OTTAWA CITIZEN: 'Off-the-grid' solar cabin builder presents $12 innovation in solar power

A local entrepreneur who made global headlines for his off-the-grid home last year is getting ready to unveil his latest unconventional solution in sustainable energy. algonquin College mechanical engineering student Joseph Dupuis was thrust into the spotlight last spring when the story of his solar-powered cabin made from shipping containers went viral.

This time around, Dupuis has assembled a team of students and built a prototype of what he said may be an innovation in solar technology: a solar tracking device that costs less to make than traditional solar power systems.

He was to present a working prototype at Algonquin’s Applied Research Day on Friday.

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KQED SCIENCE: Too Much Solar in California? Not If You Bottle It

The cost of solar power has plummeted in recent years, which has led to a renewable energy boom in California. But there’s a big hang-up: solar energy doesn’t provide a 24-hour supply. When the sun sets, the power from solar farms drops off, just as California needs it most.

That’s sparked new interest in technology that stores electricity. And the energy storage technology race is going far beyond your typical battery.

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MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: Watching SunEdison’s Collapse, Solar Industry Resets

Saddled with more than $11 billion in debt and facing at least one investigation by federal officials plus a lawsuit from its own subsidiary, solar giant SunEdison is lurching toward bankruptcy.

The shares of other leading solar providers, including SolarCity and Sunrun, have lost more than half their value in the last four months as investors lose confidence in the no-money-down, 20-year-lease model that has fueled the explosive growth of the rooftop solar market in the last few years.

Even though Congress has extended the investment tax credit, which provides credits worth 30 percent of the value of installations, that growth is expected to slow as the developers focus on improving their balance sheets rather than fueling breakneck expansion.

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FORTUNE: The Other Side of the Solar Firestorm in Nevada

Earlier this year, celebrity actor Mark Ruffalo riled up a crowd of hundreds of protestors outside of an office building in sunny Las Vegas by shouting “let’s make life uncomfortable for them. . . because they’re wrong!” The “them” who Ruffalo was referring to included Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission and its chairman, Paul Thomsen, who joined the energy regulator in October.

The issue that raised the protesters’ ire was a rate hike for Nevada’s solar customers that went into effect at the beginning of this year. Thousands of people who bought solar panels assuming they’d have to pay certain fees and earn a certain rate for the solar they produced are now getting a less attractive deal. The rate change has made the rooftop solar industry, Nevada’s solar customers, and high profile protestors like Ruffalo furious.

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Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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