Friday Field Notes 030819

Sorry for the radio silence. A person must break away for fun and frivolity every now and again. Now that I’m back, we’ll get back to it. (P.S. If you happen to be one of our readers in Europe, don’t miss Solar Payback Trends 2019, from Solar Daily. Of course, even if you aren’t in Europe, you might find it interesting. Take Sweden, for example: their solar market has increased by 50 percent annually!)

Now, for this week’s solar news . . .

Speaking of fun and frivolity, spring break will be here before we know it. And over 200 students from 22 colleges and universities in 15 states will be spending their time installing no-cost solar for low-income families. “Solar Spring Break gives students who are passionate about renewable energy the chance to see how solar power technology’s real-world benefits make more resilient communities,” says GRID Alternative CEO and co-founder Erica Mackie (Solar Power World).

In case you’re curious, U.S. solar generated 100 times more electricity in 2018 than it did in 2008. One-hundred times! And it’s not looking to slow down any time soon. If it keeps growing like it has for the past decade, it could triple its output to produce nearly 7 percent of the nation’s electricity within five years (Solar Power World).

You may recall southern California’s devastating Thomas Fire in December of 2017 (and the mud slides that followed). While we don’t like to think of such disasters happening again, if they do, the Clean Coalition and the World Business Academy wants to ensure the continuous operation of critical and priority facilities. Their solution: the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative . . . at least, it’s the start of their solution. They hope this microgrid will serve as a model for others to follow. Montecito Fire Chief Chip Hickman explains why it’s so important: “The Fire Department is all too familiar with the dangers posed by extreme weather events like the Thomas Fire and the subsequent debris flow. This modern energy system will enable us to better serve the Montecito community, as well as provide much needed redundancy to our essential service.” (Clean Technica)

In the next two years, a 495-megawatt solar plant plus 495-megawatt battery storage facility in West Texas is expected to go online. It’s set to be one of the nation’s largest solar storage projects (Houston Chronicle). Everything’s bigger in Texas . . .

Microsoft shan’t be left out of the clean energy bandwagon. They signed a 15-year power purchase agreement for the energy produced by a 74-megawatt solar power facility in North Carolina. It will increase their renewable energy portfolio to more than 1.3 gigawatts. In the words of Brian Janous, general manager of Energy and Sustainability at Microsoft, “When we invest in renewable energy, we are investing in the future–enabling sustainable growth of our business, of the clean energy sector, and the local communities that benefit economically from Microsoft’s commitment to sustainability.” (CNBC)

In developing countries, solar power is more than a money-saving solution that’s good for the environment; it just might be the difference between life and death. That’s why Beth Parks took advantage of her Fulbright fellowship in Uganda to work with students at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology to design and test a more cost efficient tracker. Together they improved cell efficiency with a bucket of rocks and a bucket of water (TechXplore).

There could soon be a new electric car (+ solar power) on the road. Germany startup, Sono Motors, unveiled an updated production design of its Sion. Equipped with a battery pack that charges much like any other electric car, it also boasts integrated solar cells. And while the solar cells charge the vehicle a bit slower, they also add up to 30 km (around 19 miles) a day (Electrek).

To come full circle, here’s the winner of the best headline of the week: Good news! Europe’s electric grid will still work even as the world crumbles (ScienceDaily). Thanks to wind and solar mind you. So, they’ve got that going for them . . .

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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 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.