Shared Solar Could Make the Boom Bigger

It’s a wonder that shared solar took so long to trend, since not everyone can have a solar farm on the roof or yard. But better late than never, if you read the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s latest report, which crunched the numbers and found that shared solar could become anywhere from 30-50 percent of the distributed PV market by 2020. That’s the year that, equalling $8-16 billion in investment, shared solar could also spark deployment growth of 5-11 gigawatts, starting, well, right now.

The only thing standing in the way is business as usual.


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How Solar-Powered Disaster Recovery is Helping in Nepal

Nepal’s devastating earthquake has shone a light on survival essentials for surviving climate change’s increasing, unannounced attacks. And what it has found is that they are becoming more solarized.

For its part, the United Nations refugee agency‘s airlifted essentials included 4,000 solar lanterns from eastern Nepal. Dubai is adding 4,000 solar lamps, via cargo plane, and all of them will provide much-needed light, warmth, and critical communication, charging cell phones and computers as the catastrophe unfolds. Indeed, forward-thinking outfits like Empower Generation were already onsite addressing Nepal’s power picture, before the earthquake jolted the nation into a new global warming normal.


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Obama Administration Recruits Vets for Solar

Can anyone think of a better place for armed forces veterans to land than the explosive solar sector?

President Obama probably doesn’t think so. In early April, Obama announced an expansion of U.S. government efforts to train 75,000 Solar Ready Vets for the PV industry — which, it never gets boring to say, is adding jobs to the American economy at 10 times the national average. The President and Senate Democrats are lobbying for Congress to give the Department of Energy enough funding to double military solar training from 10 to 20 military bases, and counting.


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Back to Solar Class, Stanford

The scorching solar industry needs a shock doctrine to stabilize its forthcoming deflation, once the Obama administration’s Investment Tax Credit is repealed. Stanford has the sloppy manual.

“Instead of falling off a cliff, the industry would instead have to weather a series of smaller shocks as it works through a critical developmental phase,” explained Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Stefan Reichelstein’s new study, co-authored with research associate Stephen Comello, offering an three-stage alternative to solar’s suicide dive. “The researchers’ findings suggest that the industry should be able sustain its momentum through those smaller shocks, leaving it poised to achieve true cost competitiveness by 2025.”

Of course, like all economic shock doctrines — deregulation, austerity, ad nauseam — this medicine would be better if it wasn’t delivered at all.


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Solar Stands Tall in Bloomberg’s New Energy Pioneers

There were a couple of solar standouts in this year’s lineup of Bloomberg’s New Energy Pioneers. In particular, Locus Energy’s cloud-based software platform and analytics suite, which crunches data from over 50,000 solar systems, one of America’s greatest such data sets.

Its light-speed analysis of 50 billion rows of data daily gives Locus an edge when it comes to downsizing soft costs and increasing efficient profits. Hence, the nod from Bloomberg, who built his empire on financial analytics.


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SunPower Co-Founder Gives Earth Day Green Domino

On Earth Day, SunPower co-founder Tom Dinwoodie unveiled a personal energy concierge startup — for those who want to unplug from dirty business as usual with the experienced help of a live human.

“in most parts of the country, people can get entirely free of fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil – and save money in the process,” the Berkeley-based CEO explained in a press release for his free service, Domino. “Modern consumers want to vote with their pocketbooks. Domino will make it possible for everyone to know their options and to make that change.”


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Tesla's Home Solar Storage Revolution Is About to Begin

Home solar batteries from Tesla Motors, which could upset utilities as we know them.

Billion dollar solar bonds from SolarCity, backstopped by banking bigshots.

Happy Earth Day!


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Apple and SunPower Go Solar in China

Apple continues to walk the walk when it comes to solarization. Now it’s making a big splash on solar in China in partnership with SunPower.

Both are teaming up to build two 20-megawatt solar projects in China’s Sichuan province — which is a first, although together they’ve built six in America totaling 90 megawatts. Construction is already underway and feeding 2 megawatts back to the grid, but should be finished by the end of 2015.


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Solar Installations Performing Better than Promised

Solar is looking pretty resilient, according to research from the National Renewable Energy Lab. Now it’s time for international standardization to accelerate and protect investment and performance.

Crunching data from almost 50,000 PV systems pumping out 1.7 gigawatts from 2009 to 2012 — the infamous year of Hurricane Sandy — NREL’s report Reliability and Geographic Trends of 50,000 Photovoltaic Systems in the USA found that 85 percent of them performed 10 percent better than expected. The briefer version? Not even extreme weather events from America’s fearsomely changing climates can make solar panels seem like a dumb investment.


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Path of Blood's Cartoon Samurai Code

[Asian cinema is in my blood, especially the samurai strand made famous by the masterful Akira Kurosawa. The same legendary director influenced cut-paper animator Eric Power, who I interviewed for Cartoon Brew about his indie homage, Path of Blood. Hide the kids.]

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