The sun sends us more energy in an hour than we consume in a year.
Now with the world demanding more and more power, we find ourselves like thirsty nomads in the desert searching for any drops of water.
Yet, it is all around us.
In the past few decades, our attempts to use solar systems have been hampered a number of factors. The supply chain to produce panels in large quantities had been inefficient and so prices remained high. That all changed in the past five years with large companies entering the sector and bringing scale and efficiency to the manufacturing process.
Solar panels prices have dropped 80% in the past five years. Prices will fall another 50%. This will bring solar in line with grid power with no subsidies in more than ten states.
Second, installation of solar has been an inefficient practice with variable quality of installations. Now, however, with the rise of professional companies such as SolarCity, Mercury and others, installation quality is high and consistent.
The cost of installation is also coming down with new mounting systems.
Third, solar power was historically a large capital expense that a building owner had to bear until the payoff came. Now, however, with the introduction of solar leases and commercial power purchase agreements, owners no longer pay upfront for solar.
Homeowners can pay a set monthly fee upon the installation of solar system which offsets a portion of their utility bill. This lease fee plus whatever remains of the grid bill is less than what they paid before the installation.
Commercial building such as malls, warehouses, schools and others can also make similar arrangements.
In their case the building gets a solar system with installation for no upfront payment and the owner agrees to buy the electrical output of the panels for a set period. These financial arrangements have enabled the number of systems installed to explode.
This year, the US will install ten times the amount of solar power than in 2009.
Plus, we can install ten times that in the next few years. That will represent a small portion of total US energy consumption, but it will begin to shave the peak of power demand. Solar produces the most power exactly when we need it – at peak times in the day.
This lets utilities spend less on importing expensive electrons from other regions or building new plants for peak load. Those savings can be passed onto consumers.
Inexpensive, renewable power creates jobs – lots of jobs. When energy is cheap and predictable companies can afford to lower their prices. The price of all goods and services comes down as energy prices fall and are no longer dependent on the price of fossil fuels.
Utilities using coal power today face a myriad of regulatory and cost uncertainties. They are forced to choose between adding expensive filters to their plants or shutting them down. The price of coal continues to fluctuate as China extracts more and more energy from the ground globally.
Along with the solar revolution, we are entering into an era of inexpensive energy storage.
As solar systems get cheaper and cheaper we will need devices to store the excess energy they produce. Battery systems will fall by 50% in price in the next few years. This will enable both grid and distributed storage.
Grid storage is the use of large systems to store energy created by today’s fossil fuel plants. Coal plants waste 40% of their nighttime output and put it right into the ground.
Instead this energy can be stored for peak times.
We can also deploy storage at the building and home level.
This will enable solar systems to power more of a structure’s needs throughout the day and night. It also gives more resilience to our grid. With the rise of cyberattacks against our infrastructure it will good to have a distributed system of energy production and storage.
Storms and other natural disasters take out power for days to weeks. We can recover much faster with distributed systems. This lessens loss of productivity during these outages.
Commercial building and residences are starting to lower their electrical demand through efficiency such as LED devices. These bulbs have traditionally been too expensive to justify their cost. That has also changed with prices falling quickly for these devices. A 10 watt LED gives off the light of a 75 watt traditional bulb and lasts five times as long.
The same solar and storage system can cover more and more of a building’s needs once it has reduced its demand through efficiency.
While the headlines continue to scream about fossil fuel conflicts and problems, the solar giant is slowly rising.
Generations from now people will wonder what all the fuss was about the way we wonder why it took so long for people to figure out that the world is round.
In my Bloomberg TV interview yesterday, I suggested a novel approach for RIM: the company should pull a “reverse Apple” and jettison its current software in favor of Android. This is similar to what Steve Jobs did in 2006 in jettisoning its proprietary chip and using Intel semiconductors. That enabled Apple to focus on what it does best – total user experience.
By working with Google, RIM could offer a business version of Android that had strong connections to Salesforce.com, Exchange, Sharepoint and other enterprise services. No current Android device does that well. CTO’s of leading companies are dumping the blackberry and RIM cannot afford to wait.
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New online learning models are bursting from startups and top universities, bridging the educational divide.
We are in the midst of a revolution that will bring high-quality education to hundreds of millions of people who have never had access to this level of learning before.
These tools will reach those in developing cities and countries but also foment a revolution in the U.S. classroom as they change our perception of what learning can be.For The Entire Story
One of the big opportunities where this can be changed is in the commercial vehicle sector. There are over 230 million commercial cars and light-duty trucks on U.S. roads—a huge potential source for widespread EV adoption. But large companies, federal, state and local governments and other fleet operators have hesitated to make the switch. GE just started on a project that drives at chaning that.
Researchers at GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York, will design and build a better commercial fleet charging station that will incorporate GE’s existing smart grid technology and help dramatically cut installation costs in the depots and garages housing bus, vehicle delivery and other commercial and government fleets. The project also received support from the U.S. Department of Energy.For The Entire Story
WASHINGTON, May 9 (IPS) - With U.S. federal funding sources for renewable energy sources already drying up, coupled with a newfound antipathy towards "green" issues issue here in Washington, some are suggesting that China could offer an important opportunity for the future of renewables in the United States and around the world."I would be very bullish for American companies to explore green-technologies-related opportunities in China," Craig Allen, deputy assistant secretary for Asia within the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, said on Wednesday. "That would be a tremendous area for cooperation."
While the U.S. and China have been vying for the top spot in spending on green technologies in recent years, China looks set to make massive gains - or at least spend massive amounts of money - in the near future.
The Chinese surpassed the U.S. in wind turbine deployment in 2009. By 2020, the country is supposed to have more solar energy-related infrastructure than the rest of the world combined.
As part of its latest five-year development plan, Beijing has also defined a list of seven strategic emerging industries to receive "special treatment" adding up to some 1.7 billion dollars in government investment. According to Allen, six of those seven areas deal with energy issues.
Allen's presentation came a day after a high-level British government official made a similar announcement, urging the British private sector to use China as an "incubator" for the development of new green technologies.
"There are big opportunities to partner with Chinese companies and pioneer new technologies in the Chinese market," John Ashton, the U.K. government's special representative on climate change, said on his return from an official trip to China. "That will cost you less and get your prices down … faster than it would elsewhere."
U.S. companies are facing a similar spectrum of concerns. While the United States continues to lead globally in terms of coming up with new innovations in renewable energy, the issue of how to proceed beyond that phase has become increasingly problematic.
According to a study released in late April by the Brookings Institution, state-backed support for the U.S. clean energy sector is set to drop by 75 percent, from 44.3 billion dollars in 2009 to just 11 billion dollars.
While much of this defunding is coming from government programmes that are scheduled to sunset in coming months, in the lead-up to the 2012 U.S. presidential elections green tech has become highly politicised.
Source: AlertNet - http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/china-key-to-green-tech-innovation
In the high-tech sector, there's an unrelenting din about the importance of innovation. Too bad there's precious little of it around.
Aside from "disruptive," there's probably no more overused buzzword than "innovation." Every speech, every business discussion, every CEO presentation is peppered with the word. Apparently, every idea, every new business, and every startup is staggeringly "innovative."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/05/02/whatever-happened-to-technology-innovation/?cmpid=GoogleNewsEditorsPicks#ixzz1usrjI6yJ
NAIROBI: Kenya has made significant progress in scientific innovations as to accelerate social economic development in the country.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga commented that STI’s are the engine to a better Kenyan economy and will lead to the realization of the country’s Vision 2030.
“Science,technology and innovations are the engine to propel Kenya`s economy.They will catalyze the attainment of vision 2030 goals,” Odinga said.
He urged academic institutions to ensure that they nutrture creativity in young minds through the use of STI’s.
“There is need to harness the creativity of young minds.The youth are critical to shaping the future of this country.”
Margaret Kamar, Minister for Higher Education Science and Technology commented saying that STI’s will boost and modernize our societies and economies.
“It should be noted that science,technology and innovations upgrade and boost efficiency in the productive systems.They are crucial to modernization of societies.”
Crispus Kiamba, Permanent Secretary,Ministry of Higher Education,Science and Technology reckoned the need to popularize STI’s to the public and this will in turn accelerate social economic development in the country.
“We need to popularize the critical role of science,technology and innovations to the general public and make them appreciate their impact on livelihoods.”
Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram has prompted much meditation on whether we’re seeing another Internet bubble.
Bloomberg View columnist Clive Crook meditates on something else: how the deal is a reflection of the forces of globalization and information technology, which have “multiplied the opportunities and grown the prize exponentially.”
Thanks to the Internet’s astonishing reach, a nifty product that required next to no labor and comparatively little capital quickly went from nowhere to tens of millions of users. The idea was valued at $1 billion even before there was a revenue model to support it, and who’s to say that’s too much?
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Inside the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.
Scientists and artists often don’t talk to each other very much. Both solitary disciplines, with long periods of time spent in a lab or in a studio, don’t necessarily lend themselves to collaboration.
At the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, they they have built an intersection of these two pillars. It’s a cross-disciplinary research hub for digital media, bringing corporations, researchers, and non-profits together. An intersection of art, science, design and engineering, where innovators interface with business leaders.
Essentially, it’s the optimum “think outside the box” spot in Los Angeles.
For the entire story from Lori Kozlowski, Contributor: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorikozlowski/2012/04/05/innovation-lab-how-to-create-an-american-renaissance/