News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.
Solar
Rooftop Solar Leads to Cheaper Bills in More Ways Than You Thought

Rooftop Solar Leads to Cheaper Bills in More Ways Than You Thought

Conservation: Every once in a while a study reveals something new that makes perfect sense when you think about it. A recent example: a survey conducted by researchers for the San Diego-based Center for Sustainable Energy found that California homeowners who've shelled out for rooftop solar panels are far more likely to be interested in energy conservation.
In Solar Discussion, There Are Birds and Then There Are Birds

In Solar Discussion, There Are Birds and Then There Are Birds

Commentary: When it comes to gauging environmental harm done by renewable energy development, "birds" is a nearly useless category.
Turning Lead Into Gold...Er, Solar Panels

Turning Lead Into Gold...Er, Solar Panels

Science: File this under "pretty cool if it really pans out." Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have found a straightforward way to recycle toxic auto batteries into solar panels.
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L.A. to Break Ground on Big Desert Solar Project

L.A. to Break Ground on Big Desert Solar Project

Solar: The 250-megawatt project will be built on land adjacent to State Route 14 four miles south of Red Rock Canyon State Park.
Solar Roadways: 4 Reasons They Might Not Work

Solar Roadways: 4 Reasons They Might Not Work

Solar: As with any promise that sounds too good to be true, the Solar Roadways idea merits careful scrutiny. Here are four reasons to take the hype with a large amount of salt.
Rooftop Solar Installations Gaining So Far in 2014

Rooftop Solar Installations Gaining So Far in 2014

Solar: More solar was installed on residential rooftops than in big commercial settings during the first quarter of 2014, according to a report released Wednesday.
Another Solar Record Set, Renewables Power Nearly Quarter of California

Another Solar Record Set, Renewables Power Nearly Quarter of California

Solar: Yet another milestone in California's quest to go solar. Also a banner day for the state's renewable goals.
Solar Helping Keep California Cool During This Heatwave

Solar Helping Keep California Cool During This Heatwave

Solar: The agency that operates the electrical power grid for most of California forecasted last week that the state was in good shape for summer even without the San Onofre nuclear power plant and with drought making significantly lower output from hydroelectric stations. This week seems to be underscoring that confidence, with solar power is supplying more than ten percent of California's power demand Wednesday afternoon.
Rooftop Bling: Forever 21 HQ to Be Dressed in Solar Power

Rooftop Bling: Forever 21 HQ to Be Dressed in Solar Power

Solar: The planned 5.1-megawatt solar power system being installed on the rooftop of fashion retailer Forever 21's headquarters in Lincoln Heights is said to be the largest single-rooftop solar power system in L.A. County
In Bay Area, Obama Announces New Solar, Conservation Programs

In Bay Area, Obama Announces New Solar, Conservation Programs

Solar: In Mountain View Friday, Barack Obama announced a set of new executive actions the White House will be taking to promote the domestic solar industry and energy conservation programs. They include spending an additional $2 billion to make federal buildings more energy-efficient, providing funding for solar job training programs at community colleges across the country, and a campaign to put solar on tens of thousands more homes, including low-income housing.
Fact Check: How Much Water Does Solar Power Really Use?

Fact Check: How Much Water Does Solar Power Really Use?

Solar: There's an infographic going around lately that claims to show the relative amounts of water used by four different sources of electrical power: coal, nuclear, natural gas and solar. The graphic claims that solar comes out the clear winner in terms of water conservation, using no water at all to generate power. But is the claim correct? Close, but not quite.
Sorting Fact From Fiction on Chinese Solar In Nevada

Sorting Fact From Fiction on Chinese Solar In Nevada

Commentary: Regardless of what you've heard, the BLM didn't round up Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle from public lands to pave the way for a Chinese solar project.
Federal Lab Offers Grim Look at Solar Harm to Wildlife

Federal Lab Offers Grim Look at Solar Harm to Wildlife

Solar: A report just made public by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents a disturbing amount of bird injuries at three large California desert solar power plants, and says that there are no easy fixes to the issue.
California Approaches 4 Gigawatts of Utility-Scale Solar Output

California Approaches 4 Gigawatts of Utility-Scale Solar Output

Solar: California set yet another solar power output record on Friday, and may have beaten that record just three days later.
Local Group Wants Renewable Development in L.A., Not Owens Valley

Local Group Wants Renewable Development in L.A., Not Owens Valley

Commentary: California's second-largest county wants to designate almost ten percent of its land for renewable energy development, and a cultural protection group is taking up metaphorical arms against the core of the proposed policy. In doing so, it's turning NIMBYism on its head.
In Talk Of Solar Desalination, There's a Salty Elephant in the Room

In Talk Of Solar Desalination, There's a Salty Elephant in the Room

Science: With the drought declaration driving attention to California's water woes, people are asking whether we can use renewable energy to de-salt seawater on purpose. And we probably can, but there's an elephant in the room that few seem to be discussing.
California Still Smashing Summer's Solar Power Records

California Still Smashing Summer's Solar Power Records

Solar: Hey, remember back in August when we last noted California having set a record for the amount of utility-scale solar feeding into the state's power grid? Well, the dark and shortening days of the coming winter haven't slowed the state's momentum, because we just blew past that August record, and a subsequent on set the month after.
Plastic Owls Proposed as Bird Safety Measure at Large Solar Project

Plastic Owls Proposed as Bird Safety Measure at Large Solar Project

Wildlife: As evidence mounts that the Palen solar project's mirrors and concentrated solar energy each pose risks to wild birds, the project's backers have proposed a plan to reduce bird injuries that includes using plastic owls.
California Solar Startups Get New Federal R&D Funding

California Solar Startups Get New Federal R&D Funding

Solar: Seventeen American startups working on innovation in the solar sector have been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) to further their research -- and eight of those companies are based in California.
Arizona Utility Admits it Funded Anti-Net-Metering Groups

Arizona Utility Admits it Funded Anti-Net-Metering Groups

Commentary: If you think the conflict between rooftop solar advocates and big utilities seems heated here in California, you ought to cast a glimpse at our exotic neighbor to the east, Arizona. This week, the story took an interesting turn, as Arizona's largest utility admitted it's been bankrolling some conservative groups' involvement in the issue.
So Much For Jobs? Startup Builds Solar Robot Workers

So Much For Jobs? Startup Builds Solar Robot Workers

Solar: Richmond-based Alion Energy is proposing to automate both construction and maintenance of large solar facilities, using robots instead of skilled workers to put solar panels in place and keep them clean.
Grid Storage Cost-Effective for Solar, Not So Much for Wind

Grid Storage Cost-Effective for Solar, Not So Much for Wind

The Grid: On a cost-effectiveness basis alone, electrical power storage may make a lot more sense for solar energy than it does for wind.
Sacramento Valley Town to Buy Solar Power From Kern County

Sacramento Valley Town to Buy Solar Power From Kern County

Solar: The upscale Sacramento suburb of Roseville will buy electrical power from a solar facility more than 260 miles south of the city, in a Kern County town more readily known for oil wells than solar fields.
New Solar Energy Zone in California Desert

New Solar Energy Zone in California Desert

Government: The new zone is California's third. All told, that means the Interior department has declared 164,391 acres of the California Desert as Solar Energy Zones.
New Solar Records in California This Week

New Solar Records in California This Week

Solar: California just broke another solar power record this week: for the first time in its history, more than 2,500 megawatts of electricity from the sun flowed into the state's power distribution grid. And that's not even counting juice from small rooftop arrays.
San Bernardino County Extends Solar Moratorium

San Bernardino County Extends Solar Moratorium

Solar: California's largest county now has a year-long moratorium in place on new solar facilities
New Jersey Doing Better Than California When it Comes to Solar Power

New Jersey Doing Better Than California When it Comes to Solar Power

Solar: California has long boasted the lead spot among its fellow states in terms of solar power generating capacity. But according to a new report, that's not the case.
Water Birds Turning Up Dead at Solar Projects in the Desert

Water Birds Turning Up Dead at Solar Projects in the Desert

Solar: A ReWire investigation has revealed that since mid-March, two large industrial solar power plants in Riverside County's remote, arid desert may have killed or injured more than 20 birds commonly associated with lakes or wetlands rather than the open desert surrounding the projects.
A New Era for Public Lands: Feds Halt Mining Claims in Solar Areas

A New Era for Public Lands: Feds Halt Mining Claims in Solar Areas

Government: Mining interests have had nearly unchallenged access to most public lands since 1872, when Congress passed the General Mining Act and sent it to the white house, where Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law.
Is Big Solar Dead?

Is Big Solar Dead?

Solar: With the cancellation of one of the biggest solar projects proposed for the California desert, the utility-scale solar boom of 2009 continues to falter. And analysts deep in the energy industry are taking notice.
Has Solar Power in California Reached a Tipping Point?

Has Solar Power in California Reached a Tipping Point?

Solar: In the first three months of 2013 almost a fifth of the solar installed in the state was put in without subsidies. As prices continue to fall and increasing costs of fossil fuels make solar ever more attractive, has California reached a solar tipping point?
This Map Shows California's Potential to Power Itself With Clean Energy

This Map Shows California's Potential to Power Itself With Clean Energy

Solar: An Oklahoma firm has produced a map showing the regional energy scenes across the United States, and the results are interesting -- though some of what's going on in California doesn't really show.
Silicon Valley City to be Carbon-Neutral by 2017

Silicon Valley City to be Carbon-Neutral by 2017

Solar: Palo Alto, home to Stanford University and a frillion startups, says it will be run on entirely carbon-neutral electrical power by 2017.
San Bernardino County Bans New Solar Power Plants Temporarily

San Bernardino County Bans New Solar Power Plants Temporarily

Solar: Responding to what they called a rash of complaints about commercial solar developments in residential areas, officials voted unanimously Wednesday to put a hold on new projects until it can craft a county-wide policy.
It Looks Like California Broke a Major Solar Power Record Today

It Looks Like California Broke a Major Solar Power Record Today

Solar: According to preliminary data the state passed the 2,000 megawatts of solar mark for the first time, with the day's peak at or a hair below 2,100 megawatts.
Did Solar Development Intensify a Dust Storm that Closed an L.A. County Freeway?

Did Solar Development Intensify a Dust Storm that Closed an L.A. County Freeway?

Solar: A week after construction at the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1 had resumed, a major dust storm downwind of the construction site forced the closure of the Antelope Valley Freeway and injured at least six people.
California Breaks 3 New Renewable Energy Records

California Breaks 3 New Renewable Energy Records

Wind: Between May 23 and 26, California broke three records for renewable energy feeding into the grid: two for solar, and one for wind.
What It's Really All About: Solar For The 99%

What It's Really All About: Solar For The 99%

Commentary: Most of California's low-income residents still have to pay their utility bills without help from the sun, but a non-profit solar installer is trying to change that a little bit at a time.
'Don't Tax the Sun!' Riverside County Slashes Solar Power Plant Fee

'Don't Tax the Sun!' Riverside County Slashes Solar Power Plant Fee

Solar: Riverside County has cut the fee it wants to charge for utility-scale solar power developments in the county by two-thirds, following a contentious campaign by the solar industry to get the fee rolled back.
Smartphone App + Door-to-Door Sales = New Rooftop Solar Biz Model

Smartphone App + Door-to-Door Sales = New Rooftop Solar Biz Model

Solar: A new startup has big plans to connect solar installers with rooftop owners using a resource that's almost as inexhaustible as the sun: cheap student labor.
California's New Energy Plants To Be More Sunny, Less Gassy

California's New Energy Plants To Be More Sunny, Less Gassy

Solar: Almost all of California's new power capacity coming online in the second half of 2013 will be solar, according to the California Independent System Operator.
Uh Oh: Valley Fever Outbreak Linked to Solar Development

Uh Oh: Valley Fever Outbreak Linked to Solar Development

Solar: Valley fever, a respiratory infection spread by fungal spores that live in soil, has been diagnosed in 28 workers at two San Luis Obispo solar project construction sites. The stricken workers were employed at the California Valley Solar Ranch and Topaz Solar Farm, which occupy the arid Carrizo Plain in the eastern part of the county.
Construction Starts on Warren Buffett's Solar Project

Construction Starts on Warren Buffett's Solar Project

Solar: Construction has launched on a solar project its developers are calling the world's largest, on more than 3,200 acres straddling the Kern-Los Angeles county line in the Antelope Valley.
Energy Company Exec: Big Solar is 'Idiotic'

Energy Company Exec: Big Solar is 'Idiotic'

Solar: Follow the energy industry long enough and you learn that certain people in that industry usually have things to say that are both interesting and entertaining.
Size of 'World's Largest' Solar Plant Cut By More Than Half

Size of 'World's Largest' Solar Plant Cut By More Than Half

Solar: Despite the rhetoric, the real world rapidly undermined the project.
Solar Record in Germany Dwarfs Solar Record in Sunny California

Solar Record in Germany Dwarfs Solar Record in Sunny California

Commentary: Both Germany and California set solar power production records this week, but it hardly seems fair to Germany to mention California's milestone in the same paragraph.
California Leads Nation in Solar Jobs

California Leads Nation in Solar Jobs

Solar: The state leads the nation in raw numbers of solar-power-related jobs, and Proposition 39, which was approved by voters in November, could create another 21,000 green jobs.
Another Study Suggests Power Storage Not All That

Another Study Suggests Power Storage Not All That

The Grid: We can run our grid on renewable power effectively, say the authors of a study released this month, without massive storage capacity. The key is building out about three times as much renewable generating capacity as the grid needs to meet peak demand.
Giant Downdraft Skyscraper Would Generate Power in Desert

Giant Downdraft Skyscraper Would Generate Power in Desert

Wind: A Maryland-base company wants to build two 2,250-foot-tall solar wind generating tunnels in the Arizona desert that would use downdrafts to provide a gigawatt of renewable energy to the grid. The towers, which would be the second-tallest structures in the world, would occupy public land just outside San Luis, AZ and use desalinated water from the Sea of Cortez to generate the downdrafts.
Japan To Become Land of Rising Solar

Japan To Become Land of Rising Solar

Solar: Japan expects to install more solar capacity this year than California has in the last 20.