Friday Field Notes 010617

Happy New Year!  If you’d like to ease into the year slowly, with a diversion or two, here’s a look at what’s up in the night sky for January (courtesy of NASA). Of course, that’s given you can actually see the night sky. Hope springs eternal for the rest of us.

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

Solar’s starting strong in 2017. According to the numbers (and Bloomberg), Solar could beat coal to become the cheapest power on earth . . . within the next few years. According to Sami Khoreibi, founder and chief executive officer of Environmena Power Systems, “We’re seeing a new reality where solar is the lowest-cost source of energy, and I don’t see an end in sight in terms of the decline in costs.”

Also starting the year off strong: Ohio. Governor John Kasich put the kibosh on an extension to the state’s renewable energy freeze. Specifically, he vetoed House Bill 554, saying the measure “amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state’s near- and long-term economic competitiveness.” (Governing) As you may imagine, defying a House and Senate controlled by fellow Republicans has ruffled a few feathers. I, for one, tip my hat to governor Kasich–for looking at the facts and figures, and doing what’s right.

The Solar Energy Finance Association (SEFA) is joining forces with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). SEFA President, Mary Rottman, explains the move: “As a new organization, sometimes it was a struggle to have the resources to implement our ideas. [Now] we can focus all our energies on the problems at hand in solar finance and not as much on the day-to-day running of the organization.”Oh, and if you can’t remember which is which, Green Tech Media offers a handy mnemonic: “SEIA later, SEFA.” Ha! They slay . . .

A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests a $7 million public investment to encourage Vermont home-and business owners to invest in clean energy, would leverage $148 million in private sector investments over fifteen years. “Combining existing state clean energy programs with more robust private sector funding can be more predictable and sustainable route to achieving large scale deployment of solar and renewable goals in the Northeast states,” says Mike Trahan, co-director of NESEMC, an alliance of clean energy groups (Clean Technica). Seems a win for everyone, no?

In Scotland, some 300,000 homes are powered by locally owned renewable power projects–in large part due to the fact that the Scottish government realizes these projects do more than reduce carbon pollution. According to energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, “Locally owned renewables have the potential to drive social, economic, and environmental change in communities across Scotland. These projects frequently generate funds that can be spent at local people’s discretion on a wide range of projects that reflect local communities’ priorities, as well as playing an important role in our energy mix and helping us meet our vital climate change obligations.” (Eco Watch) A governing body that gets it; what a delightful thought.

Here’s a look at what would happen if you put solar panels on Suncorp Stadium, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and Roma Street Station (SPOILER ALERT: they could power 1,200 homes and set the community up to save $30 million from electricity bills). Research from UNSW/Australian Photo Voltaic Institute breaks it down. And if you’re wondering how those panels would hold up in some of the storms we’ve heard about lately–Dr. Anna Bruce, from UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, explains: “When you look at media reports into where there have been large hail-storms there is virtually no reported PV cells with damage being done to them.” (Brisbane Times) We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again–solar panels are built to endure years, and whatever those years might throw at them.

We’ve seen solar panels on rooftops and parking lots, on planes, trains, and automobiles; we seen them incorporated into windows, roadways–even fabric. And now? Well, now solar panels just might be embedded under our skin. Eek! I know . . . the thought kinda freaked me out at first, too. Here’s the story: Swiss researchers + thirty-two volunteers joined forces for a six-month study. Volunteers wore a box strapped to their arms with filters simulating human skin, which contained solar panels, batteries, and electronics–then they went about their business. The wee systems generated more than enough electricity (going into autumn and winter months, mind you) to power a cardiac pacemaker (Quartz). There’s more work to be done, naturally–but it looks like we’re on our way.


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.