American fern inspires groundbreaking new solar storage solution

April 3, 2017 by  
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Energy storage has been a leading obstacle to widespread adoption of solar energy , but that may be about to change. A new nature-inspired electrode developed by two scientists at RMIT University in Australia could hold the key to drastically improved storage. Their electrode, which is based on patterns in the western swordfern, could boost the capacity of storage technologies by a staggering 3,000 percent. The groundbreaking electrode is made with graphene , and according to the university, could open the door to flexible, thin solar capture and storage technology. This would allow us to place a thin film on smartphones, cars, or buildings – enabling them to power themselves with solar energy. Related: Pocket-sized HeLi-on charger uses flexible, printed solar cells to power your phone The two researchers found inspiration for their prototype in the veins of the Polystichum munitum , a native western North American fern. Researcher Min Gu said in a statement, “The leaves of the western swordfern are densely crammed with veins, making them extremely efficient for storing energy and transporting water around the plant. Our electrode is based on these fractal shapes – which are self-replicating, like the mini structures within snowflakes – and we’ve used this naturally efficient design to improve solar energy storage at a nano level.” The electrode could be combined with supercapacitors , which have been combined with solar already but haven’t been widely utilized for storage due to limited capacity. But the scientists’ prototype can increase their capacity 30 times greater than current limits, according to Gu. The journal Scientific Reports published the research online the end of March. Paper lead author Litty Thekkekara said by using their electrode with a solar cell, we could develop flexible thin film solar, replacing the rigid, bulky solar cells that are limited in use. Smartphone batteries would become a thing of the past, and hybrid cars wouldn’t need charging stations, if scientists could build on this research to develop thin film solar. Via RMIT University Images via RMIT University

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American fern inspires groundbreaking new solar storage solution

India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase

February 14, 2017 by  
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India just made a huge commitment to solar power . They’re doubling the planned capacity in their solar parks program from 20 gigawatts (GW) up to 40 GW. The government has also given a green light to the program’s second phase. India Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley said the government will move forward with the solar parks program’s second phase in a union budget speech. According to CleanTechnica the government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified multiple solar energy projects that possess a cumulative capacity of 20 GW, and will add an extra 20 GW of capacity under the second phase. Related: India just fired up the world’s largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes Solar parks could be a huge win for India. CleanTechnica reports it seems many consumers aren’t aware of the benefits of rooftop solar , but also utilities aren’t well equipped to handle rooftop systems. But the government seems to recognize solar energy could be a perfect fit for the growing country that needs a renewable source of energy and also enjoys around 300 days of sunshine yearly. According to a 2014 MNRE document titled Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects , “Solar power projects can be set up anywhere in the country, however the scattering of solar power projects leads to higher project cost per MW and higher transmission losses…The solar park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects, by providing to developers an area that is well characterized, properly infra-structured, and where the risk of the projects can be minimized as well as the facilitation of the permitting process.” According to The Indian Express , the government has approved 33 solar parks in 21 states. CleanTechnica notes while the government has expanded the current solar parks program, the target for overall installed capacity by March 2022 in India is still the same at 100 GW. Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase

Jimmy Carter built a new solar plant on his old peanut farm

February 14, 2017 by  
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Jimmy Carter is once again pioneering solar energy projects. The former president who almost 40 years ago installed solar panels at the White House just unveiled a solar power project on his Plains, Georgia farm, where he once cultivated soybeans and peanuts. The 3,852 solar panels on his land can generate enough renewable energy for more than half of the 683-person town where Carter was born. Carter leased 10 acres of land for a 1.3 megawatt solar array to Georgia-based SolAmerica Energy , who first approached Carter’s grandson Jason Carter regarding the project. The panels, which can move to follow the sun, will provide power to the grid through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Georgia Power . The New York Times reports the family will make under $7,000 a year from the solar project. Related: White House Solar Panels Fire Up for the First Time Since Jimmy Carter Left The former president, who is now 92, invested time in the solar project making notes in the lease agreement’s margins and regularly visiting the farm. Carter promoted solar power nearly four decades ago with his White House array, and although the next president, Ronald Reagan, removed the panels, Carter didn’t give up on clean energy. He recently said in an interview at his old high school, “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs – good-paying and productive and innovative jobs – is through the search for renewable sources of energy. I haven’t seen that happen yet, but I’m still hoping for that.” Carter’s wife Rosalynn said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “It’s very special to me because I was so disappointed when the panels came off of the White House, and now to see them in Plains is just terrific.” Experts and the former president have said the farm array, while small-scale, could still offer an example for other areas of agrarian America. Via The New York Times Images via SolAmerica Energy

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Jimmy Carter built a new solar plant on his old peanut farm

Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

February 14, 2017 by  
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Researchers have found an economical way to prevent humidity from destroying crops in both small and large scale agricultural operations. Small beads made from a porous mineral called zeolite absorb water molecules , preventing fungal toxins from growing on seeds and grain in developing countries. The beads prove to be less expensive, time-consuming, and resource-dependent than more common farming practices. Zeolite beads , developed by Rhino Research in Thailand, have been specially engineered so their pores are just the right size to absorb water molecules. This small but effective fix can help farmers in places like Nepal, India, and Kenya, where about a third of crops are lost due to the effects of excess moisture. By placing the beads adjacent to the harvest in mesh bags or other screened-in containers, crops will be safe from a significant amount of the moisture that leads to rotting or the spread of fungus. Related: 93 percent of the world’s seed diversity has vanished the last century Larger operations can also benefit from zeolite beads. Instead of blowing hot air over walnuts, almonds, rice, and other grains, these dry harvested crops can be passed through the absorbent beads. A flow of ambient air is all that is needed afterward, saving batches from being scorched – a problem that ruins quality and taste. To keep the beads effective, heating them in a compact oven removes excess moisture so they can be reused. + Rhino Research Via  Technology Review Images via Rhino Research

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Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

5 Solar Energy Trends for the Year Ahead

February 1, 2017 by  
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The United States has enough solar energy capacity to power 5.7 million homes. Installing all these solar systems is not a small feat, given that the U.S. solar capacity has grown 17-fold since 2008. The solar energy industry has experienced…

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5 Solar Energy Trends for the Year Ahead

4 Reasons the Cost of Solar Energy Keeps Falling

November 21, 2016 by  
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The U.S. now has enough solar energy capacity to power 6.2 million homes, according to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industry Association. Solar power is growing at an unprecedented rate of 43 percent, year over year. The plummeting cost of…

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4 Reasons the Cost of Solar Energy Keeps Falling

Geothermal-powered ferry terminal in Stockholm has a public park on its roof

November 7, 2016 by  
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The new terminal references the shapes of moving marine vessels and the surrounding area’s cranes and warehouses . It functions as a natural extension of the urban fabric. It slowly emerges from the ground to allow city inhabitants to use its roof as a public park . Varied green landscapes with stairs, ramps and niches create a beautiful environment where people can stroll and have relaxing moments while enjoying the view of the ferries, the archipelago, and the city skyline. Related: C.F. Møller’s Solar-Powered Wood Skyscraper Wins HSB Stockholm Architecture Competition The building is powered by solar and geothermal energy , distributed through integrated systems. Self-sufficient and aiming for a LEED Gold certification, the new terminal is expected to become both architecturally and environmentally a new landmark for the Norra Djursgårdsstaden development area. + C.F. Møller Photos by Adam Mørk

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Geothermal-powered ferry terminal in Stockholm has a public park on its roof

We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

November 4, 2016 by  
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I recently saw an article going around about how much land we would need to power our country with solar energy, and I was blown away — to say it’s a small amount is selling it short. According to Elon Musk, we only need a couple of counties in…

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

SolarReserve announces the worlds largest solar plant will power one million US homes

October 13, 2016 by  
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California-based energy firm SolarReserve just announced plans to expand its massive Nevada concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in order to generate enough renewable energy to power a million US homes . The 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant is the first utility-scale CSP of its kind on American soil, and the developer now says they plan to build 10 more just like it elsewhere in the sunny desert state under the umbrella of a project dubbed Sandstone. The project will take years—and billions of dollars—but, upon completion, will produce enough energy to fully power as many homes as a nuclear power plant or the Hoover Dam, except without all the nasty emissions.

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SolarReserve announces the worlds largest solar plant will power one million US homes

Renewable Energy Roundup: 5 Myths About Solar Energy

April 13, 2016 by  
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Renewable energy continues to advance, particularly the solar energy market which is dynamic and evolving quickly. Proof you say? Let’s take a look at a few facts first. The solar industry had another record-breaking year in 2015, with installed…

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Renewable Energy Roundup: 5 Myths About Solar Energy

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