Scientific American: Solar Power Faces Uncertain Future in the U.S.

In the U.S., a new solar project was installed every three minutes in 2014, and jobs in the solar industry rose from 15,000 employees in 2005 to nearly 174,000 today. This substantial growth is in large part thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005’s 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for commercial and residential solar energy systems.

In 2007, after only one year of implementation, the ITC led to the doubling of installed solar electric capacity. In 2008, Congress passed an eight-year extension of the ITC, allowing solar to become the fastest growing energy source in the U.S. Solar has also become much more affordable: The average installed cost per watt has dropped from around $7.50 in 2009 to $2.89 in 2013.

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Greentech Media: Is There Still a Role for Oil Companies in Renewables?

Over the last two decades, the large Western international oil and gas companies, or IOCs — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total — have largely followed a common path with regard to renewable energy sources, albeit with variations in the pace and extent of their engagement. Specifically, initial moves into a wide range of technologies have been followed by a general withdrawal from many renewable positions.

As of early 2015, the IOCs’ activities in renewables are mainly limited to biofuels. This pattern of engagement and then partial disengagement has been driven by a number of different factors, most of which are, unsurprisingly, rooted more in these companies’ core oil and gas activities than in external developments in renewables.

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NPR: Nicaragua’s Renewable Energy Revolution Picks Up Steam

Nicaragua produces no oil, but is a land of fierce winds, tropical sun and rumbling volcanoes. In other words, it’s a renewable energy paradise — and today the Central American nation is moving quickly to become a green energy powerhouse. Within a few years the vast majority of Nicaragua’s electricity will come from hydroelectric dams, geothermal plants and wind farms.

Nicaragua’s largest wind farm lies on the shores of giant Lake Nicaragua, which stretches halfway across the country. Javier Pentzke, manager of the Amayo wind farm, says the region is one of the top places in the world for wind energy. “You have all the opening here from the lake all the way to the Caribbean, so it’s like a tunnel,” he says. “And it’s very steady. It’s not too gusty.”

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Think Progress: A major eclipse hits Europe this month — and it’s a big test for solar power

Investing in solar energy through a retirement account just got easier, thanks to a new initiative. Major solar provider SolarCity announced Monday that it was partnering with securities and investment firm Incapital to allow Americans to invest in Solar Bonds through their IRAs or financial advisers.

Solar Bonds, which were created by SolarCity in 2014, are a way for Americans to invest in solar through a bond structure, rather than buying stock in a company. Bonds are similar to a loan made to a company which is paid back to the investor, with interest, over time, and are typically considered less risky than stocks. Before SolarCity’s new partnership, people interested in purchasing Solar Bonds had to go through SolarCity; now, they can do it through through the financial company that manages their retirement account. The bonds start at $1,000 and have maturities of up to 15 years and annual interest as high as 5.45 percent.

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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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