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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

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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Observations

Rep. Rush Holt’s Advice to His Fellow Scientists on Politics

US-capitol

In 1993, Americans elected the first physicist to Congress: Vern Ehlers, a Republican from Michigan. Just six years later, former assistant director of Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory, Rush Holt, a Democrat from New Jersey, joined him. And in 2008, Fermilab physicist and Illinois Democrat Bill Foster joined them, only to lose re-election in 2010 before [...]

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Observations

Climate Change Action and More Drilling Likely in Obama’s Second Term

obamas-hug

President Barack Obama secured a second four-year term in yesterday’s vote. What is the likely outcome of that historic event on energy and environmental issues? Simply put: more of the same. Let me rephrase that slightly. Obama will likely stay the course on his current energy and environmental policies. That means more executive orders like [...]

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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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Plugged In

Will Solar Float to the Rescue in Japan?

kyocera 1101_nnms_03

Land-constraints and a massive nuclear shutdown have intensified the debate over where to put new electricity generation capacity in Japan. Solar has risen to the forefront, as its panels take to the water. Earlier this month, the Kyocera, Century Tokyo Leasing, and Ciel et Terre announced their plans to build two floating solar power stations [...]

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Plugged In

German, U.S. Home Energy Storage Incentives Offer Divergent Visions for the Smart Grid

Germany’s solar feed-in tariff not only incentivizes a homeowner to install solar panels, but also to store solar energy for later use in the home. (Photo credit: Flickr user thetimchannel)

Previously, I’ve written about the potential for a future smart grid, where homes with solar panels and batteries intelligently interconnect to form a cleaner, more-robust distributed power system. While we’re still far from a full-fledged smart grid, recent years have seen wider deployment of distributed energy storage. Today, Germany already boasts over 7,000 home solar [...]

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Plugged In

Photo Friday: Student team doubles the capacity of existing solar arrays

The integrated circuit design pictured above was designed by Unified Solar, a student lead team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who won the regional price of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition at the MIT Clean Energy Prize at the end of April. The team claims that their design will [...]

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Plugged In

Solar Roads Will Solve All Our Problems … Maybe

It’s Infrastructure Week, here, and to me that usually means bad news. I was planning on telling you all the horrible things going on with our infrastructure. Like, the Highway Trust fund is running out of money because we refuse to raise taxes. Or like that lack of investment is causing things like our usual [...]

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Plugged In

Photo Friday: Blackfriars Bridge – the world’s largest solar bridge

Blackfriars Bridge

This year, the world’s largest solar bridge was brought online in London, United Kingdom. The Blackfriars Bridge holds 4,400 roof-mounted solar panels over a 6,000 square meter area. These panels are expected to supply half of the energy needs of the Blackfriars rail station, or about 900,000 kWh per year. Photo Credit: Photo of Blackfriars [...]

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Plugged In

Ivanpah – solar thermal sets record in the desert

021214

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), America has doubled the amount of energy produced using solar technologies over the last five years. Last week, a massive new solar resource was dedicated in southern California. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in the world. Furthermore, with its 173,500 [...]

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Plugged In

Guest Post: Energy innovation – do niche markets really matter?

800px-Giant_photovoltaic_array

By Stijn van Ewijk In an ever changing world, technological innovation allows us to adapt, survive and thrive. Innovation can impact us adversely as well – the steam engine brought the industrial revolution and with it economic growth and prosperity as well as environmental pollution and inequality. In order to reap innovation’s full benefits, we should try [...]

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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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