Solar Energy News for Wednesday, March 31

Posted by Daniel Kulpinski

Mar 31, 2010 6:32:00 AM

Kaiser Permanente to Install Solar Panels at 15 Sites in California

Health care giant Kaiser Permanente announced March 30 that it has made a deal with Recurrent Energy to put solar panels on buildings at 15 Kaiser sites across California. All told, the panels will generate 15 megawatts of power—or what approximately 11,000 homes use in any given instant. Each site will receive about 10 percent of its power from the rooftop panels. Recurrent will install the solar panels and Kaiser will spend $95.6 million over 20 years for power from the panels. That amount is about the same, or a little less, than buying electricity from the grid at today’s prices. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Kaiser wants to use on-site, sustainable energy for 25 percent of its electricity needs by the year 2020.

Solar Companies Envision SunCubes Plant in Colorado

Solar installer Vibrant Solar and manufacturing partner Helios Solar are proposing to build a SunCubes factory in Colorado. So far, the cities of Denver, Colorado Springs, Fowler and Pueblo are in the running, as is Jefferson County. The developers plan to announce a preferred host city by late April, according to a story in the Pueblo Chieftain. SunCubes are a new product, featuring concentrated solar photovoltaic modules that produce nearly twice the electricity of a standard solar panel, according to Vibrant Solar. The firm recently began accepting orders for SunCubes for residential, commercial and utility customers.

Solar, Wind Power Groups Raise Their DC Lobbying Profiles

The Center for Responsive Politics reported yesterday that the alternative energy industry is now spending a lot more on lobbying the federal government than it did more than a decade ago. In 2009, the alternative energy folks spent $30 million on lobbying, compared to $2.4 million in 1998. Of course the oil and gas industry spent $168 million in 2009 for lobbying—a contrast that shows solar, wind and other renewable energies are still small fry next to the established, traditional-energy leviathans.

Colorado Company Uses Solar Power to Create Traditional Fuels

Talk about green-energy pioneers. Sundrop Fuels is using concentrated solar power to convert biomass to synthesis gas, which it then turns into diesel or renewable gasoline. The firm's Broomfield, Colo., plant is a research and development facility. As Denver's ABC7 News reports, this method produces the building blocks of traditional fuels without consuming any additional energy. Sundrop Fuels plans to build out a "solar park" complex of bio-refineries in the Southwest and anticipates production of up to 1 billion gallons of clean gas and diesel fuel each year. U.S. Senator Mark Udall toured the Colorado plant on March 30.

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