power Association has released its top utility companies that are integrating solar energy. Overall, the report shows that integration has expanded by about 66%. The states include California, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Colorado and New Jersey. Yeah, we did a double take after reading that last one, too.
May 10, 2010
Last November, we introduced you to SEIA's Solar Bill of Rights, designed to expand the US solar market by both policy and education. Take a peek at it and then do your bit for the planet by signing it here.
1. Americans have the right to put solar on their homes or businesses.
Millions of Americans want to put solar on the roof of their home or business, but many are prevented from doing so by local restrictions. Some homeowners associations have prevented residents from going solar through neighborhood covenants, which allow for the association to veto any changes to a property's aesthetics. Some utilities and municipalities have also made it prohibitively time-consuming and/or expensive to have a system permitted or inspected.
2. Americans have the right to connect their solar energy system to the grid with uniform national standards.
Currently, each state (in some cases, each utility) has a unique process for connecting solar systems to the local electricity grid. National interconnection standards will create a uniform process and paperwork, creating a simple process for the homeowner. Connecting a home solar system shouldn't be any more complicated for the homeowner than setting up an Internet connection.
3. Americans have the right to Net Meter and be compensated at the very least with full retail electricity rates.
Residential solar systems generate excess electricity in the middle of the day, when the owners aren't usually at home. Net metering requires the utility company to credit any excess generation to the customer at full retail rates at a minimum - effectively running the electricity meter backwards when the system is generating more electricity than the occupants of the house are using. Allowing customers to net meter is critical to making solar an economically viable option for most homeowners. Setting a minimum threshold of full retail rates also ensures the option of creating feed-in-tariffs.
4. The solar industry has the right to a fair competitive environment.
The highly profitable fossil fuel industries have received tens of billions of dollars in subsidies from the federal government for decades. In addition, fossil fuel industries are protected from bearing the full social costs of the pollution they produce. The solar energy industry and the public expect a fair playing field, with all energy sources evaluated based on their full, life-cycle costs and benefits to society. Therefore it is critical that solar energy receive the same level of support, for the same duration, as the fossil fuel industry.
5. The solar industry has the right to produce clean energy on public lands.
America has some of the best solar resources in the world, which are often on public lands overseen by the federal government. But even though oil and gas industries are producing on 13 million acres of public lands, no solar permits have been approved. Solar is a clean, renewable American resource and solar development on public lands is a critical component of any national strategy to expand our use of renewable energy.
6. The solar industry has the right to interconnect and build new transmission lines.
Over the last 100 years, the transmission grid in the United States has been built as an uncoordinated patchwork of local systems. A decades-old power grid forces solar generators to play by decades-old rules for planning, building, and paying for access to the transmission grid. Expanding the use of renewable energy in the United States will require policies and investments that allow remote areas rich in solar resources to connect to major population centers with significant demand for electric power.
7. Americans have the right to buy solar electricity from their utility.
Many utility companies have never thought to offer their customers the option to purchase clean solar energy, rather than dirty energy from coal or other fossil fuels. Nation-wide over 90% of people support increased use of solar energy, and over three-quarters believe it should be a major priority of the federal government. Despite this, only around 25% of utility customers in the US have the ability to actually purchase clean, renewable power from their utility, and only a tiny fraction of those programs offer solar energy. Utilities should be required to offer the electricity source that their customers want.
8. Americans have the right to - and should expect - the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry.
Solar energy systems are an investment as much as a physical product. Consumers deserve top-quality information and treatment from solar energy providers and installers. Consumers should expect the solar industry to minimize its environmental impact through panel recycling and other programs, and communicate information about available incentives in a clear, accurate and accessible manner. Finally, consumers should expect that solar systems will work better than advertised, and that companies will make every good faith effort to support solar owners over the life of their systems.
April 21, 2010
The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has been given a $100,000 grant from the DURP to install solar-powered lights to some of the older, mostly empty buildings in downtown Detroit like the old Harmonie Club. The lighting will be used on street-facing windows and exteriors in an effort to make them a bit more cheerful, but we bet they are also hoping that someone will come along, purchase them and make Detroit literally brighter again.
April 19, 2010
The Solar Impulse Plane has made its first successful flight. The plane reached 5,500 ft. in altitude and performed a few test maneuvers during its airborne 87 minutes. After the event, pilot Markus Scherdel claimed it was an "intense moment." The team plans two more test flights before its around the world flight scheduled for 2012.
Via Solar Impulse
April 7, 2010
Senator Mark Udall announced that his new bill, Solar Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Act of 2010, allows larger solar projects to get a 30% tax credit in Colorado like residents do now. Paul Spencer, of the Clean Energy Collective in the state, says that solar adoption should rise to 67% in the next five years, surely good news for the planet.
Via Mark Udall
April 5, 2010
Dezhou, a city in east China, has been been becoming a solar city over the past decade. Previously its residents only had public showers, but now almost all of them have solar powered water heaters in their homes. The lighting that sparkles at night is further proof of the town's reputation. There are about 100 solar based enterprises, which accounts for 16% of the hot water heating and a revenue of 5 billion Yuan annually.
March 30, 2010
Chevron is conducting a test to determine what kind of solar technology gives the most bang for the buck. The 8 acre Project Brightfield, located in Bakersfield, California, is trying out 7 different types, with six of them thin-film and one a crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology, like the one shown above. The 7,700 solar panels are not just there for scientific purposes. The 740kW power generated will go to local utilities and Chevron's oil production operation.
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