Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vancouver Washington shuts down its Solar Incentive program

We received this notice from Clark County, Washington. I will have more to report shortly.
Image result for Clark County Washington

I wanted to provide you with the most recent information about the Washington State Solar Incentive Program in Clark County. Based on direction from our Board of Commissioners, Clark Public Utilities will not be processing any new applications for the Washington State Solar Incentive Program at this time.  This restriction will remain in effect until the utility’s Commissioners meet again to discuss the status of the program in two weeks.  At that time, the Board may eliminate the state incentive for new installations in Clark County, so please make sure that your customers are aware of this limitation.  If a customer would like to add solar to their home and not utilize the Washington State Incentive, please contact me before any action is taken on their project or an interconnection application is submitted.

Thank you,
Bart Hansen
Clark Public Utilities

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Scientists create world's most expensive material, valued at $145 million per gram

They just sold the equivalent of one-third the weight of a human hair for $32,000.


11 JAN 2016     
If your life’s ambition is to become very, very rich, consider getting into the business of producing endohedral fullerenes - the world’s most expensive material. 
Scientists at Oxford University in the UK announced that a spin-off lab called Designer Carbon Materials is now producing endohedral fullerenes, and they recently sold off their first sample of the material to the tune of $US32,000 for 200 micrograms (1 microgram = one-millionth of a gram), which is about one-fifteenth the weight of a snowflake, or one-third the weight of a human hair.  
First discovered in 1985, endohedral fullerenes are spherical carbon nanostructures that consist of a sturdy fullerene cage made from 60 carbon atoms, inside which the atoms of non-metals or simple molecules, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and helium, are trapped.
These things aren’t just outrageously expensive curiosities - when they contain nitrogen atoms, they actually have the potential to change how we keep time, because of their extra long electron spin lifetime.
Scientists are now investigating the possibility of using them in atomic clocks - the most accurate time-keeping systems in the world - and the Oxford team expects that in the future, they could be used to make all kinds of devices more accurate than ever.
This is because endohedral fullerenes have the potential to downsize atomic clocks from the size of a cabinet to a microchip, so we could install them in our phones or integrate them with our GPS devices, for example. 
If we can figure out how to do that, says Doug Bolton at The Independent, we could have GPS devices that are accurate to within 1 millimetre. That’s pretty mind-blowing, when you consider that current GPS devices are accurate to around 1 to 5 metres.
"At the moment, atomic clocks are room-sized. This endohedral fullerene would make it work on a chip that could go into your mobile phone," Lucius Cary, director of the Oxford Technology SEIS fund - which holds a minor stake in Designer Carbon Materials - told Rebecca Burn-Callander at The Telegraph.
"There will be lots of applications for this technology," he added. "The most obvious is in controlling autonomous vehicles. If two cars are coming towards each other on a country lane, knowing where they are to within 2 metres is not enough, but to 1 mm it is enough."
The only other material on Earth that could rival the astronomical cost of endohedral fullerenes is antimatter, which NASA estimates would cost aboutUS$61 trillion per gram, but no one’s in the business of producing antimatter to sell off commercially just yet.
We’re still several years away from mini atomic clocks going into our portable devices, but Designer Carbon Materials founder, Kyriakos Porfyrakis, told Andrii Degeler at Ars Technica that the consortium of UK and US researchers that bought their first sample of endohedral fullerene is on the case.                                                                                                   

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Catching the Sun Trailer -This one is going to win some awards!

Jigar Shah
New Film highlight income inequality through the lens of #solar power, featuring Van Jones,Debbie Dooley, and folks from Solar Richmond -- this one is gonna win some awards. What do you think?                                                                Catching the Sun Trailer from Shalini Kantayya on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Solar Job Boom Continues As Prices Spur Demand

The U.S. solar power industry continued its hiring spree in 2015, growing nearly 12 times faster than overall U.S. employment.
The solar industry has seen 123 percent growth in employment since 2010, adding 115,000 jobs in that time. Last year, industry employment totaled 208,859, with 35,000 new jobs added in 2015, up from about 31,000 in 2014, according to the annual solar jobs census released by The Solar Foundation on Tuesday.
A solar photovoltaic panel.   Credit: Jonathan Potts/flickr
“Solar is surging,” former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement. “Renewable energy employment is on track to transform our world, helping to lessen our reliance on coal and other polluting fossil fuels.”
The foundation had expected jobs in the industry to grow by 36,000, but it missed that projection. Overall, year-over-year employment growth in the U.S. solar power industry was somewhat flat, growing by 20.2 percent in 2015, down from 21.8 percent in 2014. Growth in 2013 was 19.9 percent, adding 23,682 jobs that year.
Solar Foundation Executive Director Andrea Luecke said she did not know why the industry’s job growth was flat last year, but that the pace of earlier hiring may have been tied to the industry’s rush to expand before a 30 percent federal solar investment tax credit expired.
Congress extended the tax credit at the end of last year, however, which will likely result in lower solar industry employment growth in 2016, according to the census. Growth this year is expected to total about 30,000 new jobs.
Solar power in the U.S. has seen tremendous growth since 2010 as solar panel costs have continued to fall and state and federal climate policies, such as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, have given solar and other low-carbon electricity sources a boost.
Solar is seen as one of the primary low-carbon alternatives to coal-fired power plants, the globe’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. About 25 percent of all the nation’s solar power capacity has been installed in just the last year, according to the census. However, solar remains a small player in the U.S., representing about 1 percent of U.S. electric power generation.
Most of the employment growth in the solar industry is in solar panel installation, which covers about 80 percent of all the jobs in the industry.
Solar jobs are well-paying. Installers earn an average of $21 per hour, while designers make $27 per hour and sales and marketing workers earn $29 per hour.
“It takes people to install (solar panels), and you have 80 percent of the jobs on the demand side,” Luecke said. “The more demand you have, the more need you have for those jobs — a signal the industry is healthy and growing.”
Eventually, the solar industry will begin growing much faster than its employment as technology advances, she said.
“At some point, we may see solar workers leveling out as the industry becomes more efficient and automated,” Luecke said.

A lamp powered by salt water

This salt-water lamp is an alternative source of lighting for communities in the Philippines with no access to electricity.
By Kate Walker

Most of the 7000 islands in the Philippines rely on candles, paraffin or battery powered lamps as primary sources of light in their homes. The Salt lamp, by engineer Lipa Aisa Mijena, offers a possible alternative. Mijena is part of the department of engineering at De La Salle University and is a member of Greenpeace Philippines. She is deeply invested in the wellbeing of Philippines’ underprivileged communities. The idea for the Salt lamp occurred to her when she spent time with the Butbut tribe, who were greatly in need of a sustainable and eco-friendly lamp for people living without access to electricity.
The lantern is environmentally friendly - it does not emit any harmful gasses - and ethically made. Both cost effective and sustainable, the Salt lamp is powered by a simple saline solution: one glass of water mixed with two tablespoons of salt allows for eight hours of light. The lamp will even run off ocean water.
The lamp’s electrode can last for up to a year depending on how many hours a day the lamp is used. The natural elements that power the lamp mean that it’s a completely safe alternative to oil lamps, which are often the cause of household fires in the Philippines.
The Salt lamp
For Philippians, the Salt lamp is a reliable light source in the third most natural-disaster prone country in the world. Users can plug in a USB cable to charge a smartphone.
Currently in production stage, the team behind the product aim to have the lamps available for purchase later in the year, however, their main priority is to deliver the Salt lamps to Philippine and NGO-supported communities who need them most.
The Salt lamp