Wind turbines are one of the most promising sources of large-scale renewable power. Wind power doesn’t produce any pollutants, and unlike water or fuel resources, wind is literally an endless source of energy. However, wind farms do require a substantial amount of space, which is why a much more efficient design like the “Wind Lens” could make wind energy cheaper and more practical. Read more
Home improvement can pay for itself, and even put cash back in your pocket – if you’re putting your money in the right places. Renovations that increase your home’s energy efficiency aren’t just nice for the environment, they can be economical as well. The folks at One Block Off The Grid offer a great guide to help you sort out which upgrades make the most sense for your home. Read more
The small town of Mutriku in the Basque region of Spain is the first in the world to open a commercial wave power plant. The Basque government energy agency Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE) debuted its €2.3 million ($3.1 million) project in July. The project is funded by taxes. It is estimated that the wave power plant will produce about 300 kilowatts, enough to provide 10% of Mutriku’s energy needs. Voith and Siemens provided the 16 columns as part of a joint venture.Read more
When the largest economy in the European Union derives 20% of its energy from renewable sources, it is a milestone worthy of international attention. Germany’s renewable energy consumption jumped 2.5% within the last year, sending the total consumption of green power in that country to 20.8%. Since 2000, Germany’s use of renewable energy has increased 15 percentage points.Read more
The wave of interest in solar power across Europe has now touched Greece, and in a big way. The Mediterranean country of over ten million inhabitants plans to construct Earth’s biggest solar farm. Estimated to cost €600 million ($822 million), the project will cover 1,285 acres of depleted coal mines in the northern city of Kozani.Read more
New Zealand is one big step closer to accomplishing the ambitious goal of generating 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The country already produces nearly 80% of its power from clean sources, including hydropower, geothermal, and wind farms. With hydropower approaching its natural limit, New Zealand is investing heavily in two huge new wind farms.Read more
Solar power is increasingly becoming a feasible choice for powering electric boats. In the last decade, we’ve seen improvement in the efficiency of electric boat motors, lithium-ion batteries, and the efficiency of solar panels.
In 2010, the Tûranor PlanetSolar, a huge catamaran yacht powered by 470 square meters of solar panels, was unveiled by New Zealand’s LOMOcean Design. It became the first solar-powered vehicle to circumnavigate the earth, when it finished a world tour. The name Tûranor, derived from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, translates to “The Power of the Sun”.
On a less grand scale, solar-powered boats are becoming available in the consumer market, driven by the introduction of lithium-ion marine batteries. These batteries have been mostly used to power small electronic devices, but now large-scale lithium-ion batteries are available for boats. Lithium batteries deliver four times the energy per pound of battery weight when compared with conventional lead acid, gel or AGM batteries. They also last about three times longer than conventional batteries (up to 10 years), and less susceptible to shocks and temperature extremes.
A German company, Torqeedo has introduced high-efficiency boat motors come with lithium-ion batteries pre-installed. Torqeedo offers a range of motors that connect to crafts of all sizes — everything kayak motors, to large outboard motors with the equivalent of 20 HP of thrust, capable of powering boats up to 6 tons in weight.
Sea Eagle, a maker of inflatable boats, also offers a solar panel that connects with Torqeedo motors. Sea Eagle says the Travel 1003 Torqeedo motor can be combined with a Sea Eagle Solar Panel, and this panel will completely recharge the lithium-ion battery in less than ten hours. The solar panel also charges the battery while the motor is being used. The 45 watt solar panel can be mounted on canopies on dinghies, transom and pontoon boats.
The Travel 1003 Torqeedo motor can monitor your sailing speed with built-in GPS, and the display panel also shows the status of the charging battery. The Sea Eagle Solar Panel is made by US company PowerFilm. It measures 58” x 36” and can be rolled up for storage when not in use.Torqeedo products are available online at West Marine.
Powerfilm Flexible Solar Panels are available at Amazon.
Right now, I’m investigating a new travel technique, which I’m calling “Slow Daily Travel”. By going slow (traveling 1o to 100 miles per day), your journey can often become more intriguing and enjoyable. My technique involves traveling as far as you like each day, and then staying overnight in a hotel. The next day you repeat, until you reach your destination. If you pack minimally enough, and you are not in a hurry to get anywhere, this techniques works quite well.
The largest industrial investment in the history of South Carolina will soon become the home of the largest single rooftop solar array in the United States. Boeing Co., the Seattle-based manufacturer of jetliners, will install approximately ten acres of solar panels on the roof of their $750 million facility in North Charleston, SC. The solar farm will be the sixth largest in the U.S. and one of the biggest in the Southeast.Read more
NASA’s space expertise means it’s virtually unmatched when it comes to creating efficient and sustainable environments for humans to live and work, and the innovative new office facility at their Ames Research Center near San Francisco is a showcase of intelligent and environmentally friendly design. Designed by William McDonough + Partners, the Sustainability Base draws on the latest in green architecture and (literally) space-age technology. Read more
Massive rooftop solar arrays seem to be popping up at an accelerating rate, thanks in part to cheaper, more efficient solar panel technologies and financial incentives in the form of rebates and stabilized energy costs. Renault’s solar energy system at its French production facilities will dwarf most of the competition when it goes online next year. Read more
At a glance, New York City might not seem like a particularly “green” town, given all its traffic and densely built-up neighborhoods. But on a per-capita basis, it consistently ranks as one of the most eco-friendly cities, thanks in large part to its unparalleled mass transit system and the small size of most homes and apartments. And the city may soon get another boost to its environmental reputation with a proposed major installation of energy-producing wind turbines on Staten Island. Read more
The recent events in Japan have sparked renewed debate over the risks of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy advocates defend uranium as a sustainable source of energy that is relatively safe, that is until something goes wrong. Opponents have long maintained the health and environmental risks associated with uranium mining and nuclear waste alongside the threat of nuclear power plant accidents due to equipment failure or acts of nature. Experts aside, the general public has no trust in nuclear power plants as evidenced by the current boundless consumption of iodine pills. Read more
The newest hybrid model isn’t a car, but the world’s first hybrid solar energy plant that went on the grid last week in Martin County Florida. The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center is Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) latest innovation to launch Florida as the clean energy state. Working in conjunction with an existing natural gas power plant, the 190,000 solar thermal mirrors track and harness the sun’s rays via hydraulic motors. That energy is then converted into electricity and offsets the use of the natural gas. The natural gas plant then becomes a stored energy plant serving as a back-up energy source. Read more
Princeton University will soon be home to the largest solar field on a U.S. college campus. Scheduled for completion by summer 2012, the 5.3 megawatt system will be comprised of 16,500 photovoltaic solar panels, estimated to generate 5.5 % of electrical power to reduce campus energy costs by 8 %. The solar field will cover 27 acres on the university’s land. The panels will be designed and built by Sunpower, a leader in advanced solar energy systems. To maximize efficiency, 80% of the system will contain Sunpower Trackers that use a global positioning system to capture the sun at the highest intensity, while the remaining solar panels will be fixed at a 25 degree angle. Read more
Fuel efficient hydrogen-powered Hyundai vehicles will soon be cruising Scandanavian streets, thanks to a pilot program which aims to introduce them to the European market. Government employees in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland will operate the test fleets of the FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) under the program announced this week. Read more
What could make bike riding even more efficient? How about a bike path embedded with solar panels to produce clean energy while encouraging people to get on their bikes? The town of Krommenie in the Netherlands, just north of Amsterdam, will be receiving the SolaRoad bike path, scheduled to open in 2012.Read more
Efficiency abounds in China as the world’s largest building integrated photovoltaic project prepares to power the railway station where some of the world’s fastest high speed trains pass through. China Sunergy, a solar cell and module manufacturer based in Nanjing, China, has recently signed a deal with CEEG (Nanjing) Solar Energy Research Institute to supply the 7MW solar modules for the Nanjing South Railway Station. When it’s finished, the Nanjing South Railway Station will be one of the most energy efficient public buildings in China.Read more
Wind power produces no pollutants like carbon dioxide, and it requires no input of water or fuel resources, making wind one of the planet’s cleanest and most abundant sources of renewable energy. And it’s been front-page news in recent weeks: the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm in England officially began operations in September, becoming the largest such project in the world. But how does Thanet stack up to other wind power systems, and what’s on the horizon for wind power generation? Read on to find out. Read more
A community swimming pool called the Richmond Plunge has just opened in Richmond, California, and it may be the most efficient swimming pool in the country. The Richmond Plunge has many efficient features: it’s heated by solar collectors, it’s entirely chlorine-free, and the building is powered by solar panels on the roof. The Plunge is a historic pool — it was first opened in 1926. Now, after ten years of renovation it has been reopened. Read more