Community-Owned Green Businesses Seeing Great Growth

Community-Owned sustainable energy companies aren’t new, but they are successful! One of the reasons Germany’s push to a sustainable energy grid has worked is that local community own and operate solar farms, wind farm, and so on. Now that citizen-empowering model is

According to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), there was a 31% jump in renewable energy sector investment across Canada in 2014 with $8 billion spent on developing green energy projects. Locally, community co-ops have developed over 75 projects in the Greater Toronto Area, including on rooftops in Toronto, Hamilton, Brampton, Vaughan, Markham and Mississauga, with many more to come.

“These are very exciting times for renewable energy. Costs have dropped significantly, technology has improved, and electricity system managers have made the leap on integrating these new energy sources. The result is a big upswing in jobs and investment in this sector, exactly what our country needs right now with our oil sector stalling out and the threat of climate change growing,” says Judith Lipp, President of the Federation of Community Power Cooperatives (FCPC).

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New Solar Cell Technology, Perovskite, Shows Promise

Solar power is getting cheaper every year and that trend seems to never end. Now there’s a new (and maybe even cheaper) technology for solar energy generation. The reason this new approach of using perovskite solar cells is important is that it permits the easy implementation of solar technology into area previously considered impractical.

First created in 2012, perovskite solar cells have shown great promise in recent years as an affordable alternative to other solar technologies, such as photovoltaic cells typically used in solar panels. Now scientists from Wake Forest University and the University of Utah have described the very first example of field-effect modulation in perovskites (i.e. their use in transistors), with potentially far-reaching implications.

Until now, researchers have been unable to fabricate field-effect transistors to measure the charge transport of the materials. Necessary prerequisites for a material that forms an efficient solar cell are strong optical absorption and efficient charge carrier transport. With these first generation transistors, researchers from Wake Forest and Utah were able for the first time to directly measure the ability of hybrid perovskites to transport charge, widening the spectrum of possible applications of these materials.

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Faster Than Oil, Clean Energy on the Rise

Economists are really bad at predictions, but their views carry sway over large amounts of capital. Their most recent inaccuracies have been in the energy sector. Clean, renewable, energy is making faster progress than previously predicted.

Renewables have seen faster implementation, more investment, and quite massive technical gains in the past few years. And all of these gains have happened despite the fact that oil is so cheap (in terms of money, not carbon).

Each of these trends — cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity — is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. Cheaper batteries mean that cars can switch from gasoline to the electrical grid. But currently, much of the grid is powered by coal. With cheap solar replacing coal at a rapid clip, that will be less and less of an issue. As for solar, its main drawback is intermittency. But with battery costs dropping, innovative manufacturers such as Tesla will be able to make cheap batteries for home electricity use, allowing solar power to run your house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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In France New Buildings Need Green Roofs

Green roofs or solar panels are now required on all new commercial buildings in the country of France. This is great because now buildings can have either a zero energy impact or contribute to their local environment.

Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday.

Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer

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Austrialian Team Gets Solar Efficiency Over 40%

It’s been said that once solar power efficiency gets to 40% it’ll be a tipping point for the mass use of solar panels. Now we can see if that is true as a team of researchers partnered with industry has developed technology to make it so solar energy conversion can regularly hit 40.4%.

The advance involved two steps. Three solar panels were stacked to capture energy from different wave lengths of sunlight, and then excess light from the stacked panels was directed by a mirror and filters to a fourth PV cell, making use of energy previously discarded.

“This is our first re-emergence into the focused-sunlight area,” said Professor Green, who pioneered 20 per cent-efficiency levels in similar technology in 1989.

The institute was prompted to revisit the technology in part because of Australian companies’ efforts to develop large-scale solar towers using arrays of mirrors to focus sunlight on PV cells.

One of those firms, Melbourne-based RayGen, collaborated with UNSW on the project. It is building a plant in China with an solar conversion rate of about 28 per cent across the year.. “We’d take them to the mid-30s” for future projects with the technology jump, Professor Green said

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