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Often, when I get depressed, I scan for articles about developments in solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and other kinds of renewable energy generation. Good news seems to be easily found in these areas. My brain is tired, so I'm just sharing links to these six articles without my usual pictures, analysis, attempts at humor, and wit, to see if I can get started today before it is time for bed.

 photo Economistsolarcellphoto_zps95c91040.jpg

The Economist reports A way to double the efficiency of solar cells is about to go mainstream.

SUNLIGHT is free, but that is no reason to waste it. Yet even the best silicon solar cells—by far the most common sort—convert only a quarter of the light that falls on them. Silicon has the merit of being cheap: manufacturing improvements have brought its price to a point where it is snapping at the heels of fossil fuels. But many scientists would like to replace it with something fundamentally better.

John Rogers, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is one. The cells he has devised (and which are being made, packaged into panels and deployed in pilot projects by Semprius, a firm based in North Carolina) are indeed better. By themselves, he told this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, they convert 42.5% of sunlight. Even when surrounded by the paraphernalia of a panel they manage 35%. Suitably tweaked, Dr Rogers reckons, their efficiency could rise to 50%. Their secret is that they are actually not one cell, but four, stacked one on top of another. ...

Dr Rogers gets round this by using a different material for each layer of the stack. He chooses his materials so that the bottom of the band gap of the top layer matches the top of the band gap of the one underneath, and so on down the stack. Each layer thus chops off part of the spectrum, converts it efficiently into electrical energy and passes the rest on.

Dr Rogers has overcome the cost barrier of the expensive materials needed for these "tuned" semi-conductors by placing them in a matrix of half a millimeter wide dots covered with a larger array of cheap glass lenses which focuses light from a much larger surface area onto the smaller more expensive photovoltaic material. This article is filled with brilliant production engineering innovation details for the more interested reader.

 photo shutterstock_150485102-638x478solarcells_zps64e9a656.jpgPhotocredit: Shutterstock

Kiley Kroh, of Think Progress reports that 99 Percent Of New Power Generation Added In January Came From Renewable Energy

More than 99 percent of new electric capacity added in the U.S. in January came from renewable energy sources, according to data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday.

Of the 325 megawatts of new capacity installed, solar led the way with 287 megawatts added in January. That was followed by geothermal power with three new units totaling 30 megawatts, one new unit of wind energy with an installed capacity of 4 megawatts, and three new units of biomass totaling 3 megawatts. In addition, there was 1 megawatt added that FERC defined as “other.” ...

Big picture aside, the immediate renewable energy trend is clear. January’s noteworthy numbers mirror those from several months last year — in November, 100 percent of the 394 megawatts of new capacity added came from renewable sources. In October, 699 megawatts were added, 99 percent of which came from renewable sources. And in March, 100 percent of new electrical generation capacity came from solar, as seven units with a total combined capacity of 44 megawatts were added.

From Micheal Freeman, of The Orlando Sentinel, we learn, New solar panels heating up energy in Winter Park.

It’s now official: Winter Park has installed its rooftop solar panels at the Public Works Compound at 1409 Howell Branch Road, making the city a trailblazer in the use of solar energy as a way to deliver electricity to residents.

The city’s electric utility director, Jerry Warren, used Valentine’s Day to show off the new solar photovoltaic panels, calling it “a huge step for the city as it relates to entering into a more sustainable energy source.” ...

This project, developed by Clean Footprint and ESA Renewables – a solar company that’s also based in Florida -- generates 100 kilowatts of energy. ... This has become the city’s first, largest and only solar energy project to date.

On a less encouraging note, Market Watch informs us that
The world’s ‘dumbest trade war’ is being fought over solar panels.


The “world’s dumbest trade war” is the spat between the U.S. and China over solar panels, according to an article on Slate. But it’s not just dumb: it could threaten the future of solar power, the online magazine says.

Cheap and plentiful solar panels from China have fueled the boom in rooftop solar systems. But now that the U.S. is threatening to slap new tariffs on them, China could retaliate by slapping more duties on U.S. manufactured polysilicon, a key component of the panels, the article says.

It all started when the U.S. division of Germany’s SolarWorld AG started lobbying the federal government for an investigation on alleged duty evasion. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce followed with a call to stop the probe, asking the U.S. government to be “prudent” in taking any further measures.

Lauren Williams, of Think Progress, asks Could A Solar-Powered Currency Be The Next Bitcoin? Oddly, enough, I find this article a little depressing, as well, since it reminds me that there are several aspects about this whole "Bitcoin" phenomena that I still don't understand even after several smart Kossacks have explained it to me.

A new digital currency that rewards solar panel users could not only encourage more people to switch to solar energy but provide a new, more stable model for future alternative currencies.

SolarCoin debuted last month and builds on the same technology as Bitcoin — the popular cryptocurrency most notable for attracting an online criminal element. Like Bitcoin’s decentralized model, anyone can get SolarCoins by buying them via Twitter or helping create digital coins through mining. What separates the two is that instead of relying on mining, which involves solving complex math puzzles, SolarCoins are incentives for homeowners who use solar panels.

Consumers earn SolarCoins just by using the solar panels installed on their home or business. SolarCoin checks solar homeowners’ meters to verify that they are producing solar energy and rewards them with coins. That passive approach, where consumers can simply earn money just by doing something they believe in, could be what makes the new currency more sustainable than other alternative currencies.

The more they try to explain it, the more confused I get. For example:

Still, at minimum, SolarCoin, which says its model is 50 times more energy efficient than Bitcoin, is an altruistic way for renewable energy advocates to show support and grow the solar community, Honeyman said. “The good thing is that there’s a huge opportunity for homeowners,” apartment complex owners and those who aren’t solar generators to contribute to the cause, Honeyman said.

No matter how much I concentrate today, I don't have even the slightest clue about what this means. I do find it slightly amusing, and encouraging, that my lack of understanding doesn't prevent me from writing about it anyway. This proves the old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, lower your standards."

From AgriNews, we read Huge thermal plant opens as the industry grows

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, sprawling across roughly five square miles of federal land near the California-Nevada border, is formally opening after years of regulatory and legal tangles ranging from relocating protected tortoises to assessing the impact on Mojave milkweed and other plants.

The $2.2 billion complex of three generating units, owned by NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy, can produce nearly 400 megawatts — enough power for 140,000 homes. It began making electricity last year. ...

Using technology known as solar-thermal, nearly 350,000 computer-controlled mirrors roughly the size of a garage door reflect sunlight to boilers atop 459-foot towers. The sun’s power is used to heat water in the boilers’ tubes and make steam, which drives turbines to create electricity.

Well, I hope you found this interesting.

9:56 PM PT: Thanks to New Minas for explaining the artistic aspect of this new kind of solar photovoltaic. Because of the way the light is absorbed by the solar cells, artwork can be printed on them without interfering with their efficiency. I skipped this beautiful picture in the original post because I thought it was just a gratuitous pix. Only now do I realize it was one of the most interesting aspects of the article.

 photo Economistsolarcellphoto_zps95c91040.jpg

Originally posted to HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:03 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech, And Now for Something Completely Different , DK GreenRoots, Climate Change News Roundup, Good News, and Kosowatt.

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  •  Tip Jar (194+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, wilderness voice, Hanging Up My Tusks, CwV, Mike Kahlow, limulus curmudgeon, antooo, Jim P, jamess, DEMonrat ankle biter, bgblcklab1, HedwigKos, onionjim, ferg, defluxion10, VirginiaJeff, Paul Ferguson, David54, enhydra lutris, BlueJessamine, jwinIL14, xxdr zombiexx, Keone Michaels, GAS, sea note, tobendaro, 1BQ, Just Bob, happymisanthropy, davehouck, fToRrEeEsSt, chrississippi, mookins, OllieGarkey, Eric Nelson, CA ridebalanced, DavidMS, Rosaura, bluezen, kerflooey, 2questions, eeff, Orinoco, Shockwave, wayoutinthestix, mimi, oxfdblue, duhban, marksb, VTCC73, Thunder, JDWolverton, happyshadow, JamieG from Md, Chi, YucatanMan, Lujane, Nowhere Man, spunhard, Mogolori, terabytes, RMForbes, rebel ga, hamjudo, secret38b, p gorden lippy, oldpotsmuggler, nirbama, eyesoars, peptabysmal, trivium, Got a Grip, RJP9999, dotsright, tegrat, Aaa T Tudeattack, 2thanks, praenomen, Blu Gal in DE, wader, Kokomo for Obama, pixxer, LaughingPlanet, bluicebank, serendipityisabitch, sc kitty, Sandino, Liberal Thinking, jasan, South Park Democrat, MartyM, Ozy, No one gets out alive, TXdem, thomask, RUNDOWN, goodpractice, James Wells, begone, Team Leftie, DRo, TheFern, blueoasis, vahana, Bluesee, misterwade, Meteor Blades, JimWilson, Skyye, tonyahky, Wino, Lefty Coaster, golem, janatallow, Tinfoil Hat, Pakalolo, Burned, rat racer, dance you monster, grollen, cordgrass, jcrit, Glen The Plumber, kharma, Airmid, J M F, PeteZerria, ATFILLINOIS, WearyIdealist, ChemBob, FindingMyVoice, marleycat, Hirodog, marykk, rapala, semiot, Tom Anderson, ptressel, BlogDog, Texknight, RunawayRose, Remediator, Drocedus, hbk, IndieGuy, toom, asym, mrbond, LookingUp, northsylvania, Flint, blueoregon, chmood, deha, Alumbrados, JusticeSeeker68, StrayCat, GeorgeXVIII, Naniboujou, Zaq, pat bunny, basquebob, certainot, Arilca Mockingbird, flitedocnm, cotterperson, Gurnt, CharlieHipHop, side pocket, Steveningen, Sun Tzu, ssgbryan, tmay, MarkInSanFran, lexalou, The Hindsight Times, indie17, SeaTurtle, science nerd, LakeSuperior, Catskill Julie, Assaf, Panacea Paola, Nag, Villabolo, Subterranean, ModerateJosh, LSmith, Robynhood too, HeyMikey, julesrules39, davidincleveland, Bluefin, CoyoteMarti

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:03:46 PM PST

  •  Love it, HoundDog. I've been interested in solar (25+ / 0-)

    ever since I saw its power in a garage we converted to living space in NM. Garage faced almost due south and we built an indoor planter approx 20" high, then bay windows to the top of the garage door frame. Room was uninsulated, touched the house on 2 walls and was absolutely the warmest place in the house on winter mornings before the furnace took over. My kids used to dress for school in that room.

    I figured we could get a lot of our heating needs met simply by siting a house with a good southern exposure, sufficient glass and some sort of heat sink in the floor. NM is, of course, ideally suited for solar heating. Plenty of sun virtually all year for plenty of passive gain opportunities. Nice to see the technology is advancing. It will be interesting to follow this new development. Thanks for posting!

    •  Thanks Tusks. Yes, smart siting of a house is a (15+ / 0-)

      great idea.

      Someone told me once that he planted deciduous trees around his house to keep the heat off in the summer, but to let the heat in in the winter. I can't remember the details, but he did something to his roof, to help absorption of heat in the winter.

      A lot of houses were built long ago when energy costs were so low no one really thought about it. But, now this kind of creativity can have a worthwhile "return on investment."

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:34:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, plant trees on the south side of the house to (8+ / 0-)

        shade in summer. Also a fairly deep overhang on southern windows will provide summer shade and allow winter passive gain as the sun is at a lower angle in winter than in summer. The people who built Mesa Verde used this to their advantage.

        There's a neighborhood in Davis, CA that built with solar in mind in the 70's (iirc). The developer made sure every house had adequate southern exposure (the streets ran east/west) and there were ordinances adopted that prevented owners from planting trees that would block their neighbors' solar access. It's high time every developer/builder started adopting these practices.

        •  and trees don't only shade the house. In summer, (13+ / 0-)

          surprisingly large amounts of water pass through trees and evaporate from the leaves ("evapotranspiration"), cooling the air in the process far beyond simply blocking the sun. The scale of it? Roughly a hundred gallons of water through one full-grown tree on a hot, dry day. That's a lot of free air conditioning. Trees actually cool the planet.

          Of course you need trees to have that happen, and for there to be large trees, you need lots of water - rain, mist, fog, snow, etc. Wherever you see large trees, think: there's lots of annual rain, or at least moisture, here. I say that last because the largest trees in the world, the giant sequoias, are supplied almost constantly, not with rain, but with mist and fog.

          I have a very large red oak, well over a hundred years old, on the south side of my house. Shade and evaporative cooling in the summer, and sunshine through the bare branches in winter.

          This is not a new discovery. People who had to cut firewood by hand thought lots about which trees to save and how to site a house to take advantage of the sun and the lay of the land. You put activities, driveways, etc., on the south side (in the northern hemisphere) rather than the darker, damper, icier north side. When Papa Lippy built our house  after WWII, he sited it with deciduous trees to the south and the driveway and everyday door on the south.

          Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

          by p gorden lippy on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:11:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lucky you. Someone was using his/her smarts when (5+ / 0-)

            laying out the house you live in. Amazing what a little planning will do, no?

            I knew that trees give off water on hot, dry days. Didn't realize it was, potentially, such a large amount. Fat chance they're losing 100 gallons in NM given the extreme drought there. My brother lives in a rural NM area. His property is approx 1/2 mile from the Pecos River. He waters his fields from an irrigation ditch, but the dam from which the ditchwater comes was broken for approx 6 years, so the 100-year-old cottonwoods on his property had to survive on rain/snow for that period. Even his proximity to the river didn't protect a large number of them. Can't remember how many he lost, but a high percentage of them. Upside was that he had plenty of firewood.  

            I have a small piece of land in NM that I always wanted to build on. I've spent many hours thinking about orientation of house, floorplan, location of trees/garden/etc. I wish developers would give a little thought to those things and that city planning offices would adopt requirements to take advantage of solar opportunities. Guess we'll have to work to elect local officials who actually believe in science. ;-)

          •  In our neighborhood with lots of trees... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            StrayCat, p gorden lippy

            it is at least 5 degrees cooler in the summer than the rest of the town with fewer trees.

            The highest form of spiritual practice is self observation with compassion.

            by NCJim on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:34:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  good news (13+ / 0-)

    I'm all for more efficient panels.

    We've used Sanyo, which has a multi-layer approach too.  They get an effective 20% or maybe a little better, but the price differential means they are not really cost effective.

    Right now we can get good quality made in the USA )Solar World) for about a buck a watt.  

    Except for some tactical systems (military etc) the size and space effectiveness is less important than the dollars per watt.  Most of our systems, the solar panel is now down the list in terms of cost. Batteries and other electronics you have to have are more expensive.

    Anyway, thanks for the update, I'll put it in my things to watch folder.

  •  I've Long Been Aware of Bandwidth Issues w Solar (16+ / 0-)

    cells, and have been looking to see someone finding a way to stack 2 or more color-band receptors in the same array for just this purpose.

    Now let's raise it another 10% or so by siphoning the trapped heat out of the mounting units for hot water storage.

    Use every part of buffalo.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:52:30 PM PST

    •  I'd heard of the layered cells before, but the (5+ / 0-)

      cost was the problem. (Still is? The article was a bit vague as to how competitive their process is.).

      •  Premium priced for a while yet (9+ / 0-)

        Price is what matters. The higher efficiency means that they will generate more power per unit area than other commercially available photoelectric systems. They will be able to command a higher price, because customers with limited space will pay more.

        These panels have to precisely track the sun, so you can't just slap them on a roof and walk away. On the other hand, they make more power, so the complexity is offset.

        The fact that they can charge a premium price is good, because they will need a lot of money to scale up their factories to build these in volume. If things go very well, in a few years, these will only be a little more expensive than other photovoltaic options. However, if you don't need to maximize power per square meter, there will be cheaper (but larger) alternatives.

  •  I do the same thing to give myself a mental lift (12+ / 0-)

    after reading too many posts about small, dishonest men like Scottie Walker and that bully in NJ. Try looking in on the website below to see hour-by-hour renewables output in the state of California. The contribution of renewables to the total system utilization is quite uplifting, especially when the wind blows steadily. It helps to know that somebody is actually doing work that makes a difference.  It also helps that the current crazy states of KS, OK, TX, et al are also contributing, no matter what drivel spills from the mouths of their leaders.    

    •  Yes, and conflict between major people on our (9+ / 0-)

      site can be discouraging, also. Sometimes it seems that no matter how long one has been here, one can suddenly be ripped apart by wolf packs. Perhaps, there are good reasons, but I tend to avoid conflict so I seldom understand completely what many of these meltdowns are all about.

      I suspect many others end up feeling more isolated, less secure, and less identified with the site when we go through big spasms of internally focused unkind bickering.

      Positive news in the alternative energy world usually charges up my mood.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:20:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  that CAISO graph is cool (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Skyye, Kansas Born

      Now, if that solar can just be shifted by 5 hours or so into the night....

      I'm wondering, that solar graph can't include home solar, can it? I'd think home solar would show up as a lowering of demand.

      •  battery tech (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, StrayCat

        the irone nickel batteries are coming online fast

        •  Can You (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DRo, oldpotsmuggler

          comment a bit more about the irone nickel batteries, whatever you know?

          We have a battery bank (I don't know the type, but he studied this for months before he decided) to store with and are always trying to stay  up with what is coming. It is my other that is the smart one, so I don't try to engage in the convo much, but give the info to him to get up to speed on what he might want to research and figure on.


          •  iron nickel (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Skyye, ozsea1, oldpotsmuggler


            check these guys out then google around.

            apparently the chemistry is very conducive to deep discharge, and all you do is add water.

            they are heavy as hell but, it's a stationary battery.

            get them in 48 V,  dual pack them, add a 24V, and it's really easy to invert.

            or get them in a voltage close to your PV outputs.
            drive them into the Inverter.

            •  Thanks so much! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I'll pass this along, I know we have a bank of super heavy, not sure if they are 48 or 24V, I think he says they are in series and he uses a really slick looking inverter and charging system.

              He's excited to do some studying. We hope to add solar, maybe a bit of wind, right our bank now is to store, during long outages so that we don't have the huge gas cost of the generator running when we don't need much on or during the night.. like that. He built a monitor so we can see if we are on grid or off or gen or battery etc, from in the living room.

              Thanks for that I'll start some searching and gathering!

              Do you use this type battery yet?

              •  its #4 on my list (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                1  solar thermal

                2  plug in hybrid

                3  pv

                4 battteries

              •  wikipedia (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:


                Nickel-iron batteries have long been used in European mining operations because of their ability to withstand vibration, high temperatures and other physical stress. They are being examined again for use in wind and solar power systems where battery weight is not important.
                Many railway vehicles use Ni-Fe batteries.[8][9] Some examples are London underground electric locomotives and New York City Subway car - R62A.
                The technology has regained popularity for off-the-grid applications where daily charging makes it an appropriate technology.[10][11][12]

      •  There is work on that front also. Battery storage (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chmood, StrayCat, ozsea1, oldpotsmuggler

        on a utility grid scale is the next big development we will see in a few years. There is also attention being paid to the orientation of solar panels to capture more energy closer to the 5-7pm usage peaks at key times of the year.

  •  Very good news. Thanks for posting this. (nt) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, davehouck, bluezen, StrayCat

    I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a liberal.

    by VirginiaJeff on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:20:12 PM PST

  •  Very interesting (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Chi, oldpotsmuggler, ozsea1

    and FWIW I don't get bitcoins either. What can you buy with a bitcoin? Who accepts bitcoins as currency? When Amazon starts accepting them to pay for my ebooks, then they will be something tangible. Until then they look like just a new form of tradable commodity that is totally contingent on people believing they have value (unlike pork bellies which actually do (for example)).

    However it's very cool that we might be on the cusp of a major leap in renewable energy efficiency. If this pans out and can be manufactured cheaply it might be the death of coal.

    The truly awesome thing about renewables is what they mean for the future. My personal prediction is that inside of a few decades (max) people will be able to use their 3D printer to make a bunch and stick them to the sides of their homes and basically energy becomes free at that point in time. That's going to have massive repercussions for the current economy and the economic model in general. It's also going to change the world forever...

    Voting straight party D 'til there's no GOP...
    Oh and the name is Jim, not Tim, the user name is a typo

    by jusjtim35 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:29:02 PM PST

  •  Best thing since Chris Christe ordered Bridget (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Chi, Sandino

    Kelley to create traffic problems in Ft. Lee!
    Some day Chris Christe will be reading about the latest breakthoughs in clean energy and convenient mass transit from his solar powered jail cell lights.
    He'll be reading about people streaming into Manhattan for the latest global hit tragic opera..."Governor Christie".

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:30:41 PM PST

  •  We're at a crossroads. We need to get legislation (10+ / 0-)

    and agreements around the country so that utility companies accept rooftop solar.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:34:26 PM PST

    •  Some of them are working hard to limit it. (6+ / 0-)

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:06:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A.K.A. Kochs and ALEC nt (3+ / 0-)

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:48:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are they just automatically opposed to anything (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Skyye, StrayCat, oldpotsmuggler

          and everything good for ordinary people? Who chooses their goals and on what basis? I have yet to hear about ALEC or the Koch brothers supporting anything favorable for our common good.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:12:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think they know change is coming. They're (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, ssgbryan, ozsea1, oldpotsmuggler

            trying to hold on and rig it so that they're reaping most of the benefit.
            They want these big solar installlations (which are a good thing, if they're in the right place, etc. ) which are codependent with nat gas.
            What I'd like to see are more "leasing companies" which would allow the homeowner (and commercial/gov. property etc.) to lease the hardware (which is rapidly changing with technology dev.) and not have to foot the total bill for hardware which will be obsolete or costing pennies on the dollar compared to current prices in a few years. Take the  boot of the energy/utility companies off the neck of the little guy/school-hospital district, etc, or at least lighten their pressure a little.
            I'm not totally opposed to "big solar", but they're centralized and vulnerable to sabotage/ natural disaster, and of course, there's fewer jobs and more money going to the 1%.
            The utility cos should be properly compensated for maintaining and updating the grid.

            These state and local battles that are taking place are going to be a big deal over the next few years.
            I think.

            Dems and progressives were a little asleep at the wheel while goppers mobilized networks in school districts and local govs. now we're paying a price while they wage
            war on public education.  

            You can't make this stuff up.

            by David54 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:50:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  yay Ivanpah! (13+ / 0-)

    It has been controversial and (some) environmentalists have fought it tooth and nail, but it is a great technology because it is a solar thermal plant that has the potential to generate power when the sun isn't shining anymore from the residual heat.  The next generation of this technology is also coming online in smaller plants using molten salt, which is a pretty darned good replacement for "baseload" power.

    That's kind of a holy grail kind of thing.

    (also, I played a small role in getting Ivanpah up and running, which is nice.)

  •  The only measure that really counts is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mi Corazon, HoundDog, ypochris, Skyye

    cost per Watt. How many square feet the panels take up is a secondary consideration. He might have a panel that can pull a lot more Watts per foot. But if the cost per watt is too high, it is not a successful advance.

    •  My understanding is that the primary significance (8+ / 0-)

      of this breakthrough is the cost, not smaller footprint, but they are related.

      The materials needed to capture the energy in these different band gaps is very expensive.  So greatly reducing the amount needed to these little dots, and using inexpensive glass lenses to focus light on the smaller dots means less expense, not total surface area of the complete collector.

      What this article does not discuss is how he has solve the heat generation problem. Many previous innovators have thought about this idea of using glass lenses or reflectors to concentrate the light to smaller surface area solar collector but the problem is that the efficiency of traditional photovoltaics is inversely proportional to temperature, especially over 100 degrees F.  

      Perhaps, the significance of the specific materials he is using is the solution, the article is not clear.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:13:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  tip'd & rec'd for future reading. it's a little (5+ / 0-)

    late for my comprehension (can barely type w/o mistakes right now!) but i'm always interested in giving less money to the electric company mafia :)

    i don't know if you'd want to do a diary on nicholai tesla, but i read a comment on a thread recently that said he discovered a way to transmit electricity thru the air w/o wires (!) & his laboratory mysteriously burned down after he announced his idea to the world. don't know if it's true or bullshit, & i've never followed up on checking it out (too many other things to do that take priority).

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. ~ J.K. Galbraith

    by bluezen on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:22:23 PM PST

    •  I believe that is true. I read recently that two (4+ / 0-)

      car companies have developed chargers for electric cars that work by transmitting the electricity without wires.

      There are also several new Iphone chargers that do this as well.

      My understanding is that any movement of a conductive wire through electro-magnetic waves will induce a current.

      It would make sense that if you moved the electromagnetic waves across a stationary wire a similar current would be induced.

      I'm not sure how efficient this transmission would be relative to direct wire connections but I think one of these car companies was Toyota, so it must work pretty well.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:43:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Look at the "Wave Bus" if you get a chance. Utah (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        State Univ. did the research leading to the startup, and the Univ. of Utah is bringing it's first bus on line in the next month or so. The bus parks over the charging point and the recharge is fairly quick. It's going to be used to run a route on campus, will be able to maintain a schedule, and there's a air gap of at least 5 inches from the "transmitter" to the "receiver". The goal is roads that recharge while the vehicle is in motion, and the claims being made by the company are optimistc (for what that's worth).

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:51:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There is hope (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Skyye

    Between solar, wind and other renewables we can replace fossil fuels.

    And volcanic eruptions can give us some slack.

    But we need to work fast.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:24:41 PM PST

  •  good news all around (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    though bitcoin remains a fad that is going to crash and burn so I am leery of modelling anything after it.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:51:13 PM PST

    •  Bitcoin has already crashed and burned (5+ / 0-)

      MT.GOX has been looted by cybercriminals of both real money and bitcoins.

      Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange is bankrupt, 850,000 bitcoins worth hundreds of millions missing: CEO

      Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan on Friday, saying it may have lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the virtual coins due to hacking into its faulty computer system.
      But that shouldn't affect confidence in the other Bitcoin exchanges, say operators of other Bitcoin exchanges.

      Because, you know, this time is different.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:39:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it's bizarre. One of the alternative Bitcoin (4+ / 0-)

        exchanges was trying to claim that Mt. Gox demise would actuallly strengthen confidence in Bitcoins somehow, because in some magical way it showed the market was "maturing."

        I thought Karl Rove was the master of DoubleSpeak. Cue Twiilight Zone music.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:47:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  that's just the wind up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        wait for the court cases civil and maybe criminal. I wouldn't be surprised the courts rule those involved have no recourse because there is no government regulation.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:52:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I expect that contract law comes into it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, ozsea1

          but Mt.Gox is bankrupt, dead, kaput, a stiff, an ex-company, it has gone to meet its maker.

          Certainly Janet Yellen has said publicly that the Fed can't regulate fantasy money like Bitcoins that operate outside the banking system.

          Then there is this.

          Mt. Gox collapse spurs calls to regulate Bitcoin

          “What’s fascinating and disturbing about the bankruptcy is the size of the loss,” said Mark Williams, a former Federal Reserve official who teaches finance at Boston University. “There’s no legal recourse. There’s no financial system. . . . In essence, if a criminal gets the coin, the criminal owns the coin.”
          This is the funniest opinion on anything to do with finance that I have ever read.
          Yet as the debate raged over Bitcoin’s fate, there was growing consensus that virtual currencies — if not this particular one — would soon become irreplaceable features of the world’s financial system by satisfying a widespread demand for high-tech, low-cost ways to transfer money beyond the reach of most forms of government tracking.
          Consensus among whom, I want to know. Criminal banksters who have already figured out how to rip off all the rest of us, is my conjecture.

          There is no legitimate reason for wanting money that governments cannot track, that is inherently clumsy to use and exposed to every kind of financial and software risk. It can only be


          Tax evasion

          Money laundering

          Simple theft

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:55:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  well to be clear I'm not a lawyer (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I mostly was going off of what Yeller said as my basis for my speculation. But really I agree with you on bitcoin. If I ever get bored and decide to gamble I might throw some money at it or some other 'cyptocurrency'.

            Der Weg ist das Ziel

            by duhban on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:59:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  There is substantial other good news (6+ / 0-)

    on renewables every month, and some setbacks.

    Don't worry that you can't understand SolarCoins. It isn't you. It's the typical bafflegab of the flim-flam man. Except in this case, as with BitCoins, the instigators appear to be flim-flamming themselves as well.

    Perhaps you would like evidence for this claim. Well, here it is:

       SolarCoin wiki list of sites accepting SolarCoin
        by goodwill » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:35 am
            0 Replies
            Last post by goodwill View the latest post
            Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:35 am
    which points to
    Accepting SolarCoin payments & donations SolarCoin Wiki
    Jump to: navigation, search

    There is currently no text in this page. You can search for this page title in other pages, or search the related logs, but you do not have permission to create this page.

    That's right. The total number of places where you can spend SolarCoins is 0 (zero). Actually, it isn't even zero. They didn't even make an empty list with instructions on how to add to it.
    ZAPHOD: Hey, Ford! How many escape capsules are there?

    FORD: None.

    ZAPHOD: You counted them?

    FORD: Twice.

    HHGTTG, referring to the lack of lifeboats on the stolen Disaster Area stuntship that was diving into a star.

    Yes, after all of the technobabble about the process for issuing SolarCoins, you can't even spend SolarCoins at

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:12:17 PM PST

  •  OMG I think I am in LOVE (6+ / 0-)

    The new panels have aesthetic advantages, too. The 99.9% of them not covered by stacks can be used for art. Seen from the sun’s point of view (ie, straight ahead), they appear black because the lenses are focused on the stacks, which absorb all the light falling on them. Viewed obliquely, however, their foci are on other parts of the panel. The result, as the picture shows, can be quite pleasing—and certainly prettier than a coal-fired power station.

    like this: on your roof, of whatever you want it to look like. . .

    total complete home personalization.

    •  Thanks so much New Minas, you just solved a puzzle (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had.  The Economist article I got that post from had this panel with a beautiful group of modern art butterflies. I usually add pixs to solar energy articles because it makes them more artistic and happier.

      But, I couldn't figure out what these butterflies had to do with the panels, and some people have been so mean around here lately, I was concerned about being attacked for putting gratuitous non-substantive, and relevant pix in this post.

      If I weren't so tired I'd go back and add it because it was so unique.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:53:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hi New Minas. Thanks for explaining the artistic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      aspect of these new photovoltaics.

      Did you see this?

       photo Economistsolarcellphoto_zps95c91040.jpg

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:52:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let me put my reviewers cap on again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Skyye

    They claim to convert 35, 42, and possibly 50% of sunlight. From what I understand, that's about 2 to 3 times more efficient than massroduced panels. They also claim that the dots cover only about 0.1% of the panel surface area. That means you give up a factor of 1000 in surface area. Ok, lenses, then you get back the factor of 500 to 1000 without making the panels more expensive or less robust?

    I wish him the best, but I'd stick with the $/watt panels for now.

    •  the dots set up interference patterns (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Skyye, cheminMD, FindingMyVoice

      so, the layers below capture the photons.

      it's very clever.

      •  Yes indeed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        certainot, HoundDog

        Each layer captures a different wavelength range. For example:

        ----------  800 nm collection layer
        ----------  650 nm collection layer
        ----------  500 nm collection layer
        ----------  400 nm collection layer

        There's wiring in small channels between each layer. This can be a more efficient method of collection because each layer has a higher collection efficiency for that wavelength range than a single layer silicon cell would.

        The problem is making them big. Let's say that about 1000 W/m^2 of sunlight reaches the earths surface (yes, this varies with location, weather, etc. but 1000 is a simple number to start with). If you have a panel that is 20% efficient! you can collect 200W. If only 90 of the panel area is covered by cells, you collect 180 watts.
        For these cells, you have 50% collection efficiency giving you a potential collection of 500W. The problem is that you have a panel coverage of 0.1%, that means you only collect 0.5W. Now, if you use lenses maybe you can increase effective panel collection coverage to say 60%. This gives about 300W, but now you have the added cost of fairly large lenses over the whole panel.

        How cheap and rugged are the lens compare to standard solar panel covers? How much of the sunlight do the lenses absorb and convert to heat? How do the efficiency of the multilayer cells stand up to increase temperature and how does that affect the lifetime of the cell?

        I can't expect answers to those questions in a fluff piece, but we should temper our expectations accordingly.

  •  back in my day triple junction cells were (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    patbahn, HoundDog, Skyye

    state of the art (similar to the diarist's cells but with only three layers), quite expensive, about 20% efficient (this is 20 years ago). We also knew that concentrating light, thus using fewer cells, not only saved $ on cells but also improved the efficiency of the cells. We did about a 10X concentration with Fresnel lenses. I'm glad to see the technology continues to advance. Solar has a lot of promise, although I'm more of a wind fan... (haha)

    •  Wind is currently leader of the pack in (0+ / 0-)

      alternative energy generation.  For some reason, I end up finding more solar articles. Tomorrow I will make a special effort to find wind generation articles.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:16:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  its more then 99% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the stats don't include consumers or smaller businesses.

    i think the growth is starting to become spectacular.

  •  Windmills Can Neutralize Hurricanes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Skyye, cheminMD, ozsea1

    According to Stanford engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson, a large array of offshore windmills could neutralize oncoming hurricanes:

    wind turbines could disrupt a hurricane enough to reduce peak wind speeds by up to 92 mph and decrease storm surge by up to 79 percent.

    He says 78,000 windmills offshore in the Gulf would have weakened Katrina's wind to a typical rainstorm's and storm surge down from about a dozen feet to about 3 feet. Sandy would have been a thunderstorm with an annoying but manageable flood.

    Offshore windmills can cost up to 20 $million each, so 78,000 would cost $156 BILLION. But that's at full cost for a new technology and very small volume production - 78,000 in even one farm would probably cost less than 1/4 of that. Katrina and Sandy cost (coincidentally) $82 BILLION each.

    In addition to taming hurricanes, the windmills could generate power most of the time between them. And perhaps the peak during the storms would generate really vast energy while destroying these monsters.

    I'm all for doing every sustainable thing we can to retire our suicidal energy industry legacy. But this is the first I've heard that can replace devastating consequences of that legacy with loads of power immediately with the same intervention.

    For less than we spent bailing out AIG we might have the reversal of the Greenhouse within our lifetimes. That is the kind of good news I crave as antidote for the politics that seems all too sustainable.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:40:27 PM PST

    •  Pretty cool use of a model (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, HoundDog

      The skeptic in me thought this couldn't be possible, but look at what happens when hurricanes hit land, the winds slow down.
      They did use 78000 windmills, as you said, $150B. What kind of spread did they use across the atlantic and gulf of mexico?  Was the 78K number only for an event like Katrina? What about covering the entire gulf or extending into the atlantic, ho many windmills are needed to be effective? What if the windmills were placed further out to keep the wind from getting going in the first place?

    •  Under normal times, airflows from the (0+ / 0-)

      Gulf bring rain to the eastern US, which keeps it much less arid than the western half of the continent.

      Not sure if it's a good thing to install all those windmills if they're going to block inflow of air so much (unless the goal is turn the east into a giant desert as well).

      •  Not Normal Weather (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The effect of these large windmill arrays operates on the unique dynamics of high-speed circular storms over warm water: hurricanes. Besides, they don't block an inflow of air; they slow it when it's at very high speeds in a critical link of a hurricane's self-amplification chain. I see no evidence that weather outside that narrow, devastating configuration is changed by this configuration.

        Nor any evidence from existing windmills that they affect weather at all. The humid Gulf air wouldn't just disappear, or even be deflected to anywhere else. Just that the exceptional spikes in hurricanes would meet enough resistance that they'd be disrupted instead of being perpetuated into a hurricane.

        I think you didn't read the article before complaining about it.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:28:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not Such a Dumb Trade War (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Skyye
    The “world’s dumbest trade war” is the spat between the U.S. and China over solar panels

    That trade war isn't so dumb. China is dumping solar panels in the US below even China's manufacturing cost. It's put the US solar panel manufacturing industry to the brink, along with some of the rest of the US solar equipment manufacturing industry - and threatened EU and other industry by doing it. Of course once the competition is broken the Chinese will jack up their prices. And the US will have lost the industry it created, nearly before it got started.

    China won't just gouge the US market. It will, without competition, probably not increase efficiencies as quickly as it had when driven by US innovation. Meanwhile, China's low production cost will continue to damage its environment and laborers.

    That trade war is the kind of protectionism I expect more of from Congress. If they were really smart they'd give installing locations rebates out of the tarifs, keeping China's profits here along with the maximum output at the locations. But even if not it's not so dumb.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 11:04:19 PM PST

    •  dumb or not, the US won't get a say in the matter (0+ / 0-)

      China is now in the WTO, and WTO sets trade policy, not any national government.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:40:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong (0+ / 0-)

        The US is in the WTO, too.

        Also, if what you said were correct, there would be no attempt at a TPP.

        Indeed, another smart move in the solar panel trade war is in fact its challenge to the fatalism you're promoting that Americans don't have a government to protect us. If it fails due to WTO or otherwise it could take us closer to changing the regime that gives them power over us despite our express best interests.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:10:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  (sigh) (0+ / 0-)

          so many errors . . .

          Yes, both the US and China are in the WTO.  That's why the WTO has jurisdiction, and the Chinese and US government don't.

          Also, if what you said were correct, there would be no attempt at a TPP.
          The TPP covers areas not covered by the WTO GATT.

          PS--China is not covered by the TPP.

          Americans don't have a government to protect us.
          We don't. Neither does anyone else in the WTO. The WTO treaty was specifically designed to take trade policy OUT oif the hands of national governments and put it in the hands of the multi-national corporations.

          That is why no nation has ever successfully defied the WTO--not China, not Russia, not the EU, and not the US.  All tried; all failed.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:39:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your Errors (0+ / 0-)

            And yet the US has instituted the tarriffs on Chinese panels. So clearly the US has a government, that is in the WTO. A government that tariffs Chinese tires for example without the WTO stopping it.

            As for China in the TPP, it's mostly secret, and not complete. Meanwhile "Obama Considering Chinese Participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership".

            "Defied the WTO" is not what I said. I said that the US government protecting our market from Chinese products is not automatically eliminated by the WTO; we have a government despite the WTO.

            Unless everyone here were as fatalistic as you are about foreign trade and our powers to protect ourselves. Then our government wouldn't protect us, though it could. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:22:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  well . . . (0+ / 0-)

              We'll see how long those tariffs last once somebody brings the case to the WTO.

              Apparently you are unfamiliar with how the WTO works, so you don't know how many similar cases have been lost over the past 15 years.

              Unless everyone here were as fatalistic as you are about foreign trade and our powers to protect ourselves
              "Fatalism" has nothing to do with it.  Reality does.  The reality is that WTO sets the trade policies.  The US does not. Whether you or I like that or not, is irrelevant.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:08:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Unwell (0+ / 0-)

                You're the one who just spouted a bunch of wrong assertions about the WTO that I just rejected with citations. You don't have standing to say I'm unfamiliar with how the WTO works when you just proved your understanding inferior to mine.

                The WTO sets US trade policies 1. because the US agrees to let it and 2. after the US and EU dominate the WTO rules, starting with US laws.

                You are arguing that the WTO rules, and the US government doesn't, in deciding US tariffs on imported Chinese panels. I showed you the US government instituted the tariff, which it's been collecting and the WTO hasn't stopped. Yet according to you "we don't have a government, we have the WTO".

                You are just wrong. And a douche.. But you won't admit it, and you remain baselessly arrogant about your knowledge.


                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:09:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  you are wrong (shrug) (0+ / 0-)

                  Not only that, you are TRIVIALLY wrong.  Your argument is akin to "Bank robbing isn't illegal if the cops don't stop the bank robbery while it's happening".

                  The WTO hasn't ruled the tariffs out yet because nobody has filed the charges yet. That should be obvious to anyone who knows how the WTO works.

                  The US, btw, has lost more WTO cases than it has won.

                  But please feel free to call me a "douchebag" as many times as you want, if it makes you feel better. Sticks and stones.  (shrug)

                  May I suggest you also insult my mother, too?  She's very overweight. Maybe you can combine that with "combat boots".

                  I don't care how many names you call me.  But when you start blithering that people are supporting a corporate agenda or are corporate shills, that I will not tolerate.  No one here is supporting the corporations.  No one.

                  I agree with Kos--it's long past the time when that idiotic horse shit ends.

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:17:01 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  We just got our first check from the local utility (6+ / 0-)

    they paid us $300 for the excess energy the new PVC panels installed in January put into the grid over the first 4 weeks of operation.

    I became so overwhelmed with the choices of products, I let my contractor of 30 yrs find the best solar installation company in our city, so don't ask me what model we got or how efficient it is, but let me tell you;

    it was so sweet after 40+ yrs of paying a damn power company every month, to get a check from the utility company.

    Next I have to convince Mr Red to put panels on the office, and buy me a Tesla.

    "You bring politics into everything, Congressman" - Gabriel Gomez (R) to Ed Markey (D) 6/5/13 during debate.

    by NMRed on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 11:19:26 PM PST

    •  Nice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, HoundDog

      What state if you can? I'm looking to relocate somewhere independent energy is honored and rewarded. So many states allow unacceptable net metering concepts that just don't even come close to making any financial sense.


      •  I'm in New Mexico (0+ / 0-)

        PNM is the utility co., and they've not been that enthusiastic about hooking up panels on homes into the grid.

        But like I said, I just asked my contractor (30 years he's done projects for us, I trust him with our property more than Mr Red) and he did the rest.

        "You bring politics into everything, Congressman" - Gabriel Gomez (R) to Ed Markey (D) 6/5/13 during debate.

        by NMRed on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:43:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh man sounds like (0+ / 0-)

          they compensate well though!
          I've looked into AL, NC and SC.. about 6 years back, some were planning and just implementing but the payback really wasn't practical, for the amount you would need to generate.

          Yeah they are leary but.. hey.

          And having someone who is so experienced, is imperative for sure.

          I'll get a look at the land there and see what it's like, I need trees. LOL  And I'll find out who to talk with about the net metering or selling back, rates etc..

          I'm thrilled to see it working so well for you there! Thanks so much!

    •  Let's hope you get more than your first (0+ / 0-)


      considering that some aren't so lucky .. .

      When Ben Benokraitis bought a solar-powered water heater for his Baltimore County home two years ago, the installation company told him he'd get about $800 a year in payments to help offset the cost.

      That money would come from the sale of three Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs, his small system would create each year. His solar installer would broker the sales and send him a check.

      But instead of the $1,600 he expected in the past two years, Greenspring Energy passed along $225.25 — payment for a single credit — before laying off its workers and locking the doors to its home office in Timonium at the end of January. Now Benokraitis has little hope of earning a cent for the other five credits.

  •  My inlaws think solar panels are ugly (5+ / 0-)

    Receiving almost all of their opinions directly from Faux "News", they complained bitterly when their neighbors installed the new solar panels. Now that they can be printed on, I am trying to imagine the pattern that might make them happy. Perhaps a big Faux "News" logo or a cheery face of Sarah Palin?

    Sorry, I just got a little sick.

    •  panels are "ugly"? Have they seen mountaintop (0+ / 0-)

      removal coal mining?  or coal ash spills into creeks & rivers?

      Sorry, that argument just pisses me off.  Aesthetics only matter for where they live, not for where their energy comes from then?   Again, apologies for venting - makes me nuts considering what's at stake.

      Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

      by FindingMyVoice on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:26:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They don't care about any of that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FindingMyVoice, ozsea1, HoundDog

        They were looking for a new car and I once suggested a Chevy Volt. It would have fit their needs to a T and they would have saved a loot of money on gasoline and boy oh boy, do they love saving money. But you would have thought that I was suggesting dismembering cats and dogs in their living rooms. I had no idea that Faux "News" had proclaimed the Chevy Volt as the enemy of American civilization.

        Since Faux "News" doesn't carry stories on mountaintop coal removal or coal ash, how in the world would they ever know anything at all about it?

  •  Yeah, but... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, DRo, FindingMyVoice, ozsea1

    ...what about when the sun isn't shining?


    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:31:54 AM PST

    •  I can't believe it MB, I wait for years for you to (6+ / 0-)

      to come and comment in one of my posts, and when you finally do, you start out causing trouble, right away. ... Don't it figure?

      The Ivanpah thermal-solar plant heats boiling water which can still operate through part of the night.

      In the Middle East they have a thermal-solar plant that heats molten salt that can run all through the night.

      The big drop in natural gas and standard solar photvoltaics has been a set back for the thermal-solar plants leaving them stuck on the learn-curve at a higher spot than they had hoped to be at by now..

      Tomorrow, or soon I'm going to describe a proto-type of a totaly new shaped spherical orb that is so efficient at absorbing light from any and all  directions, and then focusing it on an internal photovoltaic that it can create useable electricity from moonlights, and streetlamps (not that this would be great strategy - merely illustrating how sensitive they are.)  Plus, they are amazingly beautiful and look futuristic.

      So, Mr. snarky-pants we will soon have solar power going 24/7 even without having to resort to numerous amazing batter innovations coming down the pike.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:58:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Waiting for Tomorrow! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, Meteor Blades, HoundDog

        With great anticipation! Thanks HoundDog!

        Tomorrow, or soon I'm going to describe a proto-type of a totaly new shaped spherical orb that is so efficient at absorbing light from any and all  directions, and then focusing it on an internal photovoltaic that it can create useable electricity from moonlights, and streetlamps (not that this would be great strategy - merely illustrating how sensitive they are.)  Plus, they are amazingly beautiful and look futuristic.
      •  I look forward to reading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Could you include a comparison of the spherical orb approach to the Solyndra cylinder and traditional panels? From a tech standpoint only, forgot the political crap.

        Include things like weight, cost, efficiency, total output per square meter when installed...

        •  One of the saddest aspects of the Solyndra (0+ / 0-)

          collapse was that they were using a third new technology, in terms of materials, that has a higher efficiency than the previous two standard materials.

          But, because they just started they hadn't come down the cost "learning curve" yet, and the Chinese dropped prices of traditional panels, which they dominant, by over 60% because of a capacity glut.

          So the business plans of Solyndra which were based on pre-price war pricing assumptions fell apart.

          It was a "better" technology that U.S. firms owned several patents on. A tragic loss.

          I'll have to research the question you asked.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:38:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I saw an article.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skyye, FindingMyVoice

    ...where glass orbs were being used to focus light onto panels from different angles allowing for smaller cells and not having to rotate them toward the sun.  They looked kinda cool as well.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:55:35 AM PST

  •  Tip'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, HoundDog

    rec'd and Hotlisted!

    Many Many thanks!  Makes my early day start in such a special way!

  •  I thought we had free trade... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Interesting that there's no institutional compunction about using Barriers and Tariffs when it comes to mothballing "protecting" renewables.

    Cheap and plentiful solar panels from China have fueled the boom in rooftop solar systems. But now that the U.S. is threatening to slap new tariffs on them, China could retaliate by slapping more duties on U.S. manufactured polysilicon, a key component of the panels, the article says.
    Sounds like sound economic policy to me...

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:02:25 AM PST

    •  both the US and China are pissing in the wind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc, HoundDog

      Neither of them sets trade policy in the real world--WTO does.

      And WTO takes a very dim view (pardon the pun) on trade tariffs.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:42:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just as a totally non-substantive tangent (0+ / 0-)

        everytime someone mentions the phrases "pissing in the wind," or "twisting in the wind,"  or "bringing in the cheese" or anything else,  I'm reminded of an old Christian bible song, I never learned the correct words for.

        It goes something like

        "Bringing in the shleves,"
        Bringing in the shieves,
        We shall come rechoicing,
        bringing in the Jeeves.

        It reminds me of a scene I think was in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max movie where future generations of children have lost continuity with our civilization and recreated childhood nursery rhymns incorrectly from memory fragments as young children.

        Whatever, but, I've sometimes sing it as "bringing in the cheese." "Twisting in the wind," "Pissing in the wind."

        When I was young I thought it might be "bringing in the Jeeves" because Jeeves seemed to be a common name for an English buttler or mans man. I figured maybe he'd become senile, and would stand out in the rain, not knowing he should come in.

        Sorry, just a passing thought.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:49:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cleaning the silverware while the Titanic sinks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We are facing a possibility of the Sixth Great Extinction. We may lose 95% of all the species on the planet due to runaway thermal heating of the planet. Yet, projects like The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System are delayed over concern about Mojave milkweed. I believe in protecting every species that we can, but we also have to have some perspective in this incredibly difficult task of becoming a sustainable civilization.

    It takes seven years to permit an offshore windfarm in Federal waters. We do not have one single offshore windfarm in the US generating power. We are sleeping through this pending catastrophe as we burn more and more fossil fuel without much of a let-up. We as a society and our government have to rise to challenge and have an extreme sense of urgency.

    The bright spot in all of this is that we are developing the technologies to eventually become sustainable. This diary highlights the best of our efforts.

  •  I have direct experience in the solar industry (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, kovie, ferg

    And my local industry effectively died in the last year. As of yesterday, I no longer work in solar. A green job was lost.

    While technological advancements in efficiency are great, they are largely a marketing tool for panel makers. At this time the key issue for panel makers is manufacturing costs, and making expensive, high efficiency panels is a losing proposition except in a small sliver of situations where space is at a premium. And it still is a tough sell because of just how much more it costs to make a more efficient panel. Note that this was Solyndra's problem, they were building complicated panels with unconventional technologies, and worse at a time Chinese makers were dumping on the US market. But I digress, the bottom line is production efficiency is not the problem the industry faces.

    I am in a market where solar is oversaturated. The number of consumer installations is so high that the production is exceeding daytime minimum loads on residential circuits, what that means is there is too much power being made and nowhere for it to go. The utility claims the excess power is potentially hazardous, and that it apparently does not shunt around the grid from circuit to circuit.

    That's the dirty secret of solar -- with current utility technologies, the amount of solar practically installable on a circuit is limited to the amount of power being used during daylight hours. There is no means of storage. Current solutions to overproduction as far as I understand actually waste (ground) excess power. Obviously, the utility cannot credit that production to homeowners without causing a financial problem.

    So practically speaking, solar can only address about half the power need of a given circuit. Given that the biggest power users are likely to be the earliest solar adopters, this means that less than half the homes on a given circuit can have grid-connected solar power.

    Without really practical solutions for storing power, or perhaps more to the point lacking the will or enforced mandate to spend capital on implementing existing storage technologies such as fuel cells, the local utility has basically choked installs to a near-standstill with bureaucracy. This has killed solar installers' revenues and jobs, such as mine, are being lost.

    So articles like this, to people who know about solar, are not compelling. This is not solving the real problem. The real problem is storage. That's where advancements need to be made if solar is to be a bigger part of our energy future.

    •  Why can't utilities buy the excess power (0+ / 0-)

      from consumers to offset what I assume is more expensive power that it makes conventionally? Or is the latter currently cheaper, and if so shouldn't they be given incentives (or taxes) to make the former cheaper?

      Once you include the external costs of most conventional power (which utilities don't pay for), like pollution, global warming, etc., it seems to make sense. Why aren't governments doing this? Because they're in utilities' pockets?

      This all seems so backwards. The technology and acceptance by consumers is advancing, but the economics and law is not. How long can we afford to cave in to the greed of corporations? What are we going to do about it?

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:42:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Utilities do that (0+ / 0-)

        A solar home that achieves a 100% bill offset is doing it based on the utility crediting significant overproduction during daylight hours. But utility grids as they stand right now can apparently only deal with so much overproduction.

    •  And as for storage, what about pumped hydro? (0+ / 0-)

      Or large capacitor arrays? Flywheels? Hydrogen? Large batteries?

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:43:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Local infrastructure buildout is off the radar (0+ / 0-)

        That's the point of my post. None of this is being done by utilities, partly because this technology is undeveloped, and partly because the financial motivation isn't there. There might have to be government mandate to compel a utility to build these things, but of all the things you posted, only hydrogen really has any kind of precedent as even close to utility-scale deployment.

        Hydrogen is also the most dangerous option, so you can see the issues.

        •  And there isn's a huge potential market (0+ / 0-)

          for the gathering, storage and re-transmission of excess power? Is one of the problems that utilities own the transmission lines and infrastructure and are unwilling to share or lease them? Can't governments compel them?

          The issues appeal to be mostly financial, economic, legal and political, not technological. Why are we as a society not doing something about that? And given the potential profit of these technologies, why aren't Elon Musk-type entrepreneurs trying to change this? Utilities preventing it via the legal system and their friends in politics? This is just nuts. The planet is dying all because a small group of greedy assholes refuse to relinquish their monopolies?

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:21:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Governments could compel them ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... and in truth given my experience with what happens at saturation, more governments need to consider what the endgame is.

            But again, most storage solutions are local, the more local the more common. Residential battery storage is by far the most common. I don't know of any large-scale, remote storage and transmission projects. And again that's partly because I don't think the technology is that highly developed, and partly because utilities don't feel the need to (financially or politically).

            Yes you are right to be concerned about these issues. But one thing's for sure, which was the main point of my first post ... production efficiency is not the area that needs innovation right now, it's storage and transmission of excess power.

            •  Is there a need for large-scale (0+ / 0-)

              long-term transmission of energy at present and given future projected growth and demand, or can most excess storage be stored locally, with perhaps a more modest long-term transmission and storage capacity built to handle the occasional excesses to avoid wasted energy? With more electric vehicles set to take to the roads and replace gas vehicles, there's going to be a surge in electric demand, most of it locally given that most miles driver are local.

              I guess I'm asking is that, given political and economic realities, isn't a more modest and modular plan for upgrading the nation's power production, storage and transmission network more feasible, if not also sufficient for most of our needs? Do we really need a Manhattan Project-like solution, especially given that none is likely any time soon under present realities?

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:25:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Any plan faces hurdles (0+ / 0-)

                The primary one being financial. The most realistic is residential battery storage, but that places all the cost on the individual homeowner.

                Utility scale projects would be easier to fund, but the technology is lagging. So ... catch 22.

                •  Sounds like there's room here (0+ / 0-)

                  for some middle-tier ventures to store and resupply as needed excess energy, be it from consumers or utilities, at the local level. If these proved lucrative and effective, eventually they'd consolidate and the big players would move in. If utilities don't want to spend the money and consumers can't, this seems like the most likely compromise. Venture capital can do the initial financing.

                  I see someone like Musk getting involved, especially since it could mesh with his plans to build a national network of charging stations, which would be a great use of such a scheme. One person's excess energy could power another persion's EV, to the advantage of both and the middleman.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:23:50 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  don't we store electricity in things called . . . (0+ / 0-)

      "batteries" . . . ?


      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:44:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Utility scale batteries are nonexistent (0+ / 0-)

        Battery technology isn't quite there yet.

        •  that's just one reason why I think (0+ / 0-)

          generating electricity at the point of use, rather than in some huge central location and transporting it from there, is the future.

          I would think the technology necessary to store enough power for a single building for the night is a lot less daunting than to store enough for the whole grid for the night.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:15:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is, however (0+ / 0-)

            adding battery storage adds a huge amount of cost to a residential PV system, both upfront and ongoing. So the vast majority of systems are simply grid-tied with no storage. In every municipality I know of, during the pre-saturation stages, and even post-saturation, the standard assumption is grid-tied with no storage. It would be nice if every PV system stored its own overgeneration, but no government is requiring that. That would hurt adoption tremendously.

            Also, most systems with battery storage do remain grid-connected, for on demand service when and if the batteries ever run out. That can cause technical issues, as the load is turned on and off of the grid.

            •  I know people with RVs who power everything by (0+ / 0-)

              solar panels that charge a bank of batteries.

              I think the future would be something along those lines (though of course RVs don't use as much power as a typical house).

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:19:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's the present (0+ / 0-)

                As mentioned this is the most common solution currently, but it is cost-prohibitive to the individual and therefore sees low adoption. The future is solving the financial issue, one major way is larger centralized solutions.

  •  Sun threatening to file suit for theft of services (0+ / 0-)

    in the DC Solar Court. Presiding judge Ray Soleil to review case Sun Day.

    Sorry, just woke up and coming down with cold. Bad joke day. This sounds great. I've been tinkering with basic electronics lately for my young nephews and was thinking of adding a solar panel as spring approaches. Hopefully these will be commercially available for regular people soon.

    Maybe George Foreman will make a version of his grill that uses these?

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:35:21 AM PST

  •  ok, here's a question (0+ / 0-)

    my extended family has 3 homes with no ability to put up solar panels.  Either tree shaded, or in one case, the design doesn't allow it (very very steep pitched roof, high and bad orientation)

    so, I was thinking of buying a small lot in a hot cheap area, and putting in enough solar to offset the 3 houses.
    is this possible?

  •  Ads on huge solar fields in flyover country (0+ / 0-)

    Viewable from above.  Chaching!

    Imagine the most profound idea ever conceptualized occupying this space. Now expect exactly the opposite. You'll never be disappointed.

    by Gurnt on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:15:44 AM PST

  •  China dominates the solar panel industry. (0+ / 0-)

    It confounds me that have to get our panels from China. Solar panels are a great idea, but they are cost-prohibitive for most.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:30:22 AM PST

    •  US panels are quite competitive (0+ / 0-)

      Check it out, panel costs are so low that buying US is quite feasible. In fact, my local industry turned almost entirely to non-China panels after the tariffs, and US panels were one of the most competitive options.

  •  T,R, & Reposted to Climate Change News Roundup. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -Jiddu Krishnamurti

    by Panacea Paola on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:25:14 AM PST

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