Warmer spring weather continues to roll in, and the solar industry’s momentum is rolling along with it this week with several exciting developments across the globe. The 1 millionth U.S. solar installation, a bipartisan energy bill and an official rooftop solar mandate in San Francisco are three of the top headlines from this week’s solar energy news report.
U.S. Senate Passes First Bipartisan Energy Bill Since ‘07
It was an uncharacteristic week on Capitol Hill as the U.S. Senate nearly unanimously voted in support of a bipartisan energy bill – the first to pass in the Senate since 2007. The new legislation is focused on refining America’s energy policy and ranges in topics from grid modernization to power plant cybersecurity. If approved by the House and signed into law, the bill will generate billions for research and development that would boost energy efficiency as well as energy storage solutions such as solar batteries.
Solar Industry Celebrates 1 Million Installation Milestone
Those in the solar industry had a little something extra to smile about this week with the announcement that 1 million solar systems have been installed in the U.S. This achievement aligns with new projections for the U.S. solar market, which is expected to grow 119 percent in 2016. “It took us 40 years to get to 1 million installations, and it will take us only two years to get to 2 million,” said Dan Whitten, V.P. of communications at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Record-breaking has become the norm for the renewable world, and it is getting more and more difficult to deny the dramatically accelerated growth of solar power worldwide.
Tech Startup Turns Windows Into Solar Panels
A new startup out of Goleta, California has created a transparent solar ink that can turn ordinary windows into solar generating panels. While the windows use materials that behave similarly to ordinary solar panels, the innovative ink substance is much thinner and much cheaper. The startup is called NEXT and harnesses technology developed by Nobel Prize winning UCSB professor Alan Heeger.
Rooftop Solar Mandate in San Francisco Now Official
The speculated solar mandate in San Francisco (previously reported in our solar news roundup last month) has now become a reality: the city recently passed an ordinance requiring all new buildings up to 10 stories tall to include either solar panels or a solar heating installation. The new legislation will take full effect at the beginning of 2017 and aims to bring San Francisco closer to its goal of 100 percent renewable generation. “Activating underutilized roof space is a smart and efficient way to promote the use of solar energy and improve our environment,” said city supervisor Scott Weiner. San Francisco’s photovoltaic mandate is the first of its kind for any U.S. city.
Solar Energy Now Cheaper than Coal in India
India’s energy minister Piyush Goyal made headlines this week after announcing that solar is now cheaper than coal in India. In early 2016, solar energy prices reached parity with coal as PV adoption grows worldwide. Goyal believes that coal power plants are now a bad investment in India, a country with an unreliable electric grid, especially because solar is on track to be 10 percent cheaper than coal by 2020.