Monday night as I was camped out in front of my Twitter feed — safe and dry in San Francisco — friends and family in New York started tweeting about power failures all over lower Manhattan. Their cell phones, running on batteries and tapping into their carrier’s high speed wireless networks — many that are backed up with diesel generators — were still up, even as the power grid went down across many parts of the East Coast.
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Michigan is playing host to a major battle over renewable energy this fall. On one side are clean energy proponents promoting a ballot initiative that would increase the state’s renewable electricity targets to 25 percent by 2025. On the other side are large coal-dependent utilities fighting to prevent any new increases.
Great Falls High decided to expand their science solar project after the first installation of two solar panels went so well. Now there are 72 solar panels on the roof of south campus, helping to power the entire building.
The array of solar panels all facing south give the appearance of a shimmering lake. And by late December, the 300,000 solar panels, each roughly the size of a 46-inch flat screen television near the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown off Roxbury Road, are expected to generate a peak of 20 megawatts of power per hour.
Clean energy has become a dirty word in presidential politics. In their second debate, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama each tried to outdo the other’s love of fossil fuels: Obama extolling his record on oil and natural gas production, Romney vowing to take “advantage of the oil and coal we have here.” The Republican candidate has ridiculed the administration’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, the bankrupt California-based solar panel maker, and accused Obama of living “in an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy.”
Washington University in St. Louis and a consortium of universities, laboratories and industry partners are in the process of launching the Solar Energy Research Institute in India and the United States to coordinate efforts to create low-cost solar cells and systems.
Senate Republicans rolled out a series of big energy measures this week but declined to say whether they would try and move their agenda through in a catchall bill if they regain the Senate majority.
The solar industry has done a spectacular job lowering costs in the past three years, slashing per-watt costs in half. But that price freefall, driven by the massive scale-up of Chinese manufacturers, has put dozens, if not hundreds, of solar companies on the endangered list.
This week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law meant to reinvigorate the solar industry in the Garden State by requiring utilities to buy more solar energy.
Solar power, which makes up a tiny part of California's overall energy mix, will account for the biggest piece of the state's renewable energy pie by the end of the decade, according to the state's largest utilities.