Morning Brief: Google’s airborne wind turbine ‘moonshot’ closes, SEIA on Black History Month, solar under storm


Makani’s airborne wind turbine moonshot project is shut down: Google parent company Alphabet is shutting down its power-generating-kites firm Makani, the first closure of a “moonshot” project since Alphabet founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped back from management in December. Sundar Pichai, who took over as Alphabet chief executive, is under pressure to stem losses from the company’s Other Bets segment, which includes endeavors such as self-driving cars and internet-providing balloons. Makani was developing airborne wind turbines that could be tethered to floating buoys, removing the need for the expensive ocean bed structures needed to support permanent turbines. Source: LA Times

SEIA on black American’s contributions to the solar industry: Abigail Ross Hopper of SEIA writes, “As I think about the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of my organization and the solar industry, Black History Month offers a great opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and where we need to go. When I first walked in the door of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) a little over three years ago, the lack of people of color struck me. On day one, I set out to do something about it.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are now core principles of SEIA and we’ve taken several steps to change our own practices…I think it’s important that we publicly share this progress to remain accountable for the statements we make about prioritizing diversity and inclusion: in 2019, 57% of our new hires were women and 43% were people of color. Four out of five directors hired in 2019 were people of color. While the latest Solar Jobs Census shows us that the solar industry has a long way to go, I can say that SEIA is practicing what we preach. Read more at: SEIA

Solar under storm — best practices for solar PV installations facing hurricane-force winds: RMI, in partnership with Clinton Foundation and FCX Solar, set out to answer the question of why some solar PV systems survive hurricanes virtually unscathed while others suffer extensive damage. The Solar Under Storm reports discuss the root causes of PV system failures from hurricanes and describe recommendations for building more resilient solar PV systems. Source: RMI

Scatec powers up first phase of 258-megawatt South African solar farm: Scatec Solar and partners have grid connected and reached commercial operation for 86 MW of the 258-MW solar power complex in Upington, South Africa. The 86-MW facility, known as Sirius, is expected to produce 217 GWh. Source: Scatec Solar

Maine has issued a renewables procurement for 7% to 10% of the state’s electricity: Solar capacity of 560 MW could meet the high end of the range, or 1.2 million MWh of electricity per year, assuming a 25% capacity factor. One or more selected bidders will enter into 20-year contracts with one or both of Maine’s investor-owned utilities. Maine Governor Janet Mills calls the procurement the “first major step” toward reaching the state’s renewable portfolio standard of 80% by 2030, under a law enacted last June. SourceMaine Public Utilities Commission.

Silfab Solar’s manufacturing expansion in Washington: Silfab Solar plans to invest at least $4 million to add more manufacturing equipment to address demand for its American-made high-efficiency premium monocrystalline PV modules. Commerce provided a $250,000 economic development grant to the Port of Bellingham to assist the expansion. An estimated 20 to 40 new jobs are expected when the newest wave of production ramps up later this year. Source: Silfab Solar

NABCEP CE Conference 2020 is next month:  The advanced-level content presented at the annual NABCEP CE Conference is geared toward PV industry professionals who have experience with PV installation, solar-plus-storage, technical sales, design, O&M, or system inspection.  Source: NABCEP

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