September 16, 2010
I always like it when things fix themselves. From my internet to my car, I am always hoping that when things go wrong, they will simply correct themselves. Now, scientists have developed a tiny solar cell that can do just that.
Researchers have demonstrated tiny solar cells just billionths of a metre across that can repair themselves, extending their useful lifetime.
The cells make use of proteins from the machinery of plants, turning sunlight into electric charges that can do work.
The cells simply assemble themselves from a mixture of the proteins, minute tubes of carbon and other materials.
The self-repairing mechanism, reported in Nature Chemistry, could lead to much longer-lasting solar cells.
Image: Some rights reserved by Vishvarupa
June 29, 2010
Thanks to Skyline Solar, Nipton, California will soon be the "most solar town in America". Nipton is located in the Mojave Desert is is considered the gateway to Mojave National Preserve. With a population of only 37 residents, it would not be hard to make this town 100% solar, although Skyline is shooting for 85% as their goal.
Skyline Solar, a manufacturer of High Gain Solar (HGS) arrays for commercial, industrial, government and utility markets, today announced the first commercial installation of its High Gain Solar (HGS) 1000 system in a new municipal solar power plant in the tiny desert town of Nipton, Calif. The 80-kilowatt Nipton plant is an upgradeable solar power system that will provide roughly 85 percent of Nipton's electricity needs--the highest percentage of solar electricity of any town in the United States.
"As the gateway community to the Mojave Desert, Nipton seeks to be a good steward of the environment. Sustainability is paramount to this endeavor," said Gerald Freeman, Principal Administrator for Nipton. "It is with this in mind that we are extremely pleased to be utilizing the HGS 1000 as our primary source of energy. And the HGS upgradability is a very attractive option."
From nineteenth century mining town to green energy town, Nipton's history in the Mojave Desert continues to evolve.
Image: Ken Lund
May 11, 2010
The United States Department of Energy has awarded 13 projects $62,000,000 for Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). Green Car Congress reports:
CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. CSP plants can include low-cost energy storage, allowing them to provide electricity even when the sun is not shining.
The selected projects will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation to an average of about 18 hours per day, a level of production that would make it possible for these plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants.
The following companies won the awards:
- Abengoa Solar, Inc. - Lakewood, CO - up to $10.6 million
- eSolar, Inc. - Pasadena, CA - up to $10.8 million
- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne - Canoga Park, CA - up to $10.2 million
- General Atomics - San Diego, CA - up to $2.1 million
- HiTek Services, Inc. - Owens Cross Roads, AL - up to $3.0 million
- Infinia Corporation - Kennewick, WA - up to $3.0 million
- PPG Industries, Inc. - Cheswick, PA - up to $3.0 million
- SENER Engineering and Systems Inc. - San Francisco, CA - up to $3.1 million
- SkyFuel, Inc. - Albuquerque, NM - up to $4.3 million
- SunTrough Energy, Inc. - Chatsworth, CA - up to $4.5 million
- Terrafore, Inc. - Riverside, CA - up to $1.4 million
- University of South Florida - Tampa, FL - up to $2.5 million
- Wilson TurboPower, Inc. - Woburn, MA - up to $3.7 million
I hope the number 13 is lucky for the DOE, and the money is not spread too thin to bring about results that will make solar an actuality in replacing coal-fired power plants.
January 7, 2010
The airline industry is often targeted for its excessive greenhouse gas emissions, Vermont is trying to make one of its airports more eco-friendly. Heritage Aviation at Burlington International has installed its first wind turbine and 120 solar panels. UPI reports:
"We're proud to be on the leading edge of energy efficiency, corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship, in our region and in the aviation industry," said Christopher Hill, president of Heritage Aviation.
Heritage Aviation is the sole fixed base operator at Burlington International Airport. Hangars and other facilities at the airport include rainwater collection systems and one of the largest so-called green roofs in New England.
June 15, 2009
This little alternative energy radio is only about 3 x 2.2 x 3.2 inches! Powered by either a solar panel or hand cranking a dynamo, you don't have to go without tunes when the power goes out or you are off in the woods camping with the Kikkerland Dynamo Solar and Crank Emergency Radio
. When cranking the dynamo when solar energy is not available, this radio is quite efficient with one minute of human power producing half an hour of tunes. Also, it also won't break the bank at a price of about $30.
March 17, 2009
All of Europe's energy needs could be provided by a very large solar array in the Sahara Desert
, according to researchers. Dr. Anthony Patt, a research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, explains:
It [North Africa] could supply Europe with all the energy it needs. The Sun is very strong there, and it is very reliable. There is starting to be a growing number of cost estimates of both wind and concentrated solar power for north Africa... that start to compare favorably with alternative technologies. The cost of moving [electricity] long distances has really come down.
How large a solar array would be needed to provide Europe's energy needs? Dr. Patt estimates the array would be the size of a small country (a fraction of the size of the Sahara Desert) and it would cost approximately $70 billion.
Via: Consumer Energy Report
February 19, 2009
Recently, scientists have discovered butterfly wings are high-efficient solar cells
. According the Daily Galaxy
Research suggests that certain scales on butterfly wings are nanobiologically-tuned to absorb heat from sunlight, enabling the insect to survive in colder or higher-altitudes than normal.
In order to make highly efficient solar cells from the butterfly wings, you have to burn them.
Specifically, the wings have to be soaked in chemicals and burned away in an oven at five hundred degrees Celsius. This leaves a titanium-dioxide "butterfly microstructure photo-anode."...The researchers claim that the resulting films have a higher absorption ability than any other type of Grätzel cell, and Grätzel cells are already the highest-efficiency and among the cheapest models of cell available.
This doesn't sound like a practical application for creating solar cells, but it certainly adds to my amazement of the butterfly kingdom.
February 16, 2009
I've long been a fan of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters beans, but now I am even more ecstatic to support this company.
Construction on the 100KW PV array will begin this spring:
The solar array is the result of an innovative partnership between the coffee company, the State of Vermont, Green Mountain Power, and groSolar, North America's premier provider of solar energy solutions. The electricity generated by the approximately 530 solar panels will produce a small percentage of the total electricity Green Mountain Coffee needs for its production facilities in Waterbury. Company officials say the greater benefit is in showing what is possible for the future.
"Renewable energy must be a part of our overall energy strategy," says Paul Comey, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. "We want to show our state and federal governments that solar energy works, and that we need a policy that provides a broad-reaching structure for renewable energy."
January 29, 2009
Ten solar-powered trash cans have been installed in People's Square, Shanghai.
Why would trash cans need solar power? These trash cans talk! The refuse receptacles tell people where the nearest bathrooms are and illuminate a map at night. Eventually, the city plans to install 480 solar-powered talking trash cans.
December 31, 2008
Happy New Year! The following is a recap of the top ten posts that were written and received the most traffic on Really Natural in 2008.
- Solar Hot Water Heaters Found on 90% of Israel's Rooftops: In the 1950s, Israel experienced a fuel shortage, and residents responded by installing solar hot water heaters on their rooftops. By 1983, 60% of homes had solar hot water heaters, and current law requires their installation. Jerusualem's skyline is beautifully cluttered with 90% of homes' rooftops adorned with solar hot water heaters.
- Toyota Adding Solar Panels to Prius to Power Air Conditioning: The Toyota Prius has long been the golden child of the environmental movement for its fuel economy. When the EPA changed the standards for reporting fuel economy on new car stickers to include the use of air conditioning, the hybrid Prius lost a few miles per gallon. That may all change, now that Toyota plans to install solar panels on the roof of high end models to power the AC.
- Build a Green Home - No More Power Bills Ever: A New Jersey engineer Mike Strizki has created a green home resulting in no more power bills ever, and not just electric bills. Strizki converts sunshine into electricity using photovoltaic panels - and then uses the electricity to wring hydrogen for fuel out of ordinary tap water.
- Your Flat-Screen TV is Worse for the Environment than a Coal Burning Power Plant : Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) has been deemed the "missing greenhouse gas", because it is not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, yet it is 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide! NF3 used to be produced in tiny amounts, but the boom in flat-screen TVs has changed that.
- Solar Stik Portable Solar Array Cheaper than a Generator to Run: If you ever have the need for green, portable power, Solar Stik is the "new generator". For example, Solar Stiks were sent to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. What is a Solar Stik? It is portable solar system that weighs about 100 pounds and can be set up in about 10 minutes.
December 18, 2008
The North Face, one of my favorite outdoor clothing companies, has just completed construction of a 1-megawatt (MW) solar system at its distribution center in Visalia, California. The solar system will provide 25-30 percent of the energy needed by the facility. According to Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy, the company that designed, engineered, and installed the solar system:
There is a massive need for clean generation located close to where power is actually used, and customers like The North Face are playing a key role in making that vision a reality.
The rest of the energy needed by the North Face will be offset by purchasing Green-e Climate-certified carbon offsets from wind energy projects.
Via: Renewable Energy World
December 12, 2008
Want to make your iPhone 3G
greener? Charge it with the sun! This solar iPhone case by Mobilefun
will charge your phone in about three hours, but it takes 10 hours of sunlight to be fully charged. Finding 10 hours of sunlight in the winter can be a problem, so the case also comes with a Mini USB. Not only does this solar case keep your iPhone charged, it also protects it from scratches, bumps, etc.
November 24, 2008
SNS SunLight Solar Task Flashlight
is the best solar flashlight I have ever used! The charge lasts a very long time, it is ergonomically designed, and it comes with several levels of illumination.
Developed with the assistance of the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program, supported by NASA, shaped by specific field work on our prototypes in Africa in the harshest conditions by scientists from the US Department of Energy and funded by research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation -- we offer you the next generation of portable, reliable and environmentally friendly lights for nightly use, for camping and outdoor activities, and a product which should be in every family's emergency preparedness kit.
When not in use, we leave our SNS SunLight Solar Task Flashlight
in a sunny windowsill, and it always stays charged (even in low winter lighting).
Thousands of our SunLights have been donated to people who do not have access to electricity throughout the world. The BoGo Light program:
our Buy one/Give one - program has successfully provided lights to many, many thousands of people in the developing world, changing lives because of your purchase and participation. Education, gender equality, safety, security, economic improvement and overall quality of life have been transformed; all because of light. You buy and receive one light, we give a second light to one of our non-profit partners, delivering it to them in the developing world and then providing them $1 per light to offset importation and distribution costs.
November 11, 2008
It is almost officially winter time, so most people living in the Northern Hemisphere are not mowing their lawns frequently if at all. Even so, this new Husqvarna's
Solar-Powered Robot is so cool I had to share it! Capable of mowing 3/4 acre, the 18 volt, 4 amp Auto Mower 230 runs 90 minutes on a single charge and cuts 1300 square feet per hour. The Auto Mower even returns to its own charging station when its power is running low! That's one smart, eco-friendly lawn mower!
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