Posts Tagged ‘solar panels’

German town goes solar, buys local energy plant

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

After Chernobyl, the German town of Schönau didn’t want to get its energy from nuclear power. So its citizens turned the town into an energy producer via solar panels and other green carbon neutral sources. Watch the short film by Journeyman Films. Sadly the German government has cut subsidies to the renewable energy industry, saying it’s not sustainable economically. Hugely unfortunate and I think premature—and likely due to lobbying from the German energy industry. Angela Merkel has appointed someone to shut down the independent systems—he wants a system that is “market oriented” and “reliable” and “cheaper.” It seems unfortunate to abort an incipient clean carbon-neutral industry by pulling the subsidy now, so early.

Read also Rebel energy from the Black Forest from the Goethe Institut.

Another town has done the same thing: Wildpoldsried.

Let’s all get solar panels! Loan me some, and I’ll promote your solar company.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction
Above, solar panel construction in Wayne National Forest, Ohio.

I know this is a ridiculous proposition, but if you never try, you never… experience rejection. I want solar panels for my abnormally long roof, but I can’t afford them yet. I propose a trade – in return for promotion, maybe a local or Canadian green energy company would like to  lend or donate to me some solar panels? I would at the very least like to heat all the building’s hot water using solar/light energy. Older equipment/ adjustments or swaps etc are fine; beggars can’t be choosers. Yes, it’s half-selfish, but I’d like to publicly demonstrate how much power one building can collect even in Vancouver’s rainy climate. Apparently as solar panel technology improves, significant amounts of energy can be collected even in less sunny weathers. As some readers know I live in what was once a small wooden mission church near Vancouver’s Chinatown. While it’s small for a church, it has a surprisingly large, long roof – perfect for solar panels. It would be interesting to get the building as off-the-grid as possible – but not entirely off the grid, since I’d like to participate in BC Hydro’s grid tie-in program by which any surplus energy produced can be fed back into the grid (explanatory pdf is here) for a credit. Only a very small number of British Columbians are currently doing this – less than a hundred. If the BC government won’t properly support green energy R&D, citizens have to! I’m so disappointed by the current BC government’s antediluvian attitude to green energy (Offshore drilling! Shale gas! Massive private damming/diversion projects on pristine BC rivers without any form of environmental assessment whatsoever, following the near-complete dismantling of the Environment Ministry! And massive gov’t subsidies for the development of all of these corporate projects, while virtually zilch for green energy startups! Go see the musical!). I would like to see far more forward-thinking local policy in terms of significant subsidies for green R&D, a field in which British Columbia could have been more of a world leader had our leaders been more visionary. We’re running out of time to capture that edge. We need to insist on more political will.

One of my favourite solar companies is Zomeworks of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in business since the late 60s, and I’ve written about them before. But these also seem interesting: Home Energy Solutions, Energy Alternatives of Victoria, BC;  and Canadian Solar in Ontario.

Photos are from sources worldwide via Flickr’s Creative Commons. Click on each photo for more information. Directly below, spot the solar panels in San Francisco.

Solar Panels

Above, the UK Embassy’s solar panels in Rome, by UK in Italy. Below, energy for a Thai village.

Village Solar Panel

Brighton Earthship Solar Panels

Above, solar panels on Brighton Earthship, a green development in the UK.

Solar house competition – Solar Decathlon, Washington DC

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Solar-powered house

It’s pouring rain and cold in Washington so it doesn’t seem very solar. But it was fun to see all the solar, off-the-power-grid houses in the Solar Decathlon competition sponsored by the U.S. Dept of Energy. All my photos of the houses are here; more information is on the website here. Germany won, Illinois second, California third. There were two submissions from Canada, one each from Cuba, Spain and other US states. Above, Cornell University.

Solar-powered houses - Solar Decathlon

Below, Team Germany, Winner.

Solar-powered house

Solar-powered house

Solar-powered house

Above, Ohio State. Below, Team Minnesota.

Solar-powered house

Solar-powered house

Above, Team Illinois, 2nd place. Below, Team California, 3rd place.

Solar-powered house