Shop, Collaborate, and Listen

Shop, Collaborate, and Listen | Grist | News | 21 Dec 2007

Grist reports on studies that show that online shopping better for the earth than going to the mall. Besides lowering carbon dioxide emissions, a shopper can save time by online shopping because it reduces car trips and walking from store to store to find what you need.

Online shopping is better for the planet than multiple trips to the mall, says a somewhat ill-timed study. (Start your online shopping today, spend $3,000,000 for shipping.) “Using several assumptions and data from several authoritative sources, we can reasonably estimate that nearly [500,000 metric tons] of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere by shopping online” during the holidays, says Jesse Miller of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We would venture to say that patronizing walking-accessible local merchants might be the big winner here — by why do that when malls at holiday time are so much fun?

Left in the West: Solar cheaper than coal

Left in the West:: Solar cheaper than coal
Solar power can now be more affordable now with new solar panels, even cheaper than coal.

Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air…. That’s the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that’s ubiquitous because it’s cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley-based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality.

That means producing solar energy will be cheaper than burning coal – and that’s not calculating the following costs of coal:

— Fuel (i.e. coal itself)
— the damage done by greenhouse gas emissions
— the damage done by particulate and mercury pollution
— the damage done by mining and transporting coal

The future of coal is bleak, folks. There will be the usual proponents for kick-starting a booming coal industry in the state, but it’s a fool’s game, an industry that’s already wavering amid environmental concerns and talk of a carbon tax.

Not a single tax dollar from this state should be spent on promoting or buying coal-produced energy. Instead, we should be papering our state, county, and city roofs with solar “tar paper,” and handing out low-interest homeowner loans to state residents and businesses who want to increase home energy efficiency and use wind and solar to create their own power. It’s safe, clean, and puts money into our pockets.

How Big Companies Get Their Solar for Free

free solar projects
How Big Companies Get Their Solar for Free | EcoGeek | Solar, Companies, Cells, Money, Have
Ecogeek writes about how big companies have no cost on their solar projects because of solar power paying for itself with time and MMA Renewable Ventures.

It turns out that a lot of solar projects big companies are putting together cost them absolutely no money! Actually, they often save them money from day 1…

Solar power makes economic sense right now. If you install solar panels on your house in California, you will save money over the 25 year life of the panel (barring Steorn and cold fusion.) But it’s hard to ask someone to pay ten yearsof power bills all at once. In fact, it’s prohibitively expensive. Not even big companies (aside from the extremely high profit ones) have that much money to throw around.

But investment companies do have that money, and if they can guarantee a 100% return over 25 years, then that’s a darned good deal for them, especially in light of the current credit crisis in America.

Well that’s where MMA Renewable Ventures steps in. These guys link investors with companies who want solar panels. The investors pay for the panels and installation, and then charge the companies a locked rate for the power coming out of the cells. The companies save money on their power for the next 25 years, look green, and don’t have to layout huge sums of money. The investors get a healthy return over the 25 year life of the cells and don’t have to worry much about risk.

Solar powered Christmas lights alleviate wiring issues

solar christmas lights
Solar powered Christmas lights alleviate wiring issues – SlashGear
Slash Gear provides an alternative; solar powered Christmas lights can help with the fuss with extension chords.

…with these lights you won’t have that problem as they are solar powered.

There are 50 LEDs on this chain of lights, and the solar panel charges up a pair of AA batteries which in turn power them for 9 hours. Furthermore, you won’t even have to concern yourself with turning them on or off as the photocell will detect low-light conditions and turn them on for you, and by sun up they’ll likely be dead again, and so goes the circle of battery life.

The bulbs are rated for 10,000 hours which is either a lot of Christmases or, you could probably take them with you camping as well.

Nevada gets nation’s first solar power plant factory

solar field
Green Wombat: Nevada gets nation’s first solar power plant factory

Green Wombat reports Silicon Valley startup Ausra is building the U.S.’s first solar power plant factory.

When the 130,000-square-foot facility goes online in April outside Las Vegas, robots will assemble mirror arrays and other equipment that will then be trucked to solar power plant building sites in California and the Southwest. Ausra, backed by venture capitalists Vinod Khosla and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, signed a deal with utility PG&E (PCG) in November to supply electricity generated by a 177-megawatt solar thermal power station to be built on California’s central coast…

The facility marks the emergence of Nevada as a player in the solar power industry. “We see Nevada as one of the best markets for solar power,” says O’Donnell. “It has the business climate, the solar resource and a rapidly growing market for electric power. The main reason for being here is the combination of a transportation center, a workforce and a central location for where we think all the power plants will be. We looked at locations in California, Phoenix and here. Taking the five-year view, we would like to build a lot of power plants in the Southwest so we asked, Where is the best location? What are the transportation options?”