Hawaii’s Volta Industries opens Mainland headquarters in San Francisco

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: bizjournals.com – excerpt

Volta Industries recently opened a new office in San Francisco, which will serve as the Honolulu-based electric vehicle charging station firm’s Mainland headquarters.

The office is located at 144 King St. in the heart of the SoMa district, across from AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play. It includes 10 full-time employees inside a 4,000-square-feet of office and workshop space with an EV charging station in the parking lot to allow employees and guests to charge their vehicles…

Volta, which operates one of the largest networks of free-to-use EV charging stations across the nation with 50 stations in California, Arizona and Hawaii, has no physical office in Hawaii with a warehouse in Aiea where it handles manufacturing…(more)

Meet the Kickstarter of Solar Energy

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By

Mosaic is trying to radically change solar—by bringing it to everyone.

…In the past few decades, the price of solar panels has plummeted. As the technology becomes more affordable, a variety of pathways have opened up for residential and commercial development, ranging from leasing to bank-financed loans. But despite an array of financing options, mid-sized projects—such as the installation of photovoltaic panels on a community center or a school—often face problems raising money to get off the ground.

That’s where Mosaic comes in.

Mosaic is an online platform that uses crowdfunding to finance investments in solar projects. It works similar to Kickstarter, with individuals posting project ideas to a central, online hub and soliciting incremental donations to fund them… (more)

400 Alabama may seek building height increase.

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Looks like our neighbors at 400 – 440 Alabama anticipate a potential height increase.
We had no notice. Neither did any of the other neighbors we talked to.
We see no building permit. For details on this project see:
http://ec2-50-17-237-182.compute-1.amazonaws.com/PIM/
CEQA Cat Ex Determinationj dated 8/28-2013 was granted:
CatEx/BuildingPermit/201308094015.pdf

400 Alabama

A single site with all a lot of the city projects on it:
http://www.socketsite.com/archives/as_proposed/

San Francisco could explore possibility of mandating solar systems on developments

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 by Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

After two smaller California cities mandated that new developments install solar-energy systems, San Francisco officials are beginning to discuss a similar requirement.
The effort could build on The City’s 2008 Green Building Ordinance and also advance the goal of ensuring 100 percent of San Francisco’s electricity needs come from renewable sources.
“I think that requiring solar panels on new development is a great way to help green our city and create more good-paying clean-energy jobs for San Franciscans,” said Joshua Arce, chairman of the Commission on the Environment.
At an upcoming meeting, Arce intends to ask the commission, which sets policy direction for the Board of Supervisors, to recommend The City adopt a solar installation mandate.
Reserving judgment, board President David Chiu called it an “intriguing idea” and welcomed the conversation to determine if it was something that made sense for The City… (more)

Great idea, but solar installations need a lot of sun to produce enough power to make the system viable. The Plan Bay Area’s highrise stack and pack dense housing projects, will overshadow the solar panels on the rooftops unless someone in Sacramento puts together legislation to protect them. The sunny Eastern neighborhoods are the perfect place to generate solar power. But, only if you limit the building height to 4 or 5 stories . Anything higher can’t produce enough energy to supply the needs of the residents. Tell the supervisors and state legislators that you want to protect the sun on your roof so you can take advantage of all the new government deals on solar. Contact SF Supervisors

Investor Buys Industrial In Gentrifying Mission District

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By Sharon Simonson : theregistrysf.com – excerpt

A joint venture of San Francisco’s Swire Properties and Friedkin Investment Co. has acquired 400 Alabama St. in San Francisco’s Eastern Neighborhoods district, paying $8.1 million, or $158 a foot, according to CBRE Group Inc.

The seller was Elliott & Lucca Properties LLC. Elliott Lucca is a handbag and accessory maker. The brand is one of three owned by The Sak Brand Group.

The 51,270-square-foot office and warehouse building is the West Coast headquarters for The Sak Brand, which has agreed to lease the building from the new owners until the middle of next year as Sak transitions to a new location outside the city.

Sak is a 24-year-old handbag and accessory maker that sells its goods nationally and internationally primarily via department and specialty stores.

Steve Swire of Swire Properties said he is delighted with the location and the building itself, which…

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Corporate America has a Flare for Solar Industry Investment

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By Brad Copithorne : edf.org – excerpt

A few weeks ago, American Honda announced an innovative financing partnership with Solar City, a major solar installer. (Full disclosure: My wife works for Solar City).  Under the terms of the deal, the carmaker will use $65 million its own money to pay for its customers and dealers to install solar panels on their properties and reduce their future electric bills.

The money involved is not a big deal in terms of corporate finance, so why do I think this announcement is a big deal? Because it could, if other companies follow Honda’s lead, be the key to providing the investment dollars the solar industry needs to make rapid inroads throughout the country.

What’s holding up the solar industry?

…  (more)

Antifreeze, Cheap Materials May Lead to Low-Cost Solar Energy

sciencedaily – excerpt

July 4, 2013 — A process combining some comparatively cheap materials and the same antifreeze that keeps an automobile radiator from freezing in cold weather may be the key to making solar cells that cost less and avoid toxic compounds, while further expanding the use of solar energy.

And when perfected, this approach might also cook up the solar cells in a microwave oven similar to the one in most kitchens.

Engineers at Oregon State University have determined that ethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze products, can be a low-cost solvent that functions well in a “continuous flow” reactor — an approach to making thin-film solar cells that is easily scaled up for mass production at industrial levels.

The research, just published in Material Letters, a professional journal, also concluded this approach will work with CZTS, or copper zinc tin sulfide, a compound of significant interest for solar cells due to its excellent optical properties and the fact these materials are cheap and environmentally benign… (more)

Coverage of Obama’s Climate Speech ignored by media

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By Annie-Rose Strasser : thinkprogress – excerpt

On Tuesday, President Obama rolled out a plan to cap carbon emissions at existing power plants, improve efficiency standards on automobiles, double the amount of electricity produced with renewables, and lead a global movement to address climate change. But the media virtually ignored it.

All of the three major news networks spent mere minutes on the speech — which ran in total 49 minutes… (more)

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The shift from the centralized utility model is forcing utilities—for the first time in their existence—to figure out how to compete.

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Haresh Patel: June 17, 2013

For years we’ve likened the energy sector to the computing world, holding up Moore’s law as a guiding example proving that renewables will achieve grid parity.

Today, as panel costs have dropped 90 percent and adoption is at an all-time high, the analogy between the two seems even more fitting. Just like the massive mainframe disruption spawned by personal computing, distributed generation has already begun to challenge the centralized solar model favored by utilities, with no end in sight.

At an industry level, the evidence of a new distributed era is all around us. Fuel cells like Bloom Energy’s are enabling the C&I transformation to self-made energy. Combined natural gas power plants are on the rise, and microgrids are popping up in states across the nation.

The change may feel sudden, but for most of us, it’s been a long time coming. 2009 marked the beginning of utility-scale’s heyday. Investors interested in deploying capital looked at smaller 1-megawatt to 3-megawatt projects and realized that utility-scale solar had the same diligence cost. Investors promptly abandoned the C&I segment in favor of big projects. Though a good decision at the time, the situation has changed. The number of utility projects have dwindled and the shift from the centralized utility model has taken root and is forcing utilities — for the first time in their existence — to figure out how to compete… (more)

SunPower and Solar Impulse join forces

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SunPower has been chosen to supply its photovoltaic cells to Solar Impulse’s new solar airplane, HB-SIB, which will attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 2014
Around 22,000 cells will be used in Solar Impulse’s second solar airplane. They are expected to power the electrical engines; excess solar energy will then be stored in lithium batteries for night flying. SunPower says its product was chosen due to both the high efficiency of its cells, 22.7 percent, and their 135 micron thickness.
“SunPower’s solar cells are optimum for this project, as they offer the performance and low-weight that is needed for our revolutionary solar airplanes,” said Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO.
This is the second time that SunPower has supplied its cells to Solar Impulse. The company was also involved in the first solar airplane project, which saw a  world record broken in 2010 when it succeeded in flying for 26 consecutive hours powered only by solar energy… (more)