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Back to school? Schools that have installed solar panels threatened with an unfair tax bill

Ecologist reporter

5th September, 2015

How comes doing 'the right thing' comes with hidden costs? For state schools planning to go solar this year the business rate hike would reduce the lifetime return of the panels to zero or even negative, while those that have have already installed solar panels face an unexpected tax bill in excess of £800 a year. more...
Hydrogen produced from renewable energy is already finding a market as a 'green' fuel for cars. But its future potential goes way beyond that, as a vital storage mechanism for surplus wind / solar electricity on the grid, to provide power on demand. Photo

The hydrogen economy is much nearer than we think

David Thorpe

26th August 2016

Hydrogen made from renewable electricity is already fuelling vehicles at affordable prices, writes DAVID THORPE. But now the 'green' fuel is set to go from niche to mainstream - powering not just cars, trucks and buses, but storing surplus renewable energy on sunny and windy days, then to be burnt in gas turbines or fuel cells to supply the grid with reliable power on demand. more...
10 MW Solar PV Power Plant in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, where solar is already the lowest cost form of electricity generation. Photo: Masdar Official via Flockr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The Switch: soon solar will be the cheapest power everywhere

Chris Goodall

22nd July 2016

Solar is already the cheapest available power across large swathes of the tropics, writes Chris Goodall - its cost down 99.7% since the early 70s. Soon it will be the cheapest electricity everywhere, providing clean, secure, affordable energy for all. more...
New 'solar leaves' will be able to produce ethanol directly from sunlight - the perfect liquid fuel for automotive use - with just enough methanol to stop you drinking it. Photo: Eric Roy via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Goodbye gasoline: we can Get It From The Sun

Keith Barnham

21st July 2016

Traveling in the US by boat and train visiting solar laboratories and environmental groups, Keith Barnham found many successful community initiatives in renewable electricity, and brings news of progress towards the ultimate renewable challenge: a solar fuel that could eventually replace gasoline in cars, trucks, buses, trains and aircraft. more...
Behind the beach and dunes of Druridge Bay, planning permission for a 350 hectare opencast coal mine has been granted. But if turned into a solar power farm, the same land would produce as much electricity as the coal after 70 years. Photo: Doug Belshaw v

Solar on the best UK sites is competitive with cheap coal

Chris Goodall

15th July 2016

Last week a massive 350 hectare open cast coal mine at Druridge Bay took an important step towards winning panning permission. This got Chris Goodall wondering: what if the land was turned into a solar farm instead? His surprise discovery: solar power on England's south coast already costs no more than coal - and it's only getting cheaper. more...
The smoke rises above Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada - no, not from the recent fires that afflicted the city, but from the highly polluting plant processing tar sand into oil. Photo: kris krüg / DeSmogBlog via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Renewables versus climate change - the battle heats up!

Jeremy Leggett

7th June 2016

The renewable energy revolution is in full swing, writes Jeremy Leggett, with costs falling to new lows, deployment of wind and solar surging to unprecedented highs, and confidence ebbing away from fossil fuels. But global warming is also accelerating, with global temperature records broken every month for a year. Will the energy transition happen in time to avert catastrophe? more...
Installing a Solarcentury 'Sunstation', which embeds into the roof rather than sitting above it. Photo: Solarcentury.

Innovation for the global energy transformation: the Solarcentury Sunstation

Jeremy Leggett

1st June 2016

In the face of repeated attempts by the UK government to suppress the nation's solar industry in favour of fracking and nuclear, Jeremy Leggett tells the story of how the solar company he founded in 2000 has not just survived, but driven forward with technical innovation - including its new 'Sunstation' - an integrated 'snap-on' solar generation design that elegantly embeds into roofs. more...
The key to further big increases in wind and solar capacity is to store surplus power as gas, then burn it CCGT gas power stations when needed to meet demand. Photo: Royd Moor wind farm, Yorkshire, by steve p2008 via Flickr (CC BY).

Renewable energy can 'keep the lights on' - here's how

David Elliott

6th May 2016

Critics of renewable energy sources like wind and solar claim that they are inefficient, unreliable and need to be backed up by coal and gas, writes David Elliott. But we have the technology to match green power supply and demand at affordable cost without fossil fuels - by deploying the 'smart grid', using 'green gas' made from surplus power, and raising energy efficiency. more...
The Zaporozhye nuclear power station seen from the 'Nikopol' bank of the river Dnieper, Ukraine. Photo: Ralf1969 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Thirty years after Chernobyl, what chance of a post-nuclear Ukraine?

Jan Haverkamp & Iryna Holovko

26th April 2016

The Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe may have scared most of the world off nuclear power, write Jan Haverkamp & Iryna Holovko. But mysteriously, not Ukraine, where the reactor meltdown actually took place. Thirty years on more than half of Ukraine's electricity is still nuclear, while the power sector is dominated by powerful oligarchs. So what are the chances of a post-nuclear Ukraine? more...
This wind farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern allows the entire state to run on 100% renewable energy. Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr (CC BY).

Dispelling the nuclear 'baseload' myth: nothing renewables can't do better!

Mark Diesendorf

10th March 2016

The main claim used to justify nuclear is that it's the only low carbon power source that can supply 'reliable, baseload electricity', writes Mark Diesendorf - unlike wind and solar. But not only can renewables supply baseload power, they can do something far more valuable: supply power flexibly according to demand. Now nuclear power really is redundant. more...
Solar heating evacuated tubes being installed on a roof in Thorton Heath, England. Photo: szczel via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Would you believe it? Yet another UK solar energy cut!

Oliver Tickell

7th March 2016

After ten massive renewable energy cuts that are leaving the UK falling well short of EU renewable energy targets, an eleventh! The axe is now falling on solar heating, writes Oliver Tickell - even though it's meant to be at the core of the government's renewable energy strategy. more...
A female solar engineer from Rajasthan, India - just one of many who could have benefitted from the work to create the National Solar Mission. Photo: Knut-Erik Helle via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

World Trade Organisation smashes India's solar panels industry

Dipti Bhatnagar & Sam Cossar-Gilbert

28th February 2016

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has found India's huge solar initiative 'guilty' of breaking trade rules, write Dipti Bhatnagar & Sam Cossar-Gilbert, because it gives domestic manufacturers a small 10% quota for the supply of panels, leaving up to 90% for foreign competitors. It's a warning for perils of the entire WTO system, and of even harsher trade rules like those in TPP, TTIP and CETA. more...

solar: 1/25 of 155
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Look, no smoke! London's Battersea power station was closed in 1983 and survives only as an architectural icon. Will all coal power stations end up like this? Photo: Mark Colliton via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

Fossil fuels a bad bet due to market changes, investors warned

Paul Brown

16th February 2016

The ever-falling cost of renewable energy could leave investors in coal, gas and oil seriously out of pocket as demand for fossil fuels falls away, writes Paul Brown. In the wake of the Paris Agreement and shrinking markets in major importing countries, the smart money is moving into renewables. more...
A solar-paneled shoebox on West 123rd Street, Central Harlem, Manhattan Island. Photo: Matt Green via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Five US states are leading the way in solar power initiatives

Aaron Viles / DeSmogBlog

3rd March 2016

State action on solar power can make a big difference, writes Aaron Viles. Driven by ambitious renewable energy targets and the need to generate local growth industries of the future, five states stand out for their trend-setting policies that are accelerating the US's clean energy transition. more...
Wind farms such as these in Palm Springs, California could be the answer to low-cost energy throughout the US. Photo: Prayitno Hadinata via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

'Renewable energy highways' offer quick fix for US emissions

Tim Radford

2nd February 2016

Scientists say interstate energy 'highways' offer a simple approach to delivering low-cost electricity to where it’s needed throughout the US, writes Tim Radford. The best part? It's using clean, renewable energy sources, and it can be achieved in the near future using only existing, mature technologies. more...
From small beginnings ... local barefoot solar engineer cleaning PV panels in village outside Ajmer, Rajasthan, India, in December 2008. Photo: Knut-Erik Helle via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

India: solar head to head with coal, says KPMG, and getting cheaper all the time

Chris Goodall

3rd January 2015

A KPMG study shows that the cost of solar power in India, revealed by public auctions, is barely half a cent above that of cheap local coal , writes Chris Goodall, with generators bids falling well below 5p (UK) / 7¢ (US) per kWh. The idea put about at COP21 that India and other poor but sunny countries need coal to develop their economies is fast running out of steam. more...
Deep cuts to large scale solar in the UK have put an end to developments like this one: a 32MW solar farm on Long Island, NY, USA. Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Deep cuts and VAT bring ruin to UK solar industry

Oliver Tickell

17th December 2015

Less than a week ago Amber Rudd was basking in the glory of the Paris Agreement. Today, she's betraying all her high-flown rhetoric as she smashes up what's left of the UK solar industry with a deep cuts in incentives to solar generators and the imposition of 20% VAT. more...
Solar panels on the GLA building at Tower Hill, London. Photo: James Cridland via Flickr (CC BY).

Today's solar cut: government turns its back on the future

Doug Parr / Greenpeace Energydesk

17th December 2015

The government's decision to cut support for domestic solar by 64% reflects antiquated thinking, writes Doug Parr. Just as the rest of Europe is shifting to ever-cheaper renewable, low carbon, decentralised, participatory, employment generating energy systems, the UK is stuck in a the dirty past of nuclear and fossil fuels. more...
Minister Gregory Barker visits what was then the UK's largest rooftop solar array at Bentley Motors in Crewe, October 2013. Photo: DECC via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

EU renews 70% 'solar tax' on Chinese PV

Oliver Tickell

7th December 2015

The EU's decision to renew 'punitive' tariffs on imports of PV modules and cells from China will cost the EU's solar installers an extra £700 million, writes Oliver Tickell - just as the UK industry is reeling from 87% government cuts. more...
With 50 times more solar power on a 'net metering' basis than now (5% vs 0.1%), electricity costs in Pennsylvania would fall by $25 per customer. Business with solar panels in Harleysville, PA. Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission via Flickr (CC B

Solar power is good for consumers, good for utilities

Richard Flarend, Pennsylvania State University

30th October 2015

An analysis of power prices in the US state of Pennsylvania shows that if solar power increased from the 0.1% of electricity it supplies now, to 5%, then all customers would save $25 a year. Far from 'net metering' for solar being a 'burden' as utilities claim, it makes money for them, and their customers! more...
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom taking questions from MPs last week on the cuts to renewable energy generation. Photo: still from Parliament TV.

Minister: 'solar companies back support cuts'

Joe Sandler Clarke & Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk

25th October 2015

Just as the UK's entire renewable energy industry is up in arms against fierce cuts to support for the sector, energy Minister Andrea Leadsom suggested to MPs that the measures were supported by solar firms in her constituency. They beg to differ. more...
The £1 plan garnered cross-party support from over 30 MPs from all parties yesterday at an action outside the House of Commons including Sir David Amess MP (Con), Mims Davies MP (Con), Kevin Hollinrake MP (Con), Caroline Flint MP (Lab), Caroline Lucas MP

Back our emergency £1 solar rescue plan

Sonia Dunlop / Solar Trade Association

22nd October 2015

Massive government cuts in solar 'feed in tariffs' threaten to wipe out our highly successful solar industry, writes Sonia Dunlop - and all to save £1 year off our fuel bills. Yes, that's all it would cost to keep the sector in business, employing tens of thousands of expert solar installers all over the UK. more...
It costs a lot less than we are told: erection of a wind turbine at Alltwalis Wind Farm in Wales, set in operation December 2009. Photo: Aslak Øverås / Statkraft via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Wind and solar's £1.5 billion electricity price cut

Oliver Tickell

19th October 2015

The effect of wind and solar generation in the UK is to push down wholesale power prices, writes Oliver Tickell, taking over £1.5 billion off our bills in 2014 - that's 58% of the subsidies paid to renewable generators. Keep it up and the benefit will rise to over 100% of cost. more...
Ribbon cutting ceremony for the new solar installation in Little Buffalo, Alberta. Photo: Greenpeace Canada via Youtube.

Energy democracy: Lubicon Cree build a solar dream in a tar sands nightmare

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

15th November 2015

An 500-strong Indigenous community in Alberta, the heart of Canada's environmentally catastrophic tar sands industry, is fighting back against the pollution, writes Melina Laboucan-Massimo - by cutting themselves adrift from dependence on fossil fuels, and starting up their own solar power station: a vital first step towards building a just and sustainable society. more...
Construction will soon begin at the Fylde solar farm in Lancashire. Toyota Solar Array under construction at Burnaston, UK. Photo: Toyota UK via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Solar farm approved at rejected fracking site

Ben Lucas / DeSmog.uk

11th September 2015

A stones throw from where Cuadrilla lost its bid to develop a fracking operation in Lancashire, a solar farm has just won planning permission with widespread local support, writes Ben Lucas. However a 194-turbine offshore wind farm near the Isle of Wight has been refused planning consent. more...

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