Solar finished off the month of March with another strong, momentous week in its rapidly expanding industry. New solar integration into cloud computing, NREL data that has doubled prior estimates for solar and innovation in solar rooftop modeling via online software are the top headlines from this week’s Solar Energy News.
U.N. Report: Renewable Energy Investments More than Double Coal and Gas
A new report funded by the United Nations confirms that global investment in renewables totaled $286 billion last year – more than double the investment in coal and gas, which reached $130 billion in 2015. Since 2004, a cumulative $2.3 trillion has been invested in renewable energy technologies, including solar and wind power. The report also notes that 2015 investments broke the renewable energy industry’s previous record (set in 2011) by three percent. Per the report’s estimate, global CO2 emissions would have been 1.5 gigatons higher last year if not for renewable energy.
The Navy is Going Solar in Saratoga Springs, NY
The United States Navy is on its way to becoming one of the first solar-powered military organizations this week after 86 solar systems were installed on the roofs of several hundred Navy housing units in Saratoga Springs, New York. These solar installations are part of the nationwide SolarStrong initiative, which has invested more than $1 billion in solar energy projects to help power 120,000 military facilities and homes.
New Online 3D Tool Allows Solar Providers to Test Solar Panel Layouts
A new interactive online resource called Aerotool Light launched this week and has already caught the attention of solar providers in the U.S. The tool allows solar companies to use 3D modeling to design and model layouts for solar installations without ever having to do on-site visits for homeowners. Aerotool Light’s planner can create layouts within a few minutes and will allow solar installers to give faster and more accurate quotes to new solar shoppers.
Rooftop Solar Could Provide Nearly Half of Total U.S. Power
The Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has nearly doubled its projection for potential U.S. solar capacity in a new report. Last week, NREL updated previous estimates, declaring that rooftop solar alone could supply 40 percent of the nation’s power if photovoltaic systems were installed on all qualified roofs in the U.S. “Armed with this new data, municipalities, utilities, solar energy researchers, and other stakeholders will have a much-improved starting point for PV research and policymaking, both regionally and nationwide,” said Pieter Gagnon, a lead author on the NREL report.
Solar Energy is Redefining Cloud Computing and Versatile Tech
In addition to reducing electric bills for homeowners, solar energy is taking on a major role in redefining cloud computing and the future of tech. The following is a list of new instances of solar being utilized by tech innovators:
- Improved mobile device charging with clear film solar glass
- Versatile, plastic organic photovoltaics used for tracking technology
- Driverless cars powered by solar
- Google’s new internet technology run by solar drones
The main takeaway: the importance of solar technology in today’s world is not limited to rooftop solar panels. By integrating solar into cloud computing and emerging technologies, designers and entrepreneurs are more fully realizing the value that solar can bring consumers.