Solar News
Google invests $280 million to spur home solar
June 14th, 2011

Google is investing $280 million in solar power for private homes, its latest — and largest — investment in clean energy.

The money will allow installer SolarCity to offer solar systems to homeowners for no money up front. In exchange, customers agree to pay a set price for the power produced by the systems.

Google earns a return on its investment by charging SolarCity interest to use its money and reaping the benefits of federal and local renewable energy tax credits.

Google Inc. co-founder and chief executive Larry Page wants Google’s operations to eventually produce no net greenhouse gas emissions. The company has aggressively invested in green energy projects.

This will be Google’s seventh such investment, raising its green energy investment total to more than $680 million.

[Source: MSNBC]

Seattle Seahawks Go Green
May 24th, 2011

 

The Portland Trail Blazers were the first major sports team to earn an LEED Gold Status for an existing major league sports arena. That means that the building was designed using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Chairman and owner of the Trail Blazers is also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and he is continuing to find ways to conserve energy. The Seattle Seahawks, Sounders FC and First and Goal Inc. are installing the largest solar energy array in Washington on the roof of Qwest Field Event Center, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

The 3,750 individual thin-film technology solar panels will capture both direct and reflected sunlight across 80% of the center’s cylinder-type surface. The panels are projected to produce over 830,000 kWh of electricity annually. The design-build firm Mckinstry has been hired to install the panels. They specialize in energy solutions and have also identified modifications to reduce energy and water usage throughout the complex. The project will result in a 21% reduction in annual utility costs as well as a reduction in carbon emissions of 1,346 metric tons per year. Both teams hope they can be an example to others of how important clean technology is and the benefits it provides to the state of Washington.

Marines Take Solar to a New Level
May 17th, 2011

We all know that solar technology and the many ways it can be used is a constantly changing and growing area, from the increasing line of solar-powered cars to now using solar panels in war situations. The last one seems a little farfetched right? It is true though and in fact, Marines have begun to use portable solar chargers in the field. The Marine Corps has tested lightweight, flexible solar panels in training and actual war situations and have found them to be very effective so far.

Normally, Marines have to carry 3-4 days worth of spare batteries which can obviously be very heavy and cumbersome. They have no choice though as many situations call for the use of phones or tablets. Things are certainly changing though, and the portable solar charges have been lifesavers, literally. Carrying fewer batteries can cut down on the demand for supply convoys which have become favorite targets for enemies in the past few years. The Marine Corps have made steps to make renewable energy a major part of their operations. They have also experimented with larger solar panels at their base of operations finding them very useful as well. They hope that the success they have seen will move them closer to their long-term goal of only needing to deploy mobility fuels by 2025.

New Technology could mean more Energy for Solar Power
May 9th, 2011

There may now be a way to collect energy from infrared light that may make a huge difference in the solar power industry. Previously, silicon could only be used to convert sunlight into electricity, but now a research team has found a way to harness the energy from infrared light using nanoantennas. More than a third of the solar energy on Earth arrives in the form of infrared light but every semiconductor, including silicon, has a “bandgap” where light below a certain frequency passes directly through and is unable to generate an electrical current.

Lead researcher Naomi Halas and his team showed that they could extend the frequency range for electricity generation into the infrared by attaching a metal nanoantenna to the silicon. This tiny antenna is specially tuned to interact with infrared light. When infrared light hits the antenna, it creates a “Plasmon”, which is a wave of energy that sloshes through the antenna’s ocean of free electrons essentially creating a hot electron that creates an electrical current. The new technology has not been tested on solar panels yet but the team is eager to see if the new technology will result in higher-efficiency.

Mapping the World one Rooftop at a Time
April 29th, 2011

David Levine had an “aha” moment when he realized the worth of mapping the solar potential on the rooftops of every home. That moment came in 2009, where immediately thereafter he resigned from his current job, waited out a six-month non- compete period and then started Geostellar. The basic concept behind the company is to catalog the solar potential of every roof in the world. This information could be used by a variety of different people such as prospectors, who guarantee building owners low electrical costs in exchange for the right to install panels and sell power back to the grid, or big utilities, who could use the information to scope out commercial-scale solar sites.

Compiling the data needed for a project this size has not been easy and currently he only has maps for Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and the District of Columbia. But maybe when you look at how much time and effort goes into getting just one map together that short list will seem a lot more impressive. Geostellar uses LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology which involves shooting lasers or inferred light from a low-flying airplane. Geostellar also had to create software that could compile all of the information. One map could take weeks to compile and organize meaning that the computers would be tied up for that amount of time as well. It has not been easy but Levine is not one to give-up. Geostellar has 80 million roofs ready to be added to the 2.5 million he has mapped at this time, and he has the rest of the world in his sites for the future.

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