4 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

March 24, 2017 by  
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Many news outlets have extensively covered the advantages of solar energy, and there are plenty. But very few things in life come with zero downside. Although the cost of solar energy has fallen dramatically in recent years and the technology has…

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4 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels

March 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Solar panels just got a lot slimmer. Zhengrong Shi, a.k.a. the Sun King, is now marketing eArche, a super flexible, ultrathin solar panel that could stretch along building facades, atop buses, or on top of carports to charge electric cars. According to Shi, the groundbreaking panel has unlimited potential, and 40 kilowatts (kW) of the new technology has already been installed in three locations throughout Australia . eArche draws on a composite material like that utilized in airplane windows that is almost 80 percent lighter than conventional photovoltaic panels, according to RenewEconomy. Shi is distributing his new products through Australian company Energus and Hong Kong company SunMan , and believes eArche is the biggest innovation in over 10 years in the solar industry . He told RenewEconomy, “Most of the cost reductions we have seen come from manufacturing, growing efficiency, and supply chain. There has been very little innovation on products and applications, so we have decided to focus on the panel itself, which has been very rigid and heavy.” Related: SolarWindow unveils new energy-generating glass that bends Some companies haven’t been able to install solar because panels are too heavy for their buildings’ roofs, but Shi’s technology could remove that issue. Rooftop solar systems typically weigh around eight metric tons for a 100 kW array, according to The Daily Advertiser, but eArche weighs just around two metric tons for 100 kW. Shi said eArche can be custom-shaped for building roofs or walls. He told RenewEconomy, “We think governments should require all new buildings to have solar panels integrated into their structure. With this panel, it is easy to do.” SunMan also envisions the technology on RVs, yachts, vending machines, and more. Time will tell if eArche is as revolutionary as Shi thinks. The technology stands in contrast to Tesla’s proposed solar tiles , which Shi said is “the wrong way of doing it” largely due to expense and weight. Via RenewEconomy and The Daily Advertiser Images via Sunman Energy Facebook

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Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels

Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

March 21, 2017 by  
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A company based in Toronto is bringing New York City its first community solar project. UGE International , one of the world’s leading renewable-energy contractors, will be partnering with Gotham Community Solar to develop a new array at a multi-tenant commercial facility between the Park Slope and Boerum Hill neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The project, which is scheduled to be completed in early summer, will have a rated peak capacity of roughly 100 kilowatts, according to UGE. The building abuts another UGE project: the Whole Foods Market at 214 3rd Street, colloquially known as “3rd and 3rd” by locals. “It’s been a privilege to work with ConEd , the Department of Buildings, and the project’s ownership group on developing this landmark project” Tim Woodcock, UGE’s Regional Director, said in a statement. Related: UGE is building a massive rooftop solar array atop this popular Brooklyn church Woodcock anticipates selling any surplus power to nearby residents at rates lower than those offered by their utility companies. The benefits would be twofold: cheaper electricity that also comes from a sustainable source. “The solar power generated by the project will be credited to numerous residential accounts, offering access to the benefits and low cost of solar energy to those previously excluded due to their housing situation,” he added. + UGE International

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Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

Solar-powered home on wheels frees US couple from the 9-5 grind

March 16, 2017 by  
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Modern technology is allowing an increasing number of people to travel without taking time off work. Internet, smart phones and laptops allow us to work remotely instead of wasting away in an office. Arkansas natives Zack and Annie (and dog Lola) are the latest digital nomads to reject the grind of 9-5 life. The couple recently converted a former school bus into an ultra-modern solar-powered mobile home on wheels , and now they’re living the dream. After several years of working in an office, the couple decided to turn their lives around and finally see all the places they have always wanted to visit. Zack found a job as a web developer, which allows him to work remotely. Related: 8 buses converted into gorgeous mobile homes perfect for adventure “We began the overwhelming process of trying to figure out what vehicle we wanted and which one would best suit our needs,” the couple wrote on their blog. “Going through this process is probably the most crucial part of starting into this lifestyle. Picking the wrong vehicle could make for a miserable experience. We narrowed down our choices and finally made a decision. A 2001 Thomas HDX school bus.” Related: This couple ditched their tech jobs for life and work on the road in a converted school bus They sold their house and converted the school bus into a permanent home on wheels with a standing workspace, kitchen, king-sized bed, bathroom with a composting toilet and lots of storage space. The couple is currently traveling in their fancy new home nicknamed “Stormy”. You can follow their story on their Instagram page and website. + Natural State Nomads Via Treehugger

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Solar-powered home on wheels frees US couple from the 9-5 grind

Czech zoo to remove horns from rhino herd after poacher attack in France

March 16, 2017 by  
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A zoo in the Czech Republic announced Tuesday that it plans to preemptively remove the horns from its herd of rare rhinos. The decision comes a week after poachers broke into a French zoo, shot dead an endangered white rhino and hacked off its horn. As extreme as it sounds, the surgery could be potentially lifesaving. “It’s for the sake of rhino safety,” Andrea Jirousova, spokeswoman for the zoo in the central Czech town of Dvur Kralove nad Labem, told AFP . “The attack put us on alert, the danger is really intense.” The March 7 death of 4-year-old Vince from Thoiry Zoological Park outside Paris sent shockwaves through the wildlife community. Experts say that the animal’s death likely marks the first time a rhino has been killed in a zoo. The message the tragedy sent was chillingly clear: No living rhino, not even one held in captivity, is safe from poachers. The Dvur Kralove zoo currently houses 21 black and southern white rhinos, including three calves who will be excluded from the surgery. At up to $60,000 per kilogram, rhino horn sells more on the black market than gold or cocaine. Most of the demand for horn comes from China and Vietnam, where it’s prized for its purported medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. Related: Poachers broke into a French zoo to kill a rhino and steal its horn Jirousova said that the rhinos would be kept under anesthesia for the procedure, which involves removing the horns with a chainsaw, then filing down the edges. The move, she added, is entirely unprecedented. “We have never done this because of poachers,” Jirousova added. “We did it for other reasons like transport or health concerns.” Via AFP Photos by Flowcomm and Son of Groucho

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Czech zoo to remove horns from rhino herd after poacher attack in France

Zero-carbon home generates income by making more energy than it needs

March 6, 2017 by  
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The home of the future could slash your utility bills and generate enough money to help pay the mortgage. UK firm Koru Architects designed and built one such house, named the Lloyd House, that’s effectively zero-carbon and runs entirely on renewable energy. Tucked away on a quiet street in England’s East Sussex, this contemporary home generates more energy than it consumes and even brings in a net income of £2650 per year from solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and a wood-chip biomass boiler. Completed in 2011 as a case study, the Lloyd House is a large and contemporary three-bedroom home that only consumes around half the energy of a typical UK household thanks to its use of passive solar design, energy efficient appliances, effective insulation, and high airtightness. The home was built with mostly natural materials including sustainably sourced timber for the cladding and flooring, zinc roofing, hemp and wood-fiber insulation, recycled glass in the kitchen countertops, and lime-based natural plants. Sedum plants carpet the roof to add an additional layer of insulation and provide habitat to local insects and birds. A 4,700-liter Freewater UK Elite rainwater harvesting system collects rainwater for reuse in irrigation, the washing machine, and the dual-flush toilets. The Lloyd House produces all the hot water it needs for domestic use and for the underfloor heating with a 6-kilowatt solar thermal system and a 10.5-kilowatt wood-pellet boiler. A twelve 340-kilowatt peak solar array provides around 3800 kilowatt-hour of electricity annually, which is more than it uses thanks to its energy-efficient measures. Excess energy is exported to the grid and, with the help of renewable heat incentive and feed-in-tariff schemes, the home brings in a net annual income of £2650 ($3,300 USD) after bills are subtracted. The house emits 93% less carbon dioxide equivalent than the average UK household. Related: Colorful wind-powered community in Scotland is everything an eco-village should be Constructed with passive solar principles, the airtight home is oriented towards the south with large areas of glazing to take advantage of the sun’s heat and natural lighting to reduce energy demand. High-level skylights also flood the interior with natural light. In addition to the three bedrooms, the home comprises a home office, two bathrooms, living room, utility room, open plan kitchen and dining area, garage, and garden. The spacious and comfortable interior is organized into split-levels to make the most of the sloped site. “The house is expected to last around 80 years, and through its generation of clean energy it is expected to offset 41 tonnes of carbon over its life,” write the architects. “Including the replacement of the renewable energy technologies, it would take 48 years to become entirely carbon-neutral.” The project was awarded the RIBA Download Prize 2011 in the category for sustainability and serves as a source of green inspiration for the community. + Koru Architects

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Zero-carbon home generates income by making more energy than it needs

Mid-century modernism and sustainable design meet in two desert homes

February 28, 2017 by  
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Two new residences in Palm Springs by o2 Architecture  combine the best of mid-century modernism  and 21st-century sustainable design. The team brought to life an unbuilt project by Arizona modernist architect Al Beadle designed in 1970s, while combining mid-century modernism and sustainable design in the o2 House, located just a few steps away. The two structures, each in its own way, fit into the rocky desert landscape of Arizona . Originally named Palisades Dos, the Beadle House is built primarily out of steel, concrete and glass. Originally designed by modernist architect Al Beadle, the house stays true to the late architect’s meticulous drawings and schematics. Lance O’Donnell of o2 Architecture worked with Mike Yankovich of local design-build firm Better Built to bring Beadle’s work to the modernist community of Palm Springs. The house features a large, gravity-defying second floor that cantilevers over the desert landscape. Related: Midcentury modern ranch is renovated into a spacious energy-efficient home The second building, o2 House, is a 3,664-square-foot sprawling residence that celebrates mid-century modernism and marries it with contemporary sustainable design practices. Natural ventilation and a solar energy system complement the interior design. Both houses were part of the architect’s Miele Chino Canyon Project. + o2 Architecture + Better Built Via Architizer

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Mid-century modernism and sustainable design meet in two desert homes

Prince Charles is waging war on Britain’s grey squirrels – with Nutella

February 28, 2017 by  
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Prince Charles reportedly backs a plan to sterilize Britain’s grey-squirrel population, and it involves Nutella . The monarch-in-waiting is said to have met with members of the U.K. Squirrel Accord , a coalition he helped establish three years ago, to discuss ways to reduce the animal’s numbers without culling. Originally from North America, the Eastern grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis , has been the bane of the region’s native red squirrels since the late 19th century, when the Victorians first imported the animals to add color to their estates. There was one problem, however. Not only do grey squirrels compete for the same resources, but they also carry a pox virus that is harmless to them but fatal to their ruddier rivals. According to a recent census , the number of red squirrels have plummeted from roughly 3.5 million in the 1950s to about 130,000 today. Meanwhile, grey squirrels, which have gone on to thrive, are some 2.5 million strong. So where does the hazelnut spread come in? Per members of the Accord, which include the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Scottish and Welsh governments, oral contraceptives slipped into bait could dramatically yet humanely reduce the number of grey squirrels by up to 90 percent. And like we humans, squirrels have a weakness for Nutella. Related: Squirrels were introduced to U.S. Parks to “maintain people’s health and sanity” Field testing by the Animal and Plant Health Agency has led its scientists to devise the perfect trap, one that allows grey squirrels to squeeze through but leaves red squirrels, mice, and other smaller mammals out in the cold. No risk of accidental dosing here. “It is the most exciting prospect I have seen for controlling greys,” Charles Kinnoull, chairman of the U.K. Squirrel Accord, told the Times . “I don’t harbor a great extermination instinct but I am interested in protecting our broadleaf trees and there being red squirrels around for my children to see.” The Prince of Wales himself roots for the red squirrel, even at one point suggesting installing the critter as a national mascot. “I put nuts in the lobby and leave the door open and the red squirrels come up the steps into the house,” he told the Telegraph in 2011. “Very often you get four or five running around inside the house, chasing each other to get at the nuts. My great ambition is to have one in the house, I hate to tell you. Sitting on the breakfast table and on my shoulder!” Via the Guardian Photos by likeaduck and Brian Cantoni

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Prince Charles is waging war on Britain’s grey squirrels – with Nutella

How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

February 28, 2017 by  
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Just a few years ago, living off the grid conjured up images of tiny cabins in the middle of nowhere. Today, the dream of average American homeowners powering their homes with alternative energies is coming true. Solar panels on your neighbor’s…

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How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

Tesla just announced plans to build up to five Gigafactories

February 23, 2017 by  
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Tesla is embarking on a building spree – and Elon Musk just revealed plans for up to five Gigafactories. In Wednesday’s fourth quarter investor letter , Musk said that the second Gigafactory will be Tesla’s solar manufacturing plant currently under construction in Buffalo, N.Y. – and the company plans to announce the final locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and 5 later this year. “Installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in Fremont and at Gigafactory 1 , where in January, we began production of battery cells for energy storage products, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in the Model 3,” the letter reads. “Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 (Gigafactory 2 is the Tesla solar plant in New York).” Related: Tesla’s Gigafactory is getting a $350 million upgrade to build Model 3 parts Tesla said that the company’s first affordable electric vehicle, the Model 3 , is on track for initial production in July, with volume production starting in September — 5,000 vehicles per week at some point in the fourth quarter of 2017, ramping up to 10,000 vehicles per week in 2018. Tesla also expects solar roof production at the New York factory to launch in the second half of the year. Musk has previously stated that at least 200 gigafactories must be built in order to meet electric vehicle demand. With the announcement of more gigafactories in the works, Musk is making it clear that he is serious about accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. + Tesla Via The Verge Images via Flickr and Tesla

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Tesla just announced plans to build up to five Gigafactories

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