Tag Archives: Solar energy

World’s first Solar Road opens in the Netherlands

The world’s first solar pathway “SolaRoad” has become a reality in the Netherlands. Since it is the Dutch, one should expect them to create a cycling road first up, and they did just that!! It is the first road that simply put, converts sunlight into electricity. Instead of the blacktop one sees toughened glass surface (a centimeter thick), under which lies the solar modules. This is the first section or the pilot road and is to be tested to learn how it can be made streamlined and more efficient.

Image Courtesy www.Inhabitat.com

The solar panel sections being laid down

is in Krommenie, (suburb of Amsterdam) along the provincial road N203, next to the Texaco garage on the railway trackside. It is 70 meters (approximately 230 feet) long right now and will be extended to 100 meters (330 feet) by 2016. SolaRoad has been developed by a consortium consisting of TNO, the Province of North-Holland, Ooms Civiel and Imtech Traffic&Infra. The Dutch Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs officially opened SolaRoad to the public on The 12th of November 2014. The minister and his assistant rode a bike to inaugurate the road. The whole width of the pilot road is not paneled. One half is paneled, while on the other half different options for topping the road are being tried out.

Image Courtesy SolaRoad Website

Inaugural Ride By Minster Kamp

The idea of a Solar road which could convert sunlight into usable energy has been around in all seriousness since 2009. There was also a TedX talk on the same topic by Scott Brusaw at TEDxSacramento follow the link to the video.

The skeptics still feel that not being able to tilt the solar panels to follow the sun would reduce productivity by a close to 30%. Same thing can happen if a thick layer of mud, dirt, snow or ice covers the surface. These things will all be answered when the road is tested in real time. Last but not the least is the cost factor – building a road 100 meters long has cost close to $3.5million!!

Image Source SolaRoad Website

Solar Roadway Aerial view, left hand side is the solar part and the right hand side has the different top layers being tried

As per the SolaRoad website – SolaRoad is a pioneering innovation in the field of energy harvesting. It is a unique concept, which converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power. SolaRoad is sustainable and can be used in practice in many different ways. SolaRoad is being developed as prefabricated slabs. It consists of concrete modules of 2.5 by 3.5 meters with a translucent top layer of tempered glass, which is about 1 cm thick. Underneath the glass are crystalline silicon solar cells. The top layer immediately shows an important difference from the traditional road surface. It has to be translucent for sunlight and repel dirt as much as possible. At the same time, the top layer must be skid resistant and strong enough in order to realize a safe road surface. This is one of the technical challenges of SolaRoad.

The premise behind the SolaRoad project is very optimistic and will make a huge difference if taken to a financially viable level. Right now the pilot road has been built at a cost of close to $3.5Million and the test period is three-years, various measurements will be taken and tests performed to enable SolaRoad to undergo further development. The goal is to utilize energy the road produces to run street lights homes etc…

So Yeah!! now there are solar paneled Bicycle lanes in the Netherlands, check them out next time you are in Amsterdam!! IMHO It is a step in the right direction, may be somewhere in the future one of Nostradamus’s predictions will give way to glass snakes enveloping the earth in the place of black snakes!!

Want to see a video about the SolaRoad? Check it out below >>

Source –

SolaRoad Website

 

The Solar Bottle Bulb

I have been meaning to write about this project for months now, just got around to it today. Back in September of 2011 I read about Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project in Manila powered by pop bottles and bleached water! A bottle with water is enough to light up a small room. In the poor neighborhoods of Manila shacks have dark roofs and hardly any daylight. Many of the homes are not connected to the electric grid and in third world countries continuous power availability is not a given.

This year i.e 2012 is the year they plan to complete lighting 1 million homes using this green technology. The clear water disperses the light in all directions through refraction, which can provide a luminosity that is equivalent to a 55-watt electric light bulb, according to the MyShelter Foundation.

The idea behind the Solar Water Bulb is the brainchild of Alfredo Moser a mechanic from Sao Paulo, Brazil; who came up with it during the 2002 power shortage in Brazil to light up his workshop for working during the day! Like Plato said Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!

MIT students have been instrumental in spreading the usage of this simple and virtually free technology to the third world countries as a remedy to light up dark areas during the day without windows! They disperse light to all the corners of the room unlike skylights which are pretty much unidirectional.

How to Make Your Own Solar Bottle Bulb?

Raw materials Needed
1. 1 liter Pet Bottle
2. Galvanized iron corrugated or flat roofing sheet size 9″ x 10″
3. Chlorine (10ml per liter)
4. Steel Brush or Sand Paper
5. Snipping tools to cut the sheet
6. Pliers to fold the sheet back
7. Rubber Sealant or Epoxy resin – to seal and attach the bottle
8. Screws to attach it to the roof securely
9. Filtered water

Directions

On the galvanized roof sheet piece cut a circle 2mm smaller than the diameter of the bottle. Make small cuts perpendicularly along the edge and fold them upwards. Take the bottle and rub the sides to make it rough enough for the glue to adhere. Pass the bottle through the hole and hold in place using the folded edges of the sheet (1/3rd of the bottle above the fold). Apply glue to the bottle and the folded edges to seal and attach them together. Now pour 10ml of Chlorine into the bottle and top it up with filtered water. Close the lid tightly.

Now cut a hole on the roof of the shack where the light is needed. Apply sealant or epoxy resin around the opening to cover an area equivalent to the 10″x9″ sheet. Press it down and secure with screws. The bottle top which will be exposed to the elements needs to be protected (use plastic tubing and sealant to protect it). The Solar Water Bulb is ready and spreading light. The bottle light is believed to have a life of up to 5 years!!

How Does it work?

Simple: water diffracts the light, letting it spread throughout the house instead of focusing on one point. The chlorine keeps the water clear and microbe-free.

Positive Attributes – One can make on ones own Solar Bottle Bulb from waste materials! It can be installed any place world over where there is a roof. It is easily portable and yes, there are a huge number of households world over which do not get enough light during the day.

For e.g 360 million people in India lack access to electricity!!

Negative Attributes – Does not work during night when people do need light. The bottles sticking out of the roof is not very aesthetically pleasing 🙂

I am amazed at the possibilities such a simple idea provides – It is Green, Eco friendly, Cost effective and Practical! Try it out!

Things to watch out for or remember-

Make sure you seal the roof properly to avoid water damage.

Cover the bottle cap to make sure it does not disintegrate.

It only works during the day when there is sunlight.

Sources:

Isang Litrong Liwanang

Nokero N200 A Green Solution to Light Up Nights Worldover

In a world where 1 in 4 humans lives without access to electricity, and you and I pretty much can’t exist without it an economically viable solution to light up the nights is a blessing, no less. Nokero N200 is a small and effective solution for a large problem! Nokero (No kerosene!) was formed in June 2010 by inventor Steve Katsaros to develop safe and environmentally-friendly solar products that eliminate the need for harmful and polluting fuels used for light and heat around the world and most importantly, are affordable to the communities that need them.

Nokero Introduction

Nokero lamps are an all-in-one solar system that is already completely and successfully replacing kerosene lamps and paraffin candles in places all around the world where  electricity is not a given. Best of all, their lighting products are more economical than any other lights of the same kind.

Nokero performance:

  • A typical kerosene lamp emits about 10 lumens of light, similar to Nokero.
  • Nokero is made in a high-quality factory, has its CE certification, and is built to last 5+years when properly cared for.
  • Nokero’s battery lasts 2-3 years, and is replaceable for about $1 US.
  • Nokero is bulb-shaped, so it’s easy to identify what it is and how it works – anyone can use it.
  • Pivot technology allows for maximum efficiency – the solar panel can pivot toward the sun to increase insolation rates.
  •  The most affordable solar light of its kind
  • Quality design and construction
  • The best commercially available solar panels
  • High-temperature battery works efficiently in all climates

About Worldwide Kerosene Use

  • A quarter of humanity still obtains illumination via fuel-based lighting, usually Kerosene or “Kero”.
  • Usage is expected to shrink only slightly by 2030 (from 1.6 billion in 2006 to 1.3 billion in 2030), and is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Fuel lighting is widespread in well over 100 countries.
  • Typical kerosene users burn their lamps for 1.5 hours a night
  • The Nokero N100 lasts about 2 hours a night on one day’s charge.
  • The Nokero N200 lasts 6-plus hours a night on one day’s charge.

 

Economics:

  • The average user spends 5% of their income on lighting fuel.
  • Off-grid lighting users spend $40 billion per year (about 20% of all global lighting expenditures) yet receive only 0.1% of total lighting services.
  • Nokero pays for itself within weeks or months (depending on region) when replacing a kerosene lamp.
  • Recent market research has shown these users’ willingness to pay $6-$15 for solar LED products.
  • Better light creates improved study conditions, leading to a better overall economy for the host nation. (One report stated that study time of students rose from 1.47 hours to 2.71 hours per day, with a positive effect on school performance, when using LED lighting rather than fuel lamp lighting).
  • Off-grid businesses rank “improved lighting” highest among a set of improvements desired for their premises.
  • Those who buy a product take more care of it than those who are given a product.
  • Traditional solar home systems cost $300 or more and require installation.
  • Typical “hurricane” lanterns cost about $5US in most regions.
  • Battery-powered LED flashlights are available in some areas for about $5, but 87% of users had problems within 6 months.

Health:

  • Inhalation of fumes from fuel lamps is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.
  • Exposure to single-wick lamps exposes user to 10 times more particulate matter (PM) than ambient health guidelines.
  • More than 1 million people per year die in fires started by fuel-lamps and lighting materials.
  • Indoor air pollution is responsible for the death of 1.6 million people every year—that’s one death every 20 seconds.
  • Long-term inhalation of hydrocarbons, including kerosene fumes, results in central nervous system damage, including loss of cognitive functions, gait disturbances, and loss of coordination.
  • Other health risks include burns, complications from fires or explosions, child poisoning because of inadvertent consumption, exposure to unburned fuel, and compromised ‘visual health’ because of sub-standard luminance levels.

Environment:

  • 1.3 million Barrels of oil per day consumed by fuel lighting.
  • 190 million tons of carbon dioxide released into atmosphere.
  • This is the equivalent of 30m cars.
  • One Nokero bulb can save 0.77 tons of CO2 during its lifetime.
  • Other fuels:
  • Kerosene is not the only fuel used for light.
  • More than 7% of households in Tanzania burn wood for light.
  •  20% of homes in Ethiopia burn biofuels (non-kerosene) for light.

Kerosene facts and information are sourced from The Lumina Project

Nokero N200 is the latest from Nokero and is a simple easy to use solution for most lighting issues at home or while camping.

Some interesting facts:

In most countries, the Nokero N200 pays for itself in 15 days to 2 months by eliminating the need for expensive candles or kerosene.

The Nokero N200 also makes an ideal camping light, or a portable RV light, emergency light, or marine light.

It brings 6 hours of light per night on “low” and 2.5 hours of light per night on “high”,* but it can be charged for multiple days in a row to extend its lighting time.

The battery will last for 1.5 years, and can be replaced to keep the bulb lasting for years.

Energy production and distribution has been a costly and polluting exercise world over. We all await a day when renewable energy can be produced in a cost effective way so that the nights will be lit world over.  Nokero N200 is a step in the right way for more details and to buy check out  Nokero N200

 

Best Conditions for Generating Solar Energy

Solar panels use PV (photovoltaic) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Assessing whether your property’s roof is in a good position to generate solar power is essential before committing to installing any solar energy technology.

Roof position

Your roof will need to face south or within 90 degrees of south and should be in a relatively sunny position. If your roof is overshadowed for part of the day then this will generate less power. As well as this your roof needs to be structurally sound and in a fit enough state to be able to support the weight of the panels.
The Energy Saving Trust advises that your roof should be at a pitched angle of between 30 and 50 degrees from the horizontal for best performance. If you have a flat roof, panels can be attached to a frame tilted at the optimum angle.

Housing Energy Advisor suggests that you use free online solar angle calculator to calculate the best angle for each month of the year and then work out an average. Alternatively, you could make the most of the summer sunshine by calculating the optimum angle for June and setting your panels in that position. This would be the best option if you want to produce as much energy as possible to sell back to the national grid. A third option would be to set your panels at the optimum angle for the winter months. In this scenario, it would be likely that you would still be able to produce enough energy for the summer months, but this will give the additional benefit of reducing the amount of energy you need to buy in the winter. Unfortunately this would also reduce the amount of surplus energy you’ll be able to sell.

Weather conditions

Solar energy systems will produce energy all year round, but will produce significantly less during the winter months. Solar panels can still generate energy even on a cloudy day and the Energy Saving Trust even estimates that a system can still generate up to a 1/3 of the energy on a cloudy day that would usually be produced on a sunny day.

Regular amounts of rainfall are essential to the efficient operation of solar panels, as this cleans off any dust and dirt that could settle on them and could prevent the sun’s rays from being efficiently harnessed. This also helps to keep the panels cool, which benefits the panels as they operate with greater efficiency at lower temperatures.

Guest Article by Amy Catlow.

Teenie Micro Solar Cell From Semprius

Pin Sized Solar Cell from Semprius

Picture courtesy Inhabitat website

 

Semprius just unveiled an teenie solar cell that is half the size of a pinhead, which when combined with powerful inexpensive lenses can concentrate sunlight more than 11,000 times and convert it to electricity!

Semprius has been a leader in Concentrated solar research and development. In 2008 they had come out with a method to slice monocrystalline solar wafers thin enough to be flexible and partially transparent but still maintain their high solar efficiency. The slender silicon slices are then imprinted onto a substrate using Semprius’s patented microtransfer printing process.

Semprius’ patented micro-transfer printing technology brings for the first time, high performance semiconductors to virtually any surface, including glass, plastic or metal substrates or even other semiconductor wafers. By liberating the semiconductor devices from their traditional substrates, Semprius technology enables the construction of a wide variety of new products with large-area, thin, and lightweight form factors, high reliability and low cost. The resulting circuit devices have levels of performance comparable to the original semiconductor.

 

Smaller and more efficient! Wonderful news for Solar and alternative energy market; if only it were affordable sooner.

Read the entire article here

California’s First Molten Salt Solar Energy Project

A variety of fluids have been tested to transport the sun’s heat, including water, air, oil, and sodium, but molten salt was selected as best. Molten salt is used in solar power tower systems because it is liquid at atmosphere pressure, it provides an efficient, low-cost medium in which to store thermal energy, its operating temperatures are compatible with today’s high-pressure and high-temperature steam turbines, and it is non-flammable and nontoxic. In addition, molten salt is used in the chemical and metals industries as a heat-transport fluid, so experience with molten-salt systems exists in non-solar settings. [Source Wikipedia]

California has approved a new solar project that could revolutionize how we use energy from the sun – namely because it will be able to keep producing electricity even after night falls.
SolarReserve‘s Rice Solar Energy Project uses molten salt to store solar thermal energy. Since the salt will be able to reach temperatures over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and retain most of the heat it collects during the day, the plant will have the ability to keep churning out heat long after the sun goes down.

California has approved a new solar project that could revolutionize how we use energy from the sun – namely because it will be able to keep producing electricity even after night falls. SolarReserve‘s Rice Solar Energy Project uses molten salt to store solar thermal energy. Since the salt will be able to reach temperatures over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and retain most of the heat it collects during the day, the plant will have the ability to keep churning out heat long after the sun goes down.

Read More at Inhabitat.

Portable Solar Desalination From MIT

Clean drinking water is a necessity for human survival. MIT researchers have come up with a mobile solar powered water desalination system which could help remote regions have access to clean water.

The Project

This graphic shows the team’s concept for a portable system that could be shipped to disaster zones.

The team consists of 3 Mechanical Engineering graduate students Amy Bilton (Cyprus Program Fellow), Leah Kelley (Presidential Fellow), Richard Heller MS Student, led by Steven Dubowsky, a professor in both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Prof. Richard Wiesman.

Funded by MIT’s Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy in collaboration with the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), the research is aimed at designing small-scale systems for remote regions that don’t have access to vast amounts of electricity. The systems are also designed so that they can be cost-effectively assembled from standard parts and put into operation within hours using local human capital.

The team has built a working prototype that “is capable of producing 80 gallons of water a day in a variety of weather conditions.”

They estimate a larger version that could provide about 1000 gallons of water per day would cost about $8000 to construct. Size wise they believe a C-130 Cargo plane could deliver 2dozen desalination units, thereby providing enough drinking water for 10,000 people.

The supply of energy and clean water to remote locations, such as desert facilities, farming operations, resorts, and small villages in the developing world can be logistically complex and expensive. This project explores the feasibility, design and control of small smart power units to provide clean water and energy to remote sites by using solar power and reverse osmosis modules.

Watch the video about the product –

Opinion

When disasters strike basic necessities like drinking water made available sooner makes recovery faster and manageable. For remote locations too this might be a viable alternative as a fresh water source provided the solar panels becomes viable cost wise.

Read the full article HERE

For more details on the Project check their Website

SolarTie™ Efficiency for Grid Connected PV Power Plants

At the Solar Power International North America’s largest Business to Business Solar Event, American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) a global power technologies company exhibited their SolarTie™ Grid Interconnection Solution for Photovoltaic power plants. As alternative energy gathers steam and becomes more available the need for large scale grid connected solar projects are inevitable.

Standardized, distributed intelligence will make the power grid smarter. However, massive new transmission capacity is needed to incorporate large renewable energy sources. Current power line technologies using semiconductors require huge towers, with huge footprints, to transmit the necessary amounts of electricity from wind- or solar-rich areas to urban areas.

SolarTie™ combines two of AMSC’s proven and proprietary technologies – D-VAR® STATCOM solutions and Powermodule™ power converter systems – that are today connecting over 15 Gigawatts of renewable energy to the grid.

What is new about SolarTie™ Interconnection Solution?

  • Industry’s First Optimized Utility-Scale PV Interconnection System Introduced at Solar Power International 2010
  • Provides Centralized Control of Real and Reactive Power at the Point of Interconnection
  • Enables Developers to Meet the Most Stringent Grid Interconnection Requirements With Proven, Cost-Effective Technology

With a base rating of 1.4 megawatts (MW) and a turn-on voltage of up to 1,000 volts (VDC), the SolarTie™ solution is one of the most robust power inverter systems on the market. AMSC says in addition, SolarTie™ customers will benefit from:

  • The services of AMSC’s highly skilled and experienced Network Planning and Applications Group;
  • Solar inverters based on AMSC’s proven PowerModule™ platform;
  • The ability to control real and reactive power at the Point of Interconnection;
  • AMSC’s proprietary Smart Grid Interface (SGI) Controller, which directs SolarTie inverters and reactive power elements to provide efficient energy production and precise regulation at the Point Of Interconnection (POI); and
  • Easy integration with STATCOMs and/or capacitor and reactor shunt banks for additional reactive support if installed as part of the system.

By coupling best-in-class power converter capabilities with AMSC’s world-renowned dynamic reactive compensation technology, the SolarTie product represents the industry’s first fully optimized solution for utility-scale PV power plant developers. The addressable market for SolarTie™ solutions is expected by industry analysts to be approximately $2 billion by 2015.

Video of Jack McCall, Director of Business Development AMSC talking about the SolarTie

Source – Press Release from AMSC here

Solar Makes It’s Way Back to The White House!

By Spring of 2011 The White House will have Solar Panels heating water, keeping up with the president’s executive order that called on the federal government buildings to lead in the establishment of a clean energy economy.

It was just 4 weeks back that 350.org’s Bill Mckibben and a team of students from the Unity College Maine made a trip to the White house to put Solar back on the White House roofs where Jimmy Carter put it in 1979! They were also carrying one of the solar panels which was installed on the White House roof with them.We covered it here

Today Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that Solar panels and a solar hot water heater will soon be installed at the White House, at the 2010 GreenGov Symposium in Washington, accompanied by Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council of Environmental Quality.

What better way to put alternative energy on the front page  and highlight our need to let go of fossil fuel as a source of energy than putting the most powerful home in the world go Solar! Live Green!

Source –

Article on CNN – Solar Power Coming to the White House

350.org and their road trip to the White house in early September of 2010 – Big Victory White House Goes Solar!

Boeing’s Solar Eagle

The US defense department wants a drone which would stay aloft for five years and Boeing has stepped up to the plate. Boeing is building a prototype of a solar-electric drone called the Solar Eagle which they plan to test in 2013. The plane could be a pseudo-satellite for communication, reconnaissance and earth-monitoring.

Artists representation of the Solar Eagle Courtesy Discovery.com

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is paying The Boeing Co., $89 million to build a huge, solar-powered, robotic aircraft that can carry 1,000 pounds of sensors and other payloads for five years at a stretch.

The plane Solar Eagle, would need to be virtually maintenance-free and highly energy efficient. Well over half the plane, which spans 400 feet from wing to wing, will be covered with solar arrays to harvest energy from the sun. The power needs to be stored onboard so the plane can fly by night, as well as power payloads.

The Defense department wants the plane to be as dependent as a satellite with the added benefit of being able to be brought back and put back up as and when needed. It would be flying above 65,000 feet- twice the altitude of a commercial flight!

In July of 2010 The Zephyr – broke the official world record time for the longest duration unmanned flight. Zephyr was launched at 06:41 (MST) on 09 July 2010 and stayed aloft for 14 nights (336 hrs / 22 minutes) above the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, before being brought safely back to earth on the morning of 23 July having achieving all the objectives of the trial. The Zephyr was built by Qinetiq, Boeing’s partner in the Solar Eagle project.

The Solar Eagle is being designed at the Phantom Works, Boeings main Research and Development arm.

You can watch the Zephyr – take off, flight and landing in the video below.

Discovery.com

Qinetiq website

Article About Zephyr’s first long flight

Boeing.com