Sunday, November 20, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Community Solar Day (Reminder)

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 12:47 PM PST

community solar day

Just a reminder that today is “Community Solar Day” (or “Occupy Your Rooftop Day”). Even if you forgot about it, or didn’t plan to participate before now, you can still join in! Solar Mosaic, one of the organizers, has a very specific suggestion for how you can join in. It recommends that you kickstart a solar project in your community by taking a picture in front of the building that you want to help go solar. You can then send the pictures to and get started trying to organize sponsors.

Also, you can perhaps join a community solar group that has already been started. I see that there are 125 on at the moment.

Or, if you want to go it alone, just start looking into your many options for going solar! Solar has a tremendous return on investment — you can make money while helping the environment and the people around you — what’s not to love?!

Here’s more from Solar Mosaic:

“From Kathmandu, Nepal to San Antonio, Texas, people around the world are coming together on November 20th to create jobs and prosperity in their communities through solar energy. Called ‘Occupy Rooftops,’ this new wave in the Occupy movement is being spearheaded by solar finance company Solar Mosaic and 20 other companies and organizations to help people kickstart a project on a building in their community such as a school, non-profit or place of worship. Solar Mosaic is collecting photos of groups in front of the building that they want to help go solar and plans to support each group through the process of starting their community solar project.”

"The same big banks that crashed the economy continue to finance mega fossil fuel projects like the Tar Sands while charging renewable energy projects high interest rates. People across the world are tired of business as usual and want a new type of business, one that is created for and by the people. Solar is the fastest growing industry in America and now employs more people than both coal and steel production–it is the key to our economic recovery," said Billy Parish, President of Solar Mosaic.

For more on Solar Mosaic, you can, of course, visit their site, or you can check out these two posts on CleanTechnica:

  1. 1st-of-Its-Kind Community Solar Project
  2. Solar Mosaic Follow-Up

Related posts:

  1. 1st-of-Its-Kind Community Solar Project
  2. Occupy Your Rooftop on Community Solar Day
  3. 1 Block Off the Grid's Community Solar Initiative Expanding to 20 US Cities

New 2012 Zero Electric Motorcycles With Improved Speed and Mileage

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 12:17 PM PST

Zero Motorcycles announced earlier this month their new 2012 model line of electric motorcycles, which, they say, are revolutionising the industry. Zero Motorcycles is now providing a bike with a range of over 100 miles and top speeds of 88 miles per hour.

Zero Motorocycles 2012 Line up includes the Zero DS

"The 2012 model line is truly game changing. It marks the first time in history that riders can actually own an electric motorcycle that is capable of exceeding 100 miles of range on a single charge," said Scot Harden, VP of Global Marketing of Zero Motorcycles. "Every model in the lineup goes faster, further and is more fun than ever before. These are not concepts. In less than three months, riders can see and purchase 2012 models at authorized Zero Motorcycles dealers."

According to Zero Motorcycles, the arrival of the 2012 line in February of next year "will mark the first time in transportation history that a mass production electric motorcycle capable of exceeding 100 miles range will be available for consumers to own."

The bikes will be housing the new Z-Force™ power pack, which uses a "completely new battery cell chemistry and configuration" that Zero claims is up to 95% more energy dense and is rated to 3,000 complete charge cycles before it hits the 80% capacity mark.

Zero Motorocycles 2012 Lineup includes the Zero DS

This means that a Zero S could travel as far as 308,000 miles before a new power pack is needed.

The Zero S and the Zero DS are both available in 6 or 9 kilowatt hour configuration, capable of respectively achieving 76 or 114 miles according to the EPA Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS).

Source: Zero Motorocycles

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LA Auto Show Green Car Highlights

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 12:13 PM PST

Our neighbors over on Gas2, Chris DeMorro and Susanna Schick got to attend the LA Auto Show last week. They wrote a number of stories on big, “green car” news from the show. Here’s a quick roundup of the stories, including a number of photos:

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Steven Chu Drilled (for Nothing) for Longer than Tony Hayward for BP Oil Spill

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 11:49 AM PST

I was holding out on writing yet another Solyndra story, but looks like I’m giving in. Steven Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy and a Nobel Prize winner in physics, was hounded by Republican Congressmen for 5 and a half hours, twice as long as BP’s Tony Hayward was grilled in the midst of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill!

Here’s a representative line from Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia: ”I hope you didn’t leave your brains at the door.” What is that supposed to be? Is this a trash-talking basketball game? That’s the way some of these guys seem to treat it. When asked about George Kaiser, a Democratic fundraiser, Chu said he had never heard of him before approving the loan.

“Everybody and their dog at DOE knew who he was and what he was involved in,” Joe Barton of Texas said,.. as if Joe Barton (who apologized to BP for investigations into the BP oil spill) knows what is discussed by staff of the DOE.

solar manufacturing globally

"U.S. solar cell (PV) and module manufacturing market share. Yes, the peak coincides with the ascension of the Gingrich Congress and its efforts to stop clean energy deployment."

Chu’s full prepared statement on the matters of the Solyndra loan is here. Some highlights from that:

Investments in clean energy reached a record $243 billion last year. Solar photovoltaic systems alone represent a global market worth more than $80 billion today. In the coming decades, the clean energy sector is expected to grow by hundreds of billions of dollars. We are in a fierce global race to capture this market.

In the past year and a half, the China Development Bank has offered more than $34 billion in credit lines to China's solar companies. China is not alone: To strengthen their countries' competitiveness, governments around the world are providing strong support to their clean energy industries. Germany and Canada operate government-backed clean energy lending programs, and more than 50 countries offer some type of public financing for clean energy projects.

In the United States, Congress established the Section 1703 and 1705 loan guarantee programs as well as the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program — all of which provide support to cutting-edge clean energy industries that involve technology and market risks. In doing so, Congress appropriated nearly $10 billion to cover potential losses in our total loan portfolio, thereby acknowledging and ensuring that the inherent risks of funding new and innovative technologies were recognized and accounted for in the budget. We appreciate the support the loan programs have received from many members of Congress — including nearly 500 letters to the Department — who have urged us to accelerate our efforts and to fund worthy projects in their states.

Through the loan programs, the Energy Department is supporting 38 clean energy projects that are expected to employ more than 60,000 Americans, generate enough clean electricity to power nearly 3 million homes and displace more than 300 million gallons of gasoline annually. These important investments are helping to make America more competitive in the global clean energy economy.

As you know, the Department has consistently cooperated with the Committee's investigation, providing more than 186,000 pages of documents, appearing at hearings, and briefing or being interviewed by Committee staff eight times.

As this extensive record has made clear, the loan guarantee to Solyndra was subject to proper, rigorous scrutiny and healthy debate during every phase of the process.

As the Secretary of Energy, the final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind. I want to be clear: over the course of Solyndra's loan guarantee, I did not make any decision based on political considerations.

My decision to guarantee a loan to Solyndra was based on the analysis of experienced professionals and on the strength of the information they had available to them at the time.

The Solyndra transaction went through more than two years of rigorous technical, financial and legal due diligence, spanning two Administrations, before a loan guarantee was issued. Based on thorough internal and external analysis of both the market and the technology, and extensive review of information provided by Solyndra and others, the Department concluded that Solyndra was poised to compete in the marketplace and had a good prospect of repaying the government's loan.

Solyndra's potential was widely recognized outside the Department. Highly sophisticated, professional private investors, after conducting their own reviews, had collectively invested nearly a billion dollars in the company, which was named as one of the world's "50 Most Innovative Companies" by MIT's Technology Review in February of 2010.

After highlighting how changes in the market led to Solyndra’s collapse, why the DOE restructured the loan (i.e. to try to achieve maximum payback for taxpayers), and the strength of the loan program overall, Chu closed with this statement: “When it comes to the clean energy race, America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat. I believe we can and must compete.

But Republicans holding the hearing had question after question after question to follow up, and then had to repeat them and repeat them and repeat them.

“These questions are going over and over and over,” Chu said at one point. But he wasn’t the only one bored by it all. Check out Fortune editor Dan Primack’s take on it all:

My eyes have glazed over. I'm hungry, dumber than I was this morning and very angry with myself.

Don't be coy, you know what I'm copping to having done: I spent almost the entire workday watching yet another Congressional hearing on the Solyndra "scandal."

This is at least the third such hearing, all in a flailing effort by GOP reps to prove that Solyndra wasn't simply an honest loan gone bad, but rather an example of corruption and self-dealing in the Obama White House. For all the talk about this deal, there still has not yet been any actual evidence — including cherry-picked emails released by the Republican-led committee — that Solyndra received its $535 million government loan because of crony capitalism. And that remains the case, after five hours of testimony fr1om U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.

More from Think Progress:

Without any evidence of wrongdoing, the Republican-led hearing drove outside observers to tears. "Stop it with the Solyndra nonsense," Scientific American energy editor David Biello pleaded on Twitter. "Just stop it."

Image & Caption via Climate Progress

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Congress Killing Wind Energy Jobs, Bipartisan Governors Group States (Congress Less Popular than BP, IRS, Nixon, Banks)

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 07:07 AM PST

Congress approval

I'm not sure how many open letters I've read over the years from businesses and state-level political leaders urging Congress to extend short-term tax credits to renewables. It's a lot. And it's kind of sad that I'm still reading them.

The latest letter, written by a bi-partisan coalition of governors who support wind energy, lament the negative impact that a looming expiration of the production tax credit is having on businesses throughout the country:

Wind-related manufacturing is beginning to slow in our states because the credit has not yet been extended. If Congress pursues a last minute approach to the extension, the anticipated interruption of the credit's benefits will result in a significant loss of high-paying jobs in a growing sector of the economy.

The leading wind project developers and manufacturers are slowing their plans for 2013 and beyond due to the current uncertainty. Some developers have no projects scheduled for 2013, and are beginning to lay off employees. The ripple effect of this slow down means reduced orders for turbines and decreased business for the hundreds of manufacturers who have entered the wind industry in our states. If the tax credit is allowed to expire at the end of 2012, there will be negative impacts on the high-tech manufacturing jobs that the industry has brought to or created in our states.

To put it more bluntly: Congress is hurting businesses.

Meanwhile, members of Congress and presidential candidates continue to make outright false claims that environmental regulations are "job killers." In reality, the inability of Congress to craft consistent tax policy for wind and other renewables is actually killing jobs.

This, quite frankly, is scandalous. But it's the way things have been for so long, the industry just expects that every couple of years, they'll go back to Congress and beg for an extension of tax credits.

How many times do lawmakers need to hear that consistency in clean energy tax policy stimulates private-sector investment, creates jobs, and helps bring new revenue to landowners and local communities? And why do we have permanently embedded tax incentives for oil companies, while clean energy companies fight for 1-2 year extensions?

It's no wonder the approval rating of Congress is at 9 percent — making it less popular than President Nixon during Watergate, as HuffPost points out. The original chart is from Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who introduced it on the Senate floor in this must-see video:

This post was originally published on Climate Progress and has been republished with permission.

Related posts:

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  3. East Coast Governors Join Forces for Clean, Renewable Energy from Wind

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Somehow, Can’t Find a Solar Installer (Help Him Out)

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 06:51 AM PST

In another tirade against solar, Bill O'Reilly recently said he couldn't find anyone in Long Island to install a system on his house.

"There's no where, no one," explained O'Reilly. Gee, what a predicament.

Actually, as a quick Google search points out, there are more than a dozen companies installing solar electric and solar hot water systems around Long Island. And that's not to mention the dozens of other solar companies working throughout New York State.

Unfortunately, if we can't expect a major media figure like O'Reilly to do an easy Google search to find a solar company, how can we expect him to report fairly on the industry? As a recent compilation of Fox News clean energy coverage makes perfectly clear, the pundits railing against solar simply have no idea how the technology works. It's time to fight back against this ignorance not by telling these pundits that solar works, but by actually showing them.

If you're a solar company in New York, consider taking O'Reilly up on his offer and install solar on his house. If he's serious about creating a "no spin zone," maybe he'll actually give the technology a fair shake.

This post was originally published on Climate Progress and has been republished with permission.

Image via Karppinen

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Solar Press Release War

Posted: 20 Nov 2011 05:58 AM PST

I don’t know how many of you are following the SolarWorld petition alleging that China is dumping solar panels in the U.S., and the push-back against it by a coalition of solar companies, Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE). To me, this is all a big waste of time and resources. But, clearly, the petition could have serious negative consequences for the solar industry if it went anywhere. It seems like there’s at least one new press release about the matter every day, from SolarWorld or CASE or China. While sharing all of them doesn’t seem very useful — there’s not that much substance in most of them; it’s more like a little press release war — I figured I should keep you somewhat up-to-date on the matter. So, here is one of the most recent, from CASE, giving more detail regarding the push-back against the SolarWorld petition and why so many in the industry don’t support it:

case solar

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2011 — Within one week of forming, dozens of U.S. solar companies, representing thousands of American jobs, have joined the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) to urge policymakers to help find a resolution to SolarWorld’s harmful trade petition. The Coalition now represents 52 American solar companies from across the United States and throughout the solar value chain and more than 9,600 jobs, or nearly 10% of the U.S. solar industry workforce.

“Every day, new American solar companies are stepping forward to oppose SolarWorld’s bid to block competition in the U.S. solar industry,” said Alan Epstein, President and COO of KDC Solar LLC, a new CASE member based in New Jersey. “Competition is good for the U.S. solar industry, good for solar jobs, and most importantly, good for creating and preserving long-term jobs for our electric customers and therefore the economy. The solar industry must remain united in its mission to make solar energy affordable for everyone.”

CASE members represent a large cross section of the U.S. solar industry, both large and small companies, including silicon and module manufacturers, project developers, financial and real estate services and installers.

“We’ve hired 400 employees this year, including electricians, roofers, salespeople, call center professionals – affordable solar energy in the United States is the catalyst for this new economic opportunity and these jobs,” said Ken Button, co-founder and president, Verengo Solar Plus. “If SolarWorld is successful with its petition, it would hurt the broader U.S. solar industry. Are SolarWorld’s jobs more important than ours?”

In a recent solar industry report, Jefferies analyst Jesse Pichel explained why SolarWorld’s anti-trade petition could hurt broader U.S. solar industry growth: “The U.S. solar industry, already suffering from a lack of financing, will experience higher panel prices and lower demand if countervailing duties are imposed as early 2012. SolarWorld may see backlash as U.S. developers and installers are hurt by this scorched Earth approach.”

SolarWorld’s trade action has been largely unpopular in the U.S. solar industry, given its potential to hurt thousands of jobs throughout the solar value chain. In a survey conducted by PV Magazine, 76.4 percent of respondents opposed the petition with only 20 percent expressing support.

“We must be careful not to jeopardize 100,000 jobs in a bid to save one struggling company with 1,000 jobs,” added Button. “The solar industry is expected to add about 24,000 jobs in 2012, but cost-prohibitive solar would put that growth at risk.”

To learn more about the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), please visit our

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