There was very little good that came out of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The disaster did, however, cause Japan to rethink its dependency on nuclear power and caused a significant shift in the energy strategy for the country. Japan quickly identified renewable energy as the solution to a sustainable and reliable energy supply. Japan has become a major player in the solar industry with plans this year to install up to 12.7 gigawatts of solar power. Japan is an archipelago, which the National Geographic defines as a “group of islands closely scattered in a body of water”, and is occupied by hundreds of millions of people which does not leave an abundance of space to install solar panels. Recently, however, Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera has identified more than one method of efficiently utilizing space in and around the country’s land to install as many solar panels as possible in otherwise dead space. Japan, after being devastated by a natural disaster, is strategically planning its recovery to avoid a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster while also investing in renewable energy that will benefit the environment and produce profits in the foreseeable future. These Kyocera projects demonstrate the potential available to maximize the efficiency of solar energy production with just a little creativity and ingenuity.
Archive for the ‘Solar Around the World’ Category
Are you still suffering withdrawal after the exhilaration of the final game of the 2014 World Cup? It is now less than four years before the World Cup reconvenes in Russia. Russia is already preparing for the next World Cup and trying to match the renewable energy commitment that Brazil devoted to the 2014 World Cup. Germany will defend its title as Russia prepares eleven cities to host the World Cup in 2018 and if the Winter Olympics is any clue, the Russians will not spare any expense to impress the world. Since FIFA makes sustainability a priority, Russia will toe the party line and develop the sites for the next World Cup with sustainability in mind. FIFA looks to advance its role as the topic of sustainability encourages city officials to revisit financial plans due to future savings in energy costs. In 2010 the organization added for the first time a renewable energy company to its list of sponsors and has since been outspoken in favor of those countries who invest in their future energy sources.
Come on ladies, shatter that glass ceiling! It seems to be that more women are gaining ground in the solar industry with positions not only in engineering and installation, but also in sales and management. Studies have shown that diversity in the workplace results in more revenue and boosts morale. Individual women as well as associations are changing gender diversity in the solar industry. And this is happening in both developed and underdeveloped countries creating better opportunities for women everywhere. Non-profit organizations and women high up in companies are creating projects and methods to further the employment of women in the solar industry.
Dry and arid conditions plague many countries around the world resulting in increasing scarcity of drinking or irrigation water. Thankfully solar water pumps may be an environmentally friendly solution to this problem in countries such as Australia, Yemen and Nepal. New technology from 2013 is being implemented in rural and heavily farmed areas to give farmers townspeople better access to fresh water. Solar water pumps are allowing farmers there to replace the economic burden of a diesel engine with a renewable option. For the past three years diesel has been in short supply in Yemen so Mufrih Saleh, a farmer from the Darb Wada’a area in the Sa’ada governorate was glad to make the switch to solar power. “Around 12 percent of Yemen’s total consumption of diesel, estimated at 270,000 tons per month, goes to water-pumping generators, according to Iskander Al-Aghbari, manager of the Agricultural Irrigation Department of the Agriculture Ministry. And about 405,000 acres of Yemen’s cultivable land, totaling 1.5 million acres, is irrigated by water pumped from beneath the ground by diesel generators.”
Guest Blog: One of SolarTown’s customers recently purchased a solar refrigerator and we invited her to share her thoughts on creating a green home far away from the grid. So you’ve decided that you want a beachfront or close to it but can’t quite come up with the hefty prices in town. Consider the option of affordable beachfront “off the grid.” What does this mean? Well for one, you will be using solar energy (the most efficient) with a possible back-up generator. This means solar panels, batteries and an inverter to convert the solar energy to power your appliances. How large of a system is up to your needs? Myself, I use very little energy so have a small system. However, if you want the electric coffee maker, electric refrigerator, then a much larger system will be needed.
The promise of the greenest of all Olympics may be fading in the mud of the Olympic Village. As the Opening Ceremonies are just days away, the more immediate concern is the condition of the hotel rooms. When a reporter for the Washington Post starts posting pictures of the sink in her bathroom, you know that you have a PR problem. It’s not that anyone is hoping that the Russians will fail to put on a stellar Olympics. But the reality is sinking in that the 2014 Winter Olympics, despite being the costliest ever, are not ready for prime time. The organizers made special mention (or was it window dressing) that they were using solar hot water heating. According to the press release, the “potential for solar energy” (sounds to me like Soviet speak) has been “successfully applied at the new railway station in Adler, where solar-powered radiators and boilers have been installed, to service buildings, including the water-based heating systems.” Is that all that was promised to make these the greenest of all Olympics? According to the press release, “The use of solar power as a ‘green’ alternative to traditional sources of energy will enable annual savings of up to 30% on heating costs, and will satisfy all of the venue’s requirements as regards hot water.” We will try to look at some of the reports to see how green these Olympics will be.
A day in the life of SolarTown is never boring. We field calls all day long from people all over the country, some who are interested in purchasing some of our solar energy products, and some whom simply want to talk solar.
This past week, an owner of a guest villa in Baja California purchased a solar refrigerator to provide off the grid electricity for some of her guests. If you want to supply soft drinks in an idyllic setting, you don’t want to have a noisy generator in the background. Do you want your guests to hear the sound of a diesel generator or the sound of waves crashing against the rocks? Well, if I’m the guest, a solar refrigerator sounds like exactly what I would want. And if it is in the single digits where you are, Baja California probably sounds pretty good right now. We did not receive a lot of calls this past week from those folks in the big freeze. I didn’t hear from anyone in Minnesota this week who planned on installing home solar panels in the next couple of weeks. We did hear from one of our customers in Michigan who is planning a large off grid system for one of his customers in the fall.
Have you ever closed your eyes and wondered what a solar utopia would look like? If you are like me, you would think of sandy beaches, a lot of sun, a healthy native population. Maybe you wouldn’t see solar collectors or solar panels in such obvious places. You need not dream any more. The three tiny islands that comprise the New Zealand territory of Tokelau, Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo, have recently achieved something no other place in the world has accomplished: complete and total freedom from fossil fuels.
I know that I may be a little behind the times, but I just watched James Cameron’s blockbuster smash “Avatar” with my kids on the “small” screen, and was surprised to see just how many “Going Green” messages there were in this futuristic movie. You may remember that the only application for solar energy used to be on the Space Station–or the Mars Rover. The technology hasn’t changed much in 25 years, but what has changed is the cost of photovoltaic, which now allows homeowners and business owners throughout the world to use solar energy on Earth. You don’t have to have a futuristic home to place solar panels on your roof. Any view of the future requires the adoption of solar or other renewable energy.
Ever since skyscrapers started to capture our imagination, they have been recognized as a city’s symbol of economic power and financial might. They have not, however, ever been accused of being particularly energy efficient. Skyscrapers are notoriously huge energy consumers, which is why we were impressed by some recent efforts for building owners to try to reduce the carbon footprint of their massive buildings. A skyscraper with high-power rooftop solar panels and several floors’ solar glass can run as a vertical solar power station. Imagine, if all skyscrapers and high-rises become solar buildings, what will Manhattan be? At that time, Manhattan will become one of the largest solar power stations in the world, redefining the city’s symbol! Yes, solar skyscrapers are on the rise.