Stay current: the week’s best solar links

By SolarCity

April 29, 2016


We’ve rounded up our top reads of the week about solar and the future of the energy … so you can stay current.

-The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, has completed its historic crossing of the Pacific Ocean, landing in California on Sunday after a 62-hour flight from Hawaii. The plane, piloted by André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, is attempting to complete the first circumnavigation of the Earth using only solar power. (Vox Energy & Environment | Libby Nelson)

-As summer arrives, thoughts are turning towards days at the beach, even in the world of solar power research! Ocean-based solar power could join offshore wind farms in the future, as engineers are developing a platform that could hold large solar installations and ride out heavy seas. (Gizmag | David Szondy)

-The City That Never Sleeps certainly isn’t sleeping through the renewable energy transition. New York City has tripled its installed solar power since 2014 and just launched a program to add almost 5 times its current installed solar capacity in the city. The new solar power will be a mix of public and privately-owned solar. (Utility Dive | Herman K. Trabish)

-Prince, who sadly passed away last week, changed the world of music. He also brought about change through his staunch support of solar power in Oakland, California as one of his many charitable endeavors. (SFGate | Katie Dowd)

-Railroad cars are useful for storing and transporting goods all over the country, but what if they could store energy too? A California-based startup has developed that idea into a functioning energy storage technology, using railroad cars running downhill to turn an electricity-producing motor. (Utility Dive | Peter Maloney)

How much land would it take to power the U.S. with solar energy?

By SolarCity

April 28, 2016

We recently teamed up with GOOD Magazine to find out – and the answer may surprise you:


You can help transition the United States to cleaner energy production. Going solar is the simplest and biggest action a home or organization can take to reduce its carbon footprint. To learn how you can go solar for $0 upfront cost and start saving on your monthly energy bill, click here.

Stay current: the week’s best solar links

By SolarCity

April 22, 2016


-Happy Earth Day – it’s a historic one: more than 130 countries have committed to sign the Paris Climate Agreement today, which was finalized during December’s international summit. That would set a record for most signatures on the opening-day signing of an international agreement, held previously by a UN maritime treaty in 1982 (United Nations Blog).

-San Francisco has become the first major US city to require that new buildings install rooftop solar. The Better Roofs Ordinance is expected in the near future to add 50,000 solar panels and avoid 26.3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually (Quartz / Michael Coren).

-More than 565,000 electric vehicles were sold globally in 2015 – a roughly 80% increase over 2014. China is now the largest market for plug-in vehicle sales, followed by Western Europe and the US. (Green Car Reports via CS Monitor / Stephen Edelstein).

-The pioneering solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, has lifted off once again. Having flown 8,900 kilometers last summer from Japan to Hawaii, the plane is now midair en route to North America. The craft, whose wingspan is bigger than a 747’s, is fueled by 17,000 solar cells and four lithium-ion batteries that use stored solar power by night. (CNN / David Molko)

Out with the coal, in with the solar. Earlier this month in the UK, solar power for the first time provided more electricity than coal across a full day. (Carbon Brief / Simon Evans) 

Customer Spotlight: Paul Gallay’s solar success story in New York

By SolarCity

April 18, 2016

PaulGallay-kayaking-10-2015-LRae-240x180.jpgPaul Gallay is a resident of Cold Spring, NY and the president of Hudson Riverkeeper – a nonprofit organization working to protect the Hudson River and the drinking water supplies for nine million New Yorkers. He became a SolarCity customer in 2015. We recently caught up with him to hear how solar has slashed his utility bill, and why clean energy is important to his family and community.


SolarCity: Tell us about your rooftop solar system

Paul: It’s 14 solar modules that together can provide more than 3.5 kilowatts of peak power. We’re leasing the system, which allows us to pay less for solar power each month than we pay for utility power. Solar energy is really a no-brainer in New York.


How have your energy costs changed since you went solar? 

In our first year, our solar panels generated 93% of all the electricity we needed. It’s like having a power plant generating renewable energy on my roof.

I estimate that we saved a whopping $1,300 in the first year – about $500 from lower energy bills alone, and an $800 state tax credit. I tweeted about it and got quite a few likes.

How are you using your bill savings?

I’ve been paying college tuition for my daughter and every nickel I don’t spend on immediate needs is going toward putting my daughter through college. It’s helping with that.


Why is using less electricity from the grid important to you?

I want my daughter and her children to have a sustainable supply of electricity that will allow us all to have a livable planet generation after generation. And no question about it, it’s nice to know that the SolarCity agreement locks in cheap, sustainable electricity prices for 20 years and takes pressure off the grid. In addition, we continue to go big on energy efficiency in our home, LED bulbs (save 75% of my electricity needs), Energy Star appliances, and other ways to conserve energy.


In 2010, you became the president of Hudson Riverkeeper, which works to protect the Hudson River and the watersheds that provide drinking water to New Yorkers. How does solar power relate to your mission?

Besides being both viable and economical for most home and business owners in New York, solar can play a large role in protecting one of America's greatest rivers. One of the greatest threats to the Hudson is an aging nuclear power plant so, not only does SolarCity lower New Yorker's energy bills, but when consumers opt for solar, it plays an integral part in replacing the power from less sustainable electric generation sources.


How do you spread the word about solar and its benefits?

We hosted a Solar Party at my house in October 2015 in partnership with our SolarCity energy consultant, Christian Toebe, We had 20 people, everybody seemed to get it, it’s a no-brainer cost wise, and it’s just good for the planet. And day-to-day in my role at Riverkeeper, I constantly promote the importance of solar power. One of the biggest ways we can improve the condition of our rivers is to generate more of our electricity with solar.

Stay current: the week’s best solar links

By SolarCity

April 15, 2016


We’ve rounded up our top reads of the week about solar and the future of the energy … so you can stay current.

-Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is now dedicating himself to support the future of solar energy. In his new role of Chief Policy Officer at SolarCity, he’ll continue his work to “unlock the potential benefit of distributed solar generation for all consumers.“ (Utility Dive/ Krysti Shallenberger)

-Mickey Mouse has been a source of fun for more than 80 years. Now he’s also a source of solar power. Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has unveiled a five-megawatt solar array – in the shape of Mickey’s silhouette – on a 22-acre plot of land near Epcot center. The thousands of solar panels will help bring clean electricity to the amusement park and nearby hotels. (PV Magazine / Ian Clover)

-The world’s largest solar project floating on a fishpond has been connected to the grid in China’s Anhui province. The sizable photovoltaic array is expected to cut CO2 emissions by more than 420,000 tons per year. Interesting tidbit: the cool air temperatures at the water’s surface will reportedly help boost the efficiency of the solar panels. (PV Magazine / Vincent Shaw)

-China is adding more solar power to its grid each year than any country, but three European nations still top the list for the greatest share of electricity coming from solar: Italy (8%), Greece (7.4%), and Germany (7.1%). (International Energy Agency, via Solar Server)

-Fun facts about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: it has more bridges than any city in the world, it was named after British statesman William Pitt, and it’s celebrating its 200-year anniversary this summer. Also, as of this week, Pittsburghers can now go solar with SolarCity! (SolarCity Blog)

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