In this week’s Solar News Roundup, a South Miami ordinance requiring all new houses to have solar panels installed, a new highly efficient solar panel material, and a massive floating solar array in China.
South Miami ordinance requires solar on new homes
The South Miami city commission voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance requiring any new home built in the city to have solar panels installed. The new rules require 175 square feet of solar panels to be installed for every 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof surface area, or 2.75 KW of solar per 1,000 square feet of living space in the home, whichever is less. Any renovations to existing homes that change or extend 75 percent or more of the home’s structure also fall under the new ordinance.
South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard was a major proponent of the ordinance. After it passed, he said, “Solar reduces the cost of home ownership, it makes houses sell faster, it returns more to a builder, it makes local jobs, and most importantly, it reduces carbon emissions today to help our children and grandchildren have a better future tomorrow.”
Scientists create solar cell with record efficiency
Current solar technology peaks at about 25 percent efficiency, but scientists may have just figured out how to improve that number drastically. A new technology has been developed that delivers a 44.5 percent efficiency rating, almost double the current record – meaning panels created with this new technology would need half the space of current solar arrays to generate the same amount of power. The cell can achieve its high efficiency by stacking multiple solar hardware layers to create a single, multi-level cell that can absorb many different regions of the solar spectrum.
Although this technology will most likely not enter the market for some time due to production and development costs, studies like this continue to display the potential of solar energy to spread further than it already has, and deliver enough energy to rival traditional generation sources in the years to come.
China’s floating solar farm offers health and energy benefits
As the largest investor in renewable energy worldwide, China can often be found at the forefront of clean energy projects as they work to reduce air pollution in a nation that has historically relied on coal for power, and where scientists say as much as a third of deaths can be attributed to air pollution to some degree. One such project floats on a lake formed when a coal mine collapsed and flooded near Huainan City – 166,000 solar panels sprawl across the surface, generating enough power to power a large town.
Floating solar panels are beneficial for several reasons:
- Lower temperatures as a result of being on the water increase panel efficiency greatly
- Less dust and dirt in the air keeps panels cleaner for longer, also boosting efficiency
- If panels do need to be cleaned, the water right below can be used easily to minimize waste
- Panels reduce surface evaporation, meaning that panels floating on reservoirs can help save drinking water supplies
Floating solar panels are not a new concept, but the scale of this project is a first. Sustainability projects like these continue to push China to the front of global renewable leadership and innovation.