It’s a perfect storm for expansion in the solar leasing business which has led the smallest of the big three solar lease providers to march eastward. Sungevity credits high energy costs, especially in some of the Northeastern states, with new found interest. We’re moving beyond ethical principles and onto economics. Sungevity is showing consumers that they can cool down on the cheap by pushing popsicles in a biodiesel solar powered ice pop truck, while at the same time reminding them that solar power is no longer out of their financial reach.
Aptly named the “Rooftop Revolution,” Sungevity’s solar powered popsicle truck will be hitting up farmers’ markets, festivals, and other public events in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Delaware, hoping to seize up business that’s moved far beyond their humble start in Oakland, Calif. Sungevity has made their mark by offering customers a low budget way into the solar market with zero money down solar leases. Sungevity also offers online quotes so that customers know immediately how much they can save through installation. In fact, their ice pop truck is equipped with iPads so that iQuotes can be done at no charge onsite.
Photo: Mat McDermott
“Sungevity’s ‘Rooftop Revolution’ is a true first in the solar industry and drives directly to what we believe – that going solar is a lifestyle choice that makes dollars and sense,” said Patrick Crane, Chief Marketing Officer at Sungevity.
Solar Poised for Expansion
According to Huffington Post, solar power lease agreements are growing in popularity because the solar company assumes much of the upfront costs of installation and ownership making it a more realistic endeavor for a host of customers that once found it too pricey. While some of their business does come from full solar installations, the boom is born out of their solar lease programs. USA Today reports that high electricity bills across the board are motivating those who have never before thought solar to jump right in.
“We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the price of solar power over the past year,” said the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Tom Kimbis to USA Today. “That has helped residential and commercial use of solar.”
According to a Sungevity press release, a Harris Interactive poll found that 71 percent of U.S. adults are “overwhelmed” by rising energy costs and an “estimated 9.4 million expected to consider solar power in the next five years.”
State Solar Incentives
Incentives for solar are increasing as well. It’s no coincidence that Sungevity chose expansion where they did. According to Clean Technica, Maryland has started to increase solar rebates and so has New Jersey and Massachusetts. In fact, Massachusetts will offset $68 million for the cost of PV systems, especially in schools and government buildings.
Even in a struggling economy there’s a clear opening for a less expensive solar market and Sungevity isn’t the first to make the move. Big competitors SunRun and SolarCity have also begun eastward expansion. But Sungevity hopes to make a dent in the market with the help of its delicious strawberry, mango and hibiscus mint popsicles on a hot summer day. It’s cool treat with a host of incentives.
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More on Solar Leasing
Lowe’s Buys Into Sungevity, Will Offer Solar Quotes in Stores
No Money Down Solar Lease Program Announced in Connecticut
Solar City Offering No Money Down, Residential Solar Panel Leases In California
Bloom Energy, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California has developed an incredible technology that traces its roots to NASA’s Mars program. This technology is one of the few available that saves you money and helps you to go green at the same time. Not many people are willing to pay to take there home, company, or organization to the ‘green side’, but what if you can be more environmentally cautious and save money in the process.
If you are thinking this sounds like a great opportunity then you are in good company. There are a number of companies already taking advantage of this technology such as: Google, eBay, Walmart, Coca-Cola, and FedEX to name a few. So you might be wondered, what exactly is this technology all about? Well let me start by saying, as an electrician, what they have developed is truly incredible.
Bloom’s Energy Servers are truly revolutionary in the way they help you to lower your energy costs and improve your energy reliability all while helping to save the environment at the same time. Their Bloom Electron Service offers you the ability to start small and pay as you go. You have the opportunity to eliminate up front costs and simply pay for the electricity that you use. For those looking to maximize the return on their investment they have the opportunity to purchase the equipment outright eliminating the need to pay for consumption.
Due to the fact they have a simple modular, building block system it is easy to install, maintain, and upgrade. Visit http://www.bloomenergy.com/ to find out more information today.
Fun Fact: With this technology a box the size a snow globe can power a European home, two boxes the same size can power an American home.
From solar transforming school performance in East Africa to creating hundreds of solar entrepreneurs in developing countries, the work of Solar Aid tackles development, clean energy and climate change at the same time. They are also getting pretty innovative in their fund raising efforts too. Their latest effort sees them recruiting real live superheroes who can fly bikes, meditate underwater, throw offgrid parties, and even make it rain in England. It’s impressive stuff.
Brian Merchant already reported on WikiLeaks revelations about Saudi Oil reserves being overstated by 40%, a claim that could mean that Peak Oil would be upon us as early as 2012. Now Jeremy Leggett over at The Guardian is also raising the alarm, arguing that we are asleep at the wheel when it comes to peak oil, and unless we address this issue now, we could be facing a threat much worse than any credit crunch. “Peak oil is not a theory.” says Leggett. “Because oil is a finite resource, it is an inevitability.” Hear, hear [spelling corrected thanks to comments...].
According to Business Green, Sainsbury’s move into the solar market is all part of a strategy to become “the number one destination for customers looking for new energy technologies.” Shoppers at stores won’t literally be able to drop solar panels in their trolleys along with their groceries, but rather sign up for installing solar, as well as receiving other energy saving advice.
As if the generous UK solar feed-in tariffs were not enough, customers will also be in line to receive 10,000 additional “Nectar” reward points for each solar installation—which should add up to quite a few groceries! It’s yet further evidence that, despite recent uncertainty over government subsidies, solar is stepping firmly into the mainstream in the UK. See Sainsbury’s Solar Power page for more details.
According to the Guardian, when villagers in Fintry in Scotland heard that a wind farm was going to be built in the hills above their community, they got together to put pressure on the developers. But rather than trying to stop the project, the community instead demanded that the developer build an additional wind turbine and sell it to the village to make some money. The resulting funds have since been ploughed into making the village even more green:
“The Fintry turbine has now been operating for more than a year, and has already earned £140,000 for the villagers, money that has been put aside for energy efficiency schemes. Around half of the 300 households have already had roof and cavity wall insulation fitted, and some residents have seen their heating bills cut by hundreds of pounds a year. When the loan on the £2.5m turbine is paid off, Fintry could be making up to £500,000 a year from the electricity its turbine feeds into the National Grid.”
It’s a pretty smart move for all concerned—and it could be an interesting way for renewable energy developers to appease local opposition. After all, if communities are being asked to live next to gigantic turbines, it only makes sense for them to derive some income from the scheme. If that money can go to greening homes and cutting bills in the process, then we all benefit too.
More on Wind Turbines, Planning and NIMBYism
NIMBYs in Minority? Residents Support Wind
Cape Wind Faces Spiritual Opposition from Native Americans
Earth First!’s Maine Wind Protest
Stunning Urban Turbines Circumvent NIMBYs
From Collin’s dad’s solar geodesic greenhouse, through a greenhouse built from soda bottles, to a simple DIY hoop house, we’re not shot on self-built grow spaces here on TreeHugger. but the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia has a very detailed post and time-lapse slideshow by Rob Avis about how he built a passive-solar greenhouse in Calgary. Interestingly, he says, the European model of greenhouse was designed for low levels of mostly diffuse light in winter. Calgary is, according to Avis, better suited to a passive solar structure that maximizes direct sunlight from the South, while preventing heat loss through heavy insulation on the North side. How does it work? We don’t know because he is yet to grow anything. But it sure looks good.
Monbiot reports over at The Guardian on controversial plans for a biofuels-burning power plant in Bristol, England. While he still opposes biofuels for most applications in transportation, he does admit that this is a response to a problem with a limited set of options—namely finding a liquid fuel replacement for gasoline that can be used in moving vehicles.
Making electricity, however, has no such limitations, with renewables, nuclear, gas and even coal providing an environmentally preferable solution. Using edible oils for power is, says Monbiot, “eco-vandalism on a staggering scale.” Furthermore, he argues, this situation is being entirely brought about by perverse subsidies as the result of misdirected Government action:
“…you get twice as many certificates for producing a given amount of electricity from vegetable oil as you do by generating it from wind, even though it’s far less green, and far less renewable. This situation is entirely an artefact of government policy and it’s time the government brought it to an end.”
More on Biofuels and Environmental Damage
The Dangers of Biofuels
Palm Oil Giant Agrees to Set More Sustainable Standards in Indonesia
Biofuels Comparison Chart: The Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly
James Murray over at Business Green has an interesting take on the cutting of solar subsidies to major UK solar farms, and the subsequent threat of legal action from solar farm developers. He argues strongly that the cuts are necessary to ensure residential and small-scale commercial installations—the intended original recipients of this scheme—get the support they were expecting. It is, after all, these schemes that will best raise the visibility and familiarity of solar to a broader audience. Solar farm developers “are right to feel aggrieved” says Murray, but the problem is the original short-comings of the law, not subsequent attempts to fix it. It takes a lot for people to admit they are wrong. Maybe the same goes for governments too…
The December 2008 Tennessee coal ash spill. Photo Credit: Lyndsay Moseley, Sierra Club
The words “hexavalent chromium” may not be ones you come across everyday, but they have made the news before. The deadly toxin first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now, new information from a joint report indicates that this chemical leaks readily from leaking coal ash dump sites maintained for coal-fired power plants.
The joint report (PDF) comes from public interest law firm Earthjustice, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Environmental Integrity Project and the Sierra Club.
Coal ash is the by-product of burning coal for power, and there are hundreds of coal ash wet and dry storage sites around the U.S. Hexavalent chromium is a highly toxic carcinogen when inhaled, and recent studies from the National Toxicology Program indicate that when leaked into drinking water, it can also cause cancer.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson even mentioned this report and the dangers of hexavalent chromium when testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday.
Beyond hexavalent chromium, coal ash contains arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, selenium and many other chemicals that can cause cancer and damage the nervous system and organs, especially in children.
But there are no federal safeguards to protect the public and the environment from toxic coal ash. As such, we are part of a coalition pushing for federally-enforceable safeguards from coal ash.
Among the findings from the new report:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that the type of chromium that leaches from coal ash sites is nearly always of the hexavalent variety, which is the most toxic form of chromium.
- The threat of hexavalent chromium contamination in drinking water is present at hundreds of unlined coal ash sites across the country.
- At least 28 coal ash sites in 17 states have already released chromium to groundwater at levels exceeding by thousands of times a proposed drinking water goal for hexavalent chromium.
- Power plants dump more than 10 million pounds of chromium and chromium compounds into mostly unlined or inadequately lined coal ash landfills, ponds and fill sites each year. The electric power industry is the largest single source of chromium and chromium compounds released to the environment.
- The U.S. Department of Energy and electric utility industry have known for years about the aggressive leaking of hexavalent chromium from coal ash.
- Hexavalent chromium contamination from coal ash is clearly a grave threat. Yet EPA, which is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, has completely ignored the cancer risk from chromium in groundwater.
It’s time for EPA to act. The Obama Administration should keep its promise to respect science and protect the public’s health, by putting strong federal standards in place to keep this contamination from spreading even further.