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23 Nov 13. mdsolar sends this quote from an article about the politics of solar energy: “Clean energy technology has always been an easy punching bag for conservatives. Propelled by growing strain of global warming denial within their party, Republicans in Congress have proposed to slash funding for renewable energy programs in half this year, and mocked the idea of a green economy as “groovy” liberal propaganda. Their argument, as laid out by House Republicans and libertarian organs like the Cato Institute and Reason magazine, is that the federal government shouldn’t ‘pick winners and losers’ in the energy markets or gamble taxpayer dollars on renewable-energy loans to companies like Solyndra, the Silicon Valley solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving $535 million in federal loan guarantees. The assumption has always been that, without heavy government subsidies, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power would never be able to compete with fossil fuels. But something funny has happened to renewables that major power companies and their Republican allies didn’t see coming. Over the past two years, the solar industry has skyrocketed, with one new solar unit installed every four minutes in the US, according to the renewable energy research group Greentech Media. The price of photovoltaic panels has fallen 62 percent since January 2011. Once considered a boutique energy source, solar power has become a cost-competitive alternative for many consumers, costing an average $143 per megawatt-hour, down from $236 in the beginning of 2011. Backed by powerful conservative groups, public utilities in several states are now pushing to curb the solar industry, and asking regulators to raise fees and impose new restrictions on solar customers. And as more people turn to rooftop solar as a way to reduce energy costs—90,000 businesses and homeowners installed panels last year, up 46 percent from 2011—the issue is pitting pro-utilities Republicans against this fledgling movement of libertarian-minded activists who see independent power generation as an individual right. In other words, the fight over solar power is raging within the GOP itself.” (Source: Slashdot.com)
21 Nov 13. DRS Technologies, Inc., a Finmeccanica Company, announced that its On-Board Vehicle Power system, a high-powered DRS/Allison Transmission Integral Generator installed on combat vehicles, will be included in the U.S. Army’s critical field testing for network technology. The On-Board Vehicle Power (OBVP) system generates power to operate a host of command, control, communications, computers and other sensors on battlefield vehicles by transforming the vehicle’s powertrain into an electrical power plant and reducing the reliance on heavy generators to power numerous electrical systems. “All fielded C4ISR equipment needs power, from soldier radios to brigade servers. The constant access to power is vital to maintain connectivity, ” said Mike Sarrica, president of DRS Network and Imaging Systems group. “The DRS and Allison OBVP offering demonstrates multiple proven technologies that deliver improved capabilities to meet the requirements of Army Network and Mission Command modernization efforts,” he continued. The field testing at the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation is designed to keep pace with rapid advances in communications technologies and deliver proven and integrated network capabilities to soldiers. In addition to the usual network and communication systems that are typically put to the test in this bi-annual assessment, DRS’s OBVP system will be employed and evaluated on two separate, DRS-sponsored concep