Friday Field Notes 051515


Last week it was a massive solar flare, this week a high-speed solar wind. And it made for breathtaking auroras. Lucky for us, The Washington Post provides a timelapse video and photos, so we don’t have to miss out.

In other solar news . . .

Students of Rowland Hall are calling for Utah lawmakers to back solar power in their state. You see, they’ve seen the benefits of solar firsthand, since their school has been powered by the sun since 2010.

If they’ve any questions on how to get it done, they can take a few pointers from our 50th state. Hawaii is aiming for 100% renewable energy generation by 2045. Hawaii House Bill 623 passed by 74-2 (74-2!) vote last week; the governor has until the end of June to sign it into law. They’re already leading the way with the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. And they seem committed to overcoming obstacles; so it will be interesting to see the outcome.

And then there’s Idaho. I just, I can’t even . . . because then my blood pressure goes up and I have to lie down. It’s not that I am impervious to the plight of utilities. Quite the opposite, actually. I am, however, concerned with the fact that it’s terribly one-sided. There never seems to be an attempt to get all sides together to work toward a mutually beneficial solution.

Moving on . . .

Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel has created a solar-powered stained-glass window. The “Current Window” is made up of “dye sensitized solar cells” or glass pieces that use the properties of color to generate electrical current—something akin to photosynthesis. That electrical current is then transferred to electronic devices through an integrated USB (via Design Taxi). The window is quite lovely; if only we knew how well it works.

Last November (2014), in the Dutch village of Krommenie, a new bike path saw the light of day. But this is no ordinary bike path; this bike path is adorned with solar cells encased in protective glass. They call it “SolaRoad” and the bike path is part of a pilot program to see if the system is conducive for roadways. So far, so good. Despite the fact that over 150,000 cyclists have peddled over the solar cells, the system has exceeded expectations—generating more than 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity (enough to power a single-person household for a year) in the last six months. Oh, and in case you, like me, are wondering how well those glass covers are going to hold up: yeah, there are issues; but they’re on it (or so the story goes).