Many homeowners see going off-grid with no connection to the utility and the ability to power your own life, as quite romantic.
But what does it really take to go off grid? What does an off-grid solar installation really look like? For most homeowners who are already comfortably connected to their utility and have reliable, fairly cheap electricity, what would the sense be in going off-grid?Continue reading
Going where no man has gone before has been resonating throughout history more than most of us know. It was Kepler who first made the observation that a comet’s tail always pointed away from the Sun, theorizing that our star was responsible for this effect. Following this, a multitude of scientists and science fiction writers, including Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky and Jules Verne, mentioned solar power as a way to explore the Solar System and other unknown parts of the universe.
This is a first for the continent, following the launch of a solar-powered soccer field in Lagos, Nigeria, also the first of its kind in Africa, thanks to Pavegen– an innovative clean tech company headquartered in London, England.
The Sun has always been regarded as a powerful heavenly body, taking the form of deities dating all the way back to times of antiquity. It’s no surprise that today, technology has also evolved to conjure the power of our Solar System’s star in the form of solar power. Although we’ve dispensed of Egyptian legends surrounding Râ, the almighty Sun God, humans are now going beyond the simple basics of photovoltaics that convert electricity into solar power using the photovoltaic effect.
Ouarzazate, a Moroccan city on the edge of the Sahara desert, is no stranger to global attention. Its sweeping desert landscapes and near-year-round sunshine make it the heart of North Africa’s “Ouallywood” film industry, hosting film sets for huge productions like The Mummy, Lawrence of Arabia, and Game of Thrones. Ouarzazate will soon host a different kind of big-budget production: a 9 billion dollar solar power project which, when completed, will occupy as much land as the nation’s capital city, Rabat.
On a dark November day in 2014, residents of the remote village of Yirca, Turkey, awoke to find six thousand olive trees, important to the village’s cuisine, culture, and economy, razed to the ground. The trees were flattened in order to make space for a new coal-fired power plant to meet the country’s growing energy needs. The appropriation of the land happened despite residents’ protests: they took shifts protecting the trees until development crews arrived with bulldozers and security personnel, arresting anyone who stood in their way.
Australia is sited within the “Roaring Fourties” the near constant high winds that whip around the ocean down under near the south pole, circling Antarctica. These predictable winds create the potential for a 40% capacity factor for wind in that path – most of it wasted (from an energy capture point of view – over empty oceans. Some of the steadiest and highest winds on the globe usually cross continental Australia, as you can see in real time, the current winds circling around Antarctica in the Southern hemisphere.
The modern solar collector was invented by William J. Bailey over a century ago. But in the past 15 years alone, solar power capacity and adoption has seen more leaps and bounds than in the past 2700 years combined. There’s no question that solar power is on the rise. Once regarded as an expensive option for those off the grid, solar power is now well on its way to mainstream adoption, seen everywhere from suburban neighborhoods to the White House. Since 2001, we’ve seen solar power adoption increase by over 700 percent. From 2010 to 2014 alone, U.S. solar capacity has grown by 418 percent—nearly 10 megawatts in just four years.
In reality, the growth we’ve seen is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s explore four reasons why solar is surging in 2015.
In the past 15 years, climate change has gone from a liberal conspiracy to a very tangible problem. The rate of sea level rise over the last decade is double that of the last century. Global temperatures are on the rise. Oceans are warming and ice sheets are shrinking. The evidence is clear.
Carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are largely to blame for these changes, with the majority of these emissions resulting from burning fossil fuels for energy production. Because of this, finding a renewable energy source has become a top priority in the fight against climate change. Solar power is a very attractive energy alternative. Not only is solar power emission free, it’s extremely sustainable—the sun produces enough energy in one minute to supply the world’s energy needs for one year. As we continue to look for climate change solutions, expect to see solar power investment near the top of the list.
Plenty of people know that solar power is a great alternative to traditional energy sources.
It’s contributing to job growth and increases homeowner values. Plus, Americans want solar power! But despite this, utilities, advocates, lawmakers, and solar energy companies go round and round blaming each other, while the person who just wants to install rooftop solar suffers (see Hawaii as a prime example).
Tech startups in solar just got the opportunity to show off their development and research. Forbes reported on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative competition, in which 17 teams that gave 8-minute pitches about services to make solar power installation easier.
According to Forbes, the solar market needs IT improvements yesterday. Part of this is because sales people need a basic solar energy system design that’s not only functional, but efficient enough that they can offer a fair quote to consumers. However, the software that’s used isn’t always the same as the software used by the engineers to design the solar system that’s being installed. As a result, the price of the final product could vary a lot between what was originally quoted.
Enter the Sunshot Initiative program, which “aims to drive down the average wholesale price of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour by 2020,” says Forbes. SunShot has funded over 350 projects since 2011, and this competition (called Catalyst) is designed to promote market innovations quickly. Of the 17 teams, technology ranged from software to creating IT solutions for solar.Continue reading