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Republican Senator Praises Solar, Warns of Human-Caused Climate Change

By |June 5th, 2013|

Does Senator Lamar Alexander’s energy speech mark a shift in GOP tone?

In a speech at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) lauded distributed solar power, called for more R&D funding of clean technologies, and warned that humans are causing climate change.

The speech was a notable departure from recent GOP rhetoric on clean energy, which has been largely focused on playing up a handful of high-profile bankruptcies and questioning the validity of climate science.

Senator Alexander plays an influential role in Washington when it comes to energy policy. As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, he helps guide how the Department of Energy is funded. The Senator is a major proponent of R&D spending on both cleantech and fossil fuels. He is also very outspoken about energy tax subsidies and commonly uses the term “big wind” in his efforts to repeal the production tax […]

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The Army, Navy and Air Force Go Solar

By |May 30th, 2013|

(Solar Electrical Systems is proud to have helped the military reach its renewable energy goals.  SES installed 2 solar carports at the Los Angeles Air Force Base that provide 360kW of power, and provide shade for over 200 cars.  Check out our video of the project at

From the battlefield to stateside bases, the U.S. military has proven that solar is reliable.

The Army, Navy and Air Force are using more than 130 megawatts of solar for everything from powering remote special operations to air conditioning and lighting for U.S. base residences. And the forces intend to keep building toward 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2025 as part of a much bigger Department of Defense (DOD) commitment.


While detractors were declaring solar too intermittent to be reliable at home, U.S. Marines were successfully relying on it at battlefield sites in the Khyber Pass, according to Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. […]

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Clinton to Solar, “You Represent the Future” and “You Will Prevail”

By |September 13th, 2012|

He has only 308 solar panels on the roof of his presidential library, former President Bill Clinton announced at the opening of his Solar Power International 2012 keynote, and he is taking bids to drastically expand. “So if anybody wants in, send me an email.”
He then picked up the subject of creative cooperation he talked about at the Democratic National Convention.
To build “energy that is good economics, saves the planet from the worst consequences of climate change and promotes the national security of every country that is committed to clean, self-sustaining energy, you have to have cooperation between government and the private sector,” he said. “The constant mud fight, fact-free environment in which American politics often operates is counterproductive.”
He told a story about a minister who, during a sermon, excitedly told everybody in the congregation who wanted to go to heaven to stand up. Everybody but one little old lady […]

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Solar Week in review

By |April 16th, 2012|

As with many recent weeks, news from the solar industry and market shows that solar is blooming despite facing pricing uncertainty and other challenges. While some places are enacting new programs to incentivize solar, some companies and projects are being threatened by a variety of factors, from a slow-moving turtle to falling module prices.

One of the places where falling prices most affected the solar market is Pennsylvania where the state’s solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market slumped because people adopted solar more quickly than expected. The SREC market was limited by how much solar power utilities were required to buy and when there was enough solar, the price of SRECs dropped. Now, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 and others are supporting HB 1580, which would increase the amount of SRECs that utilities must buy, thereby, increasing the price of the credits, making solar more valuable.

Meanwhile Los […]

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Feed-in-Tariffs: Europe’s Way of Encouraging Solar Power Arrives in the U.S.

By |April 10th, 2012|

With the news that the LA City Council has granted LADWP the power to enter into feed-in-tariff agreements, here is some news on how FIT’s are working in Europe and other parts of the U.S.

Solar cells adorn the roofs of many homes and warehouses across Germany, while the bright white blades of wind turbines are a frequent sight against the sky in Spain.
If one day these machines become as common on the plains and rooftops of the United States as they are abroad, it may be because the financing technique that gave Europe an early lead in renewable energy is starting to cross the Atlantic.

Put simply, the idea is to pay homeowners and businesses top dollar for producing green energy. In Germany, for example, a homeowner with a rooftop solar system may be paid four times more to produce electricity than the rate paid to a coal-fired power plant.

This month […]

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New Study: Solar Grid Parity is Here Today

By |April 3rd, 2012|

A definitive new LCOE study says solar has achieved parity.

Solar materials prices are down, financing is more accessible and technology has extended solar system life. The result:  The price of solar energy-generated electricity, calculated by a legitimate levelized cost of energy (LCOE) method, is now competitive in many regions with the price of electricity generated by conventional sources.

To be clear, this review of solar photovoltaic LCOE is not one of those “if coal and nuclear paid for the real harm they do” analyses. It is a hard look at the actual numbers.

The study’s biggest surprise, said co-author Joshua Pearce, Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering Professor at Queen’s University and Michigan Technological University, was how much outdated information and misinformation there is about the price of residential and small/medium system solar energy. “We have reached a tipping point,” he said. “Solar has gone past grid parity.”

Parity, according to the study, is “the lifetime generation cost […]

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Nuclear Failure in California Could be a Big Test for Solar

By |April 3rd, 2012|

Solar has suddenly become much more important in Southern California because of the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), California’s third biggest investor owned utility, could lose fifteen percent to twenty percent loss of its base load electricity. “SDG&E, along with the California transmission system operator and Southern California Edison (SCE), are working together right now on contingency planning for the possibility that those two large units could be offline this summer,” said SDG&E spokesperson Jennifer Ramp.

SDG&E, Ramp added, will bring its new 500-kilovolt Sunrise Powerlink transmission line into service in early summer. Designed to deliver 1,000 megawatts of regional solar and wind that are not yet in service, Sunrise will carry extra fossil generation this summer — if it is available.

But, Ramp said, “you could be looking at a very unique situation,” adding, “We could be asking our customers to conserve […]

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Solar PV Breaks Records in 2010

By |October 31st, 2011|

Solar photovoltaic (PV) companies manufactured a record 24,000 megawatts of PV cells worldwide in 2010, more than doubling their 2009 output. Annual PV production has grown nearly 100-fold since 2000, when just 277 megawatts of cells were made. Newly installed PV also set a record in 2010, as 16,600 megawatts were installed in more than 100 countries. This brought the total worldwide capacity of solar PV to nearly 40,000 megawatts — enough to power 14 million European homes.

Made of semiconductor materials, PV cells convert solar radiation directly into electricity. Rectangular panels consisting of numerous PV cells can be linked into arrays of various sizes and power output capabilities — from rooftop systems measured in kilowatts to ground-mounted arrays of hundreds or even thousands of megawatts. (One megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts.)

There are two main types of PV — traditional crystalline silicon and newer thin-film PV. In 2010, crystalline silicon production was […]

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