Friday Field Notes 052016


It’s Friday. If you’re looking for a good diversion, you might want to check out photographer Jamey Stillings’ images of the Crescent Dunes solar project in Nevada: “To look at renewable energy projects is to see both the practical and aspirational aspects of who we are—how we apply knowledge, ingenuity, and skill to find solutions for the future.” (National Geographic)

Now, for this week in solar news . . .

The big news this week: engineers at the University of New South Wales (Australia) have established a new world record for solar cell efficiency (34.5%). To put their achievement in perspective, we did not expect to reach 35% efficiency for another fifty years, give or take (Science Daily).

Renewable energy (as in wind, solar, and hydro) powered Portugal for four days straight. In the words of James Watson, the CEO of SolarPower Europe: “This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years. The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe.” (The Guardian)

News of the solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) has been making the rounds for some time now. But this week, it was a certain someone on the Si2 ground crew making headlines. Twenty-two-year-old Paige Kassalen is one of three women on the 16-person team, the only American woman on the international team, and the youngest person responsible for a safe takeoff and landing of the plane. “I find engineering so attractive!” said Kassalen. “It gives you the toolbox to take creativity and passion for innovation to help make the world a better place.” (Forbes)

There’s a new solar module on the UK market scene —the LG NeOn 2 BiFacial solar module. What in the world is a bifacial module, you ask? In a nutshell, it takes advantage of the sunlight hitting both sides of the module to generate electricity. As with any new technology, it will be interesting to see how it performs over time (Clean Technica).

According to a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute, more than half the world’s population will be at risk of water shortages by 2050. But your typical desalination plants are “a devil’s bargain, [using] power from plants that, in most cases, emit greenhouse gases, ultimately worsening the problem of drought.” That’s why more and more people are beginning to look to the sun for answers. As it happens, the solar powered Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, near Dubai, goes into operation this month. When it does, it will produce around 13,200 gallons of drinking water a day for onsite use (MIT Technology Review). Not much in the scheme of things, but it’s a start.

Lastly, a bit of inspiration to send you on your way: Zachary Shahan’s interview with Maurits Groen, cofounder and CEO of WakaWaka—a company committed to changing the lives of people around the world, through small-scale solar power systems (Clean Technica).

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.