I wrote this article for HomeToys.com, our Home Technology website but it applies to Alternative Energy as well. It's not enough to monitor our energy use. We don't really care about that unless it does something to change our lives or save us money. So, let's put a solar system on the roof. Now that can do both of these things and should attract our attention. But let's take it a step further. With that solar system there is a new variable in the mix --- FREE CLEAN ENERGY. What can and should we do with it.
The Denver recently reported the NREL was going to lay off 10 percent of its employees. It took about two light seconds for a popular Washington D.C. news site to pronounce the layoff a "scandal," because NREL had taken federal stimulus money. That is silly. NREL, of course, is where the Department of Energy tests and develops new materials and techniques for solar, wind and other kinds of energy.
So implementing energy efficiency measures sounds like a good idea in principle, but how can local authorities or municipalities balance the equation of technology costs and fund the capital expenditure? Put simply, some of the measures that can be implemented deliver savings immediately with payback periods that are very short - in some instances only 6 months. However; to address a set of larger scale measures, the answer comprises 3 elements: i) scale of project, ii) guaranteeing savings through energy performance contracting and iii) access to competitive (low interest rate) finance.
The technical advances of cost effective PV and advanced storage along with the legislative changes must occur if the industry is to grow rapidly enough to become a significant component of the world's future energy portfolio in the next 15 to 20 years (i.e. PV supplying more than 20% of the world's electricity). Advances in any of the three areas will certainly help and will benefit the industry as a whole, but ALL three are necessary if PV is to take its place as the most flexible, cost effective and distributed form of energy and all three are necessary to accelerate the transition to a post fossil fuel economy.
Here are two letters written to President Obama and House Speaker Boehner outlining some common frustrations.
In 2006 California passed legislation to require consumers and industries to begin reducing their carbon emissions. The name of this bill is AB32.
Smart metering and sub-metering can be added to most buildings for relatively low cost and almost immediately. It is an investment that will keep paying for itself over and over and even when the smart grid does become a reality it will be a second source of opinion, and when the utility will not share their information, you can.
On Monday, September 13, the Japanese launched an attack on Ontario's Green Harbor, i.e. the province's Green Energy Act. Rather than attacking a naval base with hundreds of military aircraft, Japan has launched a suit against Canada and Ontario through the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The reason for the attack? The Japanese do not want to have thousands of new green jobs and companies manufacturing alternative energy components over here, supporting thousands of Ontario families, when these same jobs could be created in Japan.
The Department of Energy estimates that 25 percent to 30 percent of all energy used in public schools across the U.S. is wasted.
One of the standard stages when considering solar for your home is the solar site visit. This involves a solar installer coming out to your home and inspecting your roof for the potential installation of a home solar system.
The U.S. has taken a shortsighted approach to "financing" our energy future for decades. We are rapidly depleting our energy capital of oil, gas and coal at greater rates each year, and giving very little thought to the long-term (20-50+ years) consequences.
Last January saw solar panel pricing hit historical lows worldwide. As a result and despite the economy, the solar photovoltaic industry is having a pretty good year both at the commercial and residential levels.
The new post-BP environmentalist, I predict, will stand taller than those from Earth Day and from Yale and Harvard. They will be more immediate and less technical. They will be pumped up on the steroids of Hollywood, mass media, and Twitter more than the schooling of MBAs. And they will attract massive audiences, with their green eyes and softer training on behalf of the Earth.
When you compare the real costs of solar with the fully loaded real costs of coal and oil and natural gas and nuclear power, apples to apples, solar is cheaper.
Innovative technological ideas that originate from small American manufacturing companies often go unrewarded. Why? Because often those companies don't have the ability to take their innovations to the world through an aggressive exporting program.
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