Before solar can become mainstream, the cost of producing the industry’s basic component, the solar wafer, will need to drop dramatically.
Solar startup, 1366 Technologies is trying to do just that by innovating the manufacturing process with the hope of generating energy from “solar at the cost of coal” — a tag line prominently displayed on 1366′s homepage.
There was some chatter a couple months ago about the possibility of solar-powered tuk-tuks — you know, the little three-wheeled mini-vehicles used all over Asia. But the pictures were bad and the idea was still in execution. No longer! → Read More
Sanyo in Japan today announced [JP] what it says is the world’s first solar-cell-equipped public bus, the Solarve (which stands for Solar Vehicle). The bus was unveiled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a Japanese transportation and logistics company called Ryobi [JP]. The Solarve is essentially a city bus with solar cells on top that generate power for its interior LED lights. → Read More
The $24 billion solar panel market could use a good dusting. The benefits of solar energy are well-known, but what’s rarely mentioned is its nemesis: dust. Even a little bit—one-seventh of an ounce per square yard—can weaken a panel’s power conversion by 40%.
What’s cooler than a rotating house? One whose solar panels produce five times the energy the house uses. That’s pretty incredible, considering that even zero-energy structures are rare.
German architect Rolf Disch built the home, called Heliotrope, to follow the sun throughout the day. The structure features triple panes of thermally insulated glass to strike a balance between letting light in… → Read More
Alternative energy is a growing market, and though many states offer tax credits, rebates, and other incentives to promote clean energy, it can still prove to be an expensive proposition.
It generally also requires plugging your energy source into the grid so you’re not left in the dark when the wind calms or the sun lingers behind clouds.
Here is a roundup of solutions that can help power a… → Read More
Airplanes release greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere and require enormous amounts of fuel to fly. A Boeing 747 can consume up to five gallons of fuel per mile. But what if planes could be powered by electricity? Though they won’t replace passenger airliners anytime soon, small, zero-emission, electric planes are flying today.
Engineers have been pursing electric flight for decades. In… → Read More
A new charger from Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies can help power your gadgets when there’s nowhere to plug into but the sun.
The Sunbox USB has a panel that can be attached outside of a house or tent that connects to a box with several charging ports. Horizon claims the unit can power an LED light included with the device for as long as 11 hours, so long as the panel sees the six to eight hours… → Read More
We’ve covered quite a few electric bikes over the last years, but this new model developed by a Japanese company called Hama Zero (no website) offers a new twist. Their “Solar Bike Fujin” is an electric bike that’s powered by electricity generated by an on-board solar panel. The bike can be used on public roads (at least in Japan) and boasts an assisted travel range of 220km on a single charge. → Read More
A Stanford University research group says it found a way to more than double current solar power production efficiency. The technology uses both light and heat from the sun and is inexpensive enough that, if it pans out, it might be able to compete with oil.
Most current technology can either convert light into electricity at relatively low temperatures, or convert the sun’s heat at very high… → Read More
It’s summer here in the Northern hemisphere, and that means the solar-based industry in the US is in top experimental gear (to clarify: the company in question is British but the test flight is in the Arizona Desert). A few more months and they’ll hibernating or relocating to their Australian headquarters, but in the meantime, we’re getting a lot of solar-related news. It… → Read More
SolarCity today announced that it is taking a $21.5 million round of funding led by Mayfield Fund, and the company’s previous investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors and Generation Capital. The company’s prior funding totaled approximately $134 million, and included investors First Solar, JP Morgan and Elon Musk.
SolarCity helps businesses, home owners and government agencies adopt solar… → Read More
Green data geeks now have another tool for controlling their energy consumption. Enphase Energy‘s new Environ Smart Thermostat lets you control your home’s temperature and monitor your solar installations remotely.
The company is known for its microinverter system, which turns solar-generated DC power into home energy friendly AC power. A microinverter is attached to every solar module, and the… → Read More
In his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama announced the Department of Energy will loan almost $2 billion to two solar energy companies: Abengoa Solar and Abound Solar Manufacturing. The loans will go towards developing solar energy plants.
With the funding, Abengoa will build a solar plant in Arizona that can power 70,000 homes. When completed in 2013, the plant will be one of the… → Read More
Clean technology remains one of the hottest areas of venture funding. In the second quarter, cleantech venture investments worldwide totaled $2.02 billion across 140 companies, according to market research firm Cleantech Group and Deloitte. The numbers are in line with last quarter’s $2.04 billion, but 43% higher than one year ago.
Exits for the quarter totaled more than $8 billion globally… → Read More
We first blogged about Ikaros, a solar powered “space yacht” developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in September last year. The idea was to use solar photons to propel satellites in outer space to boost energy-efficiency. That yacht was eventually launched on May 21, and now we have the first pictures of Ikaros moving through outer space. → Read More
Everyone loves the idea of solar energy. The three big challenges are that solar cells are expensive to produce, they’re not very efficient, and you need some means to store the energy collected. I’d heard of solar shingles before, which are basically roofing shingles with solar cells in them, but now word is coming out of solar cells printed on paper. As usual, the technology is still years away… → Read More
When I first saw shots of the new Puma phone, I was a little skeptical. It looked decent enough, but the whole solar charging thing made it seem a little gimmicky. After seeing the following video from Mobile World Congress, however, it’s beginning to look more like a smartphone I’d actually use. → Read More
One Block Off the Grid, a company that helps residents get competitive group pricing for solar panel installation, has raised a $5 million series A round of venture capital from New Enterprise Associates. The company has gotten pretty far without formal venture cash—facilitating more than 600 installations in 2009, most of that in the fourth quarter. 1BOG, as it’s called, hopes to install… → Read More
Do you not have enough clutter on your desk? Not quite badass enough for BattleBots? Solarbotics has posted instructions on how to create these rather adorable solar-powered symets, so you can battle the 20 other people who probably make this sort of thing. [Instructables] via [Make: Online] → Read More
I’ll be damned. A solar charger with a 1500mAh capacity battery and 5-volt output from a relatively well known manufacturer priced at $30. That actually seems reasonable.
The solBAT II from Scosche features a standard USB output port for charging most of your portable devices and it even comes with a little suction mount case for use in the car. So what’s the catch for $30? → Read More
My first experience with solar energy was in Cub Scouts, when we made a solar-powered hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, solar technology hasn’t advanced terribly much in the intervening decades. At the consumer level, solar power still isn’t particularly useful for very much outside of a few niche markets. i.Tech has a couple of products that make a real effort to bring usefulness to solar power for… → Read More
Sanyo is already being considered Japan’s “greenest” brand in the consumer electronics field (which is the main reason Panasonic is about to acquire the company), but them building complete, eco-friendly buildings is certainly new. Sanyo Homes [JP], a wholly-owned subsidiary, will start marketing all-electric homes with lithium ion batteries providing back up power to Japanese customers as early… → Read More
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has big plans: It wants to conquer outer space to generate solar energy by 2030. The idea is to collect solar power in space and beam it down to earth, in the form of lasers or microwaves. The so-called Space Solar Power System project is led by big corporations such as Mitsubishi, NEC, Fujitsu und Sharp. → Read More
Sharp has on display a number of fun new gadgets at CEATEC. As is all too often the case, these things are for Japanese release only (at least for now). Maybe we’ll see them in a couple years. Read on for details on a dial-by-photo phone, newspapers on TV, solar-charging cell phones, and the Sharp Netwalker! → Read More
Scosche has dropped the price of its solar battery charger from $40 down to $25, plus you can get an extra 15% off by using promo code back2school until October 1st. The “sunVOLT” is a five-volt solar battery that holds a 500mAh charge and features little suction cups for use in the car. → Read More
Apparently this whole “solar power” thing really works. Case in point, this Solar-Breeze apparatus uses solar power to clean your pool all day long and, aside from keeping your pool clean, it cuts down on the amount of time your pool’s pump has to be running since it grabs gunk and leaves before they get sink to the bottom and get sucked into the grate. → Read More
When the power goes out and you finally find your flashlight, it’s invariably out of batteries. Soon you’ll be able to buy a solar-powered flashlight from Chinavasion. It’s got a built-in lithium-ion battery and uses white LEDs with a rated life of 50,000 hours. → Read More
This is a solar vest. You can tell because it says SOLAR VEST in big letters across the shoulders, right above the four weatherproof solar panels. This fine gentleman is carrying more than a few gadgets in the pockets of his SOLAR VEST, which he’ll be able to recharge when they run out of juice. → Read More