Friday Field Notes 031519

The first week of Daylight Saving Time can be brutal. Brutal, I tell you! Yet longer days hint of good things to come: blue skies, sunshine, adventures in the great outdoors. Speaking of which, Inhabitat introduces us to the hybrid houseboat (electric + solar power) from +31Architects.  Now I don’t consider myself a boat person, but after perusing those photos, it suddenly seems a mighty fine way to spend the hours. As a matter of fact, it brings to mind Huckleberry Finn: “We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a kind of low chuckle. We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.”

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

A few years ago, Minnesota relied heavily on coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy for electricity. Then, in 2017, an integrated wind + solar power plant was proposed. Being the first state to warm to the idea of a renewable energy hybrid, they had a few things to work through. But they’re on their way now; the system is expected to go online in the comings weeks (Clean Technica).

Remember a few weeks back when it was announced China was looking to build a solar farm in space? Well, details are beginning to trickle in. P.S. China is not the only one eyeballing space to increase efficiency here on earth. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology, for one, have been working on a prototype solar panel to transmit solar energy from space (Power Technology). It’s like a green space race . . .

A handful of engineers have apparently gone to the dark side. Specifically, they propose injecting sulfate aerosols into the high atmosphere to dim the sun’s rays (similar to what happens naturally after a big volcanic eruption), to cool the earth (The Atlantic). I did not make this up. Quite frankly, I tend to side with Alan Robock, a professor of environmental sciences at Rutgers, “I don’t think it is correct to imply that geo-engineering is a good or safe idea.”

Then there’s Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania state representative Tom Mehaffie has introduced a bill that would add nuclear to the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS). Mark Szybist, senior attorney for climate and clean energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a few choice words on the subject: “This bill is nothing more than a windfall for aging, uneconomical nuclear power plants. It fails to limit carbon pollution or advance commonsense energy policy that transitions Pennsylvania away from nuclear power and dirty fossil fuels to renewable sources and energy efficiency. Moving this myopic bill forward would be a reckless failure of leadership, hinder meaningful job creation, and squander the opportunity to put Pennsylvania on track toward a clean energy future.” (Solar Industry Magazine) That about sums it up.

The village of Sao Domingos, Brazil, has a fascinating history. Its original inhabitants escaped slavery in the surrounding goldmines. Living in fear of recapture, the Kalunga (the largest population of slave decedents in the country) stayed in the Brazilian wilderness, away from the outside world. Even today, they are living without many basics. “We’ve been virtually forgotten here,” says Adir Sousa. “We have no one to help us. We have no roads, no clean water, no high school, no electricity. We have nothing.” But Sousa is working to change things. A start: learning to turn old water bottles into solar powered lamps (Deutsche Welle).

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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.