Friday Field Notes 042619

We celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week. According to Gaylord Nelson, American politician, environmentalist, and founder of Earth Day, “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and biodiversity . . . that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”  In that, it would behoove us to take care, every day. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration in the links ahead.

So, without further ado, here’s a look at solar news from the week . . .

All signs are pointing to 2019 as a record year for the solar industry. The International Business Times offers a run-down.

Ashley Furniture has committed to installing solar on ten of its largest U.S. facilities. They’ll be taking a phased approach to installation; construction on the first site started this week. “We need a lot of energy to manufacture our products, and it only makes sense to use renewable sources,” said Ron Wanek, Ashley founder and chairman. “This is a long-term investment, not only for Ashley, but for our environment. We are taking proactive steps and hope to see others in our industry join us.” (Furniture Today)

And John Hopkins announced its plan to meet roughly two-thirds of its overall energy needs with solar power . . . making it the largest commitment to solar in Maryland, to date. Their fifteen-year agreement with Constellation, will kick off in 2021. “When we pledged to more than halve our carbon emissions by 2025, we knew it would require rethinking how we power and operate our university,” John Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels says.  This agreement demonstrates the seriousness of our commitment to sustainability for the good of our university and our planet.” (HUB: John Hopkins University)

So, what to you do if you’re a city dweller and haven’t the space for solar panels? Well, you might lease a rooftop. And if you live in New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has you covered. At least, that’s their plan. The MTA intends to lease more than 100 rooftops. Once the project is fully up and running, it could generate over 100 megawatts of renewable energy–enough to power 18,000 households in New York (Curbed New York).

On the Adijk reservoir in north Holland, Dutch engineers are building the world’s largest floating, sun-seeking solar farm. The fifteen “solar islands,” made up of 73,500 solar panels, will move to follow the light. Arnoud van Druten, the managing director of Floating Solar explains, “Andijk is a very severe environment, so we have optimal solar tracking, which is generating extra energy, and weather risk management (WRM), which is a technology that makes sure that if an island is under severe pressure due to wind or storms, it moves itself automatically in a position so the wind and waves travel easily through the island.” Oh, and without WRM? The system can withstand wind speeds of around 60 mph. (The Guardian) If you know me at all, you know I’m not the biggest fan of floating solar farms; but even I must admit this system holds some intrigue.

In South Africa, widespread blackouts can cost the country’s economy up to $284 million every single day. That’s why more people (including the younger generations) are looking to solar for stable electricity and a brighter future. In the words of Frans Van der Merwe (who’s 300-year-old fruit farm is powered by renewable energy), “We have taken so much from this Earth, that I think it’s time that we give something back.” (CBS News)

Solar-powered flying cell phone towers sound something of a sci-fi novel. However, they just might be a little closer to reality thanks to High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones (and solar power, naturally). (Drone Life)

Speaking of good reads, I’m always up for a bit of history. If the same might be said of you, check out the Smithsonian’s “A Brief History of Solar Panels,” by Elizabeth Chu and D. Lawrence Tarazano, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Then sit back and see what the next chapter has in store (or better yet, invent it yourself)!

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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.