Introducing: DOW’s ‘Powerhouse’ Solar Shingles

DOW is not usually a name that comes up when discussing sustainability and clean technology.

That may change now that the company has start selling and installing their first rooftop solar shingles.  This modular PV system, dubbed ‘Powerhouse’ (oh, I get it) doesn’t just mount on your roof, it IS your roof.  These individual units overlap just like asphalt shingles and string together in a circuit, giving you much more flexibility in fitting your roof’s shape and size.

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What are the pros of a system like this?

-They are flush with the rest of your roof

One of the main complaints about roof mounted PV systems is that they literally stand out, detracting from the architectural aesthetic of a home

-No mounting brackets

The singles attach with nails, just like normal roofing shingles.  Also, no mounting brackets means less equipment to buy!

-Modular

You can install as many or as few as you like, or your budget will allow

Potential cons:

-No adjusting the angle

Solar installers typically put panels in at the optimum angle for electricity production, which varies by location.  This angle doesn’t always match your roof, so there could be decreased efficiency, especially on steep roofs

-Solar panels are less effective when hot

DOW may have a way of addressing this, but without air moving over AND under the panels, they might heat up more, making them less efficient.

 

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I wasn’t able to find any pricing information per shingle, but here is a good infographic from DOW explain the total costs of ownership:

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More info:

http://www.dowpowerhouse.com/

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eiie45gfjl/madrigals-home-2/

 

The State of the Solar Industry

The Solar Energy Industries Association has released their Q2 report, and the news is sunny! (oooh, sorry ’bout that.  The pun was too tempting)

The highlights: 832 Megawatts of new solar installed in the second quarter of 2013, the second best quarter for solar, ever.

This brings the US total to 9,400 Megawatts of solar electricity, on pace to reach 10,000MW (10GW) by the end of the year.

To put that in layman’s terms, that’s enough to power 1.5 MILLION homes.  To put it another way, it’s like removing 1.9 Million cars from the road.

Powering 1.5 Million homes, or taking 1.9 Million cars off the road.  With that comparison, we can deduce that ‘going solar’ has a BIGGER environmental impact than buying an electric car, way bigger than buying a hybrid!

Click on SEIA’s infographic for more from their Q2 report:

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Source: SEIA.org

Photoflow – Solar and Rainwater collection system by NOS

Introducing Photoflow: An ingenious combination rainwater collector/solar panel array from NOS.  This system is designed to provide drinking water and electricity for underdeveloped areas, but could be quite handy to provide a boost in some rural areas, maybe even for some extended camping trips?

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The solar panels provide electricity of course, but their large surface area also collects more rainwater and funnels it into the 400L water tank.

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More information after the link:

photoflow – solar and rainwater collection system by NOS

Answer to the Nuclear Argument…

Here’s a quote from sustainability leader William McDonough that is the best response to nuclear energy proponents that I’ve ever heard:


“Don’t get me wrong: I love nuclear energy! It’s just that I prefer fusion to fission. And it just so happens that there’s an enormous fusion reactor safely banked a few million miles from us. It delivers more than we could ever use in just about 8 minutes. And it’s wireless!”

William McDonough, Fortune Brainstorm Conference, 2006

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Which Countries Use the Most Renewable Energy?

As we head into this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to write a quick post listing the countries that use the most renewable energy.

That question is proving to be a little trickier than I thought.  First of all, what is renewable, what is not?  Some statistics include hydroelectric and biomass, others do not.  Some indexes forget to include geothermal.  In addition, is it better to look at total energy production from renewable sources, percentage of overall production, or actual consumption of renewable electricity?

For this post, let’s look at TOTAL energy production from renewable sources including Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and Biomass.  (Why did I leave out Hydroelectricity? Based on overall environmental impact.  More on that later.)

Given these parameters, lets look at the Top 5 Renewable Energy Producers by country:

1. The U.S.A.

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‘merica.

That’s right, according to the Christian Science Monitor, as of 2011, the US produced more renewable energy than other nation, responsible for 24.7% of renewable energy production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Germany

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Germany has made a huge commitment towards renewable energy, vowing to eliminate all nuclear by 2022.  In 2011, Germany accounted for 11.7% of global renewable energy.

 

 

 

 

3. Spain

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Though it is a net importer of energy, Spain is known for its wind energy production, and the nation accounts for 7.8% of the world’s RE.

 

 

 

 

 

4. China

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China has recently become the world’s largest energy consumer.  Although they are not known for clean energy policy, the are now leading the world in investment in renewable energy as well.       In 2011, they accounted for 7.6% of RE production.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Brazil

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Another burgeoning country, Brazil is building a lot of renewable energy to keep up with growing demand.  Accounting for 5% of global RE production in 2011, the country has promised to power the 2014 World Cup with solar power.

 

 

 

 

Now wait a second, does this list look funny to anyone else?  The US? Brazil?  CHINA?  When I think about clean energy, these are NOT the names that generally occur to me.  While it is worth noting that these countries produce the highest amount of renewable energy, it is important to note that they are also some of the biggest CONSUMERS of energy overall.  Three of the countries from this list are also in the top 5 Coal consumers:  China (#1), The US (#2), and Germany (#5).

Next week we will look at which countries produce the highest percentage of their electricity from renewables.