Solar Energy News: Solar Power Helping Pregnant African Women, Solar Impulse to Cross Atlantic Ocean, Solar to Surpass Natural Gas

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off-grid solar panels in Tanzania

There are many fast growing things in the world in 2016 but among the top list are Justin Bieber’s fanbase, Snapchat and the solar power industry. A Tanzanian company’s solution for Africa’s off-grid problem, the next journey for the world’s first solar powered plane and the projection that solar will surpass natural gas are the predominant headlines from this week’s Solar Energy News report.

Solar Power the Solution For Africa’s Off Grid Restrictions

1.2 billion people in the world currently do not have access to electricity. For Tanzania and many other African countries, solar is the solution. An age-old issue for many African nations has been the lack of grid connectivity due to the rural and undeveloped nature of the continent’s most populated areas. Lack of electricity presents a number of problems, but one of the most pressing is the fact that many pregnant women have to give birth in total darkness – creating a number of complications for midwives.

Solar power has been heralded as a solution to Africa’s grid restrictions. Now, solar finance company SunFunder is helping to bring photovoltaics to the rescue for pregnant African women. SunFunder’s slogan is “financing solar beyond the grid,” and the company is working to bring investor funding to key projects in undeveloped areas of the world where the need for electricity is at its highest. SunFunder was announced the winner of the Ashden International Gold Award this year for its support of low-income communities.

Solar Impulse Lands in NYC, Will Journey Across Atlantic

The first solar-powered plane has made a number of monumental headlines during its venture around the world. The most recent: its arrival at JFK Airport this past week after soaring over the Empire State Building. Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg have taken turns flying the aerodynamic aircraft during its world journey that began last year in Abu Dhabi. For the adventurous pair, the plane’s next leg will be across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. “The Atlantic is always the symbolic flight for all the means of transportation and today it becomes a symbolic flight for energy vision,” said Piccard. Solar Impulse is a zero-emission airplane with a wingspan of a typical Boeing 747 but a weight comparable to an SUV.

Solar Projected to Surpass Natural Gas

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance has revealed that solar will lead natural gas in electricity generation as soon as 2031. Due to the plummeting cost of solar and wind, renewables are surpassing fossil fuels in major metrics in the energy industry. This most recent data only supports that the impressive growth of the industry will not stop anytime soon. Likely the most shocking detail of the report: the projection does not incorporate solar incentives. This means that solar could surpass natural gas even without the federal solar tax credit that has made solar so attractive to homeowners, disproving the argument that solar is an industry powered by government subsidy. The trend continues: solar is here to stay, and fossil fuels are on their last legs.

California Able to Generate Half of its Electricity From Solar

California is unquestionably a renewable pioneer and has reached unprecedented levels of renewable generation in recent weeks. The latest state energy analysis has revealed that California typically generates 30 percent of its electricity from renewables but has reached the 50 percent mark frequently in 2016. California’s mandate to generate half of its energy from renewables by 2030 originally appeared audacious. Now, it appears to be an underestimate for the Golden State, which is responsible for more than 70 percent of all installed solar in the U.S. California already has 4,000 megawatts of grid connected solar and is growing at a rate of 70 megawatts per month.

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