Growing Solar Power Industry Leads To An Increase In Hazardous Waste.

Solar Panel FarmShould you go solar or not? If you read through the AP story, “Solar power boom fuels increase in hazardous waste sent to dumps,” it’s hard to tell which way to go. Here’s an excerpt:

“While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.”

Translation: renewable solar power is far less polluting than coal and natural gas but thanks to $$$ in government incentives, demand and production are up and so is the associated pollution.

In related news, Scientists in Brazil have determined that “if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass when he’s hopping.” [Grist and Newser]

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To Keep Future Energy Costs Predictable, IKEA Decides To Double-Down On Renewable Energy.

IKEA solar panelsIkea has always tried to simplify the furniture assembly process. Following that same path, Ikea is now working to simplify how they’ll get their future electricity by doubling their investment in renewable energy to $4 billion. From Ikea CEO and President Mikael Ohlsson (Bloomberg):

“I foresee we’ll continue to increase our investments in renewable energy… looking at how quickly we’re expanding and our value chain, we will most likely have to double the investments once more after 2015.”

Ikea’s goal is to get 100% of the power for their stores from renewable sources by 2020. Ikea’s stores currently get 34% of their electricity from 250,000 solar panels they own and from 126 wind turbines they’ve invested in. [Bloomberg]

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Future Solar Panels May Squeeze More Juice From The Sun By Mimicking Deep-Sea Bacteria That Have To Do The Same.

Green Sulfur BacteriaGreen sulfur bacteria, solar panel. Solar panel, green sulfur bacteria. Now that you’ve been introduced, and with the help of researchers at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, we hope you can work together and lead to more efficient solar panels. From GigaOM:

“Bacteria that live almost a mile under the surface of the ocean, where light is scare, have adapted biological ways to harness tiny amounts of light very efficiently, and in some cases can use photosynthesis to convert 100 percent of the light they find into electricity. In contrast a typical solar panel commonly converts around 15 percent of sunlight into electricity.”

For more details, check out the article “Unlocking nature’s quantum engineering for efficient solar energy.” [GigaOM]

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Would Solar Power Work At Your House?

Solar PanelsGreat story on GigaOM about Kevin C. Tofel’s personal journey and switch to solar power. The article,“One year with solar energy at home: Mostly sunny!,” covers the costs, tax breaks and the decisions he and his family had to make to go solar. Kevin and his family live in southeastern Pennsylvania and lost power during Hurricane Sandy – here’s how one of their cost-cutting choices came back on them:

“One of the upfront decisions you’ll need to make when planning a solar panel system is will you still be tied to the electric grid? Or will you go off-grid? There are pros and cons to each; the former costs less up front while the latter provides stored power during the evening hours or during an outage. Since we had no power during Hurricane Sandy, you can guess which system we have: One that keeps us tied to the grid.”

If you’re seriously considering switching to solar, read the full article. It’s excellent and focuses on the economics of switching to solar and stays away from the “I’m greener than you” message. [GigaOM]

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Report From SEIA: Walmart Generates The Most Solar. IKEA Leads By Percent Of Stores Using Solar Power.

SEIA's Top 20 Companies by Solar CapacityAccording to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Walmart is tops in commercial solar power production. Rooftop solar panels on an IKEA store.As a percentage of retail locations, IKEA leads the pack by installing solar panels on 79% of their stores. What does this mean? If you consider yourself a friend of all things green, you should buy all of your food & clothing at Walmart and your furniture & household items at IKEA. You should also ignore the post before this one that kind of makes fun of Walmart. [SEIA via GigaOM]

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Solar And Wind Power Could Supply 100% Of US Energy By 2026

Wind Turbines and Solar PanelsThe 1973 movie Soylent Green predicted that due to over-population, we will be happily unaware and dining on humans in the year 2022. Four years after that, according to an article on Treehugger.com, the US could be getting 100% of its electricity from renewable wind and solar sources. Meeting this 100% renewable goal would be kind of simple: implement wind turbines and solar panels at the same rate as the Germans and do it to scale.

(Note: We’re pretty sure that our diet of Soylent Green from 2022 – 2026 was not factored into meeting this goal.)

[youtube width=”350″ height=”197″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpN312hYgU[/youtube]

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