Solar Energy News: Solar Impulse Makes Iconic Descent into Abu Dhabi; New Research Reveals Solar Benefitting Entire State of MA; Investors Reforming Chernobyl Site with Solar Power

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solar impulse arrives in abu dhabi

The hottest month of the summer is slowly coming to an end, but the momentum around solar power is still just heating up. News of Solar Impulse’s completed flight around the world, a plan to reform and reinvigorate Chernobyl with solar production and new research on the benefits of solar for all ratepayers are the pivotal headlines that we’re highlighting in this week’s Solar Energy News report.

BU Research: Solar Saves Money for All Massachusetts Ratepayers

It’s clear to the general public in 2016 that solar can drastically reduce one’s monthly electric bill after panels have been installed. Now, a new Massachusetts study conducted by a Boston University professor has revealed that all electric ratepayers – even those without solar panels – are benefitting from lower bill prices thanks to solar photovoltaic (PV) system installations.

“Until now, people have focused on how much was being saved by those who owned PV,” said Robert Kaufmann, earth and environment professor at BU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “What this analysis quantified was that it actually generates savings for everybody.” The simple explanation is that solar helps balance energy use during times of peak demand. During the hottest parts of summer when air conditioner units are exhausting the grid, solar systems are producing more power than any other time of year. While this research is specific to Massachusetts, it’s easy to see how many other U.S. states similarly benefit from solar. Kaufmann’s research has revealed that even non-solar homeowners should be encouraging their cities and towns to go solar.

Solar Powered Plane Completes Global Journey in Abu Dhabi

The global journey of Solar Impulse 2 has produced some iconic scenes, including the all-solar aircraft flying past the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower.  Perhaps the most breathtaking moment during the photovoltaic aircraft’s trek across the globe is this image of Solar Impulse nearing the stunning Mosque of Abu Dhabi, where the plane’s journey originally began. The final leg and the majority of the plane’s 23 days of flight were piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, who has certainly made a name for himself in history. The journey began in March of 2015 and came to an an end this past Tuesday when Solar Impulse landed in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. “I hope people will understand that it it is not just a first in the history of aviation, but also a first in the history of energy,” said an emotional Piccard following the journey’s final landing. 

U.S., Canadian Investors Using Solar to Reform Chernobyl

There are few places in the world more desolate and barren than Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the remains of a historic nuclear accident have made the area an uninhabitable space many choose to forget. However, a group of investors from Canada and the United States have identified Chernobyl as a prime opportunity for solar development. While the radioactive land in the Ukrainian city is far from conducive to farming or agriculture of any sort, the 1000 square mile site could be a perfect candidate for the sun. “We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants,” said Ostap Semerak, Environment Minister for Ukraine.

DOE Announces $11M in Funding to Support Solar Tech

For those who watch the solar industry closely and in particular, solar tech, it’s clear that the past year has seen a long list of innovations in photovoltaic (PV) technologies, anywhere from major efficiency improvements to product durability. One clear reason for these consistent enhancements is the unyielding support of the Department of Energy (DOE). On Thursday, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced $11 million in funding to drive growth and development in solar technologies through the government’s solar-focused SunShot Initiative. The majority of funds will go to small-scale research and development initiatives designed to push the boundaries of PV tech. The mission of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative (an EnergySage supporter) is to lower the cost of utility-scale solar to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour by 2020.

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