NTT Energy and Environment Systems Laboratories developed a circuit module that enables the charge of a lead storage battery with a single photovoltaic cell. The circuit module consists of a boost circuit with a DC-DC converter and an IC equipped with the "MPPT (maximum power point tracking)" function. The boost circuit can increase the typical voltage of a single photovoltaic cell, about 0.5V, up to 15V.
Peter Russo and Brendan Wypich of Stanford University developed the SmartSwitch, a light control with tactile feedback that helps you "see" how much energy is already being used, whenever you try to flick the switch. If the total energy consumption in the house is low, the SmartSwitch is easy to flip. But if the consumption is higher, the SmartSwitch is physically harder to flip, thanks to a brake pad within the mechanism. The idea is that people will use this tactile feedback to decide if they really really need that light on or not.
NRG Energy, one of the United States' most coal-dependent utilities, on Monday signed a deal with California startup eSolar to develop solar power plants. The agreement calls for NRG to invest $10 million in Pasadena-based eSolar for the right to use the startup's technology to develop and operate three solar power projects in California and the Southwest that would generate 500 megawatts of greenhouse gas-free electricity. NRG ranks as one of the nation's dirtiest utilities, spewing 70 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from its coal-fired power plants. eSolar will use fields of mirrors to heat water to create steam that drives electricity-generating turbines.
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