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Posts Tagged "solar power"

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

SA Author Tells David Letterman How to Power the World on Renewables [Video]

How do you convince the American public that the entire country, and indeed the entire world, could generate all of its energy from the wind, the sun and water? Go on The Late Show with David Letterman, be earnest, present the plan you published in Scientific American and have Letterman smile at you. That’s what [...]

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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

How to Use the Bathroom on a 20-Hour Plus Solar Airplane Flight [Video]

In a bid to set the record for longest distance solar flight, Andre Borschberg will pilot the Solar Impulse airplane from Phoenix to Dallas. Total flying distance, barring route deviations due to weather or other factors, would be nearly 1,400 kilometers, or more than 200 kilometers farther than the previous longest flight set in 2012. [...]

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Observations

What Will Steven Chu’s Energy Legacy Be?

steven-chu

Steven Chu will step down as Secretary of Energy at the end of this month, though he “may stay beyond that time so that I can leave the Department in the hands of the new Secretary,” he wrote in a farewell letter to Department of Energy (DoE) staff, issued February 1. Regardless, when Chu leaves [...]

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Observations

Solar-Powered Catamaran Circumnavigates Earth

PlanetSolar catamaran

This Friday, May 4, a vessel named Tûranor PlanetSolar will become the first totally solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the Earth. The broad, V-shape catamaran left Monaco on September 27, 2010, traveled west on a mostly equatorial route, and will return to the Monaco Yacht Club 584 days later. Now crossing the northern Mediterranean Sea from [...]

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Observations

White House to get (more) solar panels

jimmy-carter-solar-thermal-panel

Following the lead of presidents from George W. Bush to Jimmy Carter, the Obama White House—or specifically the Obama family’s living quarters—will get solar panels. While Carter’s solar thermal panels are long gone (one of them is in China and the Obama White House last month rebuffed the return of another), photovoltaics installed by President [...]

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Observations

Jimmy Carter’s solar panel makes it back to Washington, but not back onto the White House

jimmy-carter-solar-panel-at-solar-one

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter had 32 panels installed atop the White House to capture the sun’s heat. Thirty-odd years later, at least one of the panels still works, warming up in the Northeastern sunlight of Boston and sending steam heat out of a spigot on September 8, en route down the east coast from [...]

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Observations

World’s first solar power plant that can work at night

archimede-solar-thermal-power-plant

How can one use solar energy after the sun sets? Simple: store the sun’s heat in molten salts. The world’s first solar power plant to employ such technology—a thermal power plant that concentrates the sun’s rays with mirrors on long, thin tubes filled with the molten salt—opened in Syracuse, Sicily, on July 14. Dubbed Archimede—after [...]

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Observations

Charge of the light brigade: How quantum dots may improve solar cells

Photovoltaic cells remain woefully inefficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Although layered cells composed of various elements can convert more than 40 percent of (lens-concentrated) sunlight into electricity, more simple semiconducting materials such as silicon hover around 20 percent when mass-produced. And, at best, such cells could convert only a third of incoming sunlight due [...]

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Plugged In

NYC Apartment – 420 square feet, eight rooms, with solar

LifeEdited-Living-Room

A New York City apartment – 420 square feet and eight “rooms.” Also equipped with a bit of solar power with battery energy storage to charge up your cell phone and power a light or two. This is the home of treehugger.com and lifeedited.com founder Graham Hill. One of the keys to Hill’s apartment is creating [...]

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Plugged In

Actively making a difference – 4th grade class goes off the grid

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 3.46.56 PM

After studying energy sources in their fourth grade classroom, Aaron Sebens — a teacher at Central Park School for Children — and his students decided to go off the grid. Or, at least part of the way off the grid. Using a Kickstarter fundraising campaign, they turned their idea to power their classroom with solar [...]

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Plugged In

Solar in Electricity’s Birthplace

NYCsolarmap

New York City has been called the birthplace of electricity itself. In 1882, Edison’s Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan became the country’s first central power plant, bringing 800 incandescent light bulbs to life.  Today, New York City draws its power from a mix of far-flung fossil fuel, nuclear, and renewable (primarily hydroelectric) energy resources. [...]

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Plugged In

Light on Landfills: Solar energy covers turn maxed-out landfills into solar farms

Hickory Ridge landfill outside of Atlanta, GA, is full. Like most landfills that reach capacity, it was capped to contain its noxious mix of debris that will slowly degrade over the decades and centuries to come. But unlike most, Hickory Ridge glistens on a sunny day due its over 7,000 thin-film photovoltaic solar panels plastered [...]

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Plugged In

SunShot – Driving Toward the Dollar Watt

solarpanels

Since 1995, the U.S. has seen the price of solar systems drop by 60% thanks to investments by government and private organizations in research, development, and deployment activities. Over the last decade alone, the U.S. Department of Energy has invested more than $1 billion into solar energy research and development – with a focus on how to [...]

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Plugged In

Solyndra – Illuminating Energy Funding Flaws?

solyndra_ARRA

Solyndra, once viewed as a sure winner in the solar industry, has closed its doors. Their technology works and they appear to have reached their goals for cost reductions. But, just 16 months after President Obama visited their manufacturing site and only 2 years after the Department of Energy approved $535 million in federal loan [...]

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Solar at Home

Save the Earth, Save Money—There’s No Need to Choose

Earlier this year, I blogged about a new website set up to ease the chore of shopping for solar panels, EnergySage, and since then the company’s own blog has described two financial benefits of solar which I hadn’t thought about before. First, solar panels can help you save for retirement; in fact, it’s hard to [...]

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Solar at Home

It Used to be a Super Pain to Shop for Solar Installers, but No Longer

Whenever a dinner party has an awkward pause and could use a horror story to liven it up, I tell my story of shopping for solar panels. My wife and I started in 2008 and spent months finding an installer. Some never returned phone calls. Estimates ranged over a factor of two. It was hard [...]

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Solar at Home

Should You Add Backup Batteries to Your Grid-Tied Solar Array?

My neighbors took a newfound interest in my solar array after Hurricane Sandy. Most of our town in New Jersey lost power for two weeks, and everyone who knew about my panels was asking: Did they keep my lights on? Alas, no. When the grid goes down, our array goes down. The inverter mounted on [...]

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Solar at Home

Caveat Emptor, Solar Homeowners

Comly Wilson at CleanEdison, which runs training and certification programs for green-tech installers, has put together a list of five things homeowners should know before buying solar. Definitely worth reading, but don’t let them scare you off. Our solar panels are going strong after three years and we’ve already paid off half of our out-of-pocket [...]

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Solar at Home

Clouds Over the Solar Industry in Britain [Guest Post]

A couple of years ago, I reported on the experiences of a solar homeowner in England, and I was curious how the situation in Britain has evolved since then. Alex Hole, owner of Strenson Solar, a British firm which provides solar panels in Sussex, recently approached me and I invited him to write the following [...]

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Solar at Home

My Electric Bill Was WHAT?!? Analyze Your Power Use with These 3 Web Sites

In one of the best quips I’ve ever heard at a scientific conference, cosmologist Max Tegmark complained about a lecturer’s vagueness and pleaded for some quantitative predictions: “numbers—you know, the kind with decimals in them.” Like Tegmark, I love data. Concrete information beats hand-waving speculation any day. So it’s awfully fun to use a home [...]

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Solar at Home

Can You Really Get Solar Panels Installed for Free?

It sounds too good to be true: you can go solar without paying a cent. I first mentioned this proposition, known formally as a power-purchase agreement, two years ago: a company such as SunRun or SolarCity installs panels on your roof at its expense and, in exchange, collects the government subsidies. But I never really [...]

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Solar at Home

Introducing 60-Second Solar : A family installs panels on its roof

When I was a kid, energy was fun. I used to write to utility companies asking for their brochures on nuclear power and then sit and study the cutaway diagrams of reactors. I devoured futuristic visions of cities where everyone drove whizzing electric cars and wore stylish white jumpsuits. I dreamt of becoming an astronaut [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Nuclear vs renewables: A tale of disparities.

Nuclear power plants (Image: Fast Company)

The Times’s Eduardo Porter has a short piece on nuclear power vs renewables where he makes a plea for supporting the development of new nuclear technologies with improved safety and efficiency. He is also not impressed with the history, cost and future potential of renewables. One of the simple facts that people who support renewables [...]

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