Nov 7, 2019

Solar power systems are getting bigger, better over time

Expand chart
Reproduced from Barbose, et. al, 2019, "Tracking the Sun"; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new Energy Department report lays out how solar PV systems are getting bigger and better over time.

Why it matters: The Tracking the Sun report underscores how an important part of solar's growth and evolution isn't just the increasing number of systems, but also their design and scale.

What they did: The annual Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analysis explores distributed systems — the stuff installed at homes and businesses, as opposed to centralized utility-scale projects.

Where it stands: One conclusion is that system sizes have been growing and getting more efficient. In the residential sector, the median system has nearly tripled this century to 6.4 kilowatts as of last year.

  • "Those trends partly reflect increasing module efficiencies, as many residential systems are space-constrained based on available roof area," they note.

In the commercial and industrial space, the median system went from 7 kilowatts in 2000 to 47 kilowatts in 2018.

  • Larger systems have become more common as "a broader set of non-residential customers become comfortable with the technology and as developers and investors seek out projects offering higher returns."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Nothing is happening remotely fast enough to save the planet

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Analyses released ahead of the big United Nations climate meeting that opens next week in Madrid bring bad news for the planet.

The big picture: The reports show that despite increasing use of climate-friendly tech, especially surging deployment of solar and wind power, steep emissions cuts are nowhere on the horizon.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019

This company wants to track satellites during the daytime

Photo: NASA/Reid Wiseman

As space gets more crowded with satellites and space junk, one company wants to make it easier and cheaper to know where things are in orbit during daylight hours.

Driving the news: Numerica received a $750,000 contract from the U.S. Air Force during the first Space Pitch Day last week, with the chance to apply for up to $3 million.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019

Newfound interstellar comet shines as it moves closer to the Sun

Photo: Pieter van Dokkum/Cheng-Han Hsieh/Shany Danieli/Gregory Laughlin

An interstellar comet spotted earlier this year is on its way to its close approach to the Sun this month, giving astronomers a close-up view of the visitor from outside our solar system.

What's happening: A new photo taken by Yale astronomers shows Comet 2l/Borisov's 100,000-mile-long tail and 1-mile-across nucleus in new detail.

Go deeperArrowDec 4, 2019