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Solar News

The Pope is in Washington DC: Climate Change on the Agenda

Today the Pope is visiting SolarTown's home city, Washington, DC and then will visit New York and Philadelphia. The city is abuzz with excitement and anticipation. Tthe buses are running the kids are going to school, but the major event is the Pope's visit.  Climate change is on his agenda.

A major reason he is visiting Washington is to address a session of Congress to discuss the fight for climate change, a topic that former Popes have not touched on. The Pope believes that it is our responsibility to pass along a clean and safe planet to future generations. Frustration with the way humankind has treated the planet is what provoked the idea of an address to Congress, a branch of the government that is ideologically torn when it comes to issues of climate change.

PACE Program Returns to Maryland

PACE Financial Servicing along with the Maryland Clean Energy Center have announced that they would be partnering to construct a statewide commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. PACE is a financing tool with national recognition that seeks to classify clean energy upgrades as a permanent benefit to the public, which are financed with no money down and then repaid as benefit assessments on the property tax bill over period of time up to twenty years. The goal is to overcome challenges that have obstructed energy efficiency in the past by removing the upfront cost barrier that deters many people from adopting these solar energy. Maryland passed this policy, allowing PACE programs to enter the state in 2014. However, the law still mandates that local ordinances be passed to benefit from PACE financing as property taxes in Maryland are collected at the county and city level. What this means for the state of Maryland is that, even though PACE enabling legislation has been enacted, the programs themselves are still in development and in need of approval at the local level.

Looking Forward to Paris 2015: Fireworks Expected at the United Nations' 21st Climate Change Convention

The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) is scheduled for November 30th and will run through December 11th of 2015. The Convention, also known as the UNFCCC was created in 1994 and was ratified by 196 states, according to the official event web page. The Conference's decision makers, or Conference of Parties, meet every year to create and establish goals in order to combat climate change that they agree to acknowledge is caused by human activity. This year promises to be an especially exciting year with the presidential elections in the United States heating up and the Pope's keen interest in climate change.

More Growth in Solar's Future: No Surprises

A new study, released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, charts the growth of solar energy over the coming decades and the results show a massive expansion in renewable power. The study expects $3.7 trillion in new solar investment between now and 2040; effectively, a third of all new power will come from solar energy over the course of the next 25 years. Theses solar gains will have an outsized effect on the energy market as countries, especially developed ones, continue to make large efficiency leaps. Unlike previous solar expansions, the present boom is not powered by government incentives such a rebates or subsidies, but rather by consumers. As the price of solar installations continues to fall, the technology will appear an attractive power source to everyone from large utilities to individual homeowners.

White House Launches Nationwide Community Solar Program

The Obama Administration launched a revolutionary plan to increase solar energy usage within the United States as part of a nationwide initiative to address climate change while promoting clean energy initiatives. The plan primarily focuses on increasing access and exposure to solar energy in low- to moderate-income communities across the country while creating jobs in the solar energy sector. Focusing on rounding out the solar energy industry to increase the access every American has to it is a central idea of the initiative. The new plans build upon President Obama's already established goals to train 75,000 workers in the solar industry by 2020. Even with this exponential growth over the past few years many Americans still do not have access to the benefits that Solar provides, lacking the capital needed to invest in their own projects or the necessary information about how to make the transition to solar energy. The new initiatives address these issues that have hindered growth of certain aspects of the industry while building upon past successes to help every American have access to the tools they need to get ahead.

State Laws Impose Limits on Community Solar

Most residential roof space is not optimal for solar panels. Only 22-27% of residential buildings in the U.S. are viable for solar panel installation, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This has inhibited the access of many communities to renewable energy sources that they demand. Community solar projects give those American homeowners or renters an opportunity to volunteer to invest in solar energy generation, whether it be for clean power or a financial benefit. These projects can be owned by a utility, a group of community investors, or a non-profit organization. While these community solar projects are growing in popularity nationwide, a recent string of limitations has popped up in response to utility companies and local governments. These limitations decrease the effectiveness of these programs.

Oil Rich Kingdom Turns to Solar to Calm Energy Concerns

Looking to the future as demand for energy increases and oil reserves decrease, Saudi Arabia has made huge strides towards solar energy. Prince Turki bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al Saud is pushing solar from within state-run entities and companies to achieve a greater level of energy security for the country. While Saudi Arabia currently has a capacity of less than 50 megawatts of solar power-only 0.1 percent of German solar energy capacity-this new push from within the government coupled with competitive solar energy prices will act as the catalyst for solar-power development, propelling them forward to become a leader in the field of solar technology.  While this shift in national energy consumption is a step in the right direction for the environment, this factor was not the main concern for the Saudis as they continue to push forward with plans to invest in solar panels and other solar technology.

Clearer Skies and Greener Clouds: Amazon Backing Solar Energy

The futurist aspect of the technology sector is not wholly equal across the board: an astounding amount of energy is needed not only to run online servers themselves but also to keep where the servers are stored frigid and dry with air conditioning. And this energy does not necessarily come from renewable energy resources. Some cloud-computing firms, such as Apple, Yahoo, or IBM, are attempting to remedy this problem by going green when it comes to energy consumption; others, such as the online retailer Amazon, have lagged behind in adoption of greener energy policies. Nevertheless, that lag is about to change: Amazon recently announced its plans to back the construction of a 1,000-acre, 80-megawatt solar-energy farm - called Amazon Solar Farm US East - which will be the largest such farm in Virginia and one of the largest east of the Mississippi; the energy generated by the farm will be used to supply power to its Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers in the region.

Devastated Nepal Turns to Solar Power

Last month, Nepal was hit by the worst ever earthquake (recorded at 7.8 on the Richter scale) killing thousands and leaving tens of thousands of others homeless. The homeless have taken shelter in the tent settlements. The electric transmission lines have gone down, and after sunset the people are plunged into darkness. Cooking and any other activities are near impossible after dark. Solar lights and other solar energy products are effective to provide immediate relief to victims of earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Home Solar Panels Light Up Remote Areas and Outer Space

Home solar panels are showing up in cities, in towns, on your remote cabins, and not surprisingly on Indian Reservations. It may be surprising to some that in the 21st Century there are large swatches of land belonging to Native Americans that have no access to electricity. The power of the sun can radically change the landscape without adding to the carbon footprint of these areas and allowing the animals to live and graze in a clean environment. And in that remotest of remote areas in outer space, there would be no space program, there would be no celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope without the massive array of 25 foot solar panels. From Indian Reservations to outer space, the power of solar energy has profoundly affected the world in which we live.

Solar Arrays Resting on False Hopes in Oregon

For some the solar bonanza has meant embracing clean technology to better the world. For others, it has meant just another way to cash in on the latest trend. The Oregonian/Oregon Live has been busy digging up some allegedly unscrupulous practices that may give solar a bad name. The article describes in detail how taxpayers in Oregon have footed the bill for $12 million in tax credits for a $27 million solar project completed in August 2011. The project had lofty; goals to provide power for the Oregon University System. These solar arrays, about 5 megawatts, built on these tax credits "rest on a foundation of falsehoods and false hopes," according to the news story.

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.