What's Happening This Week With Solar

Tue, 2014-06-03 15:26

There's a lot going on this week with the solar industry, from new reports and data summarizing first quarter growth to futuristic solar roadways and planes. Here at Everblue, our goal is to educate and inform our audience so they can join the green workforce from a competitive vantage point. With that in mind, we've summarized the most important developments in solar this week to keep you in the know.

U.S. Residential Solar Surpasses Commercial Installations for the First Time

Last Thursday, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the Q1 2014 Solar Market Insight Report. Its findings show that the first quarter of 2014 was another big one for the U.S. solar industry, with 74 percent of all new electric generating capacity across the country coming from solar power! There were 1,330 megawatts of power installed during the first quarter, bringing the total installed capacity of solar up to 14.8 gigawatts.

This was the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power (CSP), a method of large-scale solar generation that uses a unique “salt battery” to allow the solar plant to keep producing power even when the sun goes down. In addition, this was the first time in the history of SEIA’s reports that the residential solar installations surpassed commercial. There were 232 MW of residential PV installed in the first quarter, compared to 225 MW of commercial solar.

The United States’ solar market is off to a strong start in 2014. GTM Research and SEIA forecast 6.6 gigawatts of PV will be installed in the U.S. by the end of the year, up 39% over 2013.

“Solar energy is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power 3 million American homes, while creating thousands of new jobs nationwide and pumping nearly $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch.

Solar-Roadway Backers Set Crowdfunding Record

By now, you have probably heard about, one couple’s Indiegogo campaign to fund the manufacture of “solar roadways.” This solar roadway would be made up of solar panels, heating elements, and a grid of wireless LED lights encased in durable glass that has the same traction as asphalt and doesn’t cause glare. The panels generate electricity that could be used to melt snow and ice, spell warnings for motorists, or be connected to weight- sensitive panels that illuminate a crosswalk when activated. It can even be connected to a smart grid that could power nearby homes and businesses or electric cars.

It’s such a compelling idea that so far over 43,000 people have backed the project on Indiegogo, with total contributions of over $1.8 million as of the date this was posted. This surpasses the previous Indiegogo record for the most individual contributions to a single campaign that was held by Matthew Inman’s effort to raise money for a Nikola Tesla museum, to which 33,000 people contributed.

Solar-Powered Plane Makes Two-Hour Test Flight

A solar-powered plane slated to circumnavigate the globe next year made its first flight, a short trip from a Swiss airfield early Monday. In 2013, its predecessor, the Solar Impulse 1, became the first solar-powered plane capable of flying day and night to complete a journey across the U.S.

The Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan of 72 m (236 ft) in width, about the same as a Boeing 747’s, and the tops of the wings are covered by 18,000 solar cells, which drive four brushless electric motors at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries, which then power the plane at night. The plane is said to weigh about the same as a large car.


The initial results are in line with calculations and simulations, but more flights will be conducted in the coming months in order for the experimental machine to attain certification before its round-the-world journey in 2015.

To become a part of the growing solar movement, consider enrolling in our Solar PV Associate, Solar PV Installer, or Solar Sales Professional courses.

By Danielle Whitman


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