Friday Field Notes 012016

Ah, Friday. And not just any ol’ Friday–it’s inauguration day. One that has many environmentalists crying in despair; especially with the likes of this little gem: Proposed legislation coming out of Wyoming basically outlaws renewable energy in the state. If passed, the Electricity Production Standard would only allow electric power to be generated using a pre-approved source–and neither wind nor solar make the cut. Not only that, but if utilities did use wind or solar, they would incur a penalty of $10 per megawatt hour. “I don’t know how seriously to take it,” Representative Marti Halverson told the Jackson Hold News & Guide. “My guess is it’s a little push back to the legislation that is being passed in other states that’s saying, ‘No coal, no how.'” (Forbes) Whatever the story, it’s a good reminder that no matter how we’ve worked toward the success of renewable energy, we must work all the harder in the coming days, months, and years. And not simply to argue our way is the right way–but to continue learning and researching; to continue thinking of future generations; to continue educating and having thoughtful conversations; to continue striving to work together for a brighter tomorrow.

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

In case you’re wondering which states make it easy to go solar, the new study, Corporate clean energy procurement index: State leadership and rankings, breaks it down (Eco Watch). For example: Iowa leads the pack–not to be confused with Idaho, which limps in third to last. It’s embarrassing really. But, thankfully, we love a good underdog story.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO)–who manages the grid for most of the state–recently released test results showing large-scale solar plants, with the right type of inverter technology, “may mitigate the impact of its variability on the grid, and contribute to important system requirements more like traditional generators.” (Union of Concerned Scientists) Looks like the infamous argument against solar (“renewable energy will never work, never, because of its inconsistency on the grid”) is losing ground. Sure, there remains work to be done, but we’re moving in the right direction.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the “U.S. Energy and Employment Report.” Care to guess our largest employer in the electric power generation industry? Solar. Solar Technologies (both PV and concentrated, mind you) employ almost 374,000 workers–more than coal and gas (Forbes).

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant by 2021–more than a decade ahead of schedule. This is not the first nuclear power plant to close earlier than expected, mind you. As for New York, Cuomo is betting on wind and solar to pick up the slack (Clean Technica). P.S. Some argue nuclear power is the only reliable answer to clean power. As you might imagine, we do not agree–but not simply because we root for solar. If you’re curious, here are a couple articles that touch on why: Why nuclear energy is not the answer (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) | Nuclear power is not the answer (Global Research).

Libya faces deepening political and security crises as rival factions compete for control. Military conflict, sabotage, mismanagement has led to power cuts and outages. The most recent: a major blackout left Tripoli (the capital city) and other major cities in darkness for days. In response, solar has been powering two hospitals in Tripoli, part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Noura Hamladji, UNDP Libya director, explains, “Our primary objective is life-saving. Introducing clean and environment friendly technology to keep hospitals up and running with no interruptions. The off-grid solution is working 24-hours a day.” (Motherboard)

The wee city of Varnamo, Sweden is electrifying–in terms of their up and coming bus fleet, at least. By autumn of this year (2017) their public transit system will consist of four Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid buses. “It’s impressive and really gratifying that Varnamo has now decided to lead the way and create a sustainable public transport system based on our hybrid buses. Electrically powered buses are the future for both large cities and small towns,” stated Martin Spjern, Key Account Manager Nordic at Volvo Buses (Clean Technica). No pressure or anything, but the rest of us will be watching.

Speaking of electric vehicles, researchers from the University of Bath and the University of Illinois at Chicago, hope their discoveries will lead to faster charging lithium batteries (EurekaAlert!). I shan’t even attempt to explain their findings. I shall, however, look forward to seeing where it leads . . .

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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.