This isn’t about a brand new movement — it’s about all of our movements coming together," explains Naomi Klein, author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.” Click here to watch her 3-part extended interview on Democracy Now! today.

Burlington, Vt., just became the first city to go completely renewable 

With electricity prices rising across the country at the fastest pace in years, the city of Burlington, Vt., looks well-prepared for the future.

On Monday, the largest city in Vermont announced that it now has 100% renewable energy — from biomass, wind, hydro — to meet the needs of its 42,000 residents.

It actually makes economic sense

The Top 10 Solar States

Environment America published a report documenting its findings of how solar is growing as a source of power. “Solar electric power tripled in the U.S. between 2011 and 2013 and ten states are responsible for 87% percent of that growth,” Environment America reports.

Arizona is the clear winner, producing  275 watts per person. But recent changes to the law regarding net-metering are making it harder for home-owners to choose solar. Vote Solar and other organizations are opposing this change; keep up with them here.

Close runners-up are Hawaii, Nevada, and California. There were also several smaller states on the list, including New Jersey, Delaware, and Massachusetts.

This month we’ve seen the organization of a great national event series, we’ve learned more about solar power and we’ve dished out advice on renewable energy! Read more HERE!

The 42,000 people living in Burlington, Vermont can now feel confident that when they turn on their TVs or power up their computers they are using renewable energy. With the purchase of the 7.4 megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project earlier this month, the Burlington Electric Department now owns or contracts renewable sources — including wind, hydro, and biomass — equivalent to the city’s needs.

“We’re now in a position where we’re supplying Burlington residents with sources that are renewable,”said Ken Nolan, manager of power resources for Burlington Electric Department, earlier this month. “The prices are not tied to fossil fuels — they’re stable prices — and they provide us with the flexibility, from an environmental standpoint, to really react to any regulation or changes to environmental standards that come in the future.”

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They touch on something that most forget when thinking about renewable energy v. fossil fuels, volatility of cost. 

Renewable energy has zero fluctuations in price. There is no money used for fuel to create electricity, therefore there are no fluctuations in energy costs. Fossil Fuels, on the other hand, must be purchased at market value, which means that the cost to produce electricity can change. This leads to changes in the cost to consumers.

And when was the last time you have seen the cost of fossil fuels go down over the long term? 

Wouldn’t you rather have the cost of electricity to be constant rather than a continued escalation of prices?

-The Liberal Tony 


The radical plan to develop solar-powered roads just fundraised $1.3M

Solar roadways, created by Scott and Julie Brushaw, may be the answer to America’s out-of-date pavement. The Brushaws launched a viral Indiegogo campaign to revamp our roads by replacing the nation’s asphalt with glass hexagons embedded with solar panels. The panels were capable of generating 14 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, more than three times what the nation uses each year. And with five days to go until the campaign ends, the Brushaws have surpassed their funding goal and raised more than $1.3 million thus far. 

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More Solarpunk inspiration images!! To recap: some of the defining features of how I imagine solarpunk are: Art Nouveau + other old styles of architecture and fashion, stained-glass solar panels, sustainable-energy-powered tech, lots of inner-city gardening, and lots of streetcars. 

Okay, on to image credits:
1: Kingsbury, from Ghibli’s How’l Moving Castle
2: Stained glass dome, photo by Jyoti Srivastava
3: A streetcar running in Portland
4: Photo taken by John Meckley 
5: Cityscape by Imperial Boy
6: Image by me, traced over image by Alphonse Mucha
7: GaiaOnline avatars made using
8: Art by Owen Carson

I really wish I could draw my own cityscapes, but alas, I am no artist. Instead I have to comb the internet, searching for “close enough.”

Maybe someday I’ll have the disposable income to commission artists to draw pieces that are intentionally solarpunk….. Someday….


One of the only two existing solar furnaces in the world completed in Uzbekistan in 1987 and showcased in Архитектура СССР (Architecture USSR), Issue 3-4, 1988. The grainy photos of the furnace in the landscape make it seem like an etching of an ancient temple, an image heightened by Helios in his chariot, seen in the section drawing.

(Some modern day photos and info at English Russia.)

Half of Germany Is Now Powered by Solar Energy

Continuing its unrelenting march toward a renewable-powered future, Germany now can produce more than half of its energy from solar. The official word of this milestone comes from the Fraunhofer ISE research institute, which showed that the country produced a record 24.24 GW of solar energy during the first week of June. Thanks to better weather in Germany compared to last year, the production of solar power has increased 34 percent in the first part of 2014. 

Germany’s expansion of solar energy hasn’t come from enormous farms of solar panels, but rather citizens installing photovoltaics onto their own homes. More than 90 percent of solar panels installed in Germany are on homeowner’s roofs. 

It’s not all sunshine, though. Despite this record, Bloomberg reports that the world’s biggest solar market might install the least new capacity that it has since 2008, partially because of shrinking solar subsidies. So growth continues, but slowly. 

Wondering how the U.S. compares? We currently get 0.2 percent of our energy from solar. Italy is in second place behind the Germans. 

Via The Local. 

In February, the Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System opened over a 3,500-acre stretch of the Mojave Desert. The solar thermal farm operates at 392 megawatts—just under 1 percent of California’s total energy production, or enough to power 140,000 homes.

The Ivanpah solar farm eliminates 450,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 88,000 cars off the road.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Popular Science.

Watch on


Solar Roadways have raised over a quarter of a million dollars on IndieGoGo…which is awesome…but they just need the other three quarters now.

Go, give them money, invest in the future.

16 Groups to Host Solar Parties, Unveil Technologies and #PutSolarOnIt During National Day of Action

Solar house parties, church celebrations, solar workshops and more will combine to make June 21 a very big day. It’s the longest day of the year, the first day of summer and the day when 16 organizations will encourage the world to #PutSolarOnIt.


Solar panels, paired with batteries to enable power at night, can produce several orders of magnitude more electricity than is consumed by the entirety of human civilization. … Even if the solar industry were only to generate 40% of the world’s electricity with photovoltaics by 2040, that would mean installing more than 400 GW of solar capacity per year for the next 25 years. We absolutely believe that solar power can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes, but there are obviously a lot of panels that have to be manufactured and installed in order for that to happen.
Squeezing Liquid Fuel From The Sun


by Michael Keller

Earlier this month, we spotlighted promising research that has successfully produced biofuel by feeding electricity to bacteria. If it can scale up, this work would answer several current problems inherent in converting solar energy into fuel, a necessity in a world that runs on powerful vehicle engines that need energy-dense liquids to run.

Figuring out solutions to lowering society’s fossil fuel use could potentially help with global issues from energy insecurity to global warming. Yet contemporary biofuels are rife with their own set of problems. Often biofuel crops compete with acreage for food production and increase pressure to clear forests for cultivation. In the case of commodities like corn, which can be used for fuel feedstock and food, fuel production directly competes with food supplies. 

Meanwhile, plants are highly inefficient at converting sunlight into chemical energy, averaging little more than 3 percent efficiency. And if fertilizers are needed or trees must be cut to grow biofuel crops, then the process wouldn’t be carbon neutral, a requirement to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But electricity-eating bacteria aren’t the only contenders for the next generation of renewable biofuels. There are also a number of projects that are starting to see dividends in taking sunlight and converting it directly into chemical energy.

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Renewable energy is not necessarily free, as it does come with some costs, in terms of money spent for equipment, and other environmental costs. For example, windmills do not operate at 100 percent efficiency, because the windmill structure itself blocks the movement of the wind, and the moving parts are subject to aerodynamic drag and friction. In theory, a windmill can generate up to 59 percent maximum efficiency, which goes down through time due to wear and tear.

And then there’s the turbine noise, which may not be ideal in a residential setting.

A new windmill design loosely based on Archimedes’s screw principle, aims to change this, however. A Dutch startup aptly named The Archimedes has re-worked the concept of the windmill to move away from the traditional concept of using the pressure differential between the front and rear of the device to move the rotors.

The Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine, modeled after a Nautilus shell, measures about 1.5 meters wide and weighs 75 Kg — an ideal size for installation in a residential setting. The turbine is rated to achieve an efficiency “80 percent of the maximum that is theoretically feasible.”

According to the creators, the device is designed to provide enough electricity to power an apartment or small home. “The Liam F1 generates an average of 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy [per year] at a wind-speed of 5 m/s [16.4 ft/s], which resembles half of the power consumption of a common household.” The Liam can even adjust to wind direction, which enables it to maximize power generation even with changing conditions.

The Liam is priced at Eur 3,999 or about US$ 5,450 and will start retailing by July 1st.

These are all the solar panels it would take to power the entire world

It might not look like a lot, but there are some major caveats here. For one, this map seems to assume 100% efficiency. In reality, current solar panel technology is only able to capture around 20% of solar energy, even in the desert. So the 254-by-254 kilometer area in the Sahara Desert that could theoretically absorb enough rays to power the entire world would have to be five times larger. Second, large amounts of electric power are lost over large transmission distances, meaning that a single power plant could never really power the entire planet.

Having said that, this map is still a good illustration of how little space would be needed to power the entire planet. According to May, some 3.49 million square kilometers are available for solar thermal power facilities in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt alone. Worldwide, the potential high-energy solar sites far outstrip any plausible need.

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