The technology that powers your Kindle may soon have military applications. For soldiers in combat zones, gadgets like GPS and heads-up displays are fantastically useful, provided they have the battery to power them. One of the most power-hungry components in these devices is the screen. While we may have reached a point where a gadget can run for days on a single charge, it's still not sufficient for grunts who may be in the field for weeks without access to power.
A plane designed to fly day and night using solar power has successfully taken its first maiden flight.
The Solar Impulse HB-SIA soared into the air for its first flight early Wednesday from its home in Switzerland. After a smooth takeoff, the plane climbed to an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,937 feet or three-quarters of a mile) and stayed aloft for a total of 87 minutes. Pilot Markus Scherdel used the flight to run the Impulse through different exercises and maneuvers to see how it would handle itself.
As thousands of spectators gazed skyward, Scherdel worked the controls … Read more
A solar-charged light might seem like just another green gadget to the average American, but for families in rural Africa, it could prove revolutionary.
Product design consultancy Plus Minus Design is vying to replace unsustainable and potentially dangerous lanterns in the homes of off-grid Africans with the Solar Pebble. Engineered with the economic constraints of developing-world citizens in mind, the Solar Pebble will provide one hour of LED light for every two hours of charge, and will cost only $2.70 to manufacture.
Plus Minus Design, based in Leeds, U.K., was founded by three undergraduate students at the University of Leeds. While studying product design and engineering, Adam Robinson, Henry James, and Tom Eales were given the opportunity to work with SolarAid, a charity in the U.K.
SolarAid, which works to fight poverty and climate change, worked with the students to develop a solar-powered alternative to kerosene lanterns. Those lanterns, commonly used in rural Africa, draw 20 percent of an average Malawian family's income, SolarAid said, and pose respiratory health problems, as well as create fire hazards. … Read more
Business and government officials on Friday cut the ribbon on a solar array in Arizona that uses giant parabolic dishes to generate electricity from the sun.
Solar plant developer Tessera Solar installed 60 solar collectors, called the SunCatcher from Stirling Energy Systems, in Peoria, Ariz. Each dish is rated at 25 kilowatts and the entire facility will have a capacity of 1.5-megawatts of generation.
Utilities installing large-scale solar power generation are typically using arrays of flat photovoltaic panels or concentrating solar power systems, where mirrors or reflective troughs create heat to make electricity.
The Stirling Energy Systems technology also … Read more
U.S. solar thermal power company eSolar, whose investors include Google, said it has reached a deal with a Chinese power equipment maker to build a 2,000-megawatt solar thermal power project in China over the next 10 years.
The deal comes as the Chinese government aims to boost renewable energy generating capacity in the country, with plans to generate at least 10,000MW of solar energy and 20,000MW of wind power by 2020.
In a statement, eSolar said equipment maker China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing was developing solar thermal plants using eSolar's technology.
It did … Read more
Updated at 2:30 p.m. PST with additional information on PG&E deal.
SolarReserve said on Tuesday it has signed a deal to build a utility-scale solar plant in Nevada with a molten salt storage system that will let it supply power when the sun isn't shining.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company has a 25-year power purchase agreement with utility NV Energy to supply about 480,000 megawatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to power about 75,000 homes during peak times. The capacity of the concentrating solar system will be 100 megawatts and be located … Read more
First Solar has produced and shipped 1 gigawatt's worth of photovoltaic solar systems for 2009, the company announced Wednesday.
Hitting the gigawatt mark--the equivalent of 1,000 megawatts or 1 billion watts--is significant as it shows a drastic rise in production and consumer interest. First Solar, which makes cadmium telluride solar cells and panels, produced only about 75 megawatts in 2007, and between 420 megawatts and 460 megawatts in 2008, according to the company's own statistics.
But the leap shouldn't be a surprise: the solar company has been signing massive deals with municipalities over the last year. … Read more
California regulators on Thursday approved an ambitious project to beam solar energy from space starting in 2016.
Under a power purchase agreement approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, utility Pacific Gas & Electric will purchase electricity from technology provider Solaren if it successfully deploys its space-based solar collectors, which would be the first of its kind.
PG&E has contracted to buy 1,700 gigawatt hours per year for 15 years from Solar for its space-based solar arrays, which will have a generating capacity of 200 megawatts. That's smaller than a full scale nuclear or natural gas … Read more
Switzerland's Solar Impulse solar plane has finally taken flight.
The first plane designed to fly day and night without fuel, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA lifted off for the first time on Thursday at 13:11 Swiss time, reported its promoters and co-founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. The plane took to the air from its home at Dubendorf Airfield, near Zurich, Switzerland, traveling 1 meter (3.2 feet) off the ground and landing successfully after flying 350 meters (1,148 feet).
The first flight of the Solar Impulse prototype evoked a huge wave of applause from its team, who … Read more
LOS ANGELES--Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures-backed solar-thermal start-up Ausra is in talks with three potential buyers to sell itself, two sources familiar with the company told Reuters on Friday.
The buyers could take a majority stake or snag the whole company and the discussions are at a "very aggressive level," said one source familiar with the company, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Both sources said the interested companies were global conglomerates in the power generation business but declined to name them. The companies already have various power products, such as steam and gas turbines, … Read more