A small group of people with the Yavapai (Near the Grand Canyon) planning and zoning commission have been fighting the good fight, recommending solar projects in the desert.

Approving solar projects in the desert! “It must be a liberal plot to sell out America” the nay sayers are shouting! Truth is, solar is a capitalistic plot to turn the power of the sun into a saleable commodity. That is as American as apple pie. The sun is an equal opportunity energy source. Solar energy shines on America with unlimited access, unlike oil, which is vulnerable to politically driven interruptions and supposedly market-driven price fluctuations. [continue reading…]

President Obama, this week, singed the 1603 solar program extending the solar grant bill for one more year. Congress recognized that the photovoltaic industry is creating thousands of new jobs for solar installers across American. The solar program was created by the American Recovery Act and provides cash grants in lieu of the 30% solar income tax credit for businesses. [continue reading…]

California is steadfast in its drive to be the first state in the nation to draw 20% of its energy from solar and other renewable power sources. To that end, Sempra Energy companies solar installers have completed their Copper Mountain power plant and it is operational. The 775,000-panel plant is producing around 48 megawatts of electricity across a 380 acre field in the desert. That is enough solar energy to power 30,000 homes. Coupled with their existing 167,000 photovoltaic panels at the adjacent 10-MW facility utilizing a total of nearly 1 million solar photovoltaic panels. Now that is some serious solar power! [continue reading…]

Living Off-grid Living with Solar Energy

Off-grid solar living inquiries are quickly becoming one of the most common reasons our phones are ringing these days. It’s no wonder with the rising uncertainty of these times coupled with anti-government sentiment. Good news for those who are thinking about off-grid solar living. Advancements in off-grid solar and battery technology make a stand-alone off-the-grid system cheaper and with pre-engineered kits, easier.

Solar panels feeding off-grid batteries are a great option for supplying power to many homes and cabins and can work in all parts of the world, even in remote areas or places with a harsh environment. There are solar panels powering off-grid systems as far south as Antarctica. The only thing you need to live off-grid using solar to produce electricity is some batteries and hardware and a little sun. [continue reading…]

Most Americans have become more concerned with the idea of using cleaner energy sources and creating new jobs through the use of solar energy. A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University takes a closer look at which states might benefit the most both from generating solar energy and from consuming that energy. “These are believed to be the first state rankings of their kind” says Debbie Freeman, Communications Manager at the school.

“We see a growing trend by states to increase the importance of renewable electricity generation,” says assistant research professor Matthew Croucher, who authored the report. “However, the biggest take away from this study is that if the U.S. is serious about maximizing the societal benefits of solar generation, then we need to look at the national level at how different states can serve not only their own needs, but also those of other states with less ability to create electricity using solar technologies.” [continue reading…]

If you are like me, the thought of roughing it for a weekend camping in the back-country of the Sierra Mountains while leaving your favorite electronics at home is simply wrong. Sure, I can pack a iPod, iPad, Smart Phone and laptop for blogging, but without power how long will any of those last in the wilderness? Two to four hours? That barely covers the time it takes for my husband to set up the tent.

Fortunately for those of you avid outdoors enthusiasts and even those of us who never stray outside the concrete jungle, there are a variety of solar chargers and lightweight portable batteries available that offer a solution to this otherwise vexing problem. [continue reading…]

Few would question the consensus that solar and wind energy is creating a revolution in the way electricity is produced. The next round in the political fight for energy independence promises to be distributed energy or the way electricity is shared in the local community.

Distributed energy is the generation of small-scale solar or wind energy and how it is shared on a local level. A good example is smaller home solar systems or those on farms or businesses with their own solar generators. In many areas the excess electricity not used by the residence is then sold to the local utility to be distributed in the community. Most areas only allow the excess to be credited back to the grid down to a NET or even exchange, hence the phrase, “net metering”.

This is where the fight for solar energy and renewable independence becomes interesting. Unlike net metering, which is simply an accounting tool to let people cut their energy bills, or the feed-in tariff (which encourages distributed energy production sold to the grid), own consumption distributed energy will reward producers for using the electricity they produce. [continue reading…]

There is a solar company in California that is using concentrated solar to extract oil from depleting fields. Using the steam generated from concentrated solar system, the steam is pumped into the depleted oil field to enhance the recovery.

As you may know, a parabolic solar trough (concentracted solar) is a huge, curved mirror that sits on a motorized base, allowing it to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day. The mirror’s unique parabolic shape is designed to gather a great deal of sunlight and then reflect that light onto a single point, concentrating the solar power. The concentrated solar is super heats a type of oil that in turn heats water into steam. In most cases, the steam is used to power generators which produce electricity.

When I first read this story I was dumbstruck, not able to escape the irony of oil companies that are spending millions everyday fighting to keep a tight clamp on solar development. It does, somehow, seem fitting that solar energy is being used to save the last drop of oil from a finite fuel source. [continue reading…]

Solar in California is reaching that all important target of grid parity, or the point where photovoltaic electricity is as cheap or cheaper than conventional electric power. As solar capacity increases and demand in solar energy continues to be strong, the cost of installed photovoltaic systems continues to drop at an accelerated rate driving us closer to grid parity. The declining cost has averaged 4% per year over the past 15 years, but more dramatic is what has happened in the past 18 months as a result in increased capacity in PV panel production and the economic slowdown over this period.

In places like California and some parts of the North East they have already reached grid parity.  According to the U.S. Energy Department, residential rates averaged more than 16 cents per kilowatt hour in New England, 15.5 cents in California and 28 cents in Hawaii. Greentech Media reported that Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers said: “that power from crystalline silicon solar panels will be cheaper than coal power by 2012 when transmissions lines, utility bureaucracy and other factors are added in.  [continue reading…]

With rising energy costs and solar home installation panel prices falling, governement solar tax incentives and rebates as high as they have ever been in history is it any wonder that solar ownership for middle America is rising? Maybe not.

In a recent statistic, 42% of upper middle class homeowners are considering installing solar photovoltaic panels in the next 5 years. When conducting online, survey-based market research through Zoomerang, 1BOG asked respondents from five regions in the America “How likely are you to consider installing solar panels on your home sometime in the next five years?”

People that were asked whether they would consider installing solar panels on their home in the near future were over the age of 35 with an annual household income of at least $100,000. Respondents were evenly divided male and female. Of the 332 homeowners that completed the survey, 140 marked “maybe,” “probably” or “definitely,” indicating that middle class homeowners appear to be considering solar in increasing numbers. [continue reading…]

The sun puts out enough solar energy in one hour to power the entire earth for a year. That is some serious power. Why aren’t we universally using solar to power everything?

The fact is, usually, capturing the sun’s solar energy and putting it to work in the form of electricity is relatively expensive and the technology to make it cheaper is being slowed by big energy. There is something like 10 trillion dollars’ worth of dirty oil and coal left to realistically extract from the earth and that’s big money. [continue reading…]

Nothing makes me more nervous than when the power goes out here in Northern California. Non-disaster U.S. power outages are up 124% since the early 1990’s. The number of people on average affected on a daily basis by U.S. power outages are now up to 500,000. The cost of new utility lines run an average 2MM per mile. Add to those facts hurricane season, blackouts and winter storms on the way raises the question, should Americans look at the rising blackouts as unusual events or a warning sign and start to prepare at home? Is an off-grid solar or battery backup uninterrupted power supply important to you? [continue reading…]