A growing economy also means rising energy demand. And the greater use of power will inevitably lead to the construction of more plants and wires as well as the use of more energy efficient and renewable technologies. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an annualized growth rate in the U.S. of 3 percent, which will help push down the unemployment rate from its current 6.3 percent. Such business expansion will be met by the burning of more fuels, some of which be wind and solar energies.
The latest round of a trade war that started nearly three years ago over Chinese silicon solar panels imported in the United States will likely have a far more financial impact than before. In fact, a report released Thursday said prices for Chinese solar panels could go up 14% on average. according to an analysis by GTM Research, that price hike will be hard to avoid and cause Chinese companies to lose a big advantage they have enjoyed for years: the ability to make and sell solar panels at costs far lower than their competitors elsewhere in the world.
The rapidly changing climate poses a threat of sparking greater global conflict, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday told the graduating class of Boston College, urging the graduates to play a role in pushing for new energy policies. Citing recent reports from the United Nations and White House showing that a rising emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels in contributing to a warming world, he warned of the possibility of climate-related conflict. “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent. Why? Because if crops can’t grow, there will be food insecurity. If there are stronger more powerful storms, things will change in a hurry,” Kerry said at Boston College, where he received his law degree in 1976. Kerry offered few specific policy recommendations in his 19-minute speech, but noted that investments in clean energy sources, which typically include technologies such as solar and wind power, could help in the effort to contain climate change.
SunPower, one of North America’s largest solar companies, is scheduled to publish its first quarter 2014 results on April 24. We expect the company’s earnings to improve on a year-over-year basis, driven by higher global demand for solar products and manufacturing cost improvements. During Q4 2013, the company’s quarterly revenues declined by around 3% year-over-year to around $758 million, while operating margins grew to around 9.5% from 7.4% a year ago.
Solar power has been growing like crazy. Last year the solar industry installed a record amount of solar capacity. The impact can be seen in the data. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2012 there were 3.5 million megawatthours of electricity generated by solar photovoltaic panels. In 2013 that more than doubled to 8.3 million Mwh. And to think that a decade ago the U.S. generated just 6,000 Mwh from solar PV.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation has announced a $5 million investment in an artsy-looking solar-powered lamp designed for use in off-grid populations in Africa. It says the lamp, called Little Sun, will provide clear, affordable energy to places dependent on costly and toxic kerosene lighting in sub-Saharan Africa. The portable lamp is created by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen. Consumers in the U.S.
Peter W. Davidson, Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office in U.S. Department of Energy says government loans were necessary to get the first large scale photovoltaic solar plants off the ground.
While use of coal for generating electricity has started to decline in the U.S., China continues to build coal power plants. With public anger at filthy air bubbling below the surface, and the costs of associated health effects more apparent, the country’s government is well aware of the long-term costs. Two years ago, the Chinese government announced a plan to cap coal consumption through 2015–both to address air pollution and limit its imports of the commodity from Australia and elsewhere. China also raised its target for new solar installations this year to 14 gigawatts–higher than last year’s 12 GW, and more than any nation has ever added in a year. Now, energy analysts are beginning to fear that investment in coal powerplants in China bears the hallmarks of a speculative boom that some call “the carbon bubble.”