New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

April 13, 2018 by  
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Tesla is getting all the attention when it comes to solar roofs , but some competitors out there are innovating in ways that even Elon Musk hasn’t thought of. 3 in 1 Roof , for instance, offers insulation, extreme wind protection and solar power, all in one. The solar roof system comes in a huge range of finishes, has a lighter load than traditional slate tiles, and is the first to claim zero heat transference into the attic – so it reduces your heating and cooling costs while providing you with clean, green energy. All at about half of the price of a Tesla solar roof. The Ft. Lauderdale-based company calculates that its offering will be about $11 less than Tesla’s solar roof per square foot. It’s also lighter than traditional slate roofing at just 110 pounds per 10 square feet, which means that architects can engineer homes with structures designed to support lighter loads. The roofs are designed to eliminate condensation between the attic deck and insulation, preventing mold and rot. The roofs are also hurricane resistant, standing up to winds at 200 mph. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Because of the highly UV-resistant surface and durable foam insulation, 3 in 1 Roofs should last 300% longer than traditional products and can save you up to 38% on your HVAC costs. If you want to nab one, the company is accepting $500 deposits and guarantees it will be ready for installation in 2019 – or you get your deposit, plus $500 back. You can also get a free car station charger if you are one of the first 1,000 to place an order. + 3 in 1 Roof

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New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

April 4, 2018 by  
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Uravu , a startup based in Hyderabad, India, has created a device that can produce water from an unlikely source–the air itself. The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India . “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.” Uravu is named after a Malayalam word that sometimes refers to freshwater springs and can be translated as “source.” While the technology behind Uravu’s system is not new, it did have some problems. “You need high humidity and energy consumption (involved) is high,” said Shrivastav, referring to the outdated technology. “There are a lot of moving parts. What we wanted to do was have a simple modular device.” The company found inspiration in the fact that the atmosphere is constantly holding various amounts of moisture. “So that got us thinking why this resource isn’t being utilised,” said Shrivastav. “[Water vapor] also doesn’t limit itself to desalination which happens only in the coast. Or rainfall which doesn’t happen everywhere.” Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests To produce drinking water , users will have to supplement their device with an attachable mineral cartridge. The current prototype generates approximately 50 liters (13.20 gallons) daily, though the team hopes to someday develop a machine capable of producing 2,000 liters (528.34 gallons) per day. “Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity , such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.” + Uravu Via Quartz India Images via Depositphotos and Uravu

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Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

March 29, 2018 by  
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Tropical islands might boast pure natural scenery, but their energy sources are often anything but pure. Many power-hungry resorts in the Maldives rely on diesel, a notorious pollutant, for their energy needs. Swimsol , a solar power company based in Austria, is working to change that. Because many of the islands in the Maldives are tiny — you can walk across some of them in under 10 minutes — there isn’t much space for solar power , but Swimsol has solved the problem by turning to the seas. Inhabitat caught up with founder and managing director Martin Putschek to find out more. Sunshine is plentiful in the Maldives; land, not so much. To make matters more challenging, rooftop solar has limited potential – tropical buildings often aren’t made for bearing heavy loads like buildings in colder locations that must withstand snow. “But what you have is huge atolls, around 10 to 20 kilometers wide, roughly. You’ve got the outer reef around this atoll and inside this outer reef, it’s a little like a lake,” Putschek told Inhabitat. After a business trip to the Maldives, the idea came to him while practicing the violin: what if he could install floating solar panels on that water? Related: The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea Swimsol’s SolarSea systems are the result of that spark of inspiration – and their first commercial pilot has been operating for just over three years. Solar panels are mounted atop a patent-pending marine-grade aluminum alloy framework designed to let waves pass through. The system, which the company says will last 30 years or more, can withstand waves of around six and a half feet high and winds of around 75 miles per hour. Each platform, which is about 46 by 46 feet, can power around 25 households. Swimsol says the systems assemble much like IKEA furniture, and three people could build one platform on a beach in under a day — no heavy machinery or welding necessary. And it turns out solar panels drifting on the sea are actually more productive than those on land, thanks to water’s cooling effect. “We measured the temperature difference between solar panels on a roof and on a floating structure which were installed very close to each other, like 200 meters apart, and at lunch time you can see a temperature difference of 20 degrees,” Putschek told Inhabitat. He said they can obtain as much as 10 percent more power from floating panels, depending on the time of day. But do floating solar panels impact marine life? Putschek said they clearly need to keep systems away from coral reefs , which need sunlight. Fortunately, there are swaths of water with sandy seabeds where they can install solar. “Regarding the fish , they actually like it. They like the shade and places where they can hide. The whole thing serves as a fish-aggregating device, which is a term for floating platforms with no purpose other than just attracting fish. Ours are solar platforms, but that’s a side effect,” Putschek said. He said corals even grow on the platforms, turning them into artificial reefs. Right now, Swimsol is not selling the floating systems, but the electricity they produce — and they’re able to sell it cheaper than diesel, without a government-subsidized feed-in tariff. “We installed a little over a megawatt last year. This year we’re probably installing about three or so, and in terms of money that’s between $3 and $6 million,” Putschek said. They’re planning a crowdfunding campaign in Austria and Germany in a couple of months, and are looking for a strategic partner for further growth and to help them get access to more funding. “If you install one kilowatt of solar, so that’s four panels, you can save 400 liters of diesel a year. So 100 kilowatts would be 40,000 liters; one megawatt would be 400,000 liters. The point is, it makes sense to go big,” said Putschek. “The idea would be to install dozens of megawatts because the space is there, the need is there. In 2014, the Maldives spent one fifth of their gross domestic product on fuel. That means every hour you work, 12 minutes you only work for diesel. People talk about tidal energy or wind energy and that’s all fantastic but it doesn’t work in the tropics. In the Caribbean, yes; there you have wind. But in the Maldives or Singapore you don’t have enough wind, and you also don’t have big waves. The renewable energy of choice is solar. Because what they do have is a lot of sun. They also have a lot of sea. We’re just combining the two.” + Swimsol Images courtesy of Swimsol

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How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

Winners of the 2018 Architecture at Zero competition announced

March 26, 2018 by  
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Boston-based architecture firm Arrowstreet has been named as the winner of the 2018 Architecture at Zero design competition. The winning design, Bay Area Transect, envisions a four-tiered complex embedded into the surrounding landscape in order to minimize its impact and provide educational experiences for the building’s visitors. The project also has multiple sustainable features, including passive ventilation, green roofs, on-site solar power , and a water counterbalancing funicular. Every year, the Architecture at Zero competition calls on students and professionals to submit a design proposal for a net-zero energy structure at a specific location. The challenge this year was to create a visitor and education center for San Francisco State University’s Center for Estuary and Ocean Science. All of the designs had to include an overall site plan that included two net-zero buildings and accommodated the program’s mission of marine research. Related: Rutz Architekten Wins the Architecture at Zero Competition with Their Zero-Net Energy Building Design The Bay Area Transect concept and design process was a collaboration between Arrowstreet, Copley Wolff Design Group , and HTM Office/Madrid . The team worked together for over two months to create a vibrant, site-sensitive concept that would allow visitors to explore the coastal ecosystem as well as the sustainable technologies that power its preservation. The resulting design incorporates not just buildings that mesh with the surrounding environment, but green roofs that double as walking space for the visitors. A funicular connects the waterfront with facilities at the top of the hillside, reducing vehicle traffic overall. Additionally, the open design would allow visitors to feel close to the function of the building’s research purposes, and the project would incorporate a protected tidal inlet to allow beginning kayakers to explore the local coastal ecosystem. The winning team, made up of Steve Zuber, Lee Robert, Cristina Desloges, and Kate Bubriski, is donating its winnings to Women’s Lunch Place in Boston, a homeless day shelter for women designed by Arrowstreet. + Arrowstreet + Copley Wolff Design Group + HTM Office/Madrid Via Archinect Images via Arrowstreet, Copley Wolff Design Group and HTM Office, as well as Architecture at Zero

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Winners of the 2018 Architecture at Zero competition announced

Non-profit uses machine learning and solar energy to protect the rainforest

March 23, 2018 by  
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San Francisco-based non-profit Rainforest Connection has created a unique, technologically advanced system to defend the rainforests of Brazil . The high-tech protection system incorporates machine learning and solar energy to operate sensor devices called Guardians that listen to the rainforest and send real-time messages if illegal logging activity is detected. Built out of modified cellphones, the Guardians are placed high in the canopy. The solar panels mitigate the need for battery changes or maintenance. With assistance from Google, Rainforest Connection has focused their efforts on the Amazon Rainforest in Pará, northern Brazil, where they have also collaborated with the local Tembé people, who are defending their homeland from encroaching logging. About 30 members of the Tembé people regularly patrol the forest to repel illegal loggers. Even with refined knowledge of the local environment, the Amazon Rainforest is difficult for anyone to navigate. Up in the canopy, the Guardians capture sounds, which are then sent to Rainforest Connection. The company recently announced it will be using Google’s TensorFlow tool, which facilitates the use of machine-learning software by other companies. The sounds are then analyzed so that the location and origin of the sounds can be determined. Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests “The people on the ground, they’re the solution,” said Rainforest Connection founder and CEO Topher White. “They’re the ones who can fight off deforestation . But technology can play a really big part in helping them do it more safely and more effectively.” Rainforest Connection intends to provide services for those who live in rainforests and other ecological treasures all across the world. Communities equipped with the tools they need to thrive are more resilient.”The system pinpoints exactly where the problem is, so we no longer need to spend months patrolling the land like we used to,” said Chief Ednaldo Tembé . “That means we have more time for our culture, for our family, and for our survival.” Via Gizmodo Images via Google

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Episode 116: Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy is optimistic, drones meet clean energy

March 16, 2018 by  
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On this week’s episode, a hopeful perspective on the potential for meaningful, grassroots climate action and why automated, flying robots could reduce the cost of wind and solar power.

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Episode 116: Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy is optimistic, drones meet clean energy

Beware of losing your building’s Energy Star standing as updates loom ahead

March 16, 2018 by  
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Early adopters of the ratings system, in particular, could suffer lower scores. But it’s not too late to act.

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Beware of losing your building’s Energy Star standing as updates loom ahead

California puts solar procurement on hold despite production records

March 12, 2018 by  
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California set two new solar power records this month, Greentech Media reported . But utilities seem to be slowing down their procurement of new capacity. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposed utilities procure almost no extra renewables this year — but critics worry how this affects the State’s renewable energy targets. Solar energy is thriving in California. Power plants sourced 0.5 percent of electricity from solar in 2010 in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times , but that figure had risen to 10 percent last year. Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric, the state’s three investor-owned utilities , which “comprise approximately three quarters of electricity supply” according to the California Energy Commission, are all ahead of schedule on clean energy procurement plans, and are on their way to meeting California’s mandate of sourcing 33 percent of energy via renewables by 2020. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time But these investor-owned utilities didn’t procure any new renewable energy capacity last year, and CPUC has proposed they procure nearly none in 2018. Independent Energy Producers Association CEO Jan Smutny-Jones told Greentech Media, “They’re basically saying, ‘There’s too much going on; we don’t know what to do, so we’re not going to do anything for a while.’” The state is still setting records. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) saw solar serve a peak percentage of demand at 49.95 percent on March 4. The peak prior to that was 47.2 percent in May 2017. CAISO senior public information officer Anne Gonzales told Greentech Media, “The record is a result of a cool, sunny day. Because it was a weekend, and the weather was mild, the minimum load was relatively low, around 18,800 megawatts. Meanwhile, solar production was more than 9,400 megawatts.” The next day, March 5, CAISO set another record: solar production hit a peak of 10,411 megawatts. The record before that was 9,913 megawatts, set in June 2017. Smutny-Jones told Greentech the CPUC is “too absorbed in modeling”, adding, “For me, it’s a little hard to sit in a meeting and talk about 100 percent renewables when our chief regulator isn’t moving the ball.” Via Greentech Media Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Depositphotos

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California puts solar procurement on hold despite production records

New hybrid solar panel harvests energy from raindrops

March 8, 2018 by  
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A team of Chinese engineers have created a new hybrid solar panel that can also harvest energy from raindrops. This new technology takes advantage of the triboelectric effect, the electrical charge of certain materials after coming into contact with a different material. Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) deliberately create this charge through friction and may someday be used to capture static electricity as energy from a variety of materials, including clothing, car wheels, or touch screens. For the moment, TENGs are successfully being used to capture the latent energy of raindrops. To create a TENG, the team added two transparent polymer layers on top of their solar panel. The upper layer polymer is made from polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) while the lower layer is composed of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). To increase the TENG’s efficiency, the polymer layers were imprinted with grooves modeled on the data side pattern of DVDs. When raindrops fall, they push the top layer into contact with the lower layer, which then acts as an electrode between the TENG and the solar panel . Related: The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017 Although the resulting electricity produced by the TENG-enhanced panel is relatively small, it nonetheless proves that such a device works and could be scaled up with further research. While this is not the first instance in which a TENG has been incorporated into a solar panel, the team describes their device as simpler, more streamlined and easier to manufacture than previous models. Theirs emphasizes the abundance of energy that exists all around us, which only needs to be harnessed to step closer towards a true clean energy economy. Via New Atlas Images via Depositphotos and ACS Nano

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New hybrid solar panel harvests energy from raindrops

Dutch villa smartly taps into solar energy and optimal site conditions

March 1, 2018 by  
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EVA Architecten took the long view when designing Villa IJsselzig, a modern home optimized for energy efficiency and durability. Set next to the river Hollandse Ijssel, the villa respects the neighboring buildings by adapting a similar form but also quietly stands out with its distinctly contemporary design. Renewable energy including solar and a heat pumps power the home while the carefully positioned openings reduce unwanted solar gain. Topped with a dark copper roof and reddish-brown bricks, Villa IJsselzig was built to appear as a singular sculptural mass. The river-facing facade to the north is left mostly transparent with full-height glazing that wraps around the communal areas while the home’s opposite side on the south is mostly closed off from view and protected by a garden for privacy. The placement of these openings and orientation also mitigate solar gain , particularly unwanted heat build-up from the south, and are supplemented by extra-insulated walls. Related: Solar-powered M House is a light-filled modern Dutch villa In contrast to its dark facade, the interior, designed in collaboration with NEST architects , features a lighter palette. The interior is organized around a wooden core surrounded by white walls. The wooden core contains the staircases, storerooms, and other facilities thus opening up the other rooms to flexible open-plan use. The living spaces are located on the ground floor whereas all the bedrooms are placed on the upper floor and overlook the river. + EVA Architecten Via Dwell Photos by Sebastian van Damme

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