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Solyndra Failure and US Solar Industry Myths

Posted by Matt Jennison In Friday, September 23 2011 under: Solar Power Info

Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) sent us an email today talking about the Solyndra hearings taking place on Capital Hill. Apparently the company (Solyndra) is not providing much information on their situation, which has led to a partial information vacuum during the hearings around the current state of solar in the United States. With the media machine buzzing and looking for sound bites in a politically charged environment (GetSolar's opinion), surrounding a high-profile clean-tech failure, the SEIA is making all effort to set the record straight about solar in the US.

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Yosemite Dedicates Largest Solar Energy Project of Its Kind

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, August 2 2011 under: Solar Industry News, Solar Power Info, national park, SolarWorld, yosemite

What better place to host the biggest solar energy installation at a U.S. national park than Yosemite? Tucked in a region that gets more annual sunshine than just about anywhere in the country, the California park boasts nearly perfect conditions for solar power.

Officials several days ago inaugurated the 672-kilowatt (kW) solar array, which comprises a 500-kW parking canopy for employees and visitors; a 100-kW rooftop solar array atop a warehouse; and a 72-kW wall-mounted installation (pictured above).

As we reported over a year ago, it was originally speculated that the "solar panels are expected to generate electricity at a levelized cost of about 13 cents per kilowatt hour, reducing annual electricity costs by about $104,000." According to The Business Journal, however, those annual energy costs savings are actually projected to be closer to $50,000 -- equivalent to around 12 percent of the park's annual electricity needs.

All 2,800 solar panels were supplied by

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Bye-Bye Heat Dome, Solar Panels Have Cooling Effect on Buildings

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, July 26 2011 under: solar roofs, Solar Power Info, Rooftop Solar

In light of the recent heat wave -- er, heat dome -- that has been blanketing the country, we thought it'd be fitting to share one of the interesting side benefits of solar panels: they can help keep your roof cool. Here's how it works, in general terms:

Solar panels are typically installed on a rack that stands off against the roof. The resulting gap between the panels and the underlying shingles allows air to circulate around the array. This setup is good for the solar panels, which perform best in cooler temperatures. It's also good for the roof, the ceiling and the residents inside.

It turns out that the gap and the panels create a thermal barrier that helps keep the inside of the building cool. Recently revisited by the Independent, a 2010 report confirms that buildings with rooftop solar panels are typically cooler than those without:

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Air Force Academy, SunPower Turn On Big Colorado Solar Energy Project

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, June 15 2011 under: SunPower, Colorado Solar, Solar Power Info, Air Force

In case you missed the news, the U.S. Air Force Academy on Monday flipped the switch on a brand-spanking-new solar array at its facility in Colorado Springs.

Designed and built by SunPower Corp., the 6-megawatt solar power system is connected to Colorado Spring Utilities' electricity grid. In its first year of operation, the array is expected to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,200 average American homes each year -- or about 12,000 megawatt-hours.

Speaking at the inaugural event, Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould (pictured above) emphasized that the project was made possible in large part thanks to a partnership between the Air Force and the local community, according to U.S. Air Force News:

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10 Million American Solar Roofs Still Possible?

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, June 8 2011 under: Vermont Solar, Solar Power Info, Bernie Sanders

Last year, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont put forth a bill that envisioned solar panels on 10 million roofs across America by 2020. It was an ambitious goal that ultimately (and unfortunately) failed to gain traction in Washington.

Now, it appears Sanders is at it again. Along with Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the Vermont Independent is moving his 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011 forward.

The only problem is that the Senator's math is a little messy.

Last year's bill called to for $250 million in funding for fiscal year 2012, and $500 million annually through 2021. By our count, that's a total budget of over $4.5 billion.

According to Solve Climate News, however, the most current version of the bill carries a price tag of just $250 million spread over a five-year period, starting in 2012.

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China Doubles Down On Solar Power... Again

Posted by Adam Sewall In Tuesday, May 10 2011 under: Solar Power Info

In the aftermath of Japan's nuclear disaster last month, China officials made known their intent to double the country's solar energy target -- from 5 gigawatts (GW) by 2015 to 10 GW by 2015. Now, it seems, the country is doubling down on its solar-power ambitions... again.

As reported by AFP, China recently announced it will more than double its solar power target for 2020 to 50 GW -- an amount roughly equal 25 percent more than all the solar photovoltaic (PV) power currently installed worldwide.

William Pentland, playing a bit of a skeptic, offers further perspective:

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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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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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