Step aside, fossil fuels — everyone is going solar. With eco-houses and trains now on the market, we might as well redesign as much as we can into solar. This is where electricity-generating greenhouses are stepping in.
Electricity-generating solar greenhouses utilize Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs), a novel technology that generates electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems… WSPVs absorb some of the blue and green wavelengths of light but let the rest through, allowing the plants to grow.
In testing a variety of plant species, researchers at UC Santa Cruz found that 80% remained unaffected by changes. The remaining 20%? They actually grew better under the building’s bright magenta windows.
“If greenhouses generate electricity on site, that reduces the need for an outside source, which helps lower greenhouse gas emissions even more,” said [professor Michael] Loik. “We’re moving toward self-sustaining greenhouses.”
The greenhouse uses 5% less water — a success, taking into account that greenhouses occupy 9 million acres of land. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the system costs 40% less than traditional means. Clearly, percentages have demonstrated a win-win situation for these buildings, which will hopefully bring users 100% satisfaction.
When it comes to running water and clean energy, resources aren’t always available to all. Independent groups have been doing what they can to provide for rural areas, implementing Eco-Boxes and bleach lamps. Though the power grid issue seems to be improving, development is slow and India has had enough. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Saubhagya Scheme, which promises to provide electricity for over 40 million Indian families by December 2018.
Millions of rural Indians still rely on lamps fuelled by kerosene, the use of which the scheme hopes to cut. Kerosene is a huge health and environmental hazard and restricting its use would further India’s ambitious climate goal to cut emissions.
Roughly 300 million Indian citizens have no access to electricity. Along with the scheme, the government plans to keep from charging poorer families. However, as opposed to targeting villages, the scheme will single out individual households.
Remote, and often inaccessible, villages have proved to be a major challenge in the electrification drive. The government has said it will distribute solar packs (comprising LED lights, a fan and a plug) and a battery bank to households in these villages.
The project will also help state-owned power distribution companies with debts. It’s a helping hand I’d have no problem shaking!
When it comes to moving forward with technology, we tend to fall back on nature. After all, in most ways, science is organic. If slugs can inspire a medical glue that will ease the difficulties of surgery, other animals can do the same. To improve on solar panels, researchers are drawing ideas from black butterflies.
The rose butterfly is native to Southeast Asia. Because it is cold-blooded and needs sunlight to fly, its black wings have evolved to be very good at absorbing energy.
Normally, solar panels are made with thick solar cells. Thin film solar cells have a lot of potential, but are not as productive. The black butterflies absorb heat perfectly because their wings are covered in holes. These holes effectively scatter light.
“I think what’s interesting is the excellent approach of looking at the underlying physiological concepts and then taking these concepts and emulating them in a structure that doesn’t look quite look like how a butterfly looks but does the same physics,” says Mathias Kolle, a professor of engineering.
The research has since received proper funding and, hopefully, will flutter along seamlessly.
With Alphabet and Tesla taking over damage control on Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands are waiting patiently in the wings. Struck by two category 5 hurricanes in the span of a few months, the territory is a war-zone. Stepping in to rebuild a more sustainable paradise is British billionaire Richard Branson.
“Another storm could strike within the coming weeks,” Branson told a meeting of leaders in Washington earlier this month. “The Caribbean must seize the opportunity and take the leap from 20th-century technology to 21st-century innovation.”
The project, dubbed the “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” hopes to bring clean energy into the country. So far, it’s best bet is to invest in wind and solar. Comparing the damage to that caused by a nuclear blast, Branson hopes not only to help the islands recover, but transform.
“We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier,” he said. “The Caribbean Heads of State agree with one voice that this is a good idea.”
As with any disaster, finding an efficient way to recuperate takes priority. But future prevention is by far the closest second.
With climate change ascending into an all-time high, communities are making the most out of the searing heat. In fact, 800,000 homes in the U.K. are running entirely on the sun’s rays. However, Diu in India recently beat them to the punch, becoming the first Union territory to run completely solar-powered.
“The population of Diu is only 56,000. For water and electricity, the Union territory was solely dependent on the Gujarat government. To overcome this limitation, the administration of the Union territory decided to set up solar power plants in Diu.” [said executive engineer Milind Ingle.]
The city generates 13 megawatts a day, covering 42 square kilometers. Even so, manufacturers have installed plants over some 50 acres. Bill charges have since dropped by 12%, a great relief to locals.
“Diu’s peak-time demand for electricity goes up to 7 MW and we generate about 10.5 MW of electricity from solar energy daily. This is way more than the consumption demand requirement.”
Now that I think about it, an Indian summer may be worth your while.
At this point in time, we are all familiar with the potential of solar power. It can run anything from trains to villages, which makes home installations a no-brainer. However, the devices don’t come cheap, which is why the U.K. government aims to build free solar panels in 800,000 homes in the next five years.
The deal “is set to create over 1,000 new jobs for people”, many of whom “will be tasked with installing and maintaining the panels”. These positions will first be “offered to military veterans”, who will also receive training “for new maintenance careers”.
Energy firm Solarplicity is donating the panels to low-income households, which could save families £240 on bills per year. But that isn’t where the fun stops. Residents will also receive smart meters that indicate energy usage throughout the day.
It’s “by far and away the largest renewable energy scheme of its kind in the UK”… and has been bolstered by a £160m investment from Dutch firm Maas Capital.
It’s a charitable move by the U.K. government that I hope successfully sees the light of day (pun entirely intended).
Solar farms are becoming a country staple. They exist in China, in the playful shape of a panda. You’ll also find them in the Middle East. What we haven’t seen is a solar farm from one continent hooked up to another. Now, a solar farm in Africa may be lighting up Europe.
Tunisia-based TuNur filed a request in the North African country to export 4.5 gigawatts of solar energy to Europe, enough to power 5 million homes or 7 million electric cars.
If my understanding is correct, we now have the technology to import power from other countries. Way to drop a bomb, TuNur! The project is also moving at a fast pace. By 2020, it will connect solar plants in Tunisia with Italy and France.
This link will form part of the EU’s Project of Common Interest plan, which funds infrastructure developments that benefit the EU as a whole.
Vital to the success of the project is cost — reducing rates per megawatt hour. That and a number of border disputes. Despite the struggle, supporters of the project remain hopeful for energy cooperation.
Much is on the horizon for the up-and-coming solar industry. For e-vehicles in particular, perks such as recharging solar highways and free energy are on the market. But as technology continues to remodel itself, owning an electric SUV isn’t easy as pie. Hoping to relieve the hassle of scant charging ports, startup Platio is building solar-powered sidewalks.
“It is important for us to find key partners who support innovative technologies and can give us a chance to try new fields of applications,” Miklós Illyés, co-founder of Platio. “With the help of Prologis, we managed to install our first solution for EV charging stations, which is a significant milestone for us and our mission to contribute to e-mobility.”
The 50 square foot structure can generate up to a peak of 720 watts. When not in use, it conveniently powers adjacent office buildings. Despite other pressing development issues regarding mass production, passersby seem most concerned about slipping.
Aluminum oxide provides plenty of friction in both hot and cold areas. Clear hydrophobic polymer can also be used to prevent water from forming between the person’s shoe and the surface of the sidewalk.
And there you have it, folks. A simple, non-slip solution to an everyday, clean commute.
With the rise of solar power comes a great hurdle — bringing it into households. While scientists at the University of Exeter have masterminded glass solar blocks, those at UC Berkeley are working down to the atom. To bring cheaper options to the table, UCLA research teams are testing a solar gadget that creates hydrogen and electricity.
Along with the usual positive and negative electrodes, the device has a third electrode that can either store energy electrically or use it to split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms – a process called water electrolysis.
The pocket-fitting tool produces clean energy to power appliances and vehicles. It also incorporates nickel, iron, and cobalt into hydrogen production, replacing platinum, which is scarce.
“Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air – just water,” says [study head Richard] Kaner.
With a lot of work, UCLA’s newest contraption could do wonders for infrastructure and hydrogen cars. It may even bring a little sunshine to rural communities.
As electric vehicles increase in sustainability, they also decrease in parts. Built with only 580 components, the XYT eco car is tiny, but in every way efficient. Banking on the “less is more” theme of newer hybrids, Swedish group Uniti has treats in store for its buyers. Along with its “smartphone car”, the startup is throwing in five years of free electricity for eager consumers.
“Today, there are many new possibilities,” Tobias Ekman, Uniti’s innovation manager, said… “The car and the driving experience has been digitalized in order to increase safety, comfort, and driving pleasure while minimizing environmental impact.”
At $17,560, its features seem entirely worth it — and some 1,000 preordering customers can vouch for that. The car is a jack of all trades, seating up to five passengers and running 185 miles on one charge. The fun apparently doesn’t end there.
It’s optimized for urban and highway driving; and has an auxiliary battery that can be removed for indoor charging, or charged while still inside the vehicle.
Could Uniti’s brainchild be the iPhone of all vehicles? Seems likely.