Last week rooftop solar made gains in both Nevada and Utah as policies were implemented creating longer-term programs and net-metering policies. Meanwhile a new study shows that solar could make up to 50 percent of the world’s energy supply by 2050. To help bring this to fruition, researchers are looking again to nature for more efficient solar technologies.
The week ended with Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission reinstating net-metering in Nevada Energy’s service area. The ruling also ensured that Nevada Energy can’t impose extra fees on customers and solar customers in particular.
Similarly in Utah, the state, solar advocates and its biggest utility Rocky Mountain Power, have reached a long-term agreement on rooftop solar. Under the new agreement existing rooftop solar customers in the state are grandfathered into net-metering rates through the end of 2035. However, new rooftop solar customers—those who go solar after this November—will be transitioned to a new program crediting them for the excess energy they put on the grid.
In Colorado the state's biggest utility will move to 55 percent renewable energy by 2026. Xcel Energy announced a new plan to invest $2.5 billion to build up to 700 megawatts of solar and 1 gigawatt of wind power.
This will help solar power grow in the southwest assuredly, but the growth of solar power could be even greater than most experts are predicting. Internationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) anticipated that solar power could provide 5 percent to 17 percent of the world’s energy supply. Now a new study by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) contradicts that. Looking at the steep drops in price of solar power and the quicker uptake of solar power across the globe, it anticipated that by 2050 solar power will make up between 30 percent and 50 percent of the world’s energy needs.
As the world moves towards such a reality new approaches to solar power will be taken. One of the most promising technologies for photovoltaics are perovskite crystals, but they have drawbacks, like fragility. Now, researchers at Stanford University are drawing inspiration from fly eyes in developing a new design for PV cells. The new technology uses hexagonal patterns like those in insect eyes to provide a scaffold for miniature PV cells, both protecting and connecting them. Perovskites are inexpensive to produce and have already reached efficiency levels close to those of silicon PV cells.
Solar power doesn’t just have to be confined to generating electricity. It can also be harnessed to make fuels, food, drugs and more. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have created photo reactive cyborg bacteria, training Moorella thermoacetica bacterium to cover itself in cadmium sulfide. In doing so they created a super efficient, self-replicating photo reactive substance that produces useful compounds to create fuels and products.
Also, speaking of new technologies, a patent filing regarding Tesla’s highly anticipated Solar Roof technology has emerged. While the tiles in the product use relatively conventional silicon solar cells, the way they’re attached is new. They’re bonded together with a conductive paste, which gets rid of wiring and connectors. That news comes as Tesla announced it’s starting mass production of the tiles at its Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, NY.Tweet