Dutch company claims to have a wind turbine that is 80% more efficient than existent turbines.

Wind turbines might be an excellent source of renewable energy, but they have yet to become a residential feature due to one thing – the noise. Thankfully, a Rotterdam-based company called The Archimedes claims to have a solution that is not only quiet, but significantly more efficient that existing wind turbines. Modelled after a Nautilus shell, its inventors claim the Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine can achieve “80 percent of the maximum that is theoretically feasible.”

The wind turbine draws on formulas, drawings and principles pioneered by the brilliant Greek mathematician, among other things, Archimedes. Current wind turbines require a difference in pressure between the front and the rear side of the rotor blades to work properly, but this creates drag. The Dutch design claims to eliminate this problem, although it has yet to be tested independently. Liam can also change direction so that it is always harvesting the optimum amount of energy.

“The Liam F1 generates an average of 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy [per year] at a wind-speed of 5 m/s [16.4 ft/s], which resembles half of the power consumption of a common household.”

Although it’s not officially available until July 1st, the company states that it has already sold 7,000 of the turbines in 14 countries. When it does become available to the general public, it will sell for €3,999, which is about US$5,450.

Courtesy: http://www.psfk.com/2014/05/tiny-windmill-siphons-renewable-energy-to-your-apartment.html#!ST5ly

Free Solar Power in Outdoor Spaces: How a Few Companies are Leading the Charge

By Jim Innes

With the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) encouraging colleges to incorporate green technology and a growing number of government grants awarded to universities to install solar-power solutions, campuses are looking beyond solar panel installations on buildings.

Image credit: Street Charge via Instagram

As consumers become more dependent on laptops and tablets, staying connected to a power sources has become a top priority. Smartphones may be getting smarter, but their batteries are draining faster, and so mobile tech-savvy people are looking for reliable public places to recharge electronic devices. Rather than fight over limited outlets and drive up electric bills, a few innovative companies are finding ways to offer renewable, free solar energy charging stations for community use.

  • Social enterprise-based d.light design manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products targeting the 2.6 billion people globally without access to reliable electricity. d.light’s small-scale, distributed renewable energy solutions designed for households and small businesses are transforming the way people all over the world can access and pay for power.
  • StreetCharge public charging stations debuted in New York in partnership with AT&T in 2013 and have been popping up with installations across the country. Solar power systems developer Goal Zero and Brooklyn design studio Pensa joined forces for these stations topped by PV panels that charge up a powerful internal battery. Six phones can be charged at a time, but there is no seating, so practicality and comfort may be an issue.
  • CarrierClass Green Infrastructure’s ConnecTable Solar-Charging Stations are fully engineered solar power charging and backup power systems designed to accommodate a range of table design aesthetics, surface materials, and site design objectives. They feature an uncompromising structural integrity with 90mph wind ratings, and multiple tables can be combined to form a micro grid and a backup power source during extended power outages.
  • Sol Power LLC builds solar powered charging stations for cell phones. The safe and secure lockers are designed to charge up to 15 cell phones at once. They also offer a customizable outdoor advertising platform. The downside is a limited battery functionality that would likely go down after extended bad weather or heavy charging.
  • SOLAQUA’s Sundog Power-To-Go allows consumers to take their power anywhere. Built to be mobile, the power station is built on a cart for easy maneuverability. Take it with you to run your laptop, mobile cooler, cell phones, power lights, and audio systems. Standard 110v 3 prong outlets assure that most common household items can be plugged in, but this device is strictly utilitarian with limited power supply over longer periods.
  • Grid2Go Solar Mobile Charger allows consumers the freedom to charge two devices simultaneously without being tied down to outlet availability. Small and powerful, they can charge most smart phones from empty to full three times before it needs to be recharged. They can be recharged from the sun or from a wall or USB outlet and comes with cords and connectors.

These solar charging solutions are being utilized everywhere from off-grid camping facilities to universities, theme parks, sports complexes, corporate parks and public parks. As we become more technology-reliant, the demand for energy is only increasing. But we can not continue to rely on fossil fuels. Solar technology companies continue to pave the way, utilizing a free, clean resource for abundant energy.

Courtesy: http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/05/growing-need-free-renewable-electrical-power-outdoor-spaces-innovative-companies-leading-charge/

The Crazy Genius Behind Solar Roadways

by Ryan Lawler

Here’s an idea crazy enough that it just might work: Pave the streets with solar-powered panels that have their own built-in heat and LED lights. That’s what Scott and Julie Brusaw hope to accomplish with their ongoing Solar Roadways project, which they just funded through a hugely popular crowdfunding campaign.

The husband-and-wife team has spent the better part of the last decade developing solar-powered modular panels that could be installed in roadways and parking lots, and would be able to collect power from the sun. Those panels could also keep streets clear of snow and ice, while illuminating them with LEDs.

Rather than paving streets and driveways with asphalt, the Solar Roadways panels would theoretically be able to decrease our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels by generating massive amounts of clean energy. Panels are made from ruggedized glass and connect to one another through a mesh network, so that even if one panel fails the system will notify repair crews that it needs to be replaced.

The whole thing is a pretty outlandish idea, and one we first wrote about back in 2010. Now, after rolling out some prototype panels in a driveway, and putting together a couple of videos to show how they work, the Solar Roadways team seems to have reached a point where it can actually start productizing and deploying its panels.

They will be helped by more than $1 million that they raised in a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. (The campaign goes on for another week, for those who’d like to contribute.)

After building out and testing its Phase II prototype thanks to funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the company is hoping to deploy the panels in the wild.

While frankly it’s a pretty cool idea, the Solar Roadways team has a lot of work ahead of it if it hopes to get its panels installed in real-world situations. And given the amount of highway and road infrastructure in the U.S., it would no doubt be crazy expensive to deploy in any massive scale. But the whole thing is crazy and cool enough that it just might work.

Courtesy: http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/25/the-crazy-genius-behind-solar-roadways/

Fukushima, Japan Rebuilding Communities with Solar, Commits to 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2040

Junko Movellan


Fukushima experienced the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit three years ago. Now, the region is trying to turn the “lost landscape” into massive renewable energy fields. The prefecture has declared “zero dependency on nuclear energy” and created a goal to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy, such as solar, by 2040. The prefectures also believes that investing in renewable energy will spur economic development and create jobs to help its recovery and rebuilding efforts.

The solar project installed at the airport parking areas consists of 4 ground-mount structures: a 500-kW system, created by 2,000 SunPower modules and one 500-kW TMEIC inverter donated by Toshiba, a 501-kW system with SunEdison modules, a 22.5-kW tracking system using Fuji Premium modules, and a 169-kW system consisting of 30 different solar panels provided by various domestic and foreign manufacturers and six different mounting system structures.

In the same month, the prefecture opened the “Fukushima Renewable Energy Research and Development Center” with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), a publicly funded research institution, for advancement of solar technologies in the prefecture. The Research Center monitors and analyzes the efficiency and effectiveness of different modules and system structures at the airport. The center will also research other renewable energy technologies such as wind and geothermal, and transfer knowledge and advances to create jobs in the prefecture.

Solar Projects Supporting Communities

Iwaki city, located within a 50-km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, developed a 1-MW solar system “of the people, by the people, for the people” in Iwaki city. Solar Energy Iwaki, a special purpose entity, owns the system while the Ethical Energy Project Iwaki, a non-profit organization created by local citizens, maintains and operates the system.

All electricity produced from the system will be sold to the Tohoku Power Electric Co, a regional investor-owned utility, with a 20-year feed-in tariff (FIT) contract. A portion of the revenue will be used for recovery and restoration of the town.

Machizukuri Zeene, a non-profit organization in Fukushima city, has been operating a free bus transportation service for seniors in the town. The organization faced difficulty covering the cost of operation through revenue from advertisements on the bus. To take advantage of the premium rate paid for solar energy, the organization decided to develop two 50-kW PV systems. Currently revenue received from the FIT supports the cost of the transportation operation and keeps seniors mobile.

Turning Closed Golf Courses into Large-scale Solar Projects

Several golf courses were closed due to the physical damage caused by the earthquake and others were closed due to a large reduction in the number of golfers, who stopped the activity due to fear of radiation from the nuclear power plant. As temporary storage sites, some golf courses were filled with bags of radioactive waste, however, others have been turned into solar generation sites filled with solar panels.

Mori Trust Co., a developer of real estate, hotels, resorts, and golf courses, turned the Laforet Shirakawa Golf course at Nishishirakawa town into a 2-MW solar project. The earthquake resulted in mudslides and cracks in the ground in the golf course. “We consider re-opening the golf course, but to support and create new economic opportunities in Fukushima, we closed the golf course and created a clean power plant instead,” said a manager at Mori Trust. About 10,000 solar panels covered over two holes out of the total eighteen holes at the former golf course. The company is planning to develop an 8-MW solar system over the remaining sixteen holes.

A 26.2-MW solar project is now under construction at another golf course in Sukagawa city. JFE Engineering Co., an EPC firm, is building the solar system at the closed golf course near the Fukushima Airport. Sunny Health Company, a distribution of health foods and beverages, purchased the golf course site, which has been closed due to the disasters. The project, with Hanwha Qcells modules, is expected to be operational by March 2015.

Combining Solar with Farming

Minamisoma city is located 25 km from the nuclear power plant. On the city-owned, tsunami-affected land, the city built the Solar Agri Park, which includes a 500-kW solar system and two dome-shaped greenhouses. Using hydroponic technology, plants are held in a medium without soil and receive a constant flow of nutrient-rich water at the roots. This method allows farmers to return to farming, eliminates use of possibly contaminated soil and removes consumer’s fear and risk of exposure to radiation.

Photos of Solar Agri Park (500-kW system and greenhouse for lettuce). Credit Minamisoma city

A portion of the electricity generated from the 500-kW system is used for the green houses to produce 400 lettuce plants and 450 celery plants daily and the remaining energy is sold to the Tohoku Electric Power Co. under the 20-year FIT contract. The park is also used to educate children in Minamisoma and other parts of Fukushima about sustainable lifestyle with renewable energy and local farming.

The project started last November with the greenhouse, on which 324 solar thin-film panels were installed. The solar panels cover about 25 percent of the roof space so that they don’t affect the growth of the strawberries and tomatoes planted underneath. Harnois Greenhouses, a division of Industries Harnois Inc., a Canadian manufacturer of steel structures, provided the structure of the greenhouse and Belectric, a German EPC firm, designed the solar greenhouse system. The greenhouse was designed to bear the weight of solar systems.

Fukushima prefecture and Solar Frontier, a CIS (copper, indium, selenium) thin-film PV manufacture, teamed up to develop a “solar sharing” pilot program in Minamisoma city. This concept allows farmers to earn extra income by selling solar energy from installations on their land.

Near Future Plans for Fukushima

For the fiscal year 2015, ending March 31, 2016, the prefecture has a renewable energy goal of 805 MW (cumulative installed capacity). This goal is equivalent to 24 percent of the retail electricity demand of the prefecture. Out of 805 MW, solar PV technology will represent 447 MW. By 2030, the cumulative installed capacity of solar will be 2 GW.

This goal appears to be easily attainable. As of January 2014, Fukushima already had nearly 1.6 GW of FIT-approved PV capacity.

While the federal government described nuclear power as an “important baseload power source” in the energy plan released in April, Fukushima is making important strides toward zero nuclear power.

Courtesy: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/05/fukushima-japan-rebuilding-communities-with-solar-commits-to-a-100-percent-renewable-energy-by-2040

“Drift Catchers” Protect Organic Food

Organic farmers get angry when the chemicals they try so hard to avoid end up drifting over from neighboring farms…. But now a weapon no bigger than a vacuum cleaner will help them fight back.

Courtesy: todaysgreenminute.com