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This Energy Use Calculator makes it relatively easy to figure out the cost of operating various household appliances and devices.

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Writers Discuss Booming Solar Industry

So, maybe you’ve seen the meme?

Here are some articles that provide background. The meme seems to come from a Jan 16, 2015 article on Fortune.com. Two Slate contributors added their own voices to the subject.

  • “Installers, panel makers, and even traditional fossil fuel energy companies helped U.S. solar employment grow nearly 22 percent in 2014.” – Fortune
  • “The solar industry now employs more Americans than coal mining.” – Slate
  • “Renewable energy finally makes sense as a utility — and that’s why it’s becoming a threat to coal.” – Slate

Energy News: Obama’s Veto of Keystone XL Pipeline

Last week, President Obama vetoed the bill that would have approved a 1,179-mile pipeline from Canada to Gulf Coast oil refiners that would have been capable of transporting 830,000 barrels of oil. Quite predictably, this decision sparked a host of debates among policy makers, pundits, economists, and industry professionals.

For background: US Department of State’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (PDF)

Here are a few links to various perspectives:

…and so many more.

New York Times: “Worry For Solar Projects at the End of Tax Credits”

Various utility scale solar energy development projects have been preparing for an inevitable drop in solar Investment Tax Credits from 30% of a given project’s cost to just 10% by the start of 2017. It seems likely that this would impact developers’ desire to begin new solar power projects. Is anyone doing anything about this?

Ken Johnson, chief spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main solar trade group, said that his group planned to lobby Congress to extend the credit beyond 2016. “That’s our top priority for this session of Congress,” he said, adding that developers across the solar industry were “trying to do as much as possible before it drops to 10 percent in 2017.

Read the full article at New York Times: “Worry For Solar Projects at the End of Tax Credits”

The Cost of Pollution

An article came out yesterday in the MIT Technology Review entitled “Why Solar is Much More Costly Than Wind or Hydro.” However, the headline is somewhat misleading. Solar may be more costly in terms of pollution due to what goes into manufacturing them; for example, many scarce metals and a complex industrial process are involved in making solar panels and those resources are limited. This is not new information.

In terms of environmental cost, solar power is still far less polluting than coal fired power plants and natural gas. The data is shown in the table below. Environmental cost is measured in “euros per Megawatt hour” because the study was commissioned by the European Union, and represents 2012 measurements. The article mentions that in 2014, however, the cost effectiveness of solar may have improved over these 2012 measurements since the technology is under constant development.

Estimated environmental costs per Megawatt hour for eight different energy producing technologies. (Ecofys, 2012) - Published in 2014.

Estimated environmental costs per Megawatt hour for eight different energy producing technologies. (Ecofys, 2012) – Published in 2014. (Full Article can be found here: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531841/why-solar-is-much-more-costly-than-wind-or-hydro/)

Free Online Training in Electricity Basics

Hello! Welcome to Fall semester, 2014. Solar Pathways went on hiatus over the summer, but I promise I’m back now and will be updating more frequently from now on.

I just stumbled across an excellent beginner’s resource for individuals struggling to understand the basics of electricity. Behold, the Siemens Technical Education Program, also known as Online quickSTEP Training. The training program comes in the form of online training videos or PDF downloads to address various learning styles.

Browse Videos
Browse PDF Downloads
Browse the Pictorial Glossary of Electrical Terms