Indiana governor delivers blow to solar industry

May 4, 2017 by  
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The solar industry provides three times as many jobs in the state of Indiana as natural gas, but governor Eric Holcomb doesn’t seem to care. Despite Department of Energy statistics that show the industry’s potential benefits to his constituents, Holcomb just signed a bill reducing incentives for solar power , impacting both installers and customers. Holcomb signed Senate Bill 309 this week. It’s better than a previous variant, which would have treated homeowners as power plants and consumers simultaneously, requiring them to sell all of the power generated on their own rooftops at the wholesale rate, around four cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh), and then buy it back at the retail rate of about 11 cents per kwh. That version didn’t go through; but the new bill hits net metering , or the opportunity for homeowners to sell excess energy at the retail rate in Indiana. Now they can only sell it at just above the wholesale rate. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. That’s not all. Utilities can now charge those homeowners with rooftop solar an extra fee for “energy delivery costs.” Some people think the bill’s ambiguous language also ends net metering entirely for people obtaining power from community solar, or those leasing their panels. People who get rooftop solar installed after 2022 won’t be able to benefit from net metering at all; neither will those people who replace or expand the system they have now after 2017. The public were against the bill, according to Hoosier Environmental Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda who said, “Ask Republicans , ‘What kind of feedback are you getting from your constituents?’ They’ll tell us that they have gotten dozens and dozens of calls opposing the bill, but zero supporting the bill.” Solar installer Paul Steury of Indiana-based Photon Electric said the law could hurt sales since it’s stripped away incentives. He said he knows many representatives who didn’t listen to the people. Indiana rooftop solar owner Lanette Erby told Nexus Media, “We’re currently on an inverter with the electric company, but obviously if the net metering bill were to go through, we’d be purchasing battery backups. That’s where we’re at. The same kind of legislation killed the solar industry in a couple of other states…which is terrible because it’s creating so many jobs.” Via Nexus Media Images via Rectify Solar Facebook

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Indiana governor delivers blow to solar industry

Architects envision a bright new future for Milan’s abandoned railways

May 4, 2017 by  
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Five international studios recently unveiled exciting plans to revitalize seven disused rail yards in Milan, Italy. MAD Architects , EMBT , Stefano Boeri Architects , Cino Zucchi Architetti and Mecanoo reimagined the brownfield sites as beautiful green spaces with social housing and green transportation systems. MAD Architects focused on incorporating sustainable mobility in their design. The team envisioned an entire ecosystem of cycle lanes, footpaths, and pedestrian-friendly spaces that connect different spatial concepts dedicated to different functions. Related: MAD offers up two design proposals for Lucas Museum: one for SF, one for LA Miralles Tagliabue EMBT designed a project named Miracoli a Milano (Miracles in Milan) that includes an area devoted to creativity, one that focuses on education, one dedicated to leisure and entertainment, and a zone for emerging, innovative start-up companies . Stefano Boeri Architects proposed an urban reforestation project for the city. The proposal would transform 90% of the site area into public lawns, woods, green spaces, and orchards interconnected by a sustainable mobility network. Related: UNESCO announces winning design for the Bamiyan Cultural Center in Afghanistan Dutch firm Mecanoo designed seven mobility hubs where trains, subway lines, trams and busses would meet and link to other local and regional hubs. Cino Zucchi Architetti designed a proposal that references the traditional Brolo wooded garden. They replicated the flexibility of this space and envisioned different sites as distinctive environments dominated by greenery. + MAD Architects + Miralles Tagliabue EMBT + Stefano Boeri Architects + Cino Zucchi Architetti + Mecanoo Via Dezeen

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Architects envision a bright new future for Milan’s abandoned railways

Indian ‘fruit of the gods’ could lower cost of solar cells by 40%

May 4, 2017 by  
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Could India’s ‘fruit of the gods’ help lower the price of solar cells ? Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee discovered jamun, a black plum, contains a pigment able to absorb sunlight. They think utilizing the fruit in mass production of solar panels could slash costs. Jamun, Syzygium cumini , is indigenous to south Asia and is sold on the street for cheap prices. Jamun trees can grow to be nearly 100 feet tall and live for 100 years, and the black plums from those trees are lauded for medicinal and nutritional value. But now they may play a role in generating clean energy as well, thanks to their pigment anthocyanin. Related: India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase IIT-Roorkee assistant professor Soumitra Satapathi told Quartz India, “We were looking at why the jamuns are black. We extracted the pigment using ethanol and found that anthocyanin was a great absorber of sunlight.” Satapathi and two other researchers from the institute used that anthocyanin as a sensitizer in dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). They think utilizing naturally occurring dyes, like the jamun pigment, could lower solar panel costs by 40 percent. Anthocyanin is also found in blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and cranberries. DSSCs aren’t as efficient as traditional silicon-based solar cells yet, but could offer a low cost alternative – beneficial especially for India as the country aims to gain 40 percent of energy from renewables by 2030. But the IIT scientists aren’t quite there yet; their DSSCs only have an efficiency of 0.5 percent, contrasted with traditional solar cells’ efficiency of over 15 percent. Nevertheless, the scientists pointed out jamun is widely available, and could offer a biodegradable , non-toxic alternative to synthetic dyes that have been used in DSSCs. The IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics published the research online recently. Via EcoWatch and Quartz India Images via Dinesh Valke on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Indian ‘fruit of the gods’ could lower cost of solar cells by 40%

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