Solar Power

Boeing to build recyclable 787’s with 100% renewable energy

The 10 acre roof of the new Boeing 787 airplane factory in North Charleston, South Carolina will be covered with enough thin-film solar panels to provide a fifth of the plant's power. The rest will come from a nearby biomass facility, which will be powered by shrub and tree waste. The key to keeping costs under control for the project is the unique nature of thin film solar panels — the vinyl siding of the solar world — which are a plastic laminate and are much cheaper than the traditional "crystalline" solar panels most of us think of when we …

Solar Power

If you like solar, tell your utility to publish this map

Distributed energy generation (like solar) brings unique and valuable benefits to the electric grid. But capturing those benefits means solar and other renewable energy developers must find the best places to plug in to the grid, e.g. where demand is high or infrastructure is stressed. The cost to connect distributed generation may also be lower in these areas. Unfortunately, data about a utility’s grid system is rarely public. California utilities are changing the game. To support its solar photovoltaic (PV) program, Southern California Edison (SCE) rolled out a map of its grid system, highlighting (in red) areas that “could potentially …

Physics breakthrough could mean solar panels made of nothing but glass

Exploiting an effect previously thought too small to be worth anyone's time, a bunch of researchers at the University of Michigan have figured out how to exploit the magnetic properties of light in a way that could ultimately lead to solar panels made entirely of glass or transparent ceramics. "We've all been taught that this doesn't happen," professor Stephen Rand told Michigan Today. "It's a very odd interaction. That's why it's been overlooked for more than 100 years." The research is nowhere near the point of application — currently, lasers are required to generate the effect — but the boffins …

What if the $152 billion to clean up Fukushima were spent on solar instead?

The projected cost for the management of the Fukushima crisis is $152 billion. And that doesn't even include the cost of building and operating the plant in the first place. What if all that scratch had been spent on solar panels instead? It would be amazing, that's what. Read this infographic and weep. (Click here for a larger version. Brought to you by solar buying club 1 Block Off the Grid.)

Solar Power

Australia announces big solar project — at a coal plant

The Kogan Creek Power Station.Photo: Kogan Solar BoostAustralian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday appeared at giant coal-fired power plant to announce that the Southern Hemisphere’s largest solar project would be built in Queensland. Why, you may be wondering, would the PM travel to a remote 750-megawatt coal power station to make a big renewable energy news pronouncement? Well, coal is king in Australia, and the 44-megawatt solar thermal project to be built by Areva Solar at the Kogan Creek Power Station will generate additional steam to drive the coal plant’s turbines. “By using energy from the sun with Areva’s …

Los Angeles to slather its rooftops with solar panels

Here's a crazy idea: apply the same incentives that have made Germany the world leader in rooftop solar power to a place that is actually sunny. Also, use the power generated from these panels to zero out the electricity costs of people in low-income housing, so the city has more money for education. Those are the suggestions of a new study from the Los Angeles Business Council, which argues that just sticking solar panels on commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings could generate enough power for 30,000 homes. Extending the program to individual homeowners, the study’s authors estimate, could easily double …

Renewable Energy

California solar has a sunny week

A rendering of the future Ivanpah solar plant. Photo: BrightSource EnergyIt’s only Tuesday but two milestones have been reached this week in the long march toward a carbon-free future. On Monday, BrightSource Energy became the first solar power plant developer to complete the financing of a large-scale project in two decades. The United States Department of Energy finalized a $1.6 billion loan guarantee BrightSource’s 370-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System solar thermal power plant now under construction in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. (The feds initially had pledged $1.37 billion but threw in another $230 million Monday.) As the …

Google goes all in on solar — to the tune of $168 million

Google has saved you from getting lost, running out of email storage space, and not knowing trivial facts about 90s TV shows. And now it’s going to help save you from a dystopian Mad Max future by investing in solar energy. The company just bet $168 million on solar tech, in the form of the Ivanpah “power tower” plant in the Mojave Desert in California, which should be finished in 2013. Power towers are simple: lay out an array of mirrors — 346,000, in this case — and aim them at a tower full of water. On a sunny day, …

Solar Power

Solar gardens to bring small-d democratic solar power to Colorado

Colorado is the first U.S. state to follow in Canada’s footsteps democratizing solar power.This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. Want to go solar but you have a shady roof? You rent? You don’t have $40,000? Last year, Colorado passed the first state law to create “community solar gardens” and the recent release of draft rules for Community Solar Gardens may open the floodgates, turning distributed solar power into democratic solar power. A solar garden is a 2 megawatt or smaller solar photovoltaic (PV) project with 10 or …

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