Rising Oil Prices Vs Solar Energy

Rapidly rising oil prices have led to such a demand for solar energy that the industry could operate itself without subsidies in just a few years, according to industry leaders.

At the Munich solar industry trade fair, industry leaders were increasingly confident that grid parity - where electricity from the sun can be produced as cheaply as it can be bought from the grid - is now just a few years away.

Solar photovoltaics (PV), which convert sunlight into electrical power, have long been dismissed as too expensive and not efficient enough to make a meaningful contribution to the battle against climate change.

But costs are falling dramatically as PV production escalates as electricity prices rise rapidly year on year in line with soaring oil and gas prices.

Germany now has nearly half a million houses fitted with PV panels. The feed-in tariff pays people with solar panels above-market rates for selling power back to the grid. Governments around the world might well take notice of the German approach.

With high oil prices have boosting demand even more. The market will probably expand another 40% this year, according to the German solar industry association.

Previous predictions that grid parity would be reached in Germany in 5-7 years, now look very conservative since. Germanys predictions allowed for only a 3% rise in electricity prices each year. In many countries increases of 20% a year are becoming the norm.

The China-based Suntech, the world's biggest maker of PV panels, plans to double production this year.

They believe grid parity in Germany can be reached within 5 years. In California and Italy, where there is lots of sun and high electricity prices, they said grid parity for PV systems had already been achieved.

And the great thing about solar energy is that although you have an upfront cost, the fuel is free and is not controlled by another country.

PV costs are falling rapidly and will continue to do so as the efficiency of panels improve and installation costs drop. Moreover, the price of silicon - which can be 70% of panel costs - is also likely to fall as new production technology becomes available.

See Complete Article

Oil Freedom through Solar Energy

  • A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.
  • A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.
  • Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.
  • A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.
  • But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive. {That is equivalent to 1 year of military expenditures}

High prices for gasoline and home heating oil are here to stay. The U.S. is at war in the Middle East at least in part to protect its foreign oil interests. And as China, India and other nations rapidly increase their demand for fossil fuels, future fighting over energy looms large. In the meantime, power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas, as well as vehicles everywhere, continue to pour millions of tons of pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually, threatening the planet.

Well-meaning scientists, engineers, economists and politicians have proposed various steps that could slightly reduce fossil-fuel use and emissions. These steps are not enough. The U.S. needs a bold plan to free itself from fossil fuels. Our analysis convinces us that a massive switch to solar power is the logical answer.

Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

To convert the country to solar power, huge tracts of land would have to be covered with photovoltaic panels and solar heating troughs. A direct-current (DC) transmission backbone would also have to be erected to send that energy efficiently across the nation.

See Complete Article

Cool Ideas - Solar Energy

Global Warming is a big issue but the world currently needs oil to run. This can be chnaged if governments and people were willing to switch to alternative methods of energy production such as Solar Energy.

Whats good for the environment is good for business

Support renewable energy and make world of difference for your business and the environment.

Join more than 15,000 other customers who support the growth of clean, renewable energy and preservation of our environment by participating in Second Nature. You don’t have to change your business to enroll, and it costs as little as $5 a month to make a world of difference.

When your business supports Second Nature, we’re able to buy and use more earth-friendly renewable energy, like wind and solar power, and less non-renewable resources, like coal, natural gas and nuclear.

Calculate your potential environmental impact

Every Second Nature customer helps build the demand for green energy, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and strengthen our domestic fuel base.

It’s just good business sense

Your support of renewable energy allows your business to:

  • Demonstrate a leadership role in your industry
  • Gain a competitive edge
  • Add value to your brand and generate positive publicity
  • Promote socially-responsible business practices and consumer health

As a business customer, you have a unique opportunity to join Alliant Energy’s other business green energy buyers. Nationally, you’ll be among the ranks of companies like 3M, Sprint, Lockheed Martin, Good Earth Natural Foods and Starbucks Corporation in supporting the growth and purchase of green power.

High lubricant Prices will make good for Renewables

  1. Present high oil prices make life difficult in poorer countries but at the same time also help fuel development of renewable energy sources
  2. There are several dilemmas regarding the high oil price.
  3. It makes it difficult for the poor countries. At the same time renewable energy will be developed faster, which is good.

Higher Oil Prices Make Renewable Energy Living

Human Beings talk a more about alternative fuels being more Living with oil at such high prices. It also, however, makes other, more exotic, fossil fuel extraction techniques viable. This piece in the UK’s Independent outlines how oil reserves are understated because certain known fields are too expensive to extract at this time - and therefore are excluded from oil reserve projections (an important point that I would wager that many investors don’t understand).

The risk for green investors (and the environment for that matter) is that, if true, tapping oil reserves such as these could grow oil supply over current projections (even if its at these current high prices) - driving out the peak oil scenario longer than anticipated by Wall Street. (This is the kind of stuff investors and analysts miss all the time).

Emerging Oil Prices making Renewable Energy More Powerful

"Emerging fossil fuel prices are making renewable energy more involving in the global market"

Renewable energy can't offer much relief to drivers and companies seeing their profits evaporate because of skyrocketing oil prices, because viable green alternatives to gasoline are hard to find. Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel aren't widely available, and hydrogen-powered cars aren't expected to hit the market for years.

Price curves
But in the electricity market, green power, especially wind, is already competing with traditional sources. At today's average wholesale prices, wind costs 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 4 cents for coal, 6.8 cents for natural gas, 9.1 cents for oil and 10 cents for nuclear power, according to Kyle Datta, managing director at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a research group focused on eco-friendly business.

Experts estimate that at today's consumption rates, known global supplies of oil and natural gas would be depleted within decades. But prices are expected to rise significantly long before supplies run out, making those fuels too expensive to use at current levels.

"They're never going to run out, but the ability to match supply to demand may already have run out, especially for oil," said Stephen Leeb, president of Leeb Capital Management and co-author of "The Oil Factor," which predicts that oil could hit $100 a barrel by 2010.

In the short term, fossil fuel prices are being driven up by war, political instability, natural disasters and other variables. The long-term outlook is clearer — global supplies are dwindling as demand soars, particularly in China and India, where automobiles are multiplying and economies are growing a breakneck speed.

"We should treat the prices as a warning that we need to act to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy," said Ralph Cavanagh, an energy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "They represent a terrible threat to the vitality of the United States."

Meanwhile, improving technology, tax credits, low interest rates and government mandates are making renewables more widely available, establishing an inexhaustible energy supply that will keep driving prices down.

Different Kinds of Renewable Energy

  • Solar energy which comes from the sun can be turned as electricity and heat. Solar panels on the roofs of houses, building and other establishment are use to store the solar energy. The sun's energy harnessed by the panels runs generators which provide electricity. There are stand-alone solar panels that you can put in your yard to save the sun's energy in a generator.
  • Geothermal energy is an energy that comes from the heat inside the earth. It's simple technology that involves boring a hole into the ground to take the heat from the earth's crust. The heat that comes off is used to heat water and make steam to power generators to make electricity.
  • Biomass energy is from the plant and trees. This energy alternative makes use of husks that come off rice after it is harvested and the waste from the corn. This "biomass" can be burned in a power station built for such a purpose. It emits less pollution than if the waste was left to rot, because it would produce a lot of methane.

Sources: Wood (most common source), plants, agricultural waste, industrial waste, even methane gas from community landfills.

Uses: fuel for transportation or to manufacture product that would otherwise use fossil fuels.

  • Water Energy - the natural evaporation/precipitation cycle makes water a renewable source of energy. The heat of the sun causes water in lakes and ocean to evaporate and form clouds. The water then falls back to earth as rain or snow, and goes to the rivers and streams that flow back to the ocean. Moving water can be used to power water wheels that drive mechanical processes. Water Wheels are useful for generating mechanical energy to grind grain or saw wood, but are not practical for generating electricity because it is bulky and slow. Water energy emits about 30 times less greenhouse gas than modern natural gas power plants and 60 times less than coal-fired plant, which makes it a clean source of energy.
  • Wind Energy is captured by wind turbines and used to generate electricity. The costs of wind energy are going down as mass manufacture of turbines becomes more accepted. It costs the same as setting up a new coal or nuclear power station. More importantly, external cost to health care and the effects of acid rain are 50times less than when using coal.

Renewable Energy - Benefits

The most obvious benefits of renewable energy are that it is far less polluting than conventional energy and will not run out. Renewable energy can also be produced more locally. This means that it can help local and national economies by using local resources and creating jobs. It will also help reduce the country’s dependence on overseas countries that may be politically unstable. This will help ensure supply and avoid price fluctuation.

Renewable energy is also much safer than nuclear energy which some people regard as ‘clean’. Accidents in nuclear plants can be catastrophic and there is the added problem of having to deal with nuclear waste.

One of the most important benefits of renewable energy is the fact that it’s non-polluting. And of course as the name tells us it is renewable and does not use resources that can never be replaced. Renewable energy has a much lower environmental impact than conventional sources of energy. But there are other advantages to using renewable sources of energy.

There are many benefits of renewable energy to the ordinary citizen and business owner. Homeowners will reap rewards from using renewable energy and energy-efficient appliances by saving money in the long run and reducing environmental impacts. It also renders us able to fuel our homes independently in many cases. Using renewable fuels makes us less dependent.

Benefits of Renewable Energy Source:

* Renewable energy sources offer clean alternative to fossil fuels.
* RE produces little or no pollution or greenhouse gases.
* RE will never run out

Our Future Energy - Solar

Great video.. Wow! I didn't know that burning fossil fuels produced pollution!

The lost history of biofuels

It's surprising that the history of something as important as renewable energy in general, and biofuels in particular, would be so little known. If you read current historical works on energy, there is no mention of ethanol or other biofuels. The Prize or most other histories of the energy have little or no mention of alternatives.

Its like we have a history of Rock and Roll with the Beatles but not the Stones. Or of aviation with the Wrights but not Curtis. Or of dance with Fred but without Ginger.

Before we open a narrative on the history of renewable energy and biofuels and the people who fought for their recognition, we might take a minute to think about history itself.

Thucydides (460 - 400 BC) once said: "The way that most men deal with traditions, even traditions of their own country, is to receive them all alike as they are delivered, without applying any critical test whatever..."

Plenthy of material

To ignore alcohol as a fuel entirely in the history of energy certainly seems fishy. There is plenty of raw material to go on. For example:

  • At least 152 popular and scholarly articles under the heading "Alcohol as a Fuel" can be found the the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature between 1900 and 1921.
  • About 20 references to papers and books written before 1925 are found in the Library of Congress database catalog; a 1933 Chemical Foundation report lists 52 references before 1925 on alcohol fuels. A1944 Senate report lists 24 USDA publications on alcohol fuels before 1920. Technical books from the period document hundreds of additional references .
  • The New York Times database returns 408 results for alcohol and fuel in the 1900 to 1925 time period and 602 in the next 25 years. In the 1951-1975 period the number drops off to 268. But the last quarter of the 20th century, 645 articles are found.

Why? We could chalk it up to several things, including these:

Roads not taken. Historians love to tell stories about success and heroism. Writing about "failures" -- even failures that may later prove useful -- is rarely done.

Women's history. Many of the people who were most vocal on issues like air pollution and the need to put public health ahead of corporate profit were ignored by traditional historians precisely because of their gender.

Industrial history. Historians who have written histories of businesses or of great enterprises are often the recipients of generous grants and cooperation from the industries about which they are writing.

Why its important now

We are only about two centuries into the industrial revolution, we often forget that renewable energy was the only energy source for most of human history.

We can appreciate the history of renewable energy as part of our "useable past." There are lessons here about roads not taken. In terms of social context, we need to understand the history of renewable energy as part of our tradition of reform.

Most importantly, renewable systems are flexible and rapidly scalable. Massive outputs of ethanol or butanol or other biofuels, in the range of billions of gallons, could be scaled up within a matter of months or a few short years. Coal and petroleum bases systems take much longer to build, as we learned in World War II.

Renewable energy sources tend to be more expensive, it's true.

Unlike fossil energy from coal or oil, or nuclear energy from uranium, renewable energy is dispersed, decentralized and more difficult to collect and concentrate.

Solar, wind and hydro power have no fuel costs, but have much higher capital costs that have to be covered initially. Fossil energy, on the other hand, has been economically more attractive even when renewables cost the same because fossil energy fuel costs are spread out over the life of the power generating plant.

Traditional economics have put renewables at a disadvantage for other reasons as well:

    External environmental costs of fossil fuels and nuclear power have been imposed on populations, especially weaker segments

    The costs of resource extraction from politically unstable foreign lands have been placed on taxpayers through bloated military establishments.

    And so the true cost of oil, by one estimate, is between $5.60 and $15.14 a gallon.

    Another cost is political. For instance, America's oil habit certainly helped turn U.S. citizens into targets of choice (Washington Post, 2001)

US government policy signals about energy have been unrealistic and totally unreliable.

But the question is, really: Can renewable technology ever be cheap enough, and provide enough power, to avert catastrophe?

Learning the lessons of the past as a guide to the future, as Thucydides said, is the point of studying history

NEXT: Renewable energy history categories

Solar Power - Developments in Renewable-Energy Technology

Photovoltaic, or solar-electric, systems capture light energy from the sun's rays and convert it into electricity. Today these solar units power everything from small homes to large office buildings.

Technological improvements have made solar-electric modules more cost-effective. In the 1980s the average price of energy captured with photovoltaics was 95 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour. Today that price has dropped to around 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Collins, of the American Solar Energy Society.

The cheaper rate is still more expensive than the average national price of electricity, which in 2003 was a little over 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Annual Energy Review.

Other recent advances include "thin film" photovoltaic technology, a high-tech coating that converts any surface covered with the film into a solar-electric power source.