SOLAR POWER NEWS
Solar Power News is all about solar panels, photovoltaics, silicon, solar power installations, the smart grid; the lexicon of what is becoming the biggest energy industry since the discovery at Spindletop: renewable energy. If you thing every building in the world should have solar panels on top, this is the page for you.
Solar Street Lights Shine 01.05.10
The city of Ann Arbor, MI, is outfitting street lights with ultra efficient bulbs, called Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs. These are not the tightly wound fluorescent bulbs becoming so popular in homes. Here's a good picture of an LED streetlight. The beauty of these LEDs is they use so little electricity they can apparently be solar powered as well like this one at left. In other experiments across the country some sort of photovoltaic panel is part of the package being fitted onto streetlights—apparently all the old streetlamp hardware can stay in place, they just replace the bulb and put in some new hardware. However, solar power alone can't run a street light all night, so these units are also outfitted with a relay that switches the device to pull power from the grid when the solar powered batteries wear down.
Caution! Unsubstantiated prediction approaching. These relays are going to be the way of the future. I did a few stories on one company installing them, Lawrence, MA-based Solectia. They helped pioneer these relays that allows power to be taken from solar panels when it's sunny and then automatically switch over to pulling power off the grid at night.
Just imagine every home in the country outfitted with these switching devices and a few solar panels. Add that technology to increased fuel efficiency and hybrid technology in cars and you begin to appreciate the amount of money this county can save on oil costs. It's the kind of money that can pretty quickly pay off the trillions in debt piling up now to promote these technologies. Those savings will outlast the debt and live on. Not so with fossil fuels. Of course there are always bugs to be worked out. The use of LED traffic lights installed in Kansas apparently causes problems because the LEDs can't melt snow like the incandescent bulbs do. So, snow can pile up and block the light as it has in this photo here.
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FINICKY FINANCES IN SUN POWER 12.01.09
American solar panel manufacturer Evergreen Solar is now putting all its silicon chips into one basket: Chinese manufacturing might. This, after sucking up a few hundred million dollars in grants and tax incentives to build this unsuccessful plant in Devens, MA, shown at right. In ONews today we vilify the Los Angeles city council for shooting down a huge solar installation over utility rate concerns. Now, we have the folly of massive government support of solar power on the other side of the country resulting in a failed effort that's ultimately moving jobs to the other side of the planet. When does all this start to make sense?
Patience. The good news far outweighs the bad in the solar scene and there may yet be work for the Devens plant. This release says solar power in 2010 is going to be 38 percent more profitable than it was 2009. A constellation of dark events, led by an global economic meltdown, dimmed solar prospects this past year. But demand is catching up with supply, according to these headlines taken from today's news.
1) New York is announcing its largest solar project ever, is shovel ready. 2) A Sharonville, OH, woman and her contracting firm are leading construction of the largest solar power array in that state's southwest. 3) This Alamosa, CA, school district just threw the switch on solar panels that will meet 75 percent of its power needs. 4) This Old Tappan, NJ, company says it's going to be planting the equivelent of 100,000 trees over the next 25 years through installing rooftop solar panels at its manufacturing facility. Once again the garden state is leading the charge in solar energy. 5) This New Jersey school district is calling its planned solar project a "no-brainer." Just to put a damper on all this holiday cheer, China will burn more coal than ever this year: 3 billion tons, nearly three times as much as the United States, and about 40 percent of total global consumption.