This week in renewable energy: 1/3/14

Every Friday, Community Renewable Energy shares important clean energy developments– and some that are just plain cool.

Here’s what we were reading this week.

Global progress

  • Girl's hands holding globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisPower Africa will allow African nations to capitalize on their incredible solar capacity.  We at Community Renewable Energy know that millions of lives will be improved as the continent continues to embrace clean energy, and we’ll bring you all the latest updates as Power Africa unfolds.
  • Ethiopia is now home to the continent’s largest-ever wind farm. (Just Means)
  • In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is turning to solar power. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  • Community-owned solar gardens are taking root across America– but Australia was an early adopter of the community-owned model. New South Wales may be the latest community to welcome a solar farm. (Energy Business News Australia)

Green in the Midwest

  • At Midwest Energy News, Marc Lopata and Jeramy Shays discuss the importance of being able to produce your own residential power, noting the progress that’s already been made, but also commenting on the promise solar power holds.

According to the Community Associations Institute, there are about 13 million townhouses and homes in gated communities or subdivisions. These properties are the most suitable for residential solar installations. If just five percent of these homes invested in an average-sized residential solar energy system, it would add 3.3 gigawatts of clean power and reduce CO2 emissions by over 6 million tons – the equivalent of taking over 1.1 million vehicles off the road. Imagine if 50% of those homes went solar!

  • The US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Program is helping rural electricity co-ops grow. This is great news for community-owned solar groups across the entire nation! (Green Tech Media)
  • A judge recently ruled that Minnesota’s Xcel Energy must invest in solar power rather than natural gas. From the Clean Technica article: “The reason solar was preferred is that the solar power arrays would offer ratepayers a better deal. If Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) upholds the decision, Minnesota could see its solar power capacity increase at least 7 times over.”

Bright ideas

  • The New York Times covered Wall Street’s enthusiasm for solar.
  • The Times also discussed improvements to batteries and storage capacity. “The new system is the opposite of an idea utilities have considered for years: Use batteries to store power at night from traditional sources, like natural gas and coal, and run them down in the peak heat of late afternoon.”
  • Ford is developing solar panels advanced enough to power an electric car. (MIT Tech Review)

What do you think was the most important renewable energy story this week? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

For news about sustainable community and economic development, visit Praxia Partners’ blog.

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