Clean Energy Rules Backed by Leading Tech Companies

People like the idea of clean energy, the ability for us to generate more energy than we use all from renewable sources that don’t damage the environment. France requires that new buildings have solar panels or grass on the roofs, and an Indian airport has decided that solar power is the way they want to go. In a move to help further our advances towards clean energy governments are making more and more pushes, this time, it would seem that the clean power plan in America is getting some backing from rather large companies in the technology industry.The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2,

The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2) while also groups and companies are under more pressure to promote and use renewable energy sources like solar or wind farms.

Considering themselves “major purchasers of electricity”, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have come together and formally backed the Clean Power Plan in the United States Court of Appeals where the act is currently on hold.

With both large tech companies and the Obama administration pushing for this act to go through, it is hard to see how anything supporting renewable energy could be seen as negative but some claim the rules are onerous and overreach the abilities of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Toyota Reveal New Concept For Hydrogen Powered Car

We live in a wonderful age, we’ve begun to create technology that merges both the digital and the real world together in augmented reality and even where people can drive a metal car powered by sunlight. The human imagination has created and continues to create an amazing array of technologies, and Toyota have shown off some ideas they might play with in the future.

At the Tokyo Motor show, they revealed images of two design concepts, which are both futuristic and yet one is also classic in a way. First off, have a look at the present, with the S-FR. Looking similar to modern-day cars now, this model could soon be at your door steps.

Next, however, is the parent of design, with clear inspirations from the days of old we were presented with the Kikai.

Looking like a modern take on a classic hot rod the revealed engine leaves little to the car fanatics imagination. Finally, the last design is one from the future and is quite simply titled the FCV Plus.

Not only does the FCV feature a very futuristic look but it is designed to run some rather interesting technology.

For example, it would powered purely by hydrogen and that power would be diverted to four individual electric motors that are housed in each of the wheels. This means that aside from the fuel tank and cells located either at the front or back of the car, all the rest is freed up for the passengers.

Could you see yourself getting into a FCV within the next ten years? What about the S-FR and Kikai, would you like to own any of these vehicles?

Thank you Engadget for the information and images.

Kickstarting the Solar Trend Just Became Easier

Are you a green energy lover that wishes big energy companies would start to move away from the old-fashioned way of producing electricity to a newer and more reliable source? If so, a new Kickstater campaign might be right up your street.

SunPort is a smart device that simply plugs in between your device and wall socket. This almost allows you to harness pure solar energy through your current supplier thanks to Solar Credits which are generated through every megawatt-hour of energy. Providers can purchase these credits that then proves to the local governing body that the power being provided came from solar sources.

SunPort aims to target the supply and demand segment by forcing big companies to purchase more solar credits and then the supplying companies to produce more solar energy. The long term goal would be for the large energy suppliers to ultimately adopt solar as the main energy source over Gas, Coal and Nuclear.

The process is free, however, you will need to buy the device itself and maintain upkeep annually to a small fee and it’s currently only available in America unless you buy an adapter plug for use in your own country.

How ‘green’ is your daily routine? Let us know in the comments.

Indian Airport Paves The Way For a Solar Power Future

The world’s resources are becoming more and more finite in its capacity to provide for an ever-increasing population. Countries which previously had been considered as small and unassuming are now experiencing their version of an industrial revolution. As the planet becomes more hi tech, so the need for electricity becomes greater to the point where it is unsustainable and alternate solutions are in need of implementation.

This is where a pioneer of solar panels arrives with the aim of powering a whole airport using this technology. The airport in question is located in India and is called the Cochin International airport and has become the first airport in the world which completely operates on solar power. The feat is quite impressive considering the implementation of 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres near the cargo complex, which in turn generates a staggering 50000 to 60000 thousand units of electricity per day. This is with the aim of being consumed for all its operational functions, which in turn allows the airport to be power neutral.

This project is without a doubt a step in the right direction for the use of renewable energy, I am slightly surprised that India would be the first country in the world to envisage such a project which started way back in 2013, when CIAL ventured into the Solar PV sector by installing a 100 kWp solar PV Plant on the roof top of the Arrival Terminal Block, which turned out to be the first of many additions. Let’s just hope there are not any glitches in the system as passengers really do not like the idea of waiting for the sun to appear before landing.

Thank you cial for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of engadget

Want To Live In A Modern Windmill?

Remember that old TV series “Around The Twist” with the family that lived in the lighthouse? How long did people spend talking with their friends and family about living in a lighthouse or windmill? Well, people in the Netherlands might be closer to the dream than everyone else thanks to a dutch architect.

Doepel Strijkers designed the building, set to stand at a giant 173 metres tall and is designed to use not only  wind and water, but also electric fields in an attempt to generate not only sufficient energy to power itself but also enough to power nearby buildings, with an estimated output of 1 megawatt. Just for reference 1 megawatt would be enough to power on average 1000 U.S. homes.

Designed for low maintenance and quiet running, the building will not only generate electricity but will contain a restaurant, a seven-story hotel, a whopping 72 apartments and some space for offices as well.

With everything from solar panels on the outside of the building, a pipe to deliver industrial heat from the local port to help heat the building and a system of negatively charged water molecules within the air in a fashion similar to thunder clouds, which when it strikes (in small amounts) the charge can be converted to useable energy.

The design allows for the creation of miniature thunder clouds and uses them to harness the natural energy stored within the air and generated by molecules hitting the highly charged beams that will run across the wind tunnel.

Ultra-cool looking building – Check. Green Energy – Check. Dream house – Check! Oh and did I mention that it would pay for itself in just 10 years?

Thank you PopSci for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Doepelstrijkers.

Solar Power At Home Now More Popular Than Commercial Solar Power

In the modern world, Solar Power is popular, with everything from solar-powered planes flying from Japan to Hawaii to advances allowing the absorption of infrared light to increase their efficiency. Either way you look at it solar power is becoming more and more popular and is constantly becoming a bigger part of the world.

In the US, the leading source of energy information has come from (no surprises here) the Energy Information Agency. This hasn’t been a very up to date system to measure energy though as it was geared towards traditional power grids, such as those fed into the system from large companies. As a result of the changing situation with commercial and home-generated energy though they analyzed the residential energy being fed into the US power grid.

Turns out that in 2014 Solar power generated by residential users accumulated at around 3.3 Gigawatts while large-scale facilities only accounted for around 2.9GW. The information gathered showed that Californians accounted for almost half of the residential energy, followed by Arizona and Hawaii.

Alongside this information, another piece of data was revealed, one that renewable energy enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy. The use of coal as a power supplier has dropped by over 10% in the last year.

More green energy, fewer greenhouse gasses and cheaper electricity for everyone? What’s not to like about this news?

Thank you ArsTechnica for the information.

New Solar Panel Can Adsorb Infrared Light!

Solar panels are a great invention, the ability to convert light to a useable power source has long been investigated and advanced. In recent years its came leap and bounds in regards to not only how effective it was but also how the public have perceived it and accepted it, some countries even putting it into law. Now it could be getting even better.

With almost 50% of the energy given off by the sun as near infrared light, there is a huge gap in power that modern solar panels could accept. Most modern solar panels can still only accept visible light as an energy source, meaning that solar panels can only convert 20% of the light they receive into electricity.

A team from UC Riverside, however, may have come up with a way to help solve that low figure. The concept of converting two infrared photons into a visible photon, a process that had to be overcome to generate another 25% energy.

The team from UC Riverside has overcome this by passing the two infrared photons through an “organised compound” which in turn then produces a visible photon. While this initial step currently only has a benefit of less than 10% the team are hopeful that by using the process and refining it they will be able to create a more effective system and continue to help improve on solar panels and solar energy as a whole.

Thank you UCR Today for the information.

Image courtesy of Solar Power Panel System.

LightSail Says Final Goodbye With Selfie

After it was theorized by Carl Sagan, the LightSail was finally brought to life earlier this year with Bill Nye heading up the Solar Sail Project. After a successful launch and a communications blackout, the solar sail has finished its mission.

After 25 days in low-orbit, the Solar Sail has completed its initial set of tests and is preparing for re-entry into the atmosphere. After its primary objective was complete, the deployment of its solar sails, the craft took a selfie and transmitted it down to the control center. The image is shown above, clearly displays the solar sails fully deployed.

The team hoped to get a second picture from the camera located on the other side of the craft, however before this could happen though the craft began transmitting a continuous  stream with no reason behind the actual content of the transmission. At this point, the craft also stopped responding to commands issued to it from the ground.

With the successful deployment of its sails, and the first tests showing a complete success, the SolarSail project is yet another step towards its goal of being a sustainable and realistic mode of transport within the solar system. A mode of transport that’s not only renewable but requires no fuel, making the craft lighter from the very start of its journey.

Google’s Solar Plane Crashes After Takeoff

Over the last few months, we have heard about Google’s and Facebook’s plans to bring free internet to everyone in the world; focusing on the parts of the world currently without internet access. Plans jumped from weather balloons to satellites to planes and much more. Google decided to stick with a solar plane.

In theory, this was a good idea; a huge 50m wing span completely covered in solar panels to absorb as much energy as possible, in a light weight chassis and electric motor.

https://youtu.be/Q7Z_-nfVUS4

During initial testing in Albuquerque, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff. This happened on May 1st on a private airfield and luckily no injuries were reported; well apart from the plane. The drone was a project idea of Google which became a reality after the acquisition of Titan Aerospace. It has not been made clear if the plane is salvageable or if the technology will be used to build ‘Solar Plane 2.0’.

“Although our prototype plane went down during a recent test, we remain optimistic about the potential of solar-powered planes to help deliver connectivity,” Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, told Bloomberg. “Part of building a new technology is overcoming hurdles along the way.”

It is still early days for the project, maybe it would be better to be dropped off the bottom of a larger plane instead of self-propelling for take off.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

YouTube and Netflix Marked as a Threat to a Greener Internet

While Netflix and YouTube users sit comfortably in their chairs and watch their favourite TV series and subscribed channels, service providers are constantly struggling to come up with better and greener solutions to power their data centres and keep up with constant demands. However, the lack of real results has been the main concern of Greenpeace recently.

The NGO stated that the growing demand from services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube presents a challenge for the companies to rely solely on renewable energy. However, Greenpeace points out that video streaming as a whole proves to be a challenge to get the Internet to go green.

Their report shows that video streaming services total up to more than 60% of the Internet’s traffic, which is likely to reach 76% by the end of 2018. Despite the latter, companies are still searching for ways to power up their services with greener energy from geothermal, solar and hydro solutions.

Greenpeace came up with a ranking for companies that make efforts in supplying their services with clean energy. Apple is said to come up as number one thanks to it investments into solar energy, followed by Google and Facebook for their ambition to rely more on green energy and not traditional sources.

Though an official ranking has not been made for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, the NGO said that online videos are one of the most power-hungry type of service on the Internet. No doubt this answers the question on who has the biggest energy consumption footprint on the web. However, Google expressed its goal on having its YouTube service reach the 100% mark in renewable energy. Unfortunately, the service only reached a percentage of 35 up until now.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, comes from the actual power providers. Electrical companies rely mostly on traditional power-generating techniques and are slow on switching to renewable energy due to the cost of making that step. Until we see some dedication on going green from the latter, services and other power-demanding businesses are likely to show slow progress in this area as well.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Techbu

Space Travel By Sailing? Ahoy!

Space travel has long since been a thing of dreams, science fiction fans have long enjoyed the notion that one day our race would spread out into the stars and claim other planets as homes. First though we will need to reach the planets in question, but that may be one step closer today.

In recent weeks, NASA has been posting their findings on an EM drive, a concept that has long been considered impossible. By bouncing microwaves around a chamber, an EM drive would be able to create thrust from just electrical energy, removing the need for any fuel. This, however, is considered impossible by many because it violates the conservation of momentum, what is considered a fundamental law of the universe. With positive results seen so far we could be one step closer to a future among the stars.

Bill Nye is known for his famous insight into the world of physics, today he is taking a step towards another form of interstellar travel. Almost 40 years ago Carl sagan began to explain a new form of space travel, the concept using radiation from a star to help propel a vessel in a fashion comparable to using a sailboat on the sea.

The Solar sail project, founded by Carl Sagan, is currently headed by Bill Nye, and aims to explore the potential of using this method of transport instead of modern day rockets with fuel and chemicals powering their engines. The result of this is two small craft, built by Stellar Exploration Inc, the first of which is set to launch on the 20th of May. A full timeline of which can be seen here, on the planetary.org website. The first test flight aims to test the craft’s ability to deploy the four sails from a central cube, that will hold the arms and initially contain the sheets used for the sails. With the craft only capable of space travel, it requires an initial boost to leave the atmosphere, traditionally attached to a rocket before being detached and released into space when it has left Earth’s gravitational pull.

With space flight becoming a larger part of research and development, and with more of these showing promise such as the EM drive, only time is what separates us from space travel and the stars.

Thank you to CNet, Planetary.org and The Verge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of ISSS.

Off Grid Solar Charging Implemented in San Francisco

With electric vehicles (EVs) starting to gain traction in the automotive world, ways of charging them when ‘out and about’ has been a small concern for some motorists. This has now been tackled head on by the company Envision Solar, with the introduction of three separate solar powered charging stations; I like the sound of car docks myself.

So what does this mean? Basically, there are three completely off the grid charging stations dotted throughout San Francisco. These are transportable stations only taking up the space of a normal sized parking spot and are completely free for users to utilise. They are Level 2 charging stations, capable of generating 3.3 kilowatts of energy; that’s not much, but it’s better than plugging in at home or at any other on-grid charging station. The charging station is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack that stores 22.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity; saving it for a rainy day.

These charging stations are on a fixed term basis, staying at their locations within San Francisco for a few months at a time. All of which, they will be gathering information such as charge frequency and duration. After 12 months, the company will analyse the data and choose which spot will be best to store all three of these stations to then be made a permanent feature.

All green energy for all green cars, sounds like the right way forward and would make excellent use of open car parks that are directly in sun, keeping the car cool on a hot day and also giving you some charge.

Image courtesy of EnvisionSolar

Costa Rica Has Been Fully Powered by Renewable Energy for 75 Days Straight

Costa Rica has achieved a major milestone in clean energy, having the country be fully powered by renewable energy for 75 straight days.

“The year 2015 has been one of electricity totally friendly to the environment for Costa Rica,” the state-owned power supplier Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) said.

The milestone has been achieved with the help of heavy rainfall at four of its hydroelectric power facilities during the first quarter of 2015. What this means is that no fossil fuel was used during the months of January, February and March so far, having the country being powered by hydro power primarily, in conjunction with a mixture of geothermal, wind, biomass and solar energy.

To be noted is that the country is fairly small, having an area of 51,100 square km and a population of around 4.8 million. Another thing to take into account is that the country focuses more on tourism and agriculture, rather than heavy industry such as mining or manufacturing.

Still, Costa Rica has done an excellent job in developing its electricity sector, having the World Economic Forum ranking it as the second in Latin American countries behind only Uruguay with regards to electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.

Back in mid-2014, the Costa Rica government approved a $958 million geothermal energy project, having the first plants expected to generate about 55 MW and cost approximately $333 million to build, while two other are expected to output 50 MW.

Thank you Science Alert for providing us with this information

Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Fly Around the World

The solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 is about to take off on a journey around the world after years of planning. The aircraft has been designed from the ground up with the latter mission in mind, having over 17,000 solar cells line in its wings which supply a series of electronic motors and charge four on-board lithium batteries.

The aircraft is said to be designed in such a way as to be endlessly powered by solar energy and thanks to its batteries, the plane is said to be able to fly day and night. The trip is going to take around 25 days split into 12 legs, starting and ending in Abu Dhabi.

Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are the project’s organisers, who stated that energy efficiency testing is the main objective here. While this project seems to be a step towards testing how renewable energy could help fly planes in the near future, Piccard and Borschberg stated that the project is more of a publicity stunt rather than a technological milestone.

Gathering more information on the plane itself reveals that it boasts only one seat with a built-in toilet, with no heating or oxygen. In terms of food provisions during the flight, “dehydrated and vacuum-packaged” seems to be the key description of what the pilots should expect. No wonder the trip has been broken down into smaller chunks.

Summing it up, the aircraft has a long way to go in order to compete with the more comfy Boeings and Airbuses everyone is accustomed to. However, the project does reveal the potential of renewable energy and its impact in the near future. If the project will come to be a success, industry scepticism regarding future powered solar planes might dissipate and debates regarding its future could reopen.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Extremely Thin Coating Could Keep Buildings Cool During Summer

How do you keep buildings cool? Right now, there’s not much you can do apart from crank the air conditioning and close the blinds – but thanks to some researchers from Stanford University, we could see a new solution cool things down considerably.

The researchers are currently working on a new solution that could keep the inside of buildings much cooler, with a new super-thin coating that reflects up to 97% of sunlight, while at the same time radiating head from inside of the building. It’s win-win. A technique that has researchers calling it photonic radiative cooling. The material they have created is made from 8 layers and is just 1.8 micros thick (this is thinner than the thinnest sheet of aluminum foil). It is made from 7 layers of silicon dioxide and hafnium oxide, on top of a thin layer of silver.

It’s not perfect yet, as there’s the problem of getting it to transfer heat from the inside of the building, to its exterior coating. Once it is there, the material can expel it, but getting the heat tunnelled to the new material is the big hurdle right now. The second issue, is scaling. The researchers’ previous prototype is the size of a regular pizza, so it’s nowhere near as big as it needs to be to be used in a real-world scenario, especially being painted up and down an entire skyscraper. At least we know it’s coming, as this is something that could change the face, literally, of buildings in the future.

Source: TechSpot.

India to Build World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm

India is running short on space, so building their huge solar farm on land was hardly practical given that the land value alone would have made it a financial waste of time. Following in the footsteps of Japan’s solar farm which was built on water (see picture above), India plan to build a their solar farm at sea as well. The new plan will not only save them a fortune in land costs, but it will even help prevent evaporation in hot months.

A partnership has been struck between India’s National Hydroelectric Company and Kolkata’s college of renewable energy, who plan to build the massive 50-megawatt floating solar farm. Making it one of the largest solar farm installations in the world.

To trial their technology, a smaller 12-megawatt installation will be developed on lake Kerela in south-west India later this year. It’s great to see such a big investment in renewable energy and it will no doubt help bolster the rapidly developing Indian nation. If all goes well, it could pave the way for similar installations around the world.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Solar-Powered, Smartphone Charging Benches to be put in Boston

Soofa is a smart urban furniture company developed by Changing Environments, (an MIT Media Lab spin-off) and they’re bringing the Silicon Valley feel to Boston. As we’ve learned, this companies trendy name is derived from the acronym SUFA (Smart Urban Furniture Appliance) with the ‘double o’ added for a modern feel.

Being described as an ‘urban watercooler’, Soofa hopes to bring strangers together in a commonplace whilst providing an almost-essential service in todays technology age.

Soofa Co-Founder Sandra Richer explained her companies intentions to Mashable:

“There isn’t too much knowledge or perception around renewable energy these days because people are removed from it — it’s either on the roof or set aside somewhere that you don’t see it. We wanted to change the way people see its immediate benefits by putting something out into public spaces.”

Boston already has six benches in full operation with a further four set to be placed in the next few weeks. As it stands, Soofa currently has 100 of these benches ready to roll out with plans for further production.

Richer also commented on the ever-growing demand for such technology:

“It’s hard to get investors to back something that is a new market, but we’re already gotten so many requests from corporate campuses, education organizations, retailers and cities, from Tel Aviv to places in Italy, Germany and Hong Kong, so now we’re focused on how to scale quickly” Mashable

Interested in looking at your own bench for your workplace, common hangout spot or company? A cast iron bench will set you back around $10,000 USD, but others are said to be significantly cheaper. Obviously this price is nothing to scoff at, especially if you’re looking to implement quite a few of these in one venue. When this issue was raised, Richer commented:

“The smart benches will be on the pricier side because of the electronics, but we want it also to be affordable enough to encourage adoption.” Mashable

Being adopted as a full business around one year ago, the company was formed as current thanks to a partnership with Verizon and Cisco to help get it off the ground.

Soofa are said to be developing other style products to be suited to further environments. It’s highly likely you’ll be seeing more of these around in America and globally in the near future.

Image courtesy of Slashgear

Need To Charge On The Go? How About A Solar Dress?

With smartphones becoming so essential to everyday life for most people keeping your device charged is always an issue. So how do you keep your device charged on the go? Well you could buy a battery pack, mobile charger, even a solar powered mobile charger. But if you’re feeling really adventurous (and you’re female or just like cross-dressing) then you could wear a solar dress! Fashion designer Pauline Van Dongen recently showed-off her wearable solar dress, designed to keep you and your devices powered on the go. Her startup Wearable Solar certainly has some interesting potential. However, I can’t imagine many ladies would want to be seen in that monstrosity pictured above, let’s hope she has some more low-key designs up her sleeve!

Pauline Van Dongen explained the inspiration of her wearable solar idea to TechCrunch:

One of them is the fact that we highly depend on connectivity. We’re all addicted to our smartphones and we want them constantly powered, and the better our batteries get, the more we’ll use them. And at the same time, working as a werable tech designer, I know the difficulties when integrating these kind of bulky batteries that don’t allow for any comfort or wearability. So that’s why I thought, why not power your phone through your clothes? And eventually power other interactive qualities that our garments are becoming a platform for.

Source: TechCrunch

Image courtesy of Pauline Van Dongen

New Plane To Circumnavigate The Globe Using Only Solar Power

The innovative minds that created the first solar-powered aircraft that could fly for over 24 hours have unveiled its bigger and better successor, the Solar Impulse 2. Their new plane may not have the passenger capacity of the 747, but it does have the same wingspan, despite only weighing 2300 kg / 5000 lb.

The new plane is designed with one seriously impressive task in mind, circumnavigating the globe in a single flight, a task they plan to undertake next year. The plane will be allowed to land, giving the pilots time to exchange roles and restock the cabin, especially given that carrying a full stock for the whole trip would add a lot of extra weight that they could do without. The real issues will come when crossing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which could take five days at the Solar Impulse 2’s maximum speed of around 85 mph as they won’t be able to land in the water.

To save power at night the craft only outputs 15 horsepower over a 24 hour period, this is complimented by 87% efficient motors and a huge array of high performance solar cells along the wingspan of the craft. While the pilots can enjoy, for lack of a better word, their new seating arrangement in the cabin, which features custom chairs that can be converted into a toilet and a bed.

I’m a fan of petrol burning engines and other such things, but the advancement of clean energies is a worthy pursuit and I can’t wait to see what else the team can come up with in the future.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Arstechnica.

Google Makes 13th Clean Energy Investment In 3 Years

Google are ever growing into new markets, but one thing the company seems set to really make advances with it power usage. Turning a company the size of Google into a green one isn’t easy, but with 13 projects put into place over the last three years they’re certainly making a sizeable effort and investment.

Their latest venture is set to be a large solar panel farm, it will be built in the Imperial County in California, and Google are investing a whopping $103 million into the project.

The new solar farm, to be known as Mount Signal Solar, will provide around 365.7 MW of power that will provide enough juice to 80,000 homes. Utility San Diego Gas & Electric will be buying all the power from Mount Signal Solar, which will be operated by Silver Ridge Power.

This is just the latest green move that Google has made, who have made big steps in off setting the power that is used by its massive data centres. Instead of directly powering their centres, Google has been investing in project like the solar farm that benefit their investors, but still provide a commitment to clean power. It’s a win win situation that sees Google and their investors turn a profit, but still helps reduce their overall carbon footprint.

With the 13 projects now in place from Google they’re producing enough clean energy to power 500,000 (U.S.) homes and they’ve invested around $1 billion in doing so.  I doubt California will be the last place to benefit from Google’s clean energy plans.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of 8minutenergy.com

Students Build Solar Powered Family Car In The Netherlands

A group of 22 students in the Netherlands have been working on something that is very unique and innovative. They are calling it the world’s first solar powered family car. The vehicle is called “Stella” and is both light and energy efficient according to an Inhabitat report. Being a family car it can support up to four passengers at one time. Interestingly it generates more power than it needs to move, under normal usage, which it can store in its batteries and then feed into a power grid when sitting idle.

The students that have developed this car believe it has what it takes to help them win this year’s World Solar Challenge between October 6th and October 13th. The World Solar Challenge is a race that takes place every two years on the Australian Outback. Solar powered cars race each other and try to beat each other on a pre-defined 3000 kilometre route.

It looks pretty fancy and the technical aspects sound fantastic, but I don’t think it will be revolutionising family cars in everyday life any time soon – what do you think of it?

Image courtesy of Inhabitat

Apple’s “Slap Bracelet” Wearable Device Patent Discovered

A patent application was recently discovered which was filed by Apple, Inc. The patent application indicates that the company is working on a wearable “slap bracelet” type device, filed with the title “Bi-stable spring with flexible display” back in August 2011.

As mentioned in the patent application, the bi-stable spring would be made of thin steel with fabric being used to wrap it and then then-seal it. One side will have the logic board and the battery on the slap bracelet, whereas on the other side it will have a display stuck with an adhesive. It also showed that the display was mounted on the right side of the bracelet with a thicker fabric frame.

The circuit board would come with some on-board sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes and the bracelet would be for universal fit of any wrist size. The patent indicates that there are sensors which will turn off the unused portion of the bracelet in case of any overlaps.

The sensors can even be used curved when strapped around a wrist. It will detect that the device is being worn and provide an uninterrupted screen.

The battery may be powered by solar panels, kinetic energy or even a wireless charger.

The patent describes the following about the display:

“With a touch screen user input a user can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, and reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.”

It’s being said that the tech giant is in talks with Hon Hai Precision Industry who has been working on wearable device technology associated with displays and chips. It will be interesting to see how this device turns out if and when Apple showcase the product to the public.

Source: Daily Tech

Powerfreakz Evolution 3000 Portable Solar Charger Review

I’m going to start this review in a slightly different fashion to how I normally would, with a question instead of a statement. How many time have any of us been caught out with a phone battery that is running very low if not empty and you need to make an important call, but have no immediate access to a charger – whether it be because you’re on a night out, stuck on the train or in the middle of a field? I can almost guarantee that it has happened to the vast majority of us at one stage or another and we all wished that we had a way of plugging our phones into thin air to get the battery totted up and going again. I certainly have on a number of occasions.

Now when it comes to portable chargers, there have been products on the market for a few years, but most of these all have one major flaw to their design. That is, once the battery is flat in that and you need to charge your phone again (for example you’re away camping for the weekend like I quite often do) you’re basically stuffed unless you’ve got access to charge it back up or have a supply of batteries to feed it with.

Lets take my situation as a prime example. Taking a stock pile of batteries to feed a portable battery charger is no fun and it takes up a whole load of space in the rucksack which is no fun at all, so why can’t we harness the power of the one constant source that is out there every day; the sun?

Powerfreakz, have designed and built such an item, with a solar panel that charges an internal battery through which you can charge your phone, iPod and iPad for example – its so simple that I’m already surprised that the market is not flooded with items like this already. So lets get stuck in and see what the Evolution 3000 from Powerfreakz is like and to see if it stands up to the mark.