Tag Archives: sun

Actually, green solar power is winning

An article that dismisses without investigation the fastest growing industry in the world, solar power, after solar has become cheaper than any other energy source, is not a serious article.

Richard Smith wrote for Truthout 9 January 2014, Green Capitalism: The God That Failed. Sure, there are lots of good points in there (such as we need a carbon tax, but it’s not enough), but given that only 90 companies account for 2/3 of GHG emissions saying we can’t change that without crashing the world’s economy is like saying we can’t deal with horse manure in cities in 1900 without crashing the world’s economy, and people did say things like that back then.

Most of the world’s oil and gas is used to produce power, so once we convert to solar and wind, we’ll have plenty of remaining petroleum for other uses such as lubrication.

Saying in 2014 that solar and wind can’t power the world is like saying in 1994 that Continue reading

Southern Company deploying solar in Nevada and New Mexico (but not Georgia)

Southern Company (SO) is deploying solar power in two southwestern states. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the 1973 Territoriality Act continues to impede others deploying solar while SO and Georgia Power waste our money on a nuclear boondoggle.

PR from Southern Company and Turner Renewable Energy, 29 June 2012, Southern Company and Ted Turner Acquire Second Solar Photovoltaic Power Project

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning and Turner Renewable Energy founder Ted Turner today announced that the companies have acquired and will bring on line a 20 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in Nevada.

The Nevada plant is the Apex Solar Project, and earlier they did the Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico.

“Southern Company is proud to play a leadership role in renewable generation as we deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers,” said Fanning. “Our all-arrows-in-the-quiver approach calls for 21st century coal, nuclear, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency in a diverse fuel mix necessary to meeting growing consumer demand and furthering America’s energy independence.”

Maybe it’s just an oversight that SO CEO Fanning listed coal first Continue reading

Transparency is key —Steve Kalland of NCSC

The earth receives enough energy from the sun in one hour to power the whole world for a year, reminded Steve Kalland of the North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC) at the Southern Solar Summit. So how do we get solar energy deployed? Kalland said transparency is key.

Other speakers had said you could have too much transparency, but Kalland pointed out that it was only through a hearing that North Carolina found out a major power company was going to use up its solar energy credits years ahead of schedule, and without transparency there couldn’t be real competition because the customers wouldn’t know who had which prices.

What else does it take to make a state competitive in solar? Kalland discussed this table (reformatted here from the copy of his presentation he gave me):

Foundational Steps to Focus on Solar

Installed Capacity Manufacturing
Interconnection Standards

Base Resources (economic or voices)

Early Adopters
Military or Large Federal
High Tech Firms
Corporate Greens
University Partnership Opportunities

Existing presence of businesses in multiple fields (diversification)
He said a lot more, but that’s a very interesting table to consider not only for a state, but for a region, like south Georgia, or a small metro area, like Valdosta MSA.

I know some people will react with: “but VSU is not a research university!” Nope, but this could be a way to add some research capacity to VSU.


From 4 to 40 solar companies in Georgia —James Marlow @ Solar Summit

James Marlow started the Georgia Solar Summit by saying in a few years we’ve gone from four to forty solar companies in Georgia, and we should:
“Stop talking about what we’re going to do in the future, and start talking about what we’re going to do in 100 days.”
He directly challenged Gov. Deal and the legislature.

“This is about goodness and light, and sound economics.”

The next speaker (didn’t get his name, sorry) ran through some statistics, including:

  • 93,502 U.S. solar workers: doubled since 2009
  • 26% growth
  • No other industry is growing like this.
A telling comparison:
  • 1GW nuclear power station takes 10 years to build.
  • In one month Germany installed 2GW of solar last June.
Germany, which is far north of Georgia. Georgia has far more sun.


Southern Company committed to communities, renewable energy, energy efficiency

Thomas A. Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, says his company is committed to communities, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. So helping finance municipal refitting and solar projects should be a natural for Southern Company!

According to PR from Southern Company, 25 May 2011, Southern Company Holds Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Fanning also emphasized a continued commitment to the communities the company serves and stressed the need for a national energy policy and a robust research and development initiative.

“Southern Company keeps customers at the center of every decision we make,” said Fanning. “We remain committed to providing reliable, affordable energy for our customers and to do that we need to maintain a diverse fuel mix as well as stay focused on developing the newest technologies.”

Referencing a diverse fuel mix, Fanning highlighted the company’s commitment to nuclear energy, including building the nation’s first new units in 30 years. He also discussed the importance of preserving coal – America’s most abundant energy resource – as well as the role of natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency in meeting its customers energy needs.

“Furthermore, we are the only company in the industry that is doing it all. We’ve committed more than $20 billion to these efforts,” Fanning said.

Sure, he listed renewable energy and energy efficiency last. But this is the same Thomas A. Fanning who said in May that he’s “bullish” on solar. The same CEO of the parent company of Georgia Power, which just connected a 300 kiloWatt solar plant in Lowndes County. The same CEO who’s being nagged by the Georgia PSC chairman “to come up with options in the next 30 days for expanding the tiny amount of electricity generated from solar power.” And a company that spends more than $20 billion on new energy projects can afford a few tens of millions for community refitting and solar.


Birmingham U.K. municipal solar didn’t wait for larger governments

Banks and power companies can fund municipal solar projects; cities and counties don’t have to wait for state or federal governments to provide them grants. Or at least Birmingham, U.K. has done it for public housing. And Quitman, Georgia did it last year, too.

According to Larry Elliott in the Guardian, 3 October 2010, 10,000 Birmingham council homes to get solar panels: City agrees £100m scheme, partly funded by banks and energy suppliers, to meet target for cutting carbon emissions

Plans to fit power generating solar panels to council-owned properties in Birmingham will be pushed forward this week after the council agreed a “green new deal” scheme covering 10,000 homes.

In the biggest proposal for retrofitting houses through an energy efficiency upgrade yet seen in the UK, the council agreed a £100m proposal last week designed to create jobs and meet the city’s ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.

The plan – Birmingham Energy Savers – will be jointly funded by Birmingham council and investment from energy suppliers and commercial banks, and follows two successful pilot schemes conducted in Europe’s biggest local authority.

Energy efficiency and solar power to create jobs!

We have local proof of concept right next door Continue reading

Energy reliability: let’s do the study for Georgia

Which energy source is really more reliable? Nuclear, coal, or wind, water, and sun?

As Plant Vogtle and others have just demonstrated, nuclear power isn’t as reliable as we might have thought. Mark Z. Jacobson says we can generate reliable power from wind, water, and sunlight alone. Will that work in Georgia?

Elsevier’s policy of charging for peer-reviewed articles from scientific journals is controversial, and some people find $19.95 prohibitive to access Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi’s Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials from Energy Policy Volume 39, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 1154-1169. Fortunately, the same authors wrote an earlier version for Scientific American, 26 October 2009, A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables: Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels. Here’s how

A new infrastructure must provide energy on demand at least as reliably as the existing infrastructure. WWS technologies generally suffer less downtime than traditional sources. The average U.S. coal plant is offline 12.5 percent of the year for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Modern wind turbines have a down time of less than 2 percent on land and less than 5 percent at sea. Photovoltaic systems are also at less than 2 percent. Moreover, when an individual wind, solar or wave device is down, only a small fraction of production is affected; when a coal, nuclear or natural gas plant goes offline, a large chunk of generation is lost.
Continue reading

Conversation for jobs —Cristobal Serran-Pagan @ VCC 7 April 2011

Dr. Serran-Pagan suggests we have a conversation among all types of people and do the math. Let’s put the money where it will produce jobs. Solar, wind, why haven’t we been doing it? Real clean renewable sources of energy. He brings up the water the biomass plant would use.
Water is precious. Air is precious. Oil, coal, is not precious. Biomass is not precious. We have plenty of good clean, renewable sources of energy. Let’s do that…. and get rid of old models, and let’s try to do what is right for community, for our economy, and for public interest.

Here’s the video:

Conversation for jobs —Cristobal Serran-Pagan @ VCC 7 April 2011
Regular monthly meeting of the Valdosta City Council (VCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 7 April 2011,
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


Why solar cuts it better than any other energy source

Solar power is the fastest growing industry in the world, and south Georgia is an excellent place for it to grow and produce jobs, with plenty of rooftops and parking lots for solar panels.

This is despite the misinformation people with vested interests in other energy sources put out about solar power. After Dr. Matthew Richard made some points about solar vs. biomass, one of the members of the 6 December 2010 panel that VLCIA spent more than $17,000 to assemble to defend biomass responded that he was in favor of the nearby 300kWatt solar plant, but: well, I’m going to interleave his buts with what he’s ignoring. Continue reading

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy.” –Thomas Alva Edison

Sometimes he was a prophet:
“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

— Thomas Alva Edison talking to Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in 1931

Source: as quoted in Uncommon Friends : Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (1987) by James Newton, p. 31