Vermont Towns Consider Solar Projects to Help with the State’s Lofty Goal

Vermont Solar Energy In 2011 the Vermont Department of Public Service announced an energy plan which calls for 90% of Vermont’s energy to come from renewable energy sources by the year 2050. This plan is ambitious no matter how you look at it, but perhaps especially when you consider that the 2008 energy plan aimed for just 25% renewable energy in the state by 2050. Studies have shown that reaching the 90% goal would require a much quicker transition than what is already occurring, but anything can happen. Some towns in Vermont are making plans which represent the possibilities for greater growth of renewable energy sources.

A study on Vermont’s progress examined the interim home energy efficiency goal for 2020. The study found that the state is currently on pace to reach only half the goal of weatherizing 80,000 homes over the next seven years. To sum up the final conclusion of the study, Vermont has 3 million renewable megawatt hours and in the next 37 years has 18 million more to go, which seems too far a stretch to be possible.

But Vermont is taking decisive steps to move more homeowners and businesses toward using renewable energy sources, such as:

  • Becoming the first Northeastern state to implement a feed-in tariff in order to promote the development of renewable energy;
  • Eliminating the requirement of permits for people to install solar systems 5 kilowatts and smaller;
  • Approving a wind farm, in spite of the controversial nature of the plans;
  • Being the U.S. leader in energy efficiency investments, which have reduced electricity use by 2% per year.

Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont expressed his belief that changing the way we produce and use energy is the most important challenge and opportunity facing Vermont and the world. He fully believes in the significant benefits that transitioning to renewables will provide to the state, such as:

  • Fostering economic independence and security by enhancing local economic activity, reducing total energy costs for the people of Vermont, and creating jobs;
  • Protecting the environment by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Increasing involvement and investment in communities by connecting them to local energy sources.

In keeping with the optimism expressed by the Governor and many other legislators in Vermont, various towns in the state are making plans for using more solar energy. Vermont Solar Store

The Energy Committee in Norwich is making preliminary plans for a project which will generate electricity for municipal buildings with a clean energy source and could moderately cut the town’s electric bill.

The committee members refer to the proposed project as “risk free” in that it would not add an additional burden to taxpayers. The plan is to get a developer to build a renewable energy project with the backing of independent investors and then allow the school district or other municipal buildings to use the power generated, thereby reducing their carbon footprint. The developer would also have a risk-free investment because municipalities are stable partners that won’t go out of business.Vermont Solar Store

The Norwich Energy Committee is actually trying to apply the same concept to their town that the state has, in switching to 90% renewables by 2050. The committee is promoting residential solar and finding success; 13 new solar electric installations were added in the town last year. The committee acknowledges that the number needs to be 30 installations per year.

Sharon and Thetford are two other Vermont towns making plans similar to what Norwich is planning, as far as trying to find developers to provide solar energy for city services.

The state and the towns of Vermont may have a lofty goal as regards renewable energy, but the important thing is that they are planning and working toward the goal. On the subject of planning, Warren Buffet, an American business magnate and successful inventor, said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Thanks to these big plans and more, the future in Vermont promises to be one in which the carbon footprint and energy bills will both be small.

Contact Friends of the Sun Solar Store or Home Comfort Warehouse Solar Store in Vermont to learn how you can take advantage of these new solar programs.

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Big News in Solar Technology

Goldman Sachs Commits Billions and More Good News on Solar Power

soil science

New developments with "biosolar" are in the works, which will allow scientists to capture energy the same way plants do.

Environmentalists who are passionate about a switch to solar power and other forms of renewable energy in America don’t always have a lot to celebrate.  Thanks to steep tariffs placed on China by our government, there’s been much to indicate that advancements in solar energy may, in fact, stall out for a while.  And news such as the failure of Solyndra makes the future of renewable energy seem dismal.  But several recent stories all point to brighter, more energy-efficient days ahead.  A recent commitment announced by Goldman Sachs is among the good-news stories concerning solar power.

Goldman invested $4.8 billion dollars in green technologies last year and has now made a commitment to invest $40 billion over the next decade.  While it represents a decline from 2011’s total, $4 billion annually is nothing to complain about.  Consider this:  An investment promise Goldman made amounting to $1 billion in 2005 grew to eventually total $24 billion six years later.

As a multi-billion dollar company, Goldman understands how to invest money wisely.  The corporation expects to realize profits from money spent on advancing wind, solar, and biomass power.  The most inexpensive renewable energy is conservation, and Goldman is sinking funds into that area, as well.

Much of the delay in making discoveries related to renewable energy is linked to politics and the powerful oil industry, but researchers are advancing the environmentally friendly renewable energy agenda.  The following is just some of the good news in recent solar technology developments coming from laboratories across America:

  • An organic plastic semiconductor which is projected to allow for doubly efficient plastic solar cells as compared to current systems has been crafted at the University of Texas.
  • A new solar cell-making process has come out of the University of Chicago, and it’s as easy to accomplish as soaking a substrate in a semiconductor solution and drying it.  To top it off, these new cells aren’t limited to visible light; they can produce electricity from infrared energy.
  • A three-dimensional panel array has come out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The array is capable of handling many more panels and of harvesting a great deal more energy per square meter than any technology currently available on the market.
  • Solar cell efficiency has also been doubled by Semprius of North Carolina, with a solar cell that has 33 percent efficiency.
  • The University of Tennessee is working on a project which, if successful, will represent huge savings on the cost of solar materials.  The “biosolar” system will use the same system plants use to harvest energy.
solar power, solar energy

Scientists are discovering new ways to utilize the power of the sun.

America isn’t the only country making great strides in advancing sources of renewable energy.  Consider these breakthroughs out of Sweden and Switzerland:

  • Scientists in Sweden are building a catalyst which breaks water into oxygen and hydrogen so efficiently, the hydrogen will be useful as fuel.
  • An experimental solar-powered airplane out of Switzerland called Solar Impulse has completed its first intercontinental flight, traveling from Switzerland to Brussels using only solar energy and without the help of even an ounce of fuel.  The plane is scheduled to make its first around-the-world solar-powered journey in 2013.

The switch from dirty energy to clean, renewable energy isn’t happening as quickly as it would if greed and politics didn’t get in the way, but at least the green light is beginning to come on with recent advances in solar technology.

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