Friday Field Notes 020719

Idaho weather can be quite the prankster. We’ve enjoyed unseasonably warm weather this winter; but just as Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring, it snows. Of course, winter bluster brings out the solar naysayers. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: solar works splendidly in frigid temps (you may recall it got its start in space). Don’t believe us? Check out News Flash: Solar Works in Cold Weather by Manish Nayer, whom you might say is something of an expert on such matters (Solar Power World).

Now, for this week’s solar news . . .

Speaking of forecasts, 2019 continues to look bright in terms of solar demand. ROTH Capital financial analyst, Philip Shen predicts the global solar demand will be 119 gigawatts (GW) for the year ahead. And that’s conservative compared to other market research firms–even those with a history of underestimating solar demand (PV Tech).

If only battery technology could keep up, you say. Well, it may be getting there. Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have developed Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage (MOST). In the most simplest of terms (no pun intended): the system uses the liquid form of a molecule capable of collecting energy from solar panels and stores it at room temperature until needed. The best part? It can hold up to twice the amount of energy as Tesla’s Powerwall batteries (Good News Network).

Researchers at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) have developed a new way to calculate the solar energy potential in urban settings. Based on a correlation between a skyline profile and the annual irradiation of a certain spot, it allows for a quick assessment, without risking accuracy. That’s good news for architects and urban planners wanting to incorporate solar power technology in their designs (Science Daily).

Vietnam is looking to extend the reach of solar to even the cloudiest of regions. As an incentive, they’ll offer higher solar power payments where weather fluctuates most. According to Gavin Smith, director of clean development at Dragon Capital, an investment fund in Ho Chi Minh City, “The new tariff structure will offer a return to investors of about 6 percent to 7 percent.” (Bloomberg Environment) Of course, there could be a few setbacks to its success; do stay tuned to see how it all pans out . . .

Electricity is precious; just ask the people of Puerto Rico. In 2017, Hurricane Maria destroyed the grid and plunged the island into the longest blackout in U.S. history. ” . . . hundreds of people died simply because they couldn’t keep their insulin refrigerated, or their oxygen machines running,” says Andriana Gonzales, environmental justice organizer for Sierra Club de Puerto Rico. While some were pushing for renewable energy long before the hurricane hit, the move is now beginning to gain traction. Puerto Rico’s utility has drafted a plan that focuses on a “model of sustainability” with a shift toward solar power (ThinkProgress). It’s been a long road; here’s hoping they not only recover, but recover well–and maybe even pave a way for the rest of us to follow.

Did you know that solar dabbles in the arts? “The Solar Power Art Series (SPAS) aligns science and art, creating a platform where renewable energy meets artistic creativity. We invite a selection of international artists to employ used solar panels as an artistic medium . . .” The artwork is displayed in major cities to bring awareness to climate change and the benefit of solar; it’s then sold, with proceeds going to support solar charities. SPAS is one of the many organizations competing for the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards, in the Creative Category. Now that’s an awards ceremony we can get behind.

If there’s one thing to say for grey skies and biting wind, icy roads and snowy conditions: they provide the perfect backdrop for daydreaming of a summer adventure or two . . . taking a charter boat to view the dolphins, for instance. And if you happen to be taking “The Squid” in Key West, your excursion will be powered by the sun, with BMW i3 battery backup (Clean Technica). Fun!

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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 opinions of the writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the company, nor should they be considered professional opinion, backing, and/or advice.