In a week of breakthroughs for solar, utility-scale solar prices hit all-time lows and researchers in Australia confirmed a new ‘solar paint’ compound. These developments, in addition to the signing of a popular pro-solar bill in Florida, are the headlines from this week’s Solar News Report.
Florida governor signs pro-solar legislation
Last week, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed into law a pro-solar bill that will reduce state taxes on commercial and residential solar installations. The bill was hugely popular among voters and legislators alike, easily passing a primary ballot last year and unanimously passing through both chambers of the state legislature before landing on Governor Scott’s desk. Following the first vote on the bill last year many rooftop solar installers, including SolarCity and Vivint Solar, entered into the state. More recently, Sunrun announced its intention to expand into Florida as well.
According to Greentech Media and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the solar market in Florida grew by over 200 percent in 2016. Additionally, solar jobs increased by 25 percent in the state, bringing Florida to the fifth-most solar jobs nationwide.
Utility-scale solar prices fall past $1/watt for the first time
According to the latest Solar Market Insight Report from SEIA and Greentech Media, utility-scale solar systems are being priced between $0.99 and $1.08 per Watt – the first time they have fallen below $1.00/Watt. The price news comes after a quarter in which more than 1 GW of utility-scale solar capacity was installed.
This record is an indicator of the strength of the solar market. According to Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, solar is “adding jobs 17 times faster than the U.S. economy and creating tens of billions of dollars in investment.” 2016 saw solar as the largest source of new capacity additions, and in the first quarter of 2017, solar was second largest at 30 percent of new generating capacity additions.
‘Solar paint’ breakthrough in Melbourne
Could ‘solar paint’ be the future of renewable power generation? Scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have crafted a new compound that takes water vapor from the air and separates the molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, which can be used as a clean fuel. The compound performs best when mixed with titanium oxide, which is found in house paint as a white pigment. The technology is still years away from commercialization, however, as a method for collecting the hydrogen gas hasn’t been worked out yet. Check out this video from RMIT illustrating their project.