Solar Energy News: Solar Roadways Go Live in the U.S., Texas Seeing Largest Solar Boom, Ground Mount Solar Offers Unexpected Agricultural Benefits

solar roadways on route 66

This past week, much of the solar industry found itself in focused discussions on the future of the industry at the hotly anticipated Intersolar conference in San Francisco. Intersolar, the launch of solar roadway testing in Mississippi and the Texas solar boom are the predominant headlines from this week’s Solar Energy News report.

Solar Roadways Will Go Live in the U.S. Following Testing

Possibly the most famous highway in the United States, Route 66 has an iconic American connotation and is regularly mentioned in television, movies and music. This week that legacy expands as testing begins on solar-powered roads along Route 66. The technology, known as Solar Roadways, uses hexagonal glass solar panels that convert sunlight into usable electricity.

These roadways are not only heralded for their clean energy generation. They also offer LED bulbs that can light roads at night and have heating capacity to melt snow during harsh winter weather. This first round of testing will be installed on sidewalks along the highway as well as the Route 66 welcome center. If testing is successful, the next step will be to begin upgrading areas of the iconic highway into true Solar Roadways.

Scientific Research Reveals Agricultural Benefits of Ground Mount Solar

Ground mounted solar installations across the U.S. are becoming more popular, both in utility and residential PV markets. As a result, many people are starting to wonder what the environmental impact will be of community solar projects and large solar arrays. This week, environmental scientists at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom released new research on the topic.

One major finding from the study was the agricultural benefit provided by ground mounted panels in offering cooler growing environments in arid climates. In the past, there has been widespread concern that the surface area needed for a ground mounted solar installation could displace necessary farming operations. However, the study revealed that the shade and cool temperatures generated beneath panels could actually broaden agricultural horizons in desolate farming climates. “The shade under the panels may allow crops to be grown that can’t survive in full sun,” said Dr. Alona Armstrong, lead author on the study. “Also, water losses may be reduced and water could be collected from the large surfaces of the solar panels and used for crop irrigation.”

Intersolar Conference Kicks Off in San Francisco

This past week marked one of the biggest annual solar conferences in the United States. The American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Conference, also referred to as Intersolar, took place in San Francisco from July 10 to 13. This conference brought together hundreds of solar companies and thousands of solar stakeholders to discuss emerging technologies, methods for cost reduction and strategies for solar policy change. Among the many speakers spotlighted at the national event was our very own CEO, Vikram Aggarwal, who spoke about the way consumer preferences are changing drastically in residential markets. Aggarwal’s presentation revolved around one concrete trend: homeowners are tired of pushy solar salesman ringing their phones and pounding on their doors and instead prefer to take control of their solar shopping experience by comparison shopping.

Texas Seeing Biggest Solar Boom in the U.S. in 2016

A number of U.S. states have seen strong growth in solar adoption in 2016, but perhaps the most remarkable solar boom is taking place in the state of Texas. Last month, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) told the press that all power plants created in Texas over the next 15 years will be powered by solar. Simply put, the Lone Star State wants all new large-scale energy projects to be renewable ones, and solar will be the only resource for utility scale installations. Considering the state’s reputation as a center for the oil and gas industry, this proclamation by Texas’ energy leaders is certainly a symbolic one for the future of solar. “I think what sets Texas apart is the combination of the open deregulated wholesale market and the ease with which new technologies can connect to the grid,” said Warren Lasher, Director of Systems Planning at ERCOT.

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