The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a series of articles and studies last month that look at the rise of solar energy in American K-12 schools. “There are now 5,489 K-12 schools in the United States that use solar energy, nearly double the total solar capacity that was installed at schools in 2014” say SEIA. The movement to solar is most likely due to the 67% reduction is cost in solar installations over the past 10 years. This reduction in installation cost is from the government tax and incentive programs that have encourage individuals, commercial businesses as well as government municipality to install solar panels. The Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative Program is one example of a federal initiative to reduce the cost of solar by 75% to make it a competitive source of energy in the market.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) met for the 23rd time at the Bonn Climate Summit in Germany earlier last month. COP has met once a year since 1995 as an international forum to discuss and measure goals related to climate change. COP23 got very little international news coverage amidst recent national news stories in the United States, but it took place from November 6th- 17th to discuss the implementation of the COP21 Paris Agreement of 2015.
Urban spaces are full of rooftops with the capacity to host PV systems for solar energy collection. New York City has recently recognized this and in 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his goal of powering 100% of the city’s government buildings and operations with renewable energies. The plan on how to reach this goal has been developing for the past few years. New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA), one of the largest housing authorities in the nation, has a lot of rooftop space for solar and in 2017, a new goal was developed to “install 25 megawatts of solar panels atop the city's public housing buildings, enough capacity to power 6,600 households.” In January of 2018, the Housing Authority will start reviewing bids from companies to start the project.
Water scarcity is a pervasive issue all over the world. While there are massive amounts of water on our planet, only about 3.5% of it is fresh water and a majority of that is trapped in glaciers and ice caps. With around 7.5 billion people on this planet, “more than 650 million people lack access to clean water, and a billion do not have electricity,” which makes this an a very extensive health concern. Many researchers have been exploring recently how renewable energies could be used to combat this issue of water scarcity.
Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University, and his team have recently pioneered a new technology that could change the face of the the solar industry. This new technology is a transparent luminescent solar concentrator that can be placed on building surfaces to collect solar energy without impeding views.