Archives for category: Solar Power

Consumers heading down to their local Best Buy for a new laptop or microwave will now be able to pick up solar panels as well. Best Buy and SolarCity have announced a new partnership to sell off-the-shelf photovoltaic systems in 60 Best Buy stores in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York, and Oregon. To give the new program an exuberant kick off, SolarCity is giving every customer a $100 Best Buy gift card when they sign up for solar service through Best Buy before Earth Day on 22 April, 2014.

Green Halo - Best Buy Now Sells Solar PanelsThe San Mateo solar company hopes this new partnership will reach homeowners too wary or intimidated by installing solar panels on their homes. The initiative is an expansion of a pilot program the two companies carried out last year at Best Buy stores in California and New York. Previously, the company also teamed up with the Home Depot and Honda to provide affordable solar panels.

Despite these efforts, a recent SolarCity survey of U.S. homeowners detailed that only 45 percent of residents thinks that solar power is more affordable than it was three years ago. SolarCity has a long history of experimental strategies to reach more consumers. Before this new program, the company provided systems for free in exchange for long term contracts, or financing installations through investment institutions like pensions and hedge funds.

If you would like to get in on the deal, you can sign up here for a free consultation to discuss a plan. SolarCity promises to install photovoltaic panels for free with no up front costs. As long as the customer is enrolled they will receive green, renewable energy at a lower price than they currently spend on electricity.

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Clean energy got a big boost today as Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrating solar power plant, officially started generating energy for California’s electric grid. Located just southwest of Las Vegas, the massive solar facility can produce a whopping 392 megawatts of solar energy to power 140,000 California homes with clean energy–the equivalent of removing 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air per year. Despite these impressive numbers, however, Ivanpah has been mired in controversy for its high operating costs and for reportedly killing and scorching alarming numbers of the local wildlife.Green Halo - Solar Energy Power Plant

Jointly created between NRG Energy, Inc., Google, and BrightSource Energy, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the largest solar project of its kind and accounts for nearly a third of all solar thermal energy produced in the U.S. Stretching across five square miles in the Mojave desert, the massive solar project consists of three 40-story tall towers surrounded by 350,000 garage door-sized mirrors. Each reflective heliostat focuses solar energy onto the boilers atop the towers to create steam to power turbines.

The Ivanpah plant, however, has come under fire by various critics. According to the Wall Street Journal, the clean energy generated by Ivanpah will cost about four times as much as the electricity generated by conventional natural gas-fired plants. Ivanpah will also produce less electricity than conventional sources and require more land to operate. Animal activists have also been alarmed by the number of birds that have been scorched and killed around the solar plant towers, which can generate temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Green Halo - World's Tallest Vertical Garden Solar Energy

Milroy Perera Associates unveiled their design for the world’s tallest residential vertical garden in Sri Lanka. The tower will house 164 apartments across 46 floors packed with greenery.

The project aims to create a vertically distributed experience of living on the ground floor and boasts several sustainable features such as the use of solar energy, natural ventilation and drip irrigation. To minimize solar heat gain, the architects have designed the entire building such that no glass surfaces are directly exposed to sunlight.

Air conditioning is reduced to a minimum thanks to the optimal orientation of apartments, which allows for natural ventilation. In addition, the plants will act as sound and heat buffers and provide cleaner air. The vertical garden will be watered using an automated drip irrigation system that saves water and works independently from the occupants. Some of the building’s energy requirements will be met via solar panels installed on the roof and will be used for public lighting, elevators, recycling systems and other utilities.

Green Halo - World's Tallest Vertical Garden Solar Energy 2

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The solar energy industry is still in the process of exploring how to make photovoltaic panels more efficient and less intrusive, and researchers at Stanford have already pushed forward with peel-and-stick solar panels. However, for high power usage the devices must be large and in direct contact with the sun at all times, meaning they need to track its position in the sky using sensors and equipment that are expensive and susceptible to bad weather. Currently seeking funding through Indiegogo,Rawlemon is an alternative in the shape of an oddly beautiful eyeball-shaped lens, that uses refraction to concentrate sunlight with minimal need for tracking.

Designed by German architect Andre Broessel, the invention uses a large glass sphere lens, which collects diffuse light from multiple angles. The shape of the lens focuses this light into a fine beam — much like a magnifying glass — that can deliver a greater amount of sunlight — around 70 percent more — than traditional photovoltaic panels can collect on their own, even when they track the sun. The system enables Broessel to reduce the size of the solar panel to around one percent of the typical PV device. At the same time, the Rawlemon product is arguably much more aesthetically pleasing than the gray, oblong panels currently in use.

The project is running an Indiegogo campaign until 1 March, where backers can pledge to have Rawlemon’s Beta.ey XL device installed in their homes for USD 6,000. Those whose pockets aren’t quite as deep can still trial the concept through the Beta.ey Special Edition for USD 489, a miniaturized version of the device that can charge users’ phones — a product in its own right. If the price can be brought down further, could Rawlemon even replace the solar panel?

Rawlemon Spherical Solar Energy Generator video:

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There are many ways to brighten up dark spaces without mechanical assistance, but few are as efficient and simple as the groundbreaking LightCatcher from EcoNation. A mirror integrated within a polycarbonate light dome, the LightCatcher is equipped with patented sensor technology that enables the system to search for the optimum light spot. A 185.35 square ft opening in a roof brings in 646-1,202 square ft of natural light without using a lick of energy. Designed by Maarten Michielssens in collaboration with the University of Ghent, this energy-saving technology earned EcoNation a nomination as one of the top small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) eligible for a Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) award.

So, how does it work? The mirror integrated within the dome captures incoming daylight that is then reflected, filtered and amplified in a light shaft before it spreads through a building. Images demonstrate how this solar-powered system brightens a room more effectively without mechanical assistance than a standard light bulb. In fact, the LightCatcher is so efficient that it is possible to enjoy daylighting for an average of 10 hours a day, which reduces energy usage by up to 70 percent.

The Belgian company also has an interesting business model. EcoNation installs LightCatcher light domes on the roofs of commercial or government buildings, absorbing the entire investment, and then monitors energy savings. Whatever money is saved by the system is then shared between the client and the company. According to EcoNation, this LightCatcher Light Energy model provides businesses and governments an opportunity to reduce energy bills without an upfront cash outlay.

Green Halo LightCatcher EcoNation Dome Light Energy Saver

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The Solar Impulse solar powered plane has a wingspan of over 60 meters, close in size to that of a Boeing 747, but weighs about as much as a small car. About 12,000 solar cells cover the tops of the wings to generate power for the 40 hp engine, with an average speed of 70 kph (44 mph). The solar powered aircraft conducted its first test flight in 2009 and in 2012 it successfully voyaged from Switzerland to Spain and Morocco. In 2013 the single seat plane traveled across the USA.

The slightly larger design will circumnavigate the globe in the future. The duration is 20-25 total days up in the air with 5 planned stops to allow for changes of pilots. Each pilot goes through a 72 hour simulation in order to prepare their plane-and-pilot endurance of having to cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The initial date was set for 2014, but has been pushed to 2015 due to structural failure during static tests.

green halo solar impulse solar power plane

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Ford has unveiled plans for a prototype solar-powered hybrid car.

The Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept has a solar panel system on the roof which tracks the position of the sun. The company said it can draw power equal to a four-hour battery charge.

ford solar powered car 2

The concept car will be on display at CES in Las Vegas before testing begins to see if production is feasible.

Fully charged the car could travel for up to 21 miles powered just on electricity.

The solar panel roof will have a special solar concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass. The Fresnal lens will follow the movement of the sun from east to west and direct sunlight to the
solar cells which project researchers say boosts the impact of sunlight by a factor of eight.

‘Charging socket’

Ford claim that a day’s worth of sunlight will produce the same performance from the Solar Energi Concept as is given by their conventional plug-in hybrid car. Both vehicles would have the same range of 620 miles.

The concept car – which was developed from a collaboration between Ford, the Georgia Institute of Technology and SunPower Corp, a solar power company – will still have a conventional electrical charging socket so its charge can be topped up from the power grid.

ford solar powered car

But Ford claim that by using the solar power system drivers will not be dependent on the grid to use the car.

Research from the company suggests that in future the sun could

power up to 75% of all trips made by an average user in a solar hybrid vehicle.

However, it may be a while before solar panel cars are a common sight on the road, said Damion Smy from Car Magazine.

“What Ford has done here is clever use of solar technology, as it assists battery charging.

“Solar power could be used to run ancillaries, such as air-conditioning, but the limited capability for solar panels means that we won’t see them used as the main power source anytime soon,” he said.

Another car manufacturer reported to be unveiling new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is Audi. They will be showcasing cars which use the Android operating system, which is normally found on smartphones and tablets, at the event which starts on the 7 January.

 

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The Sun Isn’t Just Good for Tourists

Mexico is not the first country people usually think of when talking of clean energy, but it has ambitious plans to generate 35% of its energy from clean sources by 2026. That would be up from less than 15% now, which is mostly hydro, with wind and solar only providing only ±1.5%. These renewable sources would need to grow a lot, and in such a sunny country, solar power makes a lot of sense.

first solar

First Solar Inc. (FSLR) of the U.S. has bought its first projects in Mexico, while more than a dozen other developers including Germany’s Saferay GmbH and Spain’s Grupotec Tecnologia Solar SL own licenses there. Local investor Gauss Energia opened Latin America’s largest photovoltaic plant in the country last month.

The project “will open the way for the development of the photovoltaic sector,” Gauss Chief Executive Officer Hector Olea said in an e-mail. “There have been multiple announcements but very little real development work so far even though the regulatory system is sound and conducive to bankable projects.”

mexicans installing solar panel

While Mexico doesn’t subsidize solar, it has net-metering, and high energy costs in many regions where solar is competitive (in good part because the country gets so much sun). With some incentives for solar, which would only be fair considering how government-favored the oil industry has been over the years, we could potentially see a big solar boom in Mexico.

Content provided by Michael Graham Richard http://www.treehugger.com

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