Monday, December 20, 2010

Solar-Powered Cargo Pants Provide Green Energy on the Go

Solar powered accessories are on the rise, but clothing that can harvest energy from the sun isn’t something we see too often. A practical piece from their newly launched GO Collection, the Go Urban cargo pant by Silvr Lining includes a pair of built-in photovoltaic panels able to give you all the juice you need to keep your portable electronics jumping throughout the day. Composed of animal-friendly Ultrasuede, this casual and comfy cargo is lightweight, water-resistant, stain-repellent, and tough as nails. We think this could be a great piece for hitting the snowy and sunny slopes this winter!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Netherlands unveils the first public hydrogen fuel station

Europe is truly embracing hydrogen refueling stations — first we saw Italy install solar-powered pumps, then Germany announced plans for a hydrogen fuel network that will be finished by 2015. The latest nation to jump on the bandwagon is the Netherlands, which recently unveiled the first public hydrogen fueling station in the country. The first pump is installed in Arnhem and it is reportedly one of the first stations to be installed along Europe’s Hydrogen Highway.

The hydrogen station includes a small-scale plant that produces hydrogen, which is stored in compressed form. The hydrogen fuel is then fed through a special hose into hydrogen vehicles – just like a standard gas pump. As it is the first hydrogen facility in the country, it has a limited capacity and will mainly serve local vehicles that have been converted to hydrogen.

There is currently one major drawback for hydrogen cars and that is the huge tanks that they have, which often take up all of the trunk space or back seats of the cars. It is hoped that hydrogen car makers such as Daimler, BMW, GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda will be able to remedy this and make a smaller, more convenient hydrogen vehicle that the public will embrace. With the construction of the European Hydrogen Highway now underway, this is bound to be the first of many hydrogen pumping stations that will pop up on the continent.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Solar powered computer tablet designed for developing countries

Sure, the iPad is cool but is it solar-powered? The I-Slate is! Developed through a partnership of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Houston’s Rice University and the Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL), an NGO in India, the I-Slate is a cheap, solar-powered computer tablet that has been designed to help children in developing countries have access to computer technologies.

As part of the I-Slate’s test period, an electronic version of the tablet was given to millions of Indian school children to try out and play with. If the trials go successfully, the tablets will be installed with solar panels in the frame (like calculators) so they can be fully sustainable. Many of the children have never used a computer, but early reports state that they have taken to the I-Slate like fishes to water.

The I-Slate has already gained acclaim; last year, it was selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as one of seven technologies that “will have world-changing implications on the way humans interact with machines, the world and each other.”

“Children in Indian village schools are just like their peers anywhere in the world: eager to learn, tech savvy, and willing to try new pedagogical tools that engage their creative minds,”said Rajeswari Pingali, ViDAL president. “The I-slate can help bring the marvels of ICT into thousands of rural schools and contribute to an improved learning experience.”

Rice undergraduate Lauren Pemberton said the trial had already yielded results. “They immediately picked up on the technology,” she said. “They clearly didn’t like some of the things we expected to work really well, like the button placement, but they loved the scratch-pad application which was added at the last minute.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More solar panels installed at Audi HQ in Ingolstadt

Back in December 2009, German manufacturer Audi announced it will be installing 11,600 square meters (124,861 square feet) of solar panels at its headquarters in Ingolstadt, in an attempt to make the facilities there less dependent on external energy sources.

Now, one year later, the car maker announced that it will be expanding the use of the electricity generated by the solar panels to charge the batteries of the electric e-tron models. In addition, an extra 7,500 square meter area will be covered with photovoltaic panels.

“This concept shows that Audi is tackling the topic of electromobility systematically,” said Peter Kossler, Audi Ingolstadt plant manager.

“The photovoltaic installation uses innovative thin-layer modules that satisfy the most stringent environmental protection, efficiency and flexibility standards. We aim to set the standards in every area.”

The new solar panels will be installed by Green City Energy, the same company which handled the job for the car maker last year. The 1,000 MWh of electricity by the current system will be enriched with the 460 MWh coming from the expansion.

Currently, the panels have begun feeding electricity directly in Audi’s electric network. The power is used for charging stations for electric cars for now, but other production facilities will be powered this way soon.

In October this year, Audi announced a similar endeavour for the Neckarsulm center. The panels here, 10,700 modules, can reach 1,900 megawatt hours, fed into the public grid of the utility EnBW. The Neckarsulm facility is currently undergoing major upgrades, with the carmaker already announcing the beginning of the second phase of construction at the site.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Boeing set to start large scale production of the highest efficiency solar cells on the market

Best known for their massive jet planes, powerhouse Boeing is set to begin the large scale production of their highly efficient concentrator photovoltaic cell (CPV), the C3MJ+. The cell is said to be one of the highest efficiency cells on the market today, with an average conversion efficiency of 39.2 percent. The cells, produced by Spectrolab, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing company, are will be a major improvemnt on the C3MJ cells currently in production, which currently convert 38.5 percent of the sun’s rays into electricity.

Spectrolab is a market leader when it comes to the production of solar cells and photovoltaic technology, and has been producing such elements for various space and terrestrial applications for 50 years. Since 2007, the company has been introducing the large-scale production of solar cells that have consistently boasted an increased energy-conversion efficiency rate year on year.

The researchers at Spectrolab have even set a world record for solar cell efficiency with a test prototype that peaked at 41.6% – it has been said to be the basis for the solar cell C3MJ+ technology.

Speaking about the new cells, Russ Jones, Spectrolab director of CPV Business Development stated, “Given the new cells’ close similarity to our existing production cells, we believe that our current C3MJ customers will be able to easily upgrade for more efficiency.”

The important difference between concentrator photovoltaic cells and conventional PV cells is the multi-layer structure of semiconductor material aimed at generating power in correspondence to various frequencies of sunlight. The overall system is a combination of lenses and mirrors consisting of multi-junction cells.

Considering their success in the past, it is no surprise to learn that Spectrolab is expecting a 40 percent average production efficiency for terrestrial solar cells in 2011.

Monday, November 29, 2010

World's largest renewable energy project in the Saharan desert

A giant step has been made in what will be the world’s largest renewable energy project. While previously just a grand vision for the production of clean energy in the Saharan desert, the project now has a core group of backers and a signed agreement between 12 companies wanting to move forward with the $555 billion renewable energy belt. The 12 collaborators signed articles of association last week for the DESERTEC Industrial Initiative (DII), which will work to bring more companies and groups on board as well as focus on regulations and conditions to get the project successfully completed and generating pure power from the sun.

The DESERTEC Foundation vision is to install 100 GW of solar power throughout Northern Africa, with the goal of supplying 15% of Europe’s energy demand with clean renewable power. So far a number of blue chip and powerful companies have signed on to be part of the project, including ABB, ABENGOA Solar, Cevital, DESERTEC Foundation, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Munich Re, M+W Zander, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, and Siemens. The project will link multiple solar concentrating facilities around coastal North Africa and transmit most of the renewable energy through high-voltage DC lines to Europe. Additionally, desalination plants will be coupled with the solar concentrating plants to bring fresh water to people in Africa.

Although still many years out from completion, the signed agreement between the founding partners will help bring cohesion and a unified force to the project. A considerable amount of work must still be done to bring this to reality, and more support must be garnered from both European agencies and companies along with organizations from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. Questions regarding energy security, fairness, social justice, water and solar rights, as well as compensation must be dealt with along the way.

New DESERTEC CEO van Son says, “Now the time has come to turn this vision into reality. That implies intensive cooperation with many parties and cultures to create a sound basis for feasible investments into renewable energy technologies and interconnected grids. The DII will primarily focus on the economic, technical and regulatory conditions that must be fulfilled for successful project implementation.”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

World’s largest solar-powered boat attempts to break world record circumnavigation

The world’s largest solar-powered boat – TÛRANOR PlanetSolar – departed from Monaco on September 27th in an attempt to become the first boat to circumnavigate the globe using only solar energy. Aside from getting another world record under the boat’s belt, the aim of the expedition is to demonstrate that, through the use of existing materials and technology, high-performance solar mobility can be realized today.

The multihull vessel is covered in 537 square meters (5,780 sq ft) of solar panels, which power the four electric motors (two in each hull) that have a maximum output of 120 kW and can propel the boat to a speed of 14 knots. Although the vessel is capable of hosting 40 passengers and is destined to be used as a luxury yacht after the circumnavigation attempt, the vessel is crewed by just six people and that is the number that will be making the round the world journey.

The 31 m (102 ft) long, 15 m (49 ft) wide vessel was built by Kiel-based boatbuilding firm, Knierim Yachtbau, using light yet durable carbon-sandwich construction. In total, 20.6 tons of carbon fiber, 11.5 tons of foam core and 23 tons of resin and hardener were used to create the craft, whose 537 square meters of solar panels consists of a total of 825 modules, equipped with 38,000 individual photovoltaic cells made by SunPower Corp. The energy they capture is stored in six blocks, each containing 12 lithium-ion batteries.

The vessel is driven by two contra-rotating carbon propellers that each have a diameter of almost two meters (6.6 ft), which is twice the usual size for a craft of the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar’s size. As only half the propeller is underwater, a “wheel effect” is created which makes it possible to steer the ship without a rudder.

At the time of publication, the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and was just north of Cuba, making its way towards its next planned stopover in Miami. Other planned stops for the PlanetSolar team include Cancun, San Francisco, Sydney, Singapore, Abu Dhabi before finishing in Monaco sometime in 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Completion of the Park Hotel in Hyderabad, India's first LEED Gold certified hotel

Andhra Pradesh, India recently announced the completion of the country's first LEED Gold certified hotel, the Park Hotel, Hyderabad. Described as a 'Modern Indian Palace', the new eco hotel designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM) combines local craftsmanship and high performance design into a 250 room hotel. The hotel is designed to be ultra modern and sustainable, yet it is influenced strongly by local vernacular architecture - read on for a look inside!

The Park Hotel in Hyderabad is distinguished by its impressive facade of perforated metal, which serves as a sun and rain screen that protects the building’s high-performance windows. Daylighting, orientation, solar gain and local climate were all taken into account during the design of the building to maximize light and minimize heat gain. The mostly square volume wraps around an elevated large courtyard that provides protection for the hotel’s pool, restaurants, bars, retail shops, and other mixed-use programs. Rooms enjoy expansive views of Hussain Sagar Lake and the city yet are shielded from receiving much sun.

SOM collaborated with Stevens Institute of Technology’s Product Architecture Lab in Hoboken, New Jersey in order to minimize the hotel’s energy consumption — and they succeeded in reducing it by 20%. The team also collaborated on incorporating an on-site waste water treatment plant that processes both gray water for reuse and waste water before it is released back into the city’s sewer system. The hotel is the first in India to achieve LEED Gold certification and it has been awarded Best New Hospitality Project of 2010 from Cityscape India.

Monday, November 22, 2010

170-meter skyscraper capable of collecting water and generating energy

Like a plant that opens its petals to collect dew, the Blooming Tower by Mekene Architecture responds to environmental changes with a kinetic facade that opens and closes throughout the day. The mixed-use recreational facility combines playgrounds, a library, a conference space and picnic areas under a lightweight tower covered in sail cloth material. The 170-meter tower designed for Dubai is also capable of collecting water and generating energy.

 The base of the eco tower is slightly sunken into the surrounding gardens, and a large dome creates recreational space, picnic areas, a library, and a conference area. The tower is designed with a lightweight aluminum frame, and it narrows as it rises up 170 meters tall. The top-level features a cafe and viewing level that is accessible via a cable car elevator.

The tower was inspired by the city’s strong connection to the sea, which is expressed through the use of sail cloth material. The exterior is covered in a facade of movable white sail cloth that has multiple purposes. During the day, the sail cloth is closed and serves to provide protection from the sun. While the flaps are closed, a chimney effect is created in the tower and hot air rises up and out, drawing in cool air.

Each flap also has the ability to move, and as it vibrates with the wind an attached piezo-electric device generates power for the building. At night, the sail cloth flaps open like the petals of a flower and collect dew from the night air and store it underground in a reservoir. This dew collection system is expected to capture enough water to accommodate the entire building’s needs.

Friday, November 19, 2010

London 2012 - London to fall short on environmental pledges

London 2012 organisers are on course to fall short of their environmental pledges, according to the London Assembly.

A new report - Going for Green - from the Assembly's Environment Committee has stated that London 2012 may not be as environmentally transformative as originally hoped and said more must be done as the Games approach.

High on the list of the Assembly's concern were that original targets on renewable electricity during the Games were unlikely to be met while the report also labels the failure to secure more electric vehicles as a ‘missed opportunity'.

In July, the Assembly criticised organisers, stating they will fail to meet its target to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from new local renewable energy sources.

That largely came as a result of having to shelve plans to erect a wind turbine in the Olympic Park, after changes to health and safety legislation.

Environment Committee chairman Darren Johnson said: "We fully support London 2012's ambition to be the most sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games in recent history, and there has been some excellent work towards that goal.

"However we don't want to see environmental standards compromised in the run-up to what I am sure will be a fantastic Games.

"We need to see clear targets for re-using temporary materials, more detail on how organisers will promote sustainable travel and plans for recycling facilities on site and around London."

The report also states that London's air quality has not improved as hoped since 2015 and claims that will in turn result in harmful levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in parts of the capital in 2012.

"London's air quality is a particular cause for concern, as failing to reduce levels of pollutants could have consequences for London's international reputation as well as the health of those attending the event," added Johnson.

The report went on to set out work that Locog must complete if the Games are to live up to their environmental aspirations include a plans to promote sustainable travel.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transparent Solar Material Could Lead to Photovoltaic Windows

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven and Los Alamos National Laboratories have created a new type of transparent photovoltaic film that can be spread over large areas to absorb light and create an electrical charge. It is hoped that the technology could lead to the development of power-generating windows and transparent solar panels.

This isn’t the first ‘solar window‘ story that we have reported on, so what makes this technology so different? According to the scientific journal Chemistry of Materials, “though such honeycomb-patterned thin films have previously been made using conventional polymers like polystyrene, this is the first report of such a material that blends semiconductors and fullerenes to absorb light and efficiently generate charge and charge separation.”

Lead scientist Mircea Cotlet, a physical chemist at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials said that the material stays transparent because the polymer chains pack densely only at the edges of the hexagons, while remaining loosely packed and spread very thin across the centers. “The densely packed edges strongly absorb light and may also facilitate conducting electricity,” Cotlet explained, “while the centers do not absorb much light and are relatively transparent.”

“Combining these traits and achieving large-scale patterning could enable a wide range of practical applications, such as energy-generating solar windows, transparent solar panels, and new kinds of optical displays,” said co-researcher Zhihua Xu, a materials scientist at the CFN. “Imagine a house with windows made of this kind of material, which, combined with a solar roof, would cut its electricity costs significantly. This is pretty exciting,” Cotlet said.

She is right — with so many companies each working on separate ways to create ’solar windows’, surely it is only a matter of time before everyday items such as windows and doors are able to generate electricity for homes and businesses.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The World’s Smallest Solar-Powered Movie Theater

While An Inconvenient Truth may have opened our eyes to the perils of global warming, most of us still saw it in a cinema powered by large amounts of electricity. Fortunately, movie fans now have an option to see films in a more sustainable manner – The Sol Cinema, which is the world’s smallest solar-powered movie theater!!

The Sol Cinema was made from a converted two-berth caravan and funded by the media arts charity Undercurrents. Its film projector is powered by four large lithium-ion batteries that are charged by two 120W solar panels. You need not worry about large crowds or people talking on their phones either, as the Sol Cinema only seats eight adults or twelve children.

The cinema says it has a “full library of comedies, quirky movies, music videos and short films with inspiring environment themes.” Situated in Kent in the UK, the Sol Cinema hopes to raise people’s awareness about solar power while showing educational films. Earlier in the year, the cinema was used at Ramsgate town’s new Summer Squall arts festival, where it played a number of local documentary films.

The Sol Cinema is an innovative idea that shows what can be done on a small scale — it just makes this writer wonder why more cinemas don’t install solar panels on their roofs.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Glastonbury festival unveils the largest private solar system in the UK

If U2 or the Rolling Stones had been performing on his cow shed roof, the Glastonbury Festival supremo Michael Eavis could hardly have been more excited. "It's fantastic. This is the best fun I've had here for ages," he said. "We had to make a big statement – and that is what we've done."

Eavis' statement is an "array" of 1,116 solar panels installed on the roof of that cowshed - nicknamed the Mootel. To the sound of a musician called Harriet playing Here Comes The Sun on the vibraphone (deemed suitable because its aluminium bars resemble solar panels), Eavis today unveiled what is believed to be the biggest private solar electric generating system in the UK.

The photovoltaic (PV) modules will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 40 homes annually. Power generated will be used, in the first instance, for Eavis' Worthy Farm and any left over will be fed into the National Grid.

Wearing shorts on a chilly but perfectly blue Somerset day, Eavis said: "We had to make a major statement because we use so much power. This has brought us one big step closer to our goal of operating the farm as ecologically as possible." The 1,500-acre site effectively turns into a small city at festival time with more than 200 diesel-powered generators hauled into place to make sure bands can play, food-and-drink suppliers can operate and the place is lit up at night.

Much has been done already. Eavis and his team have built reservoirs so water does not have to be brought on site and linked into local sewerage systems so human waste does not have to be carted off. They recycle all they can and encourage people not to drive if they can help it. But on a busy night they need up to 15 megawatts of power to make sure everything runs smoothly. Eavis felt they were still "losing the argument" so when he built the new cow shed seven years ago, he made sure its roof sloped gently southwards and was strong enough to support 20 tonnes of solar panels.

He has been impressed by how easy it has been. The bank lent him most of the money and the government's feed-in tariff - a subsidy for small-scale renewable energy generation - has meant it makes economic sense to launch the project. He should earn £60,000 a year from the project. Eavis's cow shed, which enjoys a fine view of the pyramid stage - skeletal at this time of year - and Glastonbury Tor in the far distance, now generates up to 200 kilowatts of power. It should also save around 100 tonnes of carbon a year. He expects to make the money he has invested back in nine years.

Lucy Brooking Clark, green initiatives co-ordinator for the Glastonbury Festival, said it was an "amazing" day. "It feels like one big step for Glastonbury today. It's been four or five years in the planning. We have to constantly look at how we can make the festival more sustainable - we have to keep raising the bar." Steve Riches, a planning engineer for Western Power Distribution, which makes sure the electricity generated on the roof reaches the National Grid, said it was a "symbolic day." Riches said: "I think other farmers and landowners will look at what Michael Eavis has done here and try to do the same. I think this is an important step."

Next week, the Farming Futures project, which works to inform farmers about climate change, will be hosting a workshop with Eavis at Worthy Farm for others thinking of investing in solar panels. Bill Egan, who for the last 26 years has made sure Worthy Farm has all the power it needs for the festival (mainly by bringing in all those generators), was trying to work out whether he would still have a job for a few years to come.
However, festival is so energy-hungry though that he concluded he would. Using the power generated on the cow shed roof would probably allow only six temporary diesel generators to be lost. As Eavis bounded from interview to interview, Egan calculated that they would need between 50,000 and 100,000sq m of solar panels to be sure of generating enough electricity. "You'd lose a lot of camping space for that. I think my job is safe for a while."

But he said they had already thought about how best to use the new source of electricity, perhaps using it to charge generators that are used for long periods, for example by crew members who are on site for months before and after the festival. "We'll start getting those cables in now," he said. Phil Miller, the infrastructure manager for the site, said they were always on the look-out for new ways of cutting the festival's carbon footprint. "I heard about an idea of using urine to generate power. That could work for us. Or what about putting solar panels on marquees? We have to keep trying." Eavis is already thinking about the future. "We've got the best festival in the world and the best solar power system in the country - so far. We've got to keep pushing, trying to do more." And with that he was off to make sure the panels were performing properly - and the cows beneath them were as content as he was.

Farmers across the country, but especially in the south-west of England, are becoming more interested in the idea of supplementing their income through solar power. Claire Wyatt, of Farming Futures, a government-funded organisation that helps farmers cope with and prepare for climate change, said farmers were "hungry" for information. "I think it's because the technology has improved, and so you no longer need the perfect site, but the feed-in tariff [under which landowners are paid for the energy they supply to the National Grid] has shown them it is economically valuable."

It was standing-room only at an event held in Oxfordshire last week, and there are 200 people on a waiting list for a Farming Futures session at Glastonbury site Worthy Farm next week. Companies that supply solar panels have started to organise seminars for farmers in the West Country – the Californian-based SunPower Corporation recently held well-attended events in Somerset. One of the most eye-catching schemes revealed earlier this year was a £40m network of solar farms in Cornwall. If the network is built, it would triple the UK's current solar generating capacity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Produce your own power with solarpod by thousandsuns

solarpod by thousandsunsTM : Portable Solar Generator

solarpod by thousandsunsTM
is an ideal way to achieve energy self-sufficiency using solar power. It contains the latest in battery and inverter technology and with our optional high performance solar panels. It can power electrical and electronic devices when off grid. It can power most appliances found in the home, office, sheds or workplace – such as TVs, stereos, games consoles, laptops, phones, power tools etc.
solarpod by thousandsunsTM works out-of-the-box and is completely plug-n-play with no installation required. It is compact, light, durable and amazingly powerful.

Watt foldable/angle adjustable solar panel
To complete solarpod by thousandsunsTM, we recommend the Thousand Suns 60W foldable solar panel. It features a robust yet light and waterproof aluminium stand that allows stability on most surfaces. The panel can be angled as required to ensure the optimum inclination depending on location.

Produce your own power within 5 minutes of unboxing the kit
solarpod by thousandsunsTM contains a high performance LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery which is a safe and environmentally friendly. It is fitted with a 300W inverter, a UK 3-pin socket (or a continental 3-pin socket), 2 USB and a 12V Car socket. It can be charged either by solar panels or directly onto the mains (an auxiliary charger is provided).

Solar energy and battery indicator
solarpod by thousandsunsTM features LED light strips that indicate the amount of solar energy being collected by the solar panel as well as the amount of stored energy in the battery.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A 5 kWh storage system for solar panels with a cycle life matching that of most solar panels.

Dispatch Energy and Fraunhofer ISE and ISIT have developed a 5 kWh storage system for solar photovoltaics (PV) with a cycle life matching that of most solar panels.

Dispatch Energy specialises in electrochemical energy storage systems which exploit lithium-ion polymer technology.
The Black Diamond product range has been designed for decentralised, building integrated solar PV installations.
“Thanks to an extremely high cycle life, the calendrical service life of the cell technology and the refined modular system concept with its integrated battery management system, the battery bank can be used efficiently throughout the typical service life of a modern photovoltaic installation,” says Dr Matthia Vetter, Head of the Off-grid Photovoltaic Systems and Battery System Technology Group at Fraunhofer ISE.
“The battery system is therefore adapted to match the guaranteed service life of the remaining components in a grid-connected PV system.”
The solar PV storage system is protected against overcharging and overdischarging, and is said to have an efficiency of over 95%.
Its modular construction allows it to be easily connected to charge controllers and inverters already available on the market. Furthermore, customers can retrieve data on the reserves of electricity available at any time via a touch screen phone, laptop or smartphone.
Series production is scheduled for mid-2011. The aim is to equip over 1000 solar PV homes with battery systems annually.

Mass series production with a total capacity of 250 MWh is currently being planned.
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) contributed expertise in the fields of battery module and battery system construction, battery and energy management system development and integration into grid-connected and off-grid solar PV systems. Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT) has a new pilot cell production line, which Dispatch Energy Innovations GmbH is benefitting from.

This article is featured in:
Energy storage including Fuel cells Photovoltaics (PV)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A new concept: fuel cell-powered bicycle

Here's a novel concept -- rather than rolling up to a recharge station in the year 2020, plugging your Volt in and reading the latest issue of Esquire while life passes you by, why not swap out a dead fuel cell for a fully rejuvenated one? We can't say for sure the idea will catch on, but it's certainly one that would save Earth-lovin' motorists an awful lot of time. A little-known outfit by the name of Signa is to thank, as the company's new fuel cell-powered bicycle operates using this scheme; riders simply pop in a recyclable 1.5 pound cartridge (where sodium silicide and water mix to create hydrogen power), toss on a pair of Ray-Bans and cruise for 20 to 30 miles. Once that runs out, you can either break out the pedal power or pop in a new cell -- given the right infrastructure, this could one day be as simple as stopping to refuel. In reality, this new bike is just a way to show off the company's technical aptitude, but we're told that it is actually going on sale next summer for an undisclosed amount. Dollars to donuts Floyd Landis already has one on pre-order.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sanyo’s New 235-Watt Solar Panel Has An Energy-Efficiency Of 21.1%

At the beginning of this month, the European division of Sanyo has officially released its new enhanced HIT solar panel. Dubbed HIT-N235SE10, the new 235 watt solar panel has an energy-efficiency of 21.1%, improving the performance in limited space installations and offering more power generation per square meter. According to the company, the HIT-N235SE10 has a 18.6% overall module efficiency by adopting a new tab design, anti-reflection glass and more efficient HIT solar cells.Unlike the HIP-215NKHE5 (one of the Sanyo HIT solar panel range currently available in Australia) which already has an impressive performance, the new solar panel features an 8.7% increase in efficiency.The new N series are equipped with thinner tabs, thus way capturing more sunlight because the effective area is enlarged. The anti-reflective glass is also very useful, especially at dusk and dawn.The solar modules will be produced in Hungary at Sanyo’s factory, for the moment being available only to the European market. The company hasn’t announced any date regarding their availability in Australia or the United States.
[Source: EnergyMatters]

Organic Solar Cells Have Lower Environmental Impact

GetSolar Staff. Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 09:00
Organic solar cells - or those that use carbon, rather than inorganic substances like silicon, to conduct electricity - require less energy to produce than their inorganic counterparts, new Rochester Institute of Technology research shows.

Researchers at the Rochester, New York university performed life-cycle analyses of both types of solar cell. While the environmental benefits of using solar power are well-known, little was understood about the energy consumed in solar modules' production, RIT doctoral candidate Annick Anctil said.

"A broader analysis [was] needed to better evaluate the overall effect of [organic solar cells'] production and use," she noted.

Anctil performed a detailed analysis of the energy used to make each component of an organic solar cell - and she calculated the "energy payback period" of both organic and inorganic cells.

That payback period was shorter for the organic cells, suggesting that organic solar components could be both cheaper than and environmentally superior to inorganic materials.

"The data produced [by Anctil's research] will help designers and potential manufacturers better assess how to use and improve [organic solar] technology and analyze its feasibility," faculty advisor Brian Landi said.

Solar-cell producers may make smarter strategic decisions thanks to the research performed at RIT - and the cost of going solar could be lowered, to boot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Solar skeptics love the fire at BP Solar!

  frrom our good friends at Global Rumbling
Those Deadly, Green Solar Panels

Not only does solar energy cost more to produce than it gives back, but rooftop solar panels are dangerous to your health and hearth. In Germany, Australia, and the U.S.A. fire departments are warning of the deadly threat of fighting blazes associated with solar panels.

In Germany the issue has recently become a major news item. While city and local governments, swept by the Green mania, are demanding more rooftop panel installations, many fire departments have warned that fires cannot be fought on houses with rooftop solar panel units, and the property will be completely destroyed.
The largest solar panel blaze in history took place in June 2009 in Germany at the warehouse complex of BP Solar! Talk about "accident prone." BP's 200 square meter array, at Buerstadt, near Mannheim, was one of the largest roof-mounted installations in the world. And it was fabricated by BP Solar.
A rooftop solar array produces direct current electricity at a potential of 600 to 800 volts, more than enough to kill—and it cannot be turned off. The standard firefighting technique of opening up the roof to vent a blaze is not possible, because putting an axe through the solar panels exposes the firemen to deadly voltages.
Firefighters in the U.S. also have a policy of letting the solar panel-related fire burn out, rather than fighting it. Reporting on a 2009 meeting of New Jersey fire chiefs, a Florence Township chief wrote: "The final question which was asked really put things in perspective — someone asked that since California is number one when it comes to Solar Panel System installations, 'What do their Firefighters do when a structure fire involves these systems?' Answer was 'they let it burn!'"

And the solar panels themselves are often the cause of the blaze. In Australia, where government subsidies sparked a boom in rooftop panel installations, a survey of 200 systems found 3% were incorrectly wired, leading to serious fire risk. Apart from faulty wiring by installers, poor quality control in manufacturing has led to fracture in the joints between the solar cell modules, which can lead to electrical arcing. The resultant fires burn at quite high temperatures.

Solar electricity generation is ridiculously costly, and has only caught on because of huge government subsidies. Studies in the U.S. show that the true cost for the average home is 35 cents per kilowatt hour, and 25 cents per kWh in the desert. Electricity can be generated from nuclear plants at 1.3 cents/kWh, if plant construction time is reduced to a reasonable 5 years or less. Uranium fuel is so energy dense, that the main cost of nuclear power is in the plant construction. Knowing this, the Green Nazis in the U.S.A. fought for punitive regulations which dragged out construction times to 10 years or longer. They thus ran up amortization costs at high compound interest rates to high levels, making it appear cheaper, in the short run, for a utility to build coal or gas-fired plants.

Meanwhile, Green alternative energy is subsidized at huge taxpayer expense. In Germany, Der Spiegelreports that a study by the Arrhenius Institute for Energy and Climate Policy calculated that solar energy receives EU2.7 million PER DAY in subsidies! This figure is obtained simply by multiplying the EU35 cents/KWh which consumers pay as a subsidy on solar energy, by the overall production of one day, as measured on July 8. Today, one of the largest solar panel installations in the world is atop the roof of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Friday, September 17, 2010

EU PVSEC: Solar thin-film reaches €0.50/Wp

Oerlikon Solar says it will reach solar silicon thin-film production costs of €0.50/Wp with its new ThinFab production line – it has also achieved 11.9% efficiency with its Micromorph lab cell.
The ThinFab solar silicon thin-film line incorporates:
  • New generation of the core equipments PECVD, TCO and laser;
  • Thinner cell structures with reduced degradation and reduced gas consumption;
  • Stabilised module efficiency of 10% (143 Wp per module); and
  • New low voltage module design, based on simplified new backend equipment.
Oerlikon Solar has also achieved 11.9% stabilised efficiency with its newMicromorph lab cell in cooperation with Corning Incorporated. The result has been confirmed by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
“The 10% efficiency of our non-toxic, environmentally friendly modules, combined with the lowest production costs ever, provides the solar industry with completely new opportunities. On top of that our new champion cell with 11.9% stabilised efficiency demonstrates even further potential of the thin-film silicon technology,” says Jurg Henz, Oerlikon Solar CEO.
“Our technology offers the lowest energy payback time compared to other crystalline technologies and is not based on limited resources,” he adds.

Possibly the cheapest solar panels in the UK?

Our good friends at Thousand Suns possibly have the cheapest high quality panels on the web!

Check these:
100 watt monochrystaline : £219
100 watt offgrid system (100 watt panel, 105Ah Deep Cycle Battery, 20A controller and MC4 cables) £365

and if you use the voucher "mysolarnews", you'll get 10% off!
So wether it is for your caravan, your motorhome, your boat or your house...

Happy hunting

Monday, September 13, 2010

Special guide on how to fit solar panels on a narrowboat

A client of Thousand Suns has published a very detailed description of the installation process of our panels on his narrowboat. Here is an extract of his excellent walk through:

Why did we decide to fit solar panels? Basically it was a decision taken because we have had a spate of problems with our 3.5 Kva travel power / charger combination. It was time to have a second line backup. The first line of backup is to rewire the electrics to use the starter battery alternator to charge the domestic bank as well. That takes about 2 hours, is fraught with danger (playing with over 800 amps of power is always fraught with danger) and one day that poor little alternator is going to complain of overwork. It also costs a fortune in diesel as the engine has to run 4-5 hours a day.

How did we expect the solar panels to work? We want to cruise between 2 and 4 hours a day which will bring the batteries up and then have them “topped off” by the solar panels. There was never any intention, or expectation, that solar cells would replace other forms of charging. Just reduce the amount of engine running solely for charging.


Dreaming up the system:
So it's all dead simple, one or more panels, a cable, and a charge controller, just spend your money and it will generate free power for years. If only life were that simple. So I spent some time on the potential problems.What is the real day to day efficiency, nobody mentions that. Keeping them on the roof despite the vandals, thieves and muggers. False voltage levels confusing the control of the battery by alternators/chargers. Potential cable damage when you lob a few sacks of coal or half a tree trunk on the roof. Voltage drops due to the length of the cable.Losses due to the panels being flat rather that being pointed at the sun; nobody ever mentions that either.


Not doing this last year, or the year before.
Buying special sealant rather than using ordinary silicone.

On a summers day the panels supply most of our electrical needs between 8am and 8pm. With an engine run of 2 hours (cruising) no extra running of the engine will be needed. The system works better than I expected. Even in total overcast it produces a few amps (which covers the overhead use) although one big dark cloud did reduce it to zero for about 10 minutes.

Fitting the system was straightforward but the details, such as weatherproofing the electrics were tedious and time consuming. I will re-visit them in two weeks to see if I did a good job before fixing the cable to the roof.

Give considerable thought to fixing the panels down. Lots of people recommended various methods including various forms of bonding (it seems it is the normal method for caravans) but you will be bonding to paint which is not the strongest of substrates. Our battery monitor computer readout is now unreliable as it shows the solar charger output voltage rather than the actual voltage of the battery until it gets dark. We will have to re-learn the management of our electrics.

Mooring the boat will be more difficult. At the moment I try to find a place which has a good telephone signal, a good mobile broadband signal, line of sight for satellite TV. Now I must add free from shadows.

Thanks John. Read the whole thing there!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zephyr solar UAV sets yet another flight record: 7 days!

QinetiQ announced last week that Zephyr, the leading solar powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) has been flying for the past week, smashing a number of long-standing world records.

Currently flying high above the US Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Zephyr has already passed the seven day / 168 hour mark and the clock is still running. This DOUBLES the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008 and already held by Zephyr, and is well in excess of the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman's RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001.

As a bold statement of intent QinetiQ invited the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world air sports federation, to oversee the flight and an FAI Official has been monitoring progress at the Yuma Proving Ground. Zephyr's world records will not become official until the aircraft is safely back on the ground.

The current goal is to fly for a further week and prove Zephyr is the world's first truly eternal plane, capable of providing a low-cost, persistent surveillance capability over months rather than days. Potential applications include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defence, security and commercial requirements.

The current Zephyr aircraft is a genuine breakthrough design, drawing on the latest technology and represents a massive leap forward in engineering excellence incorporating an entirely new wing design.

"The team has worked tirelessly over the past few years, making truly significant leaps forward in overall design and construction - and to see it successfully soar into the sky was fantastic," explained Jon Saltmarsh, Zephyr Programme Director. "By being able to remain over a location for weeks or months at a time, it can usefully deliver a host of practical and more affordable solutions to both civil and military customers."

Launched by hand, the aircraft flies by day on solar power delivered by amorphous silicon solar arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft's wings. These are also used to recharge the lithium-sulphur batteries, supplied by Sion Power Inc, which are used to power the aircraft by night. Together they provide an extremely high power to weight ratio on a continuous day/night cycle, thereby delivering persistent on-station capabilities.

Around 50% larger than the previous Zephyr, technical changes now mean it has a 22.5m wingspan to accommodate more batteries that are combined with a totally new integrated power management system. The entirely new aerodynamic shape and high "T" tail also contribute to reduce drag and improve performance. The payload capacity will meet a number of key surveillance and communication requirements already demonstrated by Zephyr over the past three years. Zephyr's ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre design also means it weighs in at just over 50Kg.

Unlike conventional manned or unmanned aircraft now being operated, Zephyr does not need to return to base at regular intervals for re-fuelling or servicing which also helps minimise the logistical supply chain and extend its operational capability.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

24.2% efficiency for silicon cell...

California solar firm SunPower Corporation has achieved a world record efficiency for a full-scale silicon solar cell.
The cell was verified as 24.2% efficient at converting sunlight into electricity – confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s own National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The company produced the cell at its manufacturing plant in the Philippines.
SunPower said improving the efficiency of solar power generation could reduce the effective costs of the technology by boosting the amount of energy generation that can be sold from solar equipment.
Effectively, making a more efficient solar cell reduces the cost per watt for the manufacturing process, installation and maintenance.


Bill Mulligan, vice president of technology and development for SunPower, said: “This new world record demonstrates SunPower’s ability to extend our lead in manufacturing the world’s highest efficiency solar cells. Our patented and proprietary, high-efficiency solar cell technology drives down the cost of solar energy by increasing the energy production from each solar panel.”
SunPower, which has its head office in San Jose, California, is celebrating its 25th year in business this year.
Dr Richard Swanson, founder and chief technology officer for the firm, said the technology being produced today was “inconceivable” even a few years ago.
He said: “SunPower’s research and development and engineering teams have increased cell efficiency by a full four percentage points over the last five years while radically driving down manufacturing costs. We are extremely proud of their continued success.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

UAE Announces Plans for World’s Largest Solar Plant

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It seems everyone is rolling out with plans for the world’s largest this or that and the UAE is joining the fray with a massive concentrated solar energy project called Shams 1. Masdar is teaming up with French oil company Total and Spanish solar company Abengoa Solar to build a 100 MW solar plant outside of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Compared to the monster Desertec project in Europe and North Africa, Shams 1 is a drop in the bucket, but will be up and running long before Desertec secures financing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another iPod sound system -- solar powered

Solar-powered sound systems are certainly nothing new, but Etón has taken things a bit further than most with its new Soulra system, which not only adds an iPhone / iPod dock to the equation, but wraps it in a rugged, splash-proof enclosure. That obviously makes it better suited for the beach or pool-side than some other options, but you'll also naturally get an AC adapter and line-in to use it at home and connect other audio devices. Not much else in the way of technical specs just yet, unfortunately, but it looks like it should be available in the coming days for $199 -- Etón actually says 'now,' but most retailers seem to be saying otherwise.

Source Engadget

Apple's beautiful solar power iPhone patent

Some patents are just so sexy, and I’m loving Apple’s latest gem - solar-powered iPhones, iPads and iPods (and whatever devices may follow) in which the energy collection cells are actually hidden inside the display.

I’m so enamored of the elegance of this concept. It means that where you interact with the device will also be the point at which the device interacts with the world in an incredibly tangible way -- it gains energy, you gain information. Quite beautiful.

So, to the patent, Apple’s at pains here to describe just how it will be able to integrate cell panels beneath the multi-touch surface as opposed to it being applied to the top surface of their media players.

It also underlines another reason for Apple’s move to field glass type back panels on the iPad, as switching the iPhone's backside substrate to a non-metal surface makes it possible for Apple to “implement a double-sided solar panel design”, writes Patently Apple.

This would double the amount of power that the cells would be able to draw in order for them to power the media player longer.

The great thing about this whole notion is that your Apple device would continue to gather power when it was switched off. Meanwhile continued advances in the technology of solar power collection devices now means you can get a decent amount of power even on a grey day. Though we reckon we’ll need mains electricity for a good while yet.

All very cool.

Source 9 to 5 Mac

Friday, May 28, 2010

Suntech Gets Certified To Sell Solar Panels In The UK (MCS)

Suntech just announced that its solar panels have been certified to meet the requirements of the UK Microgeneration Certification Scheme. MCS Certification means that Suntech’s panels meet or exceed all applicable safety and performance standards and can be sold in the UK.
In a press release, Jerry Stokes, Suntech’s Vice President of Strategy and Business Development in Europe, commented on the news:
“”We see the UK as a strategically important market and had no hesitation in engaging BBA to assess our modules for the MCS certification. With a high degree of home ownership and a positive feed-in-tariff legislation, which offers secure returns, we are confident that the UK market offers great potential.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

why should a solar panel be square?

Here is a press release from the guys who gave us Leaf shaped solar panel

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 27, 2010) -  After the release of the Leaf shaped solar panel, this week Greendix announces the release of 5 more solar panels with different shapes, including circular, quarter, oval, heart and pentagon shaped. We hope that these different shapes can help designers and users think outside the box and not be limited to the conventional square shaped solar panels. Greendix's President, Mr. Joseph, would like to invite everyone to use their imaginations and apply these designs into building a greener future. Everyone should be their own best designer.
Production of these 5 shapes is expected by Q3 of 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wind or Solar? You don't need to choose anymore...

Portable Solar Wind Turbine Keeps You Charged on the Go

How about this for an all-purpose gadget? Cheng Peng has designed a portable wind turbine with solar panels on its blades. The device is capable of generating enough energy to power your cell phone or GPS, or it can power its own built-in LED light. It’s called Mobile Energy, and it measures just half a meter long when folded down, making it portable enough to carry with you on backpacking or cycling trips.

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If the turbine’s base is really stable enough to hold this thing up when the wind is blowing, who could argue with the genius of this creation? You could take it with you everywhere and never plug in a charger again. And, let’s face it, you’d always have the coolest campsite around.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why not install solar shingles?

traditional-solar-panels.jpgFor the past decade the popularity and efficiency of solar energy has been growing rapidly worldwide. Most people have seen solar panels going up on houses and businesses in their community. This usually takes form as an array of large silver rectangular panels spread out across the roof or other free standing structure such as a parking cover, or sometimes directly into the car itself. Vanity almost always takes second to functionality. A few companies such as SunPower have created all black solar panels but this doesn't change the clunky look of the panels themselves. Fortunately, recent breakthroughs in thin film design have lead to a more integrated approach called solar shingles.
Solar shingles, or photovoltaic shingles, were first released in 2005. Much like the larger solar panels we are used to, solar shingles capture sunlight and transform it into useable energy. Unlike the larger solar panel discussed above, they are typically 12 inches wide and 86 inches long and can be stapled directly to the roofing cloth just like normal shingles. Once installed, they give the roof a purplish blue tint but otherwise look much like regular tar and sand shingles.
installing-solar-shingles.jpgElectricity is generated through solar shingles when the sun strikes a semiconductor layer, which is typically made from crystalline silicon, laminated to the shingle's surface. According to an article on, a single solar shingle produces about 50-200 watts of energy, which is enough energy to power a wall fan. This isn't bad for one tiny shingle but just think how much you could do with a whole roof of them? One of the big challenges with solar panels is determining how many to install, they don't usually come in smaller sizes so many customers end up with too much or just under what they could really use. The smaller dimensions of shingles eliminate this issue.
According to an article on solar shingles on, solar shingles on your roof can create energy for your household for up to forty years! What's amazing about this is that most people replace the shingles at least once within this kind of time frame so you could actually cut down on the maintenance costs of your house in addition to the boost in sustainability. The biggest payoff with any solar technology is the savings in transporting energy to the location of use. With traditional coal or nuclear energy power is lost as it is transferred along lines all over the city. Micro power or localized solar solves this.
Just like regular solar panels, energy generated from solar shingles is stored either locally in a battery or passed through to the grid using net metering. During the night when users need energy the grid pumps it out but during the day they feed energy in which is shared all over the community, including corporations and businesses where the house owner may work.
Wikipedia states that, "Backup storage, in the form of batteries, is expensive, adds complexity to the installation, and is uneconomic in any large scale. Battery backup units require an array of additional hardware. This includes batteries, battery enclosures, battery charge controllers, and separate sub panels for critical load circuits. However, grid power is only useful as a backup system if it is available when solar power is not." If you live far away from an established grid, don't have access an electric company that offers net metering or are building a completely new sub division however, the battery storage option may begin to make sense.
Are solar shingles expensive? Well, compared to traditional solar panels, the answer is no. One author on claims that not only will you be reducing your monthly energy bill, you will be increasing the overall value of your house by as much as 4%. With the price of energy and building uncertain going forwards, locking in your rates by tethering the energy of the sun might be a wise decision and reflect this increase in property value. While your neighbors are all suffering through brown outs and outages you may doing just fine.
In addition, states that installing solar shingles "gives you back a price premium of about 10%, which is an increased value of your property, after making it energy efficient and renewable." So, depending on your situation as a home owner this return could represent a 6% increase in value at day one with ongoing benefits, minus the cost of interest if you take out a loan.
While older models of solar shingles were a bit more expensive because they were a new technology, new models such as shingles made with thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells are far more affordable and can be installed in as little as 10 hours instead of the 22 to 30 hours it takes to install large solar panels.
So who makes solar shingles? Companies that currently manufacture solar shingles include SunPower Corporation, Solar Components Corporation, Atlantis Energy Systems, and Dow Chemical. In addition, large homebuilders in California are partnering with companies like SunPower to offer homes that have solar systems already installed. This is a wonderful thing to see because the costs of rewiring and reinforcing a roof for solar can take up as much as 50% of the overall cost and regularly becomes a deciding factor for families considering renewable energy. Even homes that come "solar ready" but do not have solar panels or shingles installed are worth more than the status quo.

National Bank of Arizona to Install Solar System at Tucson Headquarters (May 17, 2010)

Tucson, AZ, USA: National Bank of Arizona to Install Solar System at Tucson Headquarters

National Bank of Arizona is to install a $2 million solar system on its Tucson headquarters this summer constructed by Natural Power and Energy. At 402.6 kilowatts, the project is the second largest corporate install in Tucson.

The 24,000-square-foot installation of 1,320 panels will be placed on three structures located on the rooftop of its parking garage at the NBAZ Wilmot Road and Carondelet offices. The system will reduce electricity costs of the two buildings by about 25 percent and will produce at least 580,000 kilowatt hours annually within the buildings that total 128,824 square-feet.

"This is both an economically and environmentally sound decision," said David Lyons, executive vice president of National Bank of Arizona. "We feel it's important to continue to expand our solar initiatives throughout the state and with Tucson being our founding city, we are excited to lead the way with one of the largest commercial solar systems."

"At Natural Power and Energy we are extremely proud to have been chosen to work on this special project for National Bank of Arizona," said Rob Dallal, CEO of Natural Power and Energy. "As a financier of solar installations in both the commercial and residential sectors, and now the prospective owner of a second of its own solar systems, in our opinion the bank has become the leading proponent of solar energy in the state."

National Bank of Arizona has made significant ongoing solar investments in the last few years including installing one of the state's largest commercial solar systems on its Phoenix headquarters back in May 2009 and spearheading Solar Phoenix, the nation's largest residential solar leasing program, by making the program possible with $25 million in financing.

In October 2009, National Bank of Arizona also partnered with various organizations to create one of the nation's largest distributed, community-wide solar power systems at Soaring Heights Communities at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. Upon completion, the community is expected to be the largest solar-powered community in the continental U.S.

Further details about: Natural Power and Energy

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Window doubles as solar panel

New technology from Pythagoras Solar has resulted in the development of what the company is calling the industry’s “first energy efficient, transparent and high power-density photovoltaic glass unit. The new product could show up in curtain walls (like the one shown below), skylights or windows by the second half of 2010.

The company has signed deals with manufacturers including Arkema, China Sunergy and Flextronics in order to get the new technology to market as quickly as possible.
Gonen Fink, co-founder and CEO of Phythagoras Sola, says the new material should help construction companies bridge the gap between materials that are energy efficient and aesthetically appealing. The material combines insulating qualities, shading and lighting benefits AND, as implied, solar generation features. So, it both blocks the sun to keep it cool inside and captures sunlight to create solar energy. The video below talks about how the technology works:

Friday, May 21, 2010

HP and PowerFilm working on futuristic solar powered ‘Dick Tracy’ watch

Hewlett-Packard is working on a wristwatch phone that gets power from the sun. I know your next question: why did it take this long?  This new gizmo is strictly for the U.S. millitary, and that prototype won’t be ready for another year, according to the Palo Alto printing and computer company. “We call it a Dick Tracy watch,” said Carl Taussig, director of information surfaces at HP Labs to CNN  in reference to the comic book hero’s high-tech wristwatch communicator.
The breakthrough is credited to a thin strip of metal-coated plastic that’s only 50 microns thick — about half the width of a human hair.   The plastic screen is lighter, less prone to damage, and, according to Taussig, uses 40 times less raw material than glass displays.  The power requirement is so modest it can be satisfied with a flexible solar panel printed right onto the watch or any other portable gadget you may desire. These are supplied by PowerFilm, developers of the military’s solar power tents.  The screen’s potential flexibility opens up new display capabilities for soldiers in the field requiring securely transmitted strategic visuals. The solar power makes them more reliable, a big plus in a life threatening scenario.
But the big win is they are less dependent on supplying their own power. Not having to carry a mobile phone, with that cumbersome battery; who knows what kind of warfighting innovations will follow. No more armored vehicles? Heavy transport planes? Soldiers who can fly on their own impetus? Only time will tell.
Big changes are in store. A display like this can function on a memory stick, or as a smart price tag, or anything!  Myself, for one,  can’t wait until a civilian version hits the market.

China Building “Biggest Solar Energy Production Base” in the World

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 cities initiative world congress, silicon valley, solar energy, solar 
power, solar city, development, renewable energy, clean tech, clean 
energy, green design, eco design, sustainable building
Construction is in the works for what China is calling “The Biggest Solar Energy Production Base in the Whole World,” or more simply, Solar Valley. The base will be a clean energy technology hub that China hopes will rival Silicon Valley in California. The ambitious plans for the park were launched by Himin Solar Energy, whose headquarters is located at the Sun-Moon Mansion, which is currently the largest solar powered office building in the world. The planned development outside of Dezhou, China is expected to cost $740 million and accommodate 100 tenants.
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 cities initiative world congress, silicon valley, solar energy, solar 
power, solar city, development, renewable energy, clean tech, clean 
energy, green design, eco design, sustainable building
Himin Solar Energy, started by Huang Ming, the ‘Sun King’ of China, is already the main tenant of Solar Valley and their large office building is completely powered by the sun. He has very ambitious goals about making Solar Valley a reality, and has already attracted about 100 companies, and spawned factories as well as a research center. The hope is that this clean energy epicenter will help propel China’s development of renewable energy technology and installation.
Solar Valley is located just outside of Dezhou, which is making some progress towards in building its reputation as a clean energy city. The city already requires that all new buildings be equipped with solar water heaters of the type made by Huang’s company, and last year they spent $10 million to install solar lighting along miles of road. Chiel Boonstra, a Dutch architect who heads up the International Solar Cities Congress, says that Dezhou “will be a new center of gravity for renewable technologies.” It’s just a shame that rural farmers are being relocated into block apartments in the city to make way for the grand new development.