The GOOD 100: Solar Bonds

Taking Stock of the Sun

The challenges facing a widespread shift to solar power are not small: Complicated physics, materials shortages, and price are the big ones. Unexpectedly, it is cost that seems hardest to overcome. No matter how cheap silicon or thin-film photovoltaic cells become, there will always be the cost of installing them on your roof-an expense that currently doubles or even triples the price of every solar panel. They can take decades to pay off, far longer than most homeowners or businesses stay in the building they've thus improved.What to do then if you want to wean an industrial powerhouse like the United States off fossil fuels for reasons of climate, national security, energy independence (take your pick)? Solar bonds.The idea is simple. Just as the U.S. Treasury Department raises funds by selling bonds that, in essence, promise a slice of future tax revenue to bondholders, solar bonds would raise money for the bond issuer to install solar panels on a house or a business. In exchange, the owner of said property would pay a fixed rate for solar-generated electricity, and a slice of that revenue would go back to the bondholder.That's the business model put together by SunEdison, an international solar company, and it could work well for government buildings and the big-box stores of the world, but what about homeowners? Companies like SunRun have sprung up to fill that gap, but the agreements that they offer can be more than a decade long-which is longer than most people will own a particular home.That's where cities like Berkeley, California, and Boulder, Colorado, step in. Those cities have set up a program to sell municipal bonds to pay for home solar installations that are then repaid via property taxes over a 20-year period. Since the taxes are tied to the property instead of the individual, the financial burden of paying for the solar-power system can be transferred from owner to owner.


McDonalds sells a lot of coffee. Over a billion cups a year, to be exact. All that coffee leads to a lot of productive mornings, but it also leads to a lot of waste. Each year, millions of pounds of coffee chaff (the skin of the coffee beans that comes off during roasting) ends up getting turned into mulch. Some coffee chaff just gets burned, leading to an increase in CO2.

Now, that chaff is going to get turned into car parts. Ford is incorporating coffee chaff from McDonalds coffee into the headlamps of some cars. Ford has been using plastic and talc to make its headlamps, but this new process will reduce the reliance on talc, a non-renewable mineral. The chaff is heated to high temperatures under low oxygen and mixed with plastic and other additives. The bioplastic can then be formed into shapes.

Keep Reading Show less

For over 20 years, our country has perceived itself as more divided than united, and it's not getting better. Right after the 2016 election, a poll conducted by Gallup found that 77% of Americans felt the country was divided on the most important values, a record high.

The percentage of Americans who agree that we disagree got higher. During the 2018 mid-term elections, a poll conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that 80% of Americans felt the nation was "mainly" or "totally" divided.

We head into the 2020 presidential election more divided than ever. A new poll from USA Today found that nine out of ten respondents felt it was important to do something about the conflict in our country. We can't keep on living like this forever.

Keep Reading Show less
via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

Keep Reading Show less