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October 2006
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On the Road to Recovery…
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 12:45 pm

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously declared Tuesday, October 24th "Oil Addiction Awareness Day". In an effort to spotlight this alarming epidemic, 50 dedicated "doctors and nurses" hit the streets of San Francisco to educate the public about the nasty side effects of oil addiction, which include global warming, poor air quality and a dangerous dependence on foreign energy imports from unstable countries. By voting Yes on Prop 87, our medical experts explained,
we could develop the clean, renewable and domestic fuel sources that would cure so much of what ails this country.

An airplane banner flies the message over the Ferry Plaza. These banners can be seen flying during rush hour traffic all this week.*

Our two head doctors, Adam & JP, prepare the Prop 87 Medical Staff for the task:

San Francisco’s Assessor-Recorder, Phil Ting, gives the crowd a rousing speech:

With prescription pads and a sense of purpose, doctors and nurses take to the streets:


Doctors and nurses stage dozens of interventions on unsuspecting oil addicts:

Also on the scene were plug-in hybrids, electric-powered and biodiesel-powered vehicles — providing a diverse representation of what the future of clean transportation fuels and technologies can look like (if we vote Yes on Prop 87).

Plenty of press was on hand to cover the event, including the local Fox affiliate, KTVU. Ming Pao and Sing Tao, two popular Chinese dailies, both featured the event — to see the clips, click here and here. (My Chinese is a bit rusty, but I’m pretty sure they both say that voting YES on Prop 87 is a no brainer).

Air America’s EcoTalk will air an interview with Adam Browning on Friday between 9pm - 10pm. And we are also happy to report that Univision will be broadcasting an interview on Prop 87 next Tuesday at 6pm. We’ll continue to link to press as it becomes available.

Many thanks to our participating doctors and nurses, as well as to our friends at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Sierra Club SF Group for help organizing and spreading the word. Thanks to Plug-In Bay Area for the plug-in and electric cars.

To view other images from the day’s event, click here. (Thanks to Matt Leonard of RAN for the great documentation!)

–Gwen Rose

This effort was sponsored by our members and the Vote Solar Action Fund.

Vote Solar Action Fund
182 Second Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94105
ph. (415) 874-7435

*Note: This was a carbon-free event. To compensate for the carbon emissions associated with the airplane banners, carbon off-sets were purchased from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
JP does the German solar tour
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 5:27 pm

Vote Solar Friends,
Here is an update of my recent travels to Germany, where I was invited to speak at an international renewable energy conference called RENEXPO ( ). Once I realized my plane and hotel were paid for, who was I to reject an offer to visit the largest solar market in the world?

I started in the ancient city of Augsburg, just outside of Munich, in the heart of Bavaria. My first day there I gave my presentation  to a full audience of interested Germany businesses who are interested in expanding into California to serve the growing demand for solar systems. There was a lot of excitement about SB1 and the California Solar Initiative, as well as some confusion as to how it all works here. In Germany the rebate program is very different. They are simply paid an incentive of ~$0.55/kWh - $0.70/kWh for solar PV production, which provides a healthy return on investment and a strong market demand. So they were very interested to see the interaction between state and federal incentives in California, as well as the fact that utility rates play such an important role in driving the California solar market. I felt that explaining that difference was my role there, so I spent some time trying to clarify the market differences.

After making my presentation I headed out to meet the folks integral to the German solar market and visited some of the world’s largest solar installations. My first meeting was with Albert Edelmann, Board Member with Conergy in charge of international expansion. Conergy is one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world and was started in Hans Ruter’s living room in 1998, and is now a $1B company (yes, Billion, with a B). That’s not bad for 6 years of work. We talked about the California market and other emerging markets in the world that will help bring solar into the mainstream in the not so distant future.

After meeting with Mr. Albert Edelmann I jumped into my rented Audi Turbo Diesel Wagon

and jumped on the autobahn. Germany’s famed highway system. The Turbo Diesels are great cars, I got about 40 miles per gallon for my whole trip, including the times I was cruising along at 207 kmh (that’s just under 140mph in American). As you can see the ride was still pretty smooth, even at that speed!

Not only did the car run great and get me where I needed to at a good clip. I was able to fill it with biodiesel from normal petrol stations, so I could shed my guilt about driving around a country with a great public transit system.

One of the great things about driving around Bavaria was that everywhere I drove there were solar systems on the rooftops. Here is a solar system on a little apartment building.

Another solar system that I liked was this one on top of a beer hall. I only took two shots, because everyone drinking beers started looking at me. I guess it was unusual to see a stranger taking pictures of a solar system.

After driving past the beer house I arrived at one of the largest solar parks in the world. The Solar Park Mulhausen is a single axis tracking system, meaning it follows the sun over an East-West path over the course of the day, increasing production significantly.

This solarpark is around 6.5 MW and was the largest PV installation for a while, until a 12 MW facility was built further north. For reference sake, 6.5MW is about enough electricity to power 6,500 European households. That’s pretty cool stuff.

From this vantage point it was all solar all the time!

After the solar park I jumped back in my trusty wagon and sped north to my next solar destination. The Leipziger Solar park. Leipziger is a dual axis tracker, so it tracks the sun through the day and over the seasons, increasing the output even more.

Seeing these two solar parks was extremely interesting. There are only a couple large installations like this in the US, but they are all over the place in Germany, in addition to the rooftop systems that dot the country side.

The other interesting thing about Germany is that the solar resource is extremely low! In fact, the solar resource in the best parts of Germany is only as good as the solar resource in the worst parts of the US.
And when I say the worst parts, I’m not kidding. Only Northwest Washington and Alaska are comparable to Germany’s solar resource, proving that the limits to solar are not technical, but merely political. If Germany can install 700MW in 2005 surely we can do better in the US (The US installed ~80MW of grid-connected PV in 2005).

Raising the political will for solar energy in the US is our challenge and we plan to win. It was great to spend time in Germany, where solar energy is playing such a major role. I’ve come back raring to go.

Onwards, JP

Better than \’Methadone for the Planet\’
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 6:23 pm

We need ideas for the airplane
banners for our Prop 87 campaign
. C’mon–‘Methadone for the Planet’? Surely you can do better. 30 characters or
less is best, and winning suggestions will receive a Vote Solar T-shirt. Not to mention temporary infamy.


Go to it..