As some federal energy incentives end, New York eyes substitutes

March 8, 2017 by  
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The Empire State is stepping up by providing up-front incentives for small wind installations and renewable thermal technologies.

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As some federal energy incentives end, New York eyes substitutes

How one Indian city is taking on air pollution

March 8, 2017 by  
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Ahmedabad, India aims to protect its most vulnerable from dangerous air pollution.

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How one Indian city is taking on air pollution

How real estate developers can profit from solar

March 1, 2017 by  
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Entrepreneurial firms see installations as a way to reduce vacancy rates or increase leasing rates.

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How real estate developers can profit from solar

How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

February 28, 2017 by  
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Just a few years ago, living off the grid conjured up images of tiny cabins in the middle of nowhere. Today, the dream of average American homeowners powering their homes with alternative energies is coming true. Solar panels on your neighbor’s…

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How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase

February 14, 2017 by  
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India just made a huge commitment to solar power . They’re doubling the planned capacity in their solar parks program from 20 gigawatts (GW) up to 40 GW. The government has also given a green light to the program’s second phase. India Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley said the government will move forward with the solar parks program’s second phase in a union budget speech. According to CleanTechnica the government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified multiple solar energy projects that possess a cumulative capacity of 20 GW, and will add an extra 20 GW of capacity under the second phase. Related: India just fired up the world’s largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes Solar parks could be a huge win for India. CleanTechnica reports it seems many consumers aren’t aware of the benefits of rooftop solar , but also utilities aren’t well equipped to handle rooftop systems. But the government seems to recognize solar energy could be a perfect fit for the growing country that needs a renewable source of energy and also enjoys around 300 days of sunshine yearly. According to a 2014 MNRE document titled Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects , “Solar power projects can be set up anywhere in the country, however the scattering of solar power projects leads to higher project cost per MW and higher transmission losses…The solar park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects, by providing to developers an area that is well characterized, properly infra-structured, and where the risk of the projects can be minimized as well as the facilitation of the permitting process.” According to The Indian Express , the government has approved 33 solar parks in 21 states. CleanTechnica notes while the government has expanded the current solar parks program, the target for overall installed capacity by March 2022 in India is still the same at 100 GW. Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase

Jimmy Carter built a new solar plant on his old peanut farm

February 14, 2017 by  
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Jimmy Carter is once again pioneering solar energy projects. The former president who almost 40 years ago installed solar panels at the White House just unveiled a solar power project on his Plains, Georgia farm, where he once cultivated soybeans and peanuts. The 3,852 solar panels on his land can generate enough renewable energy for more than half of the 683-person town where Carter was born. Carter leased 10 acres of land for a 1.3 megawatt solar array to Georgia-based SolAmerica Energy , who first approached Carter’s grandson Jason Carter regarding the project. The panels, which can move to follow the sun, will provide power to the grid through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Georgia Power . The New York Times reports the family will make under $7,000 a year from the solar project. Related: White House Solar Panels Fire Up for the First Time Since Jimmy Carter Left The former president, who is now 92, invested time in the solar project making notes in the lease agreement’s margins and regularly visiting the farm. Carter promoted solar power nearly four decades ago with his White House array, and although the next president, Ronald Reagan, removed the panels, Carter didn’t give up on clean energy. He recently said in an interview at his old high school, “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs – good-paying and productive and innovative jobs – is through the search for renewable sources of energy. I haven’t seen that happen yet, but I’m still hoping for that.” Carter’s wife Rosalynn said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “It’s very special to me because I was so disappointed when the panels came off of the White House, and now to see them in Plains is just terrific.” Experts and the former president have said the farm array, while small-scale, could still offer an example for other areas of agrarian America. Via The New York Times Images via SolAmerica Energy

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Jimmy Carter built a new solar plant on his old peanut farm

Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

February 14, 2017 by  
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Researchers have found an economical way to prevent humidity from destroying crops in both small and large scale agricultural operations. Small beads made from a porous mineral called zeolite absorb water molecules , preventing fungal toxins from growing on seeds and grain in developing countries. The beads prove to be less expensive, time-consuming, and resource-dependent than more common farming practices. Zeolite beads , developed by Rhino Research in Thailand, have been specially engineered so their pores are just the right size to absorb water molecules. This small but effective fix can help farmers in places like Nepal, India, and Kenya, where about a third of crops are lost due to the effects of excess moisture. By placing the beads adjacent to the harvest in mesh bags or other screened-in containers, crops will be safe from a significant amount of the moisture that leads to rotting or the spread of fungus. Related: 93 percent of the world’s seed diversity has vanished the last century Larger operations can also benefit from zeolite beads. Instead of blowing hot air over walnuts, almonds, rice, and other grains, these dry harvested crops can be passed through the absorbent beads. A flow of ambient air is all that is needed afterward, saving batches from being scorched – a problem that ruins quality and taste. To keep the beads effective, heating them in a compact oven removes excess moisture so they can be reused. + Rhino Research Via  Technology Review Images via Rhino Research

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Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

Sandia solar glitter can fit into and power devices of any size or shape

February 9, 2017 by  
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Small, lightweight, flexible: these attributes when applied to solar cells hint at a far-off clean-powered future to come. But Sandia National Laboratories is now one step closer to seeing the tiny bendy solar cells they’ve developed, which they call solar glitter, on the market. These energy-generating cells could easily be integrated in small gadgets like drones , satellites , or smartphones. Former Sandia scientist Murat Okandan started his own company, mPower Technology, Inc. , and recently signed a licensing agreement with Sandia for microsystems enabled photovoltaics (MEPV), the technology that makes solar glitter possible. Okandan described the moment as a key milestone, saying, “It is an extremely exciting time in the solar industry with the upcoming critical, rapid change in the worldwide energy infrastructure .” Related: Amazing Glitter-Sized Photovoltaic Cells Look Like Golden Snowflakes MEPV draws on microdesign and microfabrication techniques to create the tiny solar cells that are then are released into a solution much like printing ink. The mix is then printed onto an inexpensive material. mPower will commercialize MEPV as Dragon SCALEs, which Sandia says will “fit into and power devices or sensors of any shape or size.” Dragon SCALEs fold like paper for easy transportation, and could be utilized as portable energy generators. They could be installed more rapidly and cheaply than typical solar power systems. Okandan said Dragon SCALEs are more reliable, with lower energy costs, than the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells common today. In a statement he said, “The key limitation to silicon is that if you bend and flex it, it will crack and shatter. Our technology makes it virtually unbreakable while keeping all the benefits of high efficiency, high reliability silicon PV. It allows us to integrate PV in ways that weren’t possible before, such as in flexible materials, and deploy it faster in lighter-weight, larger-area modules.” Via Treehugger Images via Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories and Sandia National Laboratories

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Sandia solar glitter can fit into and power devices of any size or shape

Tesla to start test-building the Model 3 this month

February 9, 2017 by  
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Now that the Chevy Bolt has officially arrived, the attention is now on Tesla to see if it can meet its production deadlines for the Model 3. According to Reuters, Elon Musk’s company is now one step closer to the start of the official production as the automaker plans to test-build the Model 3 later this month. Tesla hasn’t confirmed how many Model 3 vehicles will be produced this month, but it will likely be a small number. In part this will allow the automaker test the existing assembly system, and quality test the Model 3 . It’s rumored that the pilot production will kick off on February 20, which will also give Tesla the ability to share the news and potentially reveal pre-production models two days later when it shares its four-quarter 2016 results on February 22. Related: Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car Tesla is expected to shut down production at its California plant for a week later this month to prepare for the high-volume Model 3. The brief shutdown will enable Tesla to make some necessary changes to the paint shop and other maintenance upgrades, both prerequisites for kicking off production of the Model 3 later this year. If all goes as planned, this should happen in July, and Tesla hopes to ramp up production significantly by 2018. + Tesla Via Reuters All images © Tesla

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Tesla to start test-building the Model 3 this month

Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S.

February 8, 2017 by  
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Regardless of what one fossil fuel-loving president might like, renewable energy is flourishing in the United States. A new survey from nonprofit The Solar Foundation reveals there are more than twice as many workers employed in the solar industry as there are in coal . The solar industry employs over 260,000 people, and pays a median wage of $25.96 an hour. In 2016, the solar industry created one out of every 50 jobs added, according to The Solar Foundation’s findings. These solar jobs can be found in all 50 states. Employers the foundation surveyed said they anticipate a 10 percent employment increase in the next 12 months. The industry employs 28 percent women, 17 percent Latino or Hispanic, and seven percent African American. Also, there are seven percent veterans in the overall United States workforce , compared to nine percent in solar jobs. Related: The Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 full-time, permanent jobs According to the report, even though solar accounts for just 1.3 percent of America’s electricity, “Solar employs slightly more workers than natural gas , over twice as many as coal, over three times that of wind energy , and almost five times the number employed in nuclear energy . Only oil /petroleum has more employment (by 38 percent) than solar.” But Vox points out in order for solar to overtake polluting energy sources, it needs to be cheap. Right now solar requires more manpower per megawatt-hour than any other form of power. For the industry to bring costs down, they’ll likely need to automate some jobs, and won’t require as many human workers. On the other hand, solar may need to employ lots of people initially to gain political clout. Vox cites information from the Center for Responsive Politics , which reveals renewable companies spend far less on lobbying than oil and gas companies. But if an industry creates jobs – as solar does – it may garner more influence. For example, even some Republicans now defend wind and solar production tax credits, as wind energy is a noteworthy source of jobs in states like Ohio and Iowa. Trump can wipe any mention of solar from his White House energy page for now, but should solar and other renewable energy industries keep on adding jobs, he may just have to pay more attention. + The Solar Foundation Via Vox Images via 10 10 on Flickr and Student Design and and Experiential Learning Center on Flickr

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Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S.

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