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Really, Really Big Solar Power Project Counts Google Among Its Backers

The Ivanpah solar power plant is a work in progress along a stretch of California desert just west of the Nevada border.

Earlier this week, Google announced it will invest $168 million in the 370-megawatt (MW) project, which relies on solar thermal technology that's sometimes informally called the "power tower" (pictured left). This announcement comes after the Internet search company last week made known its $5 million investment in a Germany-based solar energy facility.

Unlike photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert the sun's rays directly into electricity,

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California Renewable Energy Standard Raised to 33%, Gov. Brown Hints at 40%

California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law a mandate requiring utilities get a third of their electricity from renewable resources like solar panels and wind turbines.

The new bill promises to bring certainty to a fast-growing market for solar energy, in particular. With the transition to a new Governor this year, the future of California's renewables portfolio standard was periodically brought into question (see here and here). Without formal legislative action, the standard would have remained stuck at 20 percent rather than the more aggressive 33 percent.

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DWP Suspends Los Angeles Solar Rebate Due to 'Record Demand'

Last fall Los Angeles' main utility, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), was weighing a 30-percent cut to its solar rebate. Now, due to "record demand" for the rebates, DWP last Friday suspended the application process for at least 90 days.

The numbers tell all: some 2,000 rebate applications remain unprocessed, representing more than $110 million in demand for a round of rebate funds that's capped at $30 million for 2011. It seems people in L.A. really love solar power and how much money solar panels can shave off monthly electric bills. This is good news.

The bad news is that no one knows how things will pan out. According to DWP's website,

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Ralph Lauren Solar-Powered Backpack Carries, Charges Your Stuff

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, April 11 2011 under: Ralph Lauren, Solar Gadgets, Solar Backpack, Solar Technology

In our four years as a blog, we've seen just about every solar-powered gadget out there, including solar surfboards, solar suitcases and a solar helmet. So, when Ralph Lauren recently announced the release of a solar-powered backpack, we weren't exactly surprised.

The bag is part of the designer's RLX line, which offers buyers "exceptionally luxe lifestyle apparel and innovative athletic gear." It is perfect for me, in other words. Next time I'm exploring the Amazon, I can both (a) look great and, thanks to the backpack, (b) get enough juice from its 2.45-watt solar panel to charge my GPS device and iPod.

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Google Announces $5 Million Germany Solar Project

Posted by Adam Sewall In Friday, April 8 2011 under: Solar Power Info, Cost and Financing, Google

Google is up to it again. The search giant recently announced plans to invest five million big ones in a solar energy park in Germany.

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5 Reasons Solar Power Beats the Pants Off Coal

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, April 7 2011 under: Solar PV Panels, Coal

Looking at the following chart, it's pretty clear we get way more of our electricity from coal than we do from solar power. I mean, solar doesn't even show up when compared to the Goliath that is coal:

Crazy, huh?

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Tufts Energy Conference to Feature Top Speakers, Cocktail Party

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, April 6 2011 under: Massachusetts Solar, Tufts Energy Conference, Boston, Solar Power Info

What follows may or may not be a shameless plug for my alma mater. Regardless, it's a great annual event that deserves a bit of press...

The Tufts Energy Conference, now in its sixth year, offers attendees the chance listen to (and mingle with) some of the foremost thinkers in energy-related fields.

Plus, this years there's a cocktail party (taking place Friday, April 15)... what more could you want?

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Chu Announces Funding for SunShot Solar Energy Manufacturing Projects

Department of Energy head Stephen Chu yesterday announced over $110 million in funding to support the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing techniques.

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Next 10 Years: Cost of Solar Will Drop by Half, U.S. Will Build 5 Nuclear Power Plants

Bloomberg New Energy Finance this week is having its annual conference in New York. Among the tidbits making their way through the Interwebs, I found the following particularly interesting:

(1) Michael Liebreich, chairman of the research group, noted in a talk that he expects the cost of developing a solar power project to drop by half in the next decade, worldwide. New Energy Finance numbers suggest the cost of large solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to decline to from around $3.00 per watt today to $1.45 per watt in 2020.

A reduction of that magnitude would make solar energy more competitive with fossil fuels.

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More Solar Power Coming to Sacramento, California

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, April 4 2011 under: Solar Power Info, SolarCity, Sacramento, California Solar

SolarCity, a fast-growing company that provides solar lease options to homeowners in many parts of the country, today announced it plans to install more than 8,000 solar panels for the City of Sacramento, California.

At 1.9 megawatts (MW), the solar panel installation would be the largest such facility in the city and would produce around 2.6 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in the first year of operation -- enough to power roughly 235 typical American homes.

“This project is a triple win for Sacramento -- it will save taxpayers money by lowering the city’s energy costs, reduce pollution by generating renewable power, and create more local jobs to install the panels,” said [Sacramento] Mayor Kevin Johnson. “It’s our goal to become a greener city and generating clean energy on our facilities is keeping with that commitment.”

Go Sacramento!

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