Clean Electric

The Future of Solar Energy Will Be Multifaceted

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When we think solar, almost all of us probably conjure up images in our heads of photovoltaic panels, and when we think large-scale, utility sized solar power plants many might imagine a sea of blue silicon stretching for as far as the eye can see. Certainly there are many solar power plants which live up to this image, but it is far from the only way we can harness solar energy to work for us. Concentrating solar energy using concave mirrors and harnessing the thermal energy produced is another way we can continue to harness the sun. Indeed, as we strive towards a greener energy mix — and eventually a fossil fuel-free one — we must use a multifaceted approach. Concentrated solar in the form of Power Towers will likely see increasing relevance. The reason concentrated solar has a large role to play will be in its ability to store the thermal energy acquired during the day for use during the night. Concentrated solar functions like most traditional power plants — from wood-fired to nuclear — in that there is a heating element is used to boil water into steam to turn a turbine which generates electricity. Power Towers are able to serve as essential enormous thermal batteries, where the heat (thermal energy) harvested during the day is used to maintain molten salt at incredibly high temperatures. The molten salt is then run through a pool of water where it causes steam to be produced, rise, spin a turbine, then be recondensed for another round. The thermal properties of the molten salt used make it ideal for heat retention and the Power Towers are able to produce energy 24/7 since their salt stays hot through the night. Additionally, since the generation of power is no longer coupled directly to solar exposure, but rather coupled to the thermal energy stored, it means that the plant’s electrical generation can be scaled up based on energy demands. This mitigates or eliminates the need to have fossil-fuel backup plants which can be put online when demand increases at peak times. Technology such as Power Towers will have a large role to play as we move forward into a clean energy future, unfortunately they aren’t something you can personally claim to own, nor will we likely see any homes advertising being 100% Power Tower powered anytime soon, so you still have a chance to get your solar bragging rights through PV and help us build the next phase of the clean energy revolution.  ...

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The Worth of Solar Power

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There is a growing understanding of solar power in the world, and as more investments are made in the industry the viability of this clean energy structure goes up and up. This combination, as well as a drive to move away from fossil fuels is spear heading a huge transition. In Vermont, net metering has taken off. So much so, that the exponential growth was more than even the Public Service Board and utility expected. Now there are new rules being created to make up for the huge changes that have occurred due to this growth. The rutland herald has written on this issue. You can read the full article here. Stay posted for the new rules and updates on the stars on net metering in Vermont. If you are still looking for panels in one of our community solar fields, there is currently availability in the Green Mountain Power Territory as well as Ludlow Electric. For more information call...

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A Farmer’s View of Solar

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A Farmer’s View of Solar

There has been some fine tuning of policies in Vermont as far as esthetics and sighting for solar go in the state. This comes at a time when the amount of solar installations have grown exponentially in the past few years. Recently VT Senator Chris Bray has brought the siting bill (230) in front on the Senate to iron out some of the issues that have come up. It has been our experience that farmers are more than willing to take on a solar crop and watch it thrive. This can go in tandem with haying and grazing or on its own. Recently an article came out in VT Digger about one Farmer’s point of view of Solar in VT. His name is Brian Davis, a dairy farmer, and he can see the benefits of this change in our environment. He see the value in solar power, but also sees the value of letting the land lay fallow and recover under a ground mounted solar array. He also references the benefit to the quality of water as well as economic benefits for farmers who do choose to site a solar farm. You can read the full article here. A few weeks ago we were approached by a student at Hampshire college who was looking for a solar site to test for changes in nutrients under ground mounted solar arrays. Her professor was under the impression that it may allow for a greater build up of nutrients. We are continuing in this research partnership to look farther into what changes solar installation make to our landscape. Stay tuned as samples are taken and studies throughout the...

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Scotland the Brave

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Scotland the Brave

  Last week the biggest coal plant in Britain closed marking the end of coal power in Scotland.   As one of the first nations to break free from coal, Scotland is certainly setting forth a strong example.  The era of fossil fuels is coming to an end as renewable energy ushers in the hopeful future. For the full story click here.  ...

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International Women’s Day

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On this International Women’s Day, we take pause and reflect on the amazing women in our life, those who have changed the world, those working for justice, and those without voices.  This collection is an undeniable and beautiful force that has such potential.  Today, we appreciate and celebrate all that has been done and recognize how much more there is to be done to accomplish equality. Attached is a list of influential woman 350.org put together.  Who else would we add to the list?  I have my first and second grade teacher who influenced many to be curious about the world and to love all differences.  Claire  started my education with open-mindedness as she introduced us to the many cultures of the world and encouraged us to be critical of the injustice we identified in history and today.  Another on my list is my college professor of environmental studies who taught us the science of climate change along with the implications it brought to all of humanity.  Amy taught resilience and inspired me to pursue this hopeful path.  Barbara Kingsolver I would add to the list for her beautiful and powerful writing bringing characters to life through writing with such an informed ecological basis.  My sister served in Peace Corps in Uganda and told of a young girl, around 13 or 14 who her friend worked with to bring sex education and women empowerment to many, passionately bringing hope to girls.  We heard she was impregnated recently despite all her knowledge.  It is for her and so many like her that this day is necessary.  Women empowerment and equality will bring a new phase to the world but there is much to be done.  Let us not waste any time. Thank you to all the incomparable women of the...

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A Leap into Action Year?

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A Leap into Action Year?

    2016 is a Leap Year.  What does this mean- besides adding a day to the calendar every 4 years? For my whole life I have completely disregarded leap years; they never seemed remarkable or outstanding in any way.  This year, however, there seems to be a buzz in the air.  Yesterday was our extra day and I found people urging each other to celebrate and find extra value in that day as opposed to any other day.  Has Leap Year always been a mantra for motivation; a cry of carpe diem? On this Super Tuesday, I find this world at odds; a highly unsettling tipping point.  A tipping point which could define the next century with the action or inaction we take on Climate Change.  Perhaps we are grasping at straws, anything to motivate us for the real changes we need. My musings were mirrored by this article I came across– the “Leap” of this year being a leap into action.   Picture Credit: Alastair Muir and Dance...

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