Friday Field Notes 032516


Spring has sprung! You can tell, because the world of solar is starting to heat up. That means solar made the news more than usual. But hopefully you’re headed toward a laid back holiday weekend. So pour yourself a steaming mug of goodness, settle in, and read all about it.

This week, in solar news . . .

The brouhaha continues in Nevada with The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) filing a lawsuit against the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC), claiming their decision to amend net metering rates “puts a stake in the heart of rooftop solar development” (PV Tech).

The inhabitants of Port Augusta, Australia are looking to solar for a second chance. You see, they’re a coal town that’s no longer digging; their power plant is on the docks to be demolished. To fill the void, they’re hoping to build Australia’s first major solar thermal power plant. According to Lisa Lumsden, local councilor and member of the campaign group RePower Port Augusta, “We’re going to bust our guts to make it happen” (The Guardian). We hope they do. Because a big part of sustaining earth, is working to protect those who call it home.

You know, Apple’s pledged to power all of its operations with renewable energy (and they’re well on their way, we might add). They even started before it was the cool thing to do. Here’s an article regarding a few things they’ve learned along the way (Fortune).

Of course, not everyone is quick to jump on the solar bandwagon—especially when it comes to utility-scale PV systems. It’s understandable. People want to make a good investment, and that means having a good understanding of how the investment will perform over time. Well, scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy hope to help with their report titled “Maximizing MWh: A Statistical Analysis of the Performance of Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Projects in the United States.” The report is the first known use of multivariate regression techniques to analyze empirical variation in project-level performance. If you know what that means, it could be an intriguing read.

In Tijuana, Mexico a certain architect (Rene Peralta) hopes to turn the Tijuana River channel into a solar farm. “This is the first thing you see when you enter the country from the United States—and sometimes it’s the first thing that you smell,” says Peralta. His proposal (in partnership with urban planner, Jim Bliesner) involves 11-miles of solar panels, straddling the channel, which could power some 30,000 homes; it also includes an algae farm, which can help filter contaminants out of the water, to be used to create biofuels (Los Angeles Times).

The Genocide Memorial—a memorial to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda—is to be powered almost entirely from solar. The PV system was completed earlier this month; battery backup will be added later this year (PV Tech).

The solar suitcase has made the news before – but here’s a piece on how it’s making childbirth safer in Malawi, southeaster Africa (BBC).

What about low-income families in the United States? Funny you should ask—National nonprofits GRID Alternatives, Vote Solar, and the Center for Social Inclusion have launched a new online tool called “Low-Income Solar Policy Guide.” As the title suggests, it’s intended to show how targeted policies can pave the way to solar access for “the 22 million owner-occupied households with income at or below 80% area median income and the 6 million affordable housing units in the US.”

And we’ll leave you with a hint of inspiration: For his graduate project, Markus Kayser took his ‘Solar Sinter’ to the Sahara. In the simplest of terms, it’s a solar powered 3D printer that uses sand (in place of resin) to create stunning works of art (Inhabitat).


Now, for our disclaimer: Friday Fields Notes is a weekly post about the goings on in (and possibly around) the field of solar. We simply link to news articles from the week (to help you stay in the loop); while we try to stick with reputable sources, we cannot attest to the accuracy of each and every piece. Furthermore, the links and subsequent views and commentary are purely the opinion of the writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the company, nor should they be considered professional opinion, backing, and/or advice.