May 052014
 

top us solar cities[Editor’s note: This post, by Kristine Wong, originally appeared on SolarEnergy.net.]

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the amount of sunshine that drives solar energy growth. Instead, smart local and state policies, utility leadership and strong state renewable portfolio standards are key to that growth, according to a recently released report analyzing solar capacity in 57 U.S. cities.

The total amount of installed solar capacity for all 57 cities currently exceeds the amount installed across the entire U.S. at the end of 2008.

“Solar power is growing much faster than many would have imagined, thanks in great part to local officials who have recognized the environmental and economic benefits,” said Rob Sargent, the energy program director at nonprofit organization Environment America and a lead author of the report titled Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.

And the top 20 cities with the greatest solar capacity — an amount that collectively weighs in at over 890 MW — is greater than the entire U.S. capacity just six years ago, the report found. Here’s another tidbit from the report: Though its combined geographic area comprises 0.1 percent of land in the U.S., its total installed solar capacity represents 7 percent of U.S. capacity.

Researchers drew from a variety of data sources — including utilities, city and state governments, grid operators, nonprofit organizations and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Open PV database to rank the 57 cities as of the end of 2013. Only cities where more than a negligible amount of solar had been installed were eligible to be included in the analysis.

The report ranked the top U.S. solar cities as follows:

Principal City State Cumulative Solar
PV Capacity (MW)
Cumulative Solar
PV Capacity Rank
Los Angeles CA 132 1
San Diego CA 107 2
Phoenix AZ 96 3
San Jose CA 94 4
Honolulu HI 91 5
San Antonio TX 84 6
Indianapolis IN 56 7
New York NY 33 8
San Francisco CA 26 9
Denver CO 25 10

Source: Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.

While each city’s path to solar has varied, the report breaks down common factors that has helped facilitate growth, such as:

  • Commitment to specific solar installed capacity goals, such as what San Jose, Denver and Portland are doing by installing solar on their public buildings
  • Passing building codes that require new structures to be “solar ready,” thus making installation easier
  • Implementing policies that reduce the “soft costs” of solar, such as
    • Chicago residents can get solar PV permits in under a month, thanks to its Green Permit Program
    • Portland and San Francisco residents can apply online for permits
    • San Jose has cut down its permit application to one page and reduced the permit application fee
    • Philadelphia reduced its permit fees down to the cost of labor (cutting out the costs of labor in the process)
  • Partnerships with local utilities, such as in Seattle’s partnership with Seattle City Light, where renters and apartment dwellers can participate in virtual net metering through buying solar panels in community solar gardens located off site
  • Strong state, local and federal policies (among states, Hawaii, California and Delaware are the strongest)
  • States can streamline permitting, and set rates that make installing solar attractive
  • The federal government can continue to use tax credits and other incentives

Even cities located in states with no renewable energy standards can emerge successful with the right combination of supportive local and state policies. Such is the case of New Orleans, ranked by Environment America as No. 11 nationwide.

The city’s investor-owned utility, Energy New Orleans, turned things around from zero installed capacity in 2007 to a total of 22 MW over seven years — in part from reducing the amount of paperwork needed to apply for a solar permit from 50 pages to two pages, as well as requiring that net metering be allowed. Louisiana also passed solar tax incentives in 2007.

New Bedford, Mass., is one city that’s linked solar growth to more than just a healthy economy. With a low income population, one might guess that the city would not prioritize renewable energy. Yet in 2010, it established an Energy Office tasked with installing 10 MW of solar power by 2015.

“New Bedford’s renewable power program is strengthening our city’s economy, our education system, and our environment, while saving taxpayers considerable money in the years ahead,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

How did it do this? The city shrewdly linked its solar development goals to progress on other socioeconomic issues it wished to improve on, including brownfields use, education, job training and local industry growth. Specific projects included:

  • Creating a program to promote solar farms development on brownfields land
  • Setting up a solar farm on brownfields land next to a school where teachers will take students out to the land to learn about renewable energy, as well as solar industry job skills
  • Installing solar on a group of public buildings, including a gym, three schools and a government agency

As a result of this multi-pronged approach, the city is now on track to accomplish its goal over a year ahead of time.
“Every city in America should be doing what we are doing here in New Bedford,” Mitchell concluded.

The post Top US Solar Cities Made Possible by Policy as Much as by Sunlight appeared first on Solar Power.

Jan 142014
 

solar roofsWe’ve talked a lot about the solar boom here in the United States, as states use smart policy and homeowner enthusiasm to dive in to rooftop solar in a big way.

But the U.S. is far from alone in this boom — in fact, as with most aspects of the global sustainability movement, the U.S. is actually a ways behind more forward-thinking countries.

In the past week, we’ve seen two stories from other parts of the world that showcase how quickly solar is taking off everywhere. First, Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, the government agency that oversees that country’s clean energy efforts, announced that there are now 2 million small-scale solar installations in Australia. The figure includes 1.1 million rooftop solar systems and about 842,000 solar hot water systems.

If that milestone isn’t impressive enough, consider how quickly it happened: Just eight months ago, Australia was celebrating its achievement of 1 million small-scale solar installations. This speed of adoption is similar to what we reported earlier in January, when California installed 30 years’ worth of solar in 2013 alone.

The Clean Energy Regulator attributes the rapid solar boom in Australia to both falling solar panel prices as well as financial incentives put in place to help the country meet its renewable energy target, which calls for 20 percent of the nation’s energy to come from renewables by 2020.

Meanwhile, slightly closer to home, the United Kingdom government announced this week that 500,000 homes have gone solar in England, putting the country on track to hit its target of 1 million solar homes by 2015.

England’s solar boom has picked up speed since the country put a feed-in tariff in place, paying solar homeowners a set price for every watt of clean electricity they send to the grid.

And back in the United States, the solar boom continues apace. New research from Solarbuzz breaks out the size of solar markets in each state, finding that two states would be among the top ten global markets if they were independent nations. Michael Barker from Solarbuzz writes:

If each US state were analyzed as an individual market, California would rank as the fourth largest driver of PV demand globally during 2013. During 2014, we forecast that North Carolina will join California as a global Top-10 driver of PV demand. Furthermore, at least four states will be in the Top-20 for global demand in 2014.

Solar roofs photo CC-licensed by Kevin Baird.

The post The Global Solar Boom Continues as Australia, England Hit Milestones appeared first on Solar Power.

Oct 232013
 

solar fightI wish we could just chalk the ongoing battles between energy companies and home solar advocates and installers to “haters gonna hate,” but the stakes are so much higher than just a difference of opinion.

If you recall, over the last few months, we’ve seen utility companies and their friends in state legislatures have worked to slash incentives for solar homeowners — trimming net metering policies, attacking renewable portfolio standards, and so on.

If there’s good news to come out of the debate so far, it’s that most of these attempts have failed. Not only did California enact sweeping pro-solar legislation back in September, but looking back over pro-dirty energy groups’ efforts in the past decade, the Center for American Progress found that every time they attacked solar standards, they failed.

But solar is still under attack: In Arizona and Colorado, for instance, the dominant utilities are working hard to cut or eliminate incentives for solar homes. And they’re fighting back against pro-solar attempts to save solar subsidies.

Greentech Media’s Herman K. Trabish has a rundown of the anti-solar argument this week, which attempt to link solar power to a wealthy elite, as well as to the Solyndra boondoggle from 2011.

“We are in a political battle,” APS spokesperson Jim McDonald told Greentech Media. “We didn’t ask for it. But we are not going to lie down and get our heads kicked in. We are just not. We are obligated to fight. It is irresponsible to our customers not to fight back.”

On the other side of the battle, solar advocates are also using heated language to describe the fight. Speaking at Solar Power International in Chicago this week, PV-Tech reported SEIA CEO Rhone Resch as saying, “You can be sure of one thing: if you don’t get involved and we as an industry don’t participate in a committed and shared effort, we will only make it that much easier for our critics and enemies to silence our roar.”

Despite the constant push and pull among advocates and industry, the public as a whole voices overwhelming support for solar power: Even in the immediate aftermath of Solyndra, at least three-quarters of Americans approved of solar power regardless of their political affiliation.

Top photo via SolarCity’s ad for solar in Arizona.

The post The Solar Fight Heats Up Between Utilities and Solar Lovers appeared first on Solar Power.

Oct 032013
 

131003-solar-boomThe phrase “solar boom” has become a cliché at this point: Since 2010, demand for clean energy from the sun has more than doubled, rising from around 4 gigawatts per three-month period globally in 2010 to more than 8 GW each quarter in 2013, according to the latest quarterly solar tracking report from SolarBuzz.

Over the past six months, during the second and third quarters of 2013 (April-June and July-September) more than 17 gigawatts of new solar capacity were added worldwide. And SolarBuzz predicts that the pace is only going to accelerate, with another 10-12 gigawatts of solar power coming online between October and December.

The findings of this quarterly report from SolarBuzz are echoed by another quarterly tracking report, this one published by IHS. According to the IHS tracker, 2014 will be the year of fastest growth for solar in the last three years, growing 18 percent over the course of 2014 and reaching 41 gigawatts of total solar capacity worldwide.

What’s driving this rapid growth? Strong demand from the United States and China, first and foremost, with incentives for solar installations as one main factor. We’ve seen recently that laws encouraging homeowners to go solar have strong support across the country.

“PV installations will accelerate in 2014 driven by low system prices, the creation of new markets in emerging regions and the continued growth in major countries such as the United States, Japan and China,” Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at IHS, said in a statement. “As the industry’s recovery accelerates and market revenue returns to near record levels, solar manufacturers will leave behind the turmoil of recent years and enjoy improved business conditions.”

Although IHS and SolarBuzz disagree on just how much bigger the solar boom will get in 2014 — SolarBuzz predicts global capacity to climb to somewhere between 45 and 55 gigawatts, while IHS sets a more conservative target of 41 gigawatts — both groups agree that the future is still bright for generating clean power from the sun.

The post Solar Power Boom Continues Through 2013, May Expand In 2014 appeared first on Solar Power.

Sep 302013
 

Boulder Colorado Solar PanelsLast week, we wrote about a few innovative efforts to crowdsource renewable energy, particularly solar garden and community solar efforts in Colorado — as well as an ambitious community wind project in the Netherlands.

Since we wrote about those efforts, a few more crowdfunded-solar news items have crossed our radar, making us think that there’s real steam behind people-powered renewable energy.

First, advocates in the city of Boulder, Colo., just closed the doors on a massively successful fundraising campaign to cut the city utility loose from Xcel Energy and create a local electric utility that relies on renewable energy. New Era Colorado earned $193,018 — nearly five times its goal of $40,000 — to make the Boulder public utility a reality, by educating voters and getting out the vote to counter an Xcel Energy-sponsored bill on the November ballot that New Era says would “kill our local electric utility process dead in its tracks.”

Here’s more of what they say about the goals of the campaign: “Boulder wants to break away from our current, coal-dominated utility — Xcel Energy — to create a local electric utility based on renewable energy. Feasibility studies have shown we could reduce our carbon emissions by over 50% immediately by shifting to cleaner energy. And we wouldn’t have to pay more than we do now, because we could afford a lot more renewable energy if we’re not paying for Xcel’s enormous profit margins. This is an incredible opportunity to create a landmark model for how communities all over the country can take control of their energy future.”

New Era has much more information, and is still raising money on their website.

The second story comes from New America Media, and aired on KALW public radio last week. It’s a profile of RE-volv, a nonprofit that lets individuals donate small amounts of money that are then pooled to help bring solar power to community centers.

From the article:

It happened for the Shawl Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley. As piano melodies spill out the door, and dancers walk in and out, Managing Director Rebecca Johnson explains how and why her studio went solar. For one thing, she says, they were spending about $400 a month on utilities. Then they noticed their neighbors.

“All our neighbors are totally residential homes and when they got solar, we thought wow our roof is the same exact slope as well,” says Johnson.

As they were figuring out their options and getting quotes, they got an unexpected offer. A man named Andreas Karelas offered them a lease to own system that would power 100% of the center’s electricity needs. They wouldn’t owe any money up-front and their monthly bill would drop.

When she saw the offer, Johnson says she thought, “the proposal it looks too good to be true. I don’t understand where the loophole is.”

RE-volv’s business model is much like that of Mosaic, which brings small-scale investors on board to fund solar projects, and guarantee a 4–6 percent rate of return. Just last week, Mosaic opened up a new project to investors, a 12.3-megawatt solar system on the McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst joint Army-Navy base outside Trenton, New Jersey.

With all this momentum behind giving people power over their energy, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Boulder solar photo courtesy of New Era Colorado.

The post California, Boulder Get Busy Crowdsourcing Solar Panels appeared first on Solar Power.

Sep 242013
 

The big news in large-scale solar this week comes from the Ivanpah solar concentrating plant outside of Las Vegas, Nevada: The ambitious project, in which Google has invested $168 million, has just sent its first electricity to the grid, and clearing the preliminary hurdle to bringing the 392-megawatt facility online.

Ivanpah is a huge accomplishment that has come about through the investments of three major partners — BrightSource Energy, NRG, and Google — and when it is fully operational, it will represent nearly 4 percent of the nation’s total solar output. Most importantly, Ivanpah will show that you can create utility-scale energy, using the same steam-turbine technology as coal-fired plants, but rely entirely on the sun.

Ivanpah solar concentrating plant

As cool as Ivanpah is, it seems to me that it’s not scalable to the same extreme that rooftop solar is. There simply aren’t as many 5.5-square-mile chunks of sun-drenched open land situtated close to major metropolises in the United States to power everyone.

So when I saw the announcement about a record-breaking crowdfund effort for a community-scale wind farm, I thought, why can’t we do this for solar?

In the Netherlands, wind-energy pioneers Windcentrale have brought together 1,700 households that have contributed a cumulative €1.3 million (about US$1.75 million) to purchase a Vestas V80 2MW turbine from 2005 that will provide them with clean electricity for the next 12 years. The 1,700 households together bought 6,648 shares in the turbine, with each share costing €200 and representing 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year for the next 12 years.

So why can’t we do something like this for rooftop solar? Whether we’re crowdsourcing funding for large-scale installations or helping to bring down the cost of panels by pooling resources, it seems that the time is right for collective investments in solar.

Our parent company, One Block Off the Grid, got its start in just such an endeavor: the original goal was to help neighbors join together to buy solar as a way of reducing the costs for everyone, and to spread solar adoption. Of course, since that time the costs of solar have already plummeted, and solar leases help make it easy — if not free — to install rooftop solar almost anywhere.

Then I came across this episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, which looks at “solar gardens” legislation, which offers an alternative to the Ivanpah projects of the world: “a vision of helping community members pool their resources, produce their own energy, and keep their energy dollars local.”

solar garden photovoltaic systemIn Colorado, a solar gardens law passed in 2010, allowing neighbors to pool their money and share in the benefits of a larger solar panel system. When the first project opened for investment, shares in the 9-megawatt system sold out in 30 minutes.

Between the amazing incentives that are on offer in states across the country to encourage homeowners to install rooftop solar, as well as the steadily decreasing price of solar installations, great progress is happening in the move to a low-carbon economy.

But getting more regions on board with legislation like these solar gardens will make it possible for just about everyone to share in the many benefits of solar.

For more information about solar gardens and community shared resources, see the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s overview page on community solar, and the National Renewable Energy Lab’s Guide to Community Solar [PDF].

Solar garden photo courtesy of ILSR.

The post Can Crowdsourcing Bring Solar to Scale Better than Google? appeared first on Solar Power.

Sep 192013
 

SEIA Report CoverA new research report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research finds continued growth in rooftop solar, even though the non-residential markets for solar panels are a bit more sluggish.

The top-level number the SEIA is crowing about in its U.S. Solar Market Insight report for the second quarter of 2013 is 9,400 megawatts: That’s how much total solar capacity is installed in the U.S. as of the end of June.

The report says that the pace of growth in the U.S. solar industry should is expected to push the U.S. over the 10-gigawatt level by the end of 2013 — however, the country reached that goal in mid-July, becoming just the fourth nation with 10 GW of solar capacity, after Germany, Italy and China.

The report lists three additional top-level milestones that U.S. solar will achieve in 2013:

  • Over 100,000 individual solar systems will be installed by year’s end
  • The U.S. share of global solar installations will reach a high of 13 percent, up from 5 percent in 2008
  • A solar project will be installed, on average, every four minutes in the U.S.

However, there are still three worrying trends that may slow down solar’s growth in the U.S.:

1. Net Energy Metering and Rate Design Battles: As we’ve discussed elsewhere, there’s is an ongoing battle on many fronts to reduce or eliminate incentives for homeowners to install solar panels. Net metering policies are the front line of this fight, and the future of these solar-friendly policies is very much in the air in Colorado and Arizona, among other states.

2. Non-Residential PV’s Tepid Growth: Although home solar installations continued to grow in the past quarter, commercial installations fell 11 percent compared to 2012.

3. The Reduction in Utility Solar Procurement: Despite record levels of adoption of utility-scale solar, in some states utilties are slowing down their purchasing from new solar projects, which introduces uncertainty into investors and solar developers.

The best news on the home-solar front is that, between June 2012 and June 2013, residential system prices fell 11.5 percent, while installation costs declined a cumulative 2.2 percent, falling in most major residential markets including California, Arizona, and New Jersey. The report is careful to note, however, that “installed PV prices vary greatly not only state to state, but also project to project.”

Other notable developments cited in the report:

• Market ups and downs in some of the most sun-rich states: Arizona’s installations fell 8 percent over last year, likely due to uncertainty about the state utility’s support for solar. Hawaiian installations plummeted 18 percent over last year, “as a combined result of changes to building permit fees and the state PV tax credit, as well as the increasing saturation of some key geographies.” California, however, grew 4 percent in Q2 2013, particularly in the wake of the new laws supporting California solar that passed earlier this month.

• Leases remain extremely popular: In Arizona, California, Colorado and Massachusetts, leases are the predominant form of solar financing. In Arizona and Colorado nearly 90 percent of installations are third-party owned, while in California and Massachusetts it’s just around two-thirds of new installations being financed through leases.

Tied to the release of the report, SEIA has put together a shiny infographic spelling out the impacts of the current solar boom; you can see the image below (and click on it for a larger version).

Solar Infographic

The post An Inside Look at the Solar Boom of 2013 appeared first on Solar Power.

Sep 092013
 

To some extent, solar power has long had a gimmicky side — look no further than this solar-powered “dancing flower” or the Nivea skincare ad that includes a solar panel to charge your phone.

But at the same time, these unbelievably broad applications of solar as a technology, as a power source, are also key to its success. You can use a solar panel to power just about anything these days. As Zachary Shahan at CleanTechnica wrote about that Nivea ad: it means that “solar is becoming mainstream.”

In the last few days, I’ve come across a good number of examples of just how mainstream solar is becoming, as solar-powered doo-dads of many kinds hit the newswires. In no particular order:

•  Solar Clothes Dryer: Today, German appliance manufacturer Miele unveiled its T881 EcoComfort clothes dryer, which connects to a home’s central heating system and then to a rooftop solar installation to dry clothes with clean energy. The system is pictured below, and according to Inhabitat, this dryer-to-rooftop solar setup gives the machine an “A+++ energy efficiency rating, which is up to 80 percent more efficient than competing clothes dryers.”

solar clothes dryer schematic

Schematic for Miele’s solar-powered clothes dryer

•  Solar laptop: Last month, Solaptop unveiled the specs on what it’s calling an “all-terrain off-road sport utility laptop” — a $400, solar-powered, Linux-based and waterproof computer.

solar laptop

Solaptop’s solar-powered, rugged laptop

•  Solar travel by air and sea: When the Solar Impulse landed its cross-country flight from San Francisco to New York last month, it marked a pretty momentous achievement for solar flight, and drew comparisons to Elon Musk’s achievement with Tesla (though the Solar Impulse was not, as IEEE’s Spectrum reminds us, the first cross-U.S. solar-powered plane flight). The Guardian offers a broad look at solar-powered travel, from Solar Impulse to the solar-powered motorboat the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, which circumnavigated the world between September 2010 and May 2012 (20 months to travel around the world is fairly equivalent in speed to the Solar Impulse’s 24-hour trip time between Washington, D.C., and New York City).

• Solar drones: While the rest of the world was talking about the miraculous XXX-hour flight of the solar-powered airplane mentioned in the article above, The Economist was putting together this look at solar-powered drones, unmanned aircraft powered by solar cells that could be used to “survey pipelines and power cables, perform aerial filming for anyone from television news stations to estate agents, monitor fires, assist in search-and-rescue operations” and more.

• Not-exactly-solar bikes: The two products that got me thinking about this post were electric bikes, namely something called “The Beast, which is a bamboo-framed, electric-powered mountain bike, and the NTS 2×4 electric Cargo Bike (pictured below). Granted, these are not solar-powered, but as electric vehicles, it’s just the easiest thing in the world to plug them in to your solar-powered home and create a zero-carbon mode of transport (which doesn’t really answer for me the question of why you really need an electric bike anyway, but then I live in a pretty flat place…).

electric cargo bike

NTS’s 2×4 electric Cargo Bike

With all these applications of solar tech already on the market, I can’t wait to see what my next “Solar Everywhere” roundup will bring.

The post Solar Everywhere: Dryers, Drones and More appeared first on Solar Power.

Aug 302013
 

Over the last 50 years, California’s nuclear power plants have received more than $8.2 billion in federal support. Meanwhile, solar tax credits are on the verge of being cut from 30 percent to 10 percent in 2016.

That’s the top-level finding of a new report from DBL Investors, which compares the support that the nuclear power industry received in its critical early years with the federal support going to solar power right now.

The findings are clear, and troubling. You can sum them up in three charts from the report:

First, we see the relative funding, in 2012 dollars, that nuclear (in red) and distributed solar (in blue) received during the industry’s first five years.

subsidies for nuclear power vs solar power during the first five years

Click image for larger version

Solar clearly got a much smaller slice of the federal pie than nuclear did, although things start to pick up toward the end of that first five years — by 2011, solar received almost the same amount of funding that nuclear did in 1967.

… Until you get to the second chart, which shows how those subsidies continued for nuclear:

Subsidies for nuclear power vs solar power over time

Click image for larger version.

That’s all well and good, since look at that super promising growth trajectory for solar funding — we’re on the right path, right?

Unfortunately, the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) — which currently reimburses homeowners for 30 percent of the up-front costs of installing rooftop solar — is slated to be cut dramatically at the end of 2016. Starting January 1, 2017, unless new legislation is enacted or the ITC is extended again, the refund will drop to just 10 percent. That big of a drop, totalling thousands of dolars in lost incentives per installation, will have a potentially huge impact on the growth of solar in California and nationwide.

Granted, solar has been growing as a power source in California, even as nuclear has been shrinking: The closing of the San Onofre nuclear power plant took a big chunk out of the state’s nuclear generation, as the chart below shows.

solar generation vs nuclear generation

Click image for larger version

But without continued support, the odds are much longer that we’ll see the kind of continued growth in rooftop solar that we desperately need to transition to a clean energy future.

One of the reasons that nuclear power has been financial possible in the U.S. has to do with the Price-Anderson Act. The report’s authors write:

[The Act] caps the liability of nuclear power producers in the event of an accident. The Price-Anderson Act was originally supposed to be authorized for only ten years, while nuclear developers sought to prove safety and reliability, but has been continuously reauthorized since its passage in 1957.

… The original Price-Anderson Act Senate report justifies the Act’s 10-year sunset provision saying that, by then, “. . . the problem of reactor safety will be to a great extent solved and the insurance people will have had an experience on which to base a sound program of their own.”

Of course, tell that to the people of Japan, currently staring down the barrel of continued leaks and threats from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which could eventually cost $250 billion to clean up.

In closing, here’s a little piece of bumper-sticker wisdom, courtesy of the folks at VoteSolar:

solar power bumper sticker

Meanwhile, you can do your part and see if your roof is right for solar today!

The post Nuclear Power Gets $8.21B in Gov’t Money, Solar Gets Shafted appeared first on Solar Power.

Aug 202013
 

130820-solar-barnYes. Even if just for a moment.

News out of Nebraska shows that a group of committed activists and community educators have built a solar-powered barn directly in the path of the pipeline.

Groundbreaking for the barn took place over last weekend on land owned by the Hammond family in York, Neb. The goal is to not only literally obstruct the planned pipeline, which would ferry oil sands from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas, but also to turn the barn into a sustainably powered education and resource center to help raise awareness about the risks that the pipeline poses to Nebraska farms, the Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the Midwest with water, and to the planet’s atmosphere.

In speaking about the potential of the barn, Meghan Hammond told 1011Now that “We thought it was a brilliant idea that it represents how our family is thinking, that we believe in green energy and that we can do better.”

The barn, which will include both a rooftop solar array and a wind turbine when it’s completed, was designed in conjunction with Bold Nebraska, a nonprofit advocacy group working to fight Keystone XL and promote clean energy across the state.

Bold Nebraska has put together a video for their “Summer of the Pipeline Fighter” campaign, and both Meghan Hammond and her father, Rick Hammond — fifth- and sixth-generation Nebraska farmers — to talk about why they’re opposed to the pipeline.

Article by Matthew Wheeland.

The post Can Solar Power Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline? appeared first on Solar Power.