Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

Solar Roadways Wins $50,000 From GE

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 14, 2010

And they have a shot at winning a lot more:

The Ecomagination Challenge, however, isn’t an all-out victory for the Brusaws yet. GE has yet to announce the winners of their innovation awards in five categories, each carrying an award of $100,000. And the real money from the challenge rests on GE’s selection of ideas to officially sponsor, an announcement that could place up to $200 million in Solar Roadways’ coffers. With that kind of money, the Brusaws could begin to implement their idea on a small scale.

“That’s the announcement that we’re really waiting for,” Brusaw said. “But still, the $50,000 is a great start.”

It certainly would be. I’ve been following the Solar Roadways people for a while now, and it’s getting closer to reality with each passing day.

Posted in solar | Comments Off on Solar Roadways Wins $50,000 From GE

Solar Oven Cooking. In Minnesota. In January.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 11, 2010

Yes, it can be done. Roberta Avidor shows how to stew a chicken and bake cornbread on a sunny but cold day when the temperature outside is 9 degrees above zero, Fahrenheit:

It took three hours of slow cooking, with the internal oven temperature at a constant 200 degrees F. To my mind this sounds like the ideal way to cook ribs.

The oven and accessories come from the Solar Oven Society of Minnesota, who are fine, fine people and do good work.

Posted in energy, environment, food, Good Causes, Good Things, solar | 4 Comments »

More Like This, Please

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 3, 2010

Just think if the money we spent on the Forever Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were spent on this (h/t twolf1):

In this week’s address, President Barack Obama announced that the Department of Energy is awarding nearly $2 billion in conditional commitments from the Recovery Act to two solar companies. Abengoa Solar has agreed to build one of the largest solar plants in the world in Arizona, which will create about 1,600 construction jobs with over 70 percent of the construction components and products manufactured here in the USA. When completed, this plant will provide enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes. And, Abound Solar Manufacturing is building two new plants, one in Colorado and one in Indiana. These projects will create more than 2,000 construction jobs, and over 1,500 permanent jobs as the plants produce millions of state of the art solar panels each year.

The cost of silicon, a prime component in solar panels, has plummeted recently as more of it hits the market. There is actually a chance that energy generated from conventional solar panels could achieve cost parity with coal in the next five years.

Posted in energy, environment, solar, sustainability | 3 Comments »

Solar Power In Haiti

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 15, 2010

One silver lining of the earthquake is that it may be what gets Haitians to move away from burning increasingly-expensive wood and coal for power and cooking fuel:

Solar setups are quick to install, mobile, and relatively inexpensive compared to the price of rebuilding a damaged electricity grid. They can also be incredibly robust. Alan Doyle, a science editor at MSNBC, recently wrote that a single solar water purification system, recovered from the rubble by the Red Cross, is now purifying 30,000 gallons (over 110,000 liters) of water a day.

Sol Inc, a US-based solar street lighting company, has sent a first shipment of lights for roadways, food distribution, and triage sites. This may sound mundane, until you imagine trying to perform street-side surgery or find family members in the dark. The LED lights can also withstand hurricane force winds – no small thing in a country that has also recently been hit by tropical cyclones. Sol Inc has promised to match donations for people wanting to contribute to the program.

Communications are another crucial need being met by solar. China’s ZTE corporation has donated 1,500 solar cellphones and 300 digital trunking base stations. The same technology was used in China when an earthquake hit the Sichuan Province in May of 2008. A similar project is being set up by a group from Holland.

My favorite among all these groups is the Sun Ovens company, if for no other reason than it provides a cheap and low-tech way for poor Haitians to cook their food. Sun Ovens are llittle more than cleverly-folded shiny pieces of metal.

Posted in Good Things, Haiti, saving the earth, solar, sustainability | 4 Comments »

The Case For Solar Power

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 13, 2010

I’ve written in the past about the Solar Roadways concept. Well, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the US Department of Transportation last year, it’s now a bit more than just a concept:

On Feb. 5, Scott Brusaw demonstrated a 12-foot by 12-foot solar road panel in a friend’s garage in Sagle. A cameraman filmed the event, and officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation will likely visit the demonstration by the end of February.


“I thought, you know, I can build this,” said Brusaw. He started Solar Roadways four years ago with his wife Julie. “If they’re going to give me 100 grand, I’ll take half of it and buy the parts I need and put it together.”

So Brusaw spent the last six months in his home electronics lab building a small solar panel road prototype. By Feb. 12, he’ll submit a final report detailing his project’s feasibility to the USDOT.


After the demonstration, the USDOT will decide whether to give Brusaw an additional $750,000. That money would be used to build highway-size solar road panels that could be driven on and thoroughly tested.

Fingers crossed here. This may be what saves humanity. (Or at least saves humanity from a thousand-year period of starvation, famine and barbarism.)

Posted in energy, environment, Good Things, saving the earth, solar | 13 Comments »

Solar Roadways: Paving The Way To Energy Freedom?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 27, 2009

Remember when I mentioned the Solar Roadways concept? Imagine — instead of giving up giant sections of our countryside to solar arrays, we could make solar arrays out of already-paved land, namely roads.

It’s getting closer to reality:

Solar Roadways today announced that it has been awarded a DOT contract that will enable them to prototype the first ever Solar Road Panel.

The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces.

The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which “paint” the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. “detour ahead”). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to “slow down”. There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.

Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with Solar Roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips.

It is estimated that is will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12′ by 12′ Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we’ve ever used as a nation – almost enough to power the entire world.

This is just so fabulous I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

Posted in economy, energy, environment, solar, sustainability, transportation | 8 Comments »

The Sublime And The Ridiculous

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 11, 2009

The sublime:

Michigan gets a polysilicon plant, poised to supply silicon to solar cell makers

Minnesota farmers working with Juhl to supply wind power to rural areas

The ridiculous (if not obscene):

Conservatives like Glenn Beck refuse to admit that the Holocaust Museum murder was one of them

Posted in rightwing moral cripples, solar, technology, wind power | Comments Off on The Sublime And The Ridiculous

The Silver Lining In The Economic Downturn Cloud

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 8, 2009

Coal-heavy China, whose rapid industrialization has made it one of the world’s most polluted nations, has breathable air once again thanks to the shuttering of its factories:

During boom times, demand for electricity was so high in Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta that companies often endured rotating blackouts. Some installed their own generators, which burned low-grade, dirty fuel.

But since last fall, blackouts have been few, and generators are seldom used.

Environmental advocates say the downturn presents an opportunity for the government to move more aggressively to shut the dirtiest plants and enact stricter emissions regulations.

“The fact that the economy has slowed down has made it easier to stick to their plans to consolidate and close plants,” said Deborah Seligsohn, director of the China climate program for the U.S-based World Resources Institute.

Seligsohn said she is encouraged by the fact that China’s $586 billion economic stimulus plan includes funding for better technology and infrastructure that could benefit the environment.

In Guangdong, the slowdown could spur long-held plans to transform the region from dirty, labor-intensive manufacturing to cleaner high-tech industries.


It’s advice that Xu, 59, has taken to heart as he seeks to reinvent Beijing Famed Machinery, his two-decade-old company.

With production down 75 percent this year, he has now decided to focus his energy on what had largely been a side project: making and selling machines that turn agricultural waste into what he calls “green coal” _ fuel pellets that burn more cleanly than coal.

“It’s up to us whether we can turn crisis into opportunity,” he said. “This is a good time for our biomass product.”

One good sign is that China is paying attention to putting solar installations in rural areas, working to bypass the coal stage altogether as they bring rural Chinese into the 21st century.

Posted in China, climate change, energy, environment, solar | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

New Material Repairs Itself When Exposed To UV Light

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 15, 2009

Light could heal materials from Science News on Vimeo.

Ultraviolet light is generally inimical to lots of things, causing them to break down faster — which is a problem if these things need to be out of doors.

So when I saw this Science News article (by way of SOTT) about a material derived from chitosan, the key constituent in lobster and insect exoskeletons, that repairs cracks or tears in itself (or the material — such as polyurethane — in which it is embedded) when exposed to UV light, I immediately thought of how useful it would be in, say, outdoor photovoltaic cell applications such as traditional solar panels or even true Solar Roadways.

Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, Good Things, infrastructure, solar, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Solar Energy Gets A Break

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 21, 2009

Your good news tidbit for today: The price of silicon is dropping thanks to a growing number of factories making it – which means that the people making conventional solar photovoltaic cells have been given a tremendous break just when they really need it.

Posted in energy, environment, Good Things, solar, sustainability | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: