Last week was a big week for solar power and renewables. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced that the US solar industry had a quarter that shattered all previous records and that the fourth quarter will be even bigger for solar power. Meanwhile, international investments in renewable energy are increasing with developing nations leading the way. Both Al Gore and Bill Gates and others stepped back into the environmental and renewable energy spotlight last week, too.
To say it was a record quarter for the solar industry in the US is almost a disservice. The quarterly Solar Market Insight report found that the US installed 4,143 megawatts of photovoltaics in the third quarter of 2016 about 600 more megawatts that 2015’s fourth quarter, which previously held the record. That’s equal to 2 megawatts of solar power coming online across the US every hour. Traditionally the fourth quarter usually sees more solar power installed than any other quarter in the year and apparently that’s expected to be the case this year, too.
The latest Climatescope report, which looks at the renewable energy industry across 58 developing nations had some interesting findings as well. For instance, it found solar power beating wind power investments for the first time ever. The report by Bloomberg New New Energy Finance found that the price of solar power projects is now lower than fossil-fuel based projects. It also found that developing nations are investing more heavily in renewables than their more developed peers, though financing is coming from those richer nations.
In 2017 the world will be reminded of the clarion call of 2006’s “In Inconvenient Truth” as Al Gore unveils its—as yet unnamed—sequel on Jan. 19 at the Sundance Film Festival. The original documentary was watched by millions and informed them of the plight of the climate change and humanity’s major role in it. The new documentary will update the world on progress and failures that have occurred over the last decade.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC), a group of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and institutions has launched the $1 billion Clean Energy Fund. The new fund will support startups and breakthroughs in renewable energy. Bill Gates is leading the fund which aims to compliment investments from governments around the world that pledged to invest in renewable research and development of cutting-edge energy technologies that are ready to help curb climate change.
It’s been more than a decade since companies have tried to develop an offshore wind farm in the US and now, finally, the Rhode Island has commissioned the first one, which could—or could not usher in a new era for offshore wind power. The 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm began delivering power from its 5 turbines to users on Block Island, it is expected to save them roughly 40 percent on their electric bills.
Concentrating solar power (CSP) isn’t as popular an option as photovoltaics in the US right now but it’s making progress and proving itself out. For instance, SolarReserve won the Platts Commercial Energy Award this year for its 110 megawatt Crescent Dunes Energy Project in Nevada. The project generates electricity from the sun’s heat around the clock, storing excess heat energy in molten salt to power its turbines at night and during cloudy parts of the day.Tweet