2014 biggest year ever for solar, but oil price threat looms

oil crisis

In 2014, record low prices for solar panels fueled a solar boom. The U.S. alone installed 30% more solar photovoltaic capacity than in 2013, making last year the biggest ever for solar PV, according to the 2014 Year-in-Review Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Industry analyst Tam Hunt argues that in a few years, economics of energy … [Read more...]

If solar has gotten so cheap, why isn’t there more of it?

Why don't more homes have this sign? Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

Some people who worry about peak oil like to point out that renewable energy won't save us. That is, given the amount of fossil fuels that the world uses today, it would take an unrealistically large increase in the amount of renewables available now to make up the difference as oil, natural gas and coal start to deplete. So we might as well resign ourselves now to a future of shivering in the … [Read more...]

Shameless birthday fundraising plug

Transition Voice Publisher Erik Curren.

Today is Transition Voice publisher Erik Curren's birthday. I thought that was reason enough to make one of our occasional plugs for donations to help support the work at Transition Voice. Talk about one of the hardest working guys in the news business. In spite of the fact that Erik has already entered the new economy, holding down five different jobs simultaneously — he's a web designer, … [Read more...]

Snug and smug with solar power: keeping on the sunny side of the storms

Solar House

So hate me. All around me, millions of people are losing electric power as trees and other inappropriate objects crash down on powerlines. It doesn’t matter anymore what storm it is. At least three recent storms of apocalyptic dimensions have slammed into the east coast, and more record-breaking ferocity is being predicted. Traffic lights don’t work. Stores can’t process credit and debit … [Read more...]

Clean power for all (Offer not available in some areas)

electric storm

A year ago I would've loved the optimistic and can-do tone of Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects. The book is not only inspiring. It's also realistic. While all too many solar panel and wind turbine buffs are Polyannas who promise that America can enjoy decades of economic growth in the future if only we'd dump dirty energy for solar and wind, … [Read more...]

A solar flair

sunshine

Nietzsche said that we were all Hyperboreans. I’d say that if our culture were any more alienated from Nature, he’d have been better advised to call us all extraterrestrials. We are, frankly, so removed from Nature that it’s hard to take seriously our claim to be a vital part of the planet. More worrisome is the fact that most people don’t even recognize the alienation. If asked, they tell you … [Read more...]

Germany swaps nuclear for solar and wind power

anti nuke protest in Germany

In response to the Fukushima meltdown — which did $50 billion in damage to Japan’s economy — Germany aims to close all its reactors by 2022. Germany, the world’s most aggressive adopter of renewable energy, is taking a bold leap toward a future free from nuclear energy. In March, the German government announced a program to invest 200 billion euros, or approximately $270 billion, in renewables. … [Read more...]

Historic preservation vs. clean energy

historic facade in Louisville

After years of enduring energy-wasting apartments in various big cities -- Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC -- I feel blessed to be able to inhabit my own house in a very cute, well preserved small city in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Apartment living, with its drafty windows, walls and ceilings free of any shred of insulation, and shared utility bills split equally among tenants … [Read more...]

No more excuse to wait on going solar

solar panel on kitchen mitt

Even before I began working with a company that develops solar energy projects, I was fascinated by solar panels. Though I had lots of science toys as a kid, I always wanted a kit to build my own solar panel, but somehow I never got one. And as I got interested in the environment and energy in college and grad school, I vowed that someday I'd "go solar" myself. But getting my first job -- and … [Read more...]

Solar panels face cloudy views

Solar Installation

After months of wrestling with the local County Building Department about permits and codes, excruciating financial gymnastics and down and dirty back-breaking spadework, we finally got our solar installation up. It’s a massive 3 kw (stc) photovoltaic pole mount. We feel like we created the best of two worlds, too, since we live way back in the woods while, at the same time, we're generating a … [Read more...]