Sunday, February 17, 2008

Solar Futures Bright, Full Sails for Wind-Power

(wow, even I cringe after reading that headline...sorry but I couldn't resist)

According to Forbes this week, the economic health of these alternate energy sources are very strong. In an article entitled First Solar Flares, Carl Gutierrez describes the soaring stock prices for First Solar, a solar panel manufacturer based in Phoenix. Shares jumped from $47.67 to $223.23 in one afternoon of trading after the company announced a fourth quarter increase in earnings of 686.3%. This is all due to reduced costs of manufacturing and increased volume of sales. Increases like this are being seen across the solar industry, and it has strongly encouraged investor confidence in the sector. Since it seems that we're always hearing economic weakness is the largest barrier to wide use of solar technologies, it appears as though this is exactly what the sector was needing . Economical solar panels are huge, and apparently they have arrived.

In another article also on Forbes' website entitled Deepwater Wind , a Norwegian turbine inventor has designed a new kind of turbine specifically for use in the deep waters of the North Sea. The proposed turbine design borrows strongly from the off-shore rigs that inhabit those rough waters now, and will ultimately be joined in fields generating up to 300 MW. Although some speculate off-shore wind farms are more expensive, they avoid the NIMBY and eye-sore complaints entirely. When all costs are considered, it is estimated energy will run about $0.09/kWh when generated from these off-shore farms. Although this plan is still in the works, Denmark already uses off-shore farms, and Italy is experimenting with rigs in the Mediterranean. Deepwater farms will get around the aesthetic concerns that seem to stymie their development in America. We need to get beyond worrying about views, and embrace technologies that will get us away from fossil fuels.

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