Solar power innovation (part two): solar power satellites

astronaut from the 60s

Image from NASA (click image to see original on

Last week we took the quantum leap into the inestimably small applications of solar power innovation by bringing you up to date on quantum dots and solar windows. The article was a solar squizz at how the latest developments in nano technology have brought the concept of windows as solar panels just that one tantalisingly step closer. [Read more…]

Is Solar Leasing a Better Option than Buying Outright?

usa and aussie flags

Should Aussies follow the American way when it comes to solar leasing?

Are Americans are getting their butts handed to them with long-term solar leasing? And what can us Aussies do to come out ahead?

It seems the suits perched in the top floor offices on Wall-Street are finally taking notice of solar energy.  And that could spell bad news for American consumers.

American energy firms like SolarCity, a growing solar-energy giant based out of California, have been offering long-term, relatively affordable leasing arrangements to consumers for years; either by financing the installation of panels or charging users by the kilowatt-hour and selling the remaining power back to the grid.

But those arrangements are about to get a whole lot more expensive now that they, and firms like them, are going public.  Why?  Because their shareholders, many of them massive hedge funds and banks, are demanding an American-sized profit which can only be attained through skyrocketing costs to consumers.    [Read more…]

Is crowdfunding solar power the future financing model?


a crowd in front of solar panels

Crowd Funding Solar Is A Growing Trend

Will crowdfunding solar replace more traditional methods of funding solar energy readers?

At the time of writing we appear to be headed for a clean sweep of conservative governments across Australia (with the exception of the outpost of ACT). Though it is possible that the relatively progressive Weatherill government may retain government in South Australia through postal votes, it must be considered that the governments throughout the country will trend away towards support for renewable energy including solar.

Perhaps the relevant question is: Would this be a bad thing? [Read more…]

Google’s solar power investment proves world’s best brains back renewables

google search for solarThe search engine giant Google — and more specifically Google solar power — is the subject of this week’s rant folks.

There comes a time when the most radical science drifts into the mainstream and becomes accepted as fact or a viable alternative to the present way of doing things. Sometimes this happens almost unnoticed, at least by the community at large, such as the move in thinking from the “steady state” theory of the existence of the universe (back in the day!) to that of the Big Bang. [Read more…]

New York’s solar governor announces run for Oz PM (dream on!)

Tsun behind the statue of libertyhe need to save the world from environmental degradation and climate change appears to have sunk in to the halls of power in the United States. Renewable energy sources such as solar power are now not just “flavour of the month” but perhaps “flavour of the year/decade”. Well, in some parts of the land of the free and brave anyway.

While the sheer financial and political clout exercised by fossil fuel advocates such as the infamous Koch Brothers cannot be discounted, there are influential progressive, pro-renewable energy elements hard at work. They are, it seems, swinging the nation’s attention back to the benefits of renewable energy sources such as solar power. [Read more…]

Is solar advocacy about to enter a brand new phase?


i love solar t-shirt

You’ll never believe who is embracing solar…

This week we take a detour from our usual rants to look at an interesting emerging overseas trend. The changing face of solar advocacy.

Australia tends to follow most trends that start in the United States — some would say slavishly — so this recent article in the superb Grist magazine made me think that the very way solar is positioned may indeed be changing. Support for solar power has long moved from the fringes to being accepted by the mainstream.

But solar advocacy is now being embraced by ultra conservatives as a symbol of free enterprise!

Let me explain. [Read more…]

Think solar is expensive? Be glad you’re not American!

Our American friends may get dirt cheap Nike runners, Levis jeans and iTunes downloads compared to us Aussies, but at least we can get some comfort from the fact that our solar systems are a helluva lot cheaper than theirs!

This infographic from those nice people at US site does a great job of spruiking the benefits of solar power, but also gives an insight into just how cheap Aussie solar is.

A big part of the price discrepancy is that the permit system for solar power is a bureaucratic nightmare in America. If you buy a 3kW solar system in the US you could pay $12,000 for it, of which $3,000 is permit paperwork! Compare that to about $5,000 in Australia of which about $0 is permit paperwork. In most states in Oz your installer simply fills in a 2 minute form online and gets ‘permission to connect’ within a day or so.

Here;’s the lovely infographic in all its glory – just be aware that the prices only apply to the US! [Read more…]

Can Solar Trade Wars Save The West’s Solar Manufacturing Industry?


EU fighting China

Solar trade wars, what are they good for? Absolutely nuthin! Say it again! Uh! (RIP Edwin Starr)

While the ongoing dispute (AKA solar trade war) between Europe and China continues apace, an article caught your correspondent’s eye this week (and was posted in our popular Facebook Page if you’d like to comment). Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is what it hints at: the inevitable change in focus of solar power production from the West to the East.

Business Spectator covered the demise of the Israeli company Solel, which was written off by owner German industrial giant Siemens when no sellers (mugs?) could be found to take the company off Siemen’s hands. Incredibly (or maybe not so given the Chinese solar panel charge on world markets) the solar company has incurred debts of around US$1.4 billion since its acquisition by Siemens in 2009, according to the article.

[Read more…]

Buffett’s big bet on solar

Warren Buffett

Does Warren Buffett really love solar – or is it a cynical ploy to grab some government subsidies?

As Australian solar fans considered what the new year will bring in respect of solar energy, news arrived from over the seas of a spectacular bet on solar from one of the world’s richest men. I’m talking of Warren Buffett, the man considered one of the wisest investors in the land (he’s not known as the “Wizard of Omaha” for nothing folks) and his $US2.5 billion swoop for SunPower’s Antelope Valley Solar Projects. The projects are expected to begin construction in 2015. [Read more…]

R.I.P Larry Hagman, actor and solar power advocate

Those of you old enough to have watched the 1980 and 1990s TV series Dallas would no doubt have enjoyed the shenanigans of Larry Hagman, who as the abominable J.R. Ewing was the chief nasty person and “can do” oilman willing to go to any lengths to achieve power and profit for the family company.

[Read more…]