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A little sunshine on a rainy day...

The Virtual Power Plant: "Critics of renewables have always claimed that sun and wind are only intermittent producers of electricity and need fossil fuel plants as back-up to make them viable. But German engineers have proved this is not so." A pilot program funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment offers a rebuttal to critics who claim renewable energy sources have an insurmountable variability problem.
posted by saulgoodman on Apr 5, 2013 - 24 comments

Liquid-metal battery holy grail

A few nights ago MIT scientist Donald Sadoway (Time 100) was on Colbert Report to discuss a new cheap high-capacity liquid-metal battery that could be the holy grail for solar and wind power to store electricity for on-demand use. The Colbert show is an intro but sort of dumb (by design), the TED talk gives some more detail, or the company page Ambri has more info.
posted by stbalbach on Oct 24, 2012 - 31 comments

Solar cone power art

Solar art. V3Solar has a spinning blue crystal prototype that has many advantages over flat-panels. Some details on costs. Via GizMag.
posted by stbalbach on Sep 30, 2012 - 32 comments

Tesla Network of Supercharger Stations for the Tesla S Series

"Does Tesla's Supercharger answer the road trip question for EVs?" Tesla announces plans to rollout a network of supercharger stations that will generate more solar power than the Tesla S series cars draw, leading to a net input into the grid. Yahoofinance says "...the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona."
posted by BillW on Sep 26, 2012 - 57 comments

British Bus Shelters

Some British bus shelters are, implausibly, powered by the light of the sun, and some can see what you’re up to & tell you to stop doing it. Others smell like baked potatoes, or dispense free pieces of cake. Others still can get you high if you set them on fire. More often though, these are dreary, malodorous locales where one is increasingly less likely to see a bus, let alone three coming along at once. Photographer Steve Ellaway has embarked on a project to photograph the bus shelters of South Wales: an unpromising subject on the surface of it, but one that has yielded surprisingly rich and varied results.
posted by misteraitch on May 15, 2012 - 22 comments

1 1 2 3 5 Eureka!

13-Year-Old Makes Solar Power Breakthrough by Harnessing the Fibonacci Sequence After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. [more inside]
posted by jillithd on Aug 19, 2011 - 105 comments

No one hears you scream but these mythological figurines

NASA's Juno spacecraft launched this morning and is en route to Jupiter (launch video). Equipped with microwave, ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light detectors Juno will investigate the origins, atmosphere, and magnetosphere of the Solar System's largest planets over one year beginning with its arrival in 2016. Using its awesome solar-powered technology Juno will show Jupiter's magnetic field in detail never before seen. We probably won't hear much from Juno again until 2013, when it makes a fly-by of Earth. You can follow Juno on Twitter, so if it types out its scream, someone will hear it. Also screaming traveling aboard Juno are three very special LEGO mini-figurines.
posted by IvoShandor on Aug 5, 2011 - 35 comments

Solar powered 3D printer creates glass objects out of sand

Markus Kayser has designed and built The Solar Sinter, a solar powered 3D printer which creates glass objects out sand. Needless to say, the ability to create objects out of sand using solar power will be welcome in deserts. He took his machine into the Sahara desert to test it. Previously in the Sahara Kayser tested a similiar machine, The Sun Cutter, which uses a ball lens to create a kind of laser cutter.
posted by Kattullus on Jun 25, 2011 - 40 comments

Scottish artist Robert Montgomery and his billboards and neon signs

"Robert Montgomery works in a poetic and melancholic post-situationist tradition. He makes billboard pieces, recycled sunlight pieces and drawings." This one's my favorite but I like others too. Here are a few more examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
posted by Kattullus on May 20, 2011 - 14 comments

Artificial Leaf

"A practical [inexpensive] artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades. We believe we [Sun Catalytix] have done it." Video: Professor Daniel Nocera at MIT
posted by stbalbach on Mar 29, 2011 - 74 comments

"Obliterating Anything!"

Solard Death Ray: Power of 5000 suns! [SLYT] The R5800: made from an ordinary fiberglass satellite dish, it is covered in about 5800 3/8" (~1cm) mirror tiles. When properly aligned, it can generate a spot the size of a dime with an intensity of 5000 suns! This amount of power is more than enough to melt steel, vaporize aluminum, boil concrete, turn dirt into lava, and obliterate any organic material in an instant. It stands at 5'9" and is 42" across.
posted by Fizz on Jan 30, 2011 - 59 comments

The shortcut to doubling solar efficiency?

Super Soaker inventor proposes a solid state heat engine that resembles a fuel cell. The idea is to reach a new level in heat generating efficiency, or at least replace heat pumps, with no moving parts. "Johnson has opened up a fundamentally new pathway to generate electricity from heat," says Paul Werbos, program director for power, control, and adaptive networks at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Werbos, an IEEE Fellow, says the NSF is funding Johnson's heat-engine research because of the strong chance that it could cut the cost of solar power in half.
posted by Brian B. on Nov 5, 2010 - 49 comments

World's largest solar power plant

The world's largest solar power plant will probably be cleared for construction in California. At 1GW it is the size of a nuclear power plant and nearly doubles the US installed base of commercial-scale solar power. It will take 6-years, $6-billion and 7,000-acres. Proposed site (on Google maps). It will use parabolic trough's (video). It is being built by a German company (construction video / operation animation). There are many other CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) projects.
posted by stbalbach on Aug 27, 2010 - 71 comments

Roll your own Solar Cell

Make your own solar cell out of powdered donuts, Everclear, Tazo Passion tea, and other common ingredients. (slyt) [more inside]
posted by mccarty.tim on Nov 22, 2009 - 19 comments

Space based Solar Power

Space-based Solar Power beamed down to earth sounds pretty far out, but the technology is further along than many suppose, the sun never sets in space, and space is a Saudi Arabia of unlimited energy for the nation with the technology to harness it. PG&E (California) in conjunction with SolarEn has announced a 200MW space solar project to be up by 2016.
posted by stbalbach on Apr 20, 2009 - 87 comments

UFO or Solar Car?

Marcelo da Luz has been attracting a lot of attention with his snazzy solar car. He's hoping to set a new world record by driving the car from Buffalo, NY, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
posted by mrgrimm on Sep 10, 2008 - 19 comments

Can Two Engineers and Some Elbow Grease Save The World?

Planet Mechanics Dick Strawbridge and Jem Stansfield have been travelling Europe (for National Geographic UK) on a mission to lower energy consumption (and make interesting television). Air Propelled Sandwich | Cow Power | Lake District Dilemma | Solar Paella | Electric Water Taxi | Surf Power | Heavy Metal House | Tree Powered Truck
posted by chuckdarwin on May 27, 2008 - 32 comments

It takes a woman.....

The First Women Barefoot Solar Engineers Of The World ( youtube ) trained at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan. Using traditional puppetry as an educational medium, Sanjit Bunker Roy's school has been causing a quiet but sure revolution in sustainable development for over 30 years. ( previously )
posted by adamvasco on Feb 7, 2008 - 12 comments

How Africa's desert sun can bring Europe power

How Africa's desert sun can bring Europe power. A £5bn solar power demonstration project called Desertec is being developed by Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) that would send solar energy northward from African deserts. The goal is in 30 years to provide a significant fraction of Europe's electricity needs.
posted by stbalbach on Dec 13, 2007 - 35 comments

Cheap printable solar power

Popular Science has named Nanosolar the #1 innovative product of the year. Finally, cheap and ubiquitous solar power has arrived, “You’re talking about printing rolls of the stuff—printing it on the roofs of 18-wheeler trailers, printing it on garages, printing it wherever you want it,” The only problem is demand, so they're building the world’s largest solar-panel manufacturing facility in San Jose. See 96 other innovations in PopSci's Best of 2007.
posted by stbalbach on Nov 17, 2007 - 25 comments

Solar planes making progress

The Zephyr, a solar powered plane, has smashed the record for the longest duration un-manned flight, staying aloft with engines running for 54 hours. This was just a test run at the US military White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, according to the UK developers, "You ain't seen nothing yet". Meanwhile in Switzerland, development continues on the Solar Impulse, which has a goal of flying around the world, manned(!), by 2010.
posted by stbalbach on Sep 11, 2007 - 11 comments

possum living

POSSUM LIVING: How To Live Well Without a Job ..building a $100 Log Cabin, a geodesic dome out of cardboard.. handbook for cob building.. cheap solar power system.. stocking up on food.. some more
posted by petsounds on Feb 15, 2007 - 37 comments

Is it time to look at Renewable Energy sources again?

Aurore, a renewable energy (RE) service provider in South India has been designing and developing RE products like solar lanterns and street lights, arranging for microfinance to support installation in remote villages and winning prestigious awards for their work. Cleaner, safer and cheaper than fossil fuels, their business philosophy is grounded in a greater vision than mere profit.
posted by infini on Jan 24, 2006 - 15 comments

Bling Bling In The Sun

This is great, California is going to be dropping some serious money on solar programs 3 BILLION!! dollars. Once you get past the idea that we spend about 6 billion A MONTH in Iraq, you will notice that this is a lot of money for a solar program. With 2005 being the hottest year on record worldwide, its about time someone (anyone) start doing something to get us off our oil addiction.
posted by stilgar on Jan 13, 2006 - 29 comments

Solar power rocks!

The Solar Decathlon 2005 winners announced. The Solar Decathlon brings together 18 teams of college and university students from around the globe to participate in an unparalleled solar competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home.
posted by mathowie on Oct 17, 2005 - 9 comments

Genesis 1:3

Electrical lighting conspiracy theories can be paranoid, downright bizarre, or actually pretty reasonable.
posted by nthdegx on Aug 5, 2005 - 27 comments

Holy Solar Powered Bible, Batman!

Nearly half of the world's population cannot read. Many people live in remote areas without electricity. But that's no excuse for being non-Christian, right? What would Jesus' marketing department do?

Introducing the GodPod. (Who knows... if it's successful, maybe Apple will make that Billy Graham iPod after all!)
posted by miss lynnster on Feb 2, 2005 - 33 comments

Tour de Sol

The 16th annual Tour de Sol showcases experimental vehicles built by students, individuals, and corporations that can cut greenhouse emissions, and compete for top awards. More photos and reports. Then cruise on over to the Green Car Club for a list of Green Cars available to buy today.
posted by stbalbach on Jun 19, 2004 - 0 comments

Final Frontier, the space between our ears.

A viilage to reinvent the world : Gaviotas "In 1965 Paulo Lugari was flying over the impoverished Llanos Orientales, the “eastern plains” that border Venezuela. The soil of the Llanos is tough and acidic, some of the worst in Colombia. Lugari mused that if people could live here they could live anywhere.....The following year Lugari and a group of scientists, artists, agronomists and engineers took the 15-hour journey along a tortuous route from Bogota to the Llanos Orientales to settle."

"...they would need to be very resourceful. So they invented wind turbines that convert mild breezes into energy, super-efficient pumps that tap previously inaccessible sources of water [powered by a child's playground seesaw!], and solar kettles that sterilize drinking water using the furious heat of the tropical sun....They even invented a rain forest!" (from "Gaviotas - A village to reinvent the World", by Tim Weisman) Amidst the strife of war torn Columbia, Gaviotas persists and even flourishes. " "When we import solutions from the US or Europe," said Lugari, founder of Gaviotas, "we also import their problems."....Over the years Gaviotas technicians have installed thousands of the windmills across Colombia....Since Gaviotas refuses to patent inventions, preferring to share them freely, the design has been copied from Central America to Chile."

Gaviotas is real, yes, but it is also a state of mind - as if Ben Franklin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leonardo Da Vinci - all of the great those giants who reinvisioned the possible - were reincarnated : as a small Columbian village on a once-desolate plain. "Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez has called Paolo Lugari the "inventor of the world." "
posted by troutfishing on Apr 16, 2004 - 12 comments

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