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Survey Says: Clean Energy for Homes is in High Demand

News flash! When homeowners are outright offered a choice, the majority choose clean energy for homes. Film at 11.

It may sound obvious, but it’s nevertheless the result of a national survey co-produced by sunshine disruptor SolarCity and research firm Clean Edge. They commissioned national polling firm Zogby to quiz 1,418 randomly selected homeowners, who were quite clear about wanting more clean energy alternatives and products — especially solar panels for their homes.

“Homeowners overwhelmingly stated that they want choice when it comes to their electricity supply,” Clean Edge co-founder Ron Pernick told me. “Most importantly, they want the ability to install their own solar systems, energy storage and other distributed sources without being blocked by their utilities.”

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Solar's Power Role In Last Night’s Climate Change Talkathon

America got a much-deserved earful when over two dozen Democratic senators pulled an all-nighter in Congress to shine a light on catastrophic climate change. About solar, specifically, when it came to no-brainer solutions.

“We are on the cusp of a climate crisis … a point of no return,” warned Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), explaining that America needs to launch major investments in research and technology for renewables like wind and solar. “It is up to us,” she added. “Powerful interests have a stranglehold on our economy…. We are up against an army of lobbyists.”

Those lobbyists come courtesy of last century’s oil dinosaurs, who are losing ground, however slowly, to wind and solar for the hearts and minds of the body politic. The Democrats’ all-nighter on climate change acknowledged it could not push specific legislation, but its participants sounded ready to stop playing nice with their obstinate colleagues.

“It’s time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis, the oil-baron Koch brothers and their allies in Congress, have a valid point of view,” said Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

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Canada’s Solar Outlook is Bright: Installs Up, Innovation on the Horizon

No matter where one looks, it seems Canada is empowering the global solar sector. Ottawa’s Canadian Solar — the best-performing solar player of 2013, according to Bloomberg — just landed a $50 million loan to build a local solar farm, another win in its impressive ledger. A transatlantic player thanks to roots in China and its headquarters in Guelph, Canadian Solar is pretty close to a model citizen for what is turning out to be an inevitable renewable energy future.

Located in Ontario as well as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Sustainable Development Technology Canada is looking to throw its well-connected hat, and wallet, into the ring. Its SD Tech Fund is inviting applications until April 16 for cleantech innovations. Since the Canadian government launched it in 2001, the public-private non-profit SDTC has reportedly funded 246 projects for $598 million and coaxed $1.6 billion from project partners for a book value of $2.2 billion.

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SEIA Report Tracks Solar’s Incredible 2013, as the Boom Continues

Quick! Close your eyes and picture the future. Is it solar-powered? If you said no, it’s time to unplug your reality television.

Here’s some brighter programming. Solar Energy Industries Association’s 2013 report on U.S. capacity installations is in (PDF), and it’s beyond safe to say that solar is on fire. Although it should come as a surprise to no one who has been paying attention to the sector, or our wider global energy picture, the photovoltaic year that was increased 40 percent over 2012, installed 4,751 megawatts and booked $13.7 billion in market value.

“The U.S. solar market showed the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status,” the SEIA report explains. “The combination of rapid customer adoption, grassroots support for solar, improved financing terms, and public market successes indicated clear gains for solar in the eyes of both the general population and the investment community.”

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Arizona’s Master Energy Plan Needs Solar and Utilities to Succeed

Arizona is a solar powerhouse featuring nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, as well as a national leader in capacity per capita. It also houses an international industry heavyweight in First Solar, whose even-keeled quarterly earnings report last week wrapped up an explosive February for a sunshine sector going supernova.

Yet protracted and unnecessary turf battles for utility and residential control of the state’s solar bounty could stall governor Jan Brewer’s recently released Arizona’s “master energy plan” emPOWER Arizona (PDF), which promises to lay down a resilient foundation for its globally warmed future.

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Are You a Vet? Hang It Up, Work For Solar

The solar industry has gone supernova, adding jobs to the American economy at ten times the national average. That includes veterans, who are “employed within the solar industry at higher-than-average rates,” according to a new joint report from The Solar Foundation and Operation Free. Over 13,000 military veterans now work within the sunshine industry, comprising over 9 percent of its quickly growing workforce.

Mission accomplished.

This week, the very good news was trumpeted to a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing, whose chairman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) noted (PDF) that veterans suffer from a much higher unemployment rate than the national average. That was quickly followed with a statement from House Natural Resources Committee member Pete DeFazio (D-OR), who added, “These are good-paying, highly skilled jobs in a sustainable, renewable industry that increases national security through energy independence.”

Even during an era of stunning political gridlock, solar panels manage to be a bipartisan issue.

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Solar Stocks’ Rapid Growth Show the Industry’s Green Future

Last week, buzz mounted that Elon Musk’s Tesla was working with Apple to deliver the long-awaited iCar, breaking the EV powerhouse’s stock past the $200 a share mark for the first time ever. This week, Musk and the Rive Brothers’ installation powerhouse SolarCity announces quarterly earnings while closing in on $80 a share, as does First Solar, safely hovering over $50.

These numbers are astronomically higher than they were years ago.

And so is your investment portfolio, if you have been brave enough to throw some skin into the solar game, during a “natural” gas boom that still sucks priceless green funding from government and industry alike. You couldn’t be blamed for being shy: A couple years ago, solar hotshots like First Solar and Sunpower, whose impressive quarterly report last week pushed its stock north of $30, were surrounded by citizens who desperately wanted but couldn’t afford solar because those who needed to fund it were pretending climate change was just going to go away.

Those days are over.

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New Electric Vehicle Charging Standard to Boost Solar Power’s Benefits

As our warming world’s citizenry starts driving and plugging in more and more electric vehicles into their greening homes, should they really have to worry about stressing out the utilities’ still-fickle grids? Not really, which is why Greenlots unveiled its new open-standards electric vehicle charging technology platform SKY Smart Charging, which promises to automate and more efficiently manage electricity consumption during chilled downtimes and overheated demand.

It sounds cool, but what does it all mean for solar adopters and investors looking to unplug from an imbalanced grid in need of greater smarts?

“Over 40 percent of California EV drivers have solar installed on their roofs, so the storage component of an EV works well with this distributed generation source,” Greenlots president Brett Hauser told SolarEnergy.net. “Ultimately, the two benefits from the integrated model are the truly zero emissions solution, as well as the greater economic benefits of solar, including net metering sale of high-priced energy during the daytime hours or nighttime low rates for EV charging.”

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