Author Archives: Emily Walker

About Emily Walker

Emily is the Content Manager & Research Analyst at EnergySage, where she enjoys making energy fun and easy to learn about! She has a background in environmental consulting and has degrees in Environmental Science and Biology from Colby College. Outside of work, Emily is pursuing a Master of Science from Johns Hopkins University in Environmental Science and Policy. She also loves hiking, tending to her collection of houseplants, and trying out new restaurants and breweries whenever possible.

Lithium mining

Lithium mining in the United States: why is it so controversial?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Lithium, the lightest element of all the metals, is a crucial resource for the United States’ clean energy future: it’s key in the production of lithium ion rechargeable batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles and serve as home storage systems. While the U.S. is the largest consumer of lithium and will only increase its future consumption as it strives to meet the Biden Administration’s ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets, America’ domestic mining of lithium is limited to just one percent of annual global production.

Currently, only one lithium mine operates in the United States, the Silver Peak mine in Clayton Valley, Nevada; most of the global lithium supply is extracted in Chile and Australia. While some politicians are calling for increased domestic mining of the metal, at the end of May 2021, Reuters reported that the Biden Administration would supply the majority of lithium from ally countries, including Canada, Australia, and Brazil. Though this strategy may seem antithetical to the Administration’s clean energy jobs goals, it comes on the heels of many environmentalists’ concerns over two potential lithium mines in Nevada that could become operational in a few years. In this article, we’ll break down lithium mining and why these two mines are so controversial.   

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F-150 Lightning

The Ford F-150 Lightning: what you need to know

Reading Time: 5 minutes

For the past 39 years, the iconic Ford F-Series, which primarily includes the F-150, has been the best selling vehicle in the United States, selling just shy of a million vehicles in 2020. As automakers across the U.S. race to electrify their fleets, there’s been one major gap in announcements of new electric vehicles: what would happen with America’s best selling car? In May 2021, Ford put an end to that speculation, launching the new Ford F-150 Lightning. 

While the Lightning won’t be the first electric pick-up truck in the U.S., it may be the most important one. It’s not only a stronger, faster version of the trusted F-150, but by being completely electric, the F-150 Lighting comes with additional features that could attract both new and former F-150 customers. In its first 48 hours of accepting reservations, Ford had almost 45,000 reservations; after a week, this number increased to 70,000. The truck officially goes on sale in 2022. 

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Thermodynamic Solar Panels

Thermodynamic solar panels: what are they and how do they work?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Typically, when you think about solar panels, you picture solar photovoltaics (PV): panels that are installed atop your roof or in an open space and convert sunlight into electricity. However, solar panels can also be thermal, meaning that they convert sunlight into heat as opposed to electricity. Thermodynamic solar panels are one type of thermal solar panel–also called a collector–that differ dramatically from traditional thermal panels; instead of requiring direct sunlight, thermodynamic solar panels can also generate power from heat in the air.

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Solar Supply Chain

How are supply constraints impacting the solar industry?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

While many COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are starting to be lifted across the United States, pandemic-related supply chain issues continue to be felt across many sectors, including the solar industry. In spring 2020, solar equipment manufacturers experienced significant delays due to workplace and travel restrictions. As the pandemic continued throughout 2020 and into 2021, consumer demand largely shifted away from services, such as dining and travel, towards goods, such as computers and televisions, leading to shortages for key manufacturing components. In this article, we’ll cover some of the supply constraints currently facing the solar industry, and how these constraints are impacting solar shoppers. 

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New Homeowners

First-time homebuyer? Why solar should be your next big investment

Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you just purchased your first home, first of all, congratulations! Buying a home is no small feat and immediately planning your home’s upgrades may feel overwhelming–but we’re here to help! When it comes to solar, we think it’s a great upgrade for first-time homebuyers because solar saves you money in the long run and increases your home value. We’ve laid out some key questions to answer when making the decision to go solar as a first-time homebuyer.

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How does cryptocurrency contribute to fossil fuel emissions?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In February 2021, Tesla announced that it had purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and planned to accept the cryptocurrency as payment, causing the price of Bitcoin to soar to record high numbers. However, three months later, Elon Musk disrupted the cryptocurrency market when he tweeted, “Tesla has suspended vehicle purchases using Bitcoin,” citing concerns about “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.” Overnight, the Bitcoin market dropped by almost 10 percent–so how founded are these environmental concerns in cryptocurrency mining, and could cryptocurrency have a clean energy future?

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Panasonic manufacturing

Is Panasonic exiting the solar panel industry?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In February 2021, Panasonic announced that during fiscal year 2022 (ending in March 2022), it will stop producing photovoltaic (PV) modules (aka solar panels). This announcement created some confusion about Panasonic’s future role in the solar industry, causing some to wonder if the company will stop selling solar panels altogether. However, according to Panasonic’s press release, this is not the case! The company stated that it will “continue to sell outsourced photovoltaic modules as it has been doing in North America.” So the question is: how does this shift in production impact the company and its customers?

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Bankability

Bankability: what is it and how do you assess it?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re thinking about installing solar panels, you know that it’s a long-term investment. Solar panels are built to last and many manufacturers offer warranties extending 25 years. So how do you ensure that the manufacturer of your panels will be able to uphold this warranty? One indicator is your manufacturing company’s bankability

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tesla solar roof shingles

Tesla Solar Roof: the complete review

Reading Time: 10 minutes

In October 2019, Tesla Motors announced the launch of Tesla Solar Roof V3, the company’s third version of its integrated solar glass shingle. Among several updates, version three included larger tiles, lower production costs, increased power density, and an easier installation process. Additionally, the total number of parts in the product was decreased. Tesla predicted that these changes would significantly reduce the cost of the product; recently, however, the company has increased prices on previously quoted systems, without a lot of explanation.

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Solar-assisted heat pump

What are solar-assisted heat pumps, and how do you compare them?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, space heating and water heating can account for almost two thirds of energy use in U.S. homes—those bills definitely add-up! You can use many different types of energy efficient heating systems to offset these costs, including solar-assisted heat pumps (SAHPs), which some manufacturers claim can have payback periods as low as two to three years. These systems combine technology similar to solar hot water and air source heat pumps in order to heat water or small spaces in your home. SAHPs have existed since the 1970s, but have recently started gaining more attention due to their high efficiency.

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