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A solar future isn't just likely — it's inevitable

A solar future isn't just likely — it's inevitable
I plan to write a great deal about the short-term prospects for clean energy, both economic and political, but I want to begin life here at Vox with an imaginative exercise, a bit of musing about what energy might look like in the future — not 10 or 20 years from now, but 50, 70, even 100 years ahead. Obviously, predicting the far future is a mug's game if you take it too seriously. This post is more about storytelling, a way of seeing the present through a different lens, than pure prognostication. Here it is: solar photovoltaic (PV) power is eventually going to dominate global energy. The main reason is pretty simple: solar PV is different from every other source of electricity, in ways that make it uniquely well-suited to 21st-century needs. Solar PV is different from other electricity sources — in one crucial way A worker cleans the panels in a solar power park run by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). This difference sounds technical, but it is enormously consequential. Related:  Renewable Energy

The New Tesla Home Battery Powered By Solar Will Make Off Grid Living Mainstream One of the brains behind Tesla motors and Paypal, Tesla Motors CEO and entrepreneur Elon Musk has a new invention up his sleeve that will help power homes at low cost, and it will make living off-grid easier than ever. A Florida woman had to stand up to a local judge to continue living off grid when he declared it illegal, but if millions of people start to live more self-sufficiently and sustainably, what will the corrupt judiciary say then? Musk’s new invention is based on Tesla’s lithium-ion battery technology, and the new battery is expected to help the company become a leader in the growing home energy-storage market. “We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon,” Bloomberg quoted Musk as saying. Not only does this mean that people could tell their electric company (and their high bills) good-bye, better lithium-ion storage also means that even solar arrays would work better.

How Rollover Solar Credits Make A Difference In California California’s solar rollover-credit program is creating quite a buzz across California. More commonly know as “net energy metering,” the solar rollover-credit program is helping Californians install solar on their homes and businesses as part of the state’s transition from dirty fuel sources to a more vibrant, clean-energy economy. The solar credit program benefits all Californians, both environmentally and economically. The program works like cellphone rollover credits for your electric bill. If you have solar panels on your roof and produce more energy than you use, you receive a credit. This credit is used to offset your energy bills for the times during the week (nighttime) when your panels aren’t generating electricity. By reducing the need for natural gas, solar net- metering programs also help clean up our air. image via Shutterstock While rooftop solar is great for our health, it also benefits the state’s economy. The most prominent benefit of rooftop solar is the jobs created.

Solar power passes 1% global threshold - Futurism Synopsis Solar power now covers more than 1% of global electricity demand. In three countries in Europe – Italy, Germany and Greece – solar PV supplies more than 7% of electricity demand. Summary China is currently the fastest growing market, installing 10.6 GW in 2014, followed by Japan with 9.7 GW and the US with just over 6.5 GW. Fact Check: How Much Water Does Solar Power Really Use? | Solar | Rewire There's an infographic going around lately that claims to show the relative amounts of water used by four different sources of electrical power: coal, nuclear, natural gas and solar. The graphic claims that solar comes out the clear winner in terms of water conservation, using no water at all to generate power. But is the claim correct? Not quite. The graphic, produced by the "Climate Reality Project," is making the rounds of social media. On Facebook, the graphic's creators share the news breathlessly, saying "Whoa - you probably know that solar power plants produce electricity without producing carbon pollution, but did you all realize they also save so much water? Here's the infographic in full: A few things jump out at us in looking at this graphic. First, we have no idea who actually did the work of compiling the figures. Without any indication of what assumptions went into calculating those figures in the graphic, it's hard to gauge their accuracy. Close enough to zero?

Cover Charge: New Spray-On Battery Could Convert Any Object into an Electricity Storage Device Perhaps someday you'll need to go to the store because you ran out of cathode paint. A team of researchers has just announced a new paint-on battery design. The technique could change the way batteries are produced and eliminate restrictions on the surfaces used for energy storage. The paint-on battery, like all lithium ion batteries, consists of five layers: a positive current collector, a cathode that attracts positively charged ions, an ion-conducting separator, an anode to attract negative ions, and a negative current collector. Neelam Singh, a member of the team of materials scientists and chemists from Rice University in Houston and Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and lead author of the paper, says, "It was really exciting to find out. Singh says her team's work is filling a need in the socially critical field of energy storage for new battery designs. But for now paint-on batteries are not quite ready to hit the shelves at your local hardware store.

Ecos PowerCube® - world’s mobile, solar-powered generator for military and di... Ecos PowerCube® Ecos PowerCube® is the world’s largest, mobile, solar-powered generator. It runs on high power photovoltaic panels that extend from its container combined with an easy to set up wind turbine. Energy is stored in onboard batteries. Self-Sustaining As a self-contained, self-sustaining power station, PowerCube® is uniquely suited to support military and disaster relief efforts, and being housed in a standard shipping container makes it easy to transport via land, air, or sea. On Location Once it arrives on location, PowerCube® can be deployed immediately to generate up to 15KW of electricity. Onboard Systems The electricity generated can be used to power various onboard systems, including communication systems, water treatment systems as well as water distribution systems and much more.

Israeli firm developing electricity-generating roads Tiny piezoelectric crystals embedded in the road generate electricity when driven over A group of Israeli engineers have created a system that allows certain types of roads to generate electricity just by driving over them. The Israeli engineers behind the project claim that a 1km stretch of the power-generating asphalt will generate 400kW - enough power to run eight small cars. The system works by embedding tiny piezoelectric crystals into the road. According to the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), if the system was installed on every stretch of British motorway it would generate enough energy to run 34,500 small cars. The system differs to another electricity-generating road we reported earlier, developed by a Californian local. While the Israeli project is still undergoing testing, the hydraulic plate system is expected to be used by Oakland terminal operator SSA to supply around 5% of its energy needs.

Using Solar Energy to Improve Desalination Process A new process to decompose waste desalination brine using solar energy, which neutralises ocean acidity and reduces environmental impact, has been proposed by an Aston University (UK) academic. Although turning salty ocean water into fresh water is important to benefit poverty-stricken populations, desalination has a very damaging ecological footprint. Many environmental advocates see it as a last resort for retrieving fresh water, but fast growing populations mean it is becoming the only viable option. The amount of fresh water produced by desalination is predicted to double within the next decade to meet global demand. Dr Philip Davies, of Aston's School of Engineering and Applied Science, has devised a system using solar energy that could allow desalination plants to act as a sink, rather than a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and help to neutralise ocean acidity.

The Way Humans Get Electricity Is About to Change Forever The renewable-energy boom is here. Trillions of dollars will be invested over the next 25 years, driving some of the most profound changes yet in how humans get their electricity. That's according to a new forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that plots out global power markets to 2040. Here are six massive shifts coming soon to power markets near you: 1. The price of solar power will continue to fall, until it becomes the cheapest form of power in a rapidly expanding number of national markets. Solar power will eventually get so cheap that it will outcompete new fossil-fuel plants and even start to supplant some existing coal and gas plants, potentially stranding billions in fossil-fuel infrastructure. 2. With solar power so cheap, investments will surge. 3. The biggest solar revolution will take place on rooftops. $2.2 Trillion Goes to Rooftops by 2040 4. Yes, the world is inundated with mobile phones, flat screen TVs, and air conditioners. The Beauty of Efficiency 5. 6.

Solar Streets: New Roadways May Ditch Asphalt for Energy-Generating Sunshine ... As a kid in the 1960s, before most people had even heard of solar power, Scott Brusaw imagined “electric roads.” Almost five decades and two government-funded prototypes later, the electrical engineer from Ohio is on his way to raising $1 million to start producing solar panels for our streets and highways. Not to power the light, mind you—to function as streets and highways. “We can use [photovoltaic panels] to create roads, parking lots, tarmacs—anything under the sun,” Brusaw says. The biggest challenge Brusaw faced was engineering a case to protect the fragile solar cells. It may take some time to see them on highways, though. “The regulatory challenges of putting solar panels on rooftops were significant over the last 20 or 30 years,” Fromer says. Electric safety concerns would also need to be addressed, he says, considering that the road is not controlled. Brusaw’s project could have a huge impact—if it overcomes the many challenges to getting it out into the real world.

IBM Solar Collector Magnifies Sun By 2000X and Could Provide Power to the Entire Planet - Futurism | Futurism Synopsis A team at IBM recently developed what they call a High Concentration Photo Voltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system that is capable of concentrating the power of 2,000 suns. Summary Each 1cmX1cm chip can convert 200-250 watts, on average, over a typical eight-hour day in a sunny region. In the HCPVT system, instead of heating a building, the 90 degree Celsius water will pass through a porous membrane distillation system where it is then vaporized and desalinated.

2015 Northwest Solar Summit | October 9 & 10 The 2015 Washington State Solar Summit The Future of Solar in Washington State: Caution: Curves Ahead Click here to register as an attendee Click here to learn about becoming a sponsor or exhibitor Solar industry personnel kept a close watch on the 2015 legislative session which resulted in the continuation of the status quo. A lot may happen beginning in January 2016 with the forthcoming short legislative session. Click here to review the 2015 Washington Solar Summit Agenda

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels - Futurism | Futurism Synopsis Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday. Summary Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. Solar Energy FAQ These FAQs are not a technical guide for design or installation. For design or installation assistance we recommend that you contact an engineer, designer or contractor with solar electric experience. A solar electric system can be a substantial investment and careful planning will help ensure that you make the right decisions. Are you thinking of buying a solar electric system for your home or business? More City Light customers are showing interest in solar electric systems for their homes and businesses. Why should I buy a solar electric system? Benefits of solar electricity: No fuel (no price risk) No water No noise High reliability Low maintenance Long life Modular and expandable Short lead times What equipment is needed? Commonly used components are described below. The basic building block of solar electric generation is the solar "cell." In addition to solar modules (not shown), a solar inverter, solar meter and AC & DC disconnect switches complete this solar electric system.