A solar powered plane has completed an historic flight across the United States, landing at JFK airport in New York. Events and milestones like this are critical for alternative fuel development, as people can see real progress.
It will be fascinating to see how solar technology can be incorporated into aviation to possibly save jet fuel, or at the very least power many internal and backup power needs.
Here’s some great information about the affordability of installing solar panels. This video focuses on San Diego, but the same principles apply around the country. Learn more at SolarAllianceofAmerica.com.
One of the more interesting trends in solar involves companies that will install solar panels on residential or commercial real estate with little or no upfront costs to the owner. How can they do that? The idea is simple – you have a situation where the combination of subsidies and the solar power will significantly reduce an owner’s electricity bills. The savings stream can then be used to pay off the costs of the solar panel upgrades.
The plunging costs of solar power are making this trend even more powerful. There is some controversy, as some suspect that the Chinese are dumping panels in the US below cost, so it will be interesting to see if the trend continues on this pace, but either way prices will keep coming down. It’s just a matter of how fast.
Many businesses and consumers are catching on, though again it remains to be seen as to how fast these systems will be implemented. For many, this becomes a real investment opportunity that changes the calculation around certain real estate investments. If you’re looking for investment property, you of course want every advantage you can think of. Every cost saving needs to be considered. Of course you’ll be looking for a bmv investment as you want to save on the initial purchase price, but ancillary costs matter as well. Energy savings should get thorough investigation. This also applies if you’re seeking overseas properties, as many countries are jumping on the renewable energy bandwagon.
The bottom line is that solar power and other renewables will grow even faster when there are economic incentives. And those that see the incentives and their applications first can make profits by acting on them.
The U.S. Navy’s bomb squads have a weight problem. To keep their field gear powered up, the typical explosive ordnance disposal unit has to haul fifty pounds of specialized chargers and related devices around, creating an unwieldy and potentially dangerous drag on the operation.
Now help is coming from an unexpected source: the sun.
The Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2 in Virginia has been testing five prototype lightweight field power kits that include solar cells as a key component. The kits replace fifty pounds of equipment with a compact system that weighs only about nine pounds.
The heart of the kit is a one-pound device called a Soldier Power Manager. The Power Manager functions like a smart micro-mini-grid. In contrast to a portable generator that runs only on diesel fuel, the Power Manager can receive energy from various sources including solar panels and fuel cells. It recharges other devices by cable attachments, eliminating the need for individual battery chargers.
Read this article about the battle between natural gas and solar power in Colorado and you’ll get a great idea of the complexity surrounding the clean energy issue. Over time, this stuff will get sorted out, and the subsidies for clean energy clearly have a positive impact. That said, there’s legitimate concern that all the competing interests will create a nightmare set of regulations once Congress gets through with the new climate bill.
This presents another compelling case for a simple carbon tax over cap-and-trade legislation.