Friday Field Notes 012519

Look at us, taking a year off. Just kidding; we did nothing of the sort. Twenty-eighteen simply found us in the middle of a myriad of projects and the blog took a backseat. But due to popular demand, we’re back! After all, we missed you. And we missed sharing a few of the things happenings in the field of solar.

So without further ado, here’s the week in solar news . . .

If you’re wondering What Changed in the Solar & Energy Storage Industries in 2018?–Clean Technica offers a good overview . . .

Congratulations to Massachusetts for earning an A and taking first place in the 2019 State Solar Power Rankings Report (Solar Power Rocks). We don’t really want to talk about the grade Idaho received. On the flip side: we love a good underdog story. Idaho’s full of great folks: men and women who know a thing or two, including how to work hard for what’s right. We continue to hold out hope–we just have to keep working together to turn things around.

According to a report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), non-hydroelectric renewable energy is projected to be the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the United States. Specifically, the EIA forecasts that the volume of utility-scale solar will increase by 10 percent in 2019 and by 17 percent in 2020, while small-scale solar will increase up to 44 percent in the next two years.

Ever wonder how solar power compares to wind in terms of operational risk and performance? If so, you may be interested in a study consisting of 41 wind projects and 16 solar power projects. Fitch Ratings recently released their findings. According to Fitch Ratings Director, Andrew Joynt, “Solar Projects are demonstrating lower operational risks, better generation performance and lower volatility. Solar projects also tend to meet or exceed initial volume estimates while wind projects more often under-perform against expectations.” (PV Magazine)

A couple years ago Facebook announced plans to develop solar-powered drones to beam internet to even the most remote villages of the world. Their plan was grounded last year . . . or was it? The word on the street: Facebook has teamed up with Airbus to test solar-powered drones in Australia (Tech Crunch).

For those living in the East African country of Malawi, electricity is practically nonexistent (only 12 percent of Malawi’s population is connected to the main electricity grid). But thanks to an initiative led by Strathclyde University researchers–and backed by a grant from the Scottish government–the future’s beginning to brighten. In a nutshell, the project helps businesses keep their lights on by generating electricity from solar power; it has also supplied solar power to two schools and two health clinics. Professor Stuart Galloway, who led the initiative, explains one of the benefits: “[. . .] schools which use renewable energy are recording large numbers of students studying at night, and the most recent exam results indicate a substantial improvement in pass rates.” (BBC News)

In 2018, the Illinois Commerce Commission finalized the state’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, thus paving the way to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. But advocates in Aurora, the second-largest city in Illinois, want to take it a step further. They are shooting for 50 percent renewable within the next ten years, even if it means thinking outside the box. After all, in the words of the city’s Sustainable Aurora Advisory Board chairwoman, Caryl Riley, “If you don’t set a goal, you’re never going to reach it, right? So even if you set the goal to say 50 percent and you come up short and hit 20 percent, are you not in a better place than you were?” (Chicago Tribune) That seems a mighty fine mantra for renewable energy, and life in general.

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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.