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Solar News

Home Solar Panels: From Sea to Shining Sea

Texas is not known as the bastion of liberalism; yet even in the Lone Star State solar is beginning to take root. And it's not because Texas homeowners are trying to protect the environment. Homeowners in Texas and throughout the country are installing home solar panels because it is good for their pocketbooks. In Idaho, solar energy is also making substantial headway. Florida is also trying to jump on the bandwagon. From sea to shining sea in the United States, solar energy is taking root in blue states, in red states, and everything in between.

Solar Panels Up in Flames: What About My Warranty?

Some solar companies may not outlast the year! Businesses providing solar technology and products have not been able to prosper and survive in the market. Panels from overseas may be to blame while other uncertainties in the market are coming to light. Insurance and warranties may be bought for products such as panels when the sale is completed. The big question is what those warranties represent when the company has gone bankrupt or bought out.

Solar Lights in the City of Peace

Solar lights have recently been placed on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City as part of a vigil to call for progress on an international agreement on climate change. People of many faiths gathered to bring attention to the Lima Climate Change Conference. The Conference, according to reports, is not about attempting to avoid climate change--it is too late for that. Instead, they are effectively focused on preventing things from turning from bad to devastating. Solar energy is not the total solution, but solar lights have already had a significant impact on the lives of those living in a refugee camp in Rwanda. Solar energy is but one piece of the puzzle to address the world's energy needs. For some in a refugee camp in Rwanda, just that little bit of energy can have a life-changing impact.

All Politics is Local: Neighbors Squabble over Home Solar Panels

If you ever had to put up a fence on a common border with your neighbor, you will know how sensitive any kind of improvement to your property can be to your neighbors. What can neighbors argue about? Almost everything. So it should come as no surprise that there are petty and some not so petty arguments about homeowners placing home solar panels on their roofs.The good news for those promoting solar power is that as much as some neighbors may argue about solar panels, the trend is that when one homeowner places solar panels on their roof, then other neighbors may be persuaded to follow suit.  Once academic journal published a study that indicated that if your neighbor goes solar, you are more likely to want to place solar panels on your roof as well. Neighborly battles can be divisive and contribute to hard feelings all around. But if solar panels can influence neighbors to work together, that will contribute much to neighborly harmony and good will.

Further Price Cuts in Home Solar Panels Not Expected

Supplies for polysilicon used for manufacturing solar panels have stabilized and prices are not expected to decline further. The material, used in crystalline silicon PV cells was in oversupply in 2013 and some suppliers of polysilicon were forced to shutter their doors. Production was at a maximum which lead to this surplus. With demand and supply relatively steady, prices have now stabilized. What this means for consumers who want to put home solar panels on their roofs is that prices are not likely to go down any further, although not everyone agrees.

Solar-Powered LED Lighting Brightens Developing Countries

Light emitting LEDs in TV screens, LED bulbs for your home, and the back light of phones have been around for many years already. But when three scientists who won the Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month started working on blue light-emitting diodes, or LEDs in the 1990s, not many could ever imagine what changes it could bring to the underdeveloped world. LEDs powered by solar energy can bring light to over a billion of the world's population without access to electricity. A new company is making signs made of a light-weight corrugated plastic  and cuts them to size, puts a small solar panel on one side and three strips of stick-on LED lights on the other. Light! What the organization is doing is reminding us that everything in our daily life can be reused. Even a seemingly small item could be transformed into something that means a lot to those in poverty.

Solar Installer Vivint's IPO: Opportunity and Risks

Why is it that everybody has heard of SolarCity but few outside the solar industry have heard of Vivint Solar? That changed on October 1 when the New York Stock Exchange welcomed Vivint to the ranks of publicly-traded companies. Vivint Solar is the second largest installer of solar panels in the United States. The initial public offering was at $16 per share, valuing the Blackstone Group LP -backed company at $1.68 billion. Don't you wish you had some of the action? Now that the share price has dropped to 12, maybe not. What happened and is there some defect in Vivint's business model? As more solar energy companies go to the public markets, Vivint may be a cautionary tale or may be viewed as a great investment opportunity.

Trouble for Solar in Ohio

New legislation in Ohio is impeding the renewable energy market . Now there are no incentives for renewable energy to replace conventional or for companies to complete in-state projects. The market for renewable energy credits (RECs) and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) has softened considerably and prices have dropped. Advocates of the new legilsation say that they want to review money usage and renewable energy benefits, but unfortunately this may set back Ohio from reaching its goals for years to come. The people of Ohio who don't like lagging behind in future renewable energy project completion will need to speak up and get involved if they are to reverse this trend.


Solar Panels Make Landfills Come to Light

All over the world space and land constraints are encouraging people to become innovative thinkers when it comes to repurposing areas. The U.S., the UK and Japan are all making plans to convert used and filled landfills into expansive solar panel farms. By collaborating and making deals with strong solar companies the areas are likely to save money and space and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time. Two towns in Connecticut are having the solar projects funded by outside sources, with no direct cost to residents. While in the UK the solar project will couple the collection of methane with the installation of solar panels for additional sustainable practices. The Japanese government is hopeful that its project will make reaching their renewable energy goal more attainable. This innovative project idea needs to be implemented in other areas as global population and energy demands continue to grow.

Solar Investing: Big Potential, Big Risks

More and more Fortune 500 companies are now seeking to reduce their carbon emissions by adding solar power. Verizon Communication Inc., the largest U.S. wireless carrier, is investing almost $40 million to triple its use of solar energy this year. While solar technology is proven and promising, the solar industry is still full of risks for investors. SolarWorld is experiencing a deflated stock price even after winning the trade case against Chinese solar module makers. As the US solar market matures and a level playing field is established for both domestic and foreign production, some formerly hidden business problems will become more clear. All solar companies are not equal. Investors should learn the particularities of each individual company and how that company is positioning itself in the market before taking the leap and investing in solar companies.



Floating Solar Panel Farms Offer Solution to Land Constraints

In Japan where land is limited, floating solar panels could make renewable energy goals attainable. Two companies Kyocera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation have plans for implementation of a huge solar system on the surface of two reservoirs to start operating April. One of these systems will be 1.7 megawatts and the other 1.2 megawatts. This could help Japan become less dependent on nuclear power and set an example for out-of-the-box clean energy production.

Solar Panel Installations Challenges: Bad Workmanship, Utilities, Permitting

You may have heard that installing a solar home panels on your roof is relatively painless, but not always depending on what part of the country you live in and who your installer is. With the huge growth in the industry, there are some issues that you, the consumer, should be wary of and try to minimize the pain. In this article, we share some of the recent stories on some of these challenges, including having an installer who doesn't know what he or she is doing, utilities placing impediments before homeowners wanting to go solar, and problems in obtaining a permit to install the solar panel system.

Attention Inventors: Google's Inverter Challenge

Inverters are big and bulky and ripe for a change. You can't get away without using them as they are essential for transforming incoming DC currents to AC currents used to power everyday items. Google wants to remedy this by hosting a competition called the Little Box Challenge. Applicants will construct a much smaller inverter under specific requirements with the goal for cheaper and more easily accessible inverters for solar panel systems. Google has recently become more involved with energy management efforts and has invested in manufacturing companies whose products may be used to make these inverters. With the prize being $1 million dollars and a relationship with Google there may be hope for the new inverters to hit the market in the near future. The challenge concludes in July 2015 so there is still time for input. If you like inventing things in your garage, then this challenge is for you.

Iran's Solar Aspirations Take Off

Iran is usually in the news for its misguided nuclear ambitions, but recently Iran has been in the news for sprucing up its solar image. Iran is home to the world's fourth largest proven oil reserves and the world's second largest natural gas reserves. Now Iran is starting to cut its teeth on the fledgling solar industry. Iran wants to substantially increase its solar capacity, from about 100 - 200 megawatts to 5,000 megawatts from solar and wind in the next five years. It has allocated $60 million for next year alone to bolster its solar energy industry.  Although Iran has stated its proposed program is for peaceful purposes, sanctions have cut into refining and production due to western fears. While it is easy to be skeptical towards the country's intentions behind its new-found interest in solar energy, one has to admit that solar energy is a natural for a country like Iran with remote populations and lots of sun. What's interesting to watch is how far the Islamic Republic's cuts on subsidies for gasoline will extend. Countries investing in solar like Iran are a telling sign of what may be in the near future for governments who are willing to spend now to save later especially during a time where foreign-manufactured solar panels continue to drop in price.

Love Lost in Hawaii: Energy Monopoly Deters Solar Energy

Just as news arrives that solar panel systems are being installed in record numbers and at reduced prices all over the world, Hawaii is sticking out like a sore thumb. After having continuous years of solar energy growth, Hawaii has hit a brick wall with a 90% drop in sales in 2013. The Hawaiian Electric Company may be to blame due to unreliable, out of date grids with overvoltage safety issues and unnecessary restrictions while making it more difficult for customers to own photovoltaic systems. Looking towards the future, more focus must be put on balancing the politics as well as efforts to improve engineering and design of solar energy systems and their effect on the grid. Solar and other renewable energy may be part of the solution to ending fossil fuel dependence and getting back on track in Hawaii to meet the demand for solar power should be a priority.

A New Solar Energy Hazard: Solar Glare

Solar glare is creating difficulties for birds, bats and pilots. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station located in Nevada and jointly owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy uses mirrors to reflect sunlight towards a central collecting tower so that a liquid can be boiled and the steam used to power a turbine. The mirrors are good for creating heat, but they also create glare, increasing bird deaths and decreasing airplane pilot vision in the area. The airspace above the valley is usually very busy so pilots need to be able to scan the skies for other aircrafts. In order to save wildlife, dogs are being used at the plant to find carcasses of birds and bats, which will be studied to provide information for other solar projects, such as the projected Palen Solar Electric Generating System in Blythe, California. While you may have already noticed that your dog is perfect for the job, the issue of glare distractions still needs to be discussed at length for wildlife and human safety.

Need a Job? Choose Solar Over Coal

On the route to a clean energy future, more jobs have become available in renewable energy industries such as solar and wind power while the coal industry has seen the opposite. According to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, solar industry jobs are now outpacing coal mining jobs.  According to one source, in the U.S., the coal industry employs 87,000 people while clean energy industries employ 360,000. If you are looking for a job in the energy market, you may want to start studying your watts and volts and not your bituminous coal attributes.


Effects of the Anti-Dumping Tariff One Month Later

The tariffs imposed on China earlier this summer have already begun to affect the global solar market. A number of new trends have emerged that appear to result from the new duties. Some of these are expected effects, such as a rise in the price of solar panels, and the shift away from panels manufactured in China and Taiwan. Others are a bit more worrisome, such as the shift of manufacturing from China to other countries that can produce extremely cheap solar panels. It remains to be seen whether the new tariffs can help US solar manufacturers become more competitive, as many have hoped.

Solar Lights Shining in Your Yards and in Africa

Solar lights are lighting up backyards and frontyards, pathways and sidewalks. As the technology improves to provide brighter light, consumers are adapting solar energy for their homes and businesses. And if they are used for home use in the U.S. and Europe, in rural Africa, they may be the only light available. Solar lights becoming cheaper has been a boon for developing communities in rural Africa. The Kenyan government has been installing solar panels at primary schools across the country, transforming the schools into community renewable energy hubs.

Solar Power Shines in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Whoever you are rooting for in the World Cup, you have got to be impressed by the booming presence of solar panels on many of the stadiums that are home to the matches. Brazil's hosting the world cup has brought solar power to prominence--despite some of the controversy over the skyrocketing costs for the World Cup in Brazil. New solar arrays have been and will continue to be installed on the roofs of the World Cup stadiums. They will continue to provide clean electricity to their communities even once the festivities have ended. Solar panel juggernaut Yingli Solar has a heavy presence at the games, seeking to raise awareness about the global solar market as well as its share of this dynamic market. The event is a display of the feasibility and practicality of solar power generation.