Friday Field Notes 021017

The big news this week: According to the 2016 National Solar Jobs Census, the solar industry employs some 260,000 people in the United States. To put that number into perspective, that’s one out of every fifty new jobs in the U.S. Another exciting fact? In the words of Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of the Solar Foundation, “Jobs have nearly tripled since we first started tracking them in 2010 and this is the fourth consecutive year that the solar industry increased its job number by 20 percent or more.” Oh, and women now make up 28 percent of the workforce (SEIA)–which is a pretty big deal.

With that, here’s more solar news from the week . . .

Speaking of solar jobs . . . according to the European Commission’s second State of the Energy Union report,  “Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties, Europe is forging ahead with the clean energy transition. There is no alternative. And the facts speak for themselves: renewable energy is now cost-competitive and sometimes cheaper than fossil fuels, employs over one million people in Europe, attracts more investments than any other sectors, and has reduced our fossil fuels imports bill by E16 billion. Now efforts will need to be sustained as Europe works with its partners to lead the global race to a more sustainable, competitive economy.” (Clean Technica) On that note, the white house may not be gun-ho for clean energy, but that doesn’t give the rest of us an excuse to let it slide. As a matter of fact, it puts more on our shoulders. So let’s get it done (we’ve done it before); let’s each commit to doing our part–in our neighborhoods, communities, and businesses–to work toward sustainability.

Earl J. Ritchie (Forbes), discusses whether the cost of wind and solar will go up as we use more of it. FYI: Earl J. Ritchie is used to giving lectures; meaning the article referenced is longer than some. If you’re interested in facts and figures, we recommend pouring yourself a steaming mug of goodness and settling in. If you’re looking for a nutshell–“Wind and solar intermittency are not likely to be very costly in the near-term, say to 2030, because most scenarios do not have them reaching high penetration levels by that time.”

Helen Salazar lives on a dirt road in Monument Valley, part of the Navajo Nation. You see, when the electrical grid spread across the United States, it skipped over parts of the Navajo Nation. That means, Helen–and 100,000 others like her–has lived her whole life without electricity. And for the first time in her eighty-eight years, she turned on a light in her kitchen, thanks to her off-grid solar system and small wind turbine. It was an idea sparked by a tourist who stopped on her property and showed her some portable solar-powered lights. “I am old and tired and exhausted,” she said through a translator. “I requested a solar energy system so I can have refrigerated food.” (Cronkite News) As you might imagine, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but this is a good start . . .

Finland may be known for Father Christmas, saunas, and Angry Birds–but the Scandinavian country does not tend to make headlines for solar . . . until now. Thanks to a dip in cost, solar panels are starting to pop up. As a matter of fact, according to the latest PV Barometer released by EurObserv’ER, Finland’s total PV capacity rose from 11.2 to 14.7 megawatts in 2015 (PV Magazine). But wait, you say, don’t the short winter days make solar power impossible? No, no they do notthanks to long stretches of daylight in the summer (as in twenty hours or more).

A new study by Queensland University of Technology finds people with higher incomes and better education no longer dominate demand for the residential solar market in Queensland. Dr. Jeff Sommerfeld explains, “. . . the current uptake of solar PV is based on a complex mix of demographic factors rather than taking for granted a person’s income, education, or living in trendy suburbs. Despite the initial upfront investment, the vast majority of people acquiring solar are in outer suburbs that often have lower than average incomes” (Science Daily) It’s one of the many things we love about solar, the way it blurs lines: it’s adopted by men and women; across political lines; with no thought to race, ethnicity, or social status, for home and business. In that, it just might teach us a thing or two.

UPS announced they’re investing $18 million for onsite solar systems–installations are expected to be completed by the end of the year (2017).  “Solar technology is a proven way to effectively and efficiently provide long-term power to our facilities,” said Bill Moir, director of Facilities Procurement at UPS. “We have a significant number of facilities that are well positioned to deploy solar at scale and increase our sustainable energy options for our buildings and electric vehicles.” (Sustainable Brands)

Imagine, if you will, the power goes out at the most inopportune moment (as it is wont to do). But rather than panic, you calmly say, Let me just grab my briefcase. Sound crazy? Not if your briefcase happens to be a Phoenix–a solar powered generator in a briefcase–by Renology.  Check it out (Treehugger). . .

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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.