Friday Field Notes 110416


In case you forgot to change your calendar, it’s November. November, I tell you!  The holiday season is officially upon us. With the hustle and bustle that’s sure to ensue, let’s not forget to look up. You see, the sky’s planning a few festivities all its own–including a super-sized full moon (the largest of the year). Thanks to The Sierra Club for giving us the low-down.

With that, here’s the week in solar news . . .

We’ve highlighted the sneakiness of Florida’s Amendment 1 before (if you missed it: it seems pro-solar, but it most definitely is not). Well, this week the figures were let out of the bag. Specifically, electric companies have spent some $42.7 million to finance and promote the amendment. Shenanigans such as these are nothing new, mind you; but that doesn’t make it right. In the words of Bob Graham (former Florida U.S. Senator), ” I’m discouraged as a citizen how far we have slipped and see Amendment 1 as a means of accelerating that decline in solar in Florida.” (Miami Herald) Of course, if you do not live in Florida, you may be tempted to think it does not apply to you. Hold on, Hoss. When policies such as these pass, they have a way of setting a precedent. It’s important we educate ourselves, know what what’s going on, and work to help others do the same.

Did you catch the big “reveal” of the Tesla rooftops? From what I’ve read, it was a bit of a let-down (in terms of questions answered) . . . but the mock-ups were quite lovely. All that aside, here’s the latest: the Tesla Model 3 sedan will employ some of the same glass technology as the solar roof tiles. Elon Musk took to Twitter to explain, “Solar glass tiles can also incorporate heating elements, like rear defroster on a car, to clear roof of snow and keep generating energy.” So, there’s that.

Over in Massachusetts, the Mount Tom Power Station (one of the worst polluters in New England) is making the switch from coal to solar. As a matter of fact, they broke ground on a 5.76 megawatt (MW) solar farm, just this month. Once up and running, it will produce enough to power one thousand homes. It’s quite an achievement, all the way around. In the words of Claire B.W. Miller, lead community organizer for the Toxics Action Center, “This victory came after more than five decades spent inhaling soot and struggling to breathe, and more than five years of organizing to retire and repurpose the Mount Tom coal plant.” (Eco Watch) May it be a reminder to us all to stick with it and see it through.

Speaking of which, students in Alberta, Canada, are getting what they asked for: solar panels. The provincial government in Alberta has announced funding for solar panels at dozens of school projects. According to Minister of Education David Eggen, ” We have heard directly from students from across Alberta and their message is clear–they want us to be leaders on climate change.” (Solar Daily) Gives you a little hope for the future, doesn’t it?

If you’re looking to the future, and perusing career options, you might consider the field of renewable energy. In addition to engineering and business degrees, new master degree programs for the renewable energy economy are popping up all the time. As it happens, Clean Technica gives you the scoop.

Sweden’s InnoVentum has designed a two-car solar-powered carport. If you’re thinking “seen one solar-powered carport, seen them all,” think again. The Giraffe 2.0 integrates both wind and solar power to charge your electric car or even your home (Clean Technica).  And the design is something.

And check out the work of Zero Mass Water, a sustainable water startup; specifically, check out their first product, Source. What appears to be little more than a solar panel affixed to a metal box, actually pulls clean drinking water out of thin air–around five liters a day, if you’re curious. Truly. It collects water vapor, turns it to liquid, adds in a few minerals (to bring the pH levels up), then stores it in a reservoir connected to a pipe (Business Insider). As Zero Mass Water CEO Cody Frisen says, “When you’re making solar energy, you have to use it or lose it unless you have a battery. In our case, we’re storing solar energy in a glass.” Seeing how we’re in the month of gratitude and all, I’m gonna go ahead and put smart people at the top of my list.


Now, for our disclaimer: Friday Field 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.