’s Top 10 Blogs of 2014


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The following pages highlight the top 10 blogs of 2014. Start posting today, and perhaps you’ll see one of your own blogs on this list next year. 


10. Off-Grid Solar Powers Remote Cabin
By: Tom Jackson

Gus Gomez is a retired university professor who spends several days out of the month at his remote, off-grid cabin in Moses Lake, Washington. To power this stand-alone home, Gus Gomez recently purchased and installed an off-grid solar system from

Distant from the basic amenities of city life, Gus had to transform this isolated cabin into a livable home. Located on a 40-acre plot of farm land, this 550 square-foot cabin now has its own off-grid power, septic system, and water well, all of which are “in place free of monthly charges,” according to Gomez.

The climate in Eastern Washington provides an excellent opportunity for households and businesses to install solar systems for their electrical needs … It’s warm during summer with an average maximum temperature of 88.20 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 21.70 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Gus had an off-grid PV system installed to power the cabin. Because Lake Moses frequently experiences powerful winds, Gus had the 3-module array mounted to a cylindrical pole mount instead of installing a racking solution on the roof. After drilling a ten-foot hole in the ground, they secured the twenty-foot-long steel cylinder with concrete. 

Read the entire blog here.


9. The Emerging YieldCo Landscape
By: Alex Anich, Karbone

Historically, U.S. renewable energy projects have been equity and debt financed by the usual suspects: utilities, independent power producers (IPPs), banks and private investment vehicles such as infrastructure funds. However, strong forecasted growth in renewable capacity installations over the next decade will generate sizable demand for capital. To reduce the cost of equity capital, project developers and current asset owners have been keen to tap into additional sources of financing — especially innovative vehicles that can appeal to a broader range of prospective investors.

One constraint to attracting new equity capital into the renewable energy project market is the lack of pure-play, liquid public vehicles that would allow investors such as mutual funds and retail investors to invest in these yield-focused infrastructure assets. While proponents of public vehicles have been pushing for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) to apply to renewable energy infrastructure, legislative and regulatory policy hurdles have not yet been cleared for the use of these relatively tax-efficient vehicles within the sector.  As such, several market players have developed “YieldCos” that can fill this gap. This brief piece discusses the YieldCo structure and provides some examples of recent market offerings.

Read the entire blog here.


8. Energy Storage: A Different View from Germany
By: Laurie Reese

Germany leads the world in solar photovoltaic generation, so it would seem to follow that the country’s interest in energy storage would also be soaring. But when Ben Kaun, an expert storage specialist with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), traveled to an international energy storage conference in Dusseldorf earlier this year, he found that storage is viewed somewhat differently there than in the U.S.

As Germans look to the future, Kaun notes that they have a broader definition of energy storage than in the United States. The U.S. definition of energy storage typically focuses on electric power in, electric power out – that is, electricity storage. In Germany’s definition is broader, characterized by three main categories: power to heat, power to gas (specifically hydrogen) and power to power, which can utilize a range of storage technologies, including electrochemical (batteries), mechanical or thermal.

Read the entire blog here.


7. HOAs Fight Solar, Homeowners Fight Back
By: Emily Hois

You own your home. You want to save on your electric bill and reduce your carbon footprint. You’ve paid for a roof that can support solar panels. The next step is to research solar installation companies that serve your area, right? Wrong, say some Homeowners Associations (HOAs).

Across the U.S., homeowners who have installed solar panels without approval from their HOA are losing tens of thousands of dollars as they are forced to remove their solar systems. In Nebraska, Tim Adams of Omaha installed a $40,000 rooftop solar system and was sued by the South Shore Heights Homeowners Association, which said the solar panels “violated neighborhood covenants.” Although Adams settled, he vows not to give up the fight. The settlement requires the homeowner to remove his array of blue solar panels by July 1 and forbids him from making any other public comments regarding the case, the HOA, and its associated members.

Read the entire blog here.


6. Six Renewable Energy Trends to Watch for in 2015
By: Jane Weissman

Fall is when IREC releases its annual report, Trends Shaping Our Clean Energy Future. These 35 pages are not just a litany of our activities but dig into deeper reasoning of what we’ve done over the past 12 months; why it’s important; who we’ve touched; and where it leads. Do take a look.

From both our national workforce and regulatory experience, these are six trends we see heading into 2015.

Trend #1. Pillar Polices Meet Concrete Pillars

This is a story about change that doesn’t have an ending yet. It involves many story lines. The one I refer to here is net metering, not to get into the weeds, but to offer a way of moving forward.

The patchwork (and success) of net metering programs around the country has bumped into an attempt to convince decision makers and consumers that renewables lead to higher prices, with one group of customers subsidizing another. It’s been an argument we’ve heard for years from utilities and consumer advocates.

Read the entire blog here.


5. Top Ten Largest Solar PV Companies
By: Oliver Strube

We get quite a few questions here at about who the big players in each sector of the renewable energy industry are, so we decided to start pulling together some top 10 lists. Here are the top 10 producers of PV for 2011 according to a report from Energy Trend. These numbers will take you right along the supply chain, from polysilicon to module.

Editor’s note: These lists were updated from an entry originally posted in 2010. See below for the 2009 figures in the original post. The 2012 numbers do not reflect thin-film production, only polysilicon-based production.

Read the entire blog here.


4. What If Roads Were Made of Solar PV Panels?
By: Douglas Elbinger,

Four years ago, Scott and Julie Brusaw announced their provocative concept of “Solar Roadways,” a system of modular ‘pavement’ solar panels that could be installed directly onto roads, parking lots, driveways, bike paths, and “literally any surface under the sun.” The idea got traction (no pun intended) and since then, the Brusaws have received two rounds of funding from the Federal Highway Administration as well as a private grant to develop their project.

The concept of solar roadways may sound too good to be true …but is it? Scott and Julie Brusaw, co-inventors of Solar Roadways, have been working on the project since 2009. Basically, solar roadways can be almost anywhere; parking lots, driveways, highways, roads, etc…made out of photovoltaic panels. The team has done some calculations; they’re premise is based on the idea that there is approximately 31,000 square miles of usable road surfaces in the US, and if all of these were covered the Solar Roadways system could produce over three times the electricity that is used by the entire country. That’s an incredible potential and even if only a fraction of that space were converted, it could lead to a huge paradigm shift in several economic equations — not just energy.

Read the entire blog here.


3. Eight Interesting Facts About Solar Power
By: Jolene Ciosek

A ridiculous amount of interesting facts and statistics surround the solar industry, and every time I write one of these posts, I fall more deeply in love with solar power.  What a first-class industry to be in — renewable energy, saving money, saving the planet….yeah, those things are important, and I’m always happy to share facts and statistics when I come across them because, well, they’re not only proof that we’re headed in the right direction, they also speak to what this amazing community is all about — supporting solar!

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the percentage of installed solar energy grew 418 percent from 2010-2014, more than quadrupling capacity in only four years.  

In 2010, U.S. total capacity was 2,326 MW, and in February of this year, we saw increased capacity to 12,057 MW.  I’m no mathematician, but that’s a ginormous increase! Imagine if we keep chugging along at this pace?  The future of solar is looking brighter than ever.

Read the entire blog here.


2. Seven Renewable Energy Lessons from Germany
By: Jennifer Runyon

On the occasion of Germany’s re-unification day, I thought it would be fitting to review some of the lessons I learned from Germany about renewable energy on a recent trip to the country. 

It would be hard to argue that Germany is NOT the renewable energy capital of the world in terms of developing a thriving industry that contributed more than 27 percent of renewable energy generation to the grid in the first nine months of 2014.  The industry also supports more than 378,000 jobs in the country and billions in economic activity.  Germany dedicated itself to clean energy in 2000 with the passage of the EEG – the renewable energies act, which kicked off the Energiewende energy transition.  The law has been continuously tweaked over the past 14 years with a key component coming in 2011 after fukushima when it decided that it would shut down all nuclear power by 2022. 

During the last week in September, I was invited to travel around eastern Germany to see renewable energy projects, interview entrepreneurs in the industry, visit companies, and enjoy a small taste of Berlin, the capital. From what I gathered there are very specific reasons that Germany has been successful at developing this thriving industry.  Our November/December issue will feature a more in-depth look at renewable energy in Germany but I wanted to share some of my initial impressions with you today.

Read the entire blog here.


1. Top Five Cool Renewable Energy Projects
By: Jennifer Runyon

Gadgets, libations, installations and even a documentary are proving that renewable energy entrepreneurs are working hard to make our lives better in every way possible.

As chief editor of, I read and hear about a ton of developments in the renewable energy industry.  I would guess that our newsroom receives in the neighborhood of one thousand press releases each month. Our small team of editors does its best to cover as many pieces of great news as we can, but alas, we can’t get to them all.

Every once in while, however, I end up with a handful of small, interesting news tidbits that I’d like to share with you, our readers, because I think that like me, you’ll find them pretty cool.  So without further ado, here’s are this month’s Top 5 Cool Things in Renewable Energy that I’ve heard about lately.

Read the entire blog here.

Lead image: Speech bubbles via Shutterstock

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