Friday Field Notes 051019

Mother’s Day is Sunday. Speaking of women who birthed and/or raised us . . . actually, speaking of women in general . . . we are woefully underrepresented in the solar industry. According to the U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019, men make up 74% of the solar workforce and, as is so often the case, they make more money than their female counterparts. Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of Solar Foundation and Solar Industries Association (SEIA) reminds, “As leaders, we have responsibility to create cultural change and address the systemic forces that have allowed discrimination to fester. We need to take account of our own actions and ask ourselves, are we doing enough? It’s imperative that we take proactive steps to advance these issues, because it isn’t going to happen on its own.” (PV Magazine)

With that, here’s a look at more solar news from the week . . .

Good news for gluten-intolerant beer-lovers: Timeless Seeds plans to develop a gluten-free beer with its black Beluga lentil. What does this have to do with solar, you ask? Well, it just so happens they’ve also installed solar power. They expect their system to generate enough power to cover up to 40% of their electricity usage; the rest will be covered by renewable energy sources from Montana Power Portfolio. (ABC Fox Montana) Cheers, to that!

Ten lighthouses in British Columbia are moving toward solar and wind power. This shift not only benefits the environment, it benefits the people living in that environment, too. One, it cuts back on costly and dangerous fuel deliveries; two, it gives lighthouse keepers a bit of solitude (diesel generators constantly running in the background raise something of a ruckus). “This station’s been here since 1874, so it’s been for many years running on diesel generator,” says Karen Zacharuk, the principal keeper at the Cape Beale Lighthouse near Bamfield on Vancouver Island’s west coast. “It’s nice to finally get some renewable energy.” (CBC News)

We’ve highlighted schools going solar in the past. Clean Technica reports on the benefits, not the least of which is cost savings: “Not only would free electricity from the sun lower utility bills for many schools, adding solar panels could confer an economic benefit on society equivalent to $4 billion a year. That number is arrived at by valuing each ton of carbon dioxide kept out of the atmosphere at $40 and valuing each life saved by reducing atmospheric pollution using generally accepted actuarial standards.”

With summer on the way, farmers are gearing up for the time consuming task that is proper irrigation. In case you’re unfamiliar with such shenanigans, irrigating crops can take hours: driving from field to field, checking soil conditions and checking for leaks, turning irrigation valves on and off. WaterBit makes it easier. Employing cloud technology, WaterBit allows farmers to measure water levels (and apply more water, if needed) without stepping foot outside of their trucks. Oh, and it’s solar powered, too (Forbes).

The future of Virginia’s solar industry is not nearly as dire as many feared in January of this year (2019)–thanks, in large part, to solar advocates keeping the conversation going. “Our approach is, ‘Let’s get together to see what we can work out,'” says David Murray, executive director of the trade association for Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. “Every legislative process I’ve ever been in, there has been an instance where legislators said we need to have stakeholders sitting around the table and coming to some form of agreement.” (Energy News) What a novel idea!

Community solar is starting to take off.  If you’re considering it, John Farrell explains why Minnesota’s Community Solar Program is the Best . . . or, in the words of locals, why “Minnesota’s community solar program is not too bad.” (Clean Technica)

If you’ve been around for a certain length of time, you may recall Disneyland’s House of the Future. Well, there’s a new take on an old classic: the solar-powered FutureHAUS. The winner of the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, FutureHAUS will be on display in Times Square, New York, May 10-22 (The Architects Newspaper). So if you happen to be in the neighborhood, go check it out; if not, well, I guess you’ll just have to read about it. For now.

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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.