Two days after President Donald Trump signed hefty tariffs on imported solar panels, a five-man team was hauling slabs of them up the outside of a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park.In below-freezing January winds, they set up steel tilt racks on the roof to hold 16 panels and wired the system to a solar inverter, making the power usable in the house and able to feed back into the electrical grid. The team from Brooklyn SolarWorks, an installation company with 21 full-time employees, finished the job around sunset.
You probably don’t think of China as a clean energy champion given its frequent problems with smog and continued dependence on coal power, but you may have to rethink your views after today. The country’s National Energy Administration has revealed that its solar energy production more than doubled in 2016, hitting 77.42 gigawatts by the end of the year. The country is now the world’s biggest producer of solar energy in terms of capacity — it doesn’t compare as well relative to population (Germany, Japan and the US could easily beat it), but that’s no mean feat for any nation.
It’s never been easier to give your house a solar roof. Falling manufacturing costs and increasing demand have led to a number of fascinating new solar products in recent years, including roof shingles with integrated solar cells,modular solar arrays and even efficient thermal tiles made from glass. As the technology improves and more people get turned on to the benefits of renewable energy, we expect to see even more innovative products hitting the market in the coming months and years, pushing forward the envelope for solar power production.