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Posts Tagged "solar"

Guest Blog

Forecasting the Sun’s Fury: How Artificial Intelligence Can Predict Solar Flares

Credit: NASA

A couple of months ago, the sun sported the largest sunspot we’ve seen in the last 24 years. This monstrous spot, visible to the naked eye (that is, without magnification, but with protective eyewear of course), launched more than 100 flares. The number of the spots on the sun ebbs and flows cyclically, every 11 [...]

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Guest Blog

Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore’s law apply to solar cells?

The sun strikes every square meter of our planet with more than 1,360 watts of power. Half of that energy is absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected back into space. 700 watts of power, on average, reaches Earth’s surface. Summed across the half of the Earth that the sun is shining on, that is 89 [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Photons Of Your Life

Starry Night Over The Rhone (V. van Gogh, public domain)

An unusual question raises an intriguing idea. At a party a few nights ago a friend approached me with a dilemma. A relative of theirs had died, and the spouse was trying to understand if it was at all possible that there was still ‘something’ of their partner in existence; a tangible part of their [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Solar Eclipse Coincidence

Annular eclipse (Credit: sancho_panza)

When the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon this Sunday, for many observers across much of the world it will be temporarily replaced by a beautiful ring of fire – a brilliant annulus of stellar plasma just peeking out around the dark lunar disk. This doesn’t always happen, partial solar eclipses merely trim away a [...]

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Observations

Can the U.S. Go All-Electric?

mueller-home

New homes wired with the latest smart gadgets cluster together around shared park spaces. Blue-black panels that transform sunshine into electricity grace a majority of roofs. Electric cars or hybrids glide silently to rest in garages. This is not some distant future; this is life today in Mueller—an innovative suburb of Austin, Tex., and just [...]

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Observations

Science Far from Center Stage in Obama’s State of the Union

Pres. Obama delivers his State of the Union

President Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union address, his first before a Republican-led legislature, was studded this evening with references to science and technology amidst talk of middle class tax cuts, thawing U.S. relations with Cuba, economic empowerment and closing the pay gap between men and women. The speech included mentions of climate change, [...]

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Observations

How the World Can Fight Global Warming, No Matter What Happens in Lima

obama-arrives-beijing

Imagine if the world’s two largest polluters unilaterally decide to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the ubiquitous gas responsible for the bulk of global warming. At the same time, a major developing country admits that future growth will have to be balanced with CO2 pollution limits. Meanwhile, an industrialized nation country takes responsibility for the [...]

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Observations

Hard Road Ahead for Solar Freakin’ Roadways

solar-road-panels

Take a solar panel. Surround it with light-emitting diodes attached to a microprocessor and, in northern climes at least, some kind of heater. Sheath all of that with the 100-year-old technology known as tempered glass. Voila: the basic building block of what has been dubbed by its creators, electrical engineer Scott Brusaw and his wife [...]

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Observations

Obama Vows More Executive Action on High-Tech Manufacturing, Climate Change Mitigation and Renewal of Science

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

After a year buffeted by squeezes to federally funded research from a government shutdown as well as an extremely bumpy rollout of healthcare.gov, President Barack Obama’s fifth State of the Union Tuesday night struck a few hopeful notes for science and technology. Speaking before Congress, he devoted roughly a fifth of his  speech to topics [...]

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Observations

Solar-Powered Ford Aims to Drive Off-Grid

Ford,solar,CES,auto

Solar-powered cars have been little more than a novelty to date, experimental vehicles resembling photovoltaic-laden surfboards designed mostly for racing across deserts. Expensive batteries, relatively inefficient PV energy conversion and the lack of intense sunlight in many places have made sun-powered passenger vehicles impractical. Ford is looking to change that with a version of its [...]

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Observations

“All of the Above” Energy Means More Fracking, Renewables, Nukes and Clean Coal

ernest-moniz

There is no technical issue with fracking, the controversial technique of fracturing shale rock with high-pressure, chemically treated water to release natural gas. But there is clearly a political one, judging by the multiple interruptions to a talk at Columbia University by new Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz. The affable former M.I.T. professor and [...]

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Observations

More Solar Panels at the White House

white-house

The Washington Post‘s indefatigable Juliet Eilperin got an unnamed official at the White House to confirm that solar panels are being reinstalled at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this week—fulfilling a promise made by the Obama administration three years ago. President Jimmy Carter famously put solar hot-water heating panels on the White House roof in the 1970s [...]

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Observations

Meet the New Secretary of Energy Nominee: Ernie Moniz

ernest-moniz

Ernest J. Moniz, a nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who serves on Scientific American’s board of advisors, will be President Barack Obama’s pick to replace Nobel laureate Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy. While Moniz has yet to win a Nobel, he served on the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear [...]

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Observations

ARPA-E Summit Reveals U.S. Energy Future

bill-gates-and-steven-chu

The future of energy will be on display at the fourth annual summit of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA–e. But which future? Energy innovators from start-ups, the national laboratories, universities and even oil companies will gather for three days to hear from the nation’s best about the future of energy.  The [...]

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Plugged In

Indian Railways and Military Go Solar

Sunrise in Tamil Nadu, India. Image courtesy: SR Sasikumar.

There’s been no shortage recently of big companies going big on solar, nor of middlemen trying to pave the way for bulk buying of solar power, but when the beast that is national procurement gets involved, the ante is upped. Entering this mix: India. While Indian solar potential has to date been largely untapped, there [...]

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Plugged In

Wellinghoff: Extend Electricity Market Visibility to the Distribution Grid

Wellinghoff_Large

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Austin-based research firm ZPryme’s annual Energy Thought Summit, which brought together business leaders and technical experts to discuss emerging energy technologies and trends. One of the featured speakers was former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. He spoke about some potentially disruptive energy technologies currently [...]

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Plugged In

Renewable Energy Intermittency Explained: Challenges, Solutions, and Opportunities

SolarPanel

Critics of renewable energy often cite the fact that technologies like wind and solar only produce energy when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. They argue that we can’t effectively utilize renewable energy until appropriate energy storage technology is developed. While the fact that wind and solar don’t produce energy around the [...]

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Plugged In

Renewable Energy Shines in 2014

Offshore wind farm outside Copenhagen. Image credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/berent

Looking back at 2014 through the prism of renewable energy, it’s hard not to get bombastic. So many records were broken, corners turned, and with costs declining, it’s hard not to wonder if 2015 will see renewable energy become nothing more than a fully competitive energy source, capturing more and more market share. But first, [...]

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Plugged In

Low oil prices aren’t working against solar (probably)

2013 US energy - small

In the United States, reducing electricity probably won’t lead to a significant reduction in direct oil consumption. Instead (in terms of fossil fuels) it is more likely to reduce your consumption of coal and natural gas. In turn, low oil prices aren’t necessarily working against solar deployment in a direct sense. The United States uses [...]

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Plugged In

Rooftop Solar Increases a Home’s Selling Price Across Multiple Markets

SolarHomeSold

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a report showing that homes with solar panels typically sell for $15,000 greater than those without solar panels installed. The study analyzed data collected from over 22,000 homes between 2002 and 2013 to measure the effect that solar panels have on a home’s [...]

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Plugged In

Solar Is Changing the Game

northern San Bernardino County, California

At the start of 2015, solar energy is booming. It’s been a long time coming, but financial incentives for renewables along with more affordable panels are finally having a notable impact in states like California. I’m not surprised. When I moved to Monterey in 2013, I met Solar City reps on my first trip to [...]

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Plugged In

Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room Join Forces

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Carbon War Room (right). Image courtesy of RMI.

Today Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), brain-child of famed energy thinker Amory Lovins, and Carbon War Room (CWR), the five-year old climate change outfit of Sir Richard Branson, merged to create a new alliance dedicated to the acceleration of a low carbon energy future. RMI was founded in 1982 and has established itself as a preeminent [...]

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Plugged In

So What Direction Should Solar Panels Face?

SolarPanelSmall

The following is a guest post by Dr. Joshua Rhodes, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in The Webber Energy Group and the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. There has recently been a lot of buzz about which direction solar panels should face. It seems the initial conversation was prompted by a Pecan [...]

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Plugged In

Energiewende: Two Energy Lessons for the United States from Germany

IMG_1668

Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Germany as a member of the German-American Chamber of Commerce Transatlantic Program for Young Technology Leaders delegation. The program brought together young professionals and academics from across the U.S. to meet with German energy professionals and discuss our mutual energy challenges and opportunities in the [...]

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Symbiartic

Stellar Photography By A Citizen Astronomer

13-038FEATURE

By now you might be used to spectacular images of celestial bodies thanks to organizations like NASA and the ESA. But it’s still possible to be wowed by these images, especially when they’re taken by people like you and me. Citizen astronomer Alan Friedman takes breathtaking photographs of the sun’s roiling surface from his backyard [...]

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