Tag Archives: solar

Solar power and new tech make the Airo bottle fill up with water from the air

Diagram of Airo bottle
Source: Retezár Kristof

The Fontus bottles use solar power to pull in moisture from the air, cool it and fill them up with water. In high humidity conditions you can have half a quart of water in an hour (less in dryer conditions). Of course, you will want the air around the bottle to be pretty free of contaminants.

More on the science of Airo and Ryde (same type bottle for cyclists) by Fontus.

Visit the Fontus website to donate to their IndieGogo campaign and get a discount on the bottle when it comes out later this year.

How converting farmland to solar fields affects rural residents’ quality of life & the future of agriculture

Solar Array
Solar Array is in Fuquay-Varina Source: Raleigh’s News & Observer
Maybe a few silly things were said by residents of Woodland, North Carolina about yet another solar farm proposal for town land. But there are excellent reasons for residents to reject a fourth solar installation. Woodland Councilman Ron Lane shares the facts:

The Strata Solar project was not doomed by irrational fears. The photovoltaic panels were proposed just 50 feet from residential homes, and the project was too close to State Route 258 leading into town.

Raleigh News & Observer reporter John Murawski explains that converting farmland to solar fields is not only a quality of life issue for local residents – it may be an important agricultural issue for our nation as well:

…resistance often flares up in areas that have become magnets for solar farms – agricultural communities with cheap farmland near electrical substations where solar farms can interconnect to the power grid, said Stephen Kalland, executive director of the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center.

But the state’s remarkable transformation of soybean fields into rows of indigo panels is also alarming some agriculturalists. In a Nov. 30 letter to the state’s extension agents, N.C. State University crop science professor Ron Heiniger warned that the rapid spread of solar farms “may well be one of the most important agricultural issues of our generation.”

Heiniger’s call-to-arms, reproduced in at least one local paper, predicts that solar farms could shift land use to such an extent that “it is highly unlikely this land will ever be farmed again.”

Thanks to Thomas Beckett for setting the record straight concerning this matter. I joined the social media crowd in poking fun of Woodland’s residents but obviously, this is no joking matter.

Raise your voice against Great Adventure destroying 18,000+ trees instead of putting solar on its parking lot

Jim Florio opposes great adventure forest destruction
Former Gov. Jim Florio opposes Great Adventure’s forest destruction plan. Photo credit: Jennifer Peacock
Great Adventure has 100 acres of parking lots sitting out reflecting sunlight all year round helping to increase global warming. The perfect place for solar panels, as Clean Water Action NJ points out: “Green energy and shade for cars and people.” So why is the Texas based company planning instead to demolish 70 acres of 18,000 plus full-growth trees for its solar farm?

In May, the Department of Environmental Protection offered to buy the forest with Green Acres dollars for the state’s open space inventory, but the entertainment company wasn’t swayed. NJ Spotlight quotes assistant DEP commissioner Richard Boornazian, who wrote in a letter to Six Flags,

“We oppose large solar projects that damage or destroy previously undisturbed resources, such as the project you proposed … Such projects are entirely inconsistent with our mission and with our guidance for solar siting.”

100 Jackson, NJ residents residents turned out at a town hearing few days ago to ask why the forest destruction is still being considered. Help by raising your voice too! As CWANJ’s director writes in an email,

There will be another hearing and much more. You don’t have to be from Jackson to be involved…anyone can attend and speak at the hearings, write letters and (spread the word through) social media.

Governor Jim Florio cautions,

“The reputational risk for the company,” Gov. Florio added, “is very high. The whole idea of a facility that caters to young people, children, and doing the things that they’re doing and having the negative impact climate-change-wise is something that will not resonate well with the young people.”

Start by signing the petition.

To get special updates on the campaign, email Director David Pringle and follow CWANJ on Facebook or Twitter.

Elon Musk’s SolarCity used cheap prison labor to fulfill state funded contract

Chain Gang Street Sweepers
Source: Wikipedia. Chain gang street sweepers, Washington, DC 1909
Grist reports that under the pretense of enhancing the Oregon economy with good paying jobs, SolarCity used prison labor to fulfill contracts to put solar panels on two universities. The workers were paid under $1.00 an hour and the contracts were funded with government dollars:

For SolarCity, the contract also looked like a win. Under a lucrative state program, the Oregon Department of Energy doled out $11.8 million in tax credits for the $27 million project. (SolarCity would not confirm the amount of the tax breaks despite repeated requests.) Those generous tax incentives — part of the Business Energy Tax Credit program, which ended in 2014 — came with an imperative for “job creation and retention requirements.”

For its part, SolarCity did install panels that were produced by Oregon workers. But those workers were behind bars at Sheridan Federal Prison — and instead of benefiting from a program that was supposed to pump up the regional economy, they were paid less than a dollar an hour for their labor.

ALEC and its legislators want to eliminate home solar and environmental protections

ALEC-coal-members-300x225After this, no one could ever say that ALEC and the politicians guided by it, care more for people than for profits. They boldly assert that betraying the public trust is necessary in order to insure that (their) economic profits remain intact. In a phenomenally informative article, The Guardian tells us about ALEC legislators’ all-out efforts to block clean energy development and the enforcement of clean water protections. They don’t dispute that this will be done at the expense of the environment and climate change reversal, but they care only for the profits they will continue to reap.

Firedog Lake puts it this way

Among the more interesting discoveries by The Guardian: ALEC has plans to attack clean energy from the household-level to the White House-level, working in service to its utility industry members’ unfettered profits.

If you’re interested in a solar roof, you should know that ALEC and its legislators want to eliminate, or severely limit, home solar installations, as they take away profits from the traditional energy companies they own.

Here are some juicy excerpts from The Guardian’s article:

Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalizing individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama’s main channel for climate action.

Details of Alec’s strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week. (The ALEC strategy documents obtained by the Guardian are shown in entirety in the full article.)

…Gabe Elsner, director of the Energy and Policy Institute, said the attack on small-scale solar was part of the larger ALEC project to block clean energy. “They are trying to eliminate pro-solar policies in the states to protect utility industry profits,” he said.

The group sponsored at least 77 energy bills in 34 states last year. According to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, the measures were aimed at opposing renewable energy standards, pushing through the Keystone XL pipeline project, and barring oversight on fracking…

In the confidential materials, prepared for the August board meeting, ALEC claimed to have made significant inroads against such clean energy policies in 2013.

“Approximately 15 states across the country introduced legislation to reform, freeze, or repeal their state’s renewable mandate,” the taskforce reported…

It just shows that ALEC uses lawmakers as lobbyists to block climate legislation at every turn,” said Connor Gibson, a researcher for Greenpeace. “They try to undermine the authority of agencies that have the power potentially to control carbon pollution, so whenever there is a new EPA rule that pops up, they re-tool their arsenal of model bills to make sure they are blocking the new rule.”

…Environmental lawyers said the resolution amounted to a “new manifesto” against the EPA regulating carbon pollution. “They don’t want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ann Weeks, legal director for the Clean Air Task Force…

“They will probably tell you they don’t want the EPA to regulate anything so it is in their interest to turn what the EPA has proposed into something that is grotesque and unreasonable, which I don’t think is true,” Weeks said.

New Jersey’s most infamous ALEC allied politicos are Gov. Chris Christie and Scott Garrett, who bears the distinction of being our state’s Climate Change Denier Congressman.