Solar Power hits new record in the US

2013 Marks Record Year for Solar Power in US
PV solar installations soar 40 percent in 3rd quarter
A new report shows that 2013 was another banner, record-setting year for solar energy in the U.S., with 4,751 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed—a year-over-year increase of 41 percent—with another 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) coming online. A record 2,106 MW of solar power capacity was installed in the fourth quarter alone, amounting to 44 percent of the annual total. That bests the old quarterly record by 60 percent.


As of year-end, there were more than 445,000 solar electric systems generating clean, renewable electrical power in the U.S. That amounts to more than 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP capacity—enough for some 2.2 million average U.S. homes, according to the GTM Research-Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) “Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013.”

Solar accounted for 29 percent of all new electricity generation capacity added in 2013, second only to natural gas, which accounted for 46 percent. In the aggregate, 2013 statistics indicate that solar energy is on the cusp of going mainstream in the U.S., if it isn’t already there. A geographic breakdown of solar installations shows that this is indeed the case, but only in a few U.S. states.

California alone accounted for more than half of American PV installations in 2013, adding more solar capacity last year than was installed nationwide in 2011. The top five states for solar energy installations in 2013, California, Arizona, North Carolina (a surprising third!), Massachusetts and New Jersey, accounted for 81 percent.

Poll:Americans see Global Warming as big problem

A poll Friday conducted for USA TODAY concluded that three of five people say global warming is a very serious global problem, and two of three say it will hurt future generations either a lot or a great deal if nothing is done to reduce it, according to the poll of 801 U.S. adults done in conjunction with Stanford University and Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan research group, which funded the research.

Also notable: 71 percent say they see the effects of global warming, and 28 percent say it made the damage from last year’s Superstorm Sandy “much worse,” though 41 percent say it had no effect.

The poll finds 55 percent of Americans back a government limit on power plant emissions — down slightly from 61 percent in 2006. Twenty-one percent say it’s a “good idea” to get electricity from coal. Among emission-free energy sources, solar and wind are the most popular, while nuclear power gets mixed reviews.

A rising share of Americans are reticent about government regulations and prefer that government “stay out of the way entirely.” On limiting emissions from power plants, for example, 21 percent say the government should not get involved at all, compared to 11 percent in 2006.

Stephen Ansolabehere, government professor at Harvard University, says that shift may be due to a decline in the public’s confidence in the U.S. government (Wendy Koch, USA TODAY, Dec. 20). — HG

Temperatures are rising !

The average temperature of the Earth’s surface increased by about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) over the past 100 years, with about 1.0 °F (0.6 °C) of this warming occurring over just the past three decades (NRC, 2011). The principal driving force behind the rising temperature is the release of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels. From 1751 to 2012, about 386 Gt of carbon (1,415 Gt CO2) were released to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels and cement production. Recent annual global rates of emission are about 9 to 10 Gt of carbon (34 Gt of carbon dioxide) per year (Boden et al., 2012).

Americans believe in global warming and want action. Polls.

Stanford University Professor Jon Krosnick led analysis of more than a decade’s worth of poll results for 46 states. The results show that the majority of residents of all of those states, whether they be red or blue, are united in their worries about the climate — and in their desire for the government to take climate action.
“To me, the most striking finding that is new today was that we could not find a single state in the country where climate scepticism was in the majority,” Krosnick told The Guardian.

In every state surveyed for which sufficient data was available:
•At least three-quarters of residents are aware that the climate is changing.
•At least two-thirds want the government to limit greenhouse gas emissions from businesses.
•At least 62 percent want regulations that cut carbon pollution from power plants.
•At least half want the U.S. to take action to fight climate change, even if other countries do not.
This map shows the percentage of state residents who believe global warming has been happening:

Greenhouse gases increasing faster and faster

In 2012 the increase in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, which accounts for an estimated 80 percent of the overall growth in greenhouse gas emissions showed that increases are more rapid than before. The 2.2 ppm increase in carbon dioxide concentrations was above the 2.02 ppm average increase recorded over the past decade and well above the 1.5 ppm average increase registered in the 1990s.
Rise in Methane Concentrations Puzzling
It was noted that carbon dioxide, most of which is emitted through human activities, is a “very stable gas, there’s no chemical reaction which would naturally destroy the gas, so it stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years or more.”
“That’s why the actions we take now—or the actions we don’t take—will have consequences for a very, very long period,” Jarred, the WMO chief said.
Another cause for concern was the continued rise in concentrations of methane in the atmosphere after near zero growth between 1999 and 2006. Methane is considered the second most important long-lived greenhouse gas, with an estimated 60 percent of emissions coming from human activities such as cattle breeding, rice growing and fossil fuel exploitation.
The 6 ppb increase in concentrations registered in 2012 was well above the 3.7 ppb average annual increase over the past decade, the WMO noted. Methane has a much shorter life cycle than carbon dioxide, however, remaining in the atmosphere for about 10 years.
“We do not understand what is causing this increase” in methane, Tarasova said. “Our first thought was that this was due to Arctic melting [of the permafrost], and indeed the initial increase in 2007 was due to increased emissions in the Arctic.”
Since then, however, the increase appears to be driven by rising concentrations in the tropical and mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where there are both wetlands, which emit methane, and anthropogenic, or human, sources, he said. “Which source is driving it? We cannot say,” Tarasova said.
In highlights of its Fifth Assessment Report issued Sept. 27, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that, based on detailed historical estimates, greenhouse gas concentrations have reached their highest levels in at least 800,000 years.
The “Greenhouse Gas Bulletin” is available at

Coal jobs vs wind jobs

Here is a fascinating study about coal production and jobs in the US. The world figures are probably similar. Conclusion, coal jobs have been going down, down, down in this country since 1920. Why? Automation underground, and surface mining which is non-union, usually, and produces more coal per worker. And more recently, natural gas prices have cut into coal’s share of power generation.

This article points out that there are 83,000 coal mining jobs, underground and surface mining, in 2005 while the number of jobs in wind power has gone up, up and up, surpassing coal mining jobs. To tell the complete story, there are also jobs in transporting coal [trains, trucks] and in running the coal power plants that make electricity. All together, then, full time jobs in coal mining, transport and burning it are around 174,000. That is more than the 85,000 jobs in wind power in 2008.
While natural gas has cut in some to coal’s share of the pie, the US has exported more overseas, meaning that overall, production is flat between 2005 and 2011 at around 1,000 million tons (Mt) while exports have grown from 20 to 84 Mt.

Poll: More Americans believe in global warming/climate crisis

WASHINGTON, DC, September 16, 2011 (ENS) – More Americans today believe that global warming is occurring compared to one year ago, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Stanford University and Reuters news agency and released today.

Currently, 83 percent of all adults surveyed say that global warming has been happening while only 15 percent say they believe that it has not been happening.

The poll finds a statistically significant increase in the number of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming – from 75 percent one year ago in 2010 to 83 percent now.

During the worst drought in decades, wildfire rips through parched trees and grass in Bosque County, central Texas, September 5, 2011 (Photo by Brittany Mclemore)

Global warming has been a central focus in the recent Republican presidential primary debates.

While attitudes on the climate issue differ between Democrats and Republicans, the divide is not as great as the political debate might imply, says the global market research firm Ipsos in its release of the survey results.

Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of Republicans believe global warming has been happening, as do 92 percent of Democrats.

Still, the survey also shows that the climate skeptics have become more certain in their beliefs that global warming is not happening. The IPSOS measure of certainty has risen from 35 percent in 2010 to 53 percent in 2011.

The percentage of those surveyed who are certain that climate warming has been happening also has risen over the past year, from 45 percent to 53 percent.

A large majority (71 percent) believe that if warming has been happening, it has been caused either partly (45 percent) or mostly (27 percent) by human activities, which 27 percent believe warming to be the result of natural causes.

On this issue, the political polarization is more apparent – 37 percent of Democrats believe global warming is the result primarily of human action, while only 14 percent of Republicans believe this.

Today, 43 percent of Republicans believe global warming is the result of natural causes, up from 35 percent in 2010. Self-identified Tea Party members display still more certainty (49 percent) that global warming is caused by natural events.

Looking forward, a large majority of those surveyed (72 percent) expect the world’s temperature to continue rising over the next 100 years if nothing is done to prevent it.

Here too, Democrats are much more likely to believe in global warming’s continued impact (88 percent) compared to Republicans (57 percent) or Tea Party members (49 percent).

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,134 adults, including 932 registered voters, had a margin of error of three percentage points for all respondents and 3.1 points for registered voters.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.

40 years after the 1973 October oil embargo

Today’s appliances require less than half the energy they did four decades ago. Heating systems are now 20 percent more efficient. The past couple of decades have seen a renewed interest in solar and wind power. Global wind power capacity has grown from 18 GW in 2000 to 282.5 GW today. Over the past five years alone, global installed PV capacity grew by 900 percent.

Los Angeles says the Grid can handle lots of electric vehicles

Electric car detractors, especially of the Henny-Penny variety, worry that too many EVs plugging in at the same time will knock out the electric grid. Well, that hasn’t been the case in Southern California, the largest market for plug-in electric vehicles in the country. The grid has easily handled the demand, said Ed Kjaer, director of Transportation Electrification at Southern California Edison. “What we are finding is, almost 13,000 plug-in electric vehicle customers have been connecting to system seamlessly for the most part,” he said. “We are not seeing significant challenges.”

That the grid can handle the demand is one conclusion of “Charged Up,” a just-released white paper by Southern California Edison. The utility presented the paper’s findings today. Another finding: Level 1 110-volt charging is more popular than SoCal Edison thought it would be. Also, having drivers program their charging with a set “End Time”—an hour at which a full charge is completed, rather than a set start time for beginning to charge—is good for plug-in customers and their neighbors.