Solar Power

Solar panels to match your couch

Excited about your inevitable solar panels, but concerned they'll clash with your decor? Qsolar has you covered, you fashion victim. Their colored solar panels aren't just for the roof — they can be integrated into the design of a building as cool-looking and functional walls or (semi-transparent) windows.

Why you’ll soon have solar panels, in three easy graphs

The cost of silicon solar panels has been falling precipitously, with no end in sight. Naturally, falling costs mean solar installation has been exploding worldwide. By the time new coal-fired power plants come on-line in the U.S., solar will already be cheaper. If you want to understand what kind of revolution this will bring about in power production, check out this analysis from Jonathan Koomey of Stanford University: Here's an interesting thing for people to contemplate: As solar reaches grid parity based on retail prices we'll start to see big changes in what is now called the peak demand period …

Solar Power

Turning toward the sun for energy

One key component of the Plan B climate stabilization strategy is solar energy. Solar is even more ubiquitous than wind energy and can be harnessed with both solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal collectors. Solar PV — both silicon-based and thin film — converts sunlight directly into electricity. The growth in solar cell production climbed from an annual expansion of 38 percent in 2006 to an off-the-chart 89 percent in 2008, before settling back to 51 percent in 2009. At the end of 2009, there were 23,000 megawatts of PV installations worldwide, which when operating at peak power could match …

Solar Power

Solar gets cheap fast

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. There’s a joke in the solar industry about when “grid parity” — the time when solar becomes as cheap as fossil sources — will happen. Ron Kenedi, the former VP in Sharp Solar’s U.S. business liked to throw out random dates, telling me once “November 21, 2012″ in jest. The truth is, it will happen in phases — one market and one technology at a time. But according to two top solar executives — Tom Dinwoodie, chief technology officer and founder of SunPower and Dan Shugar, former president of SunPower and current CEO of Solaria — …

Solar Power

Making my first clean kilowatt

On May 25, my husband and I generated our first kilowatt of clean, solar electricity from the rooftop of our home here in West Virginia. It was AMAZING — as in, your-first-paper-mache-baking-soda-volcano amazing. As soon as we turned on the system, I kept running back outside to check out the new meter that measures our total solar output. On our very first day, our net meter showed we were making more energy on our rooftop than we were using, pushing that extra energy back out onto the grid and powering the homes of our neighbors. As the week wore on, …

Europe’s ‘solar tunnel’ is a high-speed rail line with solar panel topping

Europe’s new rail innovation is the solar equivalent of a Good Morning Burger. We take two miles of Belgian high speed rail tunnel, soak it in rich creamery butter, and then we cover it with a shelter to protect it from nearby old-growth trees, eliminating the need to cut them down. Then we top it off with 16,000 solar panels. We call it Europe's first "solar tunnel." Here's a video of the beast: "For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can …

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