News / Economy

Solar Power Makes Gains in US

Solar Power Makes Gains in USi
X
Jim Randle
July 02, 2014 10:23 PM
Two universities in Washington, D.C., plan to soon start buying half of their electricity from solar-power farms 400 kilometers away. The schools expect the project will save millions of dollars during the next couple of decades and make the universities more attractive to environmentally-conscious students. Experts told VOA’s Jim Randle the project shows how this once-exotic power source is becoming a routine part of business.

Two universities in Washington, D.C., soon plan to start buying half of their electricity from solar-power farms 400 kilometers away. The schools expect the project will save millions of dollars during the next couple of decades and make the universities more attractive to environmentally-conscious students.

Experts say the project shows how this once-exotic power source is becoming a routine part of business.

Solar panels cover the roof of this and other buildings at American University, creating electricity that is a fraction of the power needed by the campus.

Solar power farms

AU, George Washington University, and George Washington University Hospital are going a big step further in a deal with Duke Energy Renewables, a division of a large power company.

Duke will build three new solar power farms, similar to these facilities, in distant North Carolina and put the power into the electric grid.

The schools in Washington will draw electricity from the grid and pay Duke for the power at a fixed rate for the next 20 years.

Chief Financial Officer of American University Doug Kudravetz said the green solar power deal will look better and better over time.

"Over the next 20 years, we are confident that [the price of] brown power can only go in one direction [higher cost], saving quite a bit of money over that period of time," said Kudravetz.

American University’s director of sustainability, Chris O’Brien, said using renewable energy instead of “brown power,” traditional oil, coal, or gas-fueled electricity, will reduce the environmental impact of campus activities.

“It is the right thing for social equity because some of the worst impacts of climate change are borne by the poor. So to the degree we can convert to renewable reduces the impact on people who live in poverty," said O'Brien.

Growing power source

There are a growing number of solar facilities around the world. Duke Energy Renewables' new units will have nearly a quarter of a million solar panels, and it will generate 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The switch away from fossil fuel will have the same environmental benefit as getting 12,500 cars off the road.

Rhone Resch, the head of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said, “This is an innovative, new type of business model for solar. It shows that you can go solar, no matter if you have roof space, or if you are entering into a contract with a developer. I think this is the future of solar energy, and we are seeing it today.”

Resch said solar is growing fast, but he admitted that it provides just a small fraction of the electricity needed to run the world’s biggest economy. He said falling prices for equipment and innovations in financing now are doing as much as technical developments to spread solar energy.

In the meantime, students at American University take advantage of a solar water heater on the roof of a campus building that pre-heats water for coffee and saves energy in a shop several floors below.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.