Hollywood: So Ready For Solar


Los Angeles is known for its great year round weather – sunny and 73! Taking advantage of its ideal solar climate, LA will soon be known for being a real leader of the booming solar economy.

On Feb. 1,  the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – made famous in the movie Chinatown but probably a bit more mundane of a bureaucracy these days – took its first big move into building out a 150-megawatt rooftop solar program.

The iconic Hollywood sign on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles on October 2, 2012 in California.  (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

These installations will be supported by a Feed-In Tariff – a policy that pays a premium rate for the electricity generated to create an incentive for people to build solar systems. FITs have been the driver of solar uptake from Europe toAustralia and will work in L.A. In this case, it is targeted to multi-tenant dwellings, commercial buildings, and those large inner city rooftops that have not yet been going solar.

One of the facts that moved the City Council to support their municipal utility to CLEAN LA with distributed solar was the way this will serve those so far underserved by the solar industry. Aerial mapping and analysis shows that some of the best roofs to invest in to harness this feed-in tariff are on rooftops of inner city Angelenos. Bringing solar to these areas will not only help clean the air, but will also put local solar installers to work. To date, most of those trained in solar have been commuting out of L.A. to the suburbs and single-owner occupied buildings have been addressed a lot faster by the industry than blocks of apartments and rental homes.

Mary Leslie, the head of L.A.’s Business Council, is ecstatic about the new program. Having coffee with her on Monday she shared that the announcement by LADWP represents a big win for an unusual alliance of interests, and will create huge benefits for the city – lots of investment, lots of jobs and big carbon reductions.

LABC is a powerhouse in the commercial world of this city of angels and according to Mary they worked shoulder to shoulder with environmental justice activists, the Sierra Club, clean energy policy people, academics at UCLA and many others to get this done. “It is awesome to see – because we were a strong coalition we could create half a billion in value for L.A., with a little budget” she explained of the work that went into it.

The money flow into the city is what she’s most excited by – as much as $500m with $300m in tax credits being leveraged. Already one big company, Solar Provider Group—an international solar firm—has announced plans to open its US headquarters in L.A., hire 30 new employees and invest $50 million in L.A. by 2016. This is just the beginning of new investment and jobs in L.A. . Research shows that implementing all 150MW of power capacity with the FIT will create 4,500 local jobs.

And then there’s the 2 million metric tons of carbon pollution this will stop. Not bad L.A. Shine on!

Original Article on Sungevity


ASU: The Solar University

ASU is breaking ground as the most solar university in the United States, covering just about everything the brutal desert sun hits with electricity-harvesting silicon cells. And we mean everything — buildings, parking lots, classrooms — even students’ faces! All right, maybe not quite that far.


Artist’s impression of what Face Solar would look like

It’s quite impressive — almost 30% of ASU’s daytime power needs are from sunlight now! They get it. While universities only account for 3% of the United States’ electricity consumption, they account for 100% of the United States’ higher-educated students who will inherit this world and have to fix its problems.

Original Article on Sungevity


As we all start ramping up for the Patriots Giants Super Bowl in a few weeks I thought it would be a good time to look at a slightly different defensive play.  A play designed to block the offensive line of fossil fuels.  A play called, “Let’s install as much solar as we can at NFL stadiums!”

I did a Google spelunk of all the NFL stadiums with solar and here is what I learned:

The Redskins are far and away the winners in the solar stadium game, with 8,000 panels and 2 MW of generating capacity.   Their array, the largest in the league, generates 20% of the team’s energy needs on game days and all of their energy needs on every other day of the year.  The modules cover 841 parking spaces and the stadium has 10 EV charging stations and one enormous Solar Man statue.


While the Jets/Giants are currently in a distant second place with 0.69 MW of solar, they are looking to give the Redskins a run for their sunny.  Errr…money. MetLife Stadium will be adding 1,500 modules to their existing 3,000 and the new panels will form a “solar ring” around the top of their stadium.  The ring lights up AND changes color according to which team is playing.

The Patriots also have sunny days ahead of them.  They will be jumping from 525 kW to 1.6 MW just in time for the 2012-2013 season.  They’re also adding in a wind turbine.  Speaking of which, if you count the wind and biofuel that the Philadelphia Eagles use to power Lincoln Financial Field then you’re looking at a grand total of 8.6 MW of green energy.  They are actually selling power back to the grid and profiting from it!  Estimated savings?  $60 million.

While the Cardinals don’t have any solar modules up, they DO completely offset their energy use on 8 regular season game days and 2 pre-season home games thanks to SRP’s EarthWise energy program.  Collectively that offset is equivalent to the power needed to run 60 homes for an entire year!

Original Article on Sungevity

Solar Impulse Takes Flight

As a white knuckle flier, it has always mystified me why people would want to fly around the world.  It seems like a lot of time up in the air in a confined space where a lot could go wrong and bathroom breaks are anything but luxurious.  Clearly there are people who disagree; and they’ve devoted their lives to doing exactly that — flying around the world.

  • In 1929 the first flying man-made airship, LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin, circumnavigated the world.
  • In 1933 Wiley Post made the first solo flight around the world.
  • In 1964 Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock became the first woman to successfully fly around the world.
  • In 2002 Steve Fossett became the first person to complete an uninterrupted and unrefueled solo circumnavigation of the world in any kind of aircraft (a balloon).
  • In 2005, Fossett made the first solo, nonstop, unrefueled circumnavigation of the world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, a single-engine jet aircraft.

So what’s next?  What could possibly top a solo nonstop and unrefueled circumnavigation?  How about a circumnavigation without any fuel at all?  That’s right.  I said without any fuel at all.

In 2014 Solar Impulse will attempt to fly around the world without any fuel aside from the sunlight that falls from the sky.

The idea for Solar Impulse came from Bertrand Piccard, the first man to travel non-stop around the world in a balloon.  ”We almost failed (because of) lack of fuel,” Piccard said of his epic journey back in 1999.  He decided the next time he flew around the world it would be sans fuel.

The Solar Impulse team has already completed the first solar day-and-night flight in history: 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds, and 3 world records!  They are determined to demonstrate that progress in transportation is possible using clean energy.  Their first prototype (the one that set those 3 world records) has the wingspan of an Airbus A340, the  weight of a family car, and the power of a scooter.  I don’t know about you, but that sure looks like progress to me.

Just imagine they are able to develop a prototype that could commercialize mass solar flight.  That innovation could dramatically slash the carbon footprint of air travel, which is slated to be an annual 1.5 billion tons of CO2 by 2025.

You can track their progress or ask a question on the Solar Impulse Facebook page.

Original Article on Sungevity Blog

Sungevity Goes International

Big news today: we announced our international expansion.  And what better country to expand into than one known for gouda cheese, chocolate sprinkles on bread (hagelslag), tulips, windmills, and wooden shoes?  That’s right Holland, I’m talking about you.

Welcome to the Sungevity family, Zonline!

Zonline, which roughly translates to “sunshine online,” is a Dutch solar start-up.  With this partnership Sungevity becomes the first US residential solar company to go overseas.  I think that’s worth a collectively shouted, “SHINE ON!, don’t you?

If you’ve spent any time in the Netherlands you might be curious about why we chose that particular market; Holland certainly isn’t the sunniest place in Europe.  What Holland does have, however, is the continent’s second-highest electricity rates.  Ack!  Additionally, Holland puts our model to test in a country without any solar subsidies.  Did I mention that people from the Netherlands love orange?  That wasn’t necessarily a driving factor behind the partnership, but it sure didn’t hurt :-)

So how did we get to this point?  It’s been a long journey, but here is the story of how it all began, penguin suits, oil giants, and all.

Original Article on Sungevity

The Rolling Rooftop Revolution

We faced roving packs of kids in need of a refreshing and tasty treat.

And now, much like the Muppets and so many others before us, we’re taking on MANHATTAN! 

This summer Sungevity is celebrating our launch in DE, MA, MD, NJ,and NY by rolling out a Rooftop Revolution.  In our solar-poweredbiodiesel ice pop truck we are slinging ice pops along the EasternSeaboard and teaching people how they can save money on their electricbills by going solar! 

Check out this piece in the Huffington Post and follow our truck on Facebook and Twitter

For every new “like” we get on Facebook we are donating $1 to The Solar Foundation, so start spreading the news!

Read more

How Does Solar Stack Up Against Coal?

So how does solar stack up against coal?  If you ignore theexternalities then coal power is cheap, but not for long as a couple ofthings happen:

  1. We’re going to start running out of the easy stuff to get
  2. We’re going to internalize some of the true costs of coal power.

I won’t go into detail about the coal supply in America but sufficeto say that when someone tells you there are abundant coal reserveshere, ask them how many are recoverable. The truth is that most coalproduction areas are depleted or on the way and America now sources 40%of its coal from one small river basin in Wyoming. 

Powder River Basin (PRB) has 13 big mines but none of them will be viable in 20 years, interms of producing coal at a cost structure that makes sense.  The mainproblem is the stripping ratio, or amount of ground that needs to beremoved to get to the coal. The market is already reflecting some of Old King Coal’s problems as per these facts: 

1. The delivered price of coal increased 3 times faster than inflation in the past 5 years

2. The cost of transporting PRB coal is 3 times greater than Its mining costs

3. Oil has twice the impact of mining on the cost of delivered PRB coal

4. States dependent on coal had the highest electricity price increases in the past 5 years

5. US coal mining productivity peaked in 2000 and declined 20% since

Remember that all of this is happening against a backdrop of solarpower’s costs falling precipitously.  The only real question remainingis how long will coal be competitive?

Not for long. Indeed, you could not start on a new coal fired powerplant in America today and have it up and running before it was moreexpensive than a solar plant. 

Another reason this is a good change (aside from the climatebenefits, saving the land from being blown up, and protecting ourchildren from asthma) is that photovoltaics create more jobs than coalper kilowatt hour of power provided.

So our time in the sun is not done – we just have to bring it on.We’re very quickly realizing that coal is a pretty inefficient way tostore the energy in sunlight. Digging it up and burning it to boil water is even more inefficient as a way to make electricity. Humanity willincreasingly look up and access that same energy straight from thesource. If you ever want to go solar in your own life please do so withSungevity.  You can get your free Sungevity iQuote today if you are in AZ, CA, CO, DE, MA, MD, NJ, or NY. 

We look forward to serving you…

Original Article on Sungevity Blog

Read more

Mark Ruffalo Wants to Go Solar with Sungevity!

You probably know about Mark from movies like Shutter Island and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but Mark isn’t just an actor.  Mark is a man on a mission; that mission is to get the word out about hydraulic fracturing.


Hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking and hydrofracking) is aprocess used to retrieve hard-to-reach natural gas and oil. It involvesinjecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water into shalerock. The shale is then shattered, releasing trapped gas. So what’s theproblem?  There are a bunch.

  1. Most of the water used in fracking is left underground after thedrilling ends, which means you can end up with contaminated wells.  With a mixture of 596 used in horizontal fracking, some of them carcinogens, that’s a recipe for disaster.
  2. Methane gas leaks are a reality, and  recent research from  Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea atCornell reveals that “The [greenhouse gas] footprint for shale gas isgreater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any timehorizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, thefootprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more thantwice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when comparedover 100 years,”


Read more

The Energy Payback for Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Many of our customers get this question from their environmentallyconscientious friends: How much energy does it take to manufacture solar panels compared to how much energy they produce? Good question!

The Institute of Science in Society has an answer: The Institute’slife cycle analysis shows that the energy payback for polycrystallinepanels (which is what Sungevity uses) is 2.2 years.  In other words,after 2.2 years, the power generated by the panels exceeds the powerused to manufacture them. The panels have a lifespan of at least 25years which means 23 years of clean, green energy on your roof. That’s a fantastic energy payback by any standard and makes us doubly confidentthat solar is the single best way to go green.


Read more

Sungevity and Sierra Club Announce Partnership

Sungevity and Sierra Club launched the Sierra Club Solar HomeCampaign today, and we couldn’t be more exciting about our partnershipwith this venerable grassroots environmental organization.  Read ourjoint press release below:

Sungevity and Sierra Club Join Forces to Accelerate Rooftop Solar in Northern California

OAKLAND, Calif.—Today, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Bruneand Sungevity Founder Danny Kennedy climbed on top of a home in Oaklandto announce an innovative new partnership aimed at rapidly expandingrooftop solar in the Bay Area.

Sierra Club will be reaching out to its supporters in Northern andCentral California and asking them to sign up for easy and affordablesolar leasing through Sungevity. For each supporter who signs up, Sierra Club will receive $1,000 from Sungevity for its campaign to endreliance on fossil fuels and transition to a clean energy economy.

“In order to end our dependence on dirty energy, we need as manyAmericans as possible to switch to clean energy like rooftop solar. This is a high priority for Sierra Club. We are urging all of our membersand supporters in Northern California to work with Sungevity to find out if solar is right for them. Every home that goes solar gets us one step closer to our goal of a clean energy economy,” said Brune.

“The new Sungevity-Sierra Club is a win-win-win scenario,” saidKennedy. “Sierra Club members benefit from the cost-savings of goingsolar, Sungevity builds on its network of energized customers and we all get a cleaner environment.”

Beginning today, Sierra Club members can lease or purchase a Sungevity solar energy system through

“I strongly encourage all Sierra Club members to start the easy process by logging on to for a quick, free iQuote,” added Kennedy.

Sierra Club will use the activist tools it has honed over decades toask consumers to switch to clean energy. Through house parties, phonebanks and community organizing, the grassroots environmental group willencourage homeowners to go solar.

The partnership kicked off today at the Oakland home of Sierra Clubmember and Sungevity customer Dan Rademacher. Kennedy and Brune bothdiscussed the environmental and financial benefits of residential solarleases from the rooftop of Rademacher’s home.


Video and photos of the event are available upon request.

About Sierra Club

Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest grassrootsenvironmental organization. Founded by John Muir in 1892, Sierra Clubhas 1.4 million members and supporters and chapters and volunteersacross the nation. Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy andprotect the planet.

Read more

Cal State Fullerton Goes Solar

Cal StateFullerton is installing 5,000 solar panels and saving $8 million ontheir electricity bills. The system will have a combined rating greaterthan 1MW of power, and will be installed at 4 sites around campus.Additionally, the system will remove a total of 16,000 tons of CO2emissions for the campus over the 25-year life of the panels.

With the prospect of a carbon price in California soon, theUniversity is looking to make even more money from it’s solar solution.“If we used an average value for CO2 offsets, this would equate to anapproximate value of an additional $1.5 million of savings to the campus that would bring the total value of the Solar PV Project to $9.5million to the campus,” said Doug Kind, manager of commissioning andenergy at the Physical Plant.

Schools and colleges going solar have had some tough love lately, soit is great to see Cal State going through with this money-savingleadership move at Fullerton. Students will be inspired by it and so amI. Shine on and thanks to Kamy West at the Daily Titan, CSU Fullerton’sstudent newspaper for this California Brightspot!

-Danny Kennedy


Read more

Sungevity: Coming to a State Near You

April was an exciting month for us at Sungevity. By adding 5 new states toour coverage area, Sungevity was able to significantly expand thepopulation which we’re able to offer easy, affordable and clean solarpower. But we’re not going to stop there. We have 42 states to go! As you read this, we’re already beginning to assess what states make themost sense to branch out to next. As we make this decision, we consider a number of different factors:

1. Insolation. Obviously the more sun a state gets, the more power solar panels are able to produce. The good news is that US is fine when it comes to sunlight. In fact, every state in thecontinental US
has higher insolation than Germany, where solar power is already flourishing.

2. Grid Electricity Prices. The beauty of theSungevity Solar Lease is that many of our customers are able to seesavings versus their utility bill from day one. We’d like to continueto offer this proposition, so it often makes the most sense to expandinto states where the cost of a solar system spread out over a number of years (using a Solar Lease) is lower than the grid cost of theelectricity that the system generates.

3. State renewable incentives. Many states want tosee more power being generated by clean renewable energy sources andoffer rebates to help cover the upfront cost of a solar system. Thenthere are also states that have adopted renewable portfolio standards in which utilities must generate a portion of their energy throughrenewable means or buy “Renewable Energy Credits” (REC’s) from those who do generate clean energy. States which offer higher incentives(through rebates or REC’s) are often those where it makes the most sense for Sungevity to offer Solar Leases.

We’d love to be able to serve all 50 states and have no doubts we’llbe there soon. In fact the changes that have made attractively pricedSolar Leasing possible–lower equipment prices and more efficientbusiness models like Sungevity’s to name a couple–are only continuing to move in our favor. We have no doubts that, given a little time, you’ll see Sungevity’s systems on rooftops near you, wherever you may be!


Read more

Who Wants $17,000?

If you’re a solar homeowner, you already know that going solar is a goodfinancial move because of the electricity bill savings. But did you know that customer-owned solar homes have substantially higher resale value?

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has just completed a thorough review of the effect of solar PVsystems on home prices in California, and their conclusion isstaggering:  The average non-PV home sold for $480,862 (in 2009dollars).  The average PV home sold for $537,442.  That means that, ifyou own your PV system, you can expect your solar home to sell for 9%more than a comparable non-solar home in your neighborhood.

Or, to look at it another way, LBNL says that the premium on thetypical 3-kW PV system is $17,000 — if you sell your home with a paidoff PV system, you’ll get $17,000 more thanks to your solar array.  (The math is tricky – read the report if you want to geek out on the calculations).

If you’re leasing a system, keep the number 17k in mind when you’reconsidering whether to pay off the balance of your lease and own yoursystem outright. Paying off your system will more than pay for itself in increased home value.

Factor in the electricity bill savings, and you have yourself afinancial win-win. Factor in Mother Earth, and we’ll call it awin-win-win.


Read more

Save San Francisco’s Solar Rebates

San Francisco’s wildly popular solar rebates are in danger of beingcut.  Since 2008, the GoSolarSF initiative has quadrupled the number ofsolar roofs in San Francisco. The program offers residential rebates of$2000 to $7000 depending on the homeowner’s income.

GoSolarSF is exactly the kind of smart, environmental leadership that makes San Franciscans proud. But the San Francisco Public UtilitiesCommission (PUC) has proposed cutting the program by 40%. What a shamethat would be — with more and more homeowners across California goingsolar, how tragic it would be for San Francisco to be left behind. Comeon PUC, we’re counting on you to show the kind of leadership we’ve cometo expect from you.

Learn more about how GoSolarSF has been a net gain for San Francisco’s economy, and sign the petition to save it.


Read more