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Solar Power – Should You Buy or Lease?

Solar Power – Should You Buy or Lease? | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Leasing solar panels is a lot like leasing an automobile. Private companies install the system and maintain the equipment for the length of the lease, usually 15 to 20 years. You pay the company a fixed monthly fee, all the while saving on your utility bills because the sun, rather than coal or oil, is providing the power. In almost all cases, the sum of your lease payments and new utility bill is less than your old utility bill.

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The Amazing Energy Race

The Amazing Energy Race | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
The United States is falling behind. To catch up, we need to reorder our priorities, find cleaner and smarter fuels and develop new technologies.
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Duane Tilden's curator insight, July 6, 2013 4:01 PM

>“In reducing coal’s historic dominance, the president is formalizing a market trend that was already taking shape,” remarked Andy Karsner, who was an assistant secretary of energy in the last Bush administration. His bigger message, though, was “no matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum, it’s useful for the nation to discuss, debate and consider a strategy for climate change. The consequences of inaction are potentially greater than all the other noise out there.”<

Wiser Capital's curator insight, July 6, 2013 11:38 PM

It behooves the US to switch to cleaner, smarter sources of energy and national pollution standards for power plants are a great way to start.  As usual, Friedman delivers a simple solution that is difficult to argue with.

 

Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, July 7, 2013 11:43 AM

"By raising the standard a small amount every year, we’d ensure continuous innovation in clean power technologies — and jobs that are a lot better than coal mining. You can’t make an appliance, power plant, factory or vehicle cleaner without making it smarter — with smarter materials, smarter software or smarter designs. Nothing would do more to ensure America’s national security, stimulate more good jobs and global exports — the whole world needs these technologies — than a national clean energy standard. And, of course, the climate would hugely benefit."

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How Crowdfunding Solar is Keeping the Lights on in Detroit

How Crowdfunding Solar is Keeping the Lights on in Detroit | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

As the costs of solar technologies decrease, the opportunities for innovative solutions to community problems are increasing. Economic hardships have hit America’s communities hard and, in many communities, electricity prices continue to rise as spending on local public services continues to fall. From 2010 to 2011, the state and local sectors contracted by 3.4 percent, the largest contraction since World War II and that contraction continues to be felt in neighborhoods across the country. Spending cuts have come in all shapes and sizes; some cities have reduced the local police force, while others have slashed the budgets for local fire departments.

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Concern about emissions trading scheme affecting the impact of renewables

Concern about emissions trading scheme affecting the impact of renewables | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Deep problems in Europe’s carbon trading scheme – its flagship climate change policy – are set to cancel out over 700m tonnes of emissions saved through renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts, according to a new report.

The study, by carbon trading thinktank Sandbag, found that a huge oversupply of carbon pollution permits means many are being banked to enable emissions after 2020, when efforts to tackle global warming should be intensifying. These emissions, nearly equivalent to Germany’s annual carbon pollution, will cancel out efforts made in other areas to cut carbon.

The report also warns that Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) is a “global dumping ground” for “dubious” carbon permits created by projects around the world.

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Utilities fear what they cannot control with community solar

Utilities fear what they cannot control with community solar | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Utilities love solar. Or at least they love utility-scale solar, i.e. installations they can own or control through power purchase agreements. But as the battle with net energy metering has shown, utilities fear what they cannot control.

Some states and some utilities have embraced community solar, particularly in the western United States. No surprises there. Colorado, thanks in part to its Solar Gardens Act, has seen community solar flourish.


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Wiser Capital's comment, June 26, 2013 5:56 AM
It will be interesting to see if utilities try to corner more of the solar market with tools like on bill financing or if they fight to their demise.
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Energy efficiency improvements can increase the value of your home by 38%, Government report claims

Energy efficiency improvements can increase the value of your home by 38%, Government report claims | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
Insulating cavity walls, upgrading double glazing, and putting solar panels on the roof could increase the value of some properties by 14 per cent, while others could rise by as much as 38 per cent, it claims.

Via Richard W J Brown, Content Fan
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Richard W J Brown's curator insight, June 18, 2013 9:26 AM

Improve the energy rating and improve the property value is the claim...oh and you also help to improve the planet in the process!

 

Lower energy bills and improved property values are the financial wins resulting from improving the energy rating in the home, so why is there such a small conversion rate from inquiry to completed project with the Green Deal?

 

Well the answer is probably that in actual fact the energy bill will not in the short-term reduce and also that as a result of the Green Deal loan being attached to the property's energy supply could also put off would-be purchasers and renters.

 

Looking at the improved house values another possible explanation also springs to mind - many of the higher rated A-B homes are new homes (build in the last ten years).  First of all new homes tend to carry something of a price premium in any event and secondly, there are some other factors that could contribute to a higher value; such as being covered by a warranty like the NHBC and from lower initial repair, improvement and maintenance requirements.  Older Victorian stock are the worst offenders and will also probably require a lot more in terms of improvement expense to put them right, leading to lower valuations for those that have not been improved in particular.

 

That all said, the incentive is clear - increase the energy rating and increase the home value.  The only question then is whether of not to use the Green Deal to do it.  As a landlord, I understand that tenants will be focussed on the running costs of their property and so will be interested in it's energy rating.  But they will probably not be too excited once they realise that whilst their rental achieves say a C rating say that in fact they are still paying the same as with say a G rating due to a Green Deal loan being attached to it.

 

My conclusion therefore is to introduce energy saving measures (with roof and cavity wall insulation being the biggest and easiest wins) but to finance this in an alternative way to the Green Deal loan.  Cash, increase in the mortgage of another type of loan not attached to the energy bill would be my recommendation.  After all, it is clear to see that everyone is a winner when we reduce the energy consumption of our properties, especially mother Earth.

 

Green improvements = yes...Green Deal Loan = no from me therefore

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The Battle For Your Energy Bill

The Battle For Your Energy Bill | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
U.S. Energy Information Administration One of the most commonly cited barriers to investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy in the built environment is that the payback is too long.

Via Duane Tilden
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Duane Tilden's curator insight, June 15, 2013 9:34 PM

>On‐bill financing allows customers to pay back the capital costs of an energy efficiency retrofit as part of their monthly electric bill.

 

Utilities have offered customers on-bill financing programs for various energy efficiency retrofits for years. The utilities use their capital to cover the upfront costs of projects. Customers then pay back the cost of these projects over time through a charge on their utility bills.

 

[...]

Like on-bill financing, PACE programs recover the capital investment in energy efficiency as part of an existing payment stream. Rather than the utility bill, PACE programs rely on the property tax bills as the principal collection mechanism. One of the advantages of PACE financing is that it is not treated as a loan. If the property is sold or transferred, the tax payment obligation may be transferred with the property to the new owner.<

Wiser Capital's curator insight, June 18, 2013 4:23 AM

On bill financing and property assesed financing are great ways to bridge the gap to more renwable energy and energy efficiency.

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Integrating Building into the Smart Grid

Integrating Building into the Smart Grid | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
It will take time to get from point A, today’s grid and building technologies and power markets to point B, a Smart Grid with intelligent buildings and transactive markets, but it can be done.

Via Joan Tarruell, Stephane Bilodeau
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Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, June 2, 2013 11:13 PM

"A very important conference occurred in Portland, Oregon last week – the Gridwise Architecture Council hosted the first international Transactive Energy Conference.  The topic of transactive energy is so new that there’s no formal definition yet, but as the author of the Smart Grid Dictionary, here’s my suggestion.  Transactive energy is a software-defined, low-voltage distribution grid that enables market participation by distributed energy resources (DER) bidding generation of negawatts or kilowatts.  Transactive energy describes the convergence of technologies, policies, and financial drivers in an active prosumer market – where prosumers are buildings, EVs, microgrids, or other assets."

Duane Tilden's curator insight, June 8, 2013 11:30 PM

>Transactive energy will play a critical defining role in grid modernization and shaping the Smart Grid.  Buildings, as noted in last week’s article consume 40% of the nation’s energy.  And while building owners can justify purchase decisions on energy savings as well as sustainability values, there’s another crucial factor for building owners to invest in technologies that reduce energy use and deliver self-generation.  That reason is to address the increasing vulnerability of the electrical grid to momentary and sustained power outages to both natural and human causes.

 

Buildings and their occupants are impacted by grid-related power outages.  The negative impacts range from reduced work productivity and decreased occupant safety and health to reductions in lifestyle standards.  Just like real estate values are higher for green buildings with LEED recognition, in the future, buildings that are grid-hardened may command premium prices because they preserve delivery of services regardless of grid status.  It is a compelling new variable in value propositions for tenants and occupants.<

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Siemens to Europe: You're about to waste 45 billion euros!

Siemens to Europe: You're about to waste 45 billion euros! | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Working in conjunction with the Technical University of Munich, industrial and electric power giant Siemens has determined that Europe is incorrectly siting its renewable power projects -- and wasting an estimated 45 billion euros in the process. Siemens claims the projects should be shifted to locations with higher yields, calling the choice of site "crucial to the efficiency and economy."

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The Resurgence of Liquid Air for Energy Storage

The Resurgence of Liquid Air for Energy Storage | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Some engineers are dusting off an old idea for storing energy—using electricity to liquefy air by cooling it down to nearly 200 °C below zero. When power is needed, the liquefied air is allowed to warm up and expand to drive a steam turbine and generator.

The concept is being evaluated by a handful of companies that produce liquefied nitrogen as a way to store energy from intermittent renewable energy sources. Liquefied air might also be used to drive pistons in the engines of low-emission vehicles.

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Adding an electric car cut the payback point of our solar panel investment in half

Adding an electric car cut the payback point of our solar panel investment in half | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

When we discussed our home solar panel project in mid-2011 with friends, one of the first questions everyone asked was, “What’s the payback period before you break-even?” The second question was unsurprisingly, “How much is it costing you?” but the focus always ended up on the payback.

 

After all, if you’re going to invest in green technology, you’re hoping that at some point in the near future, you get ahead of the game. It turns out that something we didn’t plan for — our Chevrolet Volt — is actually helping us boost the ROI and cut our payback time in half.

 

Click headline to read more--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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GE Adds Energy Storage to Its Brilliant Wind Energy Turbine

GE Adds Energy Storage to Its Brilliant Wind Energy Turbine | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
After premiering its 2.5-megawatt, 120-meter rotor Brilliant wind turbine in February, GE is now announcing the commercial installation of the first three models that will integrate energy storage capability.
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Predicting the Impact of Renewable Energy

Predicting the Impact of Renewable Energy | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

I couldn’t make this year’s Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street, though I did peruse the notes that my colleague Tom Konrad of AltEnergyStocks forwarded to me.  Among the many details, I noticed this rather broad statement: “Historically, we have under-predicted.”  He went on to explain: “NREL’s 1998 prediction of the penetration of renewables for 2020 was only 30% of  the 2013 number.”  In other words, we’re headed to beat the expectation for 2020 by an enormous margin.

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Solar Energy and Durability Testing

Solar Energy and Durability Testing | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

This first report covered tests of five of 2012′s top eight crystalline silicon PV modules, from among SunPower (SPWR), Suntech (STP), Yingli (YGE), Trina (TSL), Canadian Solar (CSIQ), Sharp (SHCAY), Hanwha SolarOne (HSOL), and Kyocera (KYO).

The results showed “a substantial spread in thermal cycling durability, while all tested module types proved very good stability in the damp heat/UV test sequence.” And though some participants wanted to remain anonymous, all the data acquired under the PVDI will continue to be used to provide a comprehensive comparison in years to come.

Hans De Keulenaer's insight:

Since the massive use of solar photovoltaics is a relatively recent trend, there is little information on the long-term performance of PV panels. This report provides a welcome piece to the sustainable energy puzzle.

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Changes in the Electrical and Micro Grid

Changes in the Electrical and Micro Grid | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Microgrids are becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Currently an estimated $4.5 billion market in the US alone with 1,459 MW online and 1,122 MW in planning or development, the microgrid market is expected to continue to grow as the world demands ever more electricity usage and the grid struggles to keep up. The truth is that the traditional grid was not built to cope with the extraordinary level and fluctuations of present-day demand, and microgrids present the perfect solution. The question (to the utilities) is whether we are ready to embrace the change and adapt.

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Solar Energy and Community Projects

Solar Energy and Community Projects | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
What does it take to cook up a community solar project? A dash of crowdfunding, a pinch of grassroots outreach, and a generous helping of persistence. That’s the word from San Francisco nonprofits RE-volv and Everybody Solar.
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Will the Grid of the Future Run on DC Power?

Will the Grid of the Future Run on DC Power? | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Do you have a solar system at the home? An electric car in your drive way? Smart phones, tablets, game consoles and other electronics proliferating in your home?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, it's time to take a minute to learn about the difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) electricity and what it means for your household energy use.

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Repowering Gives New Life to Old Wind Sites

Repowering Gives New Life to Old Wind Sites | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
By 2020, swapping aging wind turbines with more powerful modern units will have raised annual electricity generation at refurbished sites from 1524 GWh to 8221 GWh.

Via Aspiration Energy
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Renewable Energy Roadmap and the DOE

Renewable Energy Roadmap and the DOE | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Traveling through the complex system of federal and state regulations to secure project approvals is one of the biggest challenges facing geothermal power developers – but not if they’ve got a map outlining every twist and turn.

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Japanese Solar Energy Industry Soaring

Japanese Solar Energy Industry Soaring | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

In the wake of the tragic Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March of 2011 there was renewed public and political support for weaning the country off nuclear power altogether. Currently 27% of Japan’s electricity demand is met by nuclear power, but according to a new report by researchers at the University of Texas, Tokyo could use solar photovoltaic (PV) generation as a “baseload” power.

According to the report, “Potential for rooftop photovoltaics in Tokyo to replace nuclear capacity”, 300 square kilometres of suitable rooftop space in Tokyo could support 43.1 GW of PV to offset the demand currently filled by nuclear, alongside an existing 7.28 GW of pumped hydro storage available.

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The Future Global Supply of Rare Earth Elements

The Future Global Supply of Rare Earth Elements | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

Up until the mid-1980s, the United States was the lead global producer of rare earth elements — materials that are used to make the technology that powers everything from laptops to hybrid cars — and have come to define our high-tech lives. Now, America is 100 percent dependent on imports of these elements and China is the primary world supplier. How does China's domination impact the future global supply of rare earth elements?


Via Lauren Moss
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Ideology and Energy Efficiency Decisions

Ideology and Energy Efficiency Decisions | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it
Ashutosh Jogelekar has penned an interesting article in Scientific American discussing how one's political position may affect energy efficiency purchases (the post is repeated by Rod Janssen in Energy in Demand).
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An Important, and Sometimes Overlooked, Energy Efficiency Tool

An Important, and Sometimes Overlooked, Energy Efficiency Tool | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

To help the citizens of the world make efficient choices about energy, it’s important to get the prices right. The IMF report concludes on an optimistic note with case studies of several countries that have reformed their subsidies. But, the recent riots in Indonesiaover proposals to remove fuel subsidies highlight just how controversial this task is. In the battle against dangerous climate change, though, we need to pursue all possible tools.

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Battery Could Provide a Cheap Way to Store Solar Power

Battery Could Provide a Cheap Way to Store Solar Power | Sustainable Energy | Scoop.it

There’s a promising new entry in the race to build cheap batteries for storing energy from solar panels and wind turbines. Stanford researchers led by Yi Cui, a professor of materials science and engineering, have demonstrated a partially liquid battery made of inexpensive lithium and sulfur. Cui says the battery will be easy to make and will last for thousands of charging cycles.

Cui believes that the material and manufacturing costs of the battery might be low enough to meet the Department of Energy’s goal of $100 per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, which the DOE estimates will make the technology economically attractive to utilities. Existing batteries can cost hundreds of dollars per kilowatt-hour of capacity, although several companies are working to commercialize cheaper ones (see “Ambri’s Better Battery” and “Battery to Take On Diesel and Natural Gas”).

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