Capdiamont\’s Weblog

More thefts of solar in Napa, plus other RE/sustainability news
Saturday 20 Dec 2008, 12:29
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NVR: More solar thefts:

Forty solar panels were stolen from the city of Napa’s water treatment plant at Lake Hennessey, the Napa County Sheriff’s Department reported Friday.

A city representative estimated the loss at $30,000.


The stolen Sanyo 3-by-4.5 foot solar panels, each of which weighs 33 pounds, are part of a $2.7 million solar collector system the city installed in July 2006 at the foot of Conn Dam to generate power. The system was paid in part with PG&E rebates.

The two solar arrays are connected to a pump that lifts water from Lake Hennessey to the water treatment plant. By generating power for the PG&E grid, the solar array system has cut the city’s power bill by $100,000 a year, said Pat Costello, a city water department representative.
The 40 stolen panels represent 2 percent of the entire system, which continued to produce power Friday, Costello said.

Robertson said this was the third theft of a large number of solar panels in less than three weeks.

SR PD: Power lines tangle up new-age energy solutions
Even geothermal can infringe on wilderness, environmentalists find

The Imperial County company taps steam heat from deep within the Earth’s crust to generate clean electricity, enough to light 238,000 homes.

There’s more where that came from. But whether further development of renewable energy ever happens at this Calipatria operation and dozens of proposed projects in California’s hinterlands may depend on what goes on in San Francisco, maybe as soon as Thursday.

The California Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote on a controversial transmission project known as the Sunrise Powerlink.

The $1.9 billion high-voltage line would stretch more than 100 miles from Imperial County to San Diego, linking power plants in the desert to coastal cities hungry for energy.

Billed by its developer, San Diego Gas & Electric Co., as a superhighway for green electricity, the project has drawn fierce opposition from environmental and community groups that don’t want Godzilla-sized power towers marring the region’s scenic wilderness areas.

The bruising four-year battle has exposed one of the dirty little secrets of clean energy: A lot of this new-age power requires old-school infrastructure to get it to people’s homes.

“You can’t love renewables and hate transmission. They go together,” said Jonathan Weisgall, a vice president of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., which owns CalEnergy.

SDG&E, a unit of San Diego-based Sempra Energy, says it needs the line to meet tough state mandates to boost its use of green energy.

Existing transmission, company executives contend, can’t possibly accommodate all the wind, solar and geothermal projects needed in coming decades.

Opponents say clean power is a cover for SDG&E to use Sunrise to transport low-cost, polluting electricity from Mexico, where Sempra has invested big in natural gas and power-plant assets.

New Technologies Show Promise for High-Efficiency Solar Cells

Various new materials, work on many ways, anti reflective coatings on the top, to trap more light, reflective coatings on the bottom, to reflect more light back in to the cell, converting invisible light in to visible light, and converting the entire visible light in to electricity.

Even better solar cell materials probably remain undiscovered as yet, but you — yes, you — could help discover them. Under a new effort led by IBM and Harvard University, people can allow their idle computers to help study the potential for organic molecules to convert sunlight into electricity.

The “Clean Energy Project” is part of the World Community Grid, which draws on unused computer resources to generate solutions that can benefit humanity. It will combine quantum chemistry calculations with molecular dynamics to determine the electronic properties of thousands of compounds, and it is expected to be completed in only two years.

To help the project along, IBM will pilot the World Community Grid on its internal computer network. Learn more about the Clean Energy Project from the World Community Grid and Harvard.

Make: Vertical Farming

Treehugger:”Home Dome” Wins Trash to Treasure Challenge

Twelve-year-old Max Wallack of Massachusetts won the Design Squad’s Trash to Treasure Competition, a contest that inspired kids to repurpose trash into practical inventions. Wallack’s creation is the “Home Dome,” a Mongolian yurt-shaped structure made of plastic bags filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts. The dome comes with a built-in bed that weighs the structure down. Wallack created the “Home Dome” as a temporary shelter for homeless people and disaster victims. It also serves to relieve landfill growth.

I keep hearing a few locals advocating for private land for the homeless, saying it will not cost the public a dime, and be better because it will not be so restrictive. Yet I don’t see any ideas how this will work. Why should the private enterprise finance it, when these same people degrade businesses? They degrade the rules of the shelters we do have, but these same rules make these shelters work.


1 Comment

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Comment by Mat Nayie

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