"We spoke some months ago. At the time I was doing research on how to get into the renewable energy space. Well I'm happy to say I found a great fit. I'm now running a company focused on providing financing for residential and commercial solar jobs."
Clean Power Finance, San Francisco
Focus the Nation
On January 31st over 1,500 universities, colleges, high schools, middle schools, and places of worship joined in a national teach-in day on global warming. Focus the Nation, a brainchild of Eban Goodstein at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, has the goal of raising awareness about climate solutions, and to convene a simultaneous educational symposium across the country.
Focus the Nation is about education and civic engagement, with students engaged their faculty, and their governments. Participating institutions had their students voting on the Top 5 national priorities for global warming. Its project advisors - including long-time EcoMotion colleagues Hunter Lovins and Denis Hayes - are promoting a new form of green democracy: a campus endorsed policy agenda for 2008.
EcoMotion interns Sierra Flanigan and Allison Andrews linked their new E-Coalition at Wheaton College with the national teach-in day. Thanks to National Grid, energy-efficient prizes were raffled off to new E-Coalition members. Wheaton hosted lectures on ethical issues of climate change, screened "Revolution Green: A True Story of Biodiesel in America," and professors linked climate protection into their classes.
Member Feedback: German Perspective on the Feed-In Tariff
- Dr. Eicke Weber, Director, Fraunhofer Institute
Thanks for the newsletter with the discussion of the difficulties to introduce a feed-in law in the US. For me, the question to put to Sean Gallagher is simple: Do you want to see rapid introduction of PV energy in CA, especially on private homes, or not?
If you want to see it happen, the most powerful approach is a feed-in tariff that fulfills the following requirements:
1. A feed-in tariff that is profitable for the homeowner. In CA today it should be at least $ 0.35/kWh.
2. The feed-in tariff should be guaranteed for 20 years, so that banks give loans up to 100% of the total cost, as they know that the income is secure.
3. The feed-in tariff should have a built-in sunset clause, e.g. 5% or even 7% decrease per year for new customers: this creates price pressure on the producers and installers. Whenever the feed-in price matches the MPR price the feed-in law can be changed back to a law of the kind we have right now in California.
4. The feed-in law should have no cap as the objective is to promote PV to reach high volumes ASAP, and to do this without any new bureaucracy to supervise the cap.
5. The cost of the feed-in law should be distributed via the general electricity cost so that no direct taxpayers money from the State budget is required. In Germany, with its incredible success of PV, the price increase is less than $ 1/month for the average household. On the other hand, the availability of real amounts of PV power will in 15 years or so limit the energy costs, that are poised to keep increasing due to raising costs of CO2-producing energy, especially from fossil fuels, so the ratepayer can expect to get a benefit in the future.
The success of this type of law in the last 5 years in Germany is overwhelming, where now more than 1000 MW are being installed annually, compared to 100 MW in California and 200 MW in all of the United States. I do predict that Germany will have a great competitive advantage in the 10 - 15 years time frame due to the decoupling of a sizable fraction of the energy market from imported energy.
It is difficult for me to understand why the U.S. and especially California prefer a bureaucratically cumbersome quota-based system to a simple, transparent market-based system that does not need any new layer of bureaucracy, just an additional meter to measure the amount of PV-energy produced.
I wish you success with your campaign,
Eicke R. Weber, Director
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems
Solar Thermal Systems
Solar thermal (ST) is a technology that harnesses solar energy for heat. ST systems collect the sun's energy to heat water and air that then provide domestic hot water and/or space heating in open and closed loop systems. Solar thermal is also particularly cost-effective for pools and in some cases for snow melt.
In 2005, the United States produced 21 million square feet of solar thermal collectors, mostly for low-temperature applications like pools. A typical, two-person home requires a medium-temperature system, usually configured with one or two panels that constitute about 40 square feet of collector, that costs $5,000 - 10,000, and has a 8 - 10 year payback. High temperature systems include parabolic troughs, solar power towers with heliostats, and dish collectors.
The Seven Shades of LEED
The U.S. Green Building Council's Annual Green Build conference and exhibition in Chicago attracted more than 25,000 attendees, including keynote speakers Paul Hawken and President Bill Clinton. Remarkably, Green Build may have become a victim of its own success, too massive to remain effective. But it is a testament to a movement that started very small and that has become nothing less than a tsunami.
So why green buildings? Buildings are responsible for 39% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions; buildings consume 70% of U.S. electricity.
We also spend a lot of time indoors. Green buildings are not only healthier environments, but can cut energy consumption by 25-50% resulting in a similar reduction in CO2 emissions.
To promote efficiency and protect the environment, USGBC developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. In a matter of years, LEED has become the industry standard and covers a variety of building types:
1. LEED NC New Construction, major renovations
2. LEED EB Existing Buildings
3. LEED CI Commercial Interiors
4. LEED CS Core and Shell
5, LEED-ND Neighborhood Developments (in pilot mode)
6. LEED-H Homes (the latest LEED certification)
7. LEED for Schools
8. LEED for Retail
9. LEED for Health Care (in development)
LEED takes a whole building approach to sustainability covering six resource areas: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation and Design Process. Depending on the points achieved in each area, buildings can earn one of four levels certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
Nanosolar: Cheaper than Coal
Nanosolar Inc. was founded in 2002 and is making waves. It is working to build the world's largest solar cell factory in California and the world's largest panel-assembly factory in Germany. It claims that it has created a solar coating - as thin as a layer of paint -- that is sprayed on a metal foil substrate and that is the most cost-efficient solar energy source ever. "PowerSheet" cells contrast current solar technology systems by reducing the cost of production from $3 a watt to $0.30. This translates into an installed cost of a dollar per watt, an eighth to a tenth the cost for traditional crystalline panels, and for the first time in history, making solar power cheaper than burning coal.
Nanosolar takes pride in leading what it calls the "third wave" of solar technology. The "First Wave" began over three decades ago with the introduction of silicon wafer-based solar cells. Since silicon does not absorb light very well, the wafers had to be quite thick.
The second wave came about a decade ago with the first "thin-film" solar cells. These cells, despite being 100 times thinner, can work just as well. However, this process also has its setbacks: The cells semiconductor is deposited using slow and expensive high-vacuum based processes. The thin films have to be deposited directly on a glass substrate.
The third wave - sprayed on a metal foil semiconductor -- employs a high-yield continuous roll-to-roll processing allows for production of large quantities. The Nanosolar plant in San Jose, once in full production in 2008, will be capable of producing 430 megawatts per year, more than the combined total of every other solar manufacturer in the U.S.
Stay tuned for more information: nanosolar.com