For decades, rooftop solar has allowed homeowners to generate their own renewable electricity — reducing their dependence on monopoly utilities and lowering their energy bills. However, solar rooftops are not a viable option for many people. What about those who can’t afford one? What about renters? Plus, only a portion of buildings have roofs that are large enough, facing the right direction, and sunny enough for solar. Community solar picks up where traditional rooftop solar fails. Through community solar, individuals subscribe to a portion of a nearby solar garden and get credits on their energy bill for the electricity it produces. This way, people without the financial means for solar on their rooftops and people who don’t own suitable rooftops can still reap the benefits of renewable energy.
Matt Reuscher was laid off a decade ago from Peabody Energy’s Gateway coal mine in Southern Illinois, in the midst of a drought that made the water needed to wash the coal too scarce and caused production to drop, as he remembers it. Reuscher’s grandfather and two uncles had been miners, and his father — a machinist — did much work with the mines. Like many young men in Southern Illinois, it was a natural career choice for Reuscher. Still in his early 20s when he was laid off, Reuscher “spent that summer doing odds and ends, not really finding much of anything I enjoyed doing as much as being underground.” By fall of 2012, he started working installing solar panels for StraightUp Solar, one of very few solar companies operating in the heart of Illinois coal country. He heard about the job through a family friend and figured he’d give it a try since he had a construction background. He immediately loved the work, and he’s become an evangelist for the clean energy shift happening nationwide, if more slowly in Southern Illinois. With colleagues, he fundraised to install solar panels in tiny villages on the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua, and he became a solar electrician and worked on StraightUp Solar installations powering the wastewater treatment center and civic center in Carbondale, Illinois — a town named for coal.
When Leela Devi was married in Tilonia village (Ajmer district of Rajasthan), she had not heard of solar energy. But making use of the existence of solar centre of the Barefoot College (BC) near her new home, she learnt adequate skills within a year to set up rural solar units and assemble solar lanterns. Later as India’s External Affairs Ministry teamed up with BC to start an international program for training women in rural solar energy systems, Leela teamed up with other friends from B.C. to form a team of trainers. A training program has been designed for training women as barefoot solar engineers. When I visited the Tilonia campus (before the training program was temporarily discontinued due to COVID) , a group of women ( several of them Grandmas) from Zambia , Chad, Kenya and other countries was being trained.
In the fight over California’s rooftop solar policy, a coalition that claims to represent low-income, senior and environmental leaders is running ads warning about a cost shift that forces consumers to subsidize solar for people who live in mansions. This message, by Affordable Clean Energy for All, is trying to influence the debate as California regulators consider rules that would sharply reduce the financial benefits of owning rooftop systems. But Affordable Clean Energy for All is not a grassroots movement. It is a public relations campaign sponsored by big utility companies that stand to benefit from policies that hurt rooftop solar. Many of the 100-plus groups that make up the coalition have received charitable donations or other financial support from the utilities.
Since rooftop solar became possible, electric utilities have struggled to incorporate it into their outdated business model. In recent years, this lag in utility recognition has become increasingly problematic, risking the health, environmental, and financial impacts of over-investment in large fossil fuel power plants. In over 30 states, monopoly utilities submit plans for new power plants to public regulators without adequately considering how customers will serve themselves. However, a new modeling approach from Vote Solar and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) might finally put distributed solar on the same footing in grid planning as the large power plants that utilities prefer. Our method, first filed in a resource plan in early 2021 for Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, showed that the utility could cost-effectively add nearly 2,000 megawatts more distributed solar than it plans to, saving customers billions of dollars.
Until recently, rooftop solar panels were a clean energy technology that only wealthy Americans could afford. But prices have dropped, thanks mostly to falling costs for hardware, as well as price declines for installation and other “soft” costs. Today hundreds of thousands of middle-class households across the U.S. are turning to solar power. But households with incomes below the median for their areas remain less likely to go solar. These low- and moderate-income households face several roadblocks to solar adoption, including cash constraints, low rates of home ownership and language barriers. Our team of researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory examined how various policies and business models could affect the likelihood of people at all income levels adopting solar.
WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX – Solar accounted for 40% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2019, its highest share ever and more than any other source of electricity, with 13.3 gigawatts (GW) installed. Despite policy challenges and a second year of the Section 201 tariffs, the U.S. solar market grew by 23% from 2018, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2019 Year-in-Review report...
Once a world leader in the technology and manufacture of solar panels, Europe now lags far behind China and other Asian countries. It faces shortages of supplies and disruption to them, according to the annual PV status report of the European Commission’s Science Hub. The report says the installation rate of panels has to increase “drastically” − more than five times by 2025, and double that again if Europe is to convert to electric cars and fuels like hydrogen.
Two laws requiring new property owners to build solar panels or green spaces on their roofs went into effect on Nov. 15 — marking a major step towards Brooklyn’s environmental sustainability, according to local green thumbs. “It’s important and very valuable,” said environmental activist Pete Sikora from the New York Community for Change, a local nonprofit. “It’s a critical step for New York City to meet the Green New Deal goals.” The legislation — which Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Bedford Stuyvesant) first introduced to the City Council in July of 2018...
Excluding Nuclear, Fossils With Carbon Capture, & Biofuels From The Green New Deal Makes Financial & Climate Sense
The Green New Deal and multiple proposed laws and resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate call for the United States to move entirely from fossil fuels to clean, renewable electricity and/or all energy. A new bill was just introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), calling for the U.S. to produce 100 percent of its electric power from renewables by 2035. Recently, though, some vocal advocates have pushed back, claiming that the only way prices will stay low with large amounts of renewables on the power grid is to use nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture, and biofuels, which they claim are “zero carbon.” Here is why nuclear, fossils with CCS, and biofuels should be excluded.
In Sunset Park, a waterfront neighborhood in central Brooklyn, nearly 30% of residents live below the poverty line. The neighborhood has dealt with a history of environmental burdens, particularly due to an expressway that runs above one of its main streets. For residents, high energy costs compound the air quality concerns produced by passing traffic and the presence of three nearby fossil fuel plants. A new initiative, though, is working to bring renewable energy to the neighborhood–and following a cooperative ownership model that’s helped stabilize energy prices in rural America. Across rural America, it’s not uncommon for people to own their energy sources.
Keystone XL is a proposed tar sands pipeline that would connect Alberta, Canada with Gulf Coast refineries carrying around 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States. President Obama rejected the federal permit for this project in 2015 because of the impact Keystone XL would have on our climate. One of Trump’s first moves in office was to reverse Obama’s decision and give TransCanada the federal permit for construction. In November 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted to give a “conditional” approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, mandating TransCanada use a different route. TransCanada is now scrambling to buy out politicians to move the project forward.
(Reuters) - Procurement of solar energy by U.S. utilities “exploded” in the first half of 2018, prompting a prominent research group to boost its five-year installation forecast on Thursday despite the Trump administration’s steep tariffs on imported panels. A record 8.5 gigawatts (GW) of utility solar projects were procured in the first six months of this year after President Donald Trump in January announced a 30 percent tariff on panels produced overseas, according to the report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and industry trade group the Solar Energy Industries Association. As a result, the research firm raised its utility-scale solar forecast for 2018 through 2023 by 1.9 GW. The forecast is still 8 percent lower than before the tariffs were announced. A gigawatt of solar energy can power about 164,000 homes.
The tariffs on imported solar panels imposed by the Trump administration six months ago have done little to dampen the booming solar market in the United States. Company executives and industry analysts say that the effects of the tariffs—increased prices for installations that could depress demand for solar projects and lead to thousands of job losses—have largely been cancelled out by other factors. Many developers had stockpiled cheap panels in anticipation of the import fees. China slowed the pace of domestic installations, creating a surplus of cheap panels that could spill into global markets. And U.S. consumers have a big incentive to install solar panels in the next 18 months, before U.S. tax incentives begin to phase out. So far, there's not enough data to tell how much the import fees are altering project costs, although it is clear that there has not been a dramatic shift.
The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, which owns the solar plant, touted the project as a major clean energy advancement on a reservation long known for fossil fuel development. A giant array of solar panels near the famed sandstone buttes of Monument Valley has begun producing electricity for the Navajo Nation at a time when the tribe is bracing for the loss of hundreds of jobs from the impending closure of a nearby coal-fired power plant. The Kayenta Solar Facility is the first utility-scale solar project on the Navajo Nation, producing enough electricity to power about 13,000 Navajo homes. The plant comes at a time when the area's energy landscape is shifting. The coal-fired Navajo Generating Station near Page is set to close in December 2019, leaving a site that both tribal and private entities say has the potential for renewable energy development.