With the credit crunch exploding into full-on crisis mode, it has been a busy (and expensive) week for Congress. Most of the attention has fallen on the Fed's plan to have the federal government buy up distressed mortgage-backed securities in the hope of avoiding broader failures in the financial system. Amid the ensuing hullabaloo, lawmakers' efforts to extend tax credits for renewable energy were, by and large, relegated to the background. Various drafts of the legislation have languished for months between the House and Senate, making 2008 an anxious year for the renewable energy sector.
While solar power has proven to be profitable and easily adopted in developed nations, it is also one of the renewable energies most suitable for the developing world. Countries such as India, Brazil, and Nigeria, where sunlight is plentiful and the costs of climate change are likely to be high, are well suited to adopting measures such as solar-powered water pumps and street lamps. However, projects involving photovoltaic panels, the most popular form of solar technology, don’t come cheap. This is where the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) steps in.
The financial market's turbulent week is certainly going to have an impact upon the energy sector, and we will get to that soon. Right now the main line of journalists and financial analysts are focusing on the extent and nature of the troubles with a focus on New York financial circles, but the shock waves are going to travel outward and when they do we'll be sure to keep you posted.
It appears as if the solar tax credit may not be doomed, after all. The Wall Street Journal reports that a bi-partisan effort is underway to push the credit in as part of a wider suite of legislation.
With the ever-increasing interest in residential photovoltaics (solar electric systems), more and more people come to sites like GetSolar.com to figure out what all the fuss is about, and how these things actually work. Even homeowners who have progressed to the stage of figuring out the pitch of their roof and talking about budget -- even homeowners who already have a system! -- can be vague on the details of how these beautiful little systems do what they do.
Let us rejoice as India cements the beginning of a (hopefully) long relationship with solar with plans for its first polysilicon solar project, its largest solar thermal plant and the world’s largest solar farm. Not bad for a country just recently getting into the game—and perhaps expected, for a country with a potential generation capacity of 5,000 trillion kilowatt-hours a year from the sun alone.
It's evident Florida lawmakers and regulators are taking steps to ensure that the Sunshine State lives up to its nickname. As reported by the Miami Herald, the Public Service Commission (PSC) will increase the rate paid to owners of renewable-energy systems. At issue is net metering, the process by which excess electricity from such systems—called net excess generation (NEG)—is fed back into the grid and credited to the customer's utility account.
Although China may currently be the world’s factory for solar, having overtaken Germany as the world’s largest producer of solar cells—last year it produced 1,200 megawatts’ worth of solar cells, as opposed to Germany’s 875—it has started to take on the mantle of polysilicon production as well.
The National Basketball Association's Pheonix Suns have announced they will introduce a solar installation to a main parking garage at their stadium, the U.S. Airways Center. This move is a no-brainer from a marketing standpoint, and given the team's name I'm actually surprised they hadn't thought of this earlier.
If you read our blog regularly, you might have noticed that I'm always ranting about how solar needs to be popularized before it will really sweep the nation. Well, it's not there yet, but the last couple of weeks have given me a bit of hope. For one thing, last week's Democratic National Convention in Denver saw solar showcased in a couple of different ways: a temporary solar installation of 18.2kw, cosponsored by three different solar installers (AeonSolar, Evergreen Solar and PV Powered), offset the energy drain of the convention; an indoor display; REC Solar and MySpace teamed up to provide a solar-powered recharging station for conference attendees' cell phones, iPods, and whatnot; and the Denver Airport, where the convention was hosted, saw the dedication of its brand new permanent 2MW solar array. At this point I will avoid the temptation to make the obvious pun about blue going green...
Following up on a previous post, we provide a rough rule of thumb: solar makes the most sense for people with LARGE ELECTRIC BILLS. We consider a brief case: a PG&E customer in California that pays over $2,200 a year for electricity in a tiered pricing scheme.