Electric

Elec Grid

For years, low-cost solar-plus-battery systems were seen as a distant possibility at best, a fringe technology not likely to be a threat to mainstream electricity delivery any time soon. By far, the limiting factor has been battery costs. But thanks to a confluence of factors playing out across the energy industry, the reality is that affordable battery storage is coming much sooner than most people realize. That approaching day of cheaper battery storage, when combined with solar PV, has the potential to fundamentally alter the electricity landscape.

Organic

How might these three organic food industry trends—a shift from niche to mainstream markets, growing consumer demand, and an omnipresent price premium—apply to the electricity sector? I recently wrote about the de-commoditization of the kilowatt-hour, comparing electricity from a utility to the produce aisle of the supermarket. But for me this brought up a new series of questions?

Celebrate

Renewables are making headway in Europe and bringing a low-carbon electricity system to the forefront. Renewables were 69 percent of new capacity added in 2012 in Europe and 49 percent in the United States. Not surprisingly, this threatens utilities unwilling to let go of outmoded business models and fossil-fuel generation. Should old, long- and often still-subsidized oligopolies be bailed out or shielded from competition when they bet against innovation and lose?

Cabin

Ever thought of building your own energy efficient cabin ... for $11,000? Prior to moving to Colorado this past summer to work at RMI, one staffer did just that and shares his thoughts on passive solar design, thermally massive materials, solar panels and wood cook stoves.

Itscold

2014 brought the polar vortex to our vocabulary, and with the continuing bitter cold in the Eastern half of the US, most of us are wondering: what’s going to happen to my electric and gas bill?

Batteries

Did you know? Solar-plus-storage has actually been around for decades. In fact, it was what kickstarted the solar industry in the early 1980s. A bunch of marijuana “farmers” in northern California who weren’t connected to the grid needed a way to get electric lights for their grow operations. A young hippie stumbled upon an ARCO solar panel at a consumer electronics show, and soon after founded AEE Solar and started powering off-grid homes with solar panels and car batteries, and his customers always paid in cash.

Securitization

At the end of November, SolarCity issued the first publicly known solar asset-backed securitization (ABS), selling $54 million of bundled cash payments. It was a major milestone that many in the distributed solar industry have eagerly awaited. SolarCity’s ABS was a big deal, but there’s more to do

Clean Energy

Over the last five years, American inventors and investors have delivered significant progress in developing and deploying key clean energy technologies, supported by Administration policies. Electricity production from solar and wind has doubled. Our cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gasoline, saving families money at the pump. And in 2012, U.S. carbon pollution fell to its lowest level in nearly 20 years. The simple fact is that key clean energy technology costs are continuing to come down, and these technologies are producing more American energy than ever before.

Energy Tips

It’s a new year, and that means new resolutions. Whether this is the first year you’re looking for ways to save energy or you want to lower your energy bills even more than last year, check out our eight strategies for saving energy. 

Coolroof

Millions of dollars and massive amounts of fossil fuels are spent cooling homes and buildings covered by conventional roofs that absorb sunlight, get as hot as 185 degrees and radiate that heat inside. Add to that the fact that sunlight-absorbing roofs contribute to the urban heat island effect, which increases air pollution, and it’s easy to see the need for something new. Luckily, there is promise for reducing this burden to the environment and economy — in cool roofs.

To receive new blog posts