Branson outlines World Powered by Wind, Solar Power

Sir Richard Branson has called for an end to subsidies for dirty fuels and oil drilling in the Arctic, and for a cap on coal and a carbon tax Read more at:


Entrepreneur Richard Branson outlined a vision of the world powered by renewable energy and said it would be “pretty dreadful” if a forthcoming UN climate summit is not a success.

“It would be, I think, pretty dreadful if we don’t have a big success in Paris,” the billionaire British founder of Virgin Group told a gathering of business leaders in New York.

The Paris conference will gather together heads of state and government from November 30 in a bid to crown a six-year effort by 195 nations with a post-2020 pact on curbing greenhouse gases.

He called for an end to subsidies for dirty fuels and oil drilling in the Arctic, and for a cap on coal and a carbon tax, saying that he was prepared to shoulder the short-term cost.

“Obviously I’ve got three airlines, it won’t be great news in the short term, but it definitely needs to see a global carbon tax,” the businessman said.

He urged governments and businesses to come up with big innovations to counter climate change. Money from taxing “dirty industries,” he said, should “go into a big innovation pot.”

“The end result by 2050,” said Branson “will be a world where we’re powered by sun, we’re powered by wind… we’re powered by other innovations.”

It would be a world, he said, where fuel would be cheaper than today to benefit hospitals and schools.

“Countries that are big oil producers, coal producers are going to have to adapt but the vast majority of the world will benefit. It will pull everyone out of poverty and it will be a really exciting world to aim for.”

Branson is one of Britain’s most high-profile businessmen, whom Forbes estimates to be worth $4.9 billion.

He is also co-founder of The B Team, a coalition of global business leaders working to advance the wellbeing of the planet.

Branson spoke on a panel of business leaders as the UN General Assembly in New York prepares to adopt Sustainable Development Goals, a new 15-year agenda to eliminate poverty.


Aspen Stands Tall As Third US City Achieves 100% Renewable Electricity


Solar Power Today and its Potential for the Future

By: Peter D. Rosenstein

Solar power, once called the energy of the future, is actually the energy of today. This week in Anaheim California, Solar Power International (SPI), the largest solar power trade show in North America, will host 15,000 attendees with over 600 exhibitors to talk about solar energy. One indication of how the Obama administration views solar power is that Vice President Biden, the first sitting VP to ever address a solar power convention, will be delivering remarks at the plenary session.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) “Solar is the fastest-growing source of energy in America, with almost 23 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity nationwide. That is enough to provide clean, reliable electricity to nearly 5 million homes. Those numbers are projected to double by the end of 2016. In 2004, there were only 15,500 households with solar systems; today there are more than 785,000 individual solar systems in the U.S., with the average price of a residential system dropping by half in the last 6 years. Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans – more than Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined — and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy.”

When President Obama launched his Clean Power Plan he said “Climate change is no longer just about the future that we’re predicting for our children or our grandchildren; it’s about the reality that we’re living with every day, right now.” He added “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. While we can’t say any single weather event is entirely caused by climate change, we’ve seen stronger storms, deeper droughts, and longer wildfire seasons. Charleston and Miami now flood at high tide. Shrinking ice caps forced National Geographic to make the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart.” According to the SEIA “The U.S. military is the largest federal solar user. The DOD opened 16M acres to renewable development and committed to 25 percent renewable energy, mostly solar, by 2025.”

The administration also launched a National Community Solar Partnership “to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems, including issuing a guide to Support States In Developing Community Solar Programs. It is setting a goal to install 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing and providing technical assistance to make it easier to install solar, including clarifying how to use Federal funding.”

One example of a federal program is CivicPACE, a project of the Department of Energy’s Sun Shot grant program in collaboration with The Solar Foundation, Urban Ingenuity, and Clean Energy Solutions, Inc. CivicPACE is hosting a workshop at SPI to discuss the challenges and opportunities of financing energy upgrades for nonprofit institutions using Property Assessed Clean Energy (or PACE). This workshop will bring together solar business owners and managers, project developers, financial institutions, and other stakeholders working in the non-profit sector and is being moderated by Ian Fischer, COO of Urban Ingenuity.

Climate change and solar energy are becoming a major issue in the Presidential election, at least on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton’s commitment to solar energy as reported in the Guardian “by the end of her first term the US would have seven times more solar energy capacity than it does today. And by 2027, renewable energy would supply a third of the nation’s electricity.” It was also reported “Burning fossil fuels for electricity accounts for 31% of US greenhouse gas emissions and one estimate Clinton’s 33% renewable target could slice another 4% off the US’s existing pledge to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025.

Continuing on its record-breaking trajectory, the United States solar industry surpassed 20 gigawatts (GW) of total operational solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity during the second quarter of this year. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q2 2015 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the U.S. installed 1,393 megawatts of PV last quarter, showcasing both annual and quarterly growth.

So solar power is really the energy of today and indications are its growth in the future will provide for a healthier world as we confront the repercussions of climate change.


Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Wind Power


Wind turbines are soaring to record sizes. The average rotor diameter of turbines installed in 2014 grew to 99.4 meters, up 108 percent since 1998-1999. | National Renewable Energy Laboratory photo.

10. Human civilizations have harnessed wind power for thousands of years. Early forms of windmills used wind to crush grain or pump water. Now, modern wind turbines use the wind to create electricity. Learn how a wind turbine works.

9. Today’s wind turbines are much more complicated machines than the traditional prairie windmill. A wind turbine has as many as 8,000 different components.

8. Wind turbines are big. A wind turbine blade can be up to 260 feet long, and a turbine tower can be over 328 feet tall — taller than the Statue of Liberty.

7. Higher wind speeds mean more electricity, and wind turbines are getting taller to reach higher heights above ground level where it’s even windier. See the Energy Department’s wind resource maps to find average wind speeds in your state or hometown and learn more about how taller wind turbines can expand developable areas for wind energy production in the Energy Departments 2015 Enabling Wind Power Nationwide report.

6. Most of the components of wind turbines installed in the United States are manufactured here. There are more than 500 wind related manufacturing facilities located throughout the United States, and the U.S. wind energy industry currently employs more than 73,000 people.

5. The technical resource potential of the winds above U.S. coastal waters is enough to provide more than 4,000 gigawatts of electricity, or approximately four times the generating capacity of the current U.S. electric power system. Although not all of these resources will be developed, this represents a major opportunity to provide power to highly populated coastal cities. See what the Energy Department is doing to develop offshore wind in the United States.

4. The United States generates more wind energy than any other country except China, and wind has accounted for more than a third of all newly installed U.S. electricity generation capacity since 2007.

3. The United States’ wind power capacity reached more than 65.8 gigawatts by the end of 2014.That’s enough electricity to power more than 17.5 million homes annually — more than the total number of homes in –Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont COMBINED- and represents nearly a 25-fold increase in capacity since 2000.

2. Wind energy is affordable. Wind prices for power contracts signed in 2014 and levelized wind prices (the price the utility pays to buy power from a wind farm) are as low as 2.35 cents per kilowatt-hour in some areas of the country. This is the lowest ever price recorded by the Energy Department’s annual Wind Technologies Market Report.

1. By 2050, the United States has the potential to avoid the emission of more than 12.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases and save 260 billion gallons of water by continuing to increase the amount of wind energy that powers our homes, schools and businesses. In 2015, the Energy Department released Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States,which quantifies the economic, social, and environmental benefits of a robust wind energy future through 2050.


Australian homes among first to get Tesla’s Powerwall solar-energy battery

Company says 7kWH energy storage unit, which uses lithium-ion battery to store energy from rooftop solar panels, will be available by end of year

The Tesla Powerwall is a unit that sits on an interior wall, and will store energy from solar PV systems on Australian roofs. Photograph: Tim Wimborne/Reuters

Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to get Tesla’s vaunted Powerwall battery storage system, as several other companies scramble to sign up Australia’s growing number of households with solar rooftops.

US firm Tesla said that its 7kWH home energy storage units would be available by the end of the year in Australia, ahead of previous predictions it would arrive in 2016.

The Powerwall is a unit that sits on an interior wall. It has a lithium-ion battery, used to store energy created by solar panels on the household roof.

Tesla, which also makes electric cars, is the most high-profile company in the emerging battery storage industry – an area that is seen as crucial in making intermittent renewable energy such as solar and wind into a reliable accompaniment, or even alternative, to fossil fuel-fired power grids.

Canberra-based firm Reposit Power, which enables people to directly buy and sell their stored electricity, has partnered with Tesla for Powerwall’s launch.

There are a handful of existing Australian alternatives to the Powerwall, such as Redflow, headed by Simon Hackett, who founded Internode. Hackett also sits on the board of the NBN.

“Tesla’s arrival is important because they have such a high profile,” said Prof Anthony Vassallo, a sustainable energy expert at the University of Sydney. “The Tesla product isn’t unique by any stretch, but it’s the Apple brand of the battery storage industry, they have the sex appeal that others don’t.

“Solar PV and batteries are such a wonderful combination. Australians have demonstrated they are quite happy to purchase PV systems, Australia has a great solar resource and to have a battery to store that makes a lot of sense.

“There are packages of PV and batteries being offered by retailers and, as prices come down, we’ll see a lot more of this. Tesla’s price point in the US – of about US$3,000 ($4,173) – would be competitive here, it will sharpen up the players to make more efficient and higher-performing systems.”

Vassallo pointed out that the technology still has some way to improve – a 7kWH system will store little more than an hour’s electricity generated by a typical 5kWH solar system, meaning that some people may have to have several Powerwall, or equivalent, systems on their walls.

“I’d be wary of claims that people can go entirely off the grid, but it’s a first step,” he said. “Australia has high electrity prices, and once the price is acceptable I think the take-up will be strong.”

There are more than 1.3m households in Australia with rooftop solar, with the number increasing rapidly as the price of PV systems tumble. State-based tariffs have been gradually withdrawn across the country, while the federal government announced in July that it would instruct the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to favour large-scale solar over rooftop solar in its funding decisions.

Labor has set a target of Australia generating 50% of its electrity from renewable energy by 2030, although has provided little detail on how this would be achieved. The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the goal was “reckless” as the cost of it has not been quantified.

Vassallo said, “Australia could reach that 50% target, it just requires well-designed policies and markets that allow a transition from centralised, large-scale fossil fuels to efficient but variable renewables.

“Storage is a key part to make that happen. The beauty of renewables is that once you’ve managed the capital cost, there is no fuel cost. There’s an energy security there you don’t get with fossil fuels.”