For the everyday solar enthusiast, the past two weeks have been a handful with more developments and announcements than one can count. A solar device that purifies water, steep solar growth in Virginia thanks to a green-happy Governor and news of layoffs for SolarCity following the company’s acquisition by Tesla are the headlines that caught our eye in this week’s Solar Energy News Report.
Stanford Researchers Develop Solar Device that Can Purify Water
A collaborative effort between Stanford University researchers and the Department of Energy has yielded an impressive solar device that can purify water when exposed to sunlight. Possibly the most ideal aspect of the invention: it’s half the size of a U.S. postage stamp. The minuscule tablet is far from the first solar device to filter water – the real innovation is in its dynamic process and efficiency. Prior devices harnessed UV rays and required hours of exposure to fully purify water. By contrast, Stanford’s new product accesses visible light and thus only requires a few minutes to create viable drinking water. This chip could be a major aid for developing nations, as well as campers who need reliable clean water when they’re out in nature.
Virginia Governor Launches Two Utility Scale Solar Projects
Maybe it was the announcement of Senator Tim Kaine’s selection as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, or perhaps it was the news that Virginia will be a swing state in this year’s presidential election – either way, it’s clear that Virginia is going all in on solar energy with Governor Terry McAuliffe leading the iconic charge. Virginia’s solar capacity has grown 72 percent year-over-year, and it appears that growth is still picking up. In the past two weeks alone, Gov. McAuliffe launched two individual major utility scale solar projects.
Last week, it was a 19.8 MW array that will provide power for at least 3,000 in Buckingham County – the first of its kind for the region. This week, McAuliffe returned to the podium to announce the Cherrydale project that will provide energy for Cape Charles, Northampton County. “Investing in clean, renewable power sources will continue to cut carbon emissions and increase energy security throughout the Commonwealth,” said the first term Virginia governor. “This is a significant step forward for the Eastern Shore, and I look forward to continuing to work with businesses and Virginians to expand access to clean energy sources, improve environmental stewardship, and grow the new Virginia economy.”
Salem, MA Will Host New Schools with Solar Energy
In collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Salem announced this week that it will launch two solar-powered schools: the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School and Bentley Academy Charter School. These two solar projects mark the first instance of solar being put on a city building for Salem and key stakeholders are excited about it. “Salem will offset 100 percent of the energy usage in these two schools while also producing renewable credits that generate income for the Salem school department,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. More than half of the project’s $2.85 million in funding will come from a Massachusetts state grant, announced by Governor Charlie Baker last week.
SolarCity to Layoff Employees, Cut Executive Salaries
It was a tough week at SolarCity headquarters in San Mateo, California where major companywide layoffs were announced. Slumping share prices and a decrease in bookings have led the solar installer behemoth to a necessary decision: slash operating costs to offset decreasing revenue. Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive and Chief Technology Officer Peter Rive have each agreed to cut their salaries from $275,000 to $1 to help cover the expected $3 to $5 million in costs due to severance pay. With news of Tesla Motors’ proposed acquisition of SolarCity still fresh in our minds, it is clearer now than ever that the merger was a necessary pivot for the country’s biggest solar installer. For Elon Musk, the hope will be to turn things around for the solar leasing giant and the brothers Rive by bringing it all under the illustrious canopy of the Tesla brand.