Environment Forum

Could patents bring solar power companies more revenue?

October 9, 2009

The high tech industry regularly sees lawsuits fly over intellectual property rights.

SolarCity envisions California “solar corridor” for green drivers

September 23, 2009

Electric cars can be smooth, quiet and environmentally friendly. But they still need fuel.

The race for U.S. smart-grid cash

September 18, 2009

Utilities across the United States are rushing to a federal stimulus program that is doling out money to create a “smart grid” — systems that will upgrade the electricity grid.******In this story, Reuters correspondent Eileen O’Grady looks at the tough job facing the U.S. Department of Energy: They have to divvy up $4.5 billion in smart-grid money among some 565 applications.******Smart grid technology measures and modifies power usage in homes and businesses and improves grid reliability. Experts envision that it will open the door to a new era with “smart” appliances that turn themselves on and off, electric cars, more renewable energy and more efficiency on power lines.******San Diego Gas & Electric is one of the utilities hoping to launch a smart grid through the federal program and has applied for $100 million in stimulus funds.******Their plan would build micro smart grids at the University of California, San Diego and a residential community in San Diego County. They would work with companies like IBM, Cisco and Itron on the system technologies, software and hardware.******”They not only have to talk with each other but we have to make sure the entire network is secure. So from an intellectual security standpoint, we’ll ensure that we have that set-up, that we have the ability to communicate from one device and we make it seamless for the customer,” said Michael Niggli, chief operations officer at San Diego Gas & Electric.******Another major issue the utility hopes to solve is what happens when energy from renewable resources is intermittent, with its power generated fading or spiking.******”If the wind stops blowing or if the sun has clouds that intervene, so you can be in a situation where the power supply is affected,” Niggli said in a phone interview with Reuters.******”That’s a lot different than what we have today … where it’s like driving a car. If you want to go faster, you push the accelerator.”******Niggli envisions a system where customers can control their home energy use remotely, turning on the air-conditioning from a computer through the Internet or even on  their handset.******Some companies that are partnering with utilities are not putting all their eggs in one basket in the race for the smart-grid stimulus funds.******IBM is working as a vendor with a dozen utilities that have applied for money.******If the smart grid is done right, then customers won’t even notice a difference, said IBM’s Stephen Callahan, who leads the company’s Intelligent Utility Network unit for the Americas.******”Those customers shouldn’t see anything but improvement in cost, reliability, all those things,” Callahan said.******We wanted to know what readers think about the federal program to jump-start smart grid projects. What should the DOE prioritize? What kind of projects would you like to see?******(Photo: The sun is shown as it rises between power transmission lines in Burbank, California. Photo credit: Fred Prouser/Reuters)*********************

Futurist says dollars mean bright future for solar energy

July 25, 2009

   Solar power may bring us cleaner air and clearer skies. Nice, yes. But it’s money — not saving Mother Earth — that will catapult solar energy past dirty coal-fueled power plants.

Missing the solar show?

June 5, 2009

By now, the message that solar power will become a major source of electricity should have reached most parts of the world.

Concerns about fed probe of First Solar deal overblown, some analysts say

June 3, 2009

Shares of U.S. solar company First Solarhave dropped about 7 percent this week on concerns about a federal review of the company’s recent acquisition of rival OptiSolar, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

Energy from — molten salt?

May 29, 2009

In these green times energy producers are leaving no stone unturned in the hunt for new sources of energy.

Going closer to the sun for solar power

April 13, 2009

Somebody alert Capt. Kirk.

California utility PG&E and solar power company Solaren say they have inked a first-of-its-kind deal to produce renewable solar power from space satellites beginning in the year 2016.

Vatican gets solar power; should White House follow?

November 26, 2008

 The Vatican (left) is going green from today with a new solar energy system on some roofs to help boost renewable use.

Refugees in Antarctica? Olympics in cyberspace?

October 13, 2008

A view of the leading edge of the remaining part of the Larsen B ice shelf that extends into the northwest part of the Weddell Sea is seen in this handout photo taken on March 4, 2008. To the left is the front of the ice shelf with a height of about 30 meters above the sea. An outcrop of Cape Disappointment is seen in the background. On the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches out from Antarctica toward the South Atlantic Ocean, some of the huge ice shelves that line its coasts have now disintegrated and are floating in chunks in the ocean. A large part of the Larsen Ice Shelf broke up in 1995. Picture taken March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mariano Caravaca/Handout (ANTARCTICA). NO COMMERCIAL SALES.. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS..Antarctica’s population is rising because of climate refugees.

The European Union agrees to let Morocco join in return for exclusive rights to solar power from its part of the Sahara desert.