ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "solar"

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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Solar Power Helped Keep the Lights On in India

india-overloaded-grid

Every day, at least 400 million Indians lack access to electricity. Another nearly 700 million Indians joined their fellows in energy poverty over the course of the last few days, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population. Oddly enough, some of the formerly energy poor—rural villagers throughout the subcontinent—found themselves better off than their [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Where to Watch the Transit of Venus

1882 Transit of Venus

Today offers a final opportunity for 21st century stargazers to observe a transit of Venus. For those of you who forgot to bring your telescope to work today, we’ve got a guide for viewing the transit both indoors and outside. DIY Viewing If the weather is cooperating and you’ve got your pinhole projector in hand, you [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
Plugged In

Photo Friday: Solar Power in Japan

Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant

This month, the Kyocera Corporation announced the launch of the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant. This 70 MW solar field covers an area the size of 27 baseball fields and cost about 276 million USD to construct. It is Japan’s largest operating solar field. Photo Credit: Images courtesy of the Kyocera Corporation H/T JM Harnish.

Keep reading »
Plugged In

Meet the super efficient Lego® brick-like solar panel

Hylton et al

Solar panels can be made more efficient by adding nanoscopic aluminum studs to trap light.

Keep reading »
Plugged In

Photo Friday: Want to keep cool in the African desert? Try an ARMY-issued solar shade

solarshade

On top of this solar shade at the sun-baked Camp Lemonier in Djibouti sit 72 solar panels that absorb sunlight to produce two kilowatts of power daily. Photo Credit: Photo by Rich Bartell, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs (2011) and found using Creative Commons.

Keep reading »
Plugged In

6 things about solar PV, from one who actually knows

My friend Mark Turner just finished up his own solar PV roof installation, and like everybody else I’ve been curious about how it worked — and how it’s working out. He responded with a blog post that answers just about every simple question, so I thought I’d share it here. I hope we follow along [...]

Keep reading »
Plugged In

Solar at the White House – again

WhiteHouseSouthFacade

Today, an official confirmed that solar panels are being installed on the White House roof as “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.” This is the second time that solar panels have graced the building’s roof. In the late 1970s President Carter has 32 panels installed [...]

Keep reading »
Plugged In

Tired of paying rent? Why not build your own tiny solar-powered palace?

TinyHouse_interior1

Chris and Malissa Tack’s home in Snohomish, Washington is smaller than a studio apartment. But, its 140 square feet boasts all the modern conveniences that they need to live and work. Its 140 square feet comes complete with a sleeping loft, wine barrel shower, kitchen, and two collapsable workspaces. What it doesn’t come with is extra [...]

Keep reading »
Plugged In

Zimbabwe Takes Tollbooths Off the Grid

zimbabwe_road

In Zimbabwe, a major road upgrade project will use off grid tollbooths to recoup a portion of the project’s costs. Made possible by the combined use of energy efficient design, solar power, and diesel generators, these tollbooths are believed to be the first ever to supply 100% of their power without an electric grid. The [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »
Solar at Home

What you really need to install solar: A CPA

Pile of solar paperwork

Editor’s Note: Scientific American’s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. When people talk about using renewable energy to save both energy and jobs, the jobs they’re usually referring to are engineering and construction. But if my solar experience is [...]

Keep reading »
Solar at Home

How to do an ongoing energy self-audit

Editor’s Note: Scientific American‘s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. I mentioned in my last post that you really need to do energy audits on an ongoing basis. Luckily, you can, without hiring a consultant each time. Fellow solar [...]

Keep reading »
Solar at Home

Finding more ways to conserve energy, where the wind blows

Editor’s Note: Scientific American‘s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. Maybe I spoke too soon in my last blog post about having picked all the low-hanging fruit in home energy conservation. Last Friday our local home energy auditor, Tom [...]

Keep reading »
Solar at Home

Are we freeloaders if we install solar?

Judging from responses to my earlier post, not everyone is happy about incentives for installing solar power. One person said the government shouldn’t encourage projects that don’t make financial sense on their own. Another complained that I’m a “freeloader” taking advantage of the grid to keep the lights on at night without paying my rightful [...]

Keep reading »
Solar at Home

Early steps: Size matters when you’re installing solar

Editor’s Note: Scientific American’s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. The first step in installing solar panels, not surprisingly, is to call an installer. I contacted one through Home Depot and, on a Saturday earlier this month, Cameron Christensen [...]

Keep reading »
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 [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>

X

Email this Article

X