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Obama Talks Energy: Cut Imports, Use Alternatives, Boost Production at Home

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, March 30 2011 under: Obama, Natural Gas, oil, Nuclear Power, Energy Policy

Wrestling the energy boogieman has become a perennial rite of passage for U.S. presidents, dating at least as far back as Nixon.

Fittingly, President Obama today was at Georgetown University, where he outlined a broad initiative to cut oil imports, boost domestic production of oil and gas, and increase the use of cellulosic ethanol and natural gas to power vehicles.

With gas prices topping $4 a gallon in some parts of the country, like southern California, and the summer driving season not that far off, the president's comments couldn't come a moment too soon.

"In an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody," the Obama said in what the White House billed as a significant energy address.

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California's 33% Renewables Standard Hangs in the Balance, Assembly to Vote Today

Regular readers (among others) will know that California is the nation's clean energy leader. The state has on the books a law requiring that a fifth of all electricity come from renewable sources by 2010. A 2009 executive order by former Governor Schwarzenegger raised that target to 33 percent. But, thanks to procedural nuances, the Governator's move could technically be rolled back. In order to still, the new (higher) renewable energy standard must pass formal legislative muster.

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Pace of Solar Panel Installations to Match Apple's Sales Growth

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, March 29 2011 under: Solar Industry News, Solar PV Panels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Apple

I'll be the first to admit it: solar panels aren't as cool as the iPad. I mean, at the end of the day, all they do is turn sunlight into clean, predictably priced electricity, right? The iPad, meanwhile, can do just about everything short of raising your children. (To be fair, I think they're working on an app for that.)

But just because solar panels aren't as cool as the iPad doesn't mean they're insignificant.

Case in point: new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that solar-panel installations may grow by more than 50 percent in 2011, a rate that would match Apple's sales growth after the Cupertino, Calif.-based company launched the iPad in 2010.

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University of Maryland Turns On Big Solar Energy Farm

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, March 28 2011 under: PPA, Solar Schools, University of Maryland, Solar PV Panels, Maryland Solar

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) today inaugurated a 2.2-megawatt (MW) solar farm that will meet 15 percent of campus electricity needs.

Covering 17 acres of land previously used for agricultural research, the 7,800-panel solar array is the "largest concentration of photovoltaic modules on one site" in all of Maryland, according to the press release. In its first year of operation, it should generate 3.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) -- roughly the equivalent annual demand of 300 typical American houses.

Like most larger-scale solar installations, the University of Maryland's 2.2-MW array was completed by way of a power purchase agreement (PPA). SunEdison -- a large PPA provider headquartered in Beltsville, MD -- engineered and installed the system at no up-front cost to UMES or the state of Maryland.

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Solar and Wind Could Meet 25 Percent of Oahu's Electricity Needs

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, March 23 2011 under: Hawaii Solar, Solar Power Info, wind, HECO

A new report from the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) suggests that the island of O'ahu could meet a quarter of its electricity needs using solar power and wind resources.

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Solar Panel Plant to be Built at Former GM Facility in Arizona

It's a sign of the times: the site of a former General Motors vehicle testing facility will soon house a manufacturing plant dedicated to making clean-energy-producing solar panels.

First Solar, the Tempe, Arizona-based maker of advanced thin-film solar modules, today announced it will build a its new U.S. manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona. The company will invest about $300 million in the facility and, in so doing, create some 600 jobs.

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Great News: Xcel Energy's Colorado Solar Incentive Back On

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, March 16 2011 under: Solar Energy Rebates, Colorado Solar, Solar Energy Incentives, Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy caused quite a stir back in February, when it temporarily stopped accepting applications for its popular solar incentive program and asked state regulators for permission to cut the rebate by almost 90 percent, from $2.00 per watt to $0.25 per watt. The move threatened to pour cold water on the state's growing solar energy industry and make it more costly for homeowners to install solar panels.

After a month or so of negotiations, the parties involved -- Colorado officials, solar industry participants and Xcel Energy -- have reached an agreement to resume the utility's Solar*Rewards solar incentive program:

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Where Are America's 104 Nuclear Power Plants Located?

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, March 16 2011 under: Japan, Nuclear Power, United States, Energy Policy

As a follow on to yesterday's blog post, where we broadly discussed the country's electricity sources, I got to thinking: Where, exactly, are our nuclear power facilities?

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission offers a lot of useful information, including this map:

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Where Does Our Electricity Come From?

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, March 15 2011 under: Natural Gas, Coal, Nuclear Power, Energy Policy

With the on-going calamity in Japan and phrases like "nuclear meltdown" and "radiation sickness" in headlines, it's to be expected that people discuss with renewed attention the risks and benefits of nuclear energy. At very least, it's helpful to stop and take a moment to think about where our electricity comes from.

Here in the U.S., we get about one-fifth of our electricity from nuclear power. Coal is still king, representing nearly half of total electricity generation, nationwide. Natural gas is number two, used to meet about a quarter of our demand.

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Solar Power 'Not Just a California Thing Anymore'

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, March 14 2011 under: Solar Industry News, GTM Research, SEIA, California Solar

Todd Woody of Grist Magazine summarizes nicely a recent solar industry report, saying solar power is "not just a California thing anymore." More specifically, Woody reports that

[b]ack in 2004-2005, California accounted for a whopping 80 percent of the U.S. market. In 2010, that share fell to 30 percent, with 258.9 megawatts of the 878.3 megawatts of photovoltaic power installed that year ...

If California's share of the solar pie is shrinking, it must mean that other states' are growing.

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