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Dawn of the “solar salon” in U.S. living rooms

Timothy Gardner, Reuters
MEW YORK – One evening last month, a mix of philanthropists, charity executives and environmentalists gathered at the New York home of Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.

The topic of the evening was not 1960s music or world hunger, but solar power.

Across the United States, at similar gatherings, bankers and hedge fund managers rub shoulders with philanthropists and solar panel installers. These “solar salons” are orchestrated by Travis Bradford, a former fund manager and corporate buyout specialist, in an effort to hasten what he calls the inevitable uptake of solar power.

“My guess is the U.S. will have one of the fastest growth rates over next five years. One of the interesting things about the U.S. when compared to other industrialized countries is that it has more sun per capita,” Bradford said in an interview with Reuters.

Bradford is founder of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development, a group based in Cambridge Massachusetts that promotes the use of sustainable technologies.

In his book, “Solar Revolution,” Bradford argues that the high price of oil, advances in solar technology and an easing in the cost of silicon used to make panels will combine to make solar the cheapest source of power within the next 20 years.
(1 Nov 2006)

GE Energy Korea: ‘Switch to Renewable Power Before You’re Forced to’

Korea Times
The world is slowly but steadily shifting from fossil fuels toward renewable energies. It is unavoidable for related industries to fit themselves into the wind of change or otherwise fade away, said Lee Hyun-seung, chief of GE Energy Korea.

“If a company does not take action beforehand, it will inevitably fall behind the trend,’’ he said. “It is most important to realize how the world is changing, and to take the appropriate initiative.’’

GE is a giant in the traditional power industry and it also is one of biggest players in the wind and solar power sector. Last month, it was selected for Asia’s largest solar power project, which is a 3-megawatt facility to be constructed at Yongkwang, South Cholla Province. It has been working together with two Korean firms _ Doosan for power generators and Taewoong for wind turbines.

Lee, who worked at the Ministry of Finance and Economy until 2001, points out that most developed nations are gradually switching from coal and oil power to nuclear and renewable energies in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. Even the richest oil producing nations take such a trend for granted, he said.
(31 Oct 2006)

False dawn of solar power

Simon Grose, Cosmos
Wind and solar power are enormously appealing as planet-friendly sources of energy – but those who think we can completely rely on them in the future are dreaming.

As we head into another drier, hotter summer, we can expect that every scorching day, every drought-beaten farmer, every dust storm, and every bushfire will be cited as more evidence that we should abandon our reliance on fossil-fueled energy and turn to renewable sources to beat global warming.

…even though we could get some reliable power levels from renewable sources during the day, we will have to build new fossil-fuelled power stations at the same time to keep up with Australia’s growing demand for electricity. Those power stations will need to keep their fires burning 24/7 because they cannot be turned on and off quickly.
(25 Oct 2006)
See comments at the post for a critical discussion.

China: Massive Capital for Renewable Power

China Daily
China will invest 1.5 trillion yuan (US$187.5 billion) to increase the ratio of renewable energy consumption, said Wu Guihui, vice-director-general of the Bureau of Energy under the National Development and Reform Commission.

Currently, 7.5 percent of China’s energy comes from renewable sources. The country’s goal is to make it 10 percent by 2010 and 16 percent by 2020, revised from its initial goal of 20 percent.
(26 Oct 2006)