New Bill Being Passed in South Carolina in Favor of Solar Energy
Last week at the South Carolina Statehouse the solar industry had a major victory when the state legislature unanimously voted to pass the energy freedom act. This bill will help to greatly lower electricity costs and create jobs in South Carolina.
The solar energy industries association (or SEIA) played an instrumental role in the passing of this bill. They began with the goals to eliminate the net metering cap for residential solar, ensuring fair and transparent rates for residential and large scale solar, reforming the process behind utility resource planning, ensuring fair and timely contracts for large-scale solar providers, and to make solar more available and accessible for all people in South Carolina.
Their campaigning strategy consisted of organizing site visits, holding lobby days, and creating educational collateral to earn a bipartisan consensus on solar policy among South Carolina lawmakers in Columbia.
Some of the other main players that SEIA worked with in order to have this bill passes were the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance, the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, Conservative Voters of South Carolina, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. In addition to this large group of organizations, 33 solar companies also signed a joint letter to the Senate and many even lobbied their representatives directly. They also worked with the local business community, resulting in 32 corporations submitting a letter of support for the bill.
All of these efforts resulted in a unanimous vote in the House in February, and another unanimous vote in the Senate last week. This win is an example of what happens when the solar industry comes together to speak with one voice to reach a common goal.
Although, even with these major victories, we must still wait for Governor McMaster to sign the legislation into law so that clean energy can start working again for people in South Carolina.
Breakthrough in New Material to Harness Solar Power
Solar energy is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of clean energy. With new technologies being discovered, solar power is one step closer to becoming the most affordable and efficient way to harness the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source in the world.
A physicist at the University of Toledo, Dr. Yanfa Yan, has been pushing solar cells to new levels and recently made a significant breakthrough in the chemical formula and process to make the new material to harness solar power.
Yan, who has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy, envisions that the ultra-high efficiency material, a tandem perovskite solar cell, will be ready to debut in full-size solar panels on the consumer market soon.
Perovskites, compound materials with a special crystal structure formed through chemistry, would replace silicon which as of now remains the solar-cell material of choice for converting the suns light into electrical energy.
“We are producing higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar cells that show great promise to help solve the world energy crisis,” Yan said. “The meaningful work will help protect our planet for our children and future generations. We have a problem consuming most of the fossil energies right now, and our collaborative team is focused on refining our innovative way to clean up the mess.”
The research paper published in the journal Science discusses how the photovoltaics team is fine-tuning a mix of lead and tin to advance technology closer to its maximum efficiency. These efforts have recently brought the efficiency of the new solar cells up to about 23 percent, while silicon solar panels on the market today have about an 18 percent efficiency rating.
About five years ago Yan’s team at the University of Toledo identified the ideal properties of perovskites and he has since focused on producing an all-perovskite tandem solar cell that brings together two different solar cells to increase the total electrical power generated by using two different parts of the sun’s spectrum.
While Yan’s team has improved the quality of the materials and the process to manufacture them at a low cost, more progress needs to be made. “The material cost is low and the fabrication cost is low, but the lifetime of the material is still an unknown,” Song said. “We need to continue to increase efficiency and stability.”
“Also, lead is considered a toxic substance,” Yan said. “I am determined to work with the solar industry to ensure solar panels made of this material can be recycled so they don’t cause harm to the environment.”