Lucius Fox

Chief Executive Officer of Wayne Enterprises

Has the solar-power industry lapsed into a classic cycle of boom and bust after a decade of unprecedented growth? It might appear so. As years of government subsidies boosted the global installed capacity of solar-photovoltaic (PV) modules and dramatically cut prices, new producers, including China, rushed into the market, prompting oversupply and pressure on margins that threaten many pioneering players. Demand today isn’t keeping up with supply, and governments continue to scale back support as they cope with the aftermath of the economic crisis.

Posted at 1:01pm and tagged with: Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Energy, Alternative Energy, Solar Power,.

theatlantic:

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Decentralization of Energy

If there’s one lesson you should pick up from this story, it’s that alternative energy isn’t only about changing what we put in our fuel tanks or how our electricity is made. Alternative energy is going to alter entire business plans and change who we are, what our responsibilities are, and how we think about ourselves. If it helps, though, this transition is nothing new. The United States has already gone through it once before. This country began as a place where energy was individual labor—something most people had to physically be involved with every day, whether they were chopping wood or driving a team of horses. Fossil fuels—oil, coal-fired engines, natural gas—changed all of that. During the course of the twentieth century, energy became a commodity. Most Americans didn’t directly labor to produce it. Most of us didn’t have to think about it at all, except when we paid the monthly bills.

Now, as where we get our energy from shifts again, what energy is—what it means to us—is changing again, too. Yet we aren’t reverting to the nineteenth century. We’re creating something new. The future of energy is a world that shares characteristics of both the past and the present. In the future, we will see where the electricity we use is made. It’ll be on our roofs, in our rivers, closer to our cities. Because more of us will make electricity, more of us will have to pay attention to how the grid works and how our choices affect it. Third parties will still handle the complicated details of keeping that energy supply reliable. There will still be wizards of the grid. Utility companies will still exist, even if their primary business model is fundamentally different. You and I are still going to enjoy the convenience of not having to chop wood every time we want a warm house. It will be different, and we won’t all get what we want, but different and imperfect don’t necessarily mean bad.

This can work. This future can happen. Yet it won’t simply happen on its own. Standing between us and the future of energy is an awfully big wall. Whether we can scale it will depend on how well we can plan and whether we have the willpower to follow those plans through.

Read more. [Image: Wisconsin Historical Society]

Posted at 2:28pm and tagged with: Energy, Wind power, Solar power, Alternative energy, Electricity,.

theatlantic:

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Decentralization of Energy

If there’s one lesson you should pick up from this story, it’s that alternative energy isn’t only about changing what we put in our fuel tanks or how our electricity is made. Alternative energy is going to alter entire business plans and change who we are, what our responsibilities are, and how we think about ourselves. If it helps, though, this transition is nothing new. The United States has already gone through it once before. This country began as a place where energy was individual labor—something most people had to physically be involved with every day, whether they were chopping wood or driving a team of horses. Fossil fuels—oil, coal-fired engines, natural gas—changed all of that. During the course of the twentieth century, energy became a commodity. Most Americans didn’t directly labor to produce it. Most of us didn’t have to think about it at all, except when we paid the monthly bills.
Now, as where we get our energy from shifts again, what energy is—what it means to us—is changing again, too. Yet we aren’t reverting to the nineteenth century. We’re creating something new. The future of energy is a world that shares characteristics of both the past and the present. In the future, we will see where the electricity we use is made. It’ll be on our roofs, in our rivers, closer to our cities. Because more of us will make electricity, more of us will have to pay attention to how the grid works and how our choices affect it. Third parties will still handle the complicated details of keeping that energy supply reliable. There will still be wizards of the grid. Utility companies will still exist, even if their primary business model is fundamentally different. You and I are still going to enjoy the convenience of not having to chop wood every time we want a warm house. It will be different, and we won’t all get what we want, but different and imperfect don’t necessarily mean bad.
This can work. This future can happen. Yet it won’t simply happen on its own. Standing between us and the future of energy is an awfully big wall. Whether we can scale it will depend on how well we can plan and whether we have the willpower to follow those plans through.
Read more. [Image: Wisconsin Historical Society]

poptech:

We captured some great stories from energy disruptors on the ground at ARPA-E’s Energy Innovation Summit.

Today’s quick take: Otherlab explains a new approach to heliostats, the sun-tracking mirrors used to concentrate sunlight to generate electricity.

Posted at 3:42pm and tagged with: ARPA-E, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Department of Energy, DOE, Sustainability, Otherlab, Heliostats, Solar Power, Innovation, Technology, Science, Emerging Technologies,.

A few months ago it was revealed that Apple planned to build a solar array for its massive data center in North Carolina. Now according to Apple’s latest environmental report (hat tip CNET), the company has disclosed that its solar project will actually be pretty sizable at 20 MW, and it will be built on 100 acres, and will supply the company with 42 million kWh of solar power per year.

Posted at 10:26am and tagged with: Apple, Environment, Sustainability, Solar Power, Innovation, Technology, Clean Energy,.

Blue skies and sunshine don’t make Joseph Katitu a happy man.

The 49-year-old sorghum farmer and father of nine shakes his head at the glaring sun as the last cloud fades in the sky above him.

“Mvua haitakuya (The rain will not come)!” he sighs.

The lack of gathering clouds is an ominous sign that Tseikuru District, some 230 km (150 miles) east of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, will have to wait a while longer before the heavens open again.

But the power of the sun will soon be turned to the advantage of farmers like Katitu. The Kenyan government plans to install 2,000 solar powered pumps in arid regions of the country to reduce the water shortages caused by erratic rainfall, which is believed to be associated with climate change.

Posted at 2:14pm and tagged with: Solar Power, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Environment, Kenya, EMEA, Africa,.

Contractors with SunEdison install more than 1,000 Chinese-made solar panels on top of a Kohl's Department Store in Hamilton Township, N.J., in 2010. Energy generated by the solar system will cut the store's usage, on average, by 25 to 30 percent.
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Contractors with SunEdison install more than 1,000 Chinese-made solar panels on top of a Kohl’s Department Store in Hamilton Township, N.J., in 2010. Energy generated by the solar system will cut the store’s usage, on average, by 25 to 30 percent.


There’s a solar trade war going on inside the U.S., sparked by an invasion of inexpensive imports from China.

The U.S. solar industry is divided over these imports: Panel-makers say their business is suffering and want a tariff slapped on the imports. But other parts of the industry say these cheap panels are driving a solar boom in the U.S.

Posted at 11:01am and tagged with: China, BRIC, EMEA, Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Environment, Solar Power, Trade,.

 

Rows of solar panels at a solar farm in Kings Mountain, N.C.
Renewable energy is growing rapidly in the U.S., with wind and solar industries enjoying double-digit growth each year. Part of that growth comes from more homeowners choosing to install solar panels.

With government subsidies, some people can even make a financial argument for installing the panels. But in recent years, the price of one fossil fuel — natural gas — has declined so much that solar panels are having difficulty competing.

Posted at 2:25pm and tagged with: Renewable Energy, Solar, Solar Power, Natural Gas, Sustainability, Environment, Energy,.

Skyline Solar of Mountain View is set to announce Tuesday it has broken ground on two 100-kilowatt solar power plants at domestic military bases — Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California and Fort Bliss in Texas.

Posted at 5:12pm and tagged with: Renewable Energy, Solar, Solar Power, Defense, Skyline Solar, Department of Defense, US Army, US Air Force,.