Friday Field Notes 061716


So, any big plans for the weekend? If you happen to be in Los Angeles, California on Saturday (June 18) you should grab some tickets and head out to the Sun Stock Solar Fest—the city’s first solar powered music and arts festival. Music, art, food—and 100% of the proceeds goes to charity. GRID Alternatives will use the money to install solar for Kids Cancer Connection, so they can invest less on electric bills and more on patients. Now that’s a summer festival to love.

Now, for this week in solar news . . .

The big news making the rounds this week: wind and solar will be the cheapest form of power generation in the next couple of decades. That’s according to the New Energy Outlook 2016 report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Oh, and they predict investments in renewable energy will total $7.8 trillion between now and 2040 (MIT Technology Review). So, there’s that.

In case you’ve not paid attention as of late, Apple Inc. is rather fond of solar. Now they’re upping the ante. Apple Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Apple Inc., has applied to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell the excess electricity generated from their sites (including their new headquarters, solar farms, hydroelectric plants, and biogas facilities in California, Oregon, North Carolina, Nevada, and Arizona) directly to customers (Bloomberg). C’mon, you had to see this coming, right?

Toyota’s building a new headquarters in Plano, Texas. They’re also looking to make it 100 percent renewable. Twenty-five percent of its power will come from an onsite PV system (7.75 Megawatts) which will be constructed in three stages through December of 2017. A five-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) will make up the difference. Toyota also plans for its new headquarters to be USGBC Platinum LEED Certified in energy efficiency—and they’ve pledged to remove all carbon emissions from their operations by 2050 (PV Tech). So when it comes to sustainability, looks like Toyota joins the ranks of businesses in it to win it.

In the last year or so, we’ve heard a lot about Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg and their solar powered airplane, Solar Impulse 2 (which, by the way, has stopped over in New York before crossing the Atlantic). Well, it looks like Boeing wants in on the fun. Recently, Boeing filed a patent application for “Solar Powered Airplane.” (The Verge) It seems to be more of a drone, really; but still . . . the intrigue.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, American inventor and solar designer Steve Baer designed solar powered, geometric buildings. Constructed by Baer’s company, Zomeworks, they came to be called Zome homes (zomes, for short). And Los Angeles-based artist Oscar Tuazon intends to give them new life. His project, Zome Alloy—part of an installation at Art Basel in Switzerland—is a wooden replica of Baer’s own home in New Mexico. Okay, so it’s only a replica of the exterior of Baer’s zome complex; but still, it’s a pretty big deal. This is the first time Baer has granted Tuazon permission to recreate his experimental architecture. “What he’s interested in is developing solar technology and his own geometry for architecture, and doing it in a real way. He saw what I was doing [building a temporary reproduction] as not productive.” (Fast Company) Here’s hoping it’s beneficial for all. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

Rental accommodations in Abu Dhabi are a bit pricey (to put it mildly). But Berend Lens van Rijn has a solution: solar powered houseboats. He’s working with Netherlands-based Waterlovt to build high-end, self-sustaining houseboats that can generate around 3.5 kilowatts per hour of solar energy; that’s enough to power electronic devices, air conditioning, and appliances (Inhabitat). With their simplistic design (anyone else thinking mid-century modern?), they’re quite lovely. Check ‘em out.

We’re big supporters of solar as a sound means of saving for retirement. A story out of Portland, Oregon takes it to the next level. Attorney and Green Empowerment nonprofit founder Michael Royce, with his wife Fancie, helped plan a sustainable retirement community. Eleven townhouse-style homes share walls and a courtyard. Thanks to passive house construction (built for super efficiency) and a 25.5 kilowatt PV system, each home is net zero—meaning they generate as much power as they consume, maybe even more. (Home Power) Hopefully more retirement communities will follow suit. In doing so, maybe our older generations will not have to worry about running out of money or eating little more than Top Ramen in their twilight years.


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.