Tag Archives: Solar

Costa Rica produces 99% Electricity from renewable sources in 2015

CostaRica_Arenal_Volcano_(pixinn.net)

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said in a statement that it achieved 99 percent renewable electricity generation in 2015, as per AFP reports. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (English: Costa Rican Institute of Electricity) (ICE) is the Costa Rican government-run electricity and telecommunications services provider. Jointly with the Radiographic Costarricense SA (RACSA) and Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL) form the ICE Group. The institute also said for 285 days in 2015 the country managed to power its grid on 100 percent renewable sources.

The path away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy in the small Central American nation is seen as aspirational for other countries wanting to cut fossil-fuel pollution blamed on global warming. Costa Rica is lucky to have a wealth of renewable energy sources to choose from. The bulk of its power generation comes from hydropower thanks to a large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. The rest is made up of a mix of geothermal energy, which the country is also rich in, wind, biomass and solar power.

In December 2015, the UN Climate Change conference held in Paris (COP21) struck a landmark deal committing countries to cutting their carbon emissions. Whether Costa Rica’s renewable energy model can be implemented in other countries will depend on the topography and climate of the respected countries.

For Costa Rica, the more measurable results of its renewable energy success will be known by in the earlier half of this year (2016) when a full year worth of data will be available to compare with the previous year. By then, the largest hydropower plant in Central America should be in operation.

The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project, located in the eastern province of Limón, is expected to be ready for operation by end of January 2016.The ICE is currently taking measures to protect land along the south, east, and western portions of the future lake, and are reforesting a strip of land around the lake’s perimeter. This is a commendable course of action that we wholeheartedly support, but it will not be sufficient to guarantee the future integrity of this critical biological corridor. The Reventazon Hydroelectric Project aims to set a high standard for large development projects by engaging with the community and taking unprecedented environmental steps, but are they doing enough? Significantly more strategic reforestation will be required to maintain safe migratory access through the corridor.

The citizens of the country have benefited from the cost of energy actually falling by 12% this year and the institute expects it to keep falling in the future. It’s important to remember that Costa Rica is a small nation. It has a total area of about 51,000 square kilometres, which is about half the size of the US state of Kentucky, and it has a population of only 4.8 million people. Furthermore, its primary industries are tourism and agriculture, rather than heavy, more energy-intensive industries such as mining or manufacturing. Costa Rica is an inspiration as the right steps in the right direction.The Central American nation is just one of many nations around the world that is getting behind renewable energy.

Recently, India, the world’s third-largest carbon polluter, unveiled a plan that aims to make its economy more energy-efficient and to cut carbon emissions. In this significant shift, the Indian government said that it also intends to produce about 40 percent of its electricity in 2030 from “non-fossil-fuel based sources” such as solar, wind, and hydropower.

Try this Quiz to check if your opinion is informed by Science of Climate change

Reference
http://www.grupoice.com/wps/wcm/connect/a892130047b68c02b1b8bf59b6c2010c/infograma.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
treehugger.com
inhabitat.com
thejaguarproject.com
CSMonitor.com
wikipedia.com
miamiherald.com
Thumbnail image – Arturo Sotillo(Wha’ppen) Flickr via CC

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

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

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

Stanford’s Thinner Than The Wavelength of Sound Solar Cells

One thing we know about solar cells is that thinner it is less expensive it gets; thin film solar is cheaper than the standard silicon cells. Stanford University’s team of Researchers has come up with Solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light which are also more efficient! They say Ultra-thin solar cells can absorb sunlight more efficiently than the thicker, more expensive-to-make silicon cells used today, because light behaves differently at scales around a nanometer (a billionth of a meter).

The team consists of Shanhui Fan, associate professor of Electrical engineering and postdoctoral researcher Zongfu Yu who is the lead on the PNAS paper. Aaswath Raman, a graduate student in applied physics, also worked on the research and is a coauthor of the paper.

Everyone worked with the assumption that light travels in a straight line i.e. if a ray of light hits a mirror it bounces back as another ray. When Yu began investigating the behavior of light inside a material of deep subwavelength-scale – substantially smaller than the wavelength of the light – that it became evident to him that light could be confined for a longer time, increasing energy absorption beyond the conventional limit at the macroscale. On further research Yu figured out that he could increase absorption rate by 12% by sandwiching the organic thin film between two layers of material – called “cladding” layers – that acted as confining layers once the light passed through the upper one into the thin film. Atop the upper cladding layer, he placed a patterned rough-surfaced layer designed to send the incoming light off in different directions as it entered the thin film.

The project was supported by funding from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which supports the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics at Stanford, and by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Source – The Stanford News

A DIY Solar Water Heater From Plastic Bottles

Solar water heaters are probably the most widely used solar product worldwide, especially in Asia and other parts of the developing world it is a constant with any new construction. Out of Brazil comes this plastic water bottle based water heater created by Jose Alano a retired mechanic. He created a simple, cheap, energy saving rooftop solar water heater which is benefiting thousands of people across Brazil. Alano refused to throw away plastic bottles and packaging to end up in the landfills. In his words “Being 59 years old, I have had the opportunity to witness the technological advances of science, which improved food storage. But nowadays, some packaging weighs almost the same than the food itself! Years ago, my wife and I realized that we were not prepared for this new form of consumption.

Using his basic knowledge of Solar water heaters he and his wife created the green alternative version making use of 100 plastic (PET) bottles and 100 Milk Cartons there by getting rid of their waste responsibly.

Alano’s water heater won the Superecologia prize, offered by the Superinteressante magazine for renewable projects in the not-for-profit sector. He has made his design patented and available to use as a not for profit design. The only restrictions are on industrial production and politicians claiming credit for it!

The Invention

The standard solar water heaters cost a couple of 1000$ and have copper as a main element. The Plastic Bottle solar water heater is based on the thermosyphon technology which is used in many solar water heaters. It makes use of the circulation of water based on density; hot water which is less dense moves upwards while the cold water which is denser moves down. Alano estimates that to heat water for a shower of one person, a 1m² panel would be enough.

Materials needed for construction:

The only material required to build a recycled water heater are:

  • 2L plastic bottles (60),
  • Cartons (50)
  • 100mm PVC pipe (70 cm)
  • 20mm PVC pipe (11.7m)
  • 90-degree 20 mm PVC elbows (4)
  • 20mm PVC T-connectors (20)
  • 20 mm PVC end caps (2)
  • PVC glue
  • Black matt paint
  • Paint Roller
  • Sand paper
  • Self-amalgamating tape
  • Tools – Rubber hammer, saw, wood or other material for the support.

Once you get everything ready check out the diagrams in this DIY Leaflet online (PDF format in Portuguese, but the diagrams are easy to follow). use the 100mm PVC pipe as a mold and cut off the bottom of the bottles. Cut the 20mm PVC pipes into 10 x 1m and 20 x 8.5 cm pieces, and assemble with the T-connectors. Cut and paint the cartons (page10-12), as well as the one-meter long pipes. Assemble according to figure B.

The panels must be placed at least 30 cm below the tank and be sited on a south facing wall or roof. To optimize heat absorption, the panels must be mounted at the angle of your latitude, plus 10°. In London, for instance, the panel’s inclination should be 61°. Alano recommends that the plastic bottles in the panels should be swapped for new ones every 5 years: ‘Over time, the plastic becomes opaque, which reduces the heat caption, while the black cartons can be repainted.’ So once the bottles become opaque it is time to replace the bottles and send the used ones to the recycle dump.

Check out a video of a Alano’s bottle solar heaters below:

Such a useful way to utilize plastic bottles: green, clean and energy efficient! Reduce Reuse Recycle the 3 R’s at work! Live Green!

Source for data and Pictures – The Ecologist

Heritage Solar Slate Roofing: Green And Visually Pleasing

Read about this new solar roofing tile from Heritage solar called “Solar Slate” which truly makes use of your roof space without taking away from the aesthetic appeal of your home. The slates are designed to not stand out, there by helping with planning permission and regulations. It can even be used in historic preservation areas. Solar slate is manufactured by Renewable Energy Systems Ltd: a UK based leading company in the field of alternative energy projects.

Snowdonia national Park in the UK has a traditional cottage called Y Stabal which has 340 panels of the solar slate installed in its roof.

Heritage Solar Slates are innovative roof-integrated photovoltaic solar slates.
They are efficient, reliable, fully weather proof and look just like regular roofing slates. Unlike traditional solar panels, they blend in with standard roof slates to create a virtually invisible solar panel roof. Heritage Solar Slates are ideal for use in conservation areas, on historic buildings, new builds, or renovation projects. They are very low maintenance and easy to install.

What makes Heritage Solar Slates better than competition:

  • Reliability: No moving parts
  • Aesthetics: At last a perfect match to traditional slates
  • Practically no maintenance
  • Feed-in-tariffs eligible
  • Easily meets planning requirements
  • Plug and play: painless installation

The company site has the Guarantee terms as follows: Guarantee terms include a 10 year roof integrity guarantee and 10 year minimum performance guarantee (subject to terms, conditions, and limitations).

Clean, reliable, sustainable, renewable and aesthetically appealing! Check it out when you think about a new roof.

Source –

Pictures and Data – Heritage Solar slate Website

World Architectural News Article – The Solar Slate is a challenger for the 2010 WAN Awards

Inhabitat article

SoladeyJ3X: The Solar Toothbrush

The future of Oral hygiene could be Solar! Imagine not having to squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste from the tube! Worrying about your spouse not closing it properly… Not having to write a note to pick up the right brand (with the wide variety out there finding the right paste is almost an adventure in itself J University of Saskatchewan Dentistry professor Emeritus Dr. Kunio Kumiyama and his colleague Dr. Gerry Uswak were recruiting 120 teens willing to try out the solar powered toothbrush Soladey-J3X in 2007. The Japanese manufacturer The Shiken Company is paying the researchers to investigate whether the brush, which causes a chemical reaction in the mouth works better on plaque than a conventional brush and toothpaste combo.

Dr. Kumiyama described his first prototype 15 years back in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. It contained a titanium dioxide rod in the head of the brush just beneath the nylon bristles. When light shined on the wet rod it would release electrons which reacted with the acid in the mouth which helped breakdown the plaque without using toothpaste.

Now the latest edition the Soladey-J3X according to Dr. Kumiyama packs double the chemical punch when compared to the earlier version. Protruding from the base of the brush is a solar panel, which transmits electrons to the top of the toothbrush through a lead wire. For the brush to work one needs ambient light, i.e. light enough for a solar powered calculator to work.

How Does it Work?

The brush holder head lasts for a long time, while the head will need replacement when the bristles fray. The brush heads are priced at around 250 yen (3$) in Japan.

Last month, the researchers presented their research at the FDI Annual World Dental Conference in Dubai, where their poster won first prize out of 170 entries.

Check out the video about the toothbrush:

I am waiting for it to make its appearance in our local stores, would definitely check it out. It has been launched in Canada as Soladey Eco and can be found here

Check out the Company Website HERE

Source – Read the entire article HERE