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PURE Energies Visits the Amazon Rainforest

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 6:44am

PURE Energies Returns from the Amazon Rainforest Demonstrating that Sustainable Societies are Possible Without a PhD 

KENDJAM, BRAZIL–(Marketwired – December 03, 2014) - PURE Energies visits the extraordinary indigenous tribe protecting one of the world’s largest surviving tracts of tropical rainforest.

A team from PURE Energies, part of the NRG family of companies, went on an expedition to the Brazilian Amazon, where they spent a week with the indigenous Kayapo Tribe in the Kendjam community on the Iriri River. Zbigniew Barwicz, head of PURE Energies, led the team to learn from the Kayapo’s model of sustainability and independence and offer support. Barwicz and the PURE Energies team were motivated to bring the Kayapo success story to the busy homeowners of North America to showcase a pure form of sustainability, wealth and happiness. PURE Energies was the first group to visit the Kayapo people since National Geographic Magazine gained entry two years prior.

“Maintaining the Amazon rainforest is integral to the global landscape; tropical deforestation on a global scale is responsible for almost as much carbon emissions as all of the world’s trucks, cars, ships, trains and planes,” said Barwicz.

Barwicz is a long-time admirer of the Kayapo for their proven ability to protect their land, independence, and sustainable lifestyle, in the face of mounting threats. The Kayapo are exemplary in their efforts to keep their culture and traditions intact, while defending 1,550 miles of border from invasion and encroachment. “I was initially attracted to the Kayapo story because of the size and complexity of their mission. After living alongside them, I’ve realized that there is nothing complex about their lifestyle. They just make it happen,” observed Barwicz.

PURE Energies’ expedition to the Amazon contributes to a broader theme for the company which is interested in social and environmental improvements in remote areas. Barwicz kicked off 2014 with the Climb for DSF, climbing Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres, to raise awareness and funds for the David Suzuki Foundation. Project Kayapo is another addition to PURE Energies’ commitment to exploring remote territories and doing so for a cause. Barwicz suspects that this will not be his last trip to the Brazilian Amazon.

PURE Energies donated $90,000 to the International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC), the first Canadian charity to focus solely on conserving nature in the tropics. The ICFC works directly with the Kayapo tribe to support conservation of Amazon rainforest. The PURE Energies donation will support the purchase of a new 4×4 vehicle, fuel and expedition supplies for territorial monitoring. The team also donated a Goal Zero solar powered lantern to every household in the community: a most welcome technological advancement for the people of Kendjam. The solar powered light sources do not require gasoline or diesel and improve the quality of life at night through practical uses, such as delivering babies to extending hours for socialization and processing the forest products the Kayapo sell. Goal Zero is an affiliate of PURE Energies, and both entities are subsidiaries of NRG Energy, Inc., a leading independent power producer in the United States.

“To be one of the few people invited to live alongside the Kayapo tribe was an honor. Learning their unique way of life was eye-opening. They are an incredible people. They don’t even think about sustainability because they don’t introduce destruction into their land. What they do doesn’t require a PhD, it requires practicality,” said Barwicz. Barbara Zimmerman, Kayapo Program Director, reported, “The fact that a private company is so interested in a remote territory in Brazil is remarkable. PURE Energies isn’t an NGO. They are attempting to balance profit with corporate responsibility; they care and they want to share the story. We look forward to future endeavours.”

PURE Energies Releases Expedition Video
In maintaining the world’s largest protected area of rainforest, the Kayapo also preserve a way of living and joy that must be seen to be believed. PURE Energies will be releasing a video on December 2nd which will summarize their Kayapo mission. The video will reveal a beautiful, rich and remote area of the world, with an up-close view of the proud people who preserve and protect it. See the video now.

The Power to be Free
“One of the qualities that first attracted PURE Energies to NRG Home Solar was their mission and values, which align with our core mission, the Power to be Free,” said Kelcy Pegler, President of NRG Home Solar. “Solar at home is a no-brainer, and thousands of people across the United States are adopting it as a win-win for the environment and their budgets.”

About PURE Energies Group
PURE Energies has developed the most comprehensive online marketplace in residential solar power. Through its proprietary platform, PURE Energies delivers a time-saving, complete analysis of the benefits of solar energy for homeowners. Doing so, PURE Energies has become the trusted advisor in the North American solar energy market. Operating across North America, PURE Energies is headquartered in Toronto. PURE Energies Group has expanded to include San Francisco-based One Block Off the Grid (www.1bog.org), and Seattle-based Cooler Planet (www.coolerplanet.com). PURE Energies Group is part of theNRG Energy, Inc. family. For more information, please visit www.pureenergies.com

About The International Conservation Fund of Canada
The International Conservation Fund of Canada is the first Canadian charity to focus on conserving nature in the tropics. All people no matter where they live benefit from natural ecosystems and the richness of life worldwide. Nature in the tropics, especially rainforests, is under escalating intense threat and conservation action is urgently needed before the planet’s richest ecosystems are lost forever. The ICFC believes the most effective conservation method is to invest in empowerment of local and traditional communities whom live near or in rainforests. The Kayapo Project is a stellar example of this work. Tropical ecosystem conservation addresses many of our greatest challenges: climate change (to which deforestation is a major contributor), biodiversity loss, deteriorating fish stocks and marine ecosystems, flooding, droughts and desertification. For more information please visit:www.icfcanada.org

 CONTACT INFORMATION  Leah McLean PURE Energies 416.340.7873 x326 leah.mclean@pureenergies.com

The Real Jungle Book: the Kayapo Tribe in 2014

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 2:43pm

In the 1500s, when the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, there were about five million Amerindians. Today there are 1/25th that many — about 200,000. Of these, a few thousand are the unstoppable Kayapo – determined, independent, freedom-loving conservation warriors.

Since the 1950s, the Kayapo have successfully battled waves of squatters, loggers, miners, ranchers and government officials to maintain their land and way of life. Lucky for us! The destruction of the Amazon rainforest has implications far beyond its borders – for our planet’s air, water, plants, fish, animals and well-being.

Housing

The Kayapo live in large family groups in villages. Their fields and villages are built in a circle to reflect their belief in a round universe. They live in roomy, thatched-roof, undivided huts; the thatch is made of palm leaves. The Kayapo weave their own hammocks, a practical type of bedding for a jungle environment.

Travel

The Kayapo build their own canoes and use them to travel long distances. They may also trek for days or weeks at a time.

Food

The Kayapo have a varied diet. They grow vegetables, harvest wild fruits and Brazil nuts, and hunt animals – including monkey and turtle. Fish is a main source of protein. The Kayapo are skilled hunters; young children barely out of toddlerhood are already proficient with knives.

Clothing

Traditionally, the Kayapo wore a range of cloth bands in a rainbow of colors – knotted below the waist, crisscrossed across the chest, tied around the arms. Today these bands are typically mixed with Western-style garments. Brightly-colored beaded necklaces are prevalent. Shoes are less so, particularly for children.

Time to party!

Marriage rites, naming ceremonies, crop dances, puberty rites – Kayapo religious, social and festive activities are interconnected and continue year-round. Singing, chanting and dancing are a major part of Kayapo life. The Kayapo are often taking part in a ceremony or getting ready for the next one.

Body paint!

Body paint is an art form, a tradition and a societal glue. Each marking is meaningful, linked to a ritual or ceremony. Learning how to prepare body paint is an early lesson for young Kayapo; adults are skilled in applying complex, delicate designs. The Kayapo also make beautiful beaded necklaces, often in brilliant blues or yellows. They make bracelets and earrings using shells or stones, and headdresses from the colored feathers of Amazon birds.

Education, Education, Education

Kayapo continue to teach their young people traditional skills, including hunting, fishing, growing vegetables and building and using canoes. They have been reluctant to accept Western-style schooling; few Kayapo children have ever been to “school.” Some Kayapo chiefs are turning their people to additional activities such as building housing for settlers. But the traditional, ancient lifestyle remains very strong.

Swimming, storytelling and sharp knives

Kayapo children love to swim in the Xingu River, it’s a major form of play. Children as young as two will swim on their own. Children as young as eight will carve their own toys with machetes. A Kayapo childhood is remarkably free and unfettered, lacking schedules, restraint or a formal education. The main goal is to become a contributing member of the tightly-knit Kayapo tribe.

Storytelling is a big part of Kayapo life, serving to pass on tales from the past, preserve identity, and of course entertain. Storytelling is a big part of dance rituals and ceremonies.

Threats

Everything threatens the Kayapo way of life! Deforestation, mining, land over-grazed by ranchers – the list is harsh and endless. Yet the Kayapo may be one of the world’s most successful groups of conservationists. They inhabit and protect an area of the Amazon rain forest that is larger than 45 percent of the countries in the world. Not a bad claim to fame, for a culture that has successfully resisted virtually every form of modern Western culture, including its tools and armaments.

5 Things I Learned in the Amazon, Part 1

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 2:42pm

I was fortunate enough to spend a week with a secluded tribe in the Amazon Rainforest called the Kayapo. When I first embarked on the journey, I wasn’t sure what to expect – living without electricity, showers, beds and any other commodity of our daily life seemed exiting – but was it actually, if that’s how you live permanently?

Let me give you a little background on these amazing people and the great work that they do for you and me every day of their lives, without even knowing. As you may know, the Amazon rainforest is in danger, a large amount of it has been destroyed over the last 50 years due to deforestation, illegal mining, illegal logging, etc. You’re probably thinking, “So what? It’s just a forest, and so far removed from our lives that the closest most of us will ever get to thinking about this or even visiting this place is by watching Disney’s ‘Rio.’”

The Kayapo live in this rainforest, they are a population of around 8,000 indigenous people who for hundreds of years have managed to maintain their livelihood and traditions simply by protecting what is closest to their heart: nature. I don’t want to sound like a treehugger or hippie, because I’m not – BUT: After spending a week with the Kayapo, I can truthfully say my outlook on life has changed. Here is a short list of some of the many, many things I learned while living in the bush with indigenous people.

1. You need less than you think.

In a world where constant advertisements, products and all kinds of companies are pushing images, videos, messages into our life about new things we should be buying, eating and doing it becomes really hard to live life simply. It becomes difficult not to want the new pair of boots, or new iPhone or new apartment. And so our life is filled with “wants.” Many people base their entire life’s happiness on these wants and their journey to obtain them.

But maybe the reason we feel like we need more and we continue to buy things, is because once we bought that thing we saved up months for we quickly realize it didn’t make us as happy or revolutionized our life in the way we thought it would. So we enter into this endless cycle of materialism that becomes difficult to escape.

The Kayapo live modestly – they don’t use money on an everyday basis and they have very few material possessions that they’ve slowly adopted over time from the “outside” world. Their happiness isn’t based on social status, material wealth, or career development. They don’t want to become lawyers or CEOs. What they do want is to care for their families, they want to make sure everyone in their community is happy and okay.

2. Use your freedom.

It took me at least three days to get used to the fact that I had no meetings scheduled, no phone calls to make or emails to write, I didn’t have to be home to make dinner or live according to all the things people expected from me and the rules that society has surrounded us with to maintain order.

The Kayapo live in perfect disorganization. There is no dinner time, no time for anything in that matter, no specific calendar – they live life as they feel it. If they feel like swimming they go, if they are hungry, they hunt. Kids are completely free – no one is constantly watching over them and their every move. They become free, fearless and self-sufficient at a young age. Yet, there is so much love between everyone in the community that it’s impossible to not want to stay.

So I learned that it’s okay to break the rules, it’s okay to take a Sunday to do nothing except what you want – relax, read, spend time with the people you love. It’s okay to slow down from time to time and not feel like your running around all day, because without the hecticness suddenly your life loses its meaning. Let’s take more time to enjoy the little things. The streets, the noises, the people around us. Let’s take it all in – slowly, profoundly — and allow things to inspire us.

Let’s live our lives at our own pace, not at everyone else’s.

3. Don’t be afraid.

After coming back from the Amazon I realized how many of the fears we have are constructed by other people and we’ve adopted as our own. Isn’t that silly? To be afraid of things – because you are taught to. Before going on this trip I was afraid of the snakes, of the scorpions, the piranhas, of all these things people told me to be afraid of. But when I got there, I quickly learned that while those threats were present, you just had to be careful. Careful – not afraid.

I keep referencing the kids because I was the most amazed by them. They swam alone at like 2 years of age, held knives to make their own airplane toys, climbed crazy high trees and had the best time of their lives. They weren’t afraid of the water or the forest, because they weren’t taught to. The adults weren’t afraid of constant failure, because their society doesn’t make them feel that way. Everyone is seen as an integral part of the mechanism, and wants everyone else to succeed in their role. There is no “I“ – everything in Kayapo is “we.”

4. A smile goes a long way.

I spoke no Kayapo and my Portuguese was rusty at best, yet a smile makes such a difference. People are people everywhere. We breathe the same, we feel the same – we want to care for our families, we want to find meaning in our lives and live happily and healthy. In many ways we are all the same. A smile goes a long way in making people feel loved, comfortable, listened to, and it goes a long way in feeling empathy, joy and understanding. If we all smiled a little more, I bet our lives would be better.

The Kayapo are the most smiling bunch I’ve ever met – and it really makes a difference. Everyone is calm, in a good mood, smiling to each other. I understand life isn’t always smooth sailing, but there is definitely good in it and it’s up to us to choose to see it and recognize it. We are alive, we get to experience the world everyday – and we forget about that.

5. Appreciate what you have.

I’ve never met such charismatic loving, happy and nice people. They protect the forest with their lives because it is their home, because they love the land they live on. It’s a land that gives them life – that sustains their needs, that provides them with food, home, a shelter and a life. They respect this land, its traditions. They respect their stories, their battles and learnings and strive to maintain true to themselves. I don’t think that there is anything more courageous than fighting to be yourself, when everyone tells you that you are wrong.

We don’t do this enough. None of us. We need to learn as a society to respect each other, to fight for each other – others’ battles are our own battles. The city, town, place you live in is part of your daily life, your environment, your surroundings and we should be taking care of it. If not us, who? If not now, when?

3 Tips for Raising Kids in the Jungle – Urban or Actual

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 2:39pm

Ever been to Kendjam? My guess is no – it’s a remote village in the Amazon rainforest, part of eastern Brazil. The tiny village sits within 10.5 million hectares of rainforest territory that belongs to and is protected by an indigenous people called the Kayapo. To give you a better idea of what 10.5 million hectares means, the area that the Kayapo protect is larger than 45 percent of the countries in the world.

The Kayapo are the finest blend of courage, strength, wisdom and kindness I have ever encountered. By Western standards they live modest lives, even though they have had contact with the outside world (by outside, I mean anyone not Kayapo) since the late 1960s, with many chances to trade for Western material goods. By choice, they have no appliances, internet, vehicles or modern media. And their lives are amazingly rich.

I was lucky enough to spend just over a week there. I took home lessons about many things, but I think what captivated me most is their family life. The Kayapo don’t have jobs, money or economies. Their purpose is to serve their families and communities. Because of this there is an incredible energy of love, respect and peace that spreads across their villages and their society.

Here are three standout lessons I learned about nurturing strong, independent, loving children from the amazing Kayapo mothers, fathers, and elders that I met.

1. Don’t teach your kids to be afraid

Spending time with the Kayapo children was magical. They are so full of joy – all the time. Not, of course because they have the latest iPad or game. In fact, they have no toys or technology. Rather, they spend time exploring their surroundings, climbing trees, playing with their friends and swimming. Parents don’t teach their kids to fear. There is no coddling, no overprotecting, no helicopter parenting. Kids are taught at a very young age to be independent, to be strong, to help one another, and to protect and care for those around them.

Experiencing this firsthand was life-changing. I saw 7-year-olds carving toy wooden airplanes with machetes half as long as their arms. I saw 10-year-old girls climb 30-foot trees to cut açai berries, barefoot, a machete held firmly between shoulder and cheek.

This is how the Kayapo raise strong, resilient children, children who become wise adults because they are taught to be free and fearless. It’s incredibly liberating to watch.

Fear holds us back from reaching our dreams. Kids need and deserve to experience the world through their own eyes. To play in the water, to climb trees, to explore their limits, to push their boundaries and to learn for themselves what works, what doesn’t, and what they should be afraid of.

2. Expressing emotions makes you strong, not weak

I was surprised at how open, kind and emotional the Kayapo were to both young and old. Fathers, mothers and grandparents were not afraid to hug, kiss, and play with their children. Families were loving, open and kind to each other. The Kayapo believe that expressing our emotions make us human, not weak. They teach their kids that protection comes from loving and giving to others – freely, openly and without fear.

3. Who’s better than anyone else?

In a Kayapo community there is almost no sense of I, no individualism – everyone works as a collective. Kids aren’t taught to undermine other kids or to compete against them in a destructive way. They don’t base their self-awareness and self-worth through manipulation, putting down or rising above others. On the contrary, everyone is a team – everyone has the same goal. As a result, everyone is respectful.

It was an incredibly refreshing change to live in a real, connected, loving community. To see what children were like when their parents weren’t out to make sure that they play every sport, fill every hour, and get to the most prestigious university. To see what happens when everyone thinks about everyone else. I wish that every parent could see what kids are like when they are raised this way.

**     **     **

The things that really struck me about Kayapo childrearing – building a lack of fear, expressing emotions, and living as part of a community – are not what I hear most parents talking about today. And it’s true, most modern parents aren’t planning to have their children live off the bounty of the jungle, dedicate their lives to their community, and preserve the rainforest they live in. But still. We could all learn a lot from the Kayapo. I’m grateful I had the opportunity. I won’t forget.

Another Benefit of Going Solar: Encouraging Others to Go Solar

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:56am

We talk all the time about the many benefits of home solar: You save money on your electric bill, you cut your carbon footprint, you can gain a little bit of independence from your utility company, and solar panels are just beautiful to boot.

But wait: There’s more! New research from Connecticut finds that one of the reasons that people go solar is because one or more of their neighbors have also gone solar.

It’s like the best kind of peer pressure imaginable.

The study, which appeared in the October 7 issue of the Journal of Economic Geography, bears an inscrutable title: “Spatial patterns of solar photovoltaic system adoption: the influence of neighbors and the built environment.” But the findings from Marcello Graziano of the University of Connecticut and Kenneth Gillingham of Yale University, are anything but ho-hum: “Our empirical estimation demonstrates a strong relationship between adoption and the number of nearby previously installed systems as well as built environment and policy variables.”

In other words: The biggest factor that determines whether people go solar is not their income level or their monthly electricity bill, but whether or not someone near them has already gone solar.

The full study is trapped behind a paywall, but over at the Washington Post, Chris Mooney has a rundown of the findings.

Graziano and Gillingham looked at Connecticut’s recent solar boom and used data from the state’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority for 3,843 home solar installations between 2005 and 2013. Mooney explains the “dramatic findings:”

The installation of one additional solar photovoltaic rooftop project within the past six months in a given area increased the average number of installations within a half mile radius by … almost one half. As the spatial area widened, meanwhile, the influence of peer solar installations steadily decreased, a finding quite consistent with a theory of peer influence….

But while prior installations seemed to have a big influence on future ones, Graziano and Gillingham failed to find nearly as much of an influence for other socioeconomic and demographic factors. That included income, political party registration, and the unemployment rate.

Mooney notes that the researchers do also identify Connecticut’s solar incentives as a driver of the state’s solar boom. We have covered Connecticut’s use of the Solarize platform to speed solar adoption, a tool that has since expanded into more Connecticut towns.

Solarize in particular seems to be an ideal tool to leverage the peer pressure model of solar adoption. Through a Solarize program, homeowners in a town are encouraged to commit to going solar, and if enough homes make the pledge, then they all receive a discounted rate on their solar installations. These group processes then offer an active financial incentive for spreading the word about solar in addition to the passive peer pressure incentive identified in Graziano and Gillingham’s research.

Check out Chris Mooney’s full article in the Post here; he’s got a good chart and explanation of how this peer pressure effect happens independent of income levels and other demographic data. And the full article, for all of our Journal of Economic Geography subscribers, is here.

Solar neighborhood photo courtesy of SMUD and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Talk to Your Kids About Solar

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:56am

If you’ve got kids, you know that they are little bundles of limitless curiosity. And maybe they’ve already asked you about the solar panels they’ve seen in the neighborhood, or at school, or when you’re out shopping.

For my preschooler, the first time he asked about solar panels was when he watched the Pixar film Wall-E for about the four-hundredth time. In addition to being a sweet movie about love and environmental stewardship, Wall-E is also about a solar-powered trash-compacting robot, and my curious little kid wanted to know all about the solar panels Wall-E uses to power up his batteries.

Solar technology is obviously a complex topic, but there’s no reason you can’t talk to your kids about solar starting at almost any age.

There are a few great resources online to help you dig into the topic. Solar Energy International has created solar FAQs for younger kids as well as for older kids and adults. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration has a useful page of solar basics for kids as well.

Below are some simple ways you can start teaching kids about solar, starting today. And read on for more details about our new solar quiz and prizes you can win.

Your Inverter: The Gateway to Energy Use

The inverter in your home solar system — the box that converts the energy generated by your solar panels into the electricity that powers your home — can be a great teaching tool for a child of any age. Show your child the data the inverter presents about the amount of energy you’ve generated during the day and teach her about electricity and units of measurement.

For an older child, ask him to keep track of the daily power generated by your solar panels for a week or a month, and graph that information to see how your family uses electricity. Families that have a home energy management system in place can very easily connect your daily energy use to the output from your rooftop solar system.

A Home Solar Science Fair

There are a number of ways you can turn your home solar system into a teaching tool. For younger kids in particular, explain how the panels generate more energy at different times and under different weather conditions, and ask him to connect the day’s weather to the day’s energy generation.

Another cool project is trying to make the meter run backwards. Get your older child to gauge the effects of turning on and off various energy-using devices in the home. How much impact does turning off all the lights have? When she cranks the air-conditioning — or turns the thermostat way up — what happens to energy use?

Everyday Solar

Connecting solar power to your kids’ everyday lives is another sure-fire teaching method.

Solar-powered ovens are a great way to show just how much energy the sun offers us every day. Using a cardboard box, some spray paint and some foil, you can help your child build a solar oven in no time.

Maybe the best way to teach your kids about solar power is to show solar in action. It seems like every day there are more and more solar gadgets hitting the market and entering our lives. You probably had a solar-powered calculator when you were in school — and there are still plenty of those around — but now we’re also able to make use of portable solar panels to charge our gadgets, solar-powered lights for landscaping, and solar-powered tchotchkes of all kinds. Each of these offers a chance to help your kids understand about the power and benefits of solar energy.

And for the month of October as we prepare for Halloween, everyone who takes our new solar quiz will receive a cool Spark solar-powered flashlight from Silicon Solar. This gadget will not only help you show how solar panels work, but it will come in handy when you go trick-or-treating.

Here’s to a solar-powered October, and a sunny and spooky Halloween!

NRG Acquires Pure Energies Group

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:11am

NRG Energy Acquires Pure Energies Group, Adding Stronger Online Platform for Customer Access to NRG’s Rapidly Expanding Residential Solar Business

Pure Energies builds on recent acquisitions to empower customers to go solar in an easy and streamlined way

PRINCETON, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 2, 2014– NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG) has acquired Pure Energies Group, Inc. (Pure Energies), a residential solar industry leader in the critical area of web-based customer acquisition. Pure Energies completes the residential solar capabilities NRG has been working to assemble and perfectly complements NRG’s acquisition earlier this year of Roof Diagnostics Solar, a leader in home solar direct sales and installation, and NRG’s own Residential Solar Solutions, which has focused on the financing and business operations associated with solar leasing. All of these capabilities and operations, combined as NRG Home Solar, create a one-stop shop for prospective solar customers, offering the optimal rooftop solar system customized to their homes and needs.

Pure Energies and its proprietary customer acquisition process will help NRG Home Solar reduce customer acquisition costs while providing a simplified solar adoption process. Pure Energies’ online capabilities also are expected, ultimately, to provide a valuable sales channel for NRG’s Goal Zero line of portable solar and energy storage products and NRG’s retail businesses (NRG, Reliant and Green Mountain).

“Home solar is the gateway for most American consumers to join the growing movement toward a clean energy future, and the combination of Pure Energies’ rapid growing online footprint with our existing residential solar platform will enhance our ability to provide customers, wherever they are, the freedom to make their own clean energy and capitalize on the energy generating potential of their own home,” said David Crane, President and CEO of NRG Energy. “While residential solar is being increasingly embraced by homeowners of all ages across the United States, buying over the internet is the acquisition channel of choice in particular for the younger generation of Americans for whom commitment to a sustainable lifestyle is a fundamental part of their DNA.”

“We are focused on being a trusted energy advisor to help homeowners save money on their electricity bills while they invest in a more sustainable lifestyle,” said Zbigniew Barwicz, President of Pure Energies. “Being part of NRG Home Solar allows us to increase our abilities to support homeowners by facilitating the adoption of solar energy and home conservation products across the United States.

Pure Energies advises homeowners on residential solar systems and home conservation products to help them save money and make a difference in their communities. The company, which previously also used the One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) brand, empowers customers to make smart decisions about home solar adoption. Through a unique online platform, Pure Energies is able to, within minutes, identify and provide a detailed analysis of the customer’s home solar feasibility versus their energy needs.

“NRG strives to provide customers with the easiest path to assess the benefits of home solar,” said Kelcy Pegler Jr., President of NRG Home Solar. “With Pure Energies’ wealth of experience in connecting consumers to their full energy potential – combined with NRG’s strengths as a Fortune 250 company well-established in residential solar – consumers will have greater access to meet their solar needs. The team at Pure has experience in solar across multiple states and countries and has a demonstrated track record of success in the home solar business. Together, we will empower consumers to make smarter, better informed decisions as they move toward the clean energy economy.”

About NRG

NRG is leading a customer-driven change in the U.S. energy industry by delivering cleaner and smarter energy choices, while building on the strength of the nation’s largest and most diverse competitive power portfolio. A Fortune 250 company, we create value through reliable and efficient conventional generation while driving innovation in solar and renewable power, electric vehicle ecosystems, carbon capture technology and customer-centric energy solutions. Our retail electricity providers serve nearly 3 million residential and commercial customers throughout the country. More information is available at www.nrg.com. Connect with NRG Energy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @nrgenergy.

NRG Safe Harbor Disclosure

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions and include NRG’s expectations regarding Pure Energies, NRG Home Solar and the residential solar market. Forward-looking statements typically can be identified by the use of words such as “expect,” “believe,” and similar terms. Although NRG believes that its expectations are reasonable, it can give no assurance that these expectations will prove to have been correct, and actual results may vary materially. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated above include, among others, general economic conditions, hazards customary in the power industry, competition in wholesale power markets, the volatility of energy and fuel prices, failure of customers to perform under contracts, changes in the wholesale power markets, changes in government regulation of markets and of environmental emissions, and our ability to achieve the expected benefits and timing of our residential solar projects and the residential solar business. NRG undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The foregoing review of factors that could cause NRG’s actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward-looking statements included in this news release should be considered in connection with information regarding risks and uncertainties that may affect NRG’s future results included in NRG’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov.

 

Source: NRG Energy, Inc.

For NRG Energy
Media
David Knox, 713-537-2130
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Erik Linden, 609-524-4519
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Investors
Chad Plotkin, 609-524-4526
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Daniel Keyes, 609-524-4527

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:00am

Back in 2010, we researched the countries that were leading the world in solar power installations. As of the end of 2009 — the latest data we could gather — the solar industry was in the very early stages of the global solar boom that has been accelerating ever since. In the interest of taking the current pulse of the global solar leaders, we’ve updated this post in September 2014 to reflect the new state of play. We’re keep the 2009 numbers in parentheses as a reference point of just how quickly the world is switching to affordable, clean solar energy.

One telling point: The solar industry is growing so rapidly that we’ve had to update our units of measurement from megawatts (MW) to gigawatts (GW).

Below are the top 10 countries using solar power in the world according to installed photovoltaic solar (PV) energy capacity. Think you know the order? You might be surprised…see if you can name all ten countries in the right order before continuing on.

1. Germany: 35.5 GW (2010: 9.8 GW — 1st place)

In 2010, Germany was clearly the world leader, and has only continued the trend. In 2009 alone, Germany installed 3.8 GW of PV solar energy capacity, and the country has added at least 3.3 GW of new solar capacity per year, and more like 6 GW per year between 2010 and 2012. “The combination of a proven feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme, good financing opportunities, a large availability of skilled PV companies, and a good public awareness of the PV technology, largely contributed to this success,” European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) reported.

Despite a slowdown in 2013, Germany is expected to remain the top solar market in Europe for the coming years, and still boasts a quarter of the world’s installed PV capacity 26 percent, compared to the 13 percent held by each of the next two countries on the list, Italy and China.

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2. China: 18.3 GW (2010: .305 GW — 8th Place)

Everything that China does, it does big. As the world’s most populous nation, and the one with the biggest carbon footprint, it’s great news that China has made such a major commitment to solar power. Since our 2009 research, China has grown its solar capacity by an astounding 6,000 percent — from less than one-third of a gigawatt of capacity to 18.3 GW. It helps that China is a major solar panel manufacturer, and the government has had to repeatedly raise its renewable energy targets — from a plan of 20 GW by 2020 to 20-30 GW by 2020 to the current target of an astounding 70 GW of solar by 2017. Coupled with a commitment to cut its coal use, the world’s biggest carbon polluter could soon also be the country powered with the most green energy.

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3. Italy: 17.6 GW (2010: 1.2 GW — 5th Place)

Not only has Italy continued its leadership in solar — rising from fifth place in 2010 to third place as of the end of 2013 — it generates more of its energy from solar than any other nation, with 7.8 percent of its energy coming from solar, compared to 6.2 percent for Germany. Mixing net-metering and a well-segmented FiT (combined with a lot of sunshine), Italy has become a world leader in solar energy. “The future growth of the market will depend on the streamlining and harmonisation of administrative procedures, combined with an adapted decrease of the FIT in the third Conto Energia to cope with the expected price decrease,” the EPIA reports.

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4. Japan: 13.6 GW (2010: 2.6 GW — 3rd Place)

Japan fell from third place in 2010 to fourth place in 2014, but remains also a country worth emulating — in the past four years the country has grown its solar capacity by more than 500 percent. Government residential PV programs, net-metering, high national solar energy goals to reach 28 GW by 2020 and 53 GW by 2030, as well as the support of local authorities and the private sector make Japan a world leader in this field. In the wake of the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the country has renewed its dedication to solar power, particularly with the recent announcement of the first of many floating solar farms off the island nation’s coasts.

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5. United States: 12 GW (2010: 1.6 GW — 4th Place)

It’s hard to believe that a country that grew its solar capacity by 750 percent in four years could still have lost standing in the global solar boom, but that just goes to show how quickly the field is changing. The United States have benefited as much as anyone from the steadily dropping price of solar, aided by smart financing and some supportive state-level policies to grow its domestic solar industry. With many large ground-mounted solar projects in the pipeline, installed capacity in the US is expected to grow significantly in coming years. Additionally, national legislation promoting solar energy (if it comes through) could move the US forward considerably. The cap on the federal solar tax credit was lifted in 2009, promoting growth in this industry.

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6. Spain: 5.6 GW (2010: 3.4 GW — 2nd Place)

Spain was the world leader in newly installed PV solar energy (2,605 MW) in 2008 due to the government’s focus on creating a national solar energy industry, but has since dropped significantly — between 2010 and 2013, the country didn’t even double its capacity, whereas Germany nearly quadrupled its solar capacity. The reasons for this drop are attributed to complexity and delays related to a new government subsidy program and a decrease in energy demand due to the economic crisis. With expectations that both of these will improve in 2010, and considering its excellent sun irradiation and PV potential, Spain is expected to bump up its solar energy capacity again this year.

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7. France: 4.6 GW (2010: .272 GW — 9th Place)

France has continued to benefit from its well-designed FiT for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), but the country’s solar growth has been slowed by a lack of political support for solar incentives, which the the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) in a report published earlier in 2014 (PDF)also attributed to attacks from the nuclear and fossil fuel energy industries.

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8. Australia: 3.3 GW (2010: .125 GW [Source])

The first of two newcomers to our list of the top 10 countries using solar power, Australia has in the past five years made the most of its sun-drenched status — though its continued growth is in question. At the end of 2009, the island nation claimed only 125 MW of solar capacity, but through smart policies including feed-in tariffs, rebates and a federal mandatory renewable energy target has grown that by 2600 percent, reaching 3.3 gigawatts by the end of 2013. Between steadily dropping solar prices and the fact that Australia boasts some of the greatest solar potential in the world, solar power costs less than half what grid electricity costs, although the current government is considering scaling back the federal Renewable Energy Target, which would slow if not stop the country’s upward trajectory in these lists.

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9. Belgium: 3GW (2010: .363 GW — 7th Place)

The image above shows Belgian solar flowers. Belgium has been a surprising solar contender even since 2009. Belgium’s success was from “a well-designed Green Certificates scheme (which actually works as a Feed-in Tariff), combined with additional tax rebates and electricity self-consumption.” Those policies, coupled with the steady drop in solar panel prices, has kept Belgium growing its solar market year-over-year since 2009.

Image © Artist Alexandre Dang, www.alexandredang.com

10. United Kingdom: 2.9 GW (2010: .027 GW [Source])

Another poster child for the global solar boom, the United Kingdom was nearly a no-show in our 2009 research — it didn’t make the top 10 list by a long shot, with just 27 MW of solar capacity. But it has made quick growth since then, with the EPIA noting that in 2013, the U.K. nearly doubled its solar capacity, installing more even than Italy, the current 5th-place holder.

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Off the List:

Two of the countries that made the top 10 list in 2010 have fallen behind in the rankings — we’re including them below in the hopes that they make it back on our list in the next go-round…

12. India: 2.3 GW (2010: .120 GW — 10th Place)

Similar to China, India has fast-increasing electricity demand and it has very high sun irradiation levels. It’s government has also been moving forward strongly on clean energy. It has a goal to reach 20 GW by 2020 as well. “Besides the National Solar Mission of 2009, the market expects much of the possible decision this year to define a longterm power purchase agreement that could definitively trigger PV deployment in India,” EPIA states. India could quickly rise higher on this list with proper government strategies.

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13. Czech Republic (2010: 0.47 GW — 6th Place)

A generous FiT and simple administrative procedures have put the Czech Republic on this list. Per capita, it installed more new solar power than any other country besides Germany in 2009. The market growth has probably boomed unsustainably (and a little unexpectedly), however, and if appropriate policies aren’t put in place to slow it, the nascent solar bubble is expected to bust in the coming years.

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• 2013 figures come from the IEA Photovoltaic Power System Programme; 2009 figures via the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.

Have more to add or questions about this list? Comment below. Special thanks to Adele Peters for her contribution to this article. Sign up with PURE Home Solar for group discounts, or use our calculator to estimate the cost of solar panels for your home.

Infographic: Back to School, Sustainably

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 5:00am

Going back to school can be challenging enough without also trying to factor in the environmental impacts of your decisions. The good news is that there are a lot of little choices you can make that will make a big difference for your footprint as well as your pocketbook.

As we wind down our #smallstep for sustainability campaign, we’ve created this infographic to explore some of the ways you can go back to school, sustainably.

PURE Webinar: What Can One Person Do to Save the Planet?

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 8:54am

If you’re reading this blog, you are probably concerned about the environment — every day we’re hearing more news about the state of the climate, and how the changes that have already started happening may accelerate and get more severe soon.

As serious as the effects of climate change are, the most important things to remember are that there is still hope and the time to act is now.

To show people how their individual choices can add up to a planet-saving effort, PURE Energies has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to host a webinar on Tuesday, September 9. “Ideas From Outer Space: How you can affect climate change” is a one-hour conversation between Keya Chatterjee, the director of renewable energy and footprint outreach at WWF, and Chris Stern, a co-founder of PURE Energies.

Keya and Chris will be discussing some of the big challenges the world faces by looking at the small-scale steps anyone can (and should!) take to overcome those big challenges.

Among the challenges:

  • Stop coal
  • Cut all fossil fuels
  • Improve land use

Those are big challenges — and can be overwhelming to think about what it will take to overcome them.

Fortunately, there are small steps that, if everyone took even a few of them, would make it immediately possible to tackle all of these problems. And that’s exactly what’s on the agenda for our webinar.

Keya and Chris will discuss in detail some of these solutions:

• Cleaner transportation: Hybrids, electric vehicles, and a much greater reliance on public transit and bicycling are all important — and surprisingly easy ways — to reduce the footprint of your transportation needs.

• Improve your home’s energy efficiency: Starting by swapping out your energy-hogging devices — from lightbulbs to appliances — you can make a big dent in your monthly energy bill, as well as the energy needed to power your home.

• Embrace green energy: Solar power has plummeted in price by an unbelievable amount over the last 25 years. Compared to 1977, the cost of solar panels has fallen by 99 percent. But as of early 2014, solar is 60 percent cheaper than it was just three years ago. Cheaper solar plus smart financing that lets you go solar for free means that solar is a now a no-brainer.

• Join the community of people taking action on climate change. On September 21, the world is coming together in New York City for the People’s Climate March — which aims to peacefully stand up against global warming pollution and help to create a world full of clean air, good jobs and healthy communities. In every successful social movement, the single most important way to achieve change is when the people raise their voices. Even if you can’t join the march in New York City, spread the word and take action at home.

To learn more about all of these solutions, and how you can take the next step in the fight against climate change, sign up for the PURE webinar here.