Researchers at MIT have unveiled a new type of silicon solar cell that could be much more efficient and cost less than currently used solar cells. The design combines a highly effective reflector on the back of a solar cell with an antireflective coating on the front. This helps trap red and near-infrared light, which can be used to make electricity, in the silicon. The researchers applied their light-trapping scheme on thin silicon cells that are about five micrometers thick. Their prototype solar cell is 15 percent more efficient at converting light into electricity than commercial thin-film solar cells. Read More.
Also known as cogeneration, CHP is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source such as natural gas, biomass, biogas, coal, waste heat, or oil. According to a report from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, boosting the use of combined heat and power, or CHP, to 20 percent of generating capacity in the U.S. by 2030 would save 5.3 quadrillion British thermal units of fuel annually, the equivalent of nearly half the total energy currently consumed by U.S. households. The lab said there would also be a 60 percent reduction of the projected increase in carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 154 million cars off the road. Read More.
The first solar-powered car to travel around the world ended its journey at the U.N. climate talks, arriving with the message that clean technologies are available now to stop global warming."This is the first time in history that a solar-powered car has traveled all the way around the world without using a single drop of petrol," said Louis Palmer, the 36-year-old Swiss schoolteacher and adventurer who made the trip. The car, which runs noiselessly, can travel up to 55 mph and covers 185 miles on a fully charged battery. Read More.
What if your house could generate electricity from the noise of the cars on the road? Or if the waste heat generated by your air conditioner could help put a dent in that expensive summer electric bill? As the demand for cheaper and more renewable energy sources increases, piezoelectrics - a class of material that produces an electric potential when mechanically deformed - may hold the key to unlocking the energy flowing all around us. There are applications of this technology already in place - certain dance clubs in Europe utilize dance floors with piezoelectrics to help power the lights. What would really be useful to the consumer, however, would be small piezoelectric systems that could assist in powering personal electronic devices. Read More.
The Embassy Festival of Trees, in Fort Wayne, Ind., features a new attraction this year: a tree powered by, possibly, you. The alternative-energy tree won't be sucking up electricity from Indiana Michigan's power grid. Rather, visitors to the Festival of Trees will be allowed to hop on a bike connected to a generator and pedal away. The generator creates energy that goes into a power pack that lights the tree. Because the power pack can store energy, the strand of lights will stay on for a while even when no one is pedaling. When the power starts running low, an alarm will sound indicating it's time to start pedaling again. Read more.
Scientists have found a very promising and clean source for energy that uses the slow movement of the currents under the rivers, oceans and streams to generate power. The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs. As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity. Read More.
China has decided to put 60,000 new-energy vehicles on trial run in 11 cities in the next few years as part of the pilot project of developing its eco-friendly, fuel-efficient alternative-energy auto industry, said sina.com today. China's EV (electric-vehicle)-oriented automakers, now only in a very small number, are required to reach the annual production of 500 new-energy vehicles by late 2009 and their total annual output should hit 10,000 units by 2010 for each of the chosen cities to have enough EVs for trial operation. At the same time, the vehicle standards, quality and stability will be strictly observed to meet the new-energy vehicle requirements. The Chinese government has invested at least 800 million yuan ($117.2 million) in developing the EV industry. Read More Here .
The Vatican on Wednesday activated a new solar energy system and announced an ambitious plan that could one day make it an alternative energy exporter. The massive roof of the "Nervi Hall" where popes hold general audiences and concerts are performed, has been covered with 2,400 photovoltaic panels to provide energy for lighting, heat and air conditioning. The new system on the 5,000 square meter roof will produce 300 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy a year for the audience hall and surrounding buildings. Officials say the Vatican is planning to install enough renewable energy sources to provide 20 percent of its needs by 2020, broadly in line with a proposal by the European Union. Read More Here.
Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a gritty, working-class town outside Barcelona, has placed a sea of solar panels atop mausoleums at its cemetery, transforming a place of perpetual rest into one buzzing with renewable energy. The power the 462 panels produces -- equivalent to the yearly use by 60 homes -- flows into the local energy grid for normal consumption and is one community's odd nod to the fight against global warming. The community's leaders hope to erect more panels and triple the electricity output. Before this, the town had four other solar parks -- atop buildings and such -- but the cemetery is by far the biggest. Read more here.
Scientists at the University of Michigan are rethinking the role of electric cars in the future. What if, instead of sucking up resources, those cars could serve as storage for alternative energy, and put that energy onto the grid when it's most needed? The "vehicle-to-grid integration" idea is one that could help stabilize the grid, and reduce the need to build more power plants. The basic idea is to use the batteries in plug-in electric hybrid vehicles as extra storage space for grid energy, such as energy from renewable resources like sun and wind. Read more here .
Here is what the future may hold if roadmaps, predictions and policy targets all come true. 2010: 5.2 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions emissions from 1990 levels is achieved by those countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol. 20 percent of California's electricity comes from renewables. Toyota releases a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. 2018: 100 percent of U.S. electricity comes from solar, wind and other renewables (Gore's prediction). $255 billion spent per year (more than four times what is currently spent) on biofuels, wind power, solar photovoltaics, and hydrogen fuel cells. $150 billion invested by this date by the U.S. government on climate-friendly energy development (Obama's plan). Read More.
According to Skywindpower.com, the energy in the high altitude winds is more than enough to meet the world's energy needs, it is non global warming, and the means of capturing this energy are available through a little further development of technologies that do not require any fundamental scientific breakthroughs. Truly high energy winds are at altitudes miles above us, not just at a few hundred feet where they can be tapped by rotors on towers. The total swept area for a Flying Electric Generator of the same megawatt rating as a ground based wind turbine is typically about a quarter as much. Yet the Flying Electric Generator would produce far more megawatt hours of electricity per year due to the much higher high altitude wind speeds and constancy. Read More.
An inch-long array of some of the tiniest solar cells ever built has been successfully tested as a power source for microscopic machines, a new study reports. Instead of using silicon, Xiaomei Jiang and her colleagues from the University of South Florida turned to a polymer (a long organic molecule made of repeating structural units). The polymer they selected has the same electrical properties as silicon wafers, but can be dissolved and printed onto flexible material. Jiang and her colleagues made 20 tiny cells - each the size of a lower case "o" in standard 12-point print - and joined them together in an array to power a microscopic chemical detector. Read more here.
The Solar Roadway™ is a series of interconnected Solar Road Panels™ that you actually drive on. The idea is to replace all current asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels™ that collect and store solar energy to be used by our homes and businesses. When multiple Solar Road Panels™ are interconnected, the Solar Roadway™ is formed. These panels replace current driveways, parking lots, and all road systems, be they interstate highways, state routes, downtown streets, residential streets, or even plain dirt or gravel country roads. Panels can also be used in amusement parks, raceways, bike paths, parking garage rooftops, remote military locations, etc. Any home or business connected to the Solar Roadway™ (via a Solar Road Panel™ driveway or parking lot) receives the power and data signals that the Solar Roadway™ provides. Here is a youtube presentation and there is lots more info on the SolarRoadway website .
The ocean harbors abundant energy in the form of wind, waves and sun. All of these could be sampled on something called an Energy Island: a floating rig that drills for renewables instead of petroleum. The Energy Island would have an OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion) plant at its center, but spread across the 2,000-foot-wide (600-meter-wide) platform would also be wind turbines and solar collectors. Additionally, wave energy converters and sea current turbines would capture energy from water moving around the structure. One of these hexagonally-shaped islands could generate 250 megawatts. Read more here.
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