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Solar to Soar to New Heights

Positive Future #126 (Feature photo – Solar Farm – CCA SA 4.0 International) GreenTech Media just announced that solar installations for 2018 are on track to break records. For the first time the world is projected to install over 100 gigwatts of solar power in 2018 – 104 gigawatts to be exact. A gigawatt is a billion watts. If the power is constant – say with the use of battery storage – 1 gigawatt could power 725,000 homes. So, in theory, 104 gigawatts could power over 75 million homes. The four largest markets for solar power are China, United States, India and Japan. You can read the full story here:…

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Is India Close to Being a Global Energy Leader?

Positive Future #41 (Feature photo –– CCA SA 3.0 Unported) Most of us have never heard of Pavagada, India. It is a modest town of some 28,000 people. On the outskirts of this town the world’s largest solar facility recently opened. At a cost of $2.3 billion dollars, the 2,000 mega-watt facility is the equivalent of two larger nuclear facilities. Under ideal conditions, this facility could theoretically power 1.5 million homes. Not to be outdone, India announced this past week that it is authorizing three new solar projects that will produce 1.2 gigawatts of power. So where is all of this solar interest in India going? India plans to develop…

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Trains – Will They Have a New Renaissance?

Positive Future #33 (Feature photo – Wide bodied rail car of Indian Railways with luxury seats and air conditioning. – CCA SA 3.0 Unported) If one follows the sub-popular news, there can be hints of big events on the horizon. Indian Railways, the India State railroad conglomerate, carries over 8 billion passengers a year. Of their over 11,000 locomotives, over 5,200 are electric. With over 1.3 million employees, the Indian Railways is the 8th largest employer in the world. India just announced it was closing two large coal plants and is in the process of building new solar installations. Indian Railways, is seeking to further electrify its systems, but with…

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Solar Powered Greenhouses

Touch the Soil News #870 (Feature photo Solar Greenhouse – courtesy of Nick Gonzales – University of California, Santa Cruz) The University of California – Santa Cruz – is experimenting with solar powered greenhouses. Estimates are that all of the world’s greenhouses total an area of about 9 million acres. These greenhouses need heating in the winter, lighting, electricity for pumps and more. Being able to make greenhouses energy self-sufficient would represent a huge step forward for humankind. The model that the University is studying uses pink colored coverings to assist in the efficiency of solar cells. They have found that the colored greenhouse covering does not affect 80 percent…

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Will Solar Farms Power the Farms of the Future?

Touch the Soil News #645 (Feature Photo – NASA Earth Observatory) Forty years ago (1977) the cost of solar was $76.67 per watt. Today, its less than 50 cents per watt – 153 times cheaper. Recently, while flying over Eastern China, a NASA satellite took the picture above. What you are looking at is the world’s largest solar farm consisting of approximately 4 million solar panels and covering an area of 10 square miles (6,400 acres). This solar farm has the capacity to generate 850 megawatts – just shy of the standard 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant. This solar farm can power about 140,000 homes. China is the world’s leader…

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Unlimited Energy for Food? It’s Only A Matter of Time

Touch the Soil News #553 It is true, that one of the more exciting arenas to follow these days is the ever-evolving food chain. However, there are exciting times today in the arena of energy – which is intricately tied to food. While most people do not grow their own food, that situation may change. If energy becomes more affordable and sustainable, the world will not only have community gardens, but community greenhouses, and lots of urban agriculture greenhouses in northern climates. While the world is still psychologically hooked to coal and oil, this is all on a path of change. This year, 2016, has been remarkable in terms of…

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Solar Irrigation Pumps

Touch the Soil News #405 (An Editorial by Benjamin Gisin) I remember years ago sitting at a desk and approving agricultural loans for the nation’s 7th largest agricultural bank. One of the largest expenses some farmers faced was the cost of electricity to run water pumps and irrigation pivots. If the farmer was late the previous year in paying power bills, the power company would demand farmers to prepay an season’s pumping costs. The power company would not turn on the pumps until the deposit was made. This was painful, as power costs often ran in excess of $100,000. Recent news from India reveals an astonishing trend – small farmers using…

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