Tag archives for solar power

By John Perlin Many people believe that solar energy is a twentieth century phenomenon, untried and untested. But I discovered through writing my new book Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy that houses have been designed since Neolithic times to scoop up sunlight in winter; that over the last three thousand years people have used solar concentrators…

Kenichi Hazawa, a resident of Ofunato in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, moved into his new home this summer—a milestone in and of itself. The rebuilding job has been monumental in this coastal city, where almost one-quarter of the 15,000 homes were destroyed by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, and nearly 8,000 people were forced…

According to Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, renewables are successful in Germany and not in the U.S. because Germany has “got a lot more sun than we do.” Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded during her now-infamous flub, “but here on the East Coast, it’s just not going to work.” (She recanted the next day while…

  Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s now famous comment, “Never let a serious crisis to go to waste,” could not have been more true of Hurricane Sandy, which was a harbinger of the costly destructive power of climate change.  Sandy made clear that willful ignorance of climate science and inaction is simply…

Kağan Meijer of Celal Bayar University in Turkey explains the changes made to the vehicle to conform to new rules for Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2013. Celal Bayar’s car last year, Tarzan, had large over-hanging solar panels, but this year, the  solar panels needed to be smaller to be integrated into the body of the vehicle.…

More than 3,000 high school and college students from 24 countries are gathered in the port city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, this weekend for a race for fuel efficiency. More than 180 cars are entered in Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2013, where students design and build super-low-mileage vehicles, and then prove them on a 10-mile (16.3-kilometer)…

Renewable Energy Not Growing as Fast as Necessary, Reports Say

On the road to more sustainable, clean energy, the ride has been bumpy. That’s the message to two reports this week—one from the International Energy Agency and one from the Pew Environment Group—that measured progress on transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy. Renewable energy has stalled, both analyses point out, for a few different…

Zack Lapetina of Purdue University explains how the Purdue Solar Racing team uses high-efficiency photovoltaic panels, and then adds intensifiers to increase the amount of sunlight the cars capture for energy in Shell Eco-marathon Americas student design competition. You can also read their blog about their journey here: Lighter and Sleeker for This Year’s Race.…

Greeting a small group at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C., pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg shared details about the next leg of travels for their solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse. The pair, who were recently featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes, are laying the groundwork for their ultimate goal of completing the first solar-powered…

As China selects its new leadership this week, jobs, energy, and international relations will be very much on the minds of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.  Over the past decade China has transformed its economy into the leading manufacturing power in the clean energy sector.  This is a tremendous achievement, and one that…

Solar is getting its due from the Energy Information Administration, which is now reporting customer-sited photovoltaic capacity, in addition to the utility-scale PV total. Earlier this year we reported on research by Michael Mendelsohn, a market and policy impact analyst at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado, that revealed that EIA reports on the state of U.S.…

Putting more in than it takes out – across the board, that’s a key aspect of the bold sustainability plan the furniture giant IKEA says it will pursue over the next several years. The company on Tuesday vowed that by 2020 it will produce more renewable energy than it consumes in its stores and buildings. But what…

How do Obama’s words on energy compare to Team Romney’s? Last week, while the Republicans were celebrating the Romney-Ryan ticket in Tampa, Florida, we posted a count-the-words analysis of their energy plan. The plan’s overall aim is to achieve energy independence for North America. The numbers told us the path to independence for the Romney…

Oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, efficiency. Which are the Republican hopefuls’ priorities? This week, it’s convention time for the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees. Last week, the Romney-Ryan team rolled out its energy policy [pdf] for the nation. Entitled “The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE,” the new plan, running…

They may not be sexy in a Top Gun kind of way, but the U.S. Navy’s continued investments in clean technologies for use throughout its operations recently extended to Pearl Harbor via 36 new electric vehicles. These new two- and four-passenger trucks and cargo vans are from Vantage Vehicle International out of California, who get the chassis for the vehicles from China…

Despite sluggish growth in most developed countries and the on-going debt crisis in Europe, renewable energy investment showed solid growth of 17 percent in 2011 over the year before, says a new status report on renewable energy. In 2011, renewable energy investment hit a new record of $257 billion, according to “Global Trends in Renewable…

A pair of French student teams from schools side-by-side on the Loire River shared technology, team spirit, and sleek aerodynamic styling to capture top fuel efficiency prizes Saturday at Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 in Rotterdam. Team Microjoule from the technical school La Joliviere in Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire won the gasoline prototype division for the third year in…

How far did you walk to get clean drinking water today? As far as the kitchen sink? Even if you had to walk outside and draw it from a well, you’re still enjoying a privilege that many humans can only imagine. In Africa, millions of people walk miles every day to procure water, often from a contaminated…

The U.S. Department of State has received a new application from TransCanada—the company behind the controversial Keystone XL project—to ship crude oil via a proposed pipeline running from the Canadian border to existing infrastructure in Nebraska. TransCanada had its initial application rejected by the Obama administration in January. The reapplication to the U.S. State Department…

Gasoline prices have edged off the pedal in recent days, but the Energy Information Administration this week released new data showing motorists will pay about a quarter more per gallon during peak travel season—April through September. Prices will top out at $4.01, on average, in May. The last time gasoline spiked to such levels was…

For the past 20 years, Purdue Solar Racing (PSR) has been designing and building a variety of solar powered vehicles. While these cars have all varied greatly in their designs and manufacturing processes,  Shell Eco-marathon’s urban concept category motivated PSR to enter into a completely unexplored realm with its eighth car, Celeritas. Urban concept vehicles…

Which is more important: making solar panels cheap or making them here? In the end, this may not be an either-or question, but it’s the one that’s raised by the Commerce Department’s decision last week to impose a small import duty on Chinese-made solar panels. Some U.S. solar companies argue that China illegally subsidizes its…

The leadership of the solar industry let out a collective gasp of relief Tuesday. While it seems that tariffs will be imposed on China’s exports of photovoltaic cells, at least for now they are relatively minimal. Yet it’s still a fragile time for the industry and anything that raises cost within the supply chain or to the…

Over the past decade, plans for 160 new coal fired power plants in the United States have been scrapped, largely due to rising costs and an inability to compete in today’s energy markets. That’s because the cost of once-“expensive” clean energy has fallen dramatically, while “cheap” fossil fuels are increasingly expensive in economic, health, and…

The recent plummet of the natural gas spot price to a 28-month low has stirred discussion about implications for renewable energy—the majority electrical generating component in RMI’s vision of the 2050 U.S. energy economy. Since mid-2009, it has been increasingly clear that the amount of natural gas supplied via hydraulic fracturing (popularly known as “fracking”) will create…