Friday Field Notes 091115


Sunday, September 13, 2015 will mark the last solar eclipse of the year (NASA). Those of us here in Idaho will miss out on the spectacle–unless you’re in the southern tip of Africa, Madagascar, or certain parts of Antarctica, so will you. You can, however, watch a live feed via the online observatory, Slooh. So, there’s that.

In other solar news . . .

Once again, solar has gone and outdone itself. According to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), the second quarter of 2015 beat the first quarter (Fortune). That means more U.S. homes than ever before are installing solar panels–and it’s not looking to slow down any time soon.

Of course, solar remains well traveled. And totally into the arts. Case in point: London’s Tate Modern. Their galleries will soon be powered (at least partially) by solar, thanks to a donation by Solarcentury.

There’s a new solar technology that takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere–specifically, that produced from your car’s tailpipe–and turns it into fuel (Science Magazine). As you might imagine, it’s no simple process. But word on the street is it’s the most efficient device of its kind; and that’s sort of awesome.

If a certain team of researchers at the University of Michigan have any say, the future of solar will look something like kirigami, the Japanese art of cutting paper (Think Progress). Basically, their cells are made up of paper thin crystalline gallium arsenide cells (think expensive), cut in a pattern, and mounted on a device that pulls and bends the cells for optimal sun exposure.

Finally, congratulations to Con Edison, winners of the Solar Power Player award in the Investor Owned Utility category (Market Watch). You see, their innovations in network switch relays allow customers to install super-sized PV systems, without breaking the grid (so to speak).