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Archive for February 3rd, 2009

coverI’m embarrassed.

Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current beat me to covering my own press conference.  And he did a way better job than I ever could have done.

The only explanation is that Greg Harman is Superman.  Or, that I am one very busy media coordinator who needs to re-align her priorities (from now on, the internet wins!).

I’m so ashamed, it doesn’t even seem worth it to write anything myself.

Save me the effort, and go to his post at the San Antonio Current Queblog.  Read about how within the span of two weeks, SA’s CPS Energy pledged to transition to a decentralized power model (ie, energy created on site rather than at a power plant).  Learn how last Thursday, Mayor Hardberger unveiled his visionary Mission Verde Plan to make San Antonio a truly sustainable city.  Proceed to Harman’s excitement over the sea change at the Legislature, such that fully 15 solar bills have been filed this session.

And then check out his fantastic video, photos, and audio clips.  It almost feels like you were there!  Watch our very own David Power, solar advocate, announce how the solar industry can provide Texas’ next big job boom!  Smile as Bill Sinkin and his bow tie refer to solar energy as a full grown child no longer in need of coddling, but still looking for our support.  And listen to County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson trumpet that Texas has reached a critical mass and perfect storm for extensive solar power in the state of Texas to finally become a reality.

Hey hey, looks like I can steal his video from youtube.  I LOVE THE INTERNET.

You should still go to his post though, because it is wicked awesome and I can’t steal his audio clips.  Or rather, don’t know how.

Also check out the San Antonio Express-New’s coverage: Nonprofits say boosting solar capability in Texas could create jobs. We don’t “say” so, we know so.

Ten “cool” points if you caught the Real Ultimate Power reference.  And by cool, I mean totally sweet.

Check out our official press release after the jump. (more…)

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pearl-breweryWe held a press conference yesterday in San Antonio at the Pearl Brewery, which is currently being renovated and, upon its completion, will have the largest solar array panel in the state of Texas.  Installed by Austin’s own Meridian Solar, the new system is expected to generate 25% of the energy needs for the new building, which will hold condos, an Aveda hair salon, and an art gallery.

San Antonio is not the first to take on a solar power “experiment” — Houston turned a parking lot into an eco-park that has topped all of its park buildings with solar paneling, and is attempting pull all of its energy usage from solar panels.

With all the advancements of the solar industry, it is a wonder why everyone isn’t just as excited about all the possibilities solar energy systems can offer.

Our past concerns about the reliability of solar energy—“But what will we do if it’s raining?”—now seem archaic.  Over the past decade leading companies have been making sweeping advancements, and now solar technology is more reliable, affordable, and efficient than ever.

pv-solar-panels1What we have developed now is far from the sea of reflective solar panels in that unforgettable scene from Gattaca. New technology consists of a flexible sheet-like material that can simply be laid on top of already existing structures, such as the roofs of buildings. This particular type of solar technology is a branch of material called Photovoltaics (“PV”) that was actually first used to power satellites back in the 1950’s.   The thin-film PV works the same way to convert energy derived from light into electricity, is only a few millionths of a meter thick, and now can be readily and easily installed onto almost any building.

A more familiar type of PV is silicon-based, which can also be made into flexible rolls that can top any surface.  And as technology keeps getting better, the production costs keep on dropping.  It is now even possible for solar conductors to be constructed directly into building materials, called Building Integrated Solar.   Consider this: Thin-Film PV could cover all eastern and western facing windows, or on your car windshield, providing clean, beautiful energy with no visible interference.

In response to “rainy day concerns,” our new solar report, Texas Solar Roadmap, demonstrates that it isn’t as big of a concern as we think.  (more…)

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We have known for a long time that CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean.  This is actually a very, very good thing, or else we’d have warmed at least 5 or 6 times as much as we have.

The problem is basic chemistry.  When you add CO2 to a water solution (or a salt water solution), you create carbonic acid. Though a weak acid, increased carbonic acid has already affected the ability of coral to reproduce and lowered the ocean’s pH by .1 points.  Under a business as usual strategy, this could increase to .4 or .5.  While this may not sound like much, that’s about the same as going from fresh water to the pH of soda.  Anyone remember the elementary school science fair project where you dissolved a tooth or a penny in Coca-Cola?

And now scientists have found that increased acidity harms other forms of marine life, specifically, THE CLOWNFISH.  A report from the National Academy of Sciences has shown that acid levels disrupt the clownfish’s olfactory sense (smell) which could leave them lost at sea.  Nemo!!  No!!!!

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Texas faces the possibility of real reform on how we draw our districts next time around, hopefully preventing the repeat of the debacle from last time around when a partisan agenda prompted a walkout by members of the Legislature. So, while doing some research about redistricting reform this morning I stumbled upon a “gem” of a “video game.”

Get Your Gerrymander On!

Get Your Gerrymander On!

In Redistricting: The Game, you’re taken through the pitfalls of partisan gerrymandering.  You get to draw your own districts,  put voters in districts based on whether they’re Republican, Democrat, White, Black, Hispanic, etc, bribe people– you know, just like the real process.

It’s not really that spectacular in terms of graphics, gameplay, etc, but it gives you a fair amount of idea what it would be like to have the power to draw the lines for your own purposes.

Play it online (no download required) at http://www.redistrictinggame.org/

Enjoy, and be sure to comment below on how you think redistricting  should be approached.

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