Category Archives: Environment and Clean Technology

Articles about environmental issues and clean technology products besides solar.

LG & Sense

Breaking down the LG Solar and Sense partnership

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In May 2021, LG Solar and Sense announced their new partnership with the goal of empowering homeowners to make smarter energy decisions. LG has long been a household name due to their high-quality electronics and their subsidiary, LG Solar, has been no different. LG Solar is a leading manufacturer of solar panels with two residential series: the NeON 2 and the NeON R. 

Sense entered the energy space in 2016 with the launch of their Home Energy Monitor. Their energy monitoring system provides you with insights about your energy usage, allowing you to make informed decisions about what devices you’re powering and when you’re powering them. We sat down with LG Solar to learn a bit more about their new partnership, and its potential benefits. 

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solar panel recycling

Recycling solar panels: environmental effects and your recycling options

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Solar panels have a lifetime of about 30 years. With the increasing number of solar panels being sold and installed in the United States each year, it’s only a matter of time before high volumes of silicon solar panels are at the end of their useful life and have to be disposed of. Solar panel recycling is still at a very early stage, but as the market continues to grow, it will have an important part to play in the solar industry.

More and more panels will reach the end of their life each year, and even now, old solar panels are beginning to become a problem as the majority of them find themselves in landfills where they are releasing toxins harmful to both natural and human health into our environment.

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california sgip

California home battery rebate: Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) explained

Reading Time: 5 minutes

(Update: California’s Governor Brown signed SB 700. This adds approximately $800 million in additional funding for SGIP and extends the program through 2025.)

California’s SGIP rebate is one of the best incentives in the country for homeowners who want to install a home battery with their solar panels. The Golden State already leads the country in solar energy – it has more solar capacity than any other state in the U.S., and nearly six times more solar than number-two state Arizona. Now, California is becoming a leader in energy storage. Thanks to the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) you can get a rebate for most or all of your solar battery installation in California, and it’s about to become a lot easier for homeowners to access. Here’s everything you need to know about the SGIP rebate.

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Solar Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity: why it’s important for your solar panel system

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In May 2021, the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline made headlines across the country. After Colonial shut down their pipelines, gasoline shortages rapidly drove up the price of gasoline and spurred panic buying at fuel stations, particularly across hard-hit southern states. With cyberattacks on energy infrastructure increasing in frequency and severity, many are starting to wonder: what else could be at risk?

Unfortunately, the energy sector has already seen serious cyberattacks in the past–which could be an indicator of future risk. In 2015, Ukraine experienced the first known cyberattack on the power grid, which caused outages at 30 substations throughout the country and left about 230,000 people without electricity for up to six hours. People with solar-plus-storage systems would typically have the benefit of grid resiliency in such a situation and would be able to keep the power running–however, solar systems are not entirely immune to the risk of cyberattacks without proper protections.

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Drones

Flying high: how drones are revolutionizing the solar industry

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ten years ago, if you were installing a rooftop solar system, one of your installer’s first steps was to come to your house, climb up on your roof, and take a bunch of measurements and pictures to evaluate the project. However, this process is now starting to change with the rise of a new technology: drones. Drones in solar have a number of advantages that make them appealing to both homeowners and installers, including saving time and money for everyone involved. In this article, we’ll take a look at how drones are used in solar projects and explore some major companies on the cutting edge of this technology. 

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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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renewable energy sources

Renewable energy examples: five alternatives to fossil fuels

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Technologies like solar and wind power are becoming more common across the globe, and are both examples of renewable energy sources. There are several ways to generate power from renewable sources. These alternatives to fossil fuels will become an even more important part of our power generation mix in the years to come.

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solar charge controller

What is a solar charge controller? Do you need one?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re considering installing an off-grid solar project with a battery attached, you’ll want to look into a solar charge controller for your system. Charge controllers act as a gateway to your battery, and ensure that you don’t overcharge and damage your energy storage system. In this piece, we’ll cover what a solar charge controller is, and how the two major types (PWM and MPPT) compare.

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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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agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics: what is it and can it benefit your farm?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The farming industry has been hit hard by the impacts of climate change. From increasing temperatures to severe droughts, farms are facing new challenges that will likely increase with intensity as climate change progresses. Fortunately, a new solution is arising that can both benefit farmers and help reduce emissions: agrivoltaics (also known as dual-use solar). 

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