In more news about ECD (Energy Conversion Devices), the company has announced it has signed an agreement with Endesa in Spain to install 3.0 MWp of UNI-SOLAR photovoltaic (PV) laminates on the rooftops of two Coca-Cola Company buildings in Seville. This is the second announcement of this sort in as many months. Their other project, in Ontario, is expected to be completed later this year. Read my previous post for details on that.

In this project the company is again operating through United Solar Ovonic, a subsidiary of ECD. In this manner, they will oversee the construction of the rooftop system. In this project, the materials will consist of UNI-SOLAR laminates bonded to the Giscosa waterproofing system and applied directly on the roofs. When finished, the system will be owned and managed by Endesa. Construction will begin this quarter, with completion expected in the first half of calendar 2010.

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In October of 2009, Dow Chemical unveiled its line of Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles, revolutionary photovoltaic solar panels in the form of solar shingles. These shingles can be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. The innovative product design reduces installation costs because the conventional roofing shingles and solar generating shingles are installed simultaneously by roofing contractors. This is the biggest forward leap that anyone has made in producing solar roofing materials that can be utilized easily. This will ultimately hold down labor and time related costs as well as the cost of materials.

These solar shingle systems are going to be available in limited quantities sometime this year and are projected to be more widely available as soon as 2011. This new products puts the power of solar electricity generation into the hands of homeowners at a reasonable cost and without a lot of specialized labor. This product is the result of groundbreaking technology from Dow Solar and integrates low-cost, thin-film CIGS photovoltaic cells into a proprietary roofing shingle design, making it useable by standard current roofing companies. This integrated shingle is, literally, a multi-functional solar energy generating roofing product.

The way this innovative product design reduces installation costs is through the integration of the standard shingles and the solar panels. This allows conventional roofing shingles and solar generating shingles to be installed simultaneously by roofing contractors. Dow Solar (DSS) expects an enthusiastic response from roofing contractors since no specialized skills or knowledge of solar array installations are required. As I already said, this is a huge step forward in making solar panels accessible as they have always required specialized knowledge, informed installation and intensive labor and time invested, which drove the cost up over the average homeowners budget.

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Many of us have experienced the frustration of having a cell phone or MP3 player go dead and being away from a power outlet to charge the batteries. Actually, this isn’t a solely current problem, either, as I recall listening to “dragging” cassette players and static hazed radios many years ago, when I used battery chargers and rechargeable batteries. Being caught on a 10 mile hike with a dead radio is a big drag. This is where portable solar is making big inroads and offering relief. Even if you’re not a big techno nerd with a boombox on your shoulder or an MP3 plug in your ear, you may have concerns about getting off the grid or just saving money on batteries in general. Even you should consider portable solar. Thanks to technology improvements and lower production costs for photovoltaic (PV) cells, you can now harness sunlight at home or on the road to power a variety of products while reducing your environmental impact at the same time.

PV cells generate varying amounts of electricity based on their size and composition, and on the amount of incoming sunlight. Even so there are a lot of products for which sunlight provides a viable and affordable alternative power source and these are already available on the market. If you haven’t purchased one yet or maybe even haven’t even shopped these items, here is a brief list of what I found available today:

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In a generous move towards the forwarding of green energy initiatives, Wells Fargo and Co contributed a whopping $80,000 to GRID Alternatives. Grid Alternatives is a nonprofit that installs solar electricity systems for low income homeowners. The donation from Wells Fargo was earmarked for expansion of the Solar Affordable Housing Program and to build a model for this housing concept that can be replicated nationwide.

This is one of the most valuable contributions I have heard of thus far. This idea, GRID Alternatives, is a viable and tremendously useful solution for the financial outreach of solar energy. It is currently an expensive alternative to oil that most low income people would consider beyond their reach while these are exactly the people who need it most. Thus far, GRID Alternatives has installed over 200 solar electric systems in low income homes and this is currently generating over 3 million in clean renewable power. This effort alone reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 10,000 TONS a year.

“We’re committed to supporting clean, renewable energy and have invested in large-scale wind and solar projects nationwide,” said Barry Neal, director of Environmental Finance at Wells Fargo. “Our contribution to GRID Alternatives supports the deployment of solar electric systems to low-income families who can benefit the most from related cost savings in their electricity bills.”

In their efforts, GRID Alternatives hold down costs by training and leading teams of community volunteers in the job of installing these solar electric systems for low income homes. The organization launched its Solar Affordable Housing Program in 2004 and currently operates in communities in Northern and Southern California in partnership with local governments and nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity.

Wells Fargo integrates environmental responsibility into its business practices and operation. This year it launched a Solar Home Program to support the development of new solar homes in California. Learn more at Wells Fargo Environment.

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News item from Tech World News:

MIT researchers have announced that they have created “organic solar concentrators” that could make windows become powerful solar panels in as little as three years.

The concentrator is mixture of two or more dyes painted onto a pane of glass or plastic. The dyes absorb light across a range of wavelengths, re-emit it at a different wavelength and transport it across the pane to the solar cells at the edges. Focusing the light like this increases the electrical power generated by each solar cell by a factor of 40.

The advantages are twofold: the dyes greatly increase the power of solar cells, and homeowner are much more likely to incorporate solar glass into their homes.
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Scientists had tried using similar solar concentrators in the 1970s, but abandoned the idea when not enough of the collected light reached the edges of the concentrator. The MIT engineers revamped the idea by using a mixture of dyes in specific ratios, which allows some level of control over how the light is transmitted.

More details can be found here: Tech News World

Resources:
Build your own solar-electric panel (Electrical Independence Booklets)

Make Your Own Solar Wall Panel: The Thermosiphoning Air Panel, The Fan Assisted Air Panel, The Retrotrombe

Live Off the Grid in 12 Easy Steps

Learn the Pool Heaters & Solar Panels Online Business Networking Secrets

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Amancio Ortega, the billionaire who runs Spain’s Intidex textile empire and founded the Zara fashion chain, is suddenly moving into alternative energy. He is creating a global network of renewable energy sources. The name of this new company is Capital Energy and Mr. Ortega is the Chairman and chief shareholder. He appears to have been motivated by an offer made by Galicia’s regional ministry for innovation and industry. In response, Capital Energy will provide up to 2,323 megawatts of energy from various alternative sources and independently set up some 20 energy “parks”.

Mr. Ortega is the richest man in Spain, having founded Zara fashion years ago from a kitchen table in his sister’s home in La Coruna. He is launching this new venture from the same modest area, Galicia, which is in northwest Spain. So far he has produced a handful of projects and established energy bridgeheads in three continents. The beginnings may be modest but his worldwide ambitions are obvious. I am sincerely hoping he is as successful with this new project as he has been with pantsuits in the past. As a measure of earnestness, he has said that he intends to invest more than 2.54 billion in Capital Energy over the next 18 months, which is more money than many struggling countries could provide for their own initiatives. Think of the lives that can be changed with this. Mr. Ortega obviously believes that renewable energy production on a world scale as the next big thing.

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If you are a homeowner who has considered going over to solar you know the pitfalls and difficulties you have faced in the past. First of all, it is very expensive. Most people just cannot afford this kind of investment up front, even if it does mean big savings down the line. And then there is the overall confusion among all of us about which systems are available and which will work for you. Toss in the various rebates and incentives and you have a recipe for surrender. Most homeowners just flat out give up out of exasperation, even if they still long for this change.

Enter 1BOG (One Block off the Grid). This new organization is trying to take some of the confusion and expense out of trying to buy solar. 1BOG was formed earlier this year in San Fransisco and it’s main goal is to organize all interested parties and having them buy into solar upgrades on a collective level. They ran their first effort his past summer and found that their idea slashed the prices of solar, including materials AND installation by a whopping 43%! This total is pretty accurate, it even includes all the federal, state and local rebates. On the heels of this success, they are now in the process of expanding this effort into 11 other major cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver.

The entire concept, pulling together large groups of consumers, amplifies buying power and enables the group to negotiate discounts from suppliers and installers, often for a substantial amount. This brings down the overall cost of this upgrade for all of the participants. It’s sort of like a carpool idea. Everybody rides in the same car and then everybody saves on gas. Imagine if all of you bought a single car and then shared it. This concept puts solar power with the reach of many consumers for the first time in our history.

This concept was the baby of a husband and wife team, a former advertising executive and a Silicon Valley software executive. They created the organization after going the grueling learning experience of researching, buying and installing solar on their own home in California. Once they were done, they had a real education in the process and realized that the project was way too challenging for many folk. They first created a website, Solar4SF.org, for the purpose of simply sharing what they’d learned. They wanted to save everyone else the headache of doing what they had accomplished after so much work.

Along with the website, they also spread the word through community gatherings like flea markets. By the beginning of this past summer they had the first group of 100 people signed up. 1BOG then sent out requests for proposals from vendors in their area; sort of like bidding on a major contract. Their first winning bidder was Real Goods Solar, a company in California that is known for making the very first solar panel sale in the USA over 30 years ago.

At this time,1BOG is a volunteer organization but they are hoping to be successful enough to turn it into a for profit company and be able to hire paid employees. But first and foremost they wish to spread the use of renewable energies, no matter what time and effort that actually takes.

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