Friday Field Notes 011317

We miss summer. Sigh. Thankfully, people continue to look toward warmer days. So when we’re not shoveling snow from our driveways, walkways, and rooftops, when we’re not helping “someone” with a shed roof that collapsed (thanks, dad!), we’re biding our time indoors, working on quotes, planning our course for the coming months. Many in the service industry are not quite so lucky. With that, a big shout out to all those who’ve had to brave the cold treacherous conditions, day in, day out, to make sure we’re safe — and have what we need: first responders (police, firefighters, EMTs), those who deliver mail and packages; to those who’ve been working long, exhausting hours without a day off (and none in sight): disaster response teams, those in plumbing, HVAC, and restoration; to those who’ve pushed fear and weariness aside to get out there and do what needs to be done; to those who’ve helped your neighbor (when you certainly didn’t have to). . . thank you. Truly, we appreciate all that you do.

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

Last week, Tesla and Panasonic officially kicked off the mass production of lithium-ion battery cells at the Gigafactory outside Sparks, Nevada. The big news this week: the Gigafactory will be powered by solar (The Verge). “Wait, we already knew about the 70-megawatt solar farm,” you say. But did you know about the 70-megawatt solar system on the rooftop, or the closed-loop water system that will circulate 400,000 gallons of water . . . or the onsite battery reprocessing facility? Even if you’re in the know, it should be quite a sight to behold.

You may recall: Giant Leap Solar received an award of $1,750,000 from the Energy Department to develop a cutting-edge, 3-D-printed concentrating solar technology called “Digital Glass.” But there’s a catch. Their federal financing is contingent on a match of almost $500,000 by January 30 (Clean Technica). The countdown begins and they’re only halfway there. Here’s hoping for the best; because nothing beats a good underdog story.

Across the pond, Imperial College London is joining forces with climate change charity 10:10 to research solar powered trains. Specifically, they’re looking to use track-side solar panels to power trains. It’s not an easy task, mind. 10:10’s Leo Murray explains, “What is particularly galling is that peak generation from solar and peak demand from trains more or less match, but we can’t connect the two. I actually believe this represents a real opportunity for some innovative thinking.” (The Guardian) Great minds, working together to find a way to do something that can’t be done. Intriguing, no?

Israel’s Negev desert will soon boast the world’s tallest solar power tower. When complete (end of the year), it will stand 820 feet, and be surrounded by a 121 megawatt concentrated solar complex (Digital Journal). Take a look at the mockups. Doesn’t it look like something in a sci-fi novel? We may not be the biggest fan of concentrated solar power — but that’s something.

You know, it’s always a bad sign when you can see the air better than you can see actual objects around you. Such is the case in the Chinese capital of Beijing. To address the issue, governmental officials are creating an “environmental police force.” This specialized police force will be tasked with hunting down those who continue to pollute the air (Clean Technica). It’s unclear what will happen to those individuals. And people in the United States complain about those who simply want policies that support solar.

Here’s some good news coming out of Nevada: all of the city-owned buildings–including the lights inside City Hall, lighting in city parks, and some 48,000 streetlights–in Las Vegas are now powered by renewable energy. For those of you wondering if such a change would be worth it, Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman says, “the move to renewable energy has been seamless.” (Motherboard) Now, the city is expected to save $5 million a year (with a nine- to ten-year payback). Not to mention the environmental benefits. Seems like it would be worth it.

And here’s a look at the Top 13 Clean Energy Developments of 2016 (Rocky Mountain Institute). Looks like 2017 has some mighty big shoes to fill. I don’t know about you, but we look forward to seeing what it comes up with . . .


Now, for our disclaimer: Friday Field Notes is a weekly post that highlights 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 commentary are purely the opinion of the writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the company; nor should they be professional opinion, backing and/or advice.