Here’s a bright idea — check out our roundup of solar energy news for the week of September 28th, 2015.
Community Solar Emerges As Fan Favorite Among Homeowners
Increased demand from customers is causing utilities to recognize that community solar initiatives are on their way to becoming mainstream. Also known as community solar gardens, these projects generate shared power for multiple homeowners who may not be eligible for direct installation onto their rooftops. The reason for rising interest from homeowners: community solar projects often have a lower total cost to consumers than rooftop solar, while still providing many of solar’s financial benefits, like lower electricity bills, to homeowners.
Big Utilities Want In On Small Scale Solar Installations
Big solar companies aren’t the only ones invested in expanding rooftop solar. Nowadays, utilities are recognizing that they need to be in on the solar boom. After a year that yielded a 50% increase in solar panel installations coinciding with little growth in traditional utility markets, big utilities have recognized that 2015 will be another record setting year for the solar industry, and are entering into what one utility owner is calling “the race for rooftop.”
Solar Power vs. Natural Gas: Cost Parity Has Arrived
Solar power today is 31 times larger than it was just a decade ago in the U.S., and for the first time, utility-scale solar power has reached cost parity with natural gas. That’s not just in the Southwest, which has seen seriously low prices for solar for a while. The new nationwide average price of solar power is $0.05 to $0.07 per kilowatt-hour, according to a report by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. Some states are even experiencing a reduction of cost by using solar instead of natural gas. The report found that in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, solar power is priced as low as $40 per megawatt-hour (MWh), equivalent to the average per-MWh cost of natural gas.
A Different Kind of Solar Power: Solar Flare Sparks Debate Among NASA Intelligence
Have you seen NASA’s striking capture of Monday morning’s solar flare? Scientists reported that the flare, classified as a medium level M7.6, was not strong enough to threaten Earth’s surface but did interfere with radio systems and some internet signals. Solar flares have the potential to interrupt GPS communication, satellite signals and even the power grid – pretty powerful stuff! The image (right) is one of the most clear captures of a flare event by NASA.
Your Weekend Solar Reading
- Analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that California’s new clean energy legislation, which will require 50% of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030, will reduce oil use. This is great news for environmental advocates, who were disappointed by the oil industry’s successful attempt to block proposed efforts to cut overall oil consumption in half.
- Joshua P. Meltzer of the Brookings Institute detailed some of the commitments made in the joint statement on climate change issued by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China last week. Both Obama and Xi have announced major commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to set the tone for the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris at the end of this year. With the leaders of the world’s two largest economies in agreement, one climate reporter is asking, “has the world gone completely sane?”