The solar industry is soaring in 2016 just like the solar-powered plane that soared for 72 hours across the Pacific this past week. The arrival of Solar Impulse 2 in California, a new solar-powered town under construction in Florida and a mass migration of Texas workers from the oil industry to solar are three of the headlines you need to know in this week’s solar energy news report.
Florida Readies First All Sustainable, Solar Powered Town
Former NFL football player Syd Kitson has evolved into a sustainable developer following his dream to build a town run entirely on renewable energy. Kitson, who played for the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in his five-year pro football career, purchased Babcock Ranch in southwestern Florida just under a decade ago to realize his vision for a completely sustainable city. The first phase of 1,100 houses is expected to be complete in 2017, and the 91,000 acre ranch will eventually provide homes for 50,000 people. Florida’s new town will be the first of its kind to be powered entirely by photovoltaic energy.
With Oil Jobs in Decline, Workers Flood to Solar Industry
Recent projections that solar is quickly outpacing fossil fuels were reinforced this week in a report from the Wall Street Journal on Texas’ struggling oil industry. Due to the plummeting value of oil, more than 84,000 drillers and producers have lost their jobs in Texas. Many of them are now finding a new home working in the solar sector, which is expected to create 30,000 new jobs in 2016. Solar farms near the border of New Mexico, like the Alamo 6 solar farm in McCamey, are attracting the likes of rig hands and engineers to install massive solar panel equipment that will eventually power the Southwest.
Solar Impulse Seen Around the World in Iconic Solar-Powered Flight
The impressive achievements by Solar Impulse 2, one of the world’s first long-distance all-solar aircraft, reached new heights this week after the plane arrived in California following a three-day trek across the Pacific Ocean. During the recent trip, the plane was piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard who was brave enough to take the photovoltaic aircraft across the Pacific with no emergency landing sites available. He and his copilot flew nonstop for 62 hours and commented after landing that he felt “completely confident” during the journey and had ultimate trust in the plane’s solar power technology.
SunPower and AT&T Launch Wireless Solar Effort, Boost Residential Market
Solar provider SunPower and communications company AT&T launched a new partnership this week to integrate Internet of Things (IoT) technology into SunPower’s Equinox home energy solutions. The joint agreement will allow SunPower to wirelessly support solar panel systems in real time and will limit the need for onsite homeowner visits. The two companies will also launch co-branded efforts this summer to offer SunPower solar systems to AT&T customers who qualify.