Spread a ray of sunshine

1st December 2011 by

In deepest darkest winter, when the nights draw in and our governments head to the UN for more fraught negotiations on the future of the world’s climate and its seven billion people, I search for things that give me hope. Things that crack open the darkness of my annual November pessimism and spread a ray of light.

In the wake of the devastating cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) currently proposed by the coalition government, these solar projects make me happy. They remind me that there is reason for optimism – along with the movement to reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, the alternatives are growing. And boy are they beautiful.

Solar Mosiac

This California-based community crowdfunding project lets people come together to fund solar panel projects. So far, Solar Mosiac members have funded solar power for the Asian Resource Centre in Oakland, California and they’re just getting started. Earlier this month they staged an Occupy Rooftops community solar day where people snapped pictures of rooftops they want to cover in solar panels – how lovely is that?

Solar Schools

Here’s a homegrown example of a crowdfunding platform, dreamed up by our ever-imaginative friends over at 10:10. Of the ten schools piloting the project this year, many are tantalizingly close to reaching their goals – EP Collier School in Reading has raised more than £8,900 of its £10,000 goal, for example. Community members donate anything from £5 upwards to help their local school fund a solar roof, which aside from being a generally warm and fuzzy thing to do, will help school cope with shrinking budgets by massively reducing their utilities bills.

Solar Ivy

For those who want their solar panels to look gorgeous, Solar Ivy does what it says on the tin – the mesh panels mimic the look of ivy growing up the side of a wall. Jumping on the bandwagon so far is the University of Utah, Science World in Vancouver and the Montreal Biosphere.

Solar Power Tower

To the detractors who say solar panels can’t power a city, Spain is fighting back. This avant-garde project in Sanlúcar la Mayor is already up and running. When it’s all completed in 2013, it’s going to power 180,000 homes through a combination of solar heaters, mirror collectors and a steam turbine – generating enough watts to power the nearby city of Seville. So there.

Spray-on solar window film

If we’re going to crack this whole energy security thing, we need multi-tasking homes. A company based in Norway called EnSol has made a super thin spray-on PV coating that will go a long way towards this. You can apply to the spray anything – windows, walls, you name it. It achieves the same efficiency as good old fashioned solar PV cells and it’s completely translucent so you won’t even know it’s there. Or if this sounds too complicated, you could buy windows already treated with PV film.

And if all that isn’t enough to lift your spirits too, I’ll leave you with this final sunny thought.

You’re welcome.

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