Solar 2013, Baltimore. Today is the last day of the 42d annual ASES National Solar Conference. The conference may not have drawn the large crowds as in previous years—the field for solar and renewable conferences is getting crowded—but those who attended were treated to a heavy dose of solar policy, feed-in tariffs and installation guidance. One common theme at the conference was to learn from the experience of Germany, which has made tremendous strides that Germany to make solar and renewable a significant part of the energy output. This has also brought the cost down and between 2006-2012, the installed cost of solar systems in Germany has declined by a whopping 66%. Germany’s goal is to generate 30% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030, and it is well on its way to meet that goal.
Posts Tagged ‘solar energy’
We know this much about the solar industry as we approach the end of the year. It was another year of fast moving changes in the industry. The good news is that in 2012, there were a whole lot of solar panels going up on homes and businesses in the U.S. And there were some setbacks for the industry. At the beginning of the year, few had even heard of Solyndra—but by the end of the year, Solyndra had become a household name. As the New Year approaches, we want to reflect back on what 2012 meant for the solar industry. In our blog, we will discuss some of the highs and lows for the solar industry this past year. In this first of two blog posts, we will reflect on the decrease in the price of solar panels, on the effect of natural gas and coal on the solar industry, and finally on the dwindling incentives available to support solar energy.
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.
Natural gas, Chinese manufacturing and austerity programs were the themes at a solar symposium yesterday in the Nation’s Capital. The GW Solar Institute brought together teachers, students, policymakers and the president of SolarTown to take on the subject: “Solar Energy: A Path to Energy Significance.” No one seemed to suggest that it was going to get any less dull in the solar market in the coming year, but the forecasts were few and far between as the solar market continues with its fits and starts.
SolarTown visited a middle school in Washington, DC today. We let the kids borrow a solar oven for the next month so that they can cook up their favorite foods. On SolarTownKids, we have an activity to make your own solar cooker. If you are the parent of a school age kid, you might ask your child to cook you up some food with a solar cooker. And if you have a favorite solar activity to share on SolarTownKids, let us know.
If you are looking for activities to do with your kids—when they are home because of the snow, or earthquakes, or just for a weekend activity, then you may want to check out our new sister site meant just for kids, parents and teachers. SolarTownKids is meant for kids who want to teach their parents a thing or two about solar energy. SolarTownKids introduces the basics of solar energy for kids and explains why and how we should use solar power. Many schools throughout the country are putting solar panels on their roofs, and these solar arrays are great learning tools for kids to understand the power of solar energy. As our kids are getting back to school, we encourage you to visit this special site for solar kids.
Last week, I took my kids to watch the shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The launch was supposed to be the final launch of Endeavour and the second to last launch of the shuttle before the fleet is retired this summer. Mindful of the vagaries of the weather and the unpredictability of technical problems, we waited until the last minute to make our non-refundable reservations. We may not have seen the shuttle launch, but we did see some pretty impressive displays of how NASA is using solar energy here on EarthWe did not hide our disappointment at not seeing the Shuttle blast off into the cosmos. By all accounts, that is a remarkable experience for those who have had the privilege of watching men and women reach for the stars. We may have to settle for the next generation of space shuttles. We were pleased, however, to see how NASA is utilizing the rays of the sun not only in the cosmos, but here on Earth. And if it is good enough for NASA, then solar is good enough for the rest of us.
We have had some false starts but the cherry blossoms finally bloomed in the Nation’s Capital and spring has finally arrived, and so has the surge of interest in and orders for solar powered lights. Most of our customers who are interested in solar lights are newbies to solar energy, and indeed there is no better wait to start down the road to solar energy with some solar lights. You don’t need a solar farm to get into the solar business. You can start with some simple, inexpensive solar lights. And springtime has brought the customers to SolarTown who want to see solar technology in action.
An investment analyst calls SolarTown, inquiring about trends in the solar panel market for 2011, particularly the supply of modules. It reminds me of the study I heard about in business school that if you ask 100 of the leading economists whether interest rates will rise or fall, 42% will get it right. You can pay a lot of money for analyst reports, but with the solar energy market expanding rapidly and incentives seemingly changing day to day, it is hard to predict supplies. That has been a challenge for us, especially last year, but we think that we did well by our customers to secure modules at good prices.
For those who want to move more quickly with renewable energy and energy efficiency, the prospect of a nuclear energy disaster spells a clear path to a renewable energy clean solution. Solar farms and solar panels on homes are not going to spell disaster in the event of an earthquake in California. But the calculus for renewable energy just got a lot more complicated as the tradeoffs that Obama can offer have now significantly narrowed.