Friday Field Notes 062615


Have you been following the adventures of the solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2? It looked as though it was finally going to take off this week, for its flight from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii.  Alas, the weather refuses to cooperate (USA Today).

In other solar news . . .

We’ve mentioned it before, but the rise of solar tends to make utilities a bit twitchy. The New Yorker has a good article regarding why . . .

There’s a term called “the internet of things”—perhaps you’ve heard of it. Originally coined at the end of the twentieth century, it’s the idea that things can be continuously linked and monitored through a network. From computers to smartwatches, the dilemma remains power. Well, the current buzz surrounds two MIT engineers who have developed a circuit that can capture approximately 80% of the energy produced by the sun and convert it into electricity. Some are especially excited about this new development; mainly, those who hope to create sensors that can be imbedded in human skin “to measure everything from blood pressure to vitamin levels” (CNBC). From a health standpoint, I suppose this is particularly exciting; but from a Nineteen Eight-Four standpoint, it’s a little creepy.

In the encyclical of Pope Francis (or his letter to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church), he contends, “Strategies for a solution [to climate change and poverty] demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” SolarAid—the international charity that provides solar lights to people in remote regions of the world—makes the case for solar.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Whoa, that’s a mouthful!), a gorgeous art and history museum in Mumbai, India, is dipping its toe in solar (India Times).

London, it seems, is rubbish at solar (The Guardian). Not to say solar power is dimming in the United Kingdom. Quite the opposite, actually; it almost doubled last year. Here’s a look at which regions of Britain are most embracing solar panels (The Eco Experts). As for Londoners, don’t give up. We, too, come from a city that tends to lag behind. But we’re starting to pick up steam—and who doesn’t love a good underdog story?