How to Become a Solar PV Installer

By Fida Hossain | August 1, 2011

A 448-kilowatt commercial solar system was powered up at the San Bernardino Corporate Center near Mill Street and Toppecanoe Avenue. The project came out of a partnership of the Novato-based SPG Solar Inc., the nonprofit for Sustainable Communities Reinvestment Partnership, known as SCRIP Inc, and the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA), the regional joint powers authority overseeing redevelopment in and around the former Norton Air Force Base.

The commercial solar system will offset up to 55 percent of the center’s electricity bill and save about $90,000 a year, an IVDA spokeswoman said.

The panels were installed on the facility’s rooftop and parking structures. Officials promoted the project as a good example of cutting future operating expenses and supporting initiatives for reduced carbon emissions.

“It’s not easy to be green,” said the city’s interim director, Emil Marzullo. “But the rewards in the long term are certainly worthwhile.”

“IVDA’s commitment and investment into solar is coming at a time when budgets are tight,” said SPG Solar President and CEO Chris Robine.

SPG Solar develops project for large commercial, government and public energy users. It manages more than 1,500 solar system installations in several states.

Mayor Pat Morris said the project represents local efforts to engage in sustainability measures, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of San Bernardino International Airport.

Many projects such as the one mentioned in this article have been sprouting out throughout the United States. Efforts to build solar power plants have been seen from the east coast to the west coast, and the demand for solar photovoltaic installers in on the rapid rise.

One problem that is arising in the solar industry is the lack of solar photovoltaic installers, which is a great opportunity for those who are looking for a new career in the “green” industry. As businesses and homeowners are becoming more open to solar panels, the demand is increasing. Solar panels are becoming smaller, more efficient and affordable causing solar panel installers to play a key role in the future of solar panel installation.

A person interested in becoming a solar PV installer should first attend a free solar training seminar in order to see if the type of job suites him or her. Many solar training schools offer free informational sessions on the types of solar courses they offer.

If a person recognizes that becoming a solar PV installer and entering the “green-collar” industry suites them, then one should highly consider attending a solar installation course and receiving a solar installation certification. Employers will not even consider hiring a person if one lacks knowledge and training in solar PV installation.

Upon receiving proper training and certification in solar panel installation, one is ready to take the NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certification test. NABCEP is the nationwide certifier for solar energy workers. In order to take the NABCEP test, one must apply providing information that says the person is ready to take the test, such as a certification from a solar training school and a picture proving they attended an on-site solar training school.

Key Words: free solar training, solar training schools, solar courses, solar installation course, solar installation certification, solar PV training, solar panel installation, on-site solar training

Author Bio

Fida hossain is an Entrepreneur, having founded E2Logicx SOLAR, American Institute of Renewable Energy Inc., mySolarDirect.com, E2Logicx Corp, and Fida Development Corp. Now he has more than 20 years of business management, supply chain and manufacturing technology, process re-engineering, strategic planning, client relations, sales, and marketing experience. – Solar Training, Renewable Energy Education by American Institute Of Renewable Energy – AIRE

Topics: Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

New Polymer Film Improves Efficiency of Solar Panels

By Danny Fielding | January 28, 2011

Solar energy is one of the most bountiful and readily available sustainable resources we have. The sun already directly and indirectly powers every aspect of our lives. Sunlight, or photons, are constantly falling upon our Earth. I am certainly not discrediting geo-thermal, tidal, wind, or any other renewable resource. It’s just that it’s hard to argue with the many benefits solar power has.

Much of the news being released regarding solar panels consists of improving the efficiency of the solar collection/energy conversion process. These are much needed improvements to the way we use renewable resources. Despite the benefits these breakthroughs yield, it’s also important not to overlook the seemingly simple solutions to our problems.

The problem with current solar panel encapsulants (covers, films, etc.), is that they begin to diminish in efficiency after extended periods of extreme temperature variations and normal wear-and-tear. This can happen for many reasons: difficulty in manufacturing the material, expansion/contraction of materials due to temperature shifts, as well as a relatively high level of light refraction.

Recently the CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, announced a new polyolefin film, or encapsulant, produced under the name ENLIGHT. This development might not have some of you as excited as you should be. Most people would think that the ENLIGHT encapsulant might seem like little more than a glorified plastic film. Keep reading to find out why you’d be wrong.

After thousands of hours of use, the protective film on a solar panel can start to degrade, lowering efficiency and causing operation issues.

The ENLIGHT polyolefin encapsulant film addresses many of these issues, without requiring any other component of the panel to be altered. The film is more flexible than traditional EVA (Ethyl-Vinyl Acetate) encapsulants. There is a much lower water vapor transmission rate, and the film can be applied without compromising the integrity of the solar cell.

The big picture here is that many people are concerned with seeing a return on investment with solar panels; the moment where the amount of electricity generated outweighs their operating and installation costs. The standard today lies somewhere between 5 and 7 years, depending on where you live, the type and size of the installation you’re working with, and any federal and state subsidiaries or tax write-offs. This development will protect that investment by ensuring lower maintenance costs and a longer operating life. This will mean renewable energy via solar collection is going to be a more viable option for thousands of people out there.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 1 Comment »

Global Photovoltaic Market Set to Take Off

By Holy Solar | September 22, 2010

The global photovoltaic, or PV, industry has been continuously growing at a rapid pace over the recent years. In 2008, the annual global installed PV capacity reached around 5.6 GW, taking the total installed capacity to around 15 GW by the end of that year.

Various factors including government incentives for solar energy, narrowing cost differentials between solar and conventional sources of energy, increasing environmental concern and emission regulations remain major growth drivers for the PV industry worldwide, according to the report “Global Photovoltaic Market Forecast to 2013”. This report gives an overview of the market forces that are currently driving the global demand for the PV industry.

The global PV industry is highly dependent on government initiatives and this shows that the industry is yet to achieve self-sufficiency. The impact of government initiatives can be easily understood considering the US market, which lags behind Germany and Japan due to lack of government initiatives. The report anticipates that the future of PV market will largely depend on government’s enforcement of existing or new support mechanisms across the world. Besides this, competition among the major manufacturers is expected to intensify, with new players entering the market as the potential for PV opens up.

This report “Global Photovoltaic Market Forecast to 2013” focuses on the growing marketplace for the PV industry at global as well as at the country level and analyzes the current market trends along with future growth prospects of the industry. It contains extensive data on cumulative PV capacity, annual installed PV capacity, and the future market potential of the key countries. The report also features the leading-edge opportunities critical to the success of the PV industry. It will help clients to discover the forces backing the growth of the PV industry, thus enabling them to outline their market strategies accordingly. From the future perspective, PV market EPIA scenario has been taken into consideration under the set of certain assumptions.

Click here for a FREE SAMPLE of this report!

Check DISCOUNTED REPORTS here.

About RNCOS: RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. We are a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. We provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today’s globally competitive environment.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Wind Power in Emerging Markets‏

By RNCOS | June 17, 2010

Wind Power Power is the backbone of any economy in today’s world. But the high price of fossil fuel is forcing countries to focus on renewable energy sources. As a result, more technologically-developed countries have replaced a considerable portion of their fossil fuel power with renewable sources to sustain concrete growth. But, according to “Wind Power: Opportunities in Emerging Markets”, emerging countries, who have just started their journeys, also need to maintain a robust power supply for a number of reasons: most of the emerging economies are preferred destinations for industrial and manufacturing plants set up by developed countries, development of power grid connectivity has boosted up the power consumption, and increasing population has fueled the power requirement in developing economies. However, rising fossil fuel prices are challenging the growth potential of these countries. Therefore, like developed countries, these nations too are adding renewable sources in their power mix.

For many of these emerging countries, wind power seems to be the best choice as it is relatively low cost than other renewable sources and is a cleaner source of energy. With technological development, wind will become a highly competitive source for power generation, creating business opportunities for manufacturing and material innovations. This, in turn, will boost the manufacturing sector of the emerging countries.





To analyze the market potential for wind industry in the emerging economies, we have selected countries based on various aspects, like market performance and power generation sources. This report also provides a brief description on key turbine manufacturing companies present in the emerging economies.

Key Findings of the Report:

– Total wind power installation in People’s Republic of China is projected to cross 100 GW by the end of 2020.

- Wind power industry will be the major focus area in India during its 11th Five Year Plan. – By the end of 2009, wind power installation in Turkey is anticipated to reach slightly less than 1 GW.

- In 2009, Brazil’s cumulative wind power installation is likely to exceed 1 GW mark. – It is expected that the wind power generation in Poland will go beyond 26 TWH by the end of 2020. – Egypt’s wind power installation is projected to cross 1 GW mark in 2009.

Key Issues and Facts Analyzed in the Report:

– Analysis of the power industry at country level to find out the prospects of industry growth. – Identification of factors that are infusing growth in wind industry at country level.

- Evaluation of growth trends of wind power installation.

- Quantifying the future growth of wind power installation in each country.

Research Methodology Used in the Report Information Sources: The information has been compiled from various authentic and reliable sources like books, newspapers, trade journals, white papers, industry portals, government agencies, trade associations, monitoring industry news and developments, and access to more than 3000 paid databases.

Analysis Method RNCOS industry forecast and analysis is based on various macro- and microeconomic factors, sector and industry specific databases, and our in-house statistical and analytical model. This model takes into account the past and current trends in an economy, and more specifically in an industry, to bring out an objective market analysis. Our industry experts study the relationship between various industry and economic variables to ensure the required accuracy and desired check on the quality of data and information given in the report.

For a FREE SAMPLE of this report visit: http://www.rncos.com/Report/IM158.htm

Check DISCOUNTED REPORTS on: http://www.rncos.com

About RNCOS: RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. We are a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. We provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today’s globally competitive environment.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy, Wind Power | No Comments »

Fuel Cell Technology Gaining Global Acceptance

By RNCOS | January 24, 2010

Fuel cell technology has garnered great support and interest around the world in the past decade because of its large market potential, positive impact on air quality and radically different nature than currently available power sources. It also has the potential to strengthen national energy security by reducing dependence on imported petroleum. Moreover, government initiatives across the globe to popularize the usage of fuel cells are backed up by many social programs which help in mass propagation of the fuel cell technology.

hydrogen fuel cell vehiclesHydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles explores a new zero-pollution transportation technology; it has the potential of being three times more efficient than internal combustion, resulting in fewer greenhouse gases. Features vehicles from 8 top automobile companies.

According to a new research report “Fuel Cell Industry Analysis”, the global cumulative shipments of fuel cells will grow at a CAGR of over 75% during 2010-2012 on a wide adoption of technology in various applications. The report has identified the application areas of fuel cell technology and gives insight into rapidly growing trend to enable clients understand the prospects and growth dynamics of the fuel cell industry.

We have broadly categorized the applications of fuel cells into portable, transportation and stationary purposes, identifying the applications which – are and will – drive growth in the fuel cells market worldwide over the next few years. In addition, the report has comprehensively discussed country-level developments in the fuel cell market, which include government initiatives, investments in the market and budget allocated for research and developments (R&D). The country level analysis will help clients to figure out the emerging countries in this field, which will see rapid commercialization of the technology in near future.

“Fuel Cell Industry Analysis” provides extensive research, in-depth and unbiased analysis, reliable statistics and comparable figures of the global fuel cell market together with information about the current and future market trends. Besides, the factors which are fueling growth in the global fuel cell market have been thoroughly discussed in the report, with an intention of giving a clear picture of the industry. We have also laid great emphasis on the identification of problematic areas that may hamper growth prospects of the fuel cell industry.

For a free sample of this report visit RNCOS

About RNCOS: RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. We are a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. We provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today’s globally competitive environment.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

EarthSure’s “AirRay” Auto – Wind and solar powered vehicle‏

By Earth-Sure | January 23, 2010

Earth-Sure AirRay Solar-Wind Powered vehicleEarthSure, a renewable energy company and innovator in alternative energy sources introduces its most ground-breaking invention to date. Patent pending AirRay™ is the name given to the car that will produce energy through solar power and wind power; enough energy to reduce or eliminate your electric bill and eventually allow your car to solely run on electric. This is the car that is destined to be the new “Car of the Future”.

AirRay’s™ entire system is unique. The roof of the car consists of a solar honeycomb-membrane panel which collects the sun’s rays when parked and when moving, and transfers that energy to the main energy storage system located in the back of the vehicle. The front hood of the car boasts three wind turbines which transfer air into electric energy and is then stored in the main battery. The remaining wind turbine is located on the trunk of the car, grasping at the airflow that surrounds the car when driving. Engineers have incorporated the vehicle with Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capabilities which will enable the user to transfer renewable power back into their home for use in their household or right back into the electrical grid to deplete their electric bills.

Learn all about making your own natural power at home harnessing the energy of the sun and wind.

The initial AirRay™ concept car will have these features incorporated within a hybrid auto or traditional gas or diesel run vehicle. EarthSure CEO Raymond Saluccio adds, “Our final masterpiece of automobile will be solely electric powered and not have any need for gas or oil. The energy the car creates through the solar panels and the wind turbines will be enough for the automobile to run without worry of losing power. Not only that, but it is a sleek looking car! The AirRay car not only turns air and light into energy, but will turn a lot of heads too!” This final version of the AirRay car is a work in progress but EarthSure has filed numerous patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure their car will be able to quickly make it to market once approved.

About Earth-Sure: EarthSure Renewable Energy Corp. is an American corporation innovating technologies to produce energy in a clean and affordable way. Utilizing solar and wind power as a source of renewable energy, EarthSure systems are alternatives to conventional energy producing methods that result in carbon emissions. For more information about the many other innovative developments in solar and wind power created by EarthSure, visit their website at www.Earth-Sure.com

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 2 Comments »

Rapid Development Seen in Photovoltaic Installation Worldwide

By RNCOS | January 20, 2010

Green Living Kit
Click image to grab your copy of the “Green Living Kit””

Highly volatile oil prices and depleting conventional sources of energy across the world have highlighted the need for renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic (PV) to rebalance the energy mix. Consequently, the installation of PV has been growing at rapid pace, leading to reduction in PV module costs with rising capacity, says our new research report “Global Photovoltaic Market Forecast to 2013”. Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 1 Comment »

Unions & Big Solar Square Off in California‏

By Dan Harding | September 15, 2009

Organized labor is pressing hard to both accelerate and gain a strong foothold in the renewable energy industry. This simultaneous push for green jobs and a green economy has garnered plenty of friends for unions, from environmental groups to consumer advocacy groups to many in the solar industry.
Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Rolling Solar : Generator on a Cart

By Holy Solar | March 26, 2009

Solar Power On the Move

Harvester Rolling Solar Electric Generator
icon

The Harvester Solar Electric Generatoricon is a non-polluting portable and durable power gathering and storing unit ideal for providing power when and where on-grid power sources are not available.

This unique design features quick and painless setup, easy storage, and maximum portability for such a high-powered unit- just grab the handle and roll.

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Sustainable Energy | 4 Comments »

How realistic is the plan to create five million new ‘green collar’ jobs?

By Renewable Energy Jobs | March 25, 2009

President Obama’s plan to turn around the US economy includes $150bn of investment in green energy over the next ten years, driving America towards energy independence whilst creating 5 million ‘green collar’ jobs.

Nobody could question the need for the new US president to take action to resurrect the US economy or our need for the US to take a prominent role in the battle against climate change. However, is creating five million renewable energy jobs in the US realistic currently? And if not why not? Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Determining Electricity Consumption of Your Home Appliances

By Energy Efficiency | March 13, 2009

Improving energy efficiency and conservation around the house requires a certain attention to detail. There are a multitude of electronic appliances that populate the modern home. Knowing how many watts of electricity each appliances uses is a key step toward reducing your electricity consumption. You’ll know which ones to trade in for newer, more efficient models- creating a general awareness and knowledge that will aide in all of your energy conserving endeavors.

Figuring out how many watts of electricity an appliance uses is typically very easy. It is generally printed right on the device. It will either be stamped on it somewhere or printed on a nameplate that is usually affixed to the back.

If the number of watts is not printed on the device, then look for the current, in amperes (A), and voltage (V). Most appliances, from stereos to toaster ovens, use 120 volts (the maximum voltage for a standard outlet). Larger appliances, such as clothes dryers, may use 240-volt outlets. To find a unit’s wattage, simply multiply the amps and the volts. For example, a device drawing 5.0 A at 120 volts is using 600 Watts of electricity.

In the typical home, water heaters use by far the most amount of electricity, drawing 4500-5500 watts when running. The clothes dryer, dishwasher, and vacuum cleaner are also big electricity users. Just remember that an individual appliance’s cost to each household is different based on how much the appliance is used. For example, a laptop computer typically uses only 50 W of electricity (somewhat less in sleep mode) and a dryer may use 5000. But if the computer is left on 24 hours a day, and the dryer is rarely used because you dry your clothes outside on a line, then suddenly the smaller, more efficient computer has the higher cost in electricity. Being energy efficient is as much about lifestyle and the way we use the products we purchase as it is about the products themselves.

Bear in mind that the wattage listed on an electronic device is its peak level of consumption. That is to say that electronics such as stereos, with volume controls, may not be drawing the maximum number of watts at all times. It all depends on the setting.

When evaluating the energy efficiency of any device, it is also important to factor in “phantom” loads, or the small amount of electricity that a device draws, even when it is switched off. Televisions, stereos, computers, all such devices carry phantom loads. These are small amounts but can really add up, especially considering the number of appliances in the average home. To avoid this issue, either unplug appliances when unused, or plug several into a power strip and then switch the strip off when the group is not in commission. The power strip method is an excellent choice for computer desks and home entertainment centers, where all components are typically used or shut off at the same time.

For more information on calculating electricity consumption and cost, including a list of common wattages for household appliances, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Conservation, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy | 2 Comments »

LA Biodiesel Station Saved by E-Mail Campaign

By Holy Solar | December 17, 2008

Happy Solstice from Holy Solar! This year has seen an amazing growth of alternative energy, real action from Washington and credible promises of much more to come from what may prove to be the administration which solves the energy crisis.

We’ve been away for a couple of months performing seasonal agricultural work on the Coast, and just now completed our regular migration to the Southwest. The price of biodiesel has not been as fast to fall as it was to rise, and remains up to twice the retail of petro-diesel.

Fortunately, we were able to navigate the 1000 miles of highway without resorting to dinosaur diesel, thanks largely to the four fueling stations we depended on, and several contributing riders. By pooling fuel costs, were able to complete the trip at a personal cost of $.15.mile.

We made our usual stops at the Biofuel Station in Laytonville and the Real Goods pump at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland (map). The BioFuel Oasis in Berkeley (map) saved our schedule by staying open late (8pm) and by selling easy-to-use 5-gallon jugs. This extended our range to cover the distance to Los Angeles non-stop, where ConservFuel provided the best price and hours of the entire journey.

The bad news came a few days later-ConservFuel in West LA, where we had just purchased 47 gallons, was discontinuing biodiesel. For those who travel long distances on biodiesel as well as local consumers, this essential oasis has been the only 24-hour provider of B99 in Southern California.

This was the e-mail we received from Kent at Socalbug.com:

The owner of the ConservFuel Station in West LA/Brentwood has decided to stop selling biodiesel !!!
See the explanation on the http://www.conservfuel.com/
website.

Write Dansk a letter and or email them @ biodiesel@danskinvestments.com include info@conservfuel.com ( Kris Moller ) as a cc: in your email.

However don’t be too harsh, we do not want them to get sour on biodiesel as Dansk also owns the Palisades Gas-N-Wash which is still selling biodiesel.

Do your part to keep biodiesel for sale at ConservFuel.
Write your letter, spread the word and take action.

Kent

Here is what we had to say about it:

Dear Biodiesel Providers:

We were most saddened to hear of the closure of the biodiesel pump at Conserv fuel, especially after our recent fill-up just last week, when we purchased what will apparently be our final tank of hard-to-find biodiesel there.

On our seasonal trips from Arizona to Oregon, Conserv is a critical stop. We usually arrive at odd hours and the end of our tank. I honestly do not know how we will manage our next trip, as there is a huge void of biodiesel throughout that stretch of 1-10.

Many people do not understand why we use biodiesel, even when petro-diesel is cheaper. There are many reasons, from socio-political, to environmental, but the at the bottom of it all is a belief that biodiesel is a superior alternative which must be supported even at a higher cost. We are not wealthy people, but there is no compromising on this for us. We resort to petro-diesel only in the gravest emergencies, when there is literally no possibility of obtaining biodiesel.

We are cognizant of the difficulty of maintaining an unprofitable product, but urge your reconsideration of this move. The year has been a turbulant one for fuel prices, and next year may become more so. Biodiesel may again become a strong and profitable product as breakthroughs in algae and jatropha feedstocks swell supplies.

Please be aware that this closure is a major inconvenience, not merely to the local population of committed biodiesel users, but to travelers on the nation’s highways who lack other oases of supply. This issue is quite serious; we are quite literally stranded without a 24-hour station.

We may not have been contributing to your company’s coffers as well as consumers of cheaper fuels, but biodiesel users are dependant on the West Hollywood B100 pumps, and without them, the journey toward a greener future is  detoured.

We urge your reconsideration.

Holy Solar Alternative Energy Bus
www.holysolar.com

And we were pleasantly surprised to see this response:

After careful reconsideration and deliberation, Dansk Investment Group has decided that the loss our valuable biodiesel customers is not worth the potential increase in profits that would be gained by  switching to the lower cost diesel #2.  In large part, due to the numerous, well articulated emails we have received regarding our customers reaction to our removal of biodiesel, Dansk has decided to bring back biodiesel (B99) to Conserv Fuel in West Los Angeles!

Your emails are testament to the exceptional loyalty that Conserv Fuel biodiesel patrons have demonstrated regarding your commitment to purchase biodiesel.  Conserv Fuel will once again continue to be the sole retail supplier of biodiesel (B99) in the greater Los Angeles area.   Please note that our higher biodiesel sales price relative to diesel #2 is due to our higher wholesale supply costs.  There is currently a lack of biodiesel supply in California which has resulted in biodiesel selling at a premium price to diesel #2.

We appreciate you taking the time to express your sentiments and would like to inform you that your voices have been heard.  We understand that your loyalty to Conserv Fuel is linked to our supply of biodiesel, so we will be switching back to selling biodiesel (B99) hopefully by December 20th, 2008.  We will keep you updated on our return to biodiesel at www.conservfuel.com

We appreciate you for your continued support

Dansk Investment Group, Inc.

Ours was merely one of many letters that surely led to this reversal, and this demonstrates the importance of expressing the importance that alternative energy makes in our lives to those deciding whether to provide it.

If you use biodiesel in LA, or expect to ever need to, please send a brief letter of thanks to the folks at Dansk Investments…and stop by the ConservFuel station to fill up often once biodiesel is restored there on December 20.

Dansk Investments & SoCal Bug jointly share this weeks “Green Leap of Faith Award” for believing in biodiesel through these rocky times.

ConservFuel can be contacted through email at biodiesel@danskinvestments.com
They are open 24 hours a day, located at
11699 San Vicente Blvd
West Los Angeles, Ca 90049
(Click for directions to ConservFuel)

To find directions and more information about biofuel stations and availability in your area, Holy Solar recommends consulting NearBio – www.nearbio.com

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Biofuels, Green Leap Awards, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy | 2 Comments »

Federal Tax Credit Increase Brings Solar Within Reach

By Holy Solar | October 12, 2008

The recent stock market collapse and subsequent Congressional bailout have brought a collective groan to pocketbooks across America and financial markets around the world. Afraid for their savings and jobs, and worried for the future of their homes and college funds, this may not seem like the time for homeowners to invest in expensive improvements.

The $700B corporate welfare package was passed through Congress, much as previous legislation overreached the bounds of government on the pretext of crisis. Stuffed with pork and served with theater, this move will haunt the world economy for years to come.

There is a silver lining to the dark storm cloud rising, however: the alternative energy tax credit cap has been quadrupled to $8000, bringing the effective cost of PV installations down by 1/3-1/2. The credit applies to 30% of the total installed cost of new residential systems.

Solar InstallationFor California residents, this can be added to the $2.50 credit to make solar a truly affordable alternative to the grid. Other states have different rebate programs. Depending on where you live and how much tax you typically pay, the cost of a grid-tie solar system might be offset up to 50%.

Contact a representative at Real Goods Solar for more information on solar installation and tax rebate credit incentives available where you live.

Residential Solar Rooftop photo from the Sierra Club, Solar Installation photo from bkusler. Both images provided courtesy of Creative Commons.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Solar Panel Installation, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 1 Comment »

Google Grabs Green Leap Award for Alternative Energy Plan

By Holy Solar | October 5, 2008

Search Engine Giant Google Wins Green Leap Award

Google Goes GeenThis is a new feature we’ve added in order to highlight organizations and companies who have made noteworthy contributions to developing a clean energy policy based on renewable power. We recently profiled Cal Green Lending, Real Goods, and Nanosolar, and these companies are retroactively awarded this distinction as well.

Today we’d like to salute…well…a giant media corporation. Not just any multibillion-dollar press magnet, either; Google is the most active web entity on Earth, attracting over 80 million visitors daily to its search result pages and other web services.

“To Google” has become an infinitive transitive verb meaning, “to instantly research any topic.” According to our site statistics, there is a 75% chance you arrived here via Google referral.

Google exercises god-like power over the Internet, defining the user experience and revolutionizing the core concept of advertising with the Google Adsense program, which enables millions of independent content creators to easily place ads on their site.

The start-up in San Jose has gone on to become one of the wealthiest corporations on Earth, and many online talking heads (and the courts) regularly debate the dangers of concentrating so much power in a single company. What is not debatable is that Google is one of the most active corporate voices on behalf of alternative energy.

Google has been putting these considerable funds where its press releases are, adding the world’s largest solar array to the Mountain View facility, and we’ve reported previous;y on the investment founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have made in the ultra-thin printed solar modules from Nanosolar.

The latest news is the best yet: the “.org” side of the loudest voice in technological development has issued a bold plan to “Green the Grid” and shift the majority of energy production away from fossil fuels by 2030. Drafted by Jeffrey Greenblatt, who is the Climate and Energy Technology Manager for Google, the analysis recommends an investment of $4.4 trillion in a combination of solar, wind, and geothermal power. The program calls for 88% of grid electrcity to be produced from earth-friendlier technology by the target date.

We’d like to quibble a bit with the low goals for the vehicle fuel aspect of this plan…a piddling 38% percent reduction of petroleum in 20 years. The plan focuses on using electricity for transportation , which is nice, but will require a completely new infrastructure of charging stations and new vehicle factories,

Greenblatt also oddly presumes that electrical power will be cheap and abundant, which seems unrealistic, considering the effort which will be needed to accommodate existing and inflating demand for household and commercial electricity. We’d be robbing the lights to pay the tank.

At Holy Solar, we’d like to see 80% or more of a reduction in petroleum fuel by 2030, which can not be accomplished with electric cars alone. We were not able to find a single reference to the role of biofuels. Also, the notion of offering rebates to “retire older cars early,” is wasteful of the existing vehicles and the energy that went into building them.

It also ignores the millions of poor who have never owned a new car and probably never will. This was clearly a plan drawn up by someone with a well-paying career, but the fact is that this comes at a time when auto manufacturers are struggling to sell new vehicles at all.

So, as you stride up to the podium to collect your award, Dear Google, please do take a moment to think bigger about the potential of biofuels to achieve for vehicles what solar, wind and geothermal power do for electricity…allow a gradual shift while salvaging the existing infrastructure. Let’s not throw millions of vehicles to the scrap heap when a simple modification can make them burn more cleanly.

Nevertheless, this plan is admittedly a first draft; what we’d like to salute is the way this media giant is pioneering the dialogue about going beyond the inconvenient truth to investing in the technology to make this the time for a Green Revolution. Therefore, Google is hereby named winner of this week’s “Green Leap Award.”

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Leap Awards, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Green Leap Award-For Leadership in the Green Revolution

By Holy Solar | October 1, 2008

Green Leap AwardThis distinction is conferred upon alternative energy and environmental organizations and businesses who have caught the attention of the Holy Solar team as especially deserving of recognition. Each week or so, a different group will be profiled in connection with this award.

If you feel your group qualifies for to be a Green Leap recipient, please submit your webiste details and why this effort is noteworthy in the form below.


[contact-form 1 "Contact form 1"]

We would like to thank all of the countless innovative individuals and organizations dedicated to the sustainable revolution.

the Power of the Sun

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Leap Awards, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Sustainable Aviation: Bio-Fuels Reach the Stratosphere

By Holy Solar | September 12, 2008

Flying the Earth-Friendly Skies

Biofuel enthusiasts have been saying for a long time that the sky is the limit for organically-based, sustainable transportation solutions. Now, that barrier, too, seems to have been rapidly passed. With the announcement of the world’s very first organically produced aviation fuel from micro-algae, San Francisco biofuel pioneer Solazyme may have helped solve the missing link in the alternative energy puzzle.

The new jet fuel, which is made from algal culture grown in vats from a sugar medium, addresses the enormous global issues tied up with petrochemicals as fuel for flight, just in time for the sixth anniversary of the Word Trade Center destruction. This development comes on the heels of tests earlier this year by Virgin Airlines, which has since moved its program to Europe.

There is tremendous philosophical significance in this announcement, as it heralds a time in the near future when air travel which does not have the political or environmental implications of fossil fuels so candidly illustrated by that devastating event. Jet fuel is an energy cost hidden to the average consumer, who generally only feels the impact indirectly as part of airline fares.

With this innovation, it has now become technically feasible to power every sector of industrial, transportation, and residential electrical needs, all by means of a renewable energy source. This is a milestone to give a little cheer about, and that it has been accomplished in so little time should serve as encouragement to those of us concerned with a sustainable energy policy.

The process will still need some perfecting, and the political will to wrest lucrative jet fuel contracts from the oil companies may be in shorter supply than oil itself. Nevertheless, we are seeing again and again that Nature offers an answer for a post-petroleum revolution.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Biofuels, Green Technology, Sustainable Energy | 2 Comments »

Alternative Energy Financing :
Making Solar Make Sense

By Holy Solar | September 6, 2008

Fed up with paying in to a private monopoly which is still holding us hostage with pollution-generating power plants? Tired of talking about the energy crisis and ready to invest in a future off the grid? Good for you.

Now that you’ve decided to go solar, you face some tough choices about finances. The power generated by the Sun is 100% free, but the photovoltaic collectors which convert this energy still represent a substantial investment. A little sticker shock is common among homeowners who have estimated the household electricity use, and found that their planned solar array will cost as much as a new vehicle.

The average home practicing energy-conscious conservation is using 5-7 Kwh/ day. In order to depend entirely on solar power, this home might need about 2 or 3 KW of PV module, at a jaw-dropping cost of at least $5,000 per kilowatt. Grid-tie installation can often cost up to one-third of the total, and a state-of the-art inverter, backup generator, and storage battery cells can bring the total into the stratosphere.

The math may be daunting, but through a little creative conservation, applicable tax credits, and financing from lenders friendly to environmental projects, most residential solar installations become a practical reality. Some homeowners are pleased to discover that their home can be solarized for even less than their current electricity bill.

Most homeowners are aware of Federal alternative energy tax incentives of $2,000 and 0% interest bonds which may offset part of the cost, as well as various state programs. These can bring down the total cost of the project, but most middle-class homeowners will still be tempted to balk at committing a year’s salary to a single purchase.

The answer is the same mechanism which made it possible for you to own your home in the first place: a loan. While the notion of going even further in debt may not appeal at first, it bears pointing out that a solar or wind system begins paying for itself from the moment of installation, by reducing or eliminating the monthly energy bill.

By distributing the cost of PV modules, invetrters, and grid-tie installation across 15-30 years, the monthly cost of home electricity is locked in near the current rates, until the loan is paid and the energy becomes entirely free. Another key consideration is that the investment in a solar or wind electrical syatem adds value to your property-an added 20/watt, according to current assessment guidelines.

In addition to hedging against likely hikes in local energy prices, adding solar power is a wise investment in home improvement. Since solar homes are still reasonably rare on the market, and increasingly in demand, alternative energy amentities may also help a home sell more quickly…an important consideration in a sluggish real estate market.

Of course, your bank may not be cutting-edge enough to recognize this. The lending market is quickly growing conservative in the wake of recent foreclosure fiascoes, and some agents may fear risking the primary mortgage by adding a second one.

Fortunately, the green movement is spreading into all corners of the economy, and by choosing a lender such as Cal Green Lending who specializes in financing environmental projects, you can be sure that your application will be reviewed by lenders who comprehend the viability of alternative energy.

Cal Green Lending arranges loans to qualified alternative energy installation projects for both residential and commercial properties nationwide. Visit them to see if they can help make your solar dream a reality.

Cal Green Lending has been awarded the “Green Leap Award” from Holy Solar for making an innovative leap in the approach to alternative energy.

Photovoltaic Rooftop Solar Array photo by Pink Dispatcher courtesy of Creative Commons

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Leap Awards, Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 10 Comments »

Tree-sitters Outlast Pacific Lumber in the Headwaters

By Holy Solar | August 29, 2008

Pacific Lumber is dead…long live…Mendocino Redwood Company…?

Redwoods Straight Up photo provided by Mel B. courtesy of Creative Commons The long-fought standoff between Redwood forest defense activists and Maxxam/Pacific Lumber seems to have come to an end, and the trees are victorious.

The villain of the tree-sitter’s movie under the pernicious leadership of Charles Hurwitz, Pacific Lumber has killed more than trees in their pursuit of old-growth lumber among the world’s most ancient living beings.

Humans have also died in this struggle, as well as enduring the harassment of logging company security, while protesting the harvest of some of the planet’s most venerable forests. Pacific Lumber has been plagued by increasing financial troubles, which they had hoped to remedy by clear-cutting in Humboldt County’s unique and irreplaceable giant Redwoods.

Thanks to the efforts of local activists, Pacific Lumber has been largely foiled…and fallen to the earnest tree-sitters. The land has been purchased by the progressive Fisher family, who have met with treesitters, and pledged to never cut the old-growth trees in the Headwaters.

Promising to practice sustainable timber policies, the Fishers have ordered tags to be placed on the ancient trees designating them as immune from logging, all trees which date back to the nineteenth century or earlier.

There is still a world of work for those engaged in forest defense, and we’ll all be watching to see if the walk follows the talk from Mendocino Redwood Company, but this development marks an historic victory in Northern California. On behalf of tree-loving people everywhere, Holy Solar would like to extend a million blessings to the tree-sitters and those who have supported them.

*Redwoods Straight Up photo provided by Mel B. courtesy of Creative Commons.

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Sustainable Energy | 3 Comments »

Solar Living Experiment : Spoken Word

By Holy Solar | August 24, 2008

The Holy Solar crew trucked down to Hopland, California, for the annual SolFest celebration at the Solar Living Institute & left with this song and video.

In Joy!




Solar Living Experiment

For those of you who’ve never been
It’s so amazing as to be a sin
Right along scenic highway one-oh-one
There’s a magical place, mostly about the Sun
We’d heard about the Redwoods, so we came to see,
What it felt like to be under all of those trees
We weren’t the first to hear their call
Hundred foot Redwoods dwarfing any wall
Under their canopy you might feel a little small
Until you give one a hug and feel part of it all.
With towering trees and ancient ferns
Restoring the forest each time it burns
Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 6 Comments »

SolFest Alternative Energy Expo-Hopland, CA

By Holy Solar | August 12, 2008

Solar Living CenterOnce again, we’re headed down to the Solar Living Institute in Hopland California to take part in the annual Solfest gathering. For those who are not familiar, the Solar Living Institute is one of the most active and established sites using green technologies and earth-friendly land strategies since 1998.

Associated with the Real Goods Eco-store, the Solar Living Institute is one of our favorite places on Earth. Featuring the largest array of solar panels in Northern California, SLI’s Solar 2000 module grid produces more than 160,000 kilowatt hours of power annually. Since 2003, anyone traveling Highway 101 has been able to top off their biodiesel tank while visiting this historic landmark of the future.

A leader in alternative energy information, SLI sponsors ongoing workshops in the Bay Area and along the North Coast throughout the year, but SolFest brings together speakers on topics from straw bale building construction and permaculture to biofuels and windmills.

And, of course, solar energy. The entire event will be powered by the many solar panels which adorn the venue year round, and experts in grid-tie applications, tax incentives, and off-grid solar photovoltaics will be making presentations, as well as being on hand to answer questions.

Year-round interns care for and eat from the organic farm and permaculture displays, leaving with an intimate knowledge of Earth-friendly techniques to bring into a world in desperate need of solutions. Each year, the volunteer staff joins them to help produce a zero-waste event using all-natural biodegradable plates, bottles, and utensils.

We’ll be volunteering there as well as signing up folks for our new newsletter- which will be launching sometime next week with our experiences and inside view of the event. We’ll also be trying to get a hold of a video recorder so that we can make a brief documentary about SLI, Real Goods, and SolFest, hopefully with interviews and some good shots of one of the most innovative villages on Earth.

Real Goods Solar, Inc.

*The Solar Living Center picture was provided by anotheremily

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 2 Comments »

Nanosolar: Thin is In for Renewable Energy

By Holy Solar | July 23, 2008

Enough sunlight falls on the Earth in two hours to support all of civilization’s power needs for an entire year. This compelling statistic ought to have mobs unplugging from the grid and off to the solar store for some PV modules and wires. When we see how energy is free, that it literally falls from the sky and all we have to do is collect it, why should we live under the whim of a heartless energy monopoly, in dread of their threatening pink notices?

At some level, however, we all know that unless the grid itself is powered by renewable energy, the economic, social, and environmental plague of fossil fuels and nuclear power will go on to pollute the world regardless of how tiny our individual footprints may be.

So the best news, lately, has been about the solar we can’t have: industrial-strength adaptations for large-scale solar power that are beginning to answer some of the shortcomings of our favorite energy source. Traditional mono-and-polycrystalline panels are a technological wonder, but mass-producing them presents some economic and environmental problems of their own. Many people worry about the long “energy debt” these panels have, often three to five years before the energy to manufacture such panels is recovered.

The focus in solar equipment manufacture has shifted from the watt to the megawatt, and the entire premise of solar collection is rapidly evolving. Since solar panels obviously need to cover the maximum surface area, engineers have been hard at work on that third dimension, reducing the thickness of each module.

They haven’t stopped there. A company called Nanosolar is now producing solar cells so thin that they are literally painted on, collecting charge by means of a special ink. Want some? You can’t have any; despite enormous investments from giants like IBM and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as reports that the company’s new plants have the ability to produce 1 billion watts to wholesale at about $1 a piece, Nanosolar says it is sold out for at least a year in advance. Try again in 2009.

Boasting an impressive 14.5% efficiency and the lowest cost yet for photovoltaic cells, we can’t wait until this technology makes it to the consumer level. Unfortunately, since the technology is patented and proprietary, and Nanosolar shows no interest in the residential sector, it will be some time before microsolar makes its way to the open market.

Nanosolar has been awarded the Green Leap Award from Holy Solar for innovative advancement in the approach to alternative energy.

Until then, we’ll have to get by with the next-best thing, solar cells which are merely thin, available from Global Solar and UniSolar. See these thin-film solar cells available from Real Goods.

Nanosolar Thin Film Production-100 ft per minute Solar Printing Capacity

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 8 Comments »

Drilling & Mounting-RV Solar Panel Installation

By Holy Solar | July 15, 2008

Part Two

In the previous post, we covered some of the main reasons why we chose the Unisolar 64 Watt solar panel for supplemental power in our alternative energy bus. We made the purchase at the Real Goods store in Hopland, California, but because our roof had no metal to fix the mounting brackets to, installation was pretty much up to us.

Erik at Real Goods helped us develop a plan, drew a diagram showing the proper way to hook up the wiring between the junction box of the solar panel, the regulator, and batteries, and wished us well. We had his card in the event of emergency; fortunately, we never needed it.

The first issue we confronted was the fiberglass roof. Since Mahayana was not new when we met her, we lacked electrical diagrams of the wiring scheme, although we could make some educated guesses. We decided that the region on either side of the visible wire bundle ought to be safe for drilling, and this turned out to be correct.

Along with the Unisolar Thin Film Panel, we chose the Uni-Rac RV mounting bracket seticon, which brought the total bill to just under $500. The bracket set is simple enough, but to avoid undue stress to the fiberglass, we mounted a T-plate to the roof beneath each bracket and attached the mounts to those.

This works well, but at high speeds there is some vibration noise, which makes us wish that we had insulated the T-plate with felt “washers,” such as battery terminal pads. Live and learn!

Each T-plate was mounted with a pair of fittings to the roof. The holes were drilled with a 5/8″ bit and secured with 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ mechanical bolts.

Since our solar panel is bus-mounted, we didn’t need to worry about connecting the panel to a ground, but those working on residential installations will need to ground the frame of the panel.

We drilled an additional hole through the roof in order to accommodate the positive and negative wires which passthe charge from the panel to the batteries, making a total of nine breaches in our ceiling. Preserving the integrity of the roof being a priority, we were glad to see that we made only as many as were needed. We were quite happy as well to see that the holes were confined to a relatively small area, approximately two feet across and three back. This means that there is room for at least one more panel like this if- and when- we expand our solar collection potential.

After making sure we had all of the wire, connections, splices and fuses we needed- all of which are included in the Global Solar Energy Extra Connectivity Kiticon- we proceeded to connect the SunSaver controller first to the deep-cycle marine batteries, and then to the panel. We made sure to splice the included fuse module to the positive wires on either side of the controller for overload protection.

It’s been a little more than two weeks since we added the Unisolar Thinfilm Panel to our alternative energy houseboat, and the results have exceeded expectations. The little green light, signifying charge, goes on with the first glint of dawn and stays fiercely bright, in shade and beneath cloudy skies, until the last flash of sunset disappears from the horizon.

icon

Topics: Green Technology, Solar Panel Installation, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 5 Comments »

RV Solar Installation- Unisolar 64 Watt Thin Film Panel

By Holy Solar | June 27, 2008

Part One

UniSolar Thin Film Panel From Real Goodsicon
We are proud to announce that the production of this site is now completely solar powered, as our two computers currently run off of our recently installed Unisolar Thin Film solar panelicon, which soaks up light like a sponge and allows the two of us to write and design to our hearts content, without using fossil fuels or depending on grid power.

Frankly, we’re pretty excited about it. Our hardy road-boat, Mahayana (which means “The Big Vehicle,” a type of Buddhism), has sailed the highways for over two years under the faint scent of French fries from the biodiesel she drinks with glee. Adding a solar panel to our array of alternative energy was a logical next step, but we found suppliers and information to be shockingly scarce…which is part of what motivated the construction of this site.

As the great Bobby Weir still sometimes sings, “it’s all too clear we’re on our own.” Switching to alternative energy made us amateur electricians for a few days, with an emphasis on amateur. Neither of us had a lot of experience in drilling and wiring, but there was no choice but to learn the basics. Installing a solar panel on the bus brought this home, and fortunately we had the time and patience to carry it off without mishap.

The first task, of course, was choosing the right panel. We went with the Unisolar model for several reasons. First, unlike its vulnerable mono-and-polycrystalline counterparts, the ThinFilm technology is considered “unbreakable.” Of course, you shouldn’t take a sledgehammer to any solar panel, but the manufacturer asserts that it can sustain normal impact without damage.

There will surely be many unplanned tests of this claim as we travel, so we’ll let you know what parking stupidities the Unisolar has survived, or-perish the thought-failed to. Physical damage to the panel is definitely a risk in the wooded regions we travel, so we wanted the most durable design available.

The second reason we chose the Unisolar 64 has to do with how it collects light. The amorphous solar panel design is much more efficient in partial shading than panels composed of serial cells, which can fail to perform if even a portion of the panel is in shadow. In fact, the charge indicator light shows that the Unisolar is passing current to the regulator, even in complete shading on an overcast day.

The downside to the Thin Film style of collector is that the surface is not as efficient as other types of panels per square inch, which means that our 64 watt panel has the physical dimensions (about 54″ X 30″) one normally associates with grid-tie panels of 100 watts or more. The ES series is versatile and is perfect for auxiliary power on boats, RVs, and remote work trucks as well as residential grid-tie and even massive megawatt arrays.

For us, the slightly larger surface is no disadvantage at all, as Mahayana has ample roof space and room for two more such panels should we ever need them.

In the next post, we’ll describe the DIY installation process, what we learned, a few helpful tips for those of you considering going solar, and links to all the equipment you’ll need for personal energy independence, with a little help from nature.

It feels wonderful. Thank you, old Sol!
Get the Unisolar Thin Film and other solar panels from Real Goods.icon

Topics: Alternative Energy News, Biofuels, Green Technology, Solar Panel Installation, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 4 Comments »

Solar Powered Portable Reading Devices

By Holy Solar | June 17, 2008

Solar-Powered Digital ReaderWhen Gutenberg first built his printing press, he probably wasn’t the least bit concerned with the environmental impact.

And for the first 500 years or so that his seminal invention helped reproduce the philosophies, theories, and conclusions of the finest minds in Western and Eastern cultures, it wasn’t much of an issue. Woodlands were abundant, print runs relatively short, and storing the sum of human knowledge certainly ranked in importance above a few trees.

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Biodiesel Update – Arizona to Oregon

By Holy Solar | June 10, 2008

Powered on BiodieselTwice each year, the ambient clime and bi-regional commitments demands that we set sail, following the wise birds to where the climate suits our clothes. More in the style of turtles than our flying feathered friends we drive our mobile headquarters and bed-quarters along with us.

In January, after touring Oregon and Washington, we departed Northern California and arrived in Arizona on 99+% biodiesel, purchased at a maximum of $3.99/gallon. We were gratified to establish that blends of at least B-99 were available at regular enough intervals to allow transit between the Canadian and Mexican borders without resorting to petro-diesel.

This summer, our northbound trip promised to be expensive. With roughly 1300 miles to traverse, we knew that the price of petroleum would be affecting the biodiesel market. The bus was parked in the desert with a tank nearly full of B99 in March, when the price was $3.23. On May 30, topping off at the same station, the rate had risen to $4.65, which turned out to be the lowest price of the entire journey.

The problems didn’t end there. Our trip was affected by two outages: At Western States Petroleum in Parker, where a wholesaler or fleet had apparently bought out the supply, all 350 gallons. Unfortunately for us, we’d gone 30 miles out of our way and had no other choice but to purchase a few gallons of diesel petro-gunk. Important lesson learned: phone ahead for availability and hours before committing to a route on long-term bio-diesel trips. Be sure to verify the blend as well; several times along the way we learned that only B-20 was available where biofuels were advertised.

We were finally able to get biodiesel in posh West Hollywood after rearranging our course. The at-pump price of $5.39 is the highest we’ve paid for any type of fuel anywhere; even a $20 donation on the spot scarcely eased the pain of the $175 tank fill-up. We were paying 60 cents a gallon more for bio-diesel than we would have for petro, which seemed to be an odd choice on a budget. This is pure profiteering, but a definite sign that supplies need to shift away from soy and other food sources toward technologies like algae for diodiesel and cellulose alchohol for ethanol.

The change in plans put us out of reach of our Santa Monica fill-up, so we shook things up and brought Mahayana, the big vehicle, on her first ride along the Pacific Coast Highway so we could refuel in Monterey, since we weren’t sure the tank would hold out until Santa Cruz. Those of you who have taken scenic Highway 1 know that it is a slow, curvy, oftentimes nerve-wracking two-lane exercise in zen driving, but the trip up the coast went well despite some cabin sickness and an overly aggressive honey-bee.

Santa Cruz brought the second disappointment: Pacific Biofuels, a promising supplier, had closed its doors a week earlier. This didn’t really affect our plans, since at that point we still had a healthy tank from our Monterey fill-up, but finding their doors closed contributed to the dark outlook we were starting to develop on the future of bio-fuel in the heart of alternative culture.

Arcata rounded out the changes in California, where the tank has been removed from the only mainstream station in Northern California, a Texaco on Somoa. We were hardly even surprised at this point; changes are to be expected at every turn and edits on every list in the volatile market in California.

Footprint Recycling was just a hop down the highway, but the overall impression is that, instead of making headway with mainstream consumers, biodiesel is being bought out by fleets who have depleted the supply and inflated the price at the expense of consumers.

The picture is somewhat rosier in Oregon, where SeQuential Biofuels maintains several very attractive and well-supplied alternative fuel stations, complete with E85 a full dollar cheaper than local gasoline.

Biodiesel was just under $5, which we’d already gotten used to. This seemed interesting in light of complaints about ethanol contributing to food shortages. If this were so, it seems that, like their biodiesel counterparts, gasohol products would be costlier than the petroleum equivalent.

All in all, the obvious message of our coastal trip is that the supply of biodiesel is falling far short of the demand, especially with fleets buying it up for their 20% blend. New methods must be implemented, and immediately, if organic alternatives to petroleum fuels are to become practical for the majority of drivers.

Learn about making your own biofuel at home

Biodiesel Pump

Donate to our biodiesel fund:


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Topics: Biofuels, Sustainable Energy | No Comments »

Wholly Solar

By Holy Solar | June 7, 2008

The purpose of this site, as we’ll keep mentioning until we’re sure it has been made quite clear, is to advocate for and provide information on renewable, nonpolluting energy sources. There are quite a few reasons why we feel this is important, but all of them boil down to a concern over the toxic social, economic, and environmental impact of petrochemical dependence.

The solution, we believe, is to turn to nature. When we talk about solar power, we don’t just mean photovoltaic modules, although that is certainly one of our favorite forms of electricity generation. Solar power includes windmills, biofuel, and non-PV applications such as solar heaters and ovens.

In fact, in a sense all of the power on the planet derives ultimately from the Sun, even those nasty petrochemicals we so avidly avoid. Yet there is a conceptual distinction between using dead, stored energy from a limited and ecologically problematical cache, and choosing from a panacea of naturally clean power which replaces itself with each new day.

Slapping solar panels on every rooftop in the world might go a long way toward addressing the petro-mess, but that isn’t going to happen overnight, and it will never happen unless the people collectively demand it.

Some individuals may feel that the threat of climate change is exaggerated, or that oil is more abundant than current projections indicate. Others are inclined to believe that the green movement is a liberal conspiracy to attack businesses with taxes and regulations.

We may not be able to convince these folks. That’s not our job. We are here to evangelize to the choir, to provide a perspective and strategies as much as tools and applications for green living. Converting the critics is a job we leave to those of you able to combine honesty with diplomacy. They’ll come around, once they realize their tree-hugging neighbors don’t pay an electric bill.

Can the energy needs of the entire species be accommodated by green power? We believe the answer is: absolutely. Within the decade, if a planet-wide initiative takes hold as we dream. The technology exists and improves daily. No system is without disadvantages, and underestimating the challenge would be a mistake.

Nevertheless, the time is ripe for a transition that could sweep the globe with positive effects, not only in the ways we gather energy, but the way we approach nature and economics as well. We are at a crossroads, and the type of technology choices we make today will have an impact on how tomorrow’s civilization collects and uses the power to live in harmony with the Earth…or render it forever uninhabitable.




Topics: Green Technology, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 3 Comments »

Solar Powered Water Purifiers & Distillers

By Water Purification | June 6, 2008

Solar Powered Water Purifier
With the rising cost of fuel and the need to find more renewable sources of energy, advanced research is being conducted to discover more efficient ways to go green. Solar energy in a natural solution as the sun is constantly providing abundant energy which powers the world already. Harnessing solar energy does not produce any type of pollution or damage to our planet, and there are numerous ways in which we can utilize this ample resource to power our everyday needs.

Solar water purification is a great example of an efficient green technology, as it replaces a machine which everyone has a need for that would normally use standard electricity. A solar water purifier makes it possible to produce pure drinking water that is healthy for all with a minimum of input.

With the choice of stationary or portable units, it is easy to purify water anywhere without being connected to the grid. Solar powered water purification units can be used as a portable device for personal use, as well as larger, industrial scales to produce clean drinking water for even sizable communities.

A solar water purifier operates using natural energy from the sun which is gathered by solar panels and then converted into serviceable energy. The solar panel must be placed in direct sunlight for optimal efficiently, which makes solar powered water purifiers an ideal solution for outdoor use such as camping.

These solar units are easy to maintain as there are no batteries required, no external electronics and no moving parts. Because they need only water and sunlight to operate, these distillation devices rarely need cleaning. There are many applications of solar water purification, as energy from the sun is used to heat up the water in order to sterilize it. Much like boiling water on a stove to get rid of any contaminants, a solar powered water distiller heats the water up until it is clean enough to drink. It works by heating the water until it evaporates, where it attaches to a piece of plastic held at a slope. All contaminants and other solids are left behind, leaving only pure, clean, drinking water that is ideal for both adults and children.

Portable solar water purifiers can distill and purify liquids from natural fresh-water sources such as lakes and streams as well as salt water sources. Some models use both solar energy as well as batteries so that a charge can be stored, giving you the ability to use your purifier any time, anywhere. These solar-powered units even give off a larger yield than standard water purifiers which use grid-power or other sources of energy.

If you need more charge, these purifiers can be hooked up to a car or other direct-current power source, but can still operate using only the energy from the sun. A portable solar water distiller could save your life during an emergency situation such as a flood or earthquake, as it can transform even the dirtiest water into healthy, pure drinking water. It can also be used for camping trips or trips where no clean water is available or even brought along just in case the clean water supply runs out.

The same technology used on portable solar water purifiers can also be applied on a larger scale, making it possible to purify large amounts of water using only the energy from the sun. Most portable solar water purifiers can clean up to 100 gallons of water a day, using only the natural energy given off by the sun. Large-scale purifiers, however, are able to clean up to 1000 gallons of water each day, and can provide clean water from sources including lakes, streams. Like portable purifiers, they can also use a secondary source of energy like a generator, but mainly rely on the natural energy that the sun has to offer.

Communities all over the planet are creating their own, homemade solar water distillation devices, in order to provide clean drinking water for their families and neighbors. Because there are still areas that do not have direct access to clean water lines, they must find methods to transform their water from natural, and possibly polluted sources into water that will be healthy for their entire family.

Everyone needs access to clean water in order to maintain a healthy life. Knowing that the sun will shine on every inch of the globe at one point or another, we can now empower ourselves to utilize the sun’s bountiful energy to persevere.

Topics: Solar Power, Sustainable Energy, Water Purification | 6 Comments »

Raising Hopes for the Environment

By Holy Solar | June 1, 2008

Carbon Neutral Sweepstakes Spreading Awareness of Offset Credits

Celebrate Earth Day All Year with Carbon Offset creditsThe problem with alternative energy is that it’s, well, alternative. Clean, renewable energy may be the only hope for a green future, but it remains a minority source and inaccessible to the largest number of consumers. As a result, the dominant energy paradigm-burning things and never mind emissions-is still powering most of our homes and businesses.

Solar power is really nice for homeowners in moderately sunny climates, but the residents of urban highrises haven’t the option to go grid-free. Similarly, the nature of many businesses is such that wind or photovoltaic power is not practical on the small area available, in line with leases, or inexpensive enough to justify the conversion.

For the rest of us-those without the space or funds to install solar modules or windmills, not to mention a battery array-there is a simple solution which allows everyone to participate in the green revolution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: Sustainable Energy, Water Purification | No Comments »


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