The Skywriter

Weekly round-up 7/9/10: Solar energy rocks!

9
Jul

Weekly round-up 7/9/10: Solar energy rocks!

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Solar power is all over the news this week. President Obama announced a major influx of federal money into the solar industry, while Bill McKibben announced a campaign to get world leaders (including Obama) to lead by example on clean energy.

But by far the coolest solar news this week is the historic nighttime flight of a solar-powered airplane:

A giant glider-like aircraft has completed the first night flight propelled only by solar energy, organizers said on Thursday.

Solar Impulse, whose wingspan is the same as an Airbus A340, flew 26 hours and 9 minutes, powered only by solar energy stored during the day. It was also the longest and highest flight in the history of solar aviation, organisers said.

Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss president of the project, best known for completing the first round-the-world flight in a hot air balloon in 1999, said the success of the flight showed the potential of renewable energies and clean technology.

“We are on the verge of the perpetual flight,” he said.

Solar Impulse is a one-seater, so this technology isn't ready for mass-transit yet. Then again, so was the Kitti Hawk, and look where aviation is today. If/when this technology becomes the norm, the most satisfying aspect -- other than the dramatic reduction of air travel's carbon footprint, of course -- will be not having to hear climate-denying wingnuts blabber on about how much carbon Al Gore put in the atmosphere by traversing the globe with his slideshow.

Last Saturday's weekly presidential address featured solar power prominently -- so much so that it's actually called "A Solar Recovery." During the speech, the President announced nearly $2 billion in economic recovery money for solar power plants that will create thousands of new jobs and boost clean energy production. From the President's address:

...[W]e’re accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and doubling our use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power – steps that have the potential to create whole new industries and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in America.

In fact, today, I’m announcing that the Department of Energy is awarding nearly $2 billion in conditional commitments to two solar companies.

The first is Abengoa Solar, a company that has agreed to build one of the largest solar plants in the world right here in the United States.  After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it’s good news that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America.  In the short term, construction will create approximately 1,600 jobs in Arizona.  What’s more, over 70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the USA, boosting jobs and communities in states up and down the supply chain.  Once completed, this plant will be the first large-scale solar plant in the U.S. to actually store the energy it generates for later use – even at night.  And it will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 70,000 homes.

The second company is Abound Solar Manufacturing, which will manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.  A Colorado plant is already underway, and an Indiana plant will be built in what’s now an empty Chrysler factory.  When fully operational, these plants will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.

Here's video of the President's address:

But as much as the President is doing to boost clean energy, he and other world leaders can always do more. That's the premise behind Put Solar On It, a new campaign from our friends at 350.org. From an email sent by Bill McKibben:

As you all know, we're getting to work on 10/10/10--all around the world people are preparing climate solutions projects for their communities, their mosques and churches and synagogues and temples, their schools and homes.

We thought our leaders should have a chance to get personally involved too, which is why we're today launching a special campaign aimed just at them.

Each one has a roof over their heads--in India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan; in Mexico they call it Los Pinos, and in Washington it's the White House.

Those roofs need solar panels--and we hope they'll go up on October 10, just as around the world people are taking practical action in their own communities.

It's time for our leaders to set an example: Add your name to the petition at PutSolarOn.It today!

As part of its response to the BP oil spill, the Obama Administration issued a six-month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling. A Louisiana judge overturned that ban, and the Administration immediately appealed his decision. Sadly, the courts have failed again:

A federal appeals court on Thursday turned down the Obama administration’s effort to enforce a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled shortly after a hearing in a lawsuit filed by companies that claim they are being financially crippled by the suspension of drilling.

The appeals court found that the Interior Department failed to show the federal government would suffer “irreparable injury” if the moratorium is lifted while it appeals the trial court’s decision.

Not to be argumentative, but hasn't there already been "irreparable injury" done to the Gulf Coast?!? Or do we need another disastrous oil spill somewhere along the U.S. coastline for these judges to find this "irreparable injury"? Read the rest of the article...you'll never guess what deep-pocketed, politically connected, rapacious dirty energy industry two of the three judges represented before being appointed to the bench.

Grist's Dave Roberts was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show last night to talk about the still non-existent Senate climate bill. He expands on his guest spot here, but here's video of the segment:

And finally, because we have to laugh so as not to cry, here's a tragicomic take on the spill by Landline TV (h/t Grist). Not even The Beatles can stop this thing!

 

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