The bankrupt American solar panel manufacturer Suniva is requesting an emergency tariff on imported solar panels to protect their business from cheaper panels made elsewhere. What would the Suniva petition mean to the rest of the solar industry if these trade protections are put in place?
On May 25th, the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it had initiated a safeguard investigation into the manufacture and import of solar cells. Triggered by the petition filed on behalf of Suniva, the investigation could lead to emergency tariffs on imported solar panels. That would mean higher prices for American solar buyers and a potentially chilling effect on solar development.
If solar is so absolutely great, and we’re hurtling towards a climate catastrophe, why does it only power about 2% of the world? If it’s the panacea to our problems, why aren’t solar panels adorning rooftops the world over? What are the causes behind the problems with solar energy that we face?
To answer such questions, we at UnderstandSolar have dug into the facts and present the fruits of our labor below – an unfortunate tale of G20 hypocrisy, the Concorde fallacy (find out what this is later), and the sobering fact that we still need fossil fuels to power our planet (at least for now).
Cartoons can be a great way to find the humor in something: news highlights, politics, or to educate (and usually, some combination of the three). A lot can be said with few words – about solar politics, finances, and safety. Take a look at a solar panel cartoon or three that we found below!
Do you want to power your home using renewable energy, but can’t install rooftop solar? Perhaps you have a shaded roof, live in a condo, or are not a property owner, but want your electricity fossil-fuel free. In many locations, there is a great solution – community solar, or “rooftop solar, without the rooftops.”
Community solar – also called a community solar project, solar garden, or shared renewable energy plant – describes solar energy used by multiple households sourced by a shared solar plant. Community solar projects exist in half of US states, so it may be in your area. If not, just keep an eye out – according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the community solar market should continue to boom; more community solar was installed in one-quarter of 2016 than the entire year of 2015.
Solar panels come in many varieties, and there are different types of panels for every occasion. Since going solar is a major investment in your home, it’s good to be in-the-know before you invest. And that’s where we come in.
In recent years we have seen radical improvements in the underlying technology of solar panels and although you are familiar with the traditional-style solar panels in pictures and on rooftops, thin film solar panels are now making their way into the mainstream. They are called ‘thin film’ because they are able to be produced in such a way that allows them to be flexible and coat materials other than the standard wafer boards. This allows for many more applications for solar power and can allow them to blend more seamlessly into your home’s aesthetics.Continue reading
In 2015, the United States used about 3,724,500 million kWh of electricity.
Most of us don’t have enough context to realize how big this number actually is, so here are some facts: First off, the US is the 2nd biggest user of electricity in the world (just behind Canada). Secondly, think about what exactly this number includes: all the electricity used in millions of homes across the US for air conditioning, lights, refrigerators, stoves, hot water, and all our devices, as well as factories, office buildings, data centers, agricultural applications, government offices, recreation centers, football fields, streetlights, and about a billion other things we don’t even think about on a daily basis.
With so much electricity being used and created every day, as a country we need to constantly assess if all this electricity is being created in the most responsible way, both monetarily and environmentally.Continue reading
But this is far from the case for third-world countries.
Even if you’re only researching the theoretical principles of solar energy, it’s hard not to come across an ad shouting Solar Panels for Sale! when scouring the Internet, along with statistics and facts on how much solar energy can save you in the long run.
For instance, pulling up directories that list solar companies in each U.S. state is as easy as saying 1-2-3. Americans are offered tax reduction incentives, on top of getting closer to their goal of saving money and slashing their electricity bills.
To boot, even the environmentally conscious individual can feel good about purchasing and installing solar panels, knowing he is contributing, even minimally, to the reduction of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere.
Solar has a useful life of half a century, and is such a new industry that we’ve yet to see much end-of-life recycling, but it is a responsibility that must be addressed as time goes on.
The very few first solar panels were manufactured in the 1970s, and for the most part, these very early solar pioneers have not yet dismantled their old solar arrays that are still producing after 45 years.