My Experience At The Clinton Global Initiative (2014)

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Several months ago, I was approached by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) about attending the 2014 conference. Kim – the person that invited me – actually did her internship at our company during its infancy, 5 years ago.

The CGI is about bringing diverse groups of people in Government, NGO’s and businesses to discuss several topics within Working Groups. The ultimate goal of each Working Group is to come up with various Commitments to Action that tackle an array of different problems that are challenging humankind today. As Bill Clinton figuratively said, “the World economy has come off the tracks. My goal is to bring together people to come up with collective and inclusive capitalism that gets the train back on the tracks and moving along into the future.”

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Clinton Global Initiative 2014

During the first evening I lucked out and got a chance to meet the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. I offered to put solar on his house in New York! Stay tuned for details.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of The Modern Grid working group. Interestingly enough most of the subject matter in our working group was around solar power and the future of utilities in the United States. It is by no surprise that solar power accounted for 74 % of new generating capacity in Q1 2014.

The issue of who will pay for the future grid became a recurring theme. Some wires are over 120 years old! As more and more homeowners, businesses, and Independent Power Producers choose to feed the grid with solar without effectively paying for the grid under the current business model of the utility; there will be more stranded assets.

One thing is clear, as indicated in the 1st quarter of this year and by the amount of new solar being added, it is here to stay. Solar is brighter than ever and it will be a big part of the Modern Grid.

Infographic: The Solar World Cup 2014

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solar world cupThe 2014 World Cup has earned a reputation as the most solar-friendly World Cup yet, with host country Brazil going big on solar to power the stadiums where country squads compete to bring the Cup back home.

Because solar power is our passion, we are of course wondering how the competitors’ home countries stack up on their own solar commitments. Have they started a local solar boom already, through encouraging home solar and large-scale solar farms? Do they have plans in place to kickstart or continue the growth of solar within their borders? How far have they come already?

Our research on the state of solar among all the World Cup contenders shows the wide differences in solar commitments around the world. From well-established powerhouses like Germany and Japan to promising up-and-comers like Algeria and Chile, solar is taking root in every World Cup group. Other contenders are falling behind, either because they haven’t yet taken advantage of their solar potential or are scaling back support for solar installations.

The infographic below briefly explains how the contenders are doing in our own Solar World Cup. Here is how we came up with our ratings — which are of course somewhat subjective, and often based on fairly minimal information about solar in some of these countries:

  • 1-3: Minimal solar capacity, few or no commitments for action
  • 4-6: Established solar industry and capacity, some commitments for action
  • 7-10: Strong solar industry and capacity, supported by smart policy and long-term commitments for action

Solar World Cup Infographic

Africa

Algeria
Our rating: 7.5 / 10
Why: Between 2011 and 2012, Algeria’s solar capacity grew by more than 350 percent. Although the capacity is still small — 32 megawatts (MW) as of 2012 — analysts predict the country’s favorable policy and business climate will allow Algeria to reach 2,111 MW of capacity by 2017.

Cameroon
Our rating: 3 / 10
Why: Although Cameroon’s solar market is tiny, with just 50 photovoltaic (PV) installations as of 2009, the potential is big, with high solar potential and PV systems already in use to power telecommunications networks.

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Our rating: 5.5 / 10
Why: Côte d’Ivoire is already largely powered by renewables — a study from IRENA put the country at 76 percent renewables as of 2009 — but it’s largely biomass. However, the nation’s government is working on a new energy code and is testing solar PV systems to power rural areas. Chinese solar manufacturer Hanergy also announced in early 2014 that it was considering a US$500 million investment to build a thin-film manufacturing plant in Côte d’Ivoire.

Ghana
Our rating: 4 / 10
Why: Sun-drenched Ghana has a small solar market, but the government is pushing to electrify the rural regions of the country, including off-grid energy sources like solar. The northern parts of Ghana, where access to electricity is lowest, also gets the most sun, making it a natural match for solar power.

Nigeria
Our rating: 4.5 / 10
Why: Like other West African nations, Nigeria has high solar potential — but also low current installations. The Nigerian government has set a target of 500 MW of solar by 2025, and has created a policy of feed-in tariffs for renewable energy.

 

Middle East and Asia / Pacific

Australia
Our rating: 7.5 / 10
Why: Solar power down under has seen a rapid rise — from less than 0.1 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2008 to 3.1 GW in 2013 — and strong adoption from residents across the country. More than 1 million rooftop solar systems have been installed to date, and there are a number of massive utility-scale solar farms across the country. However, a conservative federal government that took office in September 2013 has scaled back solar commitments, including a much-anticipated “million solar rooftops” campaign.

Iran
Our rating: 3.5 / 10
Why: Despite the fact that Iran’s solar potential is “nearly limitless,” there has been very little adoption of solar power, in part because of the nation’s oil wealth, as well as the relatively high cost of solar panels and installation in the country.

Japan
Our rating: 8.5 / 10
Why: The island nation is one of the world’s leading solar manufacturers, and ranks among the top five nations for most solar installed, with 13.5 GW installed as of 2013. The nation boasts strong feed-in tariffs and other incentives, and since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, solar adoption has skyrocketed as the country works to reduce its reliance on nuclear power. The number of installations per year grew from just over 1,700 in 2012 to almost 7,000 in 2013.

South Korea
Our rating: 6 / 10
Why: South Korea is another technological powerhouse, with a number of leading solar manufacturers based in the country. But the government has focused more on building its economy, and becoming a solar technology exporter, than on putting solar on every roof. In 2012, South Korea switched from a feed-in tariff to a renewable portfolio standard, which sets a goal of 10 percent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2022.

 

Europe

Belgium
Our rating: 7 / 10
Why: This small nation has a huge solar footprint: As of 2011, its 803 megawatts of solar capacity was equal to 2 percent of the world’s installed solar. The market has grown since then, with the Flemish region in the north of Belgium quadrupling the number of solar installations in 2009 — from 16,000 the year before to 65,000 in 2009.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Our rating: 5.5 / 10
Why: While there is plenty of solar potential in this eastern European country, the primary renewable sources of fuel are hydropower and biomass, and solar remains too expensive for widespread use.

Croatia
Our rating: 4 / 10
Why: Similar to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia has a high solar potential but low adoption — just three grid-connected solar systems, with the rest off-grid — and the country relies on hydropower and biomass for its renewable energy needs.

England
Our rating: 7.5 / 10
Why: Despite its reputation as a gloomy, wet and cold nation, solar power has taken off in England. Between the end of 2011 and February 2012, the country had increased its solar capacity by 30 percent, from 750 MW to 1,000 MW. Add to that the government’s recent addition of a feed-in tariff for solar and a goal to get solar installed on 4 million homes by 2020, and you’ve got a recipe for a solar boom.

France
Our rating: 6.5 / 10
Why: With more land and more people than Belgium to the northeast, France has an only slightly bigger solar market, and the pace is slowing. Installations in 2013, while still impressive at 613 MW of new capacity, are 45 percent lower than in 2012, and just over one-third of the 1,700 MW installed in 2011.

Germany
Our rating: 10 / 10
Why: The poster child for “solar done right,” Germany made a dedicated effort to build a domestic solar industry, with great success. Germans measure their annual increases solar capacity in gigawatts, not megawatts, and the 3.3 GW installed in 2013 put the nation at nearly 36 GW of total capacity — far and away the world’s leader in solar power.

Italy
Our rating: 7 / 10
Why: An ambitious feed-in tariff grew Italy’s solar market rapidly between 2009, when it had 1.1 GW of capacity, and 2013, when it reached 17.9 GW of capacity. But the country recently ended its feed-in tariff once it reached its cap of US$8.8 billion invested, raising questions about future growth of Italy’s solar industry.

Netherlands
Our rating: 7.5 / 10
Why: The Netherlands have tried several methods to grow its solar capacity, starting with a feed-in tariff implemented in 2008, which didn’t take off as hoped. After the subsidy was scrapped and the country shifted to bulk purchasing, advance purchase orders from Dutch citizens allowed the country to buy solar panels in bulk for a 35 percent discount. And a solar rebate fund that offers 15 percent back on solar purchases has led to 90,000 applications and 315 MW of solar installations as of August 2013.

Portugal
Our rating: 6 / 10
Why: One of Europe’s sunniest countries, Portugal is also one of the most renewable-friendly nations: In early 2013, the country generated 70 percent of its power from renewables — but almost none of it came from solar. Despite a few large-scale solar farms, just 0.7 percent of Portugal’s energy comes from the sun.

Russia
Our rating: 3.5 / 10
Why: Despite being the largest country in the world, Russia has almost no solar power — just 5 MW as of 2012, with potential plans for expanding that by another 70 MW with a new solar farm.

Spain
Our rating: 6 / 10
Why: While Spain was once a global solar leader, the country’s solar industry has been greatly hurt by the 2008 financial collapse, as the government cut solar subsidies to rein in spending and avoid further economic damage. Nonetheless, Spain has significant solar capacity in both utility-scale solar farms and residential systems, with 5.3 GW of solar capacity as of 2013.

Switzerland
Our rating: 5.5 / 10
Why: While the mountain nation has the solar and financial resources to be a solar leader, the country is only making slow progress on going solar. Despite a national feed-in tariff, the government cut the funding allotted to the program, and is considering further cuts, leaving solar growth slow.

 

North America, Central America & Caribbean

Costa Rica:
Our rating: 4 / 10
Why: With a prime equatorial location, Costa Rica receives enough sunlight to generate 2,600 times the amount of electricity it currently uses. But solar is just a blip on the country’s radar, although changes to the National Energy Plan that reduce import fees for solar hardware and provide solar incentives may pick up the pace.

Mexico:
Our rating: 6 / 10
Why: Mexico is already the solar leader in Latin America, and has huge potential to be a global leader. The country has a strong solar manufacturing base and incredible sunlight, but as of 2012 had only 38 MW of solar generation capacity.

USA
Our rating: 8 / 10
Why: We’re not entirely biased by home-field advantage here; solar power in the U.S. has boomed over the last five years, driven equally by decreasing solar hardware prices, innovative solar financing programs, and government incentives and research. At the end of 2013, the U.S. boasted 13 GW of solar capacity, and added 4.7 GW in 2013 alone, the fastest growth the country has seen yet. That said, not everything is rosy in the States: There’s a strong and active political and industrial movement that is trying to kill solar power by levying fees and eliminating incentives for solar homeowners.

 

South America

Argentina
Our rating: 4 / 10
Why: Argentina, which is still recovering from a long economic downturn, has been extremely slow to adopt solar power, with the first of seven planned solar farms opening in 2011, which will give the country a total of 20 MW of solar capacity.

Brazil
Our rating: 5 / 10
Why: The World Cup hosts have made a big effort to go solar in advance of the Cup, as well as its hosting of the Olympic Games in 2016. Several of the nation’s new football stadiums boast huge solar arrays, but there’s very little solar beyond the pitch. The state of Minas Gerais has recently launched a renewable energy program to encourage manufacturing and installing solar, but has little solar installed today. The government has set a target of 1,400 MW of solar capacity by 2022, which will likely spur investment and installations.

Chile
Our rating: 5 / 10
Why: Though Chile boasts extremely high solar potential, it is only just getting started with solar. The country opened its first solar farm in 2012, and has approved at least 3,100 MW of large-scale solar in the high Atacama desert region as of the end of 2013.

Colombia
Our rating: 3 / 10
Why: Like its neighbors throughout Central and South America, Colombia has great potential for solar power, but little to no solar generating capacity to speak of.

Ecuador
Our rating: 3 / 10
Why: With just 0.08 MW of solar capacity as of 2011, Ecuador is only just getting started with its solar growth. The government has launched a series of initiatives to electrify rural areas with solar power.

Uruguay
Our rating: 4 / 10
Why: Just as with neighboring World Cup contenders Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay has strong solar potential but few solar installations. However, the government has passed statutes that require solar water heating for some public buildings and in 2008 launched Mesa Solar to promote solar energy across the country.

Solar panel photo at top CC-licensed by Lars Hammar on Flickr.

Testimonial-Esther Poulsen’s Story

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“This has been an easy process.” Read Esther Poulsen’s solar story.

Esther Poulsen signed up for in February 2010 and within three months was the proud owner of two different solar installations. We recently caught up with Esther to hear about her experience going solar, and here’s what she had to say:


“My husband and I started looking into solar in 2008. We had moved into our house back in 2007, and went through our first winter having monster electric bills that topped out at $800 a month! However, a couple of different factors prevented us from going solar back then: the energy rebates were good but not stellar. We also had a couple of big trees on our property that made shading an issue.

During the winter of 2009, a huge storm knocked down one of those trees, so Mother Nature helped eliminate one hurdle. And with energy prices rising each year, we decided to take another look.

I’m an analyst, so going into the process I had a complex spreadsheet with all the particulars listed out, from electric rates dating back 20 years to the various quotes I’d received from five different solar installers. It was amazing to me how the program was significantly lower than the going rate. In fact, I told one of the installers I’d already seen about the cost difference, and even he was intrigued!

Going solar is complex, but this has been an easy process. Our installer, Trinity Solar, was incredibly helpful, easy to deal with, and very professional. And has been great from the beginning.

We have one more piece, the internet monitoring system, getting installed this week. I’m excited to get new monitors on, and excited to know how much energy I’m saving daily. Our goal is to eventually generate enough energy in the coming months to compensate for snowy winters such as the one we just had, when our roof was snow-covered for a good chunk of time.

As for my home solar installation, I couldn’t be happier. Our first full bill [after going solar] was a total of $6.88! That was in July 2010, and I’d guess our summer electric bills before then had been somewhere in the neighborhood of $250+.

We use more electricity in the winter of course, but even in the snowier months we’ve seen substantial savings. Looking at the amount of kilowatts our system has been generating, there’s been a one third reduction in our energy costs since last year. That’s huge!

Most people might not think about it this way, but I see going solar as a great way of hedging against inflation. There’s uncertainty about nuclear power, electrical and coal prices…this is a way of protecting against that.Esther P installation

In terms of peoples’ reactions to our solar installation, it’s been an interesting ongoing dialogue. We live in a part of New Jersey that is heavily wooded, so it’s not necessarily the easiest place to go solar. But we live on a cove, so our backyard and roof is visible to just about everyone. When I’m out back, people will paddle up in their kayaks and canoes and ask me about our solar system!

One of the funnier stories has to do with my neighbor. Shortly after our panels were installed, he came up to me and said “…you fell for the solar panel scam!” Well I had to dispel that notion right then and there, so I went up and grabbed my most recent electricity bill (which was just over $2.00), showed it to him, and said “this is not a scam!” Once he took a look at it, he started to ask questions about how much the system cost and how much money I was saving .

I’m always happy to talk about how great the experience of going solar has been for me and am constantly updating my Facebook page with how much money and energy I’m saving. I would absolutely recommend going solar through . I tell people about your program whenever the opportunity arises and will continue to do so!”


7 Green Energy Solutions for the Home

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solar thermal panels

Source: Arkin Tilt Architects

Many homeowners choose to surpass traditional recycling habits by investing in technologically-advanced and environmentally-friendly abodes. In addition to being great for the environment, green energy solutions for the home can save money on energy bills and increase resale values. And in today’s real estate market, more house-hunters search for eco-friendly additions.

Adopt an ecological lifestyle or attract potential homebuyers with one or more of the following home upgrades.

1. LED Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs burn out frequently, giving homeowners the opportunity to make the switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diodes (LED) lights. CFL and LED lighting helps cut down on the kilowatts of electricity used per hour, reducing energy bills so residents reap the monetary benefits of their environmentally-friendly choices.

2. Solar Panels

Solar roof panels are costly additions, but well worth the hassle. Throughout the last few years as availability increased, prices for solar panel installations dropped significantly. Homes eligible for solar panel systems must have adequate exposure to sunlight. To determine potential rates, use solar panel calculators and enter a home’s specifications, including location and size.

3. Water Recycling Systems

Most water used in the home can be reused for additional purposes. For instance, water from shower drains can be recycled into toilet water or sprayed in the garden in lieu of sprinklers. Greywater originates from bathroom sinks, washing machines, showers and tubs. Although previously used, greywater never comes into contact with excrement of any kind prior to being recycled, which is why it’s safe to reuse for irrigation and flushing purposes.

4. Composting Methods

More progressive upgrades like composting toilets are surprisingly popular. These commodes use natural decomposition methods to break down waste rather than chemicals. However, they can only work properly in temperatures of around 65 degrees with enough oxygen, and therefore require continuous monitoring post-installation.

5. Geothermal Systems

Annoyed at staggering air conditioning costs in the summer and increased heating fees during the chilly winter months? Geothermal systems are initially expensive, but offer tax incentives and energy bill reductions. Rather than heating or cooling homes via electrical systems, geothermal methods harness the stable underground climate to regulate home temperatures. Residents of radical weather regions might experience returns on their investments rather quickly.

6. Efficient Appliances

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Source: Arkin Tilt Architects

Energy-star home appliances must meet certain requirements to earn government approval for their products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Like many other eco-friendly home upgrades, switching to Energy-star appliances saves homeowners money on their electric bills each month. Although they minimize utility costs, performance is not compromised. In fact, eco-friendly appliances are comparable to traditional washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances. Energy-efficient appliances are widely recognized throughout the U.S. and accessing the dedicated soaps and detergents is no longer an issue for eco-minded citizens.

7. Rain Barrels

Forget tap water sprinklers – rain runoff from roofs or gutters can be recycled for lawn and garden care. Even better, homeowners who make use of natural rainwater don’t have to abide by city regulations for watering their lawns during dry weather or extreme heat. Imagine gazing at fresh, green grass while the neighbors are stuck with dry, brown lawns in mid-July.

Homeowners on a budget can implement just a few of these simple upgrades to better modernize their homes and stay competitive in today’s real estate market. Each of these green initiatives is also considered an investment, all of which can reduce household emissions and related energy expenditures.

Jennifer RinerJennifer Riner currently lives in Seattle and writes about home improvement, rental management and local real estate for Zillow.

Infographic: What is the Summer Solstice All About?

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Today, June 21, is the Summer Solstice — the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere — and for sun- and solar-lovers like ourselves, it’s a cause to celebrate. The solar industry in North America is pulling out all the stops for this solstice, with a wide-ranging Put Solar On It campaign to encourage everyone to go solar. As much as we’re 100 percent behind going solar, we realized that not only did we not know all that much about the solstice itself, we also wanted to know more about how people around the world observe the solstice (in addition to putting solar panels on something, hopefully). So we put together for our edification and your enjoyment, the infographic below: The Summer Solstice. What does it mean, how people celebrate it, and does the longest day of the year make people happier?

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For Summer Solstice, the World Wants You to ‘Put Solar On It’

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put solar on itThe longest day of the year, Saturday’s Summer Solstice also marks a national day of action for Mosaic’s ongoing Put Solar On It campaign. Opportunities and activities abound, and there’s more where those are coming from.

That’s because every day is one of action for the accelerating solar industry, which is going mainstream on Wall Street and Main Street with light speed. To date, Mosaic has plugged smart investors into solar projects to the tune of millions of dollars raised and kilowatts generated. But its newly launched organizing and funding platform Mosaic Places — which is being championed during the Day of Action by everyone from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the National Wildlife Foundation to Green for All and REVERB — is but one of many ways citizens, homeowners and more can get directly involved in the Put Solar On It awareness blitz. Here’s a handy roundup:

  • Social media campaigns are primed for takeoff, starting at Twitter with the #PutSolarOnIt hashtag. Climate Reality’s Put Solar On It splash page also directs interested parties and their funding toward Mosaic Spaces, and offers readers places to email the President, request solar presentations and share photos on Twitter. Solar Energy Industries Association is thinking along the same lines on Facebook with its viral I Like Solar campaign, which allows users to solarize their profiles to accelerate awareness. Expect much more internet activism during the national day of action from Vote Solar, The Solutions Project, the League of Conservation Voters, 350.org, Alliance for Climate Education and more.
  • Old-school outreach is also happening outside of the internet, for those who like to press the flesh. The World Wildlife Foundation will be evangelizing the Put Solar On It campaign at a booth during Chicago’s Green Music Festival. Organizing For America chapters nationwide will also be staging meetups, teach-ins and more to spread the good word, as will Environment America, whose national chapters will stage outreach events as well as social media marketing. Interfaith Power & Light will be evangelizing solar to its various congregations, as well as creating a Put Solar On It photo album on Facebook.
  • Sierra Club is launching events across the country, celebrating photovoltaic installations on hospital, churches and offices in Honolulu and Tennessee. It’s also hosting a picnic in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the Summer Solstice, as well as the Community Renewables Energy Act, which opened solar access to local tenants and renters.
  • The Solar Foundation is hosting a Summer Solstice party in Washington D.C. as well. It’s a yellow-carpet event that includes a speech from Mosaic’s Billy Parish, the Solar Foundation Awards, refreshments, activities and much more. Can’t make it? Start your own house party and get the community involved. The cleantech future will thank you.

That’s the rundown of what’s happening tomorrow for solar. What will you do to put solar on it?

Testimonial – John Martin’s Story

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“Going solar has been everything I hoped for and more.” Read John Martin’s solar story.

John Martin had been thinking about going solar since 1970, but didn’t find it economically viable until recently. He finally installed panels in May 2010, and hasn’t looked back since. Here’s what he had to say about his decision to go solar and experience with :


“The group pricing provided by was the clincher. You helped save me money by securing a great price with a much smaller out-of-pocket expense.

The communication factor was also good — everyone was very articulate and knew their subject. This helped instill a sense of confidence that I was dealing with a very good organization. The first person I spoke with made a very clear and strong case why I should proceed with . I was very impressed with him, and based on that phone conversation I went from being a skeptic to a fan.

Going solar has been everything I hoped for and more. I had never heard of either or the selected installer, The Solar Center, but every step of the way I felt great. My job was basically just showing up, which is exactly the way I like it! I just had to watch the process…very little was asked of me.

And my installer was brilliant. Every time someone came to the house, I was very impressed. Everything they promised happened the way they said it would.

Going solar, well it’s been beautiful — way beyond worth it. Not just because of savings, but because knowing overall, I’m being more environmentally responsible.

In terms of savings, as you know, the weather this winter was more acclimate than usual; I’d go back and forth from having a snow covered rooftop to a clear one. Still, my normal electric bills dropped by 30% in the dead of winter.

Yesterday, I produced 52kw of energy because the sun was shining and I didn’t have the air conditioning on. It’s brilliant. I’m really looking forward to knocking it out of the park this month and seeing how much energy I produce outright with the perfect combination of more light and not running my AC or heater because of the milder weather.

Another benefit, which I had not counted on…the solar panels themselves also present tremendous insulation value. I have an office in the loft of my house, and in the summer months, I have to have a fan running up there in addition to blasting the AC. Since going solar, I haven’t had to run the fan once; I also think the panels helped keep the house warmer this past winter.

I haven’t begun to propagandize about going solar yet, but I know that will change within the next couple months when I’ll be producing large amounts of energy and not using very much in return.

Although I may be the only person in River Vale who has gone solar, neighbors have asked about it. And people keep complementing me on taking such a giant leap. What I have to say about that is yes, going solar is a commitment. But once you commit to doing it, every step along the way is worth it.”


Testimonial – Sue Okerson’s Story

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“We just got our taxes done and wow…we are getting a huge refund due to installing solar panels!” Read Sue Okerson’s solar story.

Snow-filled winters didn’t stop Jim and Sue Okerson from installing solar panels on their Denver home back in March 2010. One year later, Sue is still thrilled about the decision and talks about solar “any chance she gets.” Here’s what she had to say…


I couldn’t be happier with my experience going solar. When we installed our panels back in 2010, our first electric bill came out to $9. One year later, we’re still saving money — even in the dead of winter!

Our biggest problem when starting this journey was not truly understanding the cost. When we first considered going solar, my husband Jim was really hesitant. His main worry was price. You hear how expensive solar installations are — would it be worth it? Was the cost benefit advantage really there?Sue.s house 1

Once we got to meet the folks from , that all changed. When they explained breakdown of costs, how rebates would factor in, and the financing options available, Jim and I were both sold. What’s more, now my husband is our solar system’s biggest fan, telling his family in New Jersey that they’ve got to go solar!

Our neighbors’ reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. For example, an older couple across the street have what must be one of the first solar installations to have ever come on the market. It’s from the 70s, and has been been offline for years. But now that we’ve gone solar and they’ve seen how happy we are with the results, they say they’re going to have to get back on the solar grid again.

Living in snow has not been a problem whatsoever. Our latest electricity bill (for March 2011) was $12.00! On top of that, we just got our taxes done and wow…we are getting a HUGE refund due to installing solar panels!  All in all, this has been an amazing experience.


Time for the World to Go Football-Crazy During the Solar World Cup

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brazil solar stadiumToday is kickoff for the World Cup 2014, the start of 31 days of madness as the world’s most popular sport has its biggest event of the past four years.

We’re working on a couple of stories about solar and the World Cup that we’ll run over the course of the next month, but in honor of kickoff of this world-spanning event, below is a short look at how FIFA is working to make this event more environmentally friendly.

Before we start, let’s put the caveat out there that any event that requires hundreds of thousands of travelers to drive, fly or float thousands of miles is going to have an enormous carbon footprint. Not to mention even the waste generated by the event….

Putting that aside as much as we can, let’s talk about the environmental — and particularly the solar — upside to the World Cup.

Brazil Hosts The Most Solar World Cup Yet

While Brazil as a whole is not yet a solar powerhouse, a new report from Greentech Media lists the country as perhaps the most promising solar market in Latin America. GTM’s Latin America PV Playbook predicts that 2014 will double Brazil’s solar capacity — from 38.6 megawatts in 2013 to 72.6 MW this year.

A staggeringly huge chunk of that new generation is coming from solar-powered football stadiums. The British NGO Practical Action has put out a short report detailing just how much solar energy the World Cup can generate: 5.4 MW across four stadiums.

As Practical Action puts it, the 2014 World Cup will generate more solar energy than any previous World Cup, as well as more solar energy than many of the countries competing in the World Cup.

The chart below, from Practical Action’s double-duty World Cup bracket and energy poverty fact sheet [PDF], spells out the discrepancy between what’s happening in Brazil compared to the energy situation in many of the players’ home countries. (Click image for a larger version.)

 

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Beyond the solar power running much of the matches during the World Cup, FIFA is working with the Brazilian government to try to reduce impacts wherever possible. Two weeks ago, the Brazilian Environment Minister, Izabella Teixeira, said that the World Cup would open “having offset 100 percent of its direct emissions.”

Other projects underway include earning LEED certification as green buildings for those solar-powered stadiums as well as “train[ing] garbage collectors on recycling and set up stalls to sell locally produced organic food in host cities,” according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

One way FIFA is helping to reduce the Cup’s footprint is through encouraging corporate sponsors to help shoulder the bill. And one of the firms that has stepped up is Yingli Green Energy, the China-based solar panel manufacturer (as well as the provider of much of the solar panels for those solar stadiums). In addition to providing those systems, Yingli is pledging to be carbon neutral for all its activities at the World Cup, offsetting the emissions of all its events, travel and lodging by investing in clean energy projects in Brazil.

It’s great that solar power is getting such a spotlight during the World Cup, but all of these efforts are a mere drop in the bucket for the overall impacts — immediate and long-term — of the event in Brazil. So we plan to spend the next month enjoying the spectacle and excitement, but also committing to push for real energy change, at home and around the world. (Go solar today!)