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.
Rarely does a community experience a surplus of energy — much less clean energy. In fact, rural areas are still depending solely on whatever they can gather from eco-boxes. Germany, on the other hand, may be the first to boast an energy overflow. As it happens, in a single weekend, the country produced enough wind energy to provide households with extra — for free!
[Bloomberg], which tracks daily wind power in Europe, said that over 24 per cent of the EU’s electricity demand was powered by wind on Saturday, the highest per cent ever recorded.
Wind farms amassed an impressive output of 39,409 megawatts altogether. That’s almost equally as shocking as electricity itself. But considering much of Germany’s power grid is wind-generated, everything falls perfectly into place.
Offshore wind accounted for 2.8 per cent of the EU’s electricity demand while onshore wind accounted for 21.8 per cent. Wind represented 61 per cent of electricity demand in Germany.
Good weather may have played a hand in helping Germany strike gold (or air) — but its eco-initiatives surely take the cake.
Following the success of solar power, developers have been harvesting clean energy from other sources. Now that we can accumulate electricity through passing vehicles and even cow excrement, nothing else seems far-fetched. Wind power may be nothing new, but these floating offshore turbines are the first of their kind.
The 30MW installation… will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters… where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.
The irony behind the nautical wind farm is its contractor — Statoil. The company is a corporate giant notorious for oil drilling. It’s somewhat of a paradox, but I’m a fan. Statoil claims that the wind farm’s offshore location is also beneficial.
The farther out you can place offshore turbines, the steadier and faster the wind is. It also comes with the added benefit of avoiding any community arguments over clean ocean views… [also] unimaginably large rotor components can be delivered by sea rather than by land, where roads have weight limits.
In the end, Statoil is living proof that you can easily give back what you take from nature. While we’d rather leave Mother Nature alone entirely, compensation is better than nothing.
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!
If all it takes to generate energy nowadays is a walk and a bit of sweat, it should come as no surprise that it’s also possible to create electricity out of thin air. Or, rather, air that is slightly humid.
[Biophysicist professor Ozgur Sahin’s] laboratory has developed one kind of ‘evaporation engine’, which works by using the movement of bacteria in response to changes in humidity.
Shutters either opened or closed to control moisture levels, prompting bacterial spores to expand or contract. This motion is then transferred to a generator and turned into electricity.
With technologies to convert wind, water, and heat into energy, it seems anything has the potential to do the same. As with anything in its early stages, researchers are treading carefully so as not to affect water resources. However, the machines may be a saving grace to drought-prone areas, as they reduce water loss.
“Some… regions suffer from periods of water stress and scarcity, which might favour implementation of these energy harvesting systems due to the reduction of evaporative losses.”
According to recent calculations, the technology could save 25 trillion gallons of water a year. It’s a godsend, considering how many people aren’t willing to give up hot, hourlong showers. It’s also a harsh reminder that we ought to do our part as consumers.
It’s not only cars that are getting a sustainable makeover — manufacturers are also developing new tires. From self-healing rubber to airless frames, consumers are in for a smooth ride. What we can expect next is a smart adaptable tire that can easily adjust to road conditions.
Specifically, this is all about two technologies called ContiSense and ContiAdapt. In simple terms you are looking at a tire that (1) could monitor and report on its health and (2) adjust its characteristics to road conditions.
Monitors measure tread depth and temperature, and its electrically-conductive rubber adjusts accordingly. It’s also completely wireless (can we get some wifi on there?).
“Depending on the tire pressure and rim width, different tread zones are activated and the concept tire adopts the required ‘footprint’ in each case.”
Like the Michelin projects, it’s going to be some time before the tires roll in. But with all this new technology, I can’t imagine slowing down would be too much of a bad idea.
Due to shortages of natural resources like oils and fossil fuels, researchers are creating energy with alternative sources. From what it seems, our bodies may be more useful than we give them credit for. As a matter of fact, our sweat can power various electronics, including radios. In this case, so can our tears, as they have been found to contain a protein called lysozyme.
Lysozyme has an innate antibacterial property, as its main role is to protect against infection by breaking down bacterial cells. While many other known piezoelectric materials contain toxic elements like lead, Stapleton says lysozyme’s nontoxic, organic quality could make it useful to biomedical technology.
Big words aside, applying pressure to the protein creates a small electrical charge. That electrical charge can power medical devices such as pacemakers, and can eventually be used to replace old batteries. Head of study Aimee Stapleton explained that lysozymes crystallize, which make them hassle-free and thus make their usage relatively easy to develop.
“I was interested in lysozyme because it can be crystallized really easily, which makes it easier to study,” she says, “because crystallized structures tend to show piezoelectricity.”
The protein is apparently more conductive than other materials, which makes them a good alternative to replace old batteries with, but don’t worry — scientists aren’t going to start making people cry. Lysozymes are apparently also present in egg whites. Maybe chicken farmers are the ones who should be stoked.
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.
For Puerto Rico, tech giants Tesla and Alphabet are easing the struggle of getting back on the grid. While one group is providing Powerwall batteries, the other is supplying an Internet connection. Even so, the hurdles have just begun, and so has Tesla, now restoring power to hospitals with solar energy.
The hospital’s new system allows it to generate all the energy it needs… The facility has 35 permanent residents with chronic conditions; it also offers services to some 3,000 young patients.
Due to the gravity of the energy crisis, the system is a donation — for now. Since it began to recuperate, Puerto Rico’s power service has risen to 25%. Though many have been reaching out to the territory, complete recovery of losses will cut $5 billion deep into budgets. At this point, it seems Puerto Rico is accepting any bit of help it can get.
The territory’s electric and power authority signed a $300 million contract with Whitefish, a small and relatively young Montana company, to restore the power grid.
The nation is months away from a breakthrough in terms of improvement, but with Tesla to count on, might be worth the wait.
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).