By Simon Watson, Professor of Wind Energy at Loughborough ...
Louise Helton, owner of One Sun Solar Electric in Las Vegas, says that since January her company is doing more work removing solar panels from rooftops than installing them.
But at least she’s still in business, unlike many solar entrepreneurs in Nevada. She’s had to diversify into LED lighting installation and other sources of income.
“During the recession, rooftop solar was the bright spot in the Nevada economy,” Helton tells DeSmog. “We were booming. And now we’re dead.”
It was a decision by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN) in December that delivered a fatal blow to rooftop solar in the sunniest state in the U.S.
The California legislature has sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that aims to extend the benefits of solar energy to communities that often have no access to clean energy technologies.
Assembly Bill 693 would create the Multi-Family Affordable Housing Solar Roofs program, which would be authorized to spend $100 million a year for at least 10 years to install solar panels on 210,000 affordable housing units in the Golden State.
It’s estimated that beneficiaries of the program would save more than $38 million per year on their electricity bills and receive another $19 million a year in solar tax credits and other benefits, a total of $1.8 billion over the life of the program, according to Al Jazeera America.
Anti-Fracking campaigners have welcomed a local council’s decision to approve the development of a solar farm just across the road from where Cuadrilla has spent years trying to get permission to carry out hydrolic fracturing.
The solar farm is expected to produce enough electricity to power around 1,300 homes and save approximately 2,310 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 513 large family cars off the road.
Fylde Council unanimously approved the application for the Staining Wood solar farm subject to the completion of a habitat regulation assessment, which it looks likely to pass. The site is expected to be operational by March 2016
Ever wonder why a blooming green energy industry has faced such harsh opposition? Now, as the old adage goes, “the cat's out of the bag.”
The Guardian today revealed the network of fossil-funded groups coordinating the ongoing onslaught of attacks on renewable energy, particularly wind power. A memorandum passed to The Guardian from the Checks and Balances Project details the organizations and personnel acting as ringleaders to build an astroturf echo chamber of clean energy critics.
Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg writes in “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy,”
“A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.”
That memo was crafted by John Droz, a Senior Fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI).*(see update below)* ATI was the right-wing think-tank behind the lawsuit to obtain University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann's “ClimateGate” emails.
In her famous book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, author and activist Naomi Klein quotes the Godfather of free market capitalism, Milton Friedman, whom she credits with mainstreaming the “shock doctrine.” Friedman stated:
“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real changes. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”
Under a textbook “shock doctrine” scenario as it pertains to the ongoing and escalating Solyndra Corporation hoopla, two U.S. Senators, sponsor David Vitter (R-LA) and co-sponsor Ron Johnson (R-WI), have introduced U.S. Senate Bill 1556, the Federal Accounting of Renewable Energy Act of 2011 (FARE) [PDF], or “FARE” as a direct response to the Solyndra saga – “ideas that are lying around,” to quote Friedman.
The bill dictates that,
“Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each Federal agency shall submit to Congress an accounting for all financial support (including grants, loans, loan guarantees,and direct payments) made by the agency during fiscal years 2009 through 2011 to promote the production or use of renewable energy.”
It further mandates that:
“If a recipient company received financial support to carry out a project…and the recipient company is no longer in existence or is unlikely to substantially achieve the purpose of the financial support the Inspector General of the Federal agency that provided the financial support shall conduct a preliminary investigation of the documents submitted by the company and executives of the company to determine whether the company or executives potentially committed fraud in obtaining the financial support.”
How deadly is your energy source? The very real and lethal effects of our global energy choices become clear in this interactive data visualization, showing the death rate, as measured by the number of deaths per terawatt hour (TWh), for each of the major global energy sources, e.g., coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydro, peat, and biomass. Take a closer look at the chart here:
Cancun - When I started working on solar energy issues several years ago, I heard it repeatedly: “Everyone loves solar.” Back then, many people in solar and other cleantech sectors saw long-term meritocracy in the energy business. Public demand, technological advances and aninevitable price on carbon were going to drive cleantech to dominance over time. “Renewable energy,” it was often said, “will soon become just plain ‘energy’.”
From the gridlocked global warming treaty negotiations here in Cancun, however, the picture seems starkly different. The Congressional climate bill fight ended in disaster, the recession tightened credit markets, and the coal and oil industries bought themselves a new Congress last month. And that global carbon market many were counting on? The most optimistic note Thursday night from a top U.S. treaty negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, was “maybe next year.”
A recent Forbes’ article on Vestas Wind’s CEO, Ditlev Engel, and his determination to make wind energy succeed in America, brings to mind the real problem behind renewable energy in the U.S; Congress tends to swing whichever way the wind blows (pun intended).
Vestas came to the U.S. in the wake of the OPEC oil crisis/embargo in 1973. Then, when oil prices dropped in the 1980s, Vestas – like many other renewable energy startups – went bust because the government let renewable energy tax incentives lapse for lack of interest. This effectively dried up venture capital.