Jul 21, 2014 4:25:24 PM
May 29, 2014 2:47:16 PM
Solar power has been a marginal player in the electric power industry for a long time, but that is finally starting to change. 2013 was a record year for solar, with more than 37 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics (PV) installed worldwide, bringing cumulative installed capacity to nearly 137 GW. While solar still provides less than one percent of the world’s electricity, the blistering growth rate is causing many people to sit up and take note. Solar power is steadily, but inexorably, changing the global power sector.
What’s most interesting about solar today is that it is increasingly viable, even without government subsidies. Last summer, in a research note, the global bank UBS stated that “an unsubsidized solar revolution” had begun, and opined that “purely based on economics, we believe almost every family home and every commercial rooftop in Germany, Italy and Spain should be equipped with a solar system by the end of this decade.”
Apr 29, 2014 12:20:25 PM
Electric vehicles (EVs) are taking Norway by storm. After a banner year in 2013, nearly one percent of all the vehicles on Norwegian roads are now EVs, a far higher percentage than in the U.S. Since September of last year, one EV model or another has topped Norwegian monthly sales several times, and last November, EVs surpassed 12 percent of all vehicles sold during the month. The brisk sales have continued into this year.
Apr 7, 2014 12:51:35 PM
Last fall, at a Conservative Party conference in the United Kingdom, Greg Barker, a Conservative Member of Parliament and the country’s Energy & Climate Change Minister, called for a revolution. “I want to unleash a completely new model of competition and enterprise,” he said. “I want to encourage a vast new army of disruptive new energy players to challenge the Big Six [U.K. energy suppliers] …A decentralized power-to-the-people energy revolution—not just a few exemplars, but tens of thousands of them. The Big Six need to become the Big 60,000.”
What an invigorating call to action and inspiring vision of the future! Tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the U.K., each generating its own power and sharing excess with the grid. It’s a compelling idea, one made all the more remarkable by the fact that it’s not really new. In fact, one might call decentralized—or distributed—power the oldest idea in the energy business.
Mar 22, 2014 12:08:11 PM
Among the most intriguing and extravagant approaches to emerge in recent years to address the challenge of urban sustainability has been so-called “smart-from-the-start” eco-cities, medium-sized cities built from the ground up to incorporate the latest and greatest thinking in sustainable technology and design. These built-from-scratch settlements have started to sprout in several countries – so far, there are projects in various stages of completion in South Korea, Abu Dhabi, Portugal, Kenya, and across China—and they are being touted by developers as showcases for the most advanced ideas in resource-efficient living. They are financed largely by governments and deep-pocketed information technology companies that see a huge business opportunity in urban systems—as the global imperative for sustainable living becomes ever-more evident and pressing.
Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, embodies many of the aspirations of this new urban genre. By combining ancient design features, such as narrow, shaded streets angled to channel desert winds—with modern technology—including solar power, electric cars, and waste-to-energy systems—lead architect Norman Foster initially claimed that the city would be both carbon-neutral and zero-waste. Nearly seven years on, financial reality has set in; ambitions have been scaled back, and the completion date postponed. But the project is still moving forward. Looking ahead, planners intend for Masdar to serve as a test bed for home-grown innovations developed in an on-site research institute they hope will rival MIT.