For a while now I’ve been collecting snippets of news about innovative – or just plain smart – uses for solar photovoltaic power (PV) with the intention of posting them to Green Path. When I read about an American day of action coming soon, #Put Solar On It!, I decided I should assemble my finds now rather than later.
#PutSolarOnIt brings together the strength of Organizing for Action, Mosaic, The Solar Foundation, Solar Energy Industries Association, SolarChat, Vote Solar, NRDC, Interfaith Power & Light, Sierra Club, Environment America, World Wildlife Fund, REVERB, The Climate Reality Project, Alliance for Climate Education, League of Conservation Voters and The Solutions Project.
This June 21st, the longest day of the year, a coalition of groups will come together in a National Day of Action to show support for switching to clean energy, fighting climate change, and the power of bringing solar power to communities all across the country. …
All across America there are opportunities to #PutSolarOnIt – to turn our homes, our churches, our schools our lands and our neighborhood rooftops into solutions to climate change. June 21st is a National Day of Action for us all to find a way to #PutSolarOnIt by identifying, supporting, and rallying our social networks to support solar energy, or joining a local event to support a community based solar installation.
Their press release also notes that …
2014 has been a breakout year for solar. Solar equipment costs continue to come down and installations continue to grow. More solar energy generation has been installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior, and solar energy is the leading source of new electric generation capacity so far this year.
– and this is in spite of a sustained Republican campaign to block any and all renewable energy initiatives.
Anyway, back to the good stuff, the ingenuity and innovations. As in previous collections here, I’ve linked images to sources where I can. After collecting items for a while I realised that a lot of them involve transport. That’s a Good Thing, to my mind, since transport has always looked liked being one of the hardest areas to decarbonise because it requires compact portable power, and I will start with them.
PV trees make shade sails and a recharging station for electric cars. Townsville airport has had a smaller, simpler instance of the same idea since 2011 – see it on YouTube here. Or there’s the no-frills (but still really useful) version here.
Of course, if you know you won’t be near a facility like any of these, you can take your own gorgeous solar umbrella with you and erect it as you leave your car.
Solar roads, which in practice may begin as driveways, bikeways and car-parks.
Solar cars (and don’t forget the World Solar Challenge).
There’s probably a partially solar powered car in your future, but I wouldn’t bet on a solar powered plane – however pretty this one is.
Good places to put lots of solar panels
• Airports – whether closed down, as at left, or fully functional as here – are wide open spaces near urban areas, already kept clear of trees and tall buildings which might shade any panels.
• Canals (above) and dams – reducing evaporative water loss as well as making electricity.
• Football stadium – one good outcome of the World Cup building programme in Brazil.
The price of solar cells has dropped to a point where unsubsidised solar power is cheaper to install than coal-fired power and the reliability and longevity of solar power installations is beyond doubt. Solar power now seems unstoppable and stories like this one on Think Progress drive home that point. Its last line, “shifting economics has increased interest in Texas’ long-untapped solar power potential,” is code for, “coal is no longer a profitable investment,” something for which the environment should be profoundly thankful.