Interesting Solar Power Trends To Watch In 2017

The solar industry in recent years has been characterized by double-digit installation growth and moderate revenue expansion, especially in the largest markets — namely Japan, China, and the United States.

With the ongoing cost reduction of solar power, forward-thinking organizations are reevaluating their energy strategy to cut costs and manage their energy consumption more effectively. Here are the top trends pushing organizations to adopt solar power:

  1. Increased Interest in Smart Energy
    Small and large organizations are increasingly demanding smarter solutions to have better control over their energy costs, as well as to better manage their overall energy use.With the introduction of smart grid systems, technology companies have provided businesses with the opportunity to capitalize on demand response innovations. Cloud-based information systems, coupled with storage, allow for greater visibility over energy consumptions, which translates to more control over energy management and bottom-line energy costs.
  2. Solar is No Longer Paired to the Roof
    The installation of solar power no longer requires a rooftop panel system to cut energy costs, owing to increasing popularity of solar carports. Innovative solutions, such as virtual net metering, that allow the client to set up solar at an offsite location and the energy production at a different location have also expanded the ways consumers can benefit from solar power.
  3. Faster and Simpler Ways to Install Solar
    Solar solutions have become more modular and streamlined, which has made installations simpler, easier, and faster than ever before. Numerous innovations in solar have led to the introduction of revolutionary approaches, such as high-performance systems with minimal components and less variability, that offer greater operational efficiency and reliability.With these new solutions, there is minimal business interruption and reduced potential downtime. Moreover, installation costs are drastically reduced so you can start saving faster.
  4. Increasing Grid-Connected Solar Energy Installations
    The latest offerings in community green choice programs are offering consumers more flexibility in choosing their energy resources. Different utilities are creating strategic partnerships to deliver more choices in power, including solar solutions, to consumers, giving them more options to cut energy costs and achieve their sustainability goals.
  5. New Financing Options to Make Solar More Affordable
    Besides solar leases and power purchase agreements, there are more trusted financing tools being developed to make solar projects more readily available. For instance, the emergence of YieldCos and ABS as capital sources has helped reduce the cost of acquiring solar energy assets, making it easier for organizations to embrace money-saving energy technologies.

It is also important to note that the continued focus among nations on diversifying their energy mix away from fossil fuels and imported oils will remain the same, with solar installations driven by feed-in tariffs and grid-parity.


Driverless And Green Cars To Dominate 2017

By: Leonora Puno

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 22: Uber driverless Ford Fusions sit in the Uber Technical Center parking lot on September, 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Uber has built its Uber Technical Center in Pittsburgh and is developing an autonomous vehicle that it hopes will be able to transport its millions of clients without the need for a driver.

(Photo : Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Driverless and green cars are expected to be the trend in the auto industry in the most highly developed countries during 2017. This has become evident as big car companies are now focusing on building autonomous cars as well as hybrid, plug in hybrid and electric cars. These types of vehicles are known to have zero emissions, which will help sustain a clean and safe environment.

In fact, a lot of innovation and new discoveries have resulted to the development of driverless and green cars. While in the past, an electric car was just a small prototype of what would soon be released to the market, today it can accommodate a long drive and two or more passengers. Technology has been developed that can make driverless and green cars become available to almost anyone who can afford it, according to Tech Crunch.

The year 2017 is also predicted to be the year when driverless and green cars will be controlled by either Google or Apple. Apple has been rumored to have initiated Project Titan, which refers to the production of autonomous cars while Google was also known to be working toward the building of autonomous cars through Waymo, a separate entity established for that purpose, according to Providence Auto Group.

Another trend to expect in 2017 is having driverless and green cars for rent. Uber had started that trend and it is expected that other companies will do the same, especially if the said move receives a positive reaction from the riding public. People can now drive whatever brand of car they want without the need to buy one. Affordable hourly or daily rentals will make renting a car more appealing than buying one, according to Car and Driver.

Aside from driverless and green cars, in 2017, analyzing customers’ preferences will greatly help car companies to make sound adjustments to production schedules.



How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly in 2017

By: Claire McDaniel

Did you know that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor polluted air can be caused by chemicals from common household products. Chemicals from these products can cause health issues like infertility, thyroid disease and even cancer.

If your 2017 New Year’s resolution involves improving your health – follow these tips to make your household items healthier for you and the environment:


Nearly one third of our lifetime is spent sleeping. Traditional mattresses typically have toxic chemical flame retardants, vinyl, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), antimony and other chemical finishes. If it’s time to get a new mattress, or if your child is outgrowing their bed, choose an eco-friendly, healthy mattress that’s made of wool, cotton or plant-based materials like natural latex.


Making your kitchen more eco-friendly is simple – avoid using plastic dishware like tupperware, utensils etc. The best alternatives for plastic dishware are glass, stainless steel, ceramic or porcelain. If your small children need to use plastic dishware choose plastic that is free of BPA, phthalates and melamine.

In addition, avoid teflon or non-stick pots and pans, which are commonly coated in perfluorinated chemicals. Choose pots and pans with materials like stainless steel, copper coated, cast iron, anodized aluminum or enamel-coated iron.

Cleaning supplies

Most cleaning supplies contain toxic chemicals and some cleaning product even include known carcinogens. Choose cleaning products that are certified by Green Seal or EcoLogo. Another sustainable option is to make your own cleaning supplies using common household ingredients like vinegar for a disinfectant, baking soda to remove odors and stains, olive oil to polish furniture, lemon juice for stain removal, and hydrogen peroxide as an antimicrobial.

Solar panels

Solar panels are a great way to create electricity or produce heat, while not generating carbon as a byproduct. In addition to solar panel’s eco-friendly benefits, solar panels can reduce your heating and electricity bills – making them a sustainable, cost effective win.

Air treatment

Poor air quality can increase your utility bills, while hurting the environment and your health. Make sure your ventilation system is working properly to avoid mold and mildew. Household plants are also a great way to naturally clean the air. The best plants for air cleaning and filtration include: peace lilies, gerbera daisies, English ivy, chrysanthemums and red-edged dracaena.

Pool treatment 

Pools using chlorine or salt systems, which generate chlorine, can cause like red eyes, lung irritation, asthma, allergies and other health issues. Instead, opt for chlorine-free pool technologies like Clear Comfort. In addition to having fresh-feeling water, you can lessen the levels of chemical handling, storage and the inevitable spread into our ecosystem, while saving water by draining and backwashing less often.


Solar-Panel Roads to be Built on Four Continents in 2017 with Calgary Next in Line

By: Anna Hirtenstein

Photovoltaic panels during the launch of the work for the construction of the first solar road in Tourouvre, northwestern France. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Electric avenues that can transmit the sun’s energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you.

A subsidiary of Bouygues SA has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that they’re now building into road surfaces. After nearly five years of research and laboratory tests, they’re constructing 100 outdoor test sites and plan to commercialize the technology in early 2018.

“We wanted to find a second life for a road,” said Philippe Harelle, the chief technology officer at Colas SA’s Wattway unit, owned by the French engineering group Bouygues. “Solar farms use land that could otherwise be for agriculture, while the roads are free.”

As solar costs plummet, panels are being increasingly integrated into everyday materials. Last month Tesla Motors Inc. surprised investors by unveiling roof shingles that double as solar panels. Other companies are integrating photovoltaics into building facades. Wattway joins groups including Sweden’s Scania and Solar Roadways in the U.S. seeking to integrate panels onto pavement.

To resist the weight of traffic, Wattway layers several types of plastics to create a clear and durable casing. The solar panel underneath is an ordinary model, similar to panels on rooftops. The electrical wiring is embedded in the road and the contraption is topped by an anti-slip surface made from crushed glass.

A kilometer-sized testing site began construction last month in the French village of Tourouvre in Normandy. The 2,800 square meters of solar panels are expected to generate 280 kilowatts at peak, with the installation generating enough to power all the public lighting in a town of 5,000 for a year, according to the company.

For now, the cost of the materials makes only demonstration projects sensible. A square meter of the solar road currently costs 2,000 (US$2,126) and 2,500 euros. That includes monitoring, data collection and installation costs. Wattway he can make the price competitive with traditional solar farms by 2020.

The electricity generated by this stretch of solar road will feed directly into the grid. Another test site is being used to charge electric vehicles. A third will power a small hydrogen production plant. Wattway has also installed its panels to light electronic billboards and is working on links to street lights.

The next two sites will be in Calgary in Canada and in the U.S. state of Georgia. Wattway also plans to build them in Africa, Japan and throughout the European Union.

“We need to test for all kinds of different traffic and climate conditions,” Harelle said. “I want to find the limits of it. We think that maybe it will not be able to withstand a snow plow.”

The potential fragility joins cost as a potential hurdle.

“We’re seeing solar get integrated in a number of things, from windows in buildings to rooftops of cars, made possible by the falling cost of panels,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Pietro Radoia said. “On roads, I don’t think that it will really take off unless there’s a shortage of land sometime in the future.”‘


Solar and Renewable Energy Trends in 2017

By: Sven Lindström

The solar and renewable energy industries are constantly evolving — and sometimes changing abruptly – and this will continue in the new year that is soon upon us. Here’s what can we expect from 2017:

1.      China takes leadership role in solar energy policy making

China has taken leadership in photovoltaics manufacturing and deployment. Now it also has the golden opportunity to do it in policy making. With the uncertainty surrounding new U.S. energy and climate policy, China has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to move its policy positions forward — and it will, despite some disturbing signals from Beijing (the announcement of new lowered feed-in-tariffs, quite natural as prices have been falling, but also a larger than expected cut for rooftop PV suggesting that the government is trying to make life easier for struggling large PV companies installing large solar energy parks).

Beijing clearly does not want large deployments of distributed rooftop PV. However, most other countries do exactly the opposite. Watch out for a large Chinese energy tax that will make rooftop PV attractive anyway.

We can also conclude that Chinese PV suppliers have circumvented EU’s Minimum Import Price (MIP) scheme by manufacturing solar panels in Malaysia and other Asian countries, rendering MIP ineffective and ready to be replaced by some other scheme.

2.    Transportation and photovoltaics will grow closer

The global transportation fleet is turning electric faster than anyone could have imagined only a year ago. But to charge an electric car with electricity from a coal fired power plant does not make sense as you will emit as much CO2 as from a combustion engine. Elon Musk was not the first person to realize this and take action, but rather Honda with its now defunct CIGS factory a few years ago. But now with Tesla’s merger with Solar City we might see the beginning of alliances. I predict that transportation and solar will grow even closer in 2017.

3.    Paris agreement will boost photovoltaics

The Paris Agreement now is in force. At the same time, Germany is closing all its nuclear power plants. So there needs to be substantial global investments in renewable, clean energy sources, with PV as the most natural choice, to replace non-renewable energy sources and to keep promises made in Paris. As soon as politicians start to take actions on their policy commitments, PV will once again need capacity expansion. 2017 is the year it will happen!

4.    President Trump will turn green 

Donald Trump will turn green and it will happen already in 2017. Renewable energy is the most efficient way to make the U.S. independent and self-sufficient. U.S. citizens like independence and so does President-elect Trump. Many U.S. families have gasoline-powered electric generators in their garages. If policies are made to curb feed-in tariffs and net-metering, Tesla will just sell more batteries and more households will go off-grid. The PV revolution has just started and it will take more than a policy shift to stop it.