Solar Improvements Increase Output Estimates

Update: Check out The Guardian‘s coverage of a new San Francisco law requiring solar panels on new buildings for 2017.

We’re always happy to see photovoltaics in the news, whether they’re installed in old golf courses, floating on rafts, powering an airport in Kerala, or remotely charging your phone via adaptor. So we’re not surprised to see that since 2008, US rooftop solar potential has doubled. From Conservation Magazine:

To take advantage of the sun’s energy to satisfy our ever-increasing need for electricity, Americans will have to take a fresh look at their roofs. A report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that if all suitable roof areas in the United States were plastered with solar panels, they would generate about 1,118 gigawatts of solar power. That is 40% of the power that Americans consume every year.

And that isn’t the half of it. The study only estimates the solar power potential of existing, suitable rooftops, and does not look at the immense potential of ground-mounted photovoltaics, said NREL senior energy analyst Robert Margolis in a press release. “Actual generation from PV in urban areas could exceed these estimates by installing systems on less suitable roof space, by mounting PV on canopies over open spaces such as parking lots, or by integrating PV into building facades. Further, the results are sensitive to assumptions about module performance, which are expected to continue improving over time.”

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What Should We Expect of Solar?

I was pleased to see our fellow contributors give voice to the promising outlook of solar energy in a recent post. There is no doubt that this technology will be a game-changer for utilities in the coming century, and I’m excited to be a part of it. Last month, I was thrilled to start my first full-time position at SunPower Corporation, one of the largest solar cell manufacturers in the United States. Tempering that excitement was the knowledge that, at least for the short term, I wouldn’t be traveling to India to work with Crist and some of his wonderful staff. But let’s back solar.

This is every solar installer’s dream: a perfectly tilted, south-facing, non-shaded, sun-bathed roof.

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In Conversation with Team Sustain

Over the past week our team at Cardamom Country has been in conversation with another team working for a brighter and better future for Planet Earth called Team Sustain. Founded in 1994, Team Sustain is based in Kochi, India and provides cost effective logistics and infrastructure solutions for sustainable resource utilization, engineering green solutions for the modern world. Mr. George Matthew, the founder of Team Sustain, spoke with me and explained that his main goal was to reduce the carbon footprint of as many people and organizations as possible. Mr. Matthew especially said he wanted to increase the benchmark and accepted levels of energy efficiency and encourage further sustainability-oriented social projects with minimal environmental costs. Continue reading