Conservation | Across The Board

It is a false premise or presumption that the basic principle of conservation is exclusive to any one of the different types of environments in which we function on a daily basis.

The effectiveness or lack thereof of how this universal principle is applied in one environment impacts all others.

Financial Conservation/Solar Energy is just one example.

Imagine, Financial Conservation/U.S. Government or Financial Conservation/Wall Street?

The Perfect Marriage

The Perfect Marriage
How much can you save? Click

Monday, November 26, 2012

Strange Solar Bedfellows -- Why?

"Once billed as the odd couple when it came to energy policy, Ted Turner and a subsidiary of Southern Co. have been making headlines by investing in large solar projects over the past few years.

In this case, the anomaly is not that Turner, a longtime environmentalist and philanthropist, and Southern, owner of the nation’s three largest greenhouse gas-contributing coal plants, are working together. It’s that all but one of these solar projects are in the Southwest, far away from Georgia and the Southeast where Atlanta-based Southern’s utilities operate.

This means Georgians won’t benefit directly from Southern’s investments in solar, a non-polluting source of electricity that is fast becoming cost-competitive with traditional sources of fuel such as coal and natural gas. Southern-owned Georgia Power has slowly shifted away from using coal to provide electricity, but environmentalists say the use of cleaner, renewable sources of fuel such as solar remain a long way off in this state because of legislative and regulatory boundaries."

Funneling Solar Energy

"The concept is a simple one, borrowing from some very elementary principles. For instance, everyone knows the best way to capture and contain the most of an element or substance is with a funnel.  These cones make it easier to put oil in our cars or fill small glass shakers from a larger bag of sugar.

Now, some MIT engineers have worked out a computational model which shows how solar energy can be more or less funneled before it’s captured, ensuring an efficient and effective solar energy capturing mechanism."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Larry Hagman - Real Life Trumps Fiction

"Larry Hagman may have played television’s most famous evil oil baron, J.R. Ewing, but in real life the “Dallas” actor was a fierce proponent of solar energy.

The actor had already installed the world’s largest residential solar array, a 94-kilowatt system, on his estate in Ojai, Calif., and served on the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund, a non-profit that brings solar systems to the developing world.

He struck a deal with German solar manufacturer SolarWorld to shoot the commercial in exchange for a donation of photovoltaic panels to the Haiti relief effort following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

'The thing is, these solar panels are manufactured domestically and can provide a lot of jobs for soldiers returning from all those wars we have fought.'"


Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Land of the Rising Sun Goes Solar

"According to a new report from the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association, domestic shipments of solar cells and modules have risen by 80% in the July-September quarter of this year. This is on the heels of the Japanese government enacting an ambitious solar energy incentive initiative, a feed-in tariff (known as net energy metering in California) that aims to help support the adoption of solar energy throughout the country.

The feed-in tariff was introduced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster of 2011, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis in Northern Japan. After the disaster, the government made moves to abandon nuclear power. While moving away from nuclear energy has proven to be a slow and laborious process, the country has been keen to aggressively replace nuclear with other forms of alternative energy that are considered safer. Solar energy has, thus far, become one of the country’s most favored forms of alternative energy for this purpose."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Solar Innovation in Arizona

Concentrating Solar Power Technology with Storage

"The technology generates power from sunlight by focusing energy from a field of sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats onto a central receiver. Liquid salt, which flows similar to water when melted, is circulated through the receiver, collecting the energy gathered from the sun. The heated salt is then routed to an insulated storage tank where it is stored with minimal energy losses. When electricity is to be generated, the hot salt is routed to heat exchangers to produce steam used to generate electricity in a conventional steam turbine cycle. The salt is then sent to the cold salt storage tank, ready to be reheated by the sun and reused the following day. The salt storage technology was demonstrated successfully at the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored 10-MW Solar Two project near Barstow, California.

The Crossroads Solar Energy Project will:

  • Help meet growing demand for clean, renewable energy sources.
  • Incorporate energy storage, which provides operating stability for the electricity grid and a cost effective way to meet Arizona’s peak electricity demand profile.
  • Deliver up to 150 MW net nominal output, producing approximately 450,000 MWh annually.
  • Boost the local economy by creating up to 450 construction jobs at peak and about 45 permanent operating jobs, and also significant property tax revenues that will benefit the local community and region"

California's Current Power Mix

FC Note:

Electricity diminishes as it travels thus it is notably expensive that California currently imports from out of state as much as 29% of what it needs to keep the lights on for a population of over 37 million.

Califorina ISO

Google Green

Greening our power

Currently, very little of the world's power is from renewables like wind and solar.  We're working on changing that by buying electricity directly from wind farms near our data centers.  We get clean energy at competitive prices, the wind farm owners get the money they need to finance new clean energy facilities and together we make the grid a little bit greener.

The Big Picture - Google

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Solar Leaders Pull Away From The Pack

"As system installed costs become competitive with retail electricity rates and new markets develop, these companies may be well positioned for more sustainable and profitable growth.  As we watch this industry evolve, we believe the PV Sustainable Growth Index will continue to shed light not only on the most successful players, but on the fundamental changes that emanate within this maturing market."

2012 PV Sustainable Growth Index 
2011-2012 Change
First Solar
 Up 1
Trina Solar
Down 1
Trony Solar
Up 6
Yingli Green Energy
Up 1
Canadian Solar
Up 9
Up 5
JA Solar
Down 3
Down 8
Up 3
Hanwha SolarOne
Up 1
Neo Solar Power
Down 2
SolarWorld AG
Up 3
Motech Industries
Down 7
Risen Energy
LDK Solar
Down 15
Green Energy Tech
Up 1
aleo solar AG
Down 3
Gintech Energy
Down 13
Centrosolar AG
Up 1
Conergy AG
China Sunergy
Down 5
Down 3
E-Ton Solar Tech
Down 1

Self-Taught African Teen Wows M.I.T

15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe
"15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe is an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker, DJ Focus.

Kelvin became the youngest person in history to be invited to the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at MIT. THNKR had exclusive access to Kelvin and his life-changing journey - experiencing the US for the first time, exploring incredible opportunities, contending with homesickness, and mapping out his future."

Greening Energy & Reducing Costs (The Perfect Marriage) -- with Rust!

Iron Oxide (Rust)
“Using the power of the sun and ultrathin films of iron oxide (commonly known as rust), researchers at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, have found a novel way to split water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen. The breakthrough, published this week in the scientific journal Nature Materials, could lead to less expensive, more efficient ways to store solar energy in the form of hydrogen-based fuels. This could be a major step forward in the development of viable replacements for fossil fuels.

‘Our approach is the first of its kind,” says lead researcher, Associate Professor Avner Rothschild, of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “We have found a way to trap light in ultrathin films of iron oxide that are 5,000 thinner than an office paper. This enables achieving high solar energy conversion efficiency and low materials and production costs.’”

Solar Companies Seek Ways to Build an Oasis of Electricity

"In the Rockaways, where nearly 14,000 customers still had no power as of Monday morning, volunteers set up a makeshift solar charging station between a car roof and a shopping cart. A multipanel, battery-tied system is helping fuel a relief center’s operations.
In the storm’s wake, solar companies have been donating equipment across New York and other stricken areas to function as emergency power systems now and backups in the longer term. It is important, executives say, to create smaller, more decentralized ways of generating and storing electricity to help ease strain on the grid in times of high demand or failure."

50-Acre Solar Array Planned at Sonoma County Airport

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
"What would be the largest solar energy project in Sonoma County, generating enough electricity for 10,000 homes, is being planned for vacant land at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
'The goal is to get renewable energy projects started here in Sonoma County and get local jobs in this arena," said Cordel Stillman, the capital projects manager for the Sonoma County Water Agency.'
In addition, the airport is planning its own solar installations to provide electricity to the administration building, terminal and runway and security lighting."

Electric Auto - German Style

The New York Times

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Missing Link to Renewable Energy

 "If we're going to get this country out of its current energy situation, we can't just conserve our way out; we can't just drill our way out; we can't bomb our way out. We're going to do it the old-fashioned American way, we're going to invent our way out, working together."

Donald Sadoway from MIT discusses his invention of the "Liquid Metal Battery" that would enable the economical storage of energy from solar, wind and other sources so that it could be used when homes and businesses need it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Edison International & Solar Schoolhouse

"Twenty teachers from across Ventura County learned at a Saturday workshop about solar energy concepts they can bring to their classrooms to inspire students.

Funded by a $10,000 grant from Edison International to the Sustainability Council of Ventura County, the workshop was offered for teacher professional development in the area of energy and the environment. It was held at Camarillo's Conference and Educational Services Center.

The bottom line is it is about empowering students and giving them a voice and helping them to realize that with all these problems we hear about, there are solutions, and with those solutions come opportunities."

Ventura County Star

The Growing Pains of Solar Independence for Hawaiians

Diamond Head
FC Note:

What's a better problem for the consumer?  

Engineers supported by modern-day technology having to grapple with the problem of too much clean energy from an inexhaustible source -- which no one controls -- or recurring shortages from the traditional sources and their ever-increasing costs that are controlled by monopolies operating with technology that is decades old?
"As customers generate more than they need and feed the excess back into the grid for others to use, it makes managing the system much more complex. What happens when a cloud passes over and dozens of rooftop units suddenly grind to a halt? What's to be done on a sunny autumn day, when rooftop solar systems are producing way more power than the grid can use?
Hawaii finds itself pushing the envelope not just because of its abundant sunshine. A bigger driver has been the state's reliance on oil to fuel its power plants. Oil is always more expensive than natural gas, but prices shot up even higher last year when Japan's nuclear disaster sent demand, and soon prices, skyrocketing on the Asian markets where Hawaii buys its supplies.
The state has set a goal of obtaining 40% of its power from locally generated renewable sources by 2030. Already, the Big Island has jumped ahead and is producing 44% of its power from renewable sources, and it could hit 100% by the end of the decade."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Solar Yield

Photon Test Site Aachen, Germany
"A module’s nominal power is interesting, as is its efficiency – and, depending on the customer’s expertise, so are a few other pieces of technical module data. But the single most important factor for PV system operators is yield: how many kilowatt-hours per kW of installed power flow from the PV system to the inverter? This is exactly the question PHOTON Lab intends to answer with its module field tests."

National Solar Jobs Census 2012

"On November 14th, 2012, The Solar Foundation released its National Solar Jobs Census 2012, which found that the U.S. solar industry currently employs 119,016 Americans. This figure represents the addition of 13,872 new solar jobs and a 13.2 percent employment growth rate over the previous year. During the same period, employment in the overall economy grew at a rate of 2.3 percent* (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), signifying that 1 in 230 jobs created nationally over the last year were created in the solar industry."

City of Palo Alto Goes Private For Solar

Stanford University

Palo Alto’s Utilities Advisory Commission and Finance Committee announced their unanimous approval of a 25-year contract with Brannon Solar LLC on Nov. 5. This is the city’s first solar energy contract, and the company will provide up to 52,000-megawatt-hours, 5% of the city’s electricity needs, per year for no more than $91 million for the duration of the contract.

“Palo Alto is moving to a carbon-free energy growth plan, which would be completely carbon neutral [by 2015],” Palo Alto Vice Mayor Greg Scharff said.
The efforts to provide 33 percent of Palo Alto’s energy from renewable sources by 2015 are part of a larger effort to make Palo Alto a greener city.
“We’re in the process of another RFP [Request for Proposals] for renewable energy contracts,” Cook said. “We also have ongoing energy efficiency projects, so we don’t need as much energy in the first place.”
“We have to invest as the fields go into place,” Shepherd said. “As the Utilities Commission makes these relationships, these companies…would rather work with the city of Palo Alto than places like [Pacific Gas and Electric]. They offer it to us because they know that we build up a reserve in order to go in and make these types of investments to secure our renewable energy supply, to maintain our portfolio.”
The Brannon Solar project that will provide Palo Alto’s energy is based in Fresno County. In addition to building facilities in Palo Alto, Brannon Solar’s parent company, Trina Solar, is building a total of four other solar projects in Fresno County and Sacramento County.

The Stanford Daily

Solar Instructor Training Network

"Launched in 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy established the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), composed of nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs) to help fulfill a critical need for high-quality, local, and accessible training in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection through train-the-trainer programs.  The nine RTPs are well-established solar training institutions that offer expert trainers and first-class training facilities across the U.S."

Parks Powered by Clean Energy

“St. Petersburg will use a $2.4 million federal grant to install solar panels at 18 of the city's parks and recreational sites, officials said Tuesday.

The project, called Sunlit City Parks, will not only save the city energy costs but also serve as an education program about solar energy.

With the city of St. Petersburg recognized in the Guinness book of world records for having the most consecutive days of sunlight, it seemed fitting that we participate in this pilot program," said Mayor Bill Foster. The program "is another example of how St. Petersburg continues to demonstrate leadership in environmentally sustainable best practices and long-term reduction in operational costs."

Tampa Bay Online

Solarize Massachusetts

Thank to this year's Solarize Massachusetts program, which ended on November 4, more than 800 businesses and residents in 17 municipalities across the state elected to go forward with a solar energy installation, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). In total, the program, which offered more financial incentives when more property owners signed up, was responsible for the installation of more than 5 megawatts of new PV capacity.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

U.S. Army Goes Solar

Fort Bliss

"Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC and SolarCity® have announced plans to provide up to 4,700 military homes with solar energy systems at Balfour Beatty-managed residential communities on Fort Bliss, Texas, and the adjacent White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico. The 13.2 megawatt project is an equipment lease arrangement, primarily financed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which directly supportsthe U.S. Army’s vision for ‘Net Zero’ energy consumption at all installations."

"The Defense Department is currently the largest energy consumer in the United States and has designated Fort Bliss a “Net Zero Installation”, meaning the Army expects the installation to produce as much energy as it uses while sending no waste to landfills and maximizing water reuse. Balfour Beatty Communities is the Army’s only military housing partner on Net Zero Installations at both Fort Bliss and Fort Carson (CO) and, with family housing responsible for close to 20% of a typical installation’s energy, waste and water footprint, it is important the company provides proactive support. The projects will also help the military meet Department of Defense goals to have 25 percent of its energy requirements met by renewable energy by 2025."

Energy Digital

Island of Tokelau To Become World’s First Solar-Powered Nation

"Living in America, it can feel like it’s nearly impossible to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, but even our car-obsessed society doesn’t have it as bad as island-dwellers. The island nations of the South Pacific are among some of the most petroleum-dependent countries in the world. That’s because islands don’t have massive oil reserves or coal deposits. In order to generate electricity, South Pacific nations must import huge amounts of fuel to power diesel generators.

Now, one island nation has said enough is enough. The South Pacific nation of Tokelau is aiming to ditch its diesel dependency and transform itself into the world’s first solar-powered country.   Using 4,032 solar panels and 1,344 batteries, the island nation will generate 150% of its own current electricity demand."

A New Breed of Solar Utility Challenges the Old Guard

"Georgia Solar Utilities wants to build a large solar farm within the state and has petitioned the Georgia Public  Service Commission to sell the electricity directly to customers rather than to Georgia Power or other providers within Georgia.
Georgia Power has challenged Georgia Solar’s request. It argues allowing the Macon-based company to operate as a utility would violate Georgia Power’s standing as a regulated monopoly and would 'create barriers to future solar development.'"

2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Powered by the Sun

Monday, November 12, 2012

Solar Power - How Many Moving Parts?

Farmers Grow Profits With a New Crop: Solar Panels

"Solar panels cover a 35-acre field that once produced corn, tobacco and other crops. When the sun shines, the panels generate enough electricity for hundreds of homes."

Read more here:

"North Carolina’s renewable and energy-efficiency industry employs more than 15,000 people and has generated some $3.7 billion in gross revenue this year, the association says. Companies providing solar energy services have increased 76 percent since the renewable energy requirement passed the General Assembly five years ago, according to surveys by the Sustainable Energy Association."

“It is guaranteed money,” said Hunt, 63, a Marine Corps veteran. “Farming is a risky business. If you can take some of the risk out and the liability, you are ahead of the ball game. If I die, my wife will have income because she couldn’t farm the land anymore.”

Read more here:

New Observer

Read more here:

Solar Mamas

“A girl is not supposed to continue school past age 10 because it is shameful. Is it not shameful that the youth of these girls is wasted without work? Without an education or purpose in life?”

Explore India’s Barefoot College, providing impoverished women with skills to change their communities.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Major League Baseball Goes Solar

Kauffman Stadium - Home of the Kansas City Royals
"Spring means one thing to the American sports fan — the start of a new Major League Baseball (MLB) season. For the environmentally conscious sports fan, however, it means the debut of new sustainability initiatives at ballparks across the country as the MLB continues its efforts to go green."

Clean Technica

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Solar Numbers in San Diego

"Solar provides a futures contract for electric power at a fixed price for 30 years."

FC Note: Hedging their fuel costs with futures contracts has been a very effective strategy for Southwest Airlines, now a leader in their industry.

With no price at the source and by eliminating all the steps in between, directly accessing the sun's unlimited amount of energy takes the hedging concept to a whole new level as the costs of producing, refining and transporting energy from fossil resources continues to climb.

We cannot produce our own gasoline, but we can take control of a major part of our energy costs by producing our own electricity, courtesy of the sun.

Solar energy along with its obvious environmental benefits equals Financial Conservation thus economic empowerment -- particularly for the individual.

Smart. Direct. Simple.

For a breakdown of the numbers specific to the area, visit one of San Diego's local solar providers @ Home Energy Systems

Solar Highway in Germany

Solar Energy Industry Growth 50% in First 9 Months of 2012

"According to the Federal Network Agency, the solar energy industry in Germany grew by more than 50% in the first 9 months of 2012. Energy production from solar installations rose from 4.1% or 6.1% during this time. Germany now acquires more than 26% of its energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind, biomass, and hydrogen fuel. The country is currently on track to throw more support behind solar energy and thereby increase the rate of growth the solar energy industry has been experiencing in recent months."

The Fuel of Tomorrow Reported Today!

Renewable Energy: The Top 5 Nations

"Solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy made up only 1.3 percent of total global energy use in 2011, but that's up 15.5 percent from the previous year. This is increasing due to policy and private investment, as well as commitments to reduce environmental impact and dependence on foreign energy sources. Here are the top five countries which are making use of renewable energy."

The Christian Science Monitor

England: The World's Largest Community-Owned Solar Park

"The Westmill Solar Cooperative announced Nov. 1 the launch of the world’s largest community-owned solar project in the south of England near Oxford. The 5 MW 30-acre Westmill solar park consists of 20,260 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and is designed to generate 4.8 GWhr per year, which the cooperative says is equivalent to a year’s electricity consumption for 1,500 homes and enough to prevent 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The park was built by an initial group of private investors with the intention of selling it to a community-owned cooperative."

Inhabitat - Design Will Serve the World

Friday, November 9, 2012

Top 10 Solar Myths

Myth 1: Solar will get more efficient, so I should wait.

Myth 2: Solar doesn't work in cool, cloudy, or foggy climates.

Myth 3: I will store the excess energy I generate in batteries.

Myth 4: Solar panels require maintenance.

Myth 5 : Solar panels will cause my roof to leak, deteriorate, or collapse.

Myth 6: Solar is still so expensive that it will never be able to pay for itself (just like hybrid cars).

Myth 7: When the power goes out, my home is still powered

Myth 8: Solar will look ugly on my roof.

Myth 9: Installing solar panels will increase my property tax.

Myth 10: Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun

.For the Answers, visit One Block Off the Grid

Apple Goes Solar in a Big Way

The first of two 20 MW solar farms being built next to Apple's data center in North Carolina.