Earth Day 2010: A Platform for Solar Highlights

earth day solar powerToday may be the biggest Earth Day yet. The environmental movement has never been stronger, with powerful politicians and big business gleefully hopping on the green bandwagon. This year there’s a lot of corporate muscle (or at least posturing) being thrown behind Earth Day. The news wires are saturated with this and that announcement of this and that green or renewable development. Despite my slightly cynical tone, there’s a lot for the billions of Earth Day celebrants to smile about this year. Here are some highlights from the world of solar power:

Sunpower celebrates 25th Anniversary and Earth Day by announcing a new manufacturing facility in Silicon Valley. The solar industry leader in solar panel efficiency is partnering with Flextronics to start building solar panels in Milpitas, California sunpower logoThe facility should be finished by the end of the year and will create 100 new jobs and produce 75 megawatts-worth of solar panels annually.

Lawrence University installed its first solar panels today as part of its own Earth Day celebrations. The Appleton, Wisc. university mounted 14 solar panels as a demonstration of its earth-friendly goals. The panels will produce about 3,700 kilowatt-hours of solar electricity annually, enough to power a 60-watt light bulb for seven years. The installation is part of the university’s Green Roots Initiative, a two-year program designed to improve sustainability on campus.

Governor Martin O’Malley plans to triple Maryland solar power. The governor visited a Maryland home today to help its owners complete a home solar power installation, as well as reveal his plan to triple the state’s solar power capacity through new rebates and a new state renewable energy standard…all in the name of Earth Day.

nasa earth day solarDuke Energy selects 10 new sites for solar power installations today. As part of its ongoing program that leases roof space from its customers, the North Carolina utility revealed 10 new locations that will provide enough solar energy to power 525 area homes. When completed, the program that began last October will power 1,300 homes and cost about $50 million. It is part of Duke Energy’s efforts to meet NC’s renewable energy standard requiring utilities to get 12.5% of their energy through renewable sources and energy efficiency.

Germany shows off its solar home of the future. We saw it win last year’s Solar Decathlon and now the “SurPlus Home” is being shown off at its new residence in Goethe Square, Frankfurt as part of Germany’s Earth Day celebrations. It exemplifies Germany’s vision of the solar home of the future. The government has set aside $1.5 billion in incentives to encourage the building of solar homes as Germany strives to meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions 40% by the end of this year.

NASA’s new stunning photos of the sun are now on display at the space organization’s website. These are the first photos culled from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory and are providing scientists with unprecedented views of solar activity. While this is Earth Day, not Sunday, some good shots of the source of life and energy on earth are always worth a look.

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