This September, solar boasted some pretty impressive numbers. It broke through quarterly estimates, blew up installation rates, rocked kilowatts-hours delivered, and it brought home a lot of bacon.
But this week, we’re also giving you two juicy stories: pictures of Apple’s new solar farm and news on Tesla’s solar-charging EV stations (spoiler alert: they’re already up and running).
Got ideas for stories of your own? Send them in to Ash. Happy reading!
Solar Means Business
Solar energy is being deployed on a massive scale by the most iconic brands and best-managed companies in the U.S. in order to help lower operating costs and increase profits. In fact, the Top 20 corporate solar users’ installations generate an estimated $47.3 million worth of electricity each year. Among the top brands are Costco, GM, and Walmart. This past quarter saw strong solar growth across the board. The solar industry more than doubled the amount of solar installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year compared to 2011.
There’s an App for That
Apple didn’t make the Top 20 list just yet – but that will all change soon. Apple is nearing completion of a couple massive installations in North Carolina that will catapult the tech giant into the Top 20 corporate solar customers. At 100 acres and 20 MW each, the installations will be the world’s largest privately owned solar panel farms — you can see from the photo that one dwarfs the 500,000 square foot data center, which is that white building in the upper middle. The array doesn’t even fit in the picture taken from a helicopter!
Solar EV, So Hot Right Now
Sept. 23rd was National Plug In Day, a day to raise awareness about electric vehicles. Thousands of people and cars participated, with dozens of vehicles strutting their stuff. But the best part is the action taken after it: Tesla unveiled its Supercharger network of EV charging stations. Solar charging stations that were built in secret and are already up and running! Wow, we’re impressed, and can’t wait to hear folks boasting about their “solar guzzlers.”
Georgia on Our Minds
Georgia Power has filed a new solar initiative — the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (“GPASI”) — which would see Georgia Power acquire 210 MW of additional solar by 2017. If approved, the GPASI would be the largest voluntary purchase of solar energy by an investor-owned utility in the U.S. Why the investment? Extreme drought this summer was a likely factor.
It’s the water, stupid
Yet another benefits of using the sun to create electricity: it doesn’t require water. After a summer of record heat and drought, fossil fuels and power plants that guzzler our precious life source seem increasingly unsustainable. In fact, they look plain stupid. Check out this infographic released by Natural Resources Defense Council that show just how much our aging energy sources threaten our water supply.
Awaiting the touchdown dance
In all seriousness, there’s been a serious spike in solar installations: U.S. solar-panel installations more than doubled in the second quarter from a year earlier led by demand in California, according to a SEIA report. Installations totaled 742 megawatts in the quarter, up 45 percent since the first quarter, and may reach 3.2 gigawatts by year end.
‘Booyah’ is the appropriate term
No one saw an increase quite like Arizona however. The state saw a 174% jump in installations. Arizona’s solar installations increased from 63 MW in the first quarter of this year to 172.7 MW in the second. Those are some serious bragging rights. Let’s hope Arizona continues on that trend to start actualizing it’s solar potential.
Solar powered pigskin
Speaking of installations, guess who’s huge consumer of solar? The NFL. In addition to beer, brats and overpriced memorabilia, stadiums across the US are delivering fans clean energy. On the list is the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field, Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field, Seatlle Seahawks’ Century Link field, and New York Giants and Jets’ MetLife Stadium. But the champion system goes to the New England Patriots’ Patriot Place- still under construction, it’s estimated to generate 1.1 million kilowatt-hours/year. Do we smell some team rivalry here?
For the sports enthusiasts
These solar lights are designed to fit within rock walls of stairs, but we think they could be put to use for something way better. Night rock climbing! Put these little guys near your route and conquer your climb even after the sun goes down.
For the masochists
We didn’t really think this one needed much commentary. It’s a solar powered lawn mower. We love solar geekery, and this is pretty cool, but it still doesn’t make us want to mow the lawn.
Targeting Solar Soft Costs
The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program has just kicked off a new round in a $10 million solar power competition designed to lower the cost of solar power; down to where a small rooftop solar installation could be a reasonable investment for anyone in the country. The Most Affordable Rooftop Solar Prize is aimed at encouraging the solar industry to figure out ways to lower the “soft costs” of solar power.
Energy Security in Action
The US Department of Defense is expected to spend $1.8 billion on clean energy by 2025. The various branches of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) combine to become one of the largest consumers of energy in the world, with consumption of around 3.8 billion kWh of electricity annually, totalling $20 billion spent on energy directly per year. While this sale is huge in the solar world, the DoD balked, saying that “Meh, it’s just an F-15 jet.”
A Solar Sisyphusian Challenge
Last word of the day is about permitting. One of the biggest hindrances to the installation of solar technology is obtaining the correct permit to do so. The rules and regulations change from city to city, state to state, and are costly at that. To tackle that ever-frustrating problem, Clean Power Finance unveiled the initial prototype of the National Solar Permitting Database, designed to streamline the process of acquiring permits to install solar technology in one single location. If successful, solar installers nationwide would finally get that vacation they’ve been meaning to take. CPF, we salute you!