News-in-Transition

27 March 2017

 - Scientists in Germany have opened doors in the realm of renewable energy and solar experimentation. Using a 50-foot structure and 149 industrial-grade spotlights, Kai Wieghardt and his team have created “Synlight,” the “world’s largest artificial sun.”

The $3.8 million structure stands in Juelich, Germany, and can focus its spotlights onto an area as small as 61 square inches, generating up to 10,000 times the amount of normal radiation in a single area and reaching temperatures of up to 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. But what is its use?

It can be used to test simple things like solar panels and other solar-fueled mechanisms. Synlight can also test the effects of solar radiation on satellites and machines that endure prolonged radiation exposure. However, the most interesting application of Synlight is the potential to use it to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water in mass amounts, creating a consistent source of hydrogen and bringing hydrogen-powered cars, houses, and societies that much closer to the gates of reality.

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18 February 2017

solar power - Although solar power is one of the most popular forms of green energy, it certainly is not without flaw.

Dye-sensitized solar cells, which are one of the most promising types of solar cells in existence, are very efficient at transforming sunshine into energy, yet they are very expensive. This is because dye-sensitized solar cells are made primarily out of platinum, which costs a whopping $1,500 an ounce. Obviously, the cost of producing these cells is passed along to the consumer, making them anything but affordable.

Now, a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Tech University claims to have a solution.

Professor Yun Hang Yu has created a new material that could both maintain the quality of the solar cells while significantly reducing the cost. The material is known as 3D Graphene, a honeycomb-like structure that combines lithium oxide with carbon monoxide to form lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and the honeycomb graphene.

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7 October 2016

- Poland—home to some of the most bike-friendly cities in the world—unveiled a gorgeous, glowing bike path near Lidzbark Warminski in the Mazury region last week to help nighttime cyclists get from A to B.

The 100-meter track, created by construction company TPA Instytut Badan Technicznych in Pruszkow, is still in test phase.

Next Nature Network reported that the bike path illuminates at night thanks to blue luminophores, a synthetic material that emits light after being charged by the sun. The color blue was chosen for the path because the engineers thought it would best suit the scenic Mazury landscape.

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13 September 2016

 - The launch of the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm in Scotland has been hailed as a significant moment for the renewable energy sector.

A turbine for the MeyGen tidal stream project in the Pentland Firth was unveiled outside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

After the ceremony, attended by Nicola Sturgeon, the turbine, measuring about 15 metres tall (49ft), with blades 16 metres in diameter, and weighing in at almost 200 tonnes, will begin its journey to the project’s site in the waters off the north coast of Scotland between Caithness and Orkney.

The turbine will be the first of four to be installed underwater, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW), in the initial phase of the project.

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8 September 2016

980x - Clean power superstar Costa Rica has hit another renewable energy milestone. The Central American country's electric grid has been powered entirely by its mix of hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass for 150 days this year and counting.

Impressively, as Mashable reported, the country has not used fossil fuels for electricity for the last 76 days, from June 16 to Sept. 2, according to data from the country's power operator, Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE).

According to an ICE report, hydropower contributed about 80 percent of the country's electricity needs in August, followed by geothermal (12 percent), wind (7 percent) and solar energy (0.01 percent).

Costa Rica hasn't needed to rely on fossil fuels for electricity since June 16. "Since then, it's been 76 consecutive days in which all electricity has come from plants that use renewable resources," the ICE said.

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31 July 2016

 - A Beijing car company is making the reality of solar-powered cars more palpable than ever.

The only challenge with this worthy goal is that many have been wary of investing in an electric vehicle due to the absence of charging stations in their homes or neighborhoods.  A Solution? Thin-film solar cells that are on the car, itself, to make a six-hour road trip possible.

Utilizing the latest advances in solar technology, thin-filmed solar cells would allow a car to run via a photoelectric conversion system, an energy storage system, and an intelligent control system.

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3 June 2016

 - Thanks to Chile’s major investments in renewables, the Latin American country is seeing an incredible solar boom.

In a new Bloomberg report, Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free, solar capacity from the country’s central grid has increased four fold to 770 megawatts since 2013. Another 1.4 gigawatts will be added this year with many solar power projects under development.

With so much clean power available, the price of solar has cost absolutely nothing for certain regions in recent months.

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25 May 2016

A rendering of the 13.7 megawatt plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan, which will be the largest floating solar plant in the world once construction is complete. Photo credit: Kyocera  - Floating solar projects are popping up in all corners of the world, from Japan, the UK, Brazil, the U.S. and Australia.

There are a number of benefits to floating solar plants, aka “floatovoltaics.” Compared to mounted panels, floating systems are naturally cooled by the bodies of water they sit on, therefore boosting power production efficiency. Many floating PV developers point out that the floatovoltaics shade the water, which reduces water evaporation and slow algae blooms.

“The efficiencies are what motivated us to look at this,” Rajesh Nellore, the chief executive of Infratech Industries, told the New York Times.

The Sydney-based company erected a floating solar system in Jamestown, South Australia that claims to generate 57 percent more energy than rooftop panels.

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6 November 2014

- A highway overpass is the last place most of us would think to install a farm. But algae, that wonderful little ecological miracle, is different. Since it consumes sunlight and CO2 and spits out oxygen, places with high emissions are actually the perfect growing area. Which is why this overpass in Switzerland has its own algae farm.

Built this summer as part of a festival in Genève, the farm is actually fairly simple: It thrives on the emissions of cars that pass below it, augmented by sunlight. A series of pumps and filters regulate the system, and over time, the algae matures into what can be turned into any number of usable products.

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1 May 2014

Wind turbines are pictured near the upper reservoir of the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

 - The smallest and least known of Spain's Canary Islands, El Hierro, is making a splash by becoming the first island in the world fully energy self-sufficient through combined water and wind power.

A wind farm opening at the end of June will turn into electricity the gusts that rake the steep cliffs and green mountains of the volcanic island off the Atlantic coast of Africa.

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14 May 2013

 - In a U.S. patent application, a little-known Maryland inventor claims a stunning solar energy breakthrough that promises to end the planet’s reliance on fossil fuels at a fraction of the current cost — a transformation that also could blunt global warming.

There are skeptics. But inventor Ronald Ace said that his flat-panel “Solar Traps," which can be mounted on rooftops or used in electric power plants, will shatter decades-old scientific and technological barriers that have stymied efforts to make solar energy a cheap, clean and reliable alternative.

“This is a fundamental scientific and environmental discovery," Ace said. “This invention can meet about 92 percent of the world’s energy needs."

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17 April 2013

 - It may be possible soon to charge cell phones, change the tint on windows, or power small toys with peel-and-stick versions of solar cells.

Scientists have conducted the first successful demonstration using actual thin film solar cells.

They discovered a method for fabricating thin film solar cells on a rigid silicon wafer (as is traditionally done) with a layer of nickel on top (the breakthrough). The cells can be mounted to almost any surface.

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10 December 2012
 
 - Researchers have discovered that there’s enough power in living trees to run an electric circuit.

Engineers have invented an electrical device that can be plugged directly into any tree for power.
The research was based upon a breakthrough study last year when scientists found that plants generate a voltage of up to 200 millivolts when one electrode is placed in a plant and the other in the surrounding soil.

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