Showing posts with label sustainable energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sustainable energy. Show all posts

Here Comes The Sun King: Elon Musk's New "Solar Shingles" To Cut Power Bills, Ties To Grid

Having safely ensconced himself as a pioneer in modern spacefaring, electric vehicle technology, sustainable-electric storage, and even a completely unheard-of new type of transportation, Elon Musk has now focused his sights on improving home energy for the average human.  The plan is simple, but he’s the man for the job:  solar roofing tiles.

Easily the best way to get your home looking
and operating at peak futuristic capacity.
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Number One For The Sun: World's Largest Solar Power Plant Fires Up In Morocco

We're now well into the 21st century, and it's time for energy technology to reflect that.  On Thursday, a major leap was made by Morocco, who became the nation that put the world's largest solar power plant online.

Who says you can't grow anything in the desert?
Noor 1 has officially begun harvesting solar energy.
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On The Mooove: Beef Tallow Biofuel Helps Propel Navy Ships

The U.S. Navy is the mightiest fleet in the world, but with the tides turning on fossil fuels, how will they expect to stay sustainable in the 21st century?  The answer is fat.  Gallons and gallons of it.

It's like how you eat burgers for fuel...
except mixed with petroleum and multiplied by a warship.
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One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasured Power Source: How MIT Claims We Can Convert Car Batteries To Solar Cells

It's almost 2016, and people are finally beginning to realize that fossil fuels are about are pertinent to the future as whale oil.  But what are we going to do with all those outdated chunks of old-school dead car batteries?  The bright minds at MIT have figured out a way for the past to fuel the future...

Rev it up with some recycling, and your old car battery could be a new source of sustainable energy.
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Power For The People: New "Powerwall" Battery To Revolutionize Energy Usage

The dynamics of power are changing.  While unfortunately that doesn't mean much for our government, it may be having a great impact for those in need of electricity (a.k.a. all denizens of the modern world...)

The fact that it looks a bit like the monolith from "2001" might be intentional.
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Google's Green Growth: Search Engine Has Renewables In Their Tank

Google is absolutely not planning to hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button in regards to hoping the world's environmental problems will turn out alright.  The company has announced that they will triple their purchase of clean energy over the next ten years.

It takes a lot of fuel to answer all the world's questions.
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The Beast In The Yeast: Beer-Byproduct Biofuel

With all of the waste products our society creates, why not put some of them to use as fuel?  It's already working for french-fry-oil vehicles, so why not use a material that's also awesomely abundant, thanks to our love of beer?

Friends DO let friends drive cars fueled by beer.
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Goals, Not Coal: Energy-Harvesting Soccer Ball Illuminates Impoverished Lives

As the world (rightly) shifts away from dependence on fossil fuels and begins to cultivate new avenues of obtaining energy, it seems the sky is the limit for innovative ideas.  However, by "sky", we don't mean that solar has to be the sole rock 'n roller of the possibilities.  Watch how a small company has provided help to impoverished areas with a sustainable source of portable, playful power...

Even if you don't like sports, this is pretty cool.
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Smack That (Sunlight Into Solar Panels): Akon To Open School For Solar Energy

Pop stars spend their cash and fame in a lot of interesting ways, but only a small percentage of them do so for a world-changing greater cause.  Now, the artist Akon has announced that he will be using his influence to help an entire continent, by building a school for solar energy in Africa.

Using star power to literally harness star power!
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Ecocapsule Homes: Better Than Rent Or Tents

Living off the grid is an attractive idea for many in this hyper-commercial, uber-urban world.  Now, a new self-contained pod could bring you one step closer to scaled-down solace...

You bring me closer to pod.
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On With The Wind: Over A Third Of U.S. Power To Be Won From Wind By 2050

Abundant energy is there for the taking thanks to natural, sustainable sources, and now, the U.S. thinks that harnessing even more of it may (literally) be a breeze...

The powers-that-be are upping American wind power.
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Thinking Green On The Red Planet: Dry Ice Engine Could Propel Spaceships To Mars

Mars has emerged as a major spacefaring destination for the coming decades, but ideas on how to get there are still up in the air (well, lack of air, technically.)  Now, a new idea that would utilize sustainable Martian resources for fuel has got scientists gassed to head to the red planet...

An image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows abundant dry ice deposits.
Could this be the new rocket fuel?
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Solar More Than Solo: Community Energy Gardens Growing In Power

With the opportunities for sustainable energy sources growing more acceptable, abundant, and affordable every day, it behooves the users of such power to understand its possible new impact for entire communities at large.  After all, once the tides (and windmills, and solar panels) turn to making sustainable energy the main source of power for communities in the way that nuclear or gas have previously, large numbers of people will all be invested in the infrastructure together.  Now, that idea has sprouted a garden of its own...

No sunflowers, but lots of sun power getting harvested in a solar garden.
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Power To The Peeing People: New Prototype Toilet Converts Urine To Electricity

Techniques for harnessing sustainable energy have expanded tremendously in the last few years, and power has been found to be accessible from some rather unorthodox sources.  Now, gathering power is apparently as easy as taking a trip to the restroom...

"Drink up!  We're pee-powering the nation of Rwanda tonight!"
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Green Power In The Green Mountain State: Vermont's Largest City Is Fueled By Renewable Energy

Vermont has always been known as "The Green Mountain State", but now, it's the "green city" state, too.  Vermont's capital, Burlington, now uses 100% sustainable methods to provide power to their citizens.

As reported by PBS, the city of Burlington actually makes or obtains more power than it uses, and all derived from "green" sources. At a population of 42,000, Burlington is the most populous state in Vermont, all powered by renewable energy from Burlington Electric.  Ken Dolan, a Burlington Electric worker, explained that this way, power is not only gathered and used in a safer manner than fossil fuels, but it is also cheaper in the long run as a means for the city to energize itself.

The Winooski One hydroelectric plant uses water to turn turbines, creating energy.
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The change to renewables is estimated to save the city $20 million dollars over the next two decades, and it's already helped make significant strides.  Burlington's utility bill rates haven't risen since 2009.

The power itself is derived from several sources.  About a third of it comes from burning biomass (in this case, salvaged scrap wood that is burned to heat steam and thus generate electricity.)  Another 20% comes from wind turbines and solar power.  Thanks to the rivers of snowy mountain runoff that power hydroelectric facilities, the majority of the energy is harvested from hydro (which spins giant underground turbines to generate electricity.)

The J.C. McNeil power plant in Burlington, where biomass is converted to power.
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With Vermont relying deeply on nature to maintain their tourism (skiing and maple syrup are big moneymakers in the Green Mountain State), it's important to Vermonters to keep the environment happy.  Using renewable energy sources keeps things pleasant for the natural world as well as the citizens' wallets.  If their example can be extrapolated to larger areas in the country, we could be well on our way to improving conditions for all by kicking the fossil fuel habit for good.

A few windmills in the mountain vista are worth not having to be reliant on fossil fuels.
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Solar Panels As Canal Covers? India Gathers Power, Saves Water, Solves Problems

The science of sustainable energy requires making more efficient means of storage and accessibility for your harvested power...but sometimes it can have bonus advantages, when properly plotted.  Unlike oil spills which contaminate massive swaths of ocean, or fracking which can cause a release of chemicals potent enough to set tap water afire, no one worries when there is a solar power leak (some people even pay for these raw materials...look at any tanning salon.)  Now, a community in India has made gathering solar energy an even more useful endeavor, thanks to positioning the solar panels over irrigation canals to thwart extra evaporation.

It's like the peanut butter and chocolate of conservation.
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According to Yahoo, in the Gujurat state of India, the booming business of solar power is setting precedents for the rest of the nation and likely the world.  By building solar panels over irrigation canals, communities are left not only with more free land space, but also contribute to the efficiency of their farming by not losing excess water to evaporation.  A plant in Vadodara which opened in October produces 10 MW of power thanks to 33,800 solar panels stretched across 3.6 km of irrigation canals (which it in turn powers the pumping distribution of.)  On a nice day, 50,000 electrical units (that's 50,000 hours of usage at 1,000 watts) are sent from the solar into the system.

While the canal-covering solar panels are more expensive to build,  they are easily accessed for cleaning and maintenance.  The water below will eventually tend to 4.45 million acres via some 75,000 km of canal throughout Gujurat and Rajasthan, known as the Sardar Sarovar project.  Already the Vadodara plant has made 16 hectares of land available, and is projected to conserve some 90 million liters of water per year.

The benefits add up:  the creation of the solar infrastructure also powers more jobs.
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As Vice magazine notes, there are a number of dually-useful elements to the project beyond the evaporation containment, including the solar panel conduits being kept cooler thanks to the water below, and also the lack of squabbling over land issues (the canals were utilitarian elements already in place, and adding to them disrupts neither the local environment nor the populace.)

Overall, the Indian government plans to gather 100 MW of power from canal-top photovoltaic panels by 2017.  By 2022, the nation intends to have over 10% of its total energy created by solar power.  The effort is not lost on the rest of the world.  U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently visited and remarked, "I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the future of our world...I saw India's bright creativity, ingenuity and cutting-edge technology."

Crafty conservation can help fuel the future in ways we haven't even yet pondered.  The fact that a major nation has stepped up to address the power problems in an efficient and intelligent way brings hope for the rest of the world.  Maybe soon we can stop shooting off mountaintops and drilling beneath oceans to gather our energy.  Let's start using our power - and our methods of power collection - for good.

Yet another plus:  all that water saved from evaporation could be made potable for poverty-stricken regions.  Win, India.
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Power On The Fly: Pioneering With A Pocket-Sized Charger

Sure, you love your devices, but feeding them can become problematic at times.  Stop bothering the bartender and bust out your own portable power, thanks to a new invention: Kraftwerk.  Created by the German company eZelleron, the gadget runs on regular everyday lighter fuel to unobtrusively juice your phone, camera, tablets, e-readers, and whatever other bit of technology is near-permanently in your orbit.

According to the Daily Mail, the device never requires a plug-in of its own, and each refill of lighter fluid or camping gas is enough to fuel 11 iPhones.  The eZelleron company maintains that Kraftwerk is a "quantum leap in terms of performance and availability compared to conventional battery chargers...Kraftwerk really is a small portable power station."

This is your first step to escaping the Grid.
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Slated for release in November/December of this year, Kraftwerk already exists in fully functioning prototypes. The remainder of the project is being funded by Kickstarter. The device appeals to a sense of freedom and adventure, with their Kickstarter campaign noting that Kraftwerk is "an invaluable advantage both in everyday life and even when traveling to the ends of the earth."

The durability and portability are major advantages for our hyper-connected world. Lighter than carrying batteries, adept with connection (a simple USB port handles all), approved for air travel, and capable of enduring all sorts of weather conditions, this energy-efficient device will discreetly help fuel the future, 5 volts at a time.

Never miss a gnarly shot again...keep your camera juiced-up anywhere with Kraftwerk.
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The folks behind Kraftwerk are pushing forth what is a small but important part of a larger picture. According to wikipedia, Germany has been hailed as "the world's first major renewable energy economy" and had a third of their electricity generated from sustainable resources in 2014.  With Germany poised to have nearly half of their electricity generated by sustainable resources by 2025, items like the Kraftwerk reflect how such an innovative mentality benefits people in many scenarios, not just on the macro scale.

Their kickstarter pitch isn't being hyperbolic when they say, "So let's revolutionize mobile energy supply together!  Be a pioneer on the fascinating road to freedom of power!"  And nothing says "pioneering" like posting a selfie from someplace definitely sans sockets.  Kraftwerk, keep it going!

Perhaps the band Kraftwerk can use the device Kraftwerk to power their Man Machine?  The possibilities are endless...
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Green Hydrogen Replaces Liquid Gold: First Sustainable Refueling Station Now Operational

With fossil fuels falling out of favor as a preferred power source, it's time for green energy to get a chance to shine.  Now, a refueling station in England has become the first source of solar-derived hydrogen power, readily available to fuel your vehicle.

According to, the 15MW solar electric plant in Swindon now powers an industrial electrolyser that is able to use the power of the sun to separate hydrogen molecules from water.  This is then stored for use by hydrogen-powered vehicles.  Hydrogen can be produced at a rate of around 3kg per hour or up to 200kg per day, with 135kg in possible storage.

The first element might prove to be the best one.  A hydrogen-powered micro-cab fills up in Swindon.
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Some 15 additional hydrogen refueling stations are set to become permanent fixtures in England, with shopping giant Sainsbury's even adding an onsite pump at one of their popular locations in Hendon, North London.  The Swindon site will be first the major marketability test, however.

Nick Rolf of gas supplier BOC explained, “We want to know the lowest cost and what the price of hydrogen will be at the pump. We've got an idea of what it will be, but this will validate that and stress test the concept. If it doesn't stack up commercially no one will want to buy the next one.”

But if it DOES stack up commercially, the oil barons will soon be looking to the skies...

Get hy all the time...
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One For The Road: New Bike-Bottle Device Harvests Moisture As You Ride

Sustainable energy comes in many forms, but what about the fuel you'll need to sustain yourself?  A new invention can keep you happily hydrated by culling water from the atmosphere and delivering it straight into your bike rest stops required.

Unless you need to check the map.  Again.
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The Fontus, as reported by the Atlantic, is a new invention that is a simple and effective means of keeping a constant water supply, even if you find you've ridden your bike to the middle of nowhere.  Austrian creator Kristof Retez├ír designed the Fontus to be a sleek, unobtrusive bike-mounted device that funnels air through a top chamber to remove the inherent moisture. The air then settles over a "condensing structure" and a solar-powered cooler drips the water into your bike bottle.

In humid conditions, the Fontus could provide 17 ounces of water per hour for a cyclist. Eventually, it could be brought to remote areas of the world to improve quality of life where humidity is high but groundwater is scarce. Many areas in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia in particular could benefit from this innovation.

Sustainability's many styles are inspiring some amazing inventions to roll out. And just think, if the cyclist was also harvesting their own pedal-powered electricity, they'd be a one-person transport, water, and power supply! Now if there were only a way to grow energy bars en route as well...

Nutrition on the road is serious business.
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Shine On, Mine On: Solar And Wind Power Make Electricity 70% Cheaper For Mining

The clean energy revolution could stand to gain many supporters when it's proven to work effectively for big business.  Now, the mining industry is looking towards alternative energy to fuel their pursuits, with some interesting and prosperous results.

As reported by, renewable solar and wind power is up to 70% more cost-effective for the mining industry than diesel fuel - a startling revelation.  With many remote mining areas amenable to wind and unhindered sunlight,  as well as factoring in the cost of NOT having to truck fuel out to the far-flung sites, the benefits of going green begin to add up considerably.

Dig this:  it's a bright future thanks to solar power (and other renewables.)
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One Australian mining site uses solar power to the tune of offsetting some 600,000 gallons of diesel fuel.  Another Alabama steel mill is run mainly on solar power, and one of the world's preeminent copper mining companies is set to follow suit with a 70 MW solar array.  It's not just for hippies anymore.  If the metal crews are into it, what's to stop the rest of society?

For those who would be interested in arming their business with the might of the sun, there exists an online aggregator of clean tech called Renewables And Mining.  It contains information on "Photovoltaics, concentrated photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, solar thermal, and wind power" for comparison to assess what might work best for a particular type of industrial site.  Why spend tons when you can invest in the sun?  For those who work at removing some of the precious things the environment has to offer, why not harness a similar energy for the harvesting itself?

Even old mines can get in on the usefulness!
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