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Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

Here comes the sun

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2013

Rory Carroll, Guardian:

The creators of the world’s first solar-powered plane have announced it will fly across the United States in a coast-to-coast showcase of the experimental technology.

The Solar Impulse, which has a wingspan longer than a Boeing 747 but weighs less than a car, is due to take off from San Francisco in May and spend two months hop-scotching across US cities until ending its tour in New York in July.

The plane’s capabilities have advanced rapidly in recent years. It flew 26 hours non-stop in 2010 to show it could absorb enough solar energy during sunlight to continue during the night. In 2012 it flew 1,550 miles from Madrid to Morocco, crossing a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean, in 20 hours

Now if only the US were not so blind that it can’t even see the future.

Posted in energy, solar | 7 Comments »

Government? We don’t need no stinking government? (Solar edition)

Posted by Charles II on September 17, 2012

Via Ritholtz, an article by Dean Kuipers, LAT:

One of the holy grails of solar cell technology may have been found, with researchers at UCLA announcing they have created a new organic polymer that produces electricity, is nearly transparent and is more durable and malleable than silicon.

The applications are mind-boggling. Windows that produce electricity. Buildings wrapped in transparent solar cells. Laptops and phones – or even cars or planes – whose outer coverings act as chargers. It might even be sprayed on as a liquid. The promise of cheap and easy-to-apply site-generated solar electricity might now be a lot closer to reality.

Posted in energy, solar | 4 Comments »

Half the news that’s fit to print: Bloomberg tries to make renewables the problem

Posted by Charles II on September 30, 2011

Kari Lundgren and Lars Paulson, Bloomberg:

The 15 mile-per-hour winds that buffeted northern Germany on July 24 caused the nation’s 21,600 windmills to generate so much power that utilities such as EON AG and RWE AG (RWE) had to pay consumers to take it off the grid.

Rather than an anomaly, the event marked the 31st hour this year when power companies lost money on their electricity in the intraday market because of a torrent of supply from wind and solar parks. The phenomenon was unheard of five years ago.

With Europe’s wind and solar farms set to triple by 2020, utilities investing in new coal and gas-fired power stations no longer face stable returns. As more renewables come on line, a gas plant owned by RWE or EON that may cost $1 billion to build will be stopped more often from running at full capacity. It may only pay for itself on days like Jan. 31, when clouds and still weather pushed an hour of power on the same-day market above 162 ($220) euros a megawatt-hour after dusk, in peak demand time.

“You’re looking at a future where on a sunny day in Germany, you’ll have negative prices,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief solar analyst Jenny Chase said about power rates in wholesale trading. “And a lot of the other markets are heading the same way.”

31 hours of losses vs 8760 hours per year represents less than 0.5% of the time that the plants are losing money, so Bloomberg is misleading its readers. But it does point to the need for developing load balancing technologies such as capacitor storage, long-distance transmission, and constant power sources like tidal. One could even envision offering energy-intensive producers like aluminum smelters financial incentives for running slightly below normal capacity except when there’s a surge in energy production, then ramping up production to take advantage of the superabundance.

Wonder how much oil company advertising Bloomberg gets.

Posted in environment, Media machine, solar, wind power | 3 Comments »

Smart. So smart.

Posted by Charles II on September 28, 2011

This is a brilliant solution to Google’s basic problem: it has tons of cash, can’t earn a decent rate of return either through interest or investing in search, and wants to shield its search income from taxes.

Jessica Guynn, LAT:

Google wants homeowners to use solar panels to generate electricity. And it’s investing $75 million to help up to 3,000 of them install panels on their roofs.

The Internet search giant said Tuesday that it will create a fund for solar installers to offer financing plans.

One of the biggest hurdles to installing solar panels are the upfront costs. Homeowners often don’t have the upfront cash and solar installers don’t have the means to offer financing.

Google said its plan will allow homeowners to install a $30,000 solar electricity system with little or no money upfront. Instead homeowners would pay a monthly fee which would be about the same that they would pay in their monthly bills to their local utility.

So, see how it works? Google’s customers pay it, let’s say, 10% on the investment, the federal government gives Google a one-time tax credit that lowers their marginal taxes paid by (this is just a guess) an equivalent of 1% annually, and they’re getting 11% return on investment. Their return on assets presently is 14.7% while their $4.7B in cash is returning approximately zero, so putting spare cash to work will boost that. Maybe best of all, everyone thinks they’re being Santa Claus.

To make it perfect, all they have to do is figure out how to sell the business should the demand for cash ever re-surface. And I’ll bet they’ve already done that.

Posted in Good Things, solar | 4 Comments »

The Solyndra “scandal”

Posted by Charles II on September 14, 2011

Dave Johnson of CfAP has the skinny:

Solyndra was a startup solar-power equipment manufacturer based in Fremont, California that went bankrupt at the end of August. The company’s solar collectors used a special tubular internal design that let it collect light from all directions, and were made with a copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) thin film that avoided using then-expensive silicon. It was one of several companies that received assistance from the government, in an attempt to push back on China’s strategic targeting of green-energy manufacturing.

The company, partly backed by the conservative Walton family had received a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The loan, which was originally pushed by the Bush administration, was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.

The economy tanked and cut demand, and at the same time Solyndra could not compete with subsidized companies located in China as they rapidly scaled up. So Solyndra ran out of money. Conservatives and oil interests are using the bankruptcy as a platform to attack green energy and the idea of green jobs in general, solar power in particular, President Obama as always, stimulus funding and the idea of developing a national strategic industrial policy to push back on China and others who have their own national policies to win this key industry of the future.

Conservative Attacks

Conservative are accusing the Obama administration of corruption in choosing Solyndra to receive a government loan guarantee.

Notice: it’s not the Waltons, who stood to profit from Solyndra, who conservatives claim are corrupt. It’s not Bush, whose administration originally funded Solyndra. It’s not the Chinese, who are subsidizing their industry. No, of course, it’s the guy whose almost a bystander to what happened, because he’s a Democrat.

It’s getting really hard to say “my fellow Americans” about people who simply do not care what is true and what is a lie as long as they get more power.

Posted in government, Obama Administration, solar | 2 Comments »

Can Solar Power Save Japan?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 15, 2011

This sounds interesting:

Billionaire Masayoshi Son has a track record in taking on monopolies after building a business that opened up the nation’s telecommunications industry. Now he aims to shake up Japan’s power utilities after the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Son, the 53-year-old chief executive officer of Softbank Corp. (9984), plans to build solar farms to generate electricity with support from at least 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. In return, he’s asking for access to transmission networks owned by the 10 regional utilities and an agreement they buy his electricity.

Radiation has spread across at least 600 square kilometers (230 square miles) in northeastern Japan after the March 11
earthquake and tsunami caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in May he will rethink a plan to increase atomic power to 50 percent of the nation’s total from 30 percent. Renewable energy accounts for 10 percent, according to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, and Son wants that ratio to be tripled by 2020.

Sounds a bit like T. Boone Pickens’abortive scheme to get people to pay for his transmission lines and buy his natural gas in exchange for a few windfarms. But who knows?

Posted in Japan, solar | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Why Do Our Legi$lator$ Favor Dirty Energy? Ca$h. Lot$.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 11, 2011

Earlier this week, I briefly touched on how in hock our elected representatives are to Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Gas — a fact that is keeping America from fully implementing a clean-energy future.

Over at Renewable Energy World, Tor Valenza has some data on just how much dough the dirty-energy crowd tosses at politicians: “How can you tell? Easy. Go to and find out how much $$$ your own representative or senators are $upported by oil and coal companies.”

To no one’s surprise, prominent Republicans like Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell turn out to have got a lot of money from the dirty-energy lobby, and are quite friendly to dirty energy as well as quite hostile to clean energy. But what is a pleasant surprise, is that Henry Waxman, a Democratic congressman from California, gets nearly as much as Boehner et al do, yet manages to be a very good friend to solar energy. As the late great Texas Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn once told a freshman congressman who wanted to be excused from vote because he wanted to please his biggest contributors: “Son, if you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and then vote against ’em, you don’t deserve to be here.”

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in solar, wind power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Do Our Legi$lator$ Favor Dirty Energy? Ca$h. Lot$.

China Rushing to Adopt Green Power, Manufacturing, and Living

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 8, 2011

If a non-trivial number of Capitol Hill legislators of both parties didn’t owe their jobs to Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nuclear, China wouldn’t be trouncing the US in green growth:

China’s production of green technologies has grown by a remarkable 77 per cent a year, according to the report, which was commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and which will be unveiled on Monday at an industry conference in Amsterdam.

“The Chinese have made, on the political level, a conscious decision to capture this market and to develop this market aggressively,” said Donald Pols, an economist with the WWF.

Denmark, a longtime leader in wind energy, derives 3.1 percent of its gross domestic product from renewable energy technology and energy efficiency, or about euro6.5 billion ($9.4 billion), the report said.

The PRC is the largest cleantech producer in terms of money, with green technologies making up more than euro44 billion ($64 billion), or 1.4 percent of its annual gross domestic product. The US? We’re 17th.

It’s not just that the Chinese want a monopoly on worldwide cleantech, though that would be a nice side benefit for them. They want to flat-out survive. Human-caused global warming is a direct and growing threat to China, and the Chinese elites know it.

Seeing empty deserts where glaciers once stood not so long ago — glaciers that feed the great rivers of both China and India — was a real eye-opener for the Chinese central government. The worldwide economic downturn has been a blessing in disguise as not only has it slowed down the rate at which factories and power plants contribute to global climate change (thus buying the world an extra 18 months in which to get its act together), it allowed the central government to force the shutdown and retooling of older, polluting establishments so that they would run greener and cleaner upon reopening.

Of course, this also means that China is no longer as “business-friendly” as it once was, so various industries (such as HTI, or Hutchinson Technology) are looking towards Thailand, Indonesia and even India (Foxconn, which makes Apple’s iPads and iPods and iPhones, is going to India from China later this year) in a desperate bid to avoid having to honor environmental and labor regulations. But Thailand is an unstable mess and India and Indonesia are themselves cracking down on polluters and exploiters.

The free ride for the polluting and exploiting CEOs is over. Increasingly, they are being forced to choose between cleaning up their act or attempting to set up shop in places that are either politically unstable or have no infrastructure capable of supporting a multinational business.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in China, infrastructure, international, solar, wind power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Solar Roadways People Need To Look Into This

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 31, 2010

One of the biggest holdups in implementing the Solar Roadways vision has been the lack of a glass or other transparent substance strong enough to stand up to the constant abuse delivered by car and truck traffic, yet cheap enough to use on a large scale.

Shell’s Floraphalte may be just what they need, at least for the initial plan to do parking lots first:

Shell Floraphalte represents the next generation of clear binder for the production of high performance coloured asphalts, manufactured using plant based renewable ingredients.

Use it to bind glass chunks, use that as the top layer for the road panels, install in parking lots of big-box stores or fast-food chains. Since parking lots don’t see quite the abuse that interstates do, this is an excellent transitional solution that would allow the Brusaws to get their product out and bring in the cash needed to work on getting a cheap yet interstate-worthy substance for the long haul.

Posted in solar | Tagged: , | Comments Off on The Solar Roadways People Need To Look Into This

Solar Roadways: Inching Closer To Saving Us

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 26, 2010

The Solar Roadways people are inching ever closer to saving our keisters:

On Thursday, GE (GE) announced that Solar Roadways was the top community vote-getter in the company’s $200 million Ecomagination challenge. Although the winners won’t be formally announced until next month, Solar Roadways received the most votes among the community and was awarded a $50,000 prize.


As the electric car passes over the [solar-powered] road, it receives a charge from the road itself. One method for the power transfer involves induction, in which a magnet under the car would draw power as it travels over the road. Additionally, Brusaw’s prototype involves embedding LED lights into the road for navigation or safety signals.

The DoT’s impressed enough that it’s encouraged Solar Roadways to apply for a $750,000 grant on top of the $100,000 one the DoT gave them last year. They’re also urging the Brusaws to start with parking lots first, and to work with businesses such as McDonald’s and various big-box stores to retrofit their parking lots so people can charge their cars while they shop or eat.

Another thing that’s occurred to me: The big holdup here is developing a glass that can withstand 18-wheelers, frost heaves, and vandals. But that’s not insurmountable — and it’ll be a far easier nut to crack than fusion power’s proved to be. Plus, once that’s solved, whoever owns the patent on that super-glass is going to give Bill Gates a run for his money in the Richer-than-God department, as that glass will have potential uses far beyond solar roadways.

Posted in automobiles, energy, environment, Good Causes, Good Things, saving the earth, solar | 1 Comment »

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