An unusual, groundbreaking solar plus energy-storage microgrid project in Rutland, Vt., was recently announced. The Stafford Hill Solar Farm is being developed by Green Mountain Power in collaboration with Dynapower and GroSolar.
You could call it utility-scale renewables 3.0. The previous two phases focused on getting large solar arrays and wind farms up and running (1.0) and then boosting their output (2.0). Today, developers are looking beyond just adding more rows of panels or bigger turbines to their plans.
Renewable power is all about innovation. One new breakthrough begets another, and the cycle persists as we continue to do more with less.
The growth of solar power is no exception, as the technology of photovoltaics (PV) benefits from innovations in cell materials and other component parts.
Less than one year after raising the ire of solar-power advocates by imposing feed-in tariffs on homeowners with rooftop installations, the Arizona Public Service Co. has come up with a completely different proposal that is likely to generate just as much opposition.
Solar-power researchers are always trying to squeeze more power out of their devices. After all, more power from solar cells effectively lowers the overall cost, and a more cost-effective cell will make solar photovoltaics more competitive with other forms of electrical generation.
The evolution of lighting technology is touching every aspect of society. Smart technology and alternative sources of energy are similarly expanding their reach, leading to a range of innovations even in street lighting.
As with many long-term investments, the upfront cost of implementation is one of solar power’s biggest challenges. Many companies offer assistance to energy consumers, but the latest is a joint effort to get photovoltaics (PVs) on homes.
A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say liquid metals could provide the solution to the solar energy-storage problem, ensuring that the power is available at all times and not just when the sun is shining.
It’s well-known in the recent history of transformative technology that many innovations first came as military breakthroughs. Radar, microwave radiation, GPS and the Internet, for example, had a profound impact on warcraft before they so dramatically altered society and consumerism.
Solar photovoltaics and electric vehicles (EVs) are two shining stars of the sustainable-energy movement. Despite their growing market shares, limitations remain, and few would have guessed that pairing these technologies would offer relief.
Like all renewables, solar power faces a number of obstacles in its quest for mainstream growth. Overcoming those obstacles demands creativity, innovation and an open mind—and not just on the level of engineering and science.