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Alternative Energy / Solar Energy

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  • How A Solar Revolution Could Be Near

    Credit: ShutterstockCan we build enough carbon-free energy fast enough to avert catastrophic climate change without having to power this energy transition with fossil fuels that would undermine the whole transition? The answer is “yes,” and here’s why.The “global solar photovoltaic industry is likely now a net energy producer,” concluded a Stanford study released last year. That was followed by a very detailed analysis, Energy Balance of the Global Photovoltaic (PV) Industry, by post-doc Michael Dale and Global Climate & Energy Project director Sally Benson. They examined how much energy is consumed during the entire lifecycle of the production process for…

  • Could Solar Provide 27% Of World’s Energy By 2050?

    Rapid Expansion of Solar Depends on Massive Subsidies and High Carbon PriceThe International Energy Agency updated their technology roadmaps for solar PV and solar thermal energy, suggesting that, with significant policy and technological progress, solar could collectively contribute 27 percent of global electricity by 2050. Some commentators were quick to exclaim victory, but let’s remember that the IEA has provided a “roadmap” not a set of predictions, nor projections. To achieve that 27 percent requires a high global carbon price – which doesn’t yet exist – and for average annual solar PV deployment to quadruple from 36 GW installed in…

  • India Is Committed To Solar, But Don’t Invest Just Yet

    In an interview this week with the Guardian newspaper, India’s power and coal minister, Piyush Goyal, claimed that India would become a “renewable superpower” in the next few years. Before we get too excited about the environmental impacts of that ambitious goal, however, it should be noted that Goyal also envisages a simultaneous huge ramp up in coal-powered electricity production. This illustrates once again that while India sees renewable energy, and solar in particular, as part of the country’s long term energy plan, the country’s priority is an urgent need to expand the electricity supply any way possible.For this and…

  • How A Mistake May Lead To More Efficient Solar Power

    Despite how it sounds, the concept of an “organic solar cell” wasn’t dreamed up in some marketer’s hyperactive imagination. An organic solar cell is actually “a type of polymer solar cell that uses organic electronics -- a branch of electronics that deals with conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules -- for light absorption and charge transport to produce electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect.”They can match, and even better, the performance of conventional solar cells, and they cost less.They have drawbacks, though: specifically, pathways that lose energy. This means researchers need to find the right architecture for organic…

  • New York State’s Solar-Friendly Policies Could Become a Model

    New York State is transforming itself into a model of solar power.In April, Governor Andrew Cuomo committed $1 billion to NY-Sun Initiative, a relatively new incentive program for solar deployment. The program provides funding incentives that decrease over time as the industry scales up. As a result, about 316 megawatts of solar have already been installed or are under contract. Cuomo also signed a bill that cuts property taxes for buildings that add solar panels.Perhaps more importantly, New York State is constructing a cutting edge electricity marketplace, which will allow for the greater integration of renewable energy, as Stephen Lacey…

  • Texas Set To Become Solar Powerhouse

    Texas could finally become a leader in solar, thanks to a new resolution passed by the city council of Austin. The bill will require the municipal utility, Austin Energy, to obtain 60 percent of its electricity generation from renewables over the next decade, and to be completely carbon-free by 2030. It calls on Austin Energy to build 600 megawatts of solar power by 2017, and it mandates the city support the build out of 200 megawatts of distributed solar on rooftops. The council resolution, passed on August 28, could directly lead to the installation of an additional 800 megawatts of…

  • Why China Is Leading The World In Solar Power

    China is the world’s top energy consumer, with the vast majority of its electricity coming from domestically-mined coal. But the Asian nation is cutting its dependence on coal, oil and natural gas and replacing it with solar at a breakneck pace.Between January and the end of June, China added 3.3 gigawatts of solar capacity, double the additions over the same period last year, and equivalent to the entire solar capacity of Australia – one of the sunniest places on earth. That brings China’s total solar power supply up to 23 gigawatts, second only to Germany’s 36 GW, and just 13…

  • Follow the Yellow (Solar Panel) Road

    It's time for American roads to pull their own weight. Sure, we drive on them every day, enabling us to travel to practically every part of the country -- but is that enough? What if roads could also collect massive amounts of energy? That's the idea behind the sun-harvesting technology being proposed by a company called "Solar Roadways." According to the company's YouTube video, it's a technology that replaces all "roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, tarmacs, bike paths and outdoor recreation surfaces (i.e. basketball courts) with solar panels." The company claims that covering every road in America with these panels…

  • Solar Wars: China Loses a Battle

    The world’s biggest maker of solar panels wants to make sure investors think “soccer,” not “subsidies,” when they see the name “Yingli Solar.” That’s why billions of TV viewers are seeing Yingli’s logo, along with those of other corporate sponsors, on stadium walls during the World Cup in Brazil.But for Yingli and other Chinese solar companies, the real game is being played out in Washington and Brussels, and the result could either lift the industry out of the doldrums or kick off a vicious trade war.For years, China has faced accusations that it massively rigs the solar market by subsidizing…

  • China Might Be Winning The Race To Reduce Solar Costs

    Many people, even fanatical advocates of solar power, are unaware quite how close we are to reaching a critical milestone in the industry. Within a fairly short space of time, solar generated electricity will be fully cost competitive with coal-powered electricity -- at least if the governments of the world’s two largest energy consuming nations have their way. Both the U.S. and China have a stated goal of reducing the cost of solar generated electricity to that level, and quickly. How they are going about it says a lot about how each economic system works.In the U.S., despite the complaints…