Monday, March 25, 2013

SOLAR SHINGLES: copper and zinc VS. indium and gallium

e360 digest

COMMON METALS OFFER CHEAPER ENERGY OPTIONU.S. scientists say that emerging photovoltaic technologies will enable the production of solar shingles made from abundantly available elementsrather than rare-earth metals, an innovation that would make
The Consumption Conundrum: Driving the Destruction Abroad
High-tech products increasingly make use of rare metals, and mining those resources can have devastating environmental consequences. But two experts look at the consequences of blocking projects like the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska.
solar energy cheaper and more sustainable. Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, a team of researchers described advances in solar cells made with abundant metals, such as copper and zinc. While the market already offers solar shingles that convert the sun’s energy into electricity, producers typically must use elements that are scarce and expensive, such as indium and gallium. According to Harry A. Atwater, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, recent tests suggest that materials like zinc phosphide and copper oxide could be capable of producing electricity at prices competitive with coal-fired power plants within two decades. With China accounting for more than 90 percent of the world’s rare-earth supplies — and prices rising sharply — companies and nations are racing to find new sources of rare earth minerals, which are used in everything from solar panels to smart phones.

U.S. Military prepares for consequences of global climate change

U.S. Military now admits that global warming is the most serious threat to our national security over the next 50 years. From the Boston Globe.
“[Climate change] is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about,’’ Admiral Locklear told the Boston Globe“We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations,” he said. “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’
 The effects of wasting our non-renewable fossil fuels and dumping the carbon into the atmosphere are many, but combined they will cause such unrest that even the most powerful nation in the world takes note. The end of fuel is only one problem for the war machine, after all it is difficult to fly jets on solar cells, but with weather change you create uncertainties in the global food supply, changes in global sea level that will displace low lying populations like New Orleans, ocean acidification that will disrupt species and further undermine food sources, and of course political potential for war and its ripple effects in a time of WMD.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Crowdsource Funding Fundamentally Changes the Game

One of the most important and exciting developments in the last year was the 2012 JOBS Act, which sets up clearing houses for a new type of business funding called CROWDFUNDING. This is a break from the historic public stock market, in which investors had to be "Qualified" to buy principle shares in a private corporation. SEC rules limit investors in most corporations to friends and family plus wealthy investors who self-qualify with large personal incomes and assets that make them virtually indestructible financially. 

The purpose of these regulations was theoretically to protect small investors from the common kinds of stock investment scams that many of our capitalist Wall Street types are well schooled. Ponzi Schemes look innocent compared to the kind of 'business investments' that can fool the novice investor, if such laws were not in place. However, the effect of these strict SEC accredited investor qualifications was to lock the average person out of the most lucrative capital markets. Making it impossible for the poor to benefit from our ever growing capitalist economy by investing in start-up companies. 
The Rocky Mountain Institue now informs us about the next alterative, an exciting crowd-sourced funding plan, an example of which is a little company called Mosaic. Our future is bright, if you are smart.
From Forbes to FortuneBloomberg to the Wall Street Journal, a young company named Mosaic has been getting a lot of attention of late. Why? Because Mosaic is bringing crowd-sourced funding to the world of solar PV.
Crowdfunding is nothing new. Companies such as Kickstarter have allowed individuals to fund everything from their next indie film to extensive out of pocket medical bills with pooled donations from family, friends, and other supporters. But thanks to last year’s JOBS Act, debt-based crowdfunding is now an option as well, in which investors come together to fund startups and small businesses in return for repayment plus interest from a company like Mosaic.
It’s inclusive, meaning that investors of all shapes and sizes can get into the game. And it currently makes for a good, low-risk investment. Mosaic—with more than $1.1 million invested in solar projects to date—boasts 4.5–6.5% risk-adjusted annual returns, besting the latest interest rates on 30-year Treasury bonds.  READ MORE ...

Saturday, March 2, 2013


A Fierce Green Fire - Film Screening


At the Landmark Ken Cinema
Friday, March 29th, 2013