The technology behind solar lights has not changed in many years. There have been a couple of changes. One major change has been in the cost of manufacturing and now almost all solar powered lights are manufactured in China. Another major change has been in the design of the solar light. Some of the manufacturers we represent at SolarTown have been innovating brighter solar lights with updated design. This is all well and good until they find that some of their competitors allegedly have ripped off their design. Some of the lights have a cord so that the light can be in the shade but the panel is in the sun. During the day the solar panel can catch the sun’s rays and send the electrical charge to the battery for storage. Then at night the solar light grabs the charge from the solar battery to light up your backyard. Now that would be an innovation, how to design a solar light that doesn’t need the sun to work.
There has long been a debate regarding whether solar power will compete effectively with other energy resources in price and reliability. States such as California that have provided economic incentives to solar energy have experienced explosive growth in solar energy utilization. Nevertheless, most states in US are still highly dependent on coal and natural gas. Solar energy is starting to compete with natural gas and oil, but the drop in the cost of natural gas has dimmed solar energy’s prospects. To solve the high front-cost issue, solar power is now still relying on government subsidies. Some researchers have been doubting if there is any way to end subsidies while still promoting green energy. One way would be to place a fee on CO2 emissions. Compared to expensive oil, relatively dirty coal and troubled nuclear power, renewable energy can definitely play a leading role in the energy needs of the United States. It will be a balance of cost, reliability, consistency, and government policy.
Just like you, the solar panels on top of your roof are not as productive at high temperatures! Most people think that with the more direct sunlight the more energy the panels will produce, but then don’t worry about the accompanying high temperature. Cooling solar cells can often be a pretty expensive and time consuming process with previous solutions including the use of chemicals or gallons of water. Solar panels could actually be more efficient if they did not “overheat” as often. The problem is how to do this in a gentle and inexpensive way. Researchers at Stanford University have recently unveiled new coating made out of silica glass that will allow the solar cells to cool themselves, but still receive the same amount of sunlight and produce the same amount of energy. A silica, pyramid patterned coating was seen to work the best by being transparent to visible light and easily able to redirect thermal rays back into the atmosphere.
Guest blog from DC Sun. As you have probably heard, Exelon has plans to take control of Pepco, our local electricity utility. This deal would make Exelon the biggest power distributor in America. And they’re not interested in working with local stakeholders to bring more solar to the District. (Exelon has a history of undermining local stakeholders and opposing renewables.) As frustrating as Pepco can be, Exelon would be even worse.
Are you going on that summer holiday in August? If you plan on staying at a five-star hotel on Oahu, then please do not read this post. If you are planning on getting out of the city but want to stay connected, then you should read on about how solar energy can help make your trip easier. I just came back from a glorious vacation with the family. We couldn’t get enough of the fresh air, the vistas and just the immense and penetrating beauty that the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion have to offer. And the kids were especially happy that we could stay connected. You may enjoy the hiking or admiring the views, but you need to remember that the kids want to be able to use their electronics even when the nearest outlet is miles away. And in an emergency, you don’t want to look down at a drained cell phone. This risk is especially acute when you are using a lot of energy on your cell phone to take pictures. Then you need to make a telephone call and you may not have enough juice on your tablet or cell phone. That is no problem. Just connect your telephone or tablet to a solar backpack and you can stay connected.
Are you still suffering withdrawal after the exhilaration of the final game of the 2014 World Cup? It is now less than four years before the World Cup reconvenes in Russia. Russia is already preparing for the next World Cup and trying to match the renewable energy commitment that Brazil devoted to the 2014 World Cup. Germany will defend its title as Russia prepares eleven cities to host the World Cup in 2018 and if the Winter Olympics is any clue, the Russians will not spare any expense to impress the world. Since FIFA makes sustainability a priority, Russia will toe the party line and develop the sites for the next World Cup with sustainability in mind. FIFA looks to advance its role as the topic of sustainability encourages city officials to revisit financial plans due to future savings in energy costs. In 2010 the organization added for the first time a renewable energy company to its list of sponsors and has since been outspoken in favor of those countries who invest in their future energy sources.
Come on ladies, shatter that glass ceiling! It seems to be that more women are gaining ground in the solar industry with positions not only in engineering and installation, but also in sales and management. Studies have shown that diversity in the workplace results in more revenue and boosts morale. Individual women as well as associations are changing gender diversity in the solar industry. And this is happening in both developed and underdeveloped countries creating better opportunities for women everywhere. Non-profit organizations and women high up in companies are creating projects and methods to further the employment of women in the solar industry.
Dry and arid conditions plague many countries around the world resulting in increasing scarcity of drinking or irrigation water. Thankfully solar water pumps may be an environmentally friendly solution to this problem in countries such as Australia, Yemen and Nepal. New technology from 2013 is being implemented in rural and heavily farmed areas to give farmers townspeople better access to fresh water. Solar water pumps are allowing farmers there to replace the economic burden of a diesel engine with a renewable option. For the past three years diesel has been in short supply in Yemen so Mufrih Saleh, a farmer from the Darb Wada’a area in the Sa’ada governorate was glad to make the switch to solar power. “Around 12 percent of Yemen’s total consumption of diesel, estimated at 270,000 tons per month, goes to water-pumping generators, according to Iskander Al-Aghbari, manager of the Agricultural Irrigation Department of the Agriculture Ministry. And about 405,000 acres of Yemen’s cultivable land, totaling 1.5 million acres, is irrigated by water pumped from beneath the ground by diesel generators.”
Talk about a power move. SolarTown is located in Washington, DC, also home to some of the nation’s finest universities. Some of these universities, American University, George Washington University and George Washington University Hospital, have joined together in making everyone’s lives a little better. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the schools have committed to sourcing more than half their power from solar farms in a 20-year agreement with Duke Energy Renewables, a company based in North Carolina. In this plan, 243,000 solar panels are expected to be fully functional by 2015 along with three solar farms that are anticipated to generate 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year–the equivalent of satisfying the needs of 10,000 households.
Money talks and the Koch Brothers are the most loquacious of the anti-solar movement. They have crafted a well-orchestrated movement under the aegis of the innocuous sounding name of Americans for Prosperity to derail the solar and renewable energy movement in states throughout the country. We don’t know if the Koch brothers are behind every legislative initiative to scale back solar energy, but certainly their robust wallet bankrolls the most vocal of these efforts to limit solar energy’s encroachment on fossil fuels. The good news is that solar energy is now becoming a staple in the energy basket in the United States. But solar energy’s success now breeds these attacks from the fossil fuel industry and well-moneyed conservatives. This void is national policy left the states to craft their own energy policy and over forty states enacted renewable energy standards. But without a national policy, each of these states is a potential battleground vulnerable to attacks bankrolled by the Koch Brothers. We are now seeing the effect of no national policy on energy, and we can expect that with the recent successes in Oklahoma and Ohio, that these attacks will be expanded to other states.