From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Current Cost of Carbon

In April of 2015 at a forum on the British Columbia carbon tax at MIT, I heard Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada ( say if you add up the GDP of all the individual countries which have some kind of price on carbon, either an emission trading scheme (ETS) or a direct tax, it adds up to 42% of global GDP now and, by the end of 2016 when another five provinces in China come on board, it will be over 50%. (You can hear and see Merran Smith say this at 28:20 into this video of the MIT event at ).

Having heard expert after expert say, "We need a price on carbon" in order to address climate change, this struck me.  Was Merran Smith correct?  Have we already begun to put a price on carbon?  Looking a little further, I found a variety of carbon pricing structures - carbon taxes, emissions trading schemes, and even internal prices on carbon from individual businesses.

The World Bank 2015 carbon report advance brief ( puts it a little differently than Clean Energy Canada:
"In 2015, about 40 national and over 20 subnational jurisdictions, representing almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), are putting a price on carbon...

"The total value of the emissions trading schemes (ETSs) reported in the State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2014 report was about US$30 billion (US$32 billion to be precise). Despite the repeal of Australia’s Carbon Pricing Mechanism in July 2014, and mainly due to the launch of the Korean ETS and the expansion of GHG emissions coverage in the California and Quebec ETSs, the value of global ETSs as of April 1, 2015 increased slightly to about US$34 billion. In addition, carbon taxes around the world, valued for the first time in this report, are about US$14 billion. Combined, the value of the carbon pricing mechanisms globally in 2015 is estimated to be just under US$50 billion...

"In addition, the adoption of an internal carbon price in business strategies is spreading, even in regions where carbon pricing has not been legislated. Currently, at least 150 companies are using an internal price on carbon. These companies represent diverse sectors, including consumer goods, energy, finance, industry, manufacturing, and utilities."

However, the International Energy Agency's 2015 Special Report on Energy and Climate Change ( concludes that

"Carbon markets covered 11% of global energy-related emissions in 2014 and the average price was $7 per tonne of CO2. In contrast, 13% of CO2 emissions were linked to fossil-fuel use supported by consumption subsidies, equivalent to an implicit subsidy of $115 per tonne of CO2."

If I understand that correctly, it means we have a global average price of $7 per tonne on CO2 with an implicit subsidy of $115 per tonne for fossil fuels at the present moment.  Not that we can't change those figures over time.

The social cost of carbon the EPA now uses is about $40.  The cost of carbon project of EDF ( reports that

"The current social cost of carbon pollution estimates for a unit of emissions in 2015 are $57, $37, and $11 using discount rates of 2.5 percent, 3 percent, and 5 percent, respectively. The fourth social cost of carbon pollution estimate of $109 uses a 3 percent discount rate and describes the 95th-percentile value for the social cost figure, in an attempt to capture the damages associated with extreme climatic outcomes. The estimate of $37, which uses a 3 percent discount rate, is considered the “central” estimate for a unit of emissions in 2015.  That $37 value is denoted in 2007 USD and equals around $40 in today’s dollars."

Here are the current prices on some of the various ETS around the world:
Averaging around €7.30
"Respondents anticipate an average EU carbon price of 10.79 euros ($11.76) per metric ton (1.1023 tons) in the third phase of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), which runs from 2013 to 2020."
EU ETS data for 2014 1,584 million tCO2 in 2014, down 4.4% from previous year, with list of 15 largest CO2 emitters

RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) -
June 5, 2015, Auction 28, Clearing Price $5.50
Quantity Sold: 15,507,571

California -
$12.65 as of June 11

China - Carbon Pulse:
as of 8/15:  41.88 - 14.90 RMB (or $6.55 - $2.33)

The British Columbia revenue neutral carbon tax started in 2008 with individually set taxes on gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, natural gas, propane, and coal (low heat value and high heat value).  By January 2013, the carbon tax contributed about $1 billion each year which was used to lower other income and other taxes in British Columbia.  BC now has Canada's lowest income tax rate.

Finland was the first country to enact a carbon tax in 1990.  Originally based only on carbon content, it has become a combination carbon/energy tax, currently €18.05 per tonne of CO2 (€66.2 per tonne of carbon) or $24.39 per tonne of CO2 ($89.39 per tonne of carbon) in U.S. dollars (using the August 17, 2007 exchange rate of USD 1.00= Euro 0.7405). 

Sweden began their carbon emissions tax in 1991. The tax is now $150/T CO2, with fuels used for electricity generation exempted, and industries are required to pay only 50% of the tax.

In October 2014, Chile enacted the first climate pollution tax in South America at $5 per metric ton of CO2 which begins in 2018 and applies to only 55% of emissions. 

Nearly 500 companies globally report that they are already regulated through global carbon markets.  96 (nearly 20%) of these are U.S. companies. Of these, 69 are participating in the EU ETS.

In addition, more and more private companies are adopting an internal carbon price, even in countries and regions where carbon pricing has not yet been legislated. Today, at least 150 companies are using an internal price on carbon ranging from $6 to $80 per ton with one outlier at $324. These companies represent diverse sectors, including consumer goods, energy, finance, industry, manufacturing, and utilities according to the Global Price on Carbon Report 2014 [pdf alert]
from CDP, "an international not-for- profit organization providing the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information."

If you want more, try Putting a Price on Carbon (World Resources Institute)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Recycled Solar: Double-Glazed Hot Cap Cloche

I was cleaning out my storeroom the other day and came across another recycled solar device that I was fooling with a few years ago.  A one liter clear plastic bottle makes a good hot cap or cloche when you cut the bottom off it.  Plant a seedling, pop the bottomless clear cap over it, and you protect  the seedling from the cold.  It probably adds between 5 and 10 degrees F over the outside temperature by protecting the seedling from the wind and by capturing sunlight in a small, closed space.  My twist on this idea was to find different sizes of clear plastic bottles which could nest one inside the other making a double-glazed hot cap cloche.  A double-glazed hot cap cloche might be able to protect the seedlings even better, keeping that small, closed space even warmer than the outside air.

This afternoon, I planted two tomato seedlings in my garden using this device.  We'll see whether it works.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Energiewende: Germany's Energy Transition

Tuesday, March 31 I saw Andreas Kraemer, International Institute for Advanced Sustainability in Pottsdam, founder of the Ecological Institute of Berlin, and currently associated with Duke University, speak at both Harvard and MIT.  His subject was the German Energiewende, energy turnaround, energy tack (as in sailing), or energy transition, and also the title of a book published in 1980 (Energiewende by Von F. Krause, H. Bossel and K. F. Müller-Reissmann) 1980 which described how to power Germany without fossil fuels or nuclear, partially a response to the oil shocks of the 1970s, and probably the beginning of the nuclear phase-out.  Chernobyl in 1986 gave another shove in that direction and continues to do so as Chernobyl is still happening in Germany with radioactive contamination of soils, plants, animals, and Baltic Sea fish.
In 1990 the feedin tariff began but it was not started for solar.  It was originally intended to give displaced hydroelectric capacity in conservative Bavaria a market and a bill was passed in Parliament very quickly, supported by the Conservatives (Blacks) in consensus with the Greens and Reds as they all agreed on incentizing renewable, local energy production through a feedin tariff on utility bills.  Cross party consensus on this issue remains today.  This is not a subsidy but an incentive with the costs paid by the customers. The feedin tariff has a period of 20 years and some have been retired.
Solar began with the 1000 roofs project in 1991-1994.   There are 1.7 million solar roofs now although, currently, Spain and Portugal have faster solar growth rates than Germany. Renewables provide 27% of electricity, have created  80,000-100,000 new jobs directly in the industry, up to 300,000 if indirect jobs are added, and is contributing 40 billion euros per year to the German economy.  By producing energy domestically Germany has built a local industry, increased tax revenue and Social Security payments, and maintained a better balance of trade through import substitution.  During the recession that began in 2008, Germany had more economic stability and was even able to expand the renewable sector because steel for wind turbine towers was available at lower prices and financing was forthcoming.
Electricity prices have risen but slower than gas and oil and coal.  Households pay 28-29 euro cents per kWh.  Industrial cost is 3.3-3.7 per kWh plus transmissions costs, about 6-8 euro cents per kWh.  
Germany plans to have 1 million electric vehicles by 2020.  Electric cars and trucks will have batteries that can act as electricity storage but there will also be a large proportion of electric bikes.  25% of energy from gas by 2020, some of which will be renewable biogas and increased use of combined heat and power and district heating.  The chemical industry is anxious to see over-capacity of renewables so that they can use some of the cheap electricity to make hydrogen, methane, and other hydrocarbon fuels.  The aluminum recycling industry is running their plants during low demand hours when electricity prices are low and driving their foreign competitors out of the market.  The grid even survived the recent solar eclipse quite well and is preparing for the next one in 2026.
Nuclear is down to 12% from 27% of electricity at its peak.  There were 19 nuclear power plants and are now only 11 operating.  The last will be closed by 2022 and there is enough nuclear fuel for that already in the country. Germany is not alone in phasing out nuclear as Switzerland and Belgium are doing the same.  Greece, constitutionally, and Austria, by policy, have outlawed nuclear power in their countries.  The continuing dangers from Chernobyl's releases and the example of Fukushima have reminded people that since 1952, a nuclear power plant core melts every 5-7 years or so.  France is discovering that it costs as much to take down a nuke as to build it, at least 25% more than they set aside for decommissioning.  Germany is estimating a billion per nuclear power plant to decommission but there is already more money set aside by the operators, just in case. The costs of decommissioning are expected to be so high that some operators may be allowed to go bankrupt.  
Germany has actually been a net exporter of electricity for the past 15 years.  Coal electricity in Germany is exported to France and the Netherlands when needed but the coal industry is not amortizing the costs of their plants.  If this continues, coal operators may go broke.  
Russian gas is 4% of electricity and 9% of the economy.  German industry says that Russian firms are more reliable partners than the USA in relation to gas supply, pipeline maintenance, and construction.  However, Germany and the EU are taking steps toward energy independence as they look at the situation in the Ukraine.
The Energiewende is built around security, reliability, affordability, and environmental safety. It started as energy policy but is now also climate policy and the 100% renewable, systems efficient, carbon-free future Germany is builidng for itself.
See for simulations of Germany powered by 100% renewables, using existing technologies and without demand response and advanced energy efficiency (exergy, exergy, exergy).
Kraemer thanked the US for inventing photovoltaics and starting the wind industry, both of which have been developed by, respectively, the Japanese and Chinese and the Danes from the 1980s on.  The US is ahead of Germany in smart grids and, even though Germany can now build house that produce more energy than they consume, they could learn from some of our energy efficiency techniques.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Urban Agriculture

Here's the text of a presentation I did on March 4, 2015 at Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Building Energy conference.  This was the first time they addressed urban agriculture.

Everybody eats and it's primarily solar powered.  We are all solar powered through the food that we eat.  Officially, we produce between 95 and 100 quadrillion btu's of energy per year in the US, an amount that's remained steady for the last 15 years or so while the GDP has continued to increase.  However, we don't count any of the sunlight that powers photosynthesis on the crops we consume.  All that sunlight is "free" and not included.  A back of the envelope estimate is that there's at least 300 quadrillion btu's of sunlight required for the photosynthesis that grows our food.  Our world is solar powered, has always been solar powered, will always be solar powered until the sun dies out.  

Everybody eats and, by last count, 35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in the last five years.  Gardening for food tends to go up in times of economic distress.  Add those households which grow flowers or have a houseplant and I'd estimate about half of us garden.

Everybody eats, half of us garden, and everybody poops. In a fully functioning ecosystem "waste equals food."  Cities, neighborhoods, and buildings are all beginning to be seen and designed as metabolisms, taking in raw materials, processing them, and producing wastes which can then be used as a feedstock for other processes.  We are becoming biomimetic and learning from such fellow creatures as termites how to control heat and cold and humidity.  Termites also "garden" and keep livestock, one of the ways that the temperature and humidity remains constant within their mounds.  We are also learning how we can design ecological systems to process our own wastes safely into fertilizer and food.

Urban agriculture is not new.  Cities were built only after agriculture produced enough surplus.  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the wonders of the ancient world but many forms of ancient architecture included gardens and courtyards in the designs of buildings.  The market gardens around Paris were famous for the vegetables and fruits they produced in 19th century France and the greenhouse cultures of England and the Netherlands were just as well established.  One of the first roof gardens in NYC was on the Ansonia Hotel in Manhattan from 1904 to 1906.  They even kept cows to provide fresh milk for their guests.  It is really only since the end of WWII that we've seen the rise of the supermarket and long-distance processed food culture we now have.

Energy considerations were one of the main drivers of the local food movement.  Here in MA, after the first oil shock of the early 1970s, Governor Frank Sargent established a commission to examine the Commonwealth's food security.  He wanted to know how much food was grown in MA and whether we could withstand another oil shock and still eat regularly.  From that report, new policies to promote and support local agriculture began.  At that time, there were perhaps as many as 18 farmers markets in the state.  At last count, there are now 249 with 40 winter markets as well and Boston will soon have its own permanent farmers' market building.  This is a return to the original method of agricultural marketing and distribution, updated to the 21st century.

Boston, like Chicago and San Francisco and other cities, now has urban agricultural zoning regulations.  There are meetups and gatherings of food entrepreneurs regularly.  Rooftops and empty lots are being transformed into gardens and farms.  Chickens and bees are populating backyards, rooftops, and terraces.  The tingle of what I call money static is all over the rapidly growing agriculture sector.

Rooftop farms are being developed all around the world.  Turn key shipping container farms are also being bought and sold.  Supermarkets in Basel, Switzerland and Texas and other places are producing some of the food they sell on their roofs or their walls or in adjacent greenhouses.  Some of them go farther than old greenhouses by becoming controlled environment agriculture, controlling not only the temperature and light but also the composition of the air inside.  People are proposing and building "plantscrapers" and vertical agriculture buildings.  Old factories are becoming "pink houses," so called because they use only the red and blue wavelengths of light that leaves absorb.  LED lights are tuned to those particular wavelengths to grow greens and fruits in Chicago or genetically modified nicotiana (tobacco) for medicines in the Southwest.  There are also a number of countertop and windowsill automated growing systems for the home complete with Internet connections so that you can monitor your plants from the other side of the world on your smartphone.  Some of them include fish, aquaponics.  There are lower tech ways of doing the same thing too.  Green walls are going up in restaurants, office buildings, and apartments to clean the air and provide a little additional nourishment.  Urban waterways can also become food producers and there are a few groups here in Boston which are endeavoring to return shellfish to our newly cleaned harbor.  Other opportunities include sprouts, mushrooms and other fungi, carbon farming and other geotherapeutic measures to deal with climate change, and even vat-grown meat.  Our limit is only our imagination, the ultimate solar power.

Can urban agriculture become a significant contributor to our diet?  It took only about two or three growing seasons before the WWII Victory Gardens were providing, by some estimates, up to 50% of the Homefront's vegetables.  The Fenway Victory Gardens here in Boston are one of the few remaining installations from that time and are still providing food, flowers, recreation, and enjoyment for all who pass by.  Here's another historical example:  "Shortly before the Soviet Union's collapse, it became known informally that the ten percent of farmland allocated to kitchen gardens (in meager tenth of a hectare plots) accounted for some 90 percent of domestic food production." 

Perhaps the best current example is Cuba where "there are 383,000 urban farms, covering 50,000 hectares of otherwise unused land and producing more than 1.5 million tons of vegetables with top urban farms reaching a yield of 20 kg/m2 per year of edible plant material using no synthetic chemicals—equivalent to a hundred tons per hectare. Urban farms supply 70 percent or more of all the fresh vegetables consumed in cities such as Havana and Villa Clara."  

Finally, in Japan, farmers are experimenting with Solar Sharing, utilizing the “light saturation point” of photosynthesis to combine farming crops with producing photovoltaic electricity.  Plants require only about 68% of the light that falls upon them for crop growth.  That unused 32% can be utilized for electricity production with food and solar electricity being produced on the same property at the same time.  A city building with a rooftop farm could conceivably power and feed the people who live and work in it, something that becomes increasingly possible as net zero energy building standards come on line.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Do It Yourself Solar: Austrian Self-Build Coops

In 1983, a couple of years after the second of the 1970s oil shocks and at a time when petroleum prices were relatively low, in a village near Graz, Austria, in the province of  Styria, a farmer and an engineer led a group of 32 people in building simple do it yourself solar heaters.  They said, "Our primary aim was to build a collector that was inexpensive and easy to build for every one of us. Having become aware of the 􏰜finiteness of natural resources, we also aimed at avoiding all material waste in constructing the collector. Other important aspects were the saving of energy, environmental protection, and community building. Everybody was expected to build their own collector in order to be sufficiently familiar with its function.”

By the end of 1984, two more self-building groups with more than 100 participants were needed to meet the local demand for such solar heaters.  By 1986, the do it yourself groups were producing more collector surface area than all the commercial suppliers in Austria.  In 1987, the first build-it-yourself guide was published and in 1988 the Association for Renewable Energy (AEE) was founded to institutionalize the group build, self build, do it yourself solar movement which now included about 50 groups and more than 1,000 participants.

By the end of 1998 there were 360,000 m2 of solar collector area and about 30,000 household solar hot water heating systems built by the do it yourselfers, out of 100,000 private household solar systems with 1.3 million m2 of plate collector surface in all of Austria.  For a decade and more, do it yourself, self-build groups dominated the Austrian solar industry and the model was exported to Switzerland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Slovenia.

From 1986 on, the self-build group leaders met monthly and improved the heater designs based upon practical feedback from users and builders.  They met with manufacturers, examined their products, and placed bulk orders to produce solar installations for their members and participants at very competitive prices.  The self-builders developed a new method to integrate solar collectors directly into the roof and expanded the solar hot water systems into space-heating or combination systems as well which became more cost-efficient and popular as building insulation and air infiltration standards rose in the 1990s.  It is estimated that 50% of all the new solar systems in Austria are now designed to serve both hot water and space heating needs, making it the leading market for solar combination systems today.

A do it yourself group starts with an introductory lecture and a trip to existing self-built solar systems. The construction groups work with the help of technical leaders to build 􏰜finished solar water systems. The average life of a construction group is usually three to four months.  The most remarkable characteristic of the members of the self-help group is that farmers and part-time farmers seem to be the largest adopters.

Although the solar companies originally saw self-build groups as amateur competition likely to botch the solar systems and installations, the success of the self-construction movement made solar more popular and certainly more visible.  Today, Austria has one of the highest penetrations of solar thermal energy systems in the world and Austrian solar collector producers are market leaders in the European market with one third of all solar systems sold there coming from their factories and workshops.

I first learned about the Austrian self-build cooperatives in the magnificent Let It Shine:  The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy by John Perlin (Novato, CA:  New World Library, 2013 ISBN 978-1-60868-132-7) and followed his footnotes to Michael Ornetzeder and Harald Rohracher's original work:
User-led innovations and participation processes: lessons from sustainable energy technologies 
Energy Policy 34 (2006) 138–150
Of solar collectors, wind power, and car sharing: Comparing and understanding successful cases of grassroots innovations

Back in the day, in the late 1970s, I started something called the Solar Work Group in the Boston area.  It was a group of people who met together once a month or so to build simple solar devices.  We built a couple of water heaters out of copper sheet and tubing, helped a friend fix up his attached solar greenhouse, and projects like that.  At about the same time, the anti-nuclear movement was warming up in Western MA anbd in Southern NH over the proposed Seabrook nuclear power plants .  The Solar Work Group rolled into the NE Coastal Power Show, a traveling energy show housed in a big, old White van, an old bread truck, that went from Maine to Washington DC, from Pennsylvania to Cape Cod over the next few years as an affinity group of the Clamshell Alliance, and presented energy efficiency, renewables, and nuclear energy information to an estimated 250,000 million people throughout the Northeast.  We had a big parabolic trough hot water heater on the roof and a detachable windmill we could place on top of a mast on the van.  The van itself had a secondary battery that was charged by the engine as we drove.  Solar cookers, hot water heaters, Stirling engines, buttons, bumperstickers, pamphlets and books, we had more information than any one person could absorb.

Also during that time period, another group of us formed the Urban Solar Energy Association which soon became the "fastest growing" solar group in the nation.  It also had monthly meetings and did solar barnraisings, building solar attics, greenhouses, windowbox solar collectors, solar hot air collectors, and solar water heaters.  The group went on for a number of years producing a do it yourself solar hot air heater manual, other technical reports, and a monthly newsletter.  Eventually, it merged with the MA Bay chapter of the Northeast Solar Energy Association to become the Boston Area Solar Energy Association ( which still has monthly meetings, lectures and presentations on the solar issues and technologies of today.

In the last few years, the Home Energy Efficiency Team ( here in Cambridge has been doing weatherization barnraisings and a number of other communities have begun to do the same.  In five years, HEET has organized more than 225 energy-upgrade work parties, assisted with more than 50 solar installations, and trained more than 3,500 volunteers in hands-on skills in saving energy.  There have been other weatherization and solar barnraising groups in Western MA, NH, ME, CA, and around the country.  Perhaps, if they institutionalized and organized themselves as well as the Austrian solar water heater group, they could multiply their impact.  

Austria's solar self-build movement has had a significant effect on that country's energy economics.  Can Ukraine do the same?  In November 2014, I saw a BBC article ( on Roman Zinchenko and Greencubator (;; @greencubator).  In that country, with its energy supply dependent upon Russia, Zinchenko has been organizing hackathons - "off-grid, solar-powered meetings of an assortment of programmers, engineers, and bloggers set 'in the middle of nowhere'".  These events give birth to businesses like, an app being tested by Deutsche Telekom which helps households reduce energy consumption and works with a sensor installed in the electrical meter, and eCoopTaxi which combines electric cars, a taxi service, and open energy co-operation as a business model.  Greencubator is also building an "energy torrent", a platform to encourage open-source energy tech designs and is about to "retrofit" an existing building in Kiev as a showcase for green initiatives, an "architectural hackathon."

Energy is power and power is politics.  All these examples are forms of Solar Swadeshi, the locally productive nature of solar energy, and can fit within the definitions of Gandhian economics, the formation of a non-violent economic system.

Solar Swadeshi

Personal Power Production:  Solar from Civil Defense to Swadeshi

Old Solar:  1980 Barnraised Solar Air Heater

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thrive® Solar

On Friday 11/14/14, Ranganayakulu Bodavula Ph D, Chairman and Managing Director of Thrive® Solar Energy Pvt Ltd (, spoke at Harvard’s Center for Population Studies (  On Monday 11/17/14, he spoke to the MIT student group, e4Dev [Energy for Development] (

Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd is a leading solar powered LED lighting solutions provider from India, offering
"14 types of solar powered LED lights that cater to the lighting needs of children, women, households and villages. Its lights are used by tea estate workers, farmers, weavers, vendors, dairy and any other village level vocation that is in need of a clean, safe and reliable light. Thrive Solar partners with NGOs, women Self Help Groups (SHGs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), funding agencies, banks, donors, educational institutions and businesses to promote and distribute its lighting products to bottom of the pyramid (BOP) communities, located in off-grid and intermittently grid connected geographies."

Thrive is making 2 million lights per year at a price as low as $2 per lamp and are projecting 4 million per year production soon.  They do not sell directly to consumers but through the different agencies with which they work.  Nearly half of India still uses 12 lumen candles and 40 lumen kerosene lamps which can be replaced with 60 lumen solar lights.  Currently, the Indian government subsidizes kerosene and paraffin prices by $6 billion per year.  Thrive says it can provide solar lights to every Indian family now for about $1 billion.

Thrive Solar assembles their lights in India and in Kenya ( and has a partner in the USA,  Thrive Solar Energy Corporation (   Half of the energy for their home factory in India is generated from the solar panels on the roof.  The PV cells for the lights come from Taiwan at a price of 50¢ a Watt, the LEDs from Japan are 6¢ each, the plastics for the cases are local, and some of the power control chips come from the US.  They are now using NiMH batteries but are beginning to switch over to Li Iron Phosphate.  The present batteries have at least 2 year lifetime and are easily replaceable.  On some of their lights, a full day’s charging provides a week’s worth of light.

Thrive Solar would like to establish local factories producing their lights wherever there is a need.

Ranga Bodavula and Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd are demonstrating that solar is now the least cost method of providing light and cell phone electricity to the people who do not yet have access to such power.  At a cost of $2 per solar light, the 1.4 billion or so people without electricity can have years of at least one electric light for a few billion dollars, for $2-4 dollars a piece, probably less than the cost of a month's worth of candles and kerosene for those making $1-2 dollars a day.

According to a recent report (, the G20 spends $88 billion a year subsidizing fossil fuels exploration, about $6 for every $1 spent on renewable subsidies.

Another recent report ( says that "depending on the calculation method used, estimates of the amount of fossil fuel subsidies worldwide varies between 400 billion euros ($548 billion) and 2.6 trillion euros ($3.26 trillion) per year.”

An earlier report published in 2010 using 2007 numbers (pdf alert - estimated annual world energy subsidies at
fossil fuels $400 billion
nuclear $45 billion
renewables (excluding hydro) $27 billion
biofuels $20 billion

Buying one of Thrive®’s $2 solar LED 60 lumen lights for each of the estimated 1.4 billion now without access to electric light amounts to $2.8 billion for one year.

Tell me again what we’re waiting for.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy

_Let It Shine:  The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy_ by John Perlin
Novato, CA:  New World Library, 2013
ISBN 978-1-60868-132-7

(xi)  The authoritative global network REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) reports that in 2012, one-fifth of the world’s electricity and one-sixth of the world’s total delivered energy was renewable.  Half the world’s new electricity-generating capacity added each year since 2008 has been renewable, and so is one-fourth of global and one-third of European generating capacity.  Excluding big hydroelectric dams, modern renewable power (chiefly wind and solar) adds more than 80 billion watts of capacity each year and receives a quarter trillion dollars of annual private investment, and in 2011 invested its trillionth dollar since 2004 - all despite subsidies generally smaller than what its nonrenewable competitors get.

(xix)  Twenty-five hundred years ago, for example, the sun heated every house in most Greek cities.  

(xx)  And as electricity began to power cities, the first photovoltaic array was installed on a New York City rooftop in 1884.

(5) The first account of the use of the gnomon for building comes from the Zhou dynasty, which was established sometime before the twelfth century BCE.  Zhou government officials considered proper orientation too important to be left to chance, and so they instructed builders to establish the cardinal points of the compass for exact siting.  The book _Zhouli_, which contained the rituals and rules established by the dynasty, explained how this would be accomplished.  Builders first had to determine when the equinoxes and solstices occurred, which could be pinpointed by studying the shadows cast by the gnomon.  The longest and shortest shadows of the year would mark the winter solstice and summer solstice, respectively.  When the shadow cast was half as long as the two solstice shadows, the observer would know that one of the two equinoxes had arrived.  At either equinox, the shadow cast by the rising sun would point west, and the shadow cast by the setting sun would point east.  Taking note of where the noon shadow fell, the observer would learn where true north and south lay.

(13)  Socrates according to Xenophon in the Memorabilia:  “Now in houses with a southern orientation, the sun’s rays penetrate into the porticoes [covered porches,] but in summer the path of the sun is right over our heads and above the roof, so we have shade…  To put it succinctly, the house in which the owner can find a pleasant retreat in all seasons… is at once the most useful and the most beautiful.”

[Soc:  "Do you admit that any one purposing to build a perfect house will plan to make it at once as pleasant and as useful to live in as possible?" and that point being admitted, the next question would be:
"It is pleasant to have one's house cool in summer and warm in winter, is it not?" and this proposition also having obtained assent, "Now, supposing a house to have a southern aspect, sunshine during winter will steal in under the verandah, but in summer, when the sun traverses a path right over our heads, the roof will afford an agreeable shade, will it not? If, then, such an arrangement is desirable, the southern side of a house should be built higher to catch the rays of the winter sun, and the northern side lower to prevent the cold winds finding ingress; in a word, it is reasonable to suppose that the pleasantest and most beautiful dwelling place will be one in which the owner can at all seasons of the year find the pleasantest retreat, and stow away his goods with the greatest security."

(13-14)  Aristotle:  “What type of housing are we to build for slaves and freemen, for women and men, for foreigners and citizens?… For well-being and health, the homestead should be airy in summer and sunny in winter.  A homestead possessing these qualities would be longer than it is deep:  and its main front would face south.”

(14)  People from neighboring towns participating in the break with Athens in 432 BCE moved to Olynthus for protection against Athenian retribution.  The increase in population forced the Olynthians to establish a new district, which its excavators called North Hill.  The latitude was approximately that of New York City and Chicago, and the temperature often dropped below freezing in winter.  Approximately twenty-five hundred people lived there.

North Hill was a planned community from the beginning.  starting from scratch, the settlers could more easily implement the principal ideas of solar architecture.  The town planners situated the new district of Olynthus atop a sweeping plateau and built the streets perpendicular to each other, just as the Chinese had, with the main streets running east-west.  In this way, all the houses on a street could be built with a southern exposure, assuring solar heating and cooling for all residents - in keeping with the democratic ethos of the period.

(15-16)  Olynthian builders usually constructed houses in a blocklong row simultaneously.  The typical dwelling had six or more rooms on the ground floor and probably as many on the upper floor.  These houses were usually a standard square shape and shared a common foundation, roof, and walls with the other houses of the block.  The north wall was made of adobe bricks, which kept out the cold north winds of winter.  If this wall had any window openings, they were few in number and were kept tightly shuttered during cold weather.

The main living rooms of a house faced a portico supported by wooden pillars running parallel to the south side of the building.  The portico led to an open-air courtyard averaging 320 square feet, which was separated from the street by a low wall.  The courtyard provided a place where the occupants could enjoy the outdoors with maximum privacy;  and sunlight, the home’s primary source of illumination and winter heat, entered the house through the courtyard.

The house’s earthen floors and adobe walls absorbed and retained much of the solar energy that came in through its window openings facing the courtyard.  In the evening, when the indoor air began to cool, the floors and walls released the stored solar heat and helped warm the house.  To prevent cold drafts from coming through the open portico into the house, some builders constructed a low above wall between the pillars of the portico, parallel to the south wall of the house, allowing for the warming rays of sun in winter, while shutting out the cold drafts below.

The Olynthian solar house design worked well in summer and winter.  When the summer sun was almost directly overhead - from about ten in the morning until two in the afternoon - the portico’s eave shaded the openings of the main rooms of the house from the sun’s harsh rays.  In addition, the closed walls and contiguous dwelling barred the entrance of the morning and afternoon sun into the east and west sides of the homes.

(20)  The Architect Edwin D Thatcher studied the solar-heating capability of rooms facing south to determine the feasibility of indoor nude sunbathing during the winter.  To simulate actual conditions, Thatcher relied on weather data for a climate similar to that of ancient Greece and western Turkey.  He found that a naked person sitting in the sunny part of such a room would be relatively comfortable on 67 percent of the days during the colder months of November through March. The room used for this study was not as well protected as an average Greek living room, however - and of course the residents of the latter would have been clothed most of the time.  It seems safe to say that for most of the winter the sun would have adequately heated the main rooms of a Greek solar-oriented home during the daytime.  When solar heat was insufficient, charcoal braziers could be lit.

(26)  Windows of glass or transparent stone were a radical innovation.  Colored glass had been used for decorative items for almost three thousand years, but the Romans were the first - in the first century CE - to use transparent materials to make windows that would let in light but keep out rain, snow, and cold.

(34)  Faventius and Palladius recommended an ingenious way to make the floor of a sun-heated winter dining room an ideal absorber of solar energy.  The technique had been invented earlier by the Greeks and passed on in the writing of Vitruvius.  A shallow pit was to be dug under the floor and filled with broken earthenware or other rubble, and atop this a mixture of dark sand, ashes, and lime was spread.  This formed a black floor covering that easily absorbed solar heat, especially during the afternoon.  The mass of rubble underneath stored large amounts of heat and released it later in the evening when the room temperature cooled.  Faventius assured village owners that such floors would stay warm during the dining hour and “will please your servants, even those who go barefoot."

(37)  Confucius, writing of life three thousand years ago, stated that every son who lived at home attached a bronze burning mirror (a fu-sui, later called a yang-sui) to his belt when he dressed for the day.  He would also attach a fire plow, a wooden tool that relied on friction to generate sparks for ignition.  On days when the sun shone, the boy would focus the solar rays onto wood and start the family fire;  on overcast days he would take out his fire plow and rub its wood stick back and forth in a wooden groove to do the same.  The yang-sui was as ubiquitous in early China as are matches or lighters today.

(39)  The Greeks used burning mirrors to light the flame that marked the beginning of their Olympic games.  Plutarch, the famous Greek biographer who wrote in the second century CE, stated that when barbarians sacked the Temple of Vesta - the temple tended by the Vestal Virgins at Delphi - and extinguished their sacred flame it had to be relit with the “pure unpolluted flame from the sun.”  With “concave vessels of brass” the holy women directed the rays of the sun onto “light and dry matter,” which was immediately ignited, and their flame burned anew.

(100)  The Flemish salt manufacturers, Cecil’s [Queen Elizabeth I’s chief economic adviser] men explained, built long, shallow, watertight troughs that opened to the sea.  When operators wanted to fill them, windmills opened the floodgates to let in the incoming tide.  Once enough seawater had run in, the gates were shut.  Then solar heat went to work on the water, which evaporated after several days in the sun.  Only salt remained.  Workers shoveled the salt out and more water was let in to repeat the process.  The English praised the solar saltworks as “a great help for the sparing of firewood."

(103)  In 1887, the amount of sun-made salt surpassed the quantity manufactured with coal.  Solar manufacture of salt had grown to the point that visitors to Syracuse [NY], looking down from a hill in the city, could see a wide and shallow valley all covered with brown wooden troughs open to the sun.

(108)  Many had warned of an impending fuel crisis - warnings largely ignored by the public.  But the devastating effects of a series of coal strikes around the turn of the century, culminating in a massive strike in the winter of 1902, threw “a new and lurid light on [these predictions,]… for many a home has been fireless and many a factory has closed its doors,” according to Harper’s Weekly.  Charles Pope, author of Solar Heat, one of the first books on solar energy, agreed:  “The year of 1902 has added an awful chapter to the history of our need of a new source of heat and power,” he wrote.

(124)  [St Louis’ Willsie Sun Power Company solar power plant in 1904] As the sun warmed the water it traveled to a boiler, where ammonia was heated to produce a high-pressure vapor that drove a 6-horsepower engine.  Through condensation the ammonia returned to its liquid state and flowed back to the boiler.  The water circulated back to the collectors in a separate cycle.

The plant ran on sunless days and at night as well, when an auxiliary boiler powered by conventional fuel took over.  Newspapers in Saint Louis and New York announced the success of this twenty-four-hours-a-day solar-powered generator.

(125)  The solar-heated water produced during daytime operation [of Needles, CA in 1908] flowed from the collectors into an insulated tank.  The amount of water needed at the time went on to the boiler;  the rest was held in reserve.  After dark, when a valve to the storage tank was opened, hot water flowed out and passed over the pipes containing sulfur dioxide, and the engine could continue working.  Willsie could rightly claim, "This is the first sun power plant… ever operated at night with solar heat collected during the day."

(130)  He [Frank Shuman] first built a 1-foot-square hot box with blackened tubes inside that held ether, a low-boiling-point liquid.  The solar-heated ether vapor drove a tiny engine, the kind that was commonly sold in toy stores at the time for a dollar.  Shuman tried using a similar collector to run an engine somewhat larger than the first and was able to produce 1/8 horsepower.
NB:  1/8 hp is about the power a person can put out.

(139)  The Meadi plant could operate twenty-four hours a day.  A large insulated tank, similar to the one used by Willsie and Boyle, held excess hot water for use at night or during overcast or rainy days.  This enabled the engine to drive a conventional irrigation pump at all hours and in all weather, further increasing the efficiency of the plant.

Shuman set up a public demonstration of his sun-driven engine in late 1912.  But the boiler reached temperatures too close to the melting point of the zinc pipes.  Consequently the metal began to sag until, according to one observer, the pipes “finally hung down limply like wet rags.”  The trial run and to be postponed while the zinc pipes were replaced with cast iron.

(139-141)  Shuman’s solar engine compared very favorably to a conventional coal-fed plant.  True, the solar plant still had an enormous ratio of collecting surface to horsepower produced - exceeding 200 square feet per horsepower.  And the purchase price, at eighty-two hundred dollars, was double that of a conventional plant [but had a payback period of 4 years with coal at $15-40/ton]
NB:  25 square feet for 1/8 horsepower

(189)  Estimates of the total number of installations made in the Miami area between 1935 and 1941 vary widely - from twenty-five thousand to sixty thousand.  More than half the Miami population used solar-heated water by 1941 and 80 percent of the new homes built in Miami between 1937 and 1941 were solar equipped.

(190)  The federal government purchased some of the largest solar-heating systems, putting them in the officers’ quarters at the giant naval air station in Opa-Loka, outside of Miami, as well as in the Edison and Dixie Court housing projects, which had a combined population of 530.  In 1941, solar water heaters outsold conventional units in Miami by two to one.

(221)  All houses should be directed toward the sun, all of humanity should live in sunlight - Bernhard Christoph Faust [1824]

(223)  All Buildings of Men Should Face towards the Midday Sun (Zur Sonne nach Mittag sollten alle Haüser der Menschen gerichtet seyn) [book title]

(223-224)  “The sole aim of life is the correct orientation of buildings to the midday sun.  Everything else fades compared to the sun and its benefits - to receive the sun in its greatest abundance, the most important gift that God gave to man and animal."

(229)  [1826] Bavaria’s most respected technologist, Anton Camerloher, the royal Bavarian engineer first class, learned of Faust’s solar building principles through [Gustav] Vorherr [state architect for Bavaria, head of the state-run school of building arts, and publisher of the Monthly Journal for Building and Land Improvement].  After submitting these strategies to rigorous scientific analysis, he declared them “well founded” and enthusiastically joined Vorherr in his fight for their implementation in construction throughout the region.  Camerloher’s opinion on the Faustian doctrine greatly influenced King Joseph Maximilian to mandate implementation of Faust’s teaching in the construction of all new public and communal buildings in Upper Bavaria.  Several years later the Bavarian government published the basics of Faust’s solar building principles with the intent of guaranteeing that “all districts, police, and building departments in the Isarkreis [Upper Bavaria] will give these architectural ideas special attention and support.”  Other German States, such as Hessen and Prussia, followed suit.

(231)  Two municipalities lost to fire were reconstructed in line with Faust’s tenets - Schwaboisen in Bavaria and Palotsay in Hungary.

(235)  In 2009 the United Nations chose La Chau-de-Fonds as a World Heritage site.  The selection was made, according to the World Heritage Site web page, because of the “‘rationalist’ principles… adopted[,] which addressed the relationship between living conditions and ‘health.’  A town plan was developed in 1835 designed by one of Pestalozzi’s pupils (Charles-Henri Junod) and inspired by an ideal town called ‘Sonnenstadt,’ planned in 1824 by a Dr. Bernhard Christoph Faust.  Features included having most houses facing onto small gardens receiving the midday sun.”

This monument to Faust’s dream resonates with his exclamation written more than 150 years before the city’s selection as a World Heritage Site:  “Oh people, face your houses toward the midday sun to give yourselves and your children and their children until the tenth generation the warmth, life, power, joy and blessings of the sun."

(248)  One study cited by the panel [of the League of Nations] showed that a building which opened to the north needed 17 percent more heat during the winter than did a similar structure facing south.  Such findings led to the conclusion that proper siting could go a long way to holding down heating and ventilating costs for householders.

(248-249)  One of the largest and most sophisticated examples was the Swiss community of Neubuhl, now a district of Zurich.  Seven young architects organized Neubuhl as a cooperative housing project.  The two hundred apartments ranged from small bachelor residences to family dwellings with six rooms.  These units were apportioned among thirty-three separate structures perched on a mountain slope. Almost all the buildings faced south or slightly southeast and were spread far enough apart so that no building blocked another’s solar access during winter.  every unit received the same number of hours of sunlight in winter. [1930s?]

(266)  His [Keck] opportunity came in 1940, when he designed a house for an old friend, Howard Sloan, a Chicago real estate developer….  [Sloan] “The house was opened to the public in September as the Solar House.  On one Sunday we had 1,700 visitors.  The demand of the public was such that I subdivided 10 acres into 38 lots and opened it in April, 1941.  [Although] Hitler was overrunning countries in Europe, customers were becoming jittery, [and] prices were going up, houses sold faster than we could build them."

(296)  A solar-heating system there [Tucson, Arizona] could be expected to carry a much higher percentage of the heating load - especially if heating at night were not required.  Such was the case in the first solar-heated public building, Rose Elementary School, which was designed by Arthur Brown and built in 1948.

(299)  George Löf used another solar hot-air system, similar to the one he had developed in Boulder, to heat his newly built, ranch-style home in Denver, Colorado.  In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the engineering firm of Bridgers and Paxton built the first solar-heated office building in 1956.  This system cooled the building in summer.

(303)  [1873 - discovery of photovoltaic effect on selenium by Willoughby Smith]

(305-306)  [Charles Fritts] He spread a wide, thin layer of selenium onto a metal plate and covered it with a thin, semitransparent gold-leaf film.  This selenium module, Fritts reported, produced a current “that is continuous, constant, and of considerable force[,]… not only by exposure to sunlight, but also to dim diffuse daylight, and even to lamplight."

(330)  The photovoltaics industry also got its first significant opportunity to power land operations with the oil and gas industry during the mid-1970s.  Underground aquifers frequently contain salt water, which corrodes well casings and pipelines.
NB:  First non space applications for oil and gas warning bouys at sea, anti-corrosion on land.

(334)  In the fall of 1976, Hunts Mesa became the first solar-powered microwave repeater site in North America and one of the first in the world.

(354)  By 1977, fully 60 percent of California’s 250,000 pools were solar heated.

(386-387)  That Village Homes has not been replicated may be a result of timing.  As that neighborhood really started to take off, Ronald Reagan took office, and his administration’s dim view of solar energy still haunts us today.  An example of that administration’s anti solar bias is its reception of the document _Review of the Demonstration Program of Solar Heating and Cooling Technologies_, which arrived at the White House during Reagan’s inauguration.  The Department of Energy had paid the highly reputable consulting firm Arthur D. Little a quarter of a million dollars to complete the study.  The lead author did not consider the study controversial.  It outlined high expectations for what solar energy could accomplish if properly funded.  “The following day,” one of the members of the staff that produced the report recalled, “word came from the Reagan team:  ‘Do not release this report… copies are to be destroyed… no secret printings… no discussions.’”  And this was accompanied by a threat:  “If any word gets out, Arthur D. Little will not be compensated.”  The staff member added, “I had never witnessed anything so brutal.  There were no pretensions of free speech.  It was swift and ruthless.  One of the chilliest moments of my life.”  Under the Reagan administration, “solar bodies got decimated,” recalled Edgar DeMeo, director of photovoltaic research at the Electric Power Research Institute in the 1980s.  “Reagan dealt the renewable movement a crippling blow,” he added.  Doug Balcomb summed up the destruction brought about by Reagan:  “The president said in the 1980s, ‘The energy crisis, it’s been solved;  there wasn’t any problem left.’  So people weren’t concerned about it anymore, [since] people tend to follow that kind of a lead.  The few of us left working in the solar field in the 1980s were pretty lonely.  The momentum had evaporated."

(396)  In fact, the heat that such solar-energy systems [pool heaters and passive solar houses] harvest is far more compatible with house and pool heating than the energy that fossil fuels and nuclear power plants supply.  Very little energy is wasted, since the collection occurs on-site, doing away with the huge infrastructure required for supplying fossil-fuel and nuclear energy.  And when solar heating takes the place of electrical heating, it does away with the need to initially raise temperatures hundreds of degrees to run turbines, and the need to transport the resulting electricity hundreds, if not thousands, of miles in order to deliver the power to homes - which require a temperature increase of only 30 or 40 degrees, if not less, for household comfort.

Solar pool heating and solar architecture also demonstrate the power of aggregation.  each solar pool-heating system is small, but the combined heat produced by all such systems as of 2013 is equivalent to that produced by approximately five nuclear power plants.

(377)  “The highest average heat value of sunlight occurs about [the time of day] when it is most needed - at mid-day on the winter solstice,” and “a south wall receives almost _five_ times as much heat from the sun in winter as it does in summer” [Tod Neubauer’s emphasis in a study of natural heating and cooling of buildings from UC Davis]

(381)  He [Tod Neubauer] came up with one simple equation for success, a simple formula that Neubauer called the two-percent rule for finding the length of the required overhang on the south face:  multiply by .02 the height of the south-facing window(s) by the latitude.

(381-382)  The data collected and interpreted were translated into America’s first solar-energy ordinance, a reflection of Neubauer’s design ideas.  Journalist James Ridgeway succinctly explained the new ordinance:  “the basic idea… is that new housing built in Davis shall not experience an excessive heat gain in summer nor excessive heat loss in winter.”  It allowed builders two choices.  The first was a prescriptive path that stipulated a south orientation;  the majority of windows would be on the south side, and a minimum of windows would be on the east and west sides and shaded either by eaves, drapery, or vegetation.  The second path permitted more leeway as long as the building conformed to the designated heating and cooling loads set by the city.

(389)  Only subsidies in the form of tax credits, and the big jumps in oil prices in 1973 and 1979, kept the solar water-heater industry growing.  It grew from only twenty thousand solar water heaters installed during 1978 to nearly a million total by the end of 1983.

(390)  When the price of oil dropped in the mid-1980s, the Israeli government did not want people backsliding, as had happened in other parts of the world.  And so it required citizens to continue heating their water with the sun, by mandating the use of solar water heaters in buildings with more than four stories - in which the majority of Israelis live.  At the time of this writing, more than 90 percent of Israeli households own solar water heaters, making Israel the second-largest per capita user of such heaters.

(392)  Barbados is the third-largest per capita consumer of solar hot water.  In the 1930s, Florida solar water-heater companies exported their products to the Caribbean.  Some of these were sold in Barbados, but the Barbados solar water-heater story didn’t really get started until 1964….

Solar Dynamics’ new entry became the first solar water heater in the world to guarantee temperature performance adequate for all domestic-hot-water needs.

(395)  [Austria]  From the self-build groups emerged a national grassroots movement called the Renewable Energy Working Group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Erneuerbare Energie).  The working group set up information centers and workshops to inform the public about, and to teach them to build, solar water heaters.
Michael Ornetzeder, “Old Technology and Social Innovations.  Inside the Austrian Success Story on Solar Water Heaters,” Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 15, no 1 (2001)
Michael Ornetzeder and Harald Rohracher, “User Led Innovations and Participation Processes:  Lessons for Sustainable Energy Technologies,” Energy Policy 34, no 2 (2006)

(397-398)  The success of Ærø Island [Denmark] so impressed all of Europe that the European Union decided to fund the doubling of the collector area of the Marstal solar farm, add to it a boiler that would be heated by locally grown willow chips, and a reservoir to hold the excess solar heat collected in summer for winter use.  It would demonstrate to the world the efficacy of district heating solely with renewable energy.

(402)  The use of photovoltaics for individual remote homes in the developing world was pioneered by the French in Tahiti.  Ironically, it was the French Atomic Energy Commission that initiated the program in 1978.  The agency’s nuclear testing in Polynesia had not endeared it or the French government to the Polynesian people.  Public opinion had to be shored up.

(405)  With 2 percent of its rural populace relying on solar power for their electricity, Kenya became the first country where more people plug into the sun than into the national rural electrification program.  What is more amazing is that photovoltaics’ ascendency occurred without government help.

(411)  Donald Osborn, formerly director of alternative-energy programs at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, in California, outlined other advantages of on-site photovoltaic electrical generation, for both the consumer and the utilities.  “You reduce the electricity lost through long-distance transmission,” Osborn stated, which runs about 30 percent on the best-maintained lines.  Structures with their own photovoltaic plants decrease the flow of electricity through distribution lines at substation transformers, “thereby extending the transformers’ lives.”  “And for a summer-daytime-peaking utility,” Osborn added, “you can offset the load on these systems when the demand for electricity would be greatest,” helping to eliminate “brownouts in the summer and early fall.”  On-site photovoltaic-generated electricity also makes renewable energy economically more attractive than power generated by a large solar electric plant, because it “competes at the retail level rather than at the wholesale level” with other producers of electricity.

(440)  Few realize the value of solar energy today.  The value of the global photovoltaic market alone climbed to over $82 billion in 2010.

(442)  Oil received thirty times more in subsidies from the federal government than solar between 1950 and 2010.  The International Energy Agency Agency reported that in 2012 alone thirty-seven governments spent more than $523 billion subsidizing fossil fuels while assisting renewables with almost one-sixth the funding.

(446)  In California, the state’s revised Title 24 building standards for 2013 will also move solar further into the mainstream.  The new code requires that by 2020 all new residential housing and by 2030 all commercial buildings produce as much energy as they consume, a designation called net-zero energy.  The new building rules require photovoltaics on all rooftops.

To meet the demand for net-zero energy, many architects are combining older solar technologies - solar architecture and solar water heaters - with the newest, photovoltaics.  Solar  pioneer Steve Strong built the first net-zero-energy house back in 1979 by using such a strategy.  Back then, people called this type of structure “an energy independent house.”

(449)  But a new German program provides incentives for homeowners to combine photovoltaics with electricity storage, allowing homes to actually cut themselves from the grid.  The program will reduce the twenty-year cost of a PV system with storage to 10 percent less than one without.  Once again, Germany leads the way in photovoltaics, this time toward autonomous living with solar electricity.

(458)  Robert James Forbes, _Studies in Ancient Technologies_ (Leiden, Holland:  Brill, 1964)
James Ring, “Windows, Baths, and Solar Energy,” American Journal of Archaeology, no 4 (1996)

(487)  Michael Ornetzeder, “Old Technology and Social Innovations.  Inside the Austrian Success Story on Solar Water Heaters,”  Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 15, no 1 (2001)
Michael Ornetzeder and Harold Rohracher, “User Led Innovations and Participation Processes:  Lessons for Sustainable Energy tEchnologies,”  Energy Policy 34, no 2 (2006)