On the 10th Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon, Another Disaster Being “Seen” for the First Time

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Gulf of Mexico DH oil spill from Aqua satellite, 2 months after blowout. Credit NASA Earth Observatory

You Can’t See the Danger, But it’s There

Today, you’d probably think I’m talking about the coronavirus, and I certainly could be. But apart from that, it has always been that things we can see we tend to believe — much faster, more completely, than if we just hear about something, when we scoff “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

(And true it was with the virus as well. …


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Low-income housing installation in California. Credit: Wharton

This series of articles has documented how solar and renewable energy specifically benefit certain segments of our world and society, such as remote islands, vast populations that remain off-grid, including here in the U.S., and low-income housing… all in the face of the perception that solar energy is something only for the “1%.”

The perception is not accurate. However, a reality, according to a George Washington University study, is that while 49 million households in the United States “earn less than $40,000 of income per year and make up 40% of all U.S. …


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Ivanpah Solar Thermal System, Ivanpah Dry Lake, CA Credit: Lund

It was unthinkable, not long ago.

For those that still can’t quite believe we could move our country, or our world to renewable energy, note that California, our nation’s most populous state and the world’s 6th largest economy… is getting there. Remarkably, resolutely, even ahead of schedule, if you will.

A New Day

On March 11, 2017, the state reached a historic milestone by meeting roughly 50% of its electricity demand with solar power. …


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Solar energy is merrily progressing along the “technology adoption life cycle”, a time-worn model which categorizes the 5 stages of public acceptance and adoption of a new technology. In this model a new technology’s first users are labeled “innovators”, then it gains “early adopters”, proceeding to an “early majority”, then “late majority” and finally… “laggards”!

In certain areas at least, solar may well be entering into the “early majority” phase of acceptance. After all, solar energy is a mature, proven technology that has been with us for decades, but common adaptation of it for residential and commercial electrical use is…


Famously called “one of our nation’s best ideas” by author Wallace Stegner, the National Park Service turned 100 years old on August 25, 2016.

It hasn’t always been easy for our parks, nor will it be in the future. But fight they will to maintain their place, their condition, their majesty… and their all-important position in our lives. To do that, increasingly they are turning to solar power for help.

Birth of a Service, and Struggle

The national park concept actually began in 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, becoming the first country in the world…


U.S. Coal Bankruptcies and Plant Closures Signal a New Renewable Energy Era

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Ever since the industrial revolution hit our shores and began transforming our country, coal has been our power king. Not coincidentally, the industrial revolution is also when we began emitting vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — where it remains for centuries. So we’ve been collecting it ever since, resulting in the health and climate problems we face today.

After coal overtook wood as our chief energy source around 1880, it looked like it would be powering our world forever. Until now.

The Mountaintop Has Crumbled


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Credit: Wylio; Walter; CC-BY

Ready or not, community choice energy may be coming to your town. But don’t worry, this is very much a good thing.

Starting this month, residents and businesses in yet another large “community”- in this case an entire county in California with 20 towns-will be offered the opportunity to individually choose their electricity provider. In so doing, customers will have the ability to get 100% of their grid power from renewable sources.

For the first time, customers have a choice of where all their grid energy comes from.

Community choice energy is not a new concept, but it is gaining…


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Climate skeptics in the U.S. have often cited fast-rising carbon emissions in the developing world — and China and India in particular — as a reason to postpone our own transition to clean energy. By their logic, climate change is a global problem, and if the world’s two other largest emitters aren’t doing their fair share to solve it, why should we? However, in recent years that skeptical narrative has been turned on its head by major clean energy investments and bold new policies in both countries.

Let’s first look at China. This is a country which relies on coal…


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It took forty years to reach one million solar installations in the U.S., but it will only take two more years to reach two million. The solar movement is firmly on its way. Question is, is everyone able to join in?

Residential solar power’s recent success points to many factors: growing environmental and climate concerns; decreasing panel and system costs; increasing electric bills; federal tax credits and state subsidies… all chief among them. These factors were instrumental in moving home solar power from the early adopting fringes toward the mainstream. …


At the Intersolar North America tradeshow in San Francisco last summer, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for renewable energy was by far the most popular exhibit without a booth.

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The topic of whether or not the powerful incentive would be, or should be, allowed to expire cropped up everywhere from keynotes to bars, and it was perhaps the biggest name at the ball.

The reason Intersolar attendees were so consumed with the ITC? Well to almost each and every one of the 18,000 people in attendance at the Moscone convention center, their industry, their jobs, and their climate would probably…

Thad Wharton

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