2018’s Most Efficient Solar Panels

May 30, 2018 by  
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2018’s Most Efficient Solar Panels

Solar Energy Batteries on the Rise

May 17, 2018 by  
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Solar Energy Batteries on the Rise

The Earth911.com Quiz #11: News Quiz!

May 17, 2018 by  
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Making smart sustainable choices requires practice. Earth911’s twice-weekly sustainability quiz … The post The Earth911.com Quiz #11: News Quiz! appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The Earth911.com Quiz #11: News Quiz!

California is about to be the first US state to require solar power on new homes

May 7, 2018 by  
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California is taking a huge step forward in clean energy this week, as the state is expected to require solar energy for just about all new homes, The Orange County Register reported . The California Energy Commission is slated to vote this Wednesday on new standards mandating almost all new houses be equipped with solar panels , beginning in 2020, and it’s expected they’ll approve the move. The Golden State “is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” according to California Building Industry Association technical director Bob Raymer. If approved, the solar mandate would cover all houses, apartments, and condominiums as high as three stories obtaining building permits after January 1, 2020, according to The Orange County Register. There could be alternatives or exceptions allowed for structures shaded by other buildings or trees, or if a roof is too small to allow for solar panels. The new provisions would offer compliance credits for builders who install batteries like Tesla’s Powerwall , allowing them to cut the size of solar systems. Homes won’t need to reach true net zero status under these standards, according to The Orange County Register. Related: San Francisco approves measure to require solar panels on new buildings Compared against a 2006 code, these new standards would add around $25,000 to $30,000 to construction costs, according to Meritage Homes ‘ vice president of environmental affairs C.R. Herro speaking to The Orange County Register. $14,000 to $16,000 of that would go to solar; $10,000 to $15,000 would go to increased insulation and appliances, windows, heating, and lighting that is more efficient . Herro said the $25,000 to $30,000 would lead to $50,000 to $60,000 in reduced operating costs during the home solar power system’s 25-year lifespan. Homebuilder and former Orange County Building Industry Association president Bill Watt told The Orange County Register the added costs could mean home prices are too high for many buyers, saying, “We’re not building enough housing already. Why not just pause for a little while, focus on the affordability and housing issues , then circle back?” Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips told The Orange County Register, “The technology is developing so fast, we think the timeline was a bit slow.” Via The Orange County Register Images via Pixabay and U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit

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California is about to be the first US state to require solar power on new homes

The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017

February 22, 2018 by  
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In 2017, the price for high-efficiency solar panels dropped from 72¢/W to 45¢/W, representing a 37 percent decline in cost. The falling price point is driven by several factors, including American consumer demand for higher solar efficiency to compensate for the higher-than-average energy consumption of the average American, as well as Chinese state investment in high-efficiency solar panel production. The shift is also a result of technological change as poly crystalline solar panels switch to mono crystalline, which are at least 10 percent more efficient while only 6 percent more expensive. Meanwhile, the price continues to drop. The primary difference between mono and poly solar panels is the structure by which silicon is shaped and molded into the panel. In mono crystalline solar panels, silicon is formed into bars, then cut into wafers, whereas poly crystalline solar panels are melted together to form wafers. The process to create mono solar panels was invented in 1918. As a result, the earliest solar panels were of the mono crystalline design. However, during an oil crisis-induced burst of solar energy research in the 1970s, an Exxon researcher discovered that poly panels could be manufactured more cheaply. Related: All-female high school team invents solar-powered tent for homeless As we are seeing in the greater efficiency and steady decline in cost for mono panels as of late, the cheap manufacturing of poly had its own hidden costs. As 2018 rolls along, some analysts are predicting that this may be the year in which mono crystalline solar panels make up the majority of solar panels manufactured worldwide. The rapidly declining cost of solar energy , even in the face of resistance by the United States government , demonstrates the possibility that a rapid transition to renewable energy may not be as far-fetched as current reality may make it seem. Via Electrek Images via Depositphotos and EIA

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The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017

The Seychelles creates debt-for-conservation deal with Leonardo DiCaprio

February 22, 2018 by  
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The Seychelles, an island nation in East Africa, recently announced the creation of two new Marine Protected Areas roughly as big as Great Britain. It’s part of what The Telegraph called a debt-for- nature swap: the island nation gets a $20 million debt relief plan backed by investors (including the foundation of our favorite eco hero Leonardo DiCaprio ), and in return it will place controls on fishing and tourism industries. In a debt-for- conservation deal designed by The Nature Conservancy , the Seychelles will protect areas covering 81,000 square miles. The move is not without controversy: fishing is limited in areas commercial fishermen and tour operators for years; in some places, like the Aldabra region, people won’t be allowed to fish at all. Tourism has been successful in the Seychelles in recent years, but The Telegraph said record numbers of visitors have taken their toll on the islands; commercial fishing has increased to meet demand. Biodiversity has eroded in the wake of two recent coral bleaching events. The Telegraph said debt restructuring will essentially send Seychelles repayments into a trust set to invest in plans to foster a sustainable blue economy. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio launches a new fund to save the lions Nature Conservancy said the Seychelles are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change because of their dependence on marine resources. They said the Marine Protected Areas will help the nation better prepare for the impacts of sea level rise , warming waters, and ocean acidification . “Without these Marine Protected Areas, activities like oil and gas exploration, deep-sea mining, dredging, and controversial fishing techniques could take place in one of the planet’s most biodiverse oceans with little or no restriction or direction,” the organization said. Today, Seychelles announced two new marine protected areas that equal the size of Great Britain. Join me and @nature_org in congratulating all those who made it happen. https://t.co/OygRCaKY37 — Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) February 21, 2018 DiCaprio tweeted the news, along with a link to a Nature Conservancy page where those in support can sign a letter congratulating the citizens of Seychelles. DiCaprio said, “This effort will help the people of Seychelles protect their ocean for future generations, and will serve as a model for future marine conservation projects worldwide. These protections mean that all species living in these waters or migrating through them are now far better shielded from overfishing , pollution, and climate change.” + Nature Conservancy + Congratulate the citizens of Seychelles Via The Telegraph Images via IIP Photo Archive on Flickr , Depositphotos , and Pixabay

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Platio unveils next-gen solar sidewalk that can charge electric vehicles

February 14, 2018 by  
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The sidewalks of the future could be paved with solar panels – and the clean energy they generate could power electric cars . Hungarian startup Platio recently installed a 50-square-foot solar sidewalk made of recycled plastic at an EV charging station in Budapest. Platio installed a 720 watt peak capacity (Wp) system on a sidewalk at one of the facilities of the logistics real estate company Prologis . Platio co-founder Miklós Ilyés said a team set up the system in a single day. When the clean energy from the paving system isn’t being utilized to charge cars, it helps power an office building nearby. Related: Recycled plastic paving company Platio installs first 3 solar systems Ilyés said , “As e-mobility rapidly emerges, the demand for more energy will grow soon as well. Local, independent renewable energy sources can supplement or even decentralize the utility grid .” Platio’s Solar Pavers integrate solar cells into paving elements comprised of recycled plastic. People can walk on Platio’s pavers, so the system integrates unobtrusively into the charging station. The company says their product doesn’t need a special foundation, and it can be upgraded with many smart functions. The company manufactures their power-generating systems in addition to installing and monitoring them. In a press statement, the company said: “The developers of Platio wanted to demonstrate that by turning energy-absorbing paved areas into huge walkable solar arrays , energy production can be achieved at large scale without taking up useful space or altering the cityscape.” Inhabitat has covered Platio in the past – when they installed their systems on a sidewalk in Kazakhstan, pontoons in Sweden, and smart benches where people can charge their phones in Budapest. + Platio Images courtesy of Platio

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Platio unveils next-gen solar sidewalk that can charge electric vehicles

New U.S. Solar Tariff to Stall Solar Energy Growth

January 31, 2018 by  
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Renewable energy could face tax problems in Republican compromise

December 19, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy advocates initially breathed a sigh of relief when the Republican tax bill reworked a provision that could have disrupted the industry’s $12 billion tax-equity market, Bloomberg reported . But a closer look reveals the bill includes what the publication described as “hidden pitfalls that could undercut its benefit.” Law firm Stoel Rives partner Greg Jenner told Bloomberg, “If Congress thought they were eliminating the trouble for renewables , they were wrong. It’s a question of how bad it will be.” Many solar and wind developers receive tax credits , and as they typically don’t have a big tax liability, third parties like insurance companies or banks will invest in their projects – basically in exchange for those credits, according to Bloomberg. The anxiety is over the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT), a provision intended to close loopholes for companies including insurers and banks that remit money to affiliates overseas. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. American Council on Renewable Energy president Greg Wetstone said, “The BEAT program will make it harder to use the tax credits – even though it’s significantly improved from what we were presented with” in the Senate. The compromise would expand which companies face the BEAT tax, according to Bloomberg. And because companies won’t be sure if they are subject to a BEAT tax bill, they might not be willing to do a tax-equity deal with renewable energy developers. The compromise tax bill would let companies offset up to 80 percent of their foreign-transaction tax with renewable energy credits, per Bloomberg, but the 80 percent offset expires in 2025. Separately, there could be less demand for renewable energy tax credits if the overall corporate tax rate is trimmed down to 21 percent, according to Bloomberg. The publication said all these details mean there’s a lot of uncertainty in the $12 billion tax-equity market’s future. Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Renewable energy could face tax problems in Republican compromise

How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study

December 19, 2017 by  
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It turns out mushrooms aren’t just great to eat, but played an essential role in creating an atmosphere suitable for animal life, according to a new study. The earliest plants to dwell on land did not have well developed roots or vascular systems. Fungi, among the earliest colonizers of land, helped facilitate the transfer of phosphorus from rocky soil to the primitive plants , which required the mineral to photosynthesize. “The results of including data on fungal interactions present a significant advance in our understanding of Earth’s early development,” said Benjamin Mills, co-author of a report on the research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B . “Our work clearly shows the importance of fungi in the creation of an oxygenated atmosphere.” The recent research shines a light on a process that remains mysterious, even in modern times. “Photosynthesis by land plants is ultimately responsible for about half of the oxygen generation on Earth, and requires phosphorus, but we currently have a poor understanding of how the global supply of this nutrient to plants works,” said Mills. Without fungi helping them acquire their necessary phosphorus, the earliest land plants would not have been able to survive. The oldest fossil of a land-living organism is of a fungi species, one of many which moved on land and helped to break down the rocky mantle into soil, enabling plants with roots to more easily extract their minerals . Related: Paris has a new underground – a massive farm for mushrooms and veggies To test fungi’s symbiotic relationship with early plants, a research team at the University of Leeds incorporated computer modeling and laboratory experiments which involved ancient species of fungus that still endure today. The researchers observed the differing rates at which different species of fungi exchanged phosphorus and carbon, which indicated how quickly plants might have produced oxygen. “We used a computer model to simulate what might have happened to the climate throughout the Palaeozoic era if the different types of early plant-fungal symbioses were included in the global phosphorus and carbon cycles,” said Katie Field, study co-author and plant biologist. “We found the effect was potentially dramatic, with the differences in plant-fungal carbon-for-nutrient exchange greatly altering Earth’s climate through plant-powered drawdown of CO2 for photosynthesis , substantially changing the timing of the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere.” Via Science Alert Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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