Guest Editorial: Substituting Solar Energy for Oil

The policies and politics of Arab countries are forcing other governments to consider the adoption of renewable energies. Here’s how solar energy is expanding in Europe.

Energy is vital for the economic growth of every country, especially for the industrialized world. Oil is the most important resource today, but uncertainties in the Arab world are forcing governments to turn to renewable energies. Solar is a clean energy and solar panel manufacturers can play an important rule for the government’s engagement with the clean energies. Solar energy is produced by solar panels and in order to obtain the best efficiency, more investment is needed for research.

One the most important companies and a leader in Europe in solar energy is Martifer Solar, which is also recognized internationally. Martifer Solar stands out from the crowd by increasing research in its sector.

Martifer Solar tailors their services to the customer’s needs by providing, in addition to the equipment, maintenance services and it works with the customer to find the best method of financing.

Martifer Solar has a prestigious body of work, having completed many projects such as the Torre de Cristal building in Madrid — the tallest building topped by an array of solar panels. In Santa Monica, California, the company built a 95-KW solar park.

The Benfica Stadium in Portugal has a solar installation built in 2004 by Martifer Solar for the European Football championship.

Hitting a new Market

Martifer Solar is attending Renexpo Austria 2011 on November 24 – 26. The company is also introducing the SmartPark, an innovative solar carport developed by its R&D department.

“We are ready to make the difference in the Central European PV sector,” says Francisco Queirós, Martifer Solar’s Central Europe Business Developer, “not only because of our international experience and know-how in all types of installations, but especially because we offer each client an optimized solution tailor-made to fit their needs.”

Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal

Photo by Nick Humphries, via Flickr Creative Commons

Democratic Congressmen Henry Waxman (CA) and Bobby Rush (IL) today called on Republican committee chairs to hold hearings on the full economic costs of coal-fired power plants. The key word here is, of course, full.

Big Coal and its supporters in Congress often use the club of “expensive energy” to beat up on renewable sources such as solar power and wind. But, as Waxman and Rush state in their request letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), a new study “finds that the economic costs of air pollution from coal-fired … power plants outweigh the economic value these sources add to the economy.” The letter was also addressed to the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

The study, Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy, determined that economic damages caused by coal-fired power plants outweighed benefits by up to 5.6 times.

Coal-fired electrical generation only seems cheap because most of the costs don’t appear on the power bill. Instead, the full cost of coal is paid by ordinary Americans in increased health care and shortened life spans, by businesses in lost work days due to respiratory and heart-related illnesses, and by the agriculture industry in lower crop yields due to climate change.

The new study appears in the latest issue of the American Economic Review, and was co-authored by economists at Middlebury College and Yale University.

For more on the healthcare costs of coal-fired power plants, see the excellent 2010 study, The Toll From Coal, published by the Clean Air Task Force.


The True Cost of Coal

Speaking of Herman Cain not speaking about sexual harassment

Herman Cain says he doesn’t want to talk about allegations that he sexually harassed women, but that’s not quite accurate.

The Republican candidate for president is all too happy to minimize and trivialize the allegations (without providing any specifics that back up his claims). He just refuses to answer specific questions about the charges. And, even worse, what he says in the morning often contradicts what he says in the afternoon.  For example, on October 31, Cain told the National Press Club, “I am unaware of any settlement” for sexual harassment. Same day, different forum: “yes, there was some sort of settlement.” Amazing. Cain speaks in generalities and still somehow manages to get the facts wrong.

Today, we learn that what was once “some sort of settlement” that (according to Cain) amounted to just  two or three months salary, turns out to be two separate settlements — one for $35,000 and the other for $45,000 (according to

The Cain campaign has tried a trio of unconvincing responses to these allegations.

1. What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?!”

First, no one running for the highest office in the land should mistake the court of public opinion for a court of law. And even in the judicial system the burden of proof is higher or lower depending on the context. No doubt there are all sorts of spurious claims out there and a candidate can’t and shouldn’t be expected to take them all seriously. (Yes, birthers, I’m talking about you.) In Cain’s case, however, the charges he first denied entirely have turned out to be true. He was the subject of sexual harassment charges (plural). What people want to know now, and they have a right to know, is the substance of the charges.

Further, the only way to learn the truth is for Cain to ask his former boss, the National Restaurant Association, to allow the women who made the charges a chance to respond to Cain’s spin on what happened. The women, as part of their settlement, are bound by a confidentiality agreement — a gag order — that prohibits them from telling their side of the story. It seems odd that Cain, the stickler for due process, is speaking out on the subject while the women can’t. In fact, it’s quite possible that Cain has violated the settlement agreement himself by speaking about it. A confidentiality clause usually applies to both sides in a settlement — not just one.

2. A settlement is not an admission of guilt.

Technically true. But in the real world, defendants with deep pockets (such as the NRA) will not pay even a small settlement for sexual harassment unless there’s evidence of wrong-doing. If they did, said one lawyer I talked with, it would encourage others to extort money by making similarly false charges. Many companies pay more to fight a claim than the amount demanded by a charging party for this very reason. No, substantial settlements, as the NRA paid in these cases, doesn’t mean guilt. But it does mean there was enough credible evidence in the cases to make paying the best alternative — and companies do not want to pay these claims.

3. Cain is the victim of racial bias.

Cain’s PAC recently charged that the “Just like they did to Clarence Thomas, [the left-wing media] are engaging in a ‘high tech lynching’ by smearing Herman Cain’s reputation and character.” The reference of course is to charges of sexual harassment against now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his senate confirmation hearings. Conservative pundit such as Ann Coulter were quick to play the race card rather than deal with the facts of the case. But Cain beat them all to the deal: he preemptively played the race card at the beginning of the campaign, predicting that liberals would subject him to a “high-tech lynching.”

Cain’s campaign should take the advice of a different conservative: former Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, Condeleezza Rice.

“I don’t like the race card,” Rice told CBS news recently in an interview about Cain’s response to the allegations of harassment. “I don’t like the race card when people say that people are criticizing President Obama because he’s black. I don’t like that very much either. He’s being criticized because he’s president.”

Rice had other good advice for how Cain should address the current charges.

“Let him answer them with full disclosure….and let the American people decide.”

Cain needs to stop equivocating and hair-splitting and finally answer the legitimate questions about the sexual harassment charges. Or he’ll risk having the American people decide on his character based on what he’s not saying. And that rarely works out well for a candidate.