It was certainly a week to remember for the solar industry, filled with state support for renewable energy and beautified visualizations of corporations running on solar. GE’s new solar powered headquarters, a new device that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and some exciting state commitments to renewable energy are the bright headlines we’re discussing from this week’s Solar Energy News report.
GE’s New Boston Headquarters Will Run on Solar
For a company founded on innovation, it was no shock to the general public when news surfaced on Monday that General Electric’s new headquarters will run on solar energy. GE announced a few months ago that it will relocate its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut to South Boston, with early movement of employees to begin this summer. For many Bostonians, news of the 6th largest and 4th most profitable firm in the U.S. coming to Beantown was exciting, but it’s not just the locals that are awaiting GE’s arrival – the solar industry has pricked up its ears as well.
Channeling perhaps the modern, through-the-looking-glass feel of an Apple store exterior, the new GE building will be a 12-story glass masterpiece with staggered canopies, a rooftop garden and a 450 kW south-facing solar panel “veil” to harness photovoltaic energy. One of the more surprising aspects of GE’s building plan: only 16 percent of the new headquarters will house corporate employees. The rest of the 390,000 square foot edifice will provide space for startups, museums, restaurants and public workspaces. It’s safe to say that GE’s new home base will feature the most visually majestic solar array installed by a U.S. corporation to date. “We didn’t want to create another big, black box,” said Anne Glee, GE Vice President in charge of handling migration from Fairfield to Boston.
Sunny Cambridge Program Goes Live in Boston
As the Northeast continues to grow its reputation for being a leader in solar energy, the innovation hub of Massachusetts may be leading the way now that the city of Cambridge has launched its Year of Solar initiative. The city is promoting solar through the Sunny Cambridge Program – a partnership with the EnergySage Solar Marketplace that incentivizes solar and lowers barriers to adoption for Cambridge homeowners. A number of developments in this partnership have surfaced in recent weeks but none more visually representative then the Sunny Cambridge solar banners that were hung over major city roads this week (see image above). “Programs like Sunny Cambridge help position our City as a national leader in clean energy development and serve as an example for other communities across the country to replicate,” said Cambridge city manager Richard C. Rossi.
New Solar Technology Can Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere
Last week, a research team from the University of Illinois revealed a new solar-powered technology that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The lab team originally published their findings as an article in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, explaining that the proposed device uses sunlight to break up CO2 into a synthesized gas of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The first notable takeaway from this development is that the device could remove polluting carbon emissions at a scaleable rate, but perhaps the even more impressive feat is the fact that the output of the device would be a usable fuel that costs just $2 a gallon. “The beauty of this work is it directly uses the energy of the sun. This doesn’t need any electricity or external energy,” said Mohammad Asadi, lead author on the study. With funding from the Department of Energy, the Illinois team created a small working prototype and will now look to bring the device to larger levels of production.
Georgia, New York Make Significant Renewable Energy Commitments
It was a strong week for state rooted support for renewable energy as both Georgia and New York state announced major commitments to generate more clean energy. Down south, the Peach State’s largest utility, Georgia Power Co., made headlines after pledging to add 1,600 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy by 2021. To put the new commitment in perspective, that goal is three times what the Atlanta-based utility originally promised at the beginning of 2016. Up north, Empire State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an ambitious new clean energy commission this week that commits the state to 50 percent renewables by 2030. A promising aspect of New York’s new agreement is its collaboration between utilities and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) – an EnergySage supporter – in developing a clean electric offering for any homeowner that wants to use 100 percent renewable energy.