BY Adam Wasch, Energy Outreach Consultant at CCHRC
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner November 6th, 2008, Section A3
This is the second of a series of columns exploring how solar energy can be used at home to reduce your energy costs.
Even in winter, enough sunlight peeks over the horizon to make a difference in your home’s comfort and energy consumption. Last week, we looked at using active solar technology to heat water and generate electricity, but passive solar design is among the most cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home – without a lot of fancy gadgetry. Continue reading →
“In our view, too much solar capacity has been added relative to demand, and will lead to oversupply,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote, adding that the consequences would drive module prices down by about 15 percent next year.
Oversupply and an easing of demand as economies slow will help the cost of photovoltaic solar energy fall in line with the cost of conventional electricity — so-called “grid parity” — which will ultimately give the sector a boost, but not before many companies have fallen by the wayside.
A toxic mix of tight credit and falling prices will make it especially perilous for those solar companies with weak cash flows and high debt.
“On a global average, three out of four (solar energy) companies will not make it,” said Robert Schramm, analyst at Germany’s Commerzbank.
From the New York Times, on Friday, October 31, 2008:
Building a green home, with features like solar panels and top-of-the-line insulation, involves significant up-front costs.
Added onto that is the cost of certifying your home — a stamp of approval that the home meets green standards.
Some architects and builders voice concerns that LEED for Homes — a relatively new expansion of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design brand, which has largely been concerned with commercial buildings — is expensive and involves too much paperwork.
Local programs, they say, are cheaper and sometimes better suited to regional needs.
From the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, October 26, 2008:
With all eyes on the money crisis, homeowners and builders may find it hard to believe the words of Little Orphan Annie—the sun will come out tomorrow.
But one segment of the housing industry that continues to grow by banking on that idea is the residential solar-energy business.
Even in these tough financial times, real estate experts say homes with solar technology and other efficiency upgrades continue to appraise higher and attract buyers, and those buyers may even come with special financing set aside for high-efficiency homes.
From nytimes.com, posted on Monday, September 29, 2008:
One of the limitations of solar photovoltaic systems is that, at the current state of the technology, no more than a quarter of the energy from the sun is converted to electric current. Most of the rest of the energy is lost as waste heat.
But Vinod Khosla, the founder of Sun Microsystems and now a technology entrepreneur and alternative-energy venture capitalist, says he’s found a solution that doubles or even triples the energy yield — a gargantuan leap in a field where engineers exult over the most incremental gains.
Established in 1995, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
To find out what incentives your state utilities and/or government offers businesses and individuals who use renewable power or increase their energy efficiency, click here.
The first of a two-part series, “A Greener Future”, from the LA Times, September 14, 2008:
Innovations in designing green chemicals are emerging in nearly every U.S. industry, from plastics and pesticides to toys and nail polish. Some manufacturers of cosmetics, household cleaners and other consumer products are leading the charge, while others are lagging behind.
For decades, many manufacturers used the most powerful weapons in their chemical arsenals, with scant attention to where they wound up or what they might have been doing to people or the planet.
From Lamar Alexander’s blog “Simple Solar Homesteading,” retrieved on September 15, 2008:
The cabin is 14 x 14 and aproximately 400 square feet with a full loft. It includes a kitchen, dining area, bathroom and living area downstairs and a large bedroom and office upstairs.
I built this cabin by myself from new materials for under $2000 (not including windows, doors, and porch). I live in this cabin year round. My electricity comes from the solar panels you see on the roof and a small backup generator. This power runs all my lights, water pump, tv, computer etc. My heat is primarily from direct solar gain through the south facing windows and I use propane for a backup furnace, fridge, stove, and on demand water heater. My propane bill for last year was less than $200. I use a tracfone pay as you go cell phone for emergencies.
Builders have known for decades that white roofs reflect the sun’s rays and lower the cost of air conditioning. But now scientists say they have quantified a new benefit: slowing global warming.
If the 100 biggest cities in the world installed white roofs and changed their pavement to more reflective materials — say, concrete instead of asphalt-based material — the global cooling effect would be massive, according to data released Tuesday at California’s annual Climate Change Research Conference in Sacramento.
For the past decade or so, Samsø [Denmark] has been the site of an unlikely social movement. When it began, in the late nineteen-nineties, the island’s forty-three hundred inhabitants had what might be described as a conventional attitude toward energy: as long as it continued to arrive, they weren’t much interested in it. Most Samsingers heated their houses with oil, which was brought in on tankers. They used electricity imported from the mainland via cable, much of which was generated by burning coal. As a result, each Samsinger put into the atmosphere, on average, nearly eleven tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Then, quite deliberately, the residents of the island set about changing this. They formed energy coöperatives and organized seminars on wind power. They removed their furnaces and replaced them with heat pumps. By 2001, fossil-fuel use on Samsø had been cut in half. By 2003, instead of importing electricity, the island was exporting it, and by 2005 it was producing from renewable sources more energy than it was using.