For those of you who advocate drilling over everything else, consider the following. Sharp is planning on increasing its market share of thin-film solar cells to 50% by 2012. That’s an industry America created not too long ago. The current U.S. market share? 10% and falling. Opening up lands to drilling won’t deliver a drop of oil or natural gas to market for 10 years. By that time, Japanese and German solar cell manufacturers will have a lock on the market. Republican energy policy has been short-sighted since Reagan. Our economy and national security have been paying the price for it ever since.
While Arctic sea ice melted to the 2nd lowest area on record this summer, it likely melted to the lowest volume on record. The ice that formed last winter was thin. The volume of ice now versus the same point two years ago has radically decreased.
California Edison will begin buying energy from a solar thermal plant being built by eSolar Inc., a renewable energy startup backed by Oak Investment Partners, Idealab, and Google’s for-profit philanthropic arm, Google.org. One of Google’s many goals is to get solar electricity rates to compete with rates for fossil fuels (which receive incredible corporate welfare, keeping their rates below actual market cost). The project could generate 105 megawatts in a few short years, with the option to expand to 245 megawatts. Note that those megawatts would be baseload, not variable. That’s the big advantage solar thermal enjoys over solar photovoltaic.