Archive for the ‘Solar Energy’ Category

Most Important Year for Solar Power Expo

October 13, 2008

Solar Power International Expo 08
This week San Diego hosts the largest solar energy Expo ever held – Solar Power International 08, running through 13th – 16th October. Coinciding with Solar Energy Week, this 5th annual conference and expo promises to be extra special. Congress has just passed legislation eliminating both the residential cap on residential solar systems and the utility exemption, while giving a further 8 year extension of the federal investment tax credit for solar energy. This sets the grounds for a massive expansion on an industry that has already grown steadily over the last 10 years by as much as 40% per year.

As many as 20,000 people are expected to attend the event where over 400 exhibitors will be displaying every conceivable part of the solar industry. Although the conference and expo have traditionally been more of an international business to business networking event, more emphasis is being placed on the general public this year so that they can get a better understanding of the great possibilities which lie ahead. For example, “Public Night” on the evening of October 15, will give the public a chance to access the Solar Power International expo floor, and on the 18th there will be a ‘Tour of Solar Homes’.

Julia Hamm, executive director of SEPA and chair of Solar Power International said, “The companies and organizations participating in Solar Power International ’08 are offered the ideal forum for learning and networking to discover new partnerships and revenue opportunities that will lead to the expedited expansion of an industry that can be such an important part of the nation’s economic recovery.
More details about the conference and expo, including interviews with industry experts, can be found at the Solar Power International website –


Silicon Valley’s Venture Capitalists Support Obama Energy Plan

September 29, 2008

Obama’s pledge of $150 Billion for new, what has been termed as ‘Cleantech’ industries (meaning carbon-free energy technologies such as solar), has found support amongst Silicon Valley’s Venture Capitalists, who see cleantech as the successor to the dot com boom of the 1990s. Venture Capitalists like who in May announced their participation in BrightSource Energy’s venture financing with a $10 equity investment as part of their RE< C (Renewable Energy that is cheaper than coal) initiative.

Whilst Silicon Valley groups like Cleantech & Green Business Leaders for Obama have gone all out raising funds for the Obama campaign, it is noticeable by contrast how the vast majority of Big Oil’s support has gone to the McCain campaign by nearly 4 to 1. Although McCain also backs alternative energies and also wants to give tax breaks for consumers who purchase zero-emission cars, a large part of his plan relies on offshore oil drilling and the building of 45 nuclear power plants neither of which are actually going to produce any energy for many years to come. Also, with only 3% of the world’s oil reserves at hand, it must be becoming obvious by now that oil is becoming a resource far to precious to merely burn. A huge number of industries and components rely on oil as a primary ingredient. There are alternatives for using as fuel and energy, there aren’t alternatives for a lot of these petroleum based products.

Obama’s says that his green energy plan will create 5 million new jobs, including many for the soldiers returning from Iraq who will be retrained for these industries. The plan has been described as having the “potential to be a game-changing move akin to the Telecommunications Act of 1996”, where the removal of local network monopolies triggered a tech boom in the communications industry. The question now is, will the entrenched vested interests of big oil have the clout to get McCain into the Whitehouse? There is no doubt that renewable energies will see development either way, but the drive and enthusiasm of important venture capitalists like those in Silicon Valley would be severely undermined by a McCain/Palin government.
To read more –

USA’s Solar Panel Capacity Set to Double with PCG Deal

August 18, 2008

In an announcement by Paul Davidson of USA Today we see the first vestiges of what I think will be a major new solar energy industry. California based Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG) have made a deal with two key players in the solar energy field – SunPower and Optisolar, who will build the two largest solar farms currently in the world which will supply enough energy to light nealy a quater of a million homes.

The new solar farms should come on line within the next three or four years and will double the current USA’s solar panel capacity. Davidson highlights the fact that over 90% of current solar panel capacity has been installed, not as part of any government initiative but by “maverick consumers and businesses” installing panels on their roofs.

However, Ron Pernick of research company Clean Edge thinks that as major utility companies like PCG begin to take up solar energy as part of its supply it is likely to push the share of solar energy supply from its current 1% share to something like 25% in the next 15 – 20 years. Personally, I think with the right governmental initiatives that figure will be arrived at much sooner than that!

In a quote from Julia Hamm of the Solar Electric Power Association Davidson sums up the piece nicely – “Just a handful of utilities doing something big changes the scale of the entire market.” Let us hope that this deal is but the first of many that brings America’s solar power industry up to where it should have been years ago.

Solar Energy in the South West? Duh!

July 18, 2008

I don’t know about you, but anyone who has ever lived in, or visited, south west America will know that they get more than their fair share of sunshine down there.

It has always amazed me that solar energy which, lets face it, has been around a while now, is not more prominent in that area beyond a few street signs. Are the vested interests from the oil conglomerates so pernicious in this country that even somewhere like Arizona has virtually no solar energy industry? Apparently so.

I even heard, on NPR a few days ago, that a German company was in Arizona looking to set up a solar energy project – Germany! They barely know what the sun looks like!
Can you imagine what a difference it would make to energy consumption if everyone’s house in Arizona was fitted with a couple of solar panels!?

Well, finally, I see that California is implementing not one, but two solar energy projects starting this month. Here is just a snippet from the story put out on the web by –

“Southern California Edison (SCE) has selected First Solar to engineer and supply the PV power plant system for a 2 megawatt project to be installed on the roof of a commercial building in Fontana, CA. This is the first installation in SCE’s plan to install 250 megawatts of solar generating capacity on large commercial rooftops throughout Southern California over the next five years. SCE began installation of this initial project on July 14, 2008, and expects to connect the PV power plant to the grid in September 2008. In March, SCE, with California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced the five-year solar PV installation project, which is the largest rooftop solar program ever proposed by a U.S. utility.”

You can read the full story at –

but suffice it to say that we are very likely to see more and more of these kinds of alternative energy projects over the next ten years or so. If you want to invest your money in energy these days this is precisely the kind of initiative I would want my money invested in.