It was a thrilling week in the solar industry with further technological advances in PV and a few partnerships that turned heads. A new type of solar panel that turns moisture into drinking water, EY’s latest report on the top renewable energy countries and a controversial Florida solar amendment are the big headlines we’re eying from this week’s Solar Energy News report.
New Solar Panel Technology Can Turn Moisture into Drinking Water
A new solar startup has created a product focused on fixing one of the world’s most crucial needs: a source of reliable and safe drinking water. Zero Mass Water launched their solar water product, Source, this week. Source functions like a hyper efficient air conditioner that pulls water from the air with the help of solar power. The water is then run through a treatment process that purifies it, making it a viable and highly distilled source for drinking water.
This product offers value for any area of the world, but is a blessing unlike any other for nations that lack grid infrastructure or water pipelines. Source is currently in pilot programs in Jordan, Ecuador, Mexico and the United States to test it before bringing it to scale. The company’s founder and CEO Cody Friesen hopes that Source will broaden horizons for solar technology. Commenting on solar’s primary association with generating electricity, Friesen believes that “in a few years when people think about solar they’ll also think about water abundance.”
United States World’s Top Renewable Energy Market
This past week Ernst and Young released their latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), a report that evaluates the best clean energy markets for investors. Major venture capitalists and strategic energy investors around the world use this document to select their global prospects. As a result, the report has great forecasting power on the future of renewable expansion. The U.S. maintained its hold of the top spot with China, India, Chile and Germany finishing out the top five.
One key takeaway from this report was the impact of the upcoming U.S. election (under two weeks away) and the dramatic and detrimental effect a Trump presidency would have on the U.S. position in RECAI. Notable improvements were seen in the report from Mexico (#6), France (#7) and South Africa (#9), all of which saw favorable increases from prior RECAIs. From a continent perspective, Europe is clearly leading the way. Since 2007, Europe has sold $54.9 billion in renewable energy bonds, ahead of the moderate $24.8 billion achieved by North America and meager $4.5 billion by Asia.
Sunrun Partners with LG to Offer Solar Plus Storage
The cost of solar has plummeted to unforeseen lows in 2016. Solar’s biggest foe now is concern from homeowners that solar panels cannot completely cover their energy needs 24 hours a day. As the solar industry looks towards improved efficiency and market expansion, the next step is for manufacturers and distributors to integrate storage options into their PV products.
That forward thinking was demonstrated this past week when installer behemoth Sunrun announced a partnership with panel maker LG to offer an integrated solar plus storage solution. Sunrun will bring its solar BrightBox product to the U.S. residential market, an all-in-one PV package that includes LG Chem’s lithium-ion RESU battery, an award winner from this year’s InterSolar Conference in Europe. The first pilot location for Sunrun’s integrated solution is Hawaii, and more states are expected in the months to come.
Report Shows Utilities Heavily Backing Florida Solar Amendment
For those who reject the concept of Citizen’s United, there is a key political amendment to consider in Florida. Solar Amendment One will be on the ballot in the Sunshine State on November 8 and this election day, many fear the vote’s outcome will be strictly determined by misinformation and corporate money. If you ask a major Florida utility what the Amendment aims to achieve, they will tell you it exists to protect solar homeowners and stimulate the solar industry in Florida. However, the vast majority of those in opposition to the Amendment are homeowners, while the bill’s actual support comes almost entirely from utilities ($12 million alone in contributions from Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light and Gulf Electric so far). The Amendment would greatly support Florida utilities by allowing them to add costly fees for homeowners who have panels installed. However, a blast of radio and television ads have lead Florida residents to believe otherwise thanks to vast misinformation campaigns ran by “Consumers for Smart Solar” – an entity created by state utilities to enact Amendment One. Overall funding for the Amendment totals $22 million dollars to date. Of that support, only $400 has come from Florida residents.