Move in the Right Direction for Green Job Creation

(Reuters) – U.S. solar company Calisolar Inc. received a conditional commitment for a $275 million federal loan guarantee to ramp up a silicon manufacturing facility in Ohio, the Department of Energy said on Thursday. Calisolar, a private company in Ohio, will use the grant funding to commercialize a solar silicon manufacturing process to produce silcon. “This innovative manufacturing process offers significant competitive advantages that will help the U.S. to out-innovate and out-compete our global competitors,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. Silicon is the key raw material used in photovoltaic solar cells that turn sunlight into electricity. Silcon’s high cost is the major reason that solar power is more expensive than traditional sources such as coal and gas. Calisolar’s Ohio plant will have the capacity to produce 16,000 metric tons of silicon annually and will create nearly 1,100 permanent jobs.

Tony SmithMove in the Right Direction for Green Job Creation

Abandoned Flight for Solar Powered Aircraft

Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse landed in Brussels Saturday after the pilot aborted a flight to Paris following a series of technical problems, his team said. Apparently poor weather conditions, heavy rains and strong winds, caused the solar powered plane to land earlier than originally expected.   However, the team said they would be looking for a chance to try again once the weather improved.  The Solar impulse team is again on stand-by waiting for a favorable weather opportunity to rally to the Bourget to participate at the International Paris Air Show from the 20 to 26 June 2011 as a “special guest”.

Tony SmithAbandoned Flight for Solar Powered Aircraft

Affordable Solar

Affordable solar is becoming more attainable, according to new developments at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.  “To make solar electricity affordable on a large scale, scientists and engineers worldwide have long been trying to develop a low-cost solar cell, which is highly efficient, easy to manufacture and has high throughput. Now a team at Empa’s Laboratory for Thin Film and Photovoltaics, led by Ayodhya N. Tiwari, has made a major step forward. “The new record value for flexible CIGS solar cells of 18.7% nearly closes the “efficiency gap” to solar cells based on polycrystalline silicon (Si) wafers or CIGS thin film cells on glass,” says Tiwari. He is convinced that “flexible and lightweight CIGS solar cells with efficiencies comparable to the “best-in-class” will have excellent potential to bring about a paradigm shift and to enable low-cost solar electricity in the near future.”  ScienceDaily (May 20, 2011) Affordable solar cells will not only create a more affordable, sustainable energy source, it will also create jobs.

Tony SmithAffordable Solar

Solar Use in the U.S. Military

By KEITH JOHNSON A company of U.S. Marines recently conducted a remarkable three-week patrol through southern Afghanistan, replacing hundreds of pounds of spare batteries in their packs with roll-up solar panels the size of placemats to power their battle gear. Associated Press Marine Lance Cpl. Dakota Hicks connects a radio battery to a solar array in Sangin District, in Afghanistan. By allowing the troops to recharge their radios, GPS devices and other equipment, the green technology freed the Marines of India Company from constant resupply by road and air. And by carrying fewer batteries, they carried more bullets. The Marine Corps is addressing a paradox confronting military planners: Modern U.S. forces are more lethal than any in history, but they also gobble up more energy. That lengthens vulnerable supply lines and overloads soldiers and Marines in the field. India Company, a component of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, is the first combat unit to be equipped with a new package of portable, front-line solar gear developed by Navy scientists. It’s a boots-on-the-ground example of the Marine Corps’ new blueprint for energy use. The Corps wants to cut per-Marine fuel use in half by 2025. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has pushed …

Tony SmithSolar Use in the U.S. Military

Making a green valley even greener

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is known in song and story for its natural beauty and the bounty of its farms. And over the last few years, like many areas across the US, the Valley of Virginia has sought to create jobs and raise its already high quality of life by exploring the new clean-energy economy. Hometown talent What makes the Valley’s sustainability effort different is that it is not driven by large national or multinational corporations investing from the outside, but by local ventures like Secure Futures that have grown organically and are intimately tied into the community of this neighborly area. Powering the Valley: Sustainable Energy Ventures in Staunton and Beyond Secure Futures CEO Tony Smith and other speakers Thursday, May 5, 6:30pm at Staunton City Hall [map] Free and open to the public Info at 540-887-7111 A priority for Secure Futures, which is located at the crossroads of the Shenandoah Valley in the historic city of Staunton, has been to take an active role in the Valley’s green community. To meet that goal, the company has partnered with its clients, investors and local organizations to create a business and public policy environment friendly to the area’s budding green economy. …

Tony SmithMaking a green valley even greener

Harrisonburg adopts solar tax exemption

On Tuesday, March 8, Harrisonburg City Council voted to adopt an ordinance to provide for a 20 year, 100% tax exemption for all solar equipment. Secure Futures and Eastern Mennonite University had consulted closely with Senator Mark Obenshain, members of Harrisonburg City Council, and city staff on how to pass a solar equipment tax exemption ordinance since last fall, as provided for in state enabling legislation. City Council’s forward-thinking move formally put the City on record for supporting solar for all residents and businesses in Harrisonburg. The formal adoption of the ordinance takes place at City Council’s March 22nd public meeting. Read our news release on the new ordinance »

Tony SmithHarrisonburg adopts solar tax exemption

Becoming a solar city

Secure Futures is working now with members of Harrisonburg City Council to pass a solar equipment tax exemption ordinance.  This forward-thinking move would formally put the City on record for supporting solar for all residents and businesses in Harrisonburg. We’ve been working with the city on this issue since the fall. At a council hearing last October, members heard testimony from EMU’s Provost Fred Kniss; Tom Domonoske, a residential solar owner; and Marie Smith of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which has installed solar on five homes. Now, on Tuesday, March 8, Harrisonburg City Council will take a formal vote on an ordinance to secure the tax exemption. If the ordinance passes, city residents will receive a clear signal that Harrisonburg supports solar and that their taxes will not go up if they install it on their homes. The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday evening, March 8th at 7 pm in the Harrisonburg City Council Chambers. If you’re a friend of solar power in the Shenandoah Valley, we encourage you to attend and show your support.

Tony SmithBecoming a solar city