Floating solar panels to power California water treatment plant

Infratech's floating solar array at a water treatment plant in Jamestown, South Australia

Infratech’s floating solar array at a water treatment plant in Jamestown, South Australia

Solar power is continuing its explosive growth. In the first half of this year, the solar industry has supplied 40% of all new 2015 electric generating capacity. The U.S. solar industry is expected to reach nearly 8,000 MW for the year, and 28,000 MW in total.

The ways solar is being utilized is also expanding. Earlier this year, we wrote about solar successfully being used as floating arrays generating power across one of India’s state’s 85,000 km long canal system. Now a city in Southern California’s Imperial Valley plans to float a solar array across the top of a new water treatment plant that will be used for the town’s drinking water supply and irrigation.

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Smaller countries like Costa Rica are leading the way to carbon neutrality

Wind turbines on the coastline

Are larger countries in the world at a disadvantage when it comes to embracing renewable energy? In the United States, for example, the monied oil lobby has made itself clear it will do whatever it can to put stumbling blocks in the way of renewable energy being fully adopted nationally.

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Northern California city reinvents itself as green

This is the first in a four-part series looking at the environmental efforts of San Jose, California.

Many cities are trying to break away from fossil fuels by investing in solar, wind, and geothermal energy. San Jose, California, however, has practically reinvented itself energy-wise.

Find out about the green initiatives and successes of San Jose bu going to http://bit.ly/qkvaEQ.

Apples to Apples: Solar and Wind less costly than Coal and Oil

The following is a guest blog by Tom Rooney of SPGsolar. 

CoalEveryone knows solar and wind power are more expensive than oil and coal.

Everyone except the National Academy of Sciences.

So they put it to the test: They found coal and oil and natural gas are artificially cheap because they impose health and financial and environmental costs that all of us pay for — above and beyond the price. Whether we know it or not.

Whether we like it or not.

Sounds kind of like a subsidy, doesn’t it? It’s exactly like a subsidy.

Apples to apples? Solar and wind are often less expensive than coal and oil.

The Academy estimates that coal and oil drain $130 billion in hidden costs out of our economy. Coal is subsidized to the tune of 3 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour of energy – about 25 to 100 percent of what you pay for power.

The report comes just in time — right after the biggest energy disaster in this country’s history.

And right before a campaign to reduce support for alternative energy which some say requires subsidies and is more expensive than fossil fuels.

Coal and oilPeople like Republican functionary Christopher Horner, whose new book proclaims that renewable energy will “bankrupt” this country and is a “declaration of war against America’s most reliable sources of energy—coal, oil, and natural gas.”

Or the usually reliable Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore, who says renewable energy such as wind and solar is a plot between Big Government and Big Labor.

Before I became a card carrying member of this conspiracy and the CEO of a solar energy company, I studied for an MBA at the University of Chicago. There I was lucky enough, on many occasions, to meet the inspiration for many solar skeptics – America’s greatest economist Milton Friedman.

More than just a libertarian icon, Friedman just wanted to know what things cost. Not their price, their cost.

You do not need a Nobel Prize to see the freshman mistake of those who say wind and solar are too expensive to compete with coal and oil: They confuse price with cost.

But still we hear that coal and oil and natural gas are cheaper. Which is like the guy who throws garbage over his neighbor’s fence, then brags about free trash disposal. But really, someone else is paying for it.

The Academy said it was too complicated to estimate the largest hidden cost of energy — the price we pay in sending our best and bravest into harm’s way to guarantee our supply of foreign oil.

You want to put a price tag on that? Go ahead. Just make sure the number starts with a T. And if you throw your garbage over the fence, count that too.

—- Tom Rooney is the CEO of SPG Solar (SPGsolar.com).

Copenhagen Summit severely limits NGO participation

World on Fire 2With the eyes of the world on Copenhagen and the U.N. Climate Change Conference, it seems that organizers will be limiting who can get inside during the last most critical decision-making sessions. While 45,000 people are registered, today and tomorrow only 7,000 civilian observers will be allowed entrance, with those numbers reduced to 1,000 on Thursday and a mere 90 allowed in the conference center by Friday, the day of final negotiations. Continue reading