The United States is playing second accordion to Germany when it comes to bankrolling, innovating and deploying the solar infrastructure we need to better adapt to climate change. But we’re speeding up, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s new report Reducing Solar PV Soft Costs: A Focus On Installation Labor.
Funded by the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and produced in collaboration with Georgia Tech Research Institute, RMI’s study crunched the numbers on U.S. and German solar photovoltaic installations and found inefficiencies in solar soft costs like labor, permitting, inspection, interconnection and customer acquisition that could bring installation costs down over 60 percent. That would bring America in range of Germany’s cheaper solar paragon, because you get what you pay for.
“While there are opportunities to reduce soft costs throughout the PV installation process in the U.S., installation labor costs represent one of the biggest near-term opportunities to help make solar more affordable nationwide,” Rocky Mountain Institute principal Dan Seif and Koben Calhoun, who co-authored the report with Jesse Morris, explained in an interview. “Unlike other soft costs, such as permitting and financial transactions, installers can start experimenting with ways to lower labor costs immediately.” [MORE]
Please Continue Reading: Reducing Solar Soft Costs Means Tackling Labor Expenses
Solar power can’t really achieve full liftoff until its information is analyzed and understood. Ultimately, that means decentralization from any overlords, which is where the Green Button initiative comes in.
A partnership between Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and MaRS Discovery District, the Green Button initiative frees up its customers’ power consumption data so they can measure their home energy use and better achieve optimal efficiency in real-time, rather than crunch after-the-fact numbers on stacks of obsolete bills and statements. That necessary liberation also motivates clever developers to parse more and more valuable, important information with user-friendly apps. The next thing you know Canada has a smarter, more efficient grid, empowered by greener consumers. [MORE]
Please Continue Reading: Ontario’s Green Button Plan Gets Serious About Home Energy Use
Sharon Jones, still bringing soul power to the people. Photo: Daptone
Although soul sister Sharon Jones is continually referred to as a throwback to a funkier 20th century, she’s here, now, and still fighting to bring more humanity (and less autotune) to our increasingly digital music. And we’re the better for it.
So I made time for Filter Mag to review Give the People What They Want, the latest throwdown from Sharon Jones and her Dap Kings. Postponed by a cancer scare but thankfully here now, like the blessed Jones, to remind us all what’s worth listening to, and supporting as well.
That Filter‘s cover story belonged to my beloved Pixies — which I didn’t know before I wrote my review and who I am interviewing next week for Salon — just made everything flow much more smoothly.
Stream Sharon and Dap’s cool animated video above and scan my Filter review of Give the People What They Want below, and pick up both if you can! Jones and her funky crew hit the road in February.
Please Continue Reading: All Hail Sharon Jones, Unstoppable Soul Sister!
Can we file this under too good to be true? A DIY, all-in-one crowdfunded solar power generator for those on the go and the stay?
Not at all, says Solar Liberator founder Amalka Elayperuma, whose IndieGogo campaign has just over a month left to bring its plug-n-play no-brainer to our slowly evolving renewable energy future.
“What we are doing is really not that technically revolutionary,” explained Elayperuma of his buzzworded Solar Liberator, whose built-in inverter, backup battery and control electronics are bundled into 500w ($699), 100w ($199) and 25w ($79) variants for your home, vehicle and head. “We shifted much of the control-circuit management to software using the built-in micro-processor, a clear advantage that would have otherwise required hardwired circuits. This gives us incredible flexibility; we can keep improving system performance, reliability and efficiency by improving firmware.”
[MORE @ SOLARENERGY]
Please Continue Reading: Solar Liberator’s All-in-One System Promises to Free Solar from the Roof
AC/DC evidently can just get along, long after Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla’s bitter war over standards favoring alternating current (AC) vs. direct current (DC) electricity in the early 20th century. Inside our solar homes, businesses and universities, to be exact.
That’s the plan and the party line for the public-private EMerge Alliance, whose DC Power Initiative to integrate solar DC power into the national infrastructure is now open for business.
“I wouldn’t give up my seat in the arena of electrical history just yet, as the battle of the currents is about to enter into its next round,” EMerge Alliance Chairman Brian Patterson told me. “Team Edison is making a comeback and this time the odds look strongly in their favor.”
[MORE @ SOLARENERGY]
Please Continue Reading: Can Rewiring the Home for DC Power Increase Solar Adoption?
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s state energy efficiency scorecard is out, and the winners remains winners while the losers are losing less. In other news, when you’re at the bottom of a planetary environmental crisis, there’s nowhere to go but up.
As expected, America’s top 10 energy-efficient states were Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Maryland and Illinois. They are mostly coastal or pastoral progressives with a finger on the pulse of climate change. Perhaps more surprising is that the predictably worst states in our nation — Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi and both Dakotas — are extraction industry dinosaurs reportedly trying to clean up their wasteful ways. That goes extra for my birth state of Mississippi, which has the weird distinction of being both the least energy-efficient state in our warming nation but also its most improved, according to ACEEE’s 2013 scorecard.
[MORE @ SOLARENERGY]
Please Continue Reading: The Winners and Losers in U.S. Energy Efficiency Rankings
For all the hype, smart housing is still in search of greater data integration and analysis. Enter Neurio, an impressive home automation Kickstarter project that’s kicking the butt of its original goal of $95,000: With just under 24 hours to go in its funding cycle, Neurio has raised more than C$235,000 already. The enthusiasm is due to the Neurio sensor and accompanying app’s ability to monitor your home’s webwork of energy activity and alert you when your inevitable human error happens to get in the way.
“Neurio transcends home energy monitoring and home automation,” Ali Kashani, vice-president of software for Neurio’s Vancouver-based parent Energy Aware Technology Inc., explained in an interview. “By sitting at the center of all electrical activity in the home, Neurio can find out when the washer finishes and text message to occupants to remind them to dry their clothes. It’s this ability to take ordinary appliances and tie them into a connected home, without having to replace the appliance.” [MORE]
Please Continue Reading: Home-Automation Tech Neurio Promises a Smart, Efficient Home