Put a Solar Panel on It
When large companies want to save money on their power bills and burnish their green credibility with consumers, their big-box facilities begin to sprout solar panels. Which is why the annual Solar Means Business Report, which ranks corporate solar developers, is filled with highly recognizable brand names: Walmart, Prologis, Apple, Costco, Kohl’s, Ikea, Macy’s.
One of these things is not like the others.
You may not know about Prologis, which at 97.54 megawatts trails only Walmart in the amount of installed rooftop solar capacity in the U.S. The company doesn’t operate stores, doesn’t fret much about what upscale American consumers think about its energy use, and doesn’t even have much energy use to offset.
France to pave 1,000 kilometers of road with solar panels
In a major step forward for green energy, the French government has announced plans to install solar photovoltaic panels on 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of road over the next five years. The goal is to supply renewable power to 5 million people—or about 8 percent of the French population.
The solar roadways will use Wattway panels, a photovoltaic technology unveiled last October by the major French civil engineering firm Colas. According to Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, the “Positive Energy” project will be funded by raising taxes on fossil fuels, a decision Royal says is “natural” given the low prices of oil.
Australia taking solar power to the next level
They are often seen on the rooftops of suburban homes in Australia – large glistening tiles that reflect an unusual feature of life in the sun-drenched nation. Mostly put up in the past 10 years, these solar panels have made Australia the country with the world’s largest household uptake of solar panels.
Almost 16 per cent of homes – or 1.49 million – now use solar power, compared with 7 per cent in Belgium and 4 per cent in Germany. The rate varies across Australia, with Queensland chalking up the highest, of almost 30 per cent. But the country has far fewer large-scale solar energy plants and ranks only sixth in the world for total solar power capacity per person, behind Germany and Italy.
But this may be about to change.
Green jobs boom: meet the frontline of the new solar economy
While the price of oil is plummeting, taking with it a significant number of jobs, the renewable energy job market is booming. It is estimated that it will grow to 24m jobs worldwide by 2030 – up from 9.2m reported in 2014 – according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Industry (Irena), which predicts that doubling the proportion of renewables in the global energy mix would increase GDP by up to $1.3tn across the world.
The rise and rise of the solar industry has been the largest driver of growth. In 2014, it accounted for more than 2.5m jobs, largely in operations, maintenance and manufacturing – now increasingly dominated by a jobs boom in Asia.
The industry is providing hope and income to workers – present and future – across the global south.