Several past Olympic hosts have promised greener events, but Rio de Janeiro could set a new standard with a solar-powered artificial waterfall building that operates day or night. The eye-catching Solar City Tower represents one of the standout entries in the International Architecture Competition for the Olympic Games 2016, according to TreeHugger.
By Sarah ParsonsPosted 04.01.2010 at 1:10 pm 11 Comments
Solar power sounds great: electricity from sunshine, for free, no carbon footprint. But solar panels often come with hefty price tags or require complex installations. Now lighter materials are making them less expensive and more convenient, whether you carry them with you or snap them onto your roof.
One squat multitasking robot can build semiconductors for solar cells on six-inch-square plates of glass, plastic or flexible metals in just over half an hour. Six of these tireless mechanical workers, chugging away at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado, will allow private companies to come rapidly prototype and test their newest formulas for creating solar cells.
All those hybrid and electric cars, wind turbines and similar clean tech innovations may count for nothing if the U.S. cannot secure a supply of rare earth minerals. Ditto for other advanced telecommunications or defense technologies, scientists told a U.S. House subcommittee.
China has supplied 91 percent of U.S. consumption of rare earths between 2005 and 2008, and continues to represent the world's largest rare earth exporter. But the Chinese have warned that their own domestic industry appetite for rare earths may eventually force them to stop exporting -- an action that would leave the U.S. high-tech industries crippled without other readily available supplies.
Overhauling inefficient plants and an ancient grid
By Adam M. BrightPosted 02.01.2010 at 10:29 am 11 Comments
A 2006 study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that power interruptions cost the economy about $79 billion annually, or about one third of national electric spending, thanks to our aging grid. Meanwhile, energy use is expected to grow by 1,150 terawatt-hours—the equivalent of adding 13 New York Cities—by 2030. A smarter power grid will surely help, but we'll need additional innovations like these to keep up with spiking demand.
Hot on the heels of news about Google's new energy venture comes this sorrowful tale about renewable energy. NPR reports on enterprising thieves who used Google Earth to do evil, and specifically to find California wineries with solar panels for the taking.
Considering the massive carbon emissions that come from burning jet fuel, air travel is in serious need of a green makeover. To that end, the folks over at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have been working on a solar-powered plane since 2003. Now, after six years of testing, they have finally managed to get the plane off the ground.
Even as some of the world moves into a future of unimaginably complex technology, many communities still lack the basic electrical infrastructure needed to power even simply electric devices like light bulbs. Unwilling to wait for the wiring to catch up to the demand, Danish researcher Frederik Krebs has created an LED lamp embedded within a flexible, printable solar panel that could replace the kerosene lamps still used around the developing world.
After nearly four days, 1,860 miles, and lots of baking Australian sun, a team from Japan's Tokai University edged out 31 other competitors to bring home a solar victory in the 2009 Global Green Challenge
A team of solar-car scientists from Japan's Tokai University turned the intense rays of central Australia into victory in the 2009 Global Green Challenge. The team covered nearly 1,860 miles over four days in their solar-powered Tokai Challenger to claim first place among the Challenge's solar-vehicle field.