Trend setting California is again leading the nation; this time in the development of solar power. But California isn’t alone and it´s not just power companies and automobile manufactures finding religion in going green. Many of the incentive plans being put forward by companies are a result of federal stimulus dollars packaged with state and local programs. These programs are making going solar a viable alternative for homeowners. Modeled after German FITs (Feed in Tariffs) which even though Germany isn’t known for sunny weather, it has become a global leader in the use of and manufacturing of solar panels. PG & E (Pacific Gas & Electric) recently joined forces with solar finance company SunRun to provide money for PG & E customers to go solar. This comes at an interesting time as PG & E has been dealing with some controversy about its’ Smart Meters and the loss of Proposition 16, a largely PG & E sponsored bill designed to limit consumer choice for energy.
The energy business has indeed been turned on its head. People are realizing there are options and they are not just “consumers” to be prayed upon. There really is a choice. One niche within alternative energy is the world of the OTG’s as I like to call them. OTG? Sounds like a gang with whom you don’t want to mess with uh? Anyway it stands for Off the Grid. OTG’er and DIY (Do it yourselfers) can be people who live in rural areas where it’s difficult to connect with the electrical grid. In some cases however it maybe a choice for those who are the most independent among us. It is interesting to reflect that in California some of the early users of solar power in the 70’s were people seeking a lifestyle away from city and suburban life. Solar panels provided electricity to mountainous areas that it was almost impossible to get municipal cable lines to.
Today in the US small scale solar systems are readily available. You can start creating your own solar power, one solar panel at a time. Photovoltaic thin films are being woven into backpacks to provide energy for hikers and outdoor solar lamps seem to be cropping up like flowers. But it doesn’t stop there, researchers from Cornell University are reporting that organic material similar to that found in blue jeans function as solar cells. This is a break through because the solar industry has been looking for ways to improve efficiency in thin film and plant like material to lower costs. The reports first were published in the journal Nature Chemistry. The process uses molecules often found in blue jeans and ink dyes for building on an organic framework that could lead to flexible and lower prices for solar cells.
Around the globe over 1.6 billion people are without grid tied energy. Small solar devices are starting to provide electricity to these areas, lighting up the night and lighting up new hope. Maybe soon you’ll hear the sounds of aspiring artists crooning under night time solar lights…do wop, do wop.