A number of interesting developments emerged this week in the space of technical innovation and environmental protection with one common theme: solar. Solar’s momentum is as strong as ever now that wearable solar batteries do not need to be charged, NREL has forecasted $400 billion in environmental benefits from solar and Nevada homeowners may receive net-metering protection.
With New Flexible Batteries, Wearable Solar Technology Taking Off
The wearable tech sector was ecstatic this week to hear news that wearable solar cells can now hold a constant charge, solving a problem that many wearable fans believe significantly hindered adoption of mass consumer products like the Apple Watch. A team of scientists from Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, China and South Korea have achieved a flexible solar battery that could allow wearable technology to be truly sustainable. The innovative product uses microscopic lithium-ion batteries that are connected to solar cells with stretchable circuits in a single layer. Ultimately, this new technology will provide a charging and storage offering that can bend by up to 30% without losing its ability to generate a photovoltaic charge.
NREL Forecasts $400 Billion in Public Health and Environmental Benefits by 2050
A new study produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory has put a dollar amount on the health and environmental benefits of solar energy. After calculating solar’s forecasted influence on greenhouse gas reduction and general pollution levels, the study revealed that the total benefits of solar adoption would offset $400 billion in spending on the U.S. environment by 2050. One of solar’s most dynamic impacts is its ability to reduce power plant offgassing, which typically takes the form of nitrogen, sulfur and particulate air pollutants. Additionally, the study found that the eastern area of the U.S. sees the strongest environmental benefits from photovoltaic technologies.
UNSW Scientists Shatter Solar Cell Efficiency Record
Just when it appeared the solar cell efficiency race was quieting down, a new player made headlines this week, setting a new world record for sunlight to electricity conversion efficiency. Australian scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) were responsible for pushing the record to 34.5 percent – almost 50 percent better than the prior record set by U.S. company Alta Devices. “This encouraging result shows that there are still advances to come in photovoltaics research to make solar cells even more efficient,” said Dr. Mark Keevers, lead scientist on the UNSW research team.
Nevada Solar Homeowners May Still Benefit From Net Metering
New legislation is moving through the pipelines that could give net metering benefits back to 31,000 solar homeowners, all of whom are facing rate reductions that took effect January 1st. The controversial decision by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to lower net-metering rates has caused a lot of panic around the solar industry. This week, Nevada’s Technical Advisory Committee on Distributed Generation and Storage has launched a proposal to restore net metering benefits to any homeowner that was already enrolled in a net metering program before the policy changed. The next stop for the committee’s proposed legislation: the New Energy Industry Task Force, established by Gov. Brian Sandoval to maintain sustainable energy legislation in the state of Nevada.