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79% of Americans Want Solar to Replace Fossil Fuels

Almost 80 percent of American consumers favor solar as their renewable energy champ, but 71 percent also have much love for wind power too.

That’s the major takeaway from Navigant Research‘s annual consumer survey, which in fall 2013 averaged 1,000 respondents’ favorability towards “clean energy, clean transportation, smart grid, and building efficiency.” With interesting timing, Navigant’s poll results hit the presses this week alongside the IPCC’s terrifying tale of two futures. That apocalyptic report warned that further dirty fuel consumption and investment will doom the world to planetary dystopia, while utopian renewables like solar and wind can save us, right now, from obsolete infrastructures and unsustainable habits.

The IPCC practically demanded an international pivot to renewables, which is no problem because “solar energy is one of the most popular and least controversial green technologies in the eyes of consumers,” Navigant managing director Clint Wheelock explained in a statement.

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Watcher, Marvel Comics' Galactic Voyeur, Falls

[Photo: Marvel Comics]

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IPCC: Only Renewable Energy Can Save Us from the Worst of Climate Change

The new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that Earth is already swimming in catastrophic dystopia — and only renewable energies like solar can save us from much, much worse.

No one on the planet, the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) reminds us, will be left untouched.

Societies around the world are already being hammered by increasing heatwaves, firestorms, floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather, due to exponential melting of Earth’s ice caps and shelves. The ripple effects are accelerating dramatically outward, annihilating crops, disrupting food systems, drying up freshwater aquifers and snowpacks, swallowing homes and cities under rising sea levels and lethally intensifying violence worldwide because of worsening poverty and economic shocks.

“Therefore, climate change is already becoming a determining factor in the national security policies of states,” explained a press release (PDF) from Christina Figueres, secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

None of this is a shock to anyone who has been paying attention.

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Honda Launched a Net-Zero Energy Smart Home Project in California

“Together, our homes and our cars produce about 44 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change,” reminds Honda VP of environmental business development Steve Center, in the video overview for its intriguing Smart Home project, which opened this week on the University of California, Davis campus.

Honda’s master plan is to slash that pollution by running on sunshine.

Whether the plan works or not depends on the U.C. Davis resident lucky enough to shack up in Honda’s “living laboratory” and put its zero-net goals to the test. Empowered by a 9.5 kw photovoltaic system feeding a 10kWh lithium-ion storage battery, which plugs into its complementary direct-current Fit EV, Honda’s net-zero energy Smart Home is a symbiotic experiment in green living — and driving. That may seem strange in Davis, nationally lauded for its bicycling ethos and politics, but U.C. Davis’ West Village is a zero-net paragon.

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California Makes Progress on Connecting EVs to the Grid

Electric vehicle-grid integration (VGI) is underway in California. But it’s in low gear until the political and economic powers that be decide on how to build and monetize California new transportation normal.

Last month, California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO), which manages the state’s power grid, recently upgraded its VGI roadmap (PDF), in accordance with Governor’s Brown’s 2012 executive order releasing $120 million to prepare the state’s roads for an influx of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025.

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Solar Power is Booming in Canada, Unless You Ask the Government

Like the rest of North America, Canada is in photovoltaic bloom. So why is electricity generated from its solar panels declining?

The news has been good. Last year, Canadian Solar’s stock skyrocketed nearly 700 percent as it built solar farms abroad and at home in Ontario, where it still has over 300 megawatts worth of projects on tap. Nationwide, feed-in-tariffs and growing support have subsidized and exponentially accelerated Canada’s solar installations. Perhaps not as fast as possible to fulfill Canada’s photovoltaic potential (say, 900-1100 kWh/kW), but it seems to be on a roll.

But scan the government’s Statistics Canada site and you’ll find that last year electricity generated from solar declined a substantial 7.6 percent over 2012. Total generation from utilities and industry increased 2.7 percent in the same period, and that doesn’t compute.

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Renewable Energy is the Future — Countries Can Lead by Embracing it Now

The International Energy Agency’s new report says global integration of variable renewable energies (VRE) like solar and wind into our obsolete power systems is just a matter of time. It also reminds us we’re wasting much time, and money, by not doing it now.

“These surmountable challenges should not let us lose sight of the benefits renewables can bring for energy security and fighting dangerous climate change,” executive director Maria van der Hoeven said in a press release for IEA’s The Power of Transformation: Wind, Sun and the Economics of Flexible Power Systems, which claims any country can inexpensively increase its solar and wind profile. “If OECD countries want to maintain their position as front runners in this industry, they will need to tackle these questions head-on.”

Head-on is not “just about 3 percent of world electricity generation” for wind and solar, the IEA said, reminding us that Europe currently generates 10 to 30 percent of its energy from renewables. But that lead isn’t large enough to separate what the IEA calls the “stable” power systems of Italy, Germany and Ireland from the “dynamic” power systems of upcoming players like India, China and Brazil, who can take the green lead if they integrate clean energy instead of dirty fuels.

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Mosaic, SunPower and the Coming Wave of Solar Crowdfunding

Debt securities may have helped bring down the global economy during the Great Recession. But asset-backed solar bonds and other financial instruments, crowdfunded by enlightened consumers and investors, could prove much more lucrative — and perhaps save our sorry butts from the worst of climate change.

It’s a logical conclusion to draw after SunPower (logically) announced it too is joining the securitization game like Solar City, the first player to make the jump last year. SunPower launches the first tranche of notes backed by its leases in the second half of 2014, in hopes of raising hundreds of millions for 2015 and beyond.

But it’s not alone. Others like Canadian Solar and Jinko Solar are considering following Solar City and SunPower’s corporate rethink into solar crowdfunding, according to Reuters.

But they’re simply following wider cultural and economic patterns — from renewable energy to Kickstarter to bitcoin and more — leading to a future where consumers have decarbonized and decentralized their lives.

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