Solar power will give you non-stop water during bike rides

If you’re a cyclist, you know the anxiety that comes with running out of water in the middle of a bike ride — the last thing you want is dehydration when you’re miles away from home. Design student Kristof Retezàr may just set your mind at ease, though. He recently developed Fontus, a bike-mounted device that uses solar power to convert air moisture into water for your drinking bottle. The key is its use of thermoelectric cooling. Solar panels generate electricity that cools the top of the device, where air comes in as you ride; as the moisture condenses, it drips water into a bottle below. The bottom stays warm, but that only accelerates the condensation process above.

This is a design exercise at the moment, but Retezàr is looking at both crowdfunding and investors to turn this into a shipping product. It won’t need much refinement to be both cheap and effective, at least. The Fontus prototype cost less than $40 to make, and it actually works best when conditions are at their worst — it produces half a liter (17 fluid ounces) of water in an hour when subjected to hot and humid air. That may not be completely satisfying if you’re extremely thirsty, but it should be enough to tide you over until your next rest stop.


Acer Goes Green, Commits to 100 Percent Renewable Energy for U.S. Ops

by Paul Lilly

Every so often, you hear about a major tech company making strides in going green and/or leaving a smaller carbon footprint. This time it’s Acer America, which today announced an initiative to provide clean energy for its U.S.-based operations. Acer claims it purchased enough green power to offset 100 percent of its carbon emissions from electricity at all U.S. facilities — more than 27 million kilowatt-hours of green power in the form of renewable energy credits (RECs) in all.

On top of the its renewable energy purchase, Acer America has also become an EPA Green Power Partner and is now included in the Green Power Leadership Club, as well as listed on the 100 percent Green Power Users and Top 30 Tech & Telecom partner ranking lists.

“EPA is excited to welcome Acer America Corporation as a Green Power Partner and congratulates them on their No. 24 ranking on our Top 30 Tech & Telecom list of the largest green power users,” said Melissa Klein, communications director of EPA’s Green Power Partnership. “By opting to purchase renewable energy, Acer America Corporation is helping to grow the nation’s clean energy economy and reducing harmful carbon pollution. The company’s impressive commitment to use 100 percent green power serves as an example of leadership for others to follow.”

RECs are used by thousands of U.S. and Canadian organizations as a way to track and trade green power in North America. The RECs that Acer purchased are sourced from a blend of renewable energy types including wind power and biomass — they’ll reduce emissions from Acer’s U.S. facilities through the end of 2015.


Largest Solar Power Plant in Africa Flips the Switch

By: Leon Kaye


The Jasper solar power plant in northern South Africa is now the continent’s largest. Image credit: Solar Reserve

With seven of the world’s fastest growing economies located in Africa, it should not be a surprise that the continent’s energy demands will only surge in the coming decade. Hence plenty of opportunities exist for clean energy companies as investors worldwide realize Africa, with all of its risks, is a booming market. To that end, California-based Solar Reserve, together with numerous partners, has completed and launched the Jasper PV Project in South Africa.

Built in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, the Jasper solar power plant is now the largest of its kind on the African continent. The consortium that led the development of the Jasper facility included the Kensani Group, Intikon Energy, Rand Merchant Bank and Google. Incidentally, the Jasper plant is Google’s first clean energy investment within Africa.

Located near the diamond mining center of Kimberley, the 96 megawatt plant and its 325,000 photovoltaic modules will provide enough energy for approximately 80,000 homes. The Jasper plant is also important as a step toward South Africa’s renewable energy goals. The country of 53 million basks under bountiful sun and withstands plenty of wind, but renewables still have not come close to being fully exploited. South Africans also endure blackouts on a regular basis, and energy shortages have long been the bane of conducting business in Africa’s second largest economy.

To that end, Solar Reserve claims the project serves as an example of how to boost employment in South Africa, where unemployment has long hovered around 25 percent. According a company press release, the Jasper plant provided 1 million man-hours of construction work and 800 on-site construction jobs. Construction of the plant was also largely a local endeavor, and about 60 percent of the materials used were procured from black businesses as mandated under South Africa’s black empowerment law. Under the power purchase agreement Jasper has with the national electricity company, Eskom, the project will set aside a percentage of revenues for local economic and job development projects in the Northern Cape region.

Conceived in 2011, the Jasper power plant started construction in October 2013, and with last month’s completion, finished two months ahead of schedule. South Africa still suffers from economic inequality, high crime and a complex regulatory environment, but successful projects like that of Jasper show that South Africa, and the rest of the continent continuing on north, offers plenty of business opportunities in sectors that immediately may not come to mind.


Laundry (Yes, Laundry!) Steps Into The 21st Century!

Cleaning clothes hasn’t progressed much since we learned how to churn them in a tank with hot water and soap… but now a British firm has figured out how to bring laundry into the 21st century!


Japan is planning to Build Huge Floating Solar Power Plants

One of Kyocera’s existing solar power plants, which has 70 MW of power capacity and sticks out into Kagoshima Bay in southern Japan. Image: [name here]/Shutterstock

Japan may be short on free land space, but that’s not stopping them from investing in renewable energy. Solar panel company Kyocera Corp, Century Tokyo Leasing Corp and Ciel Terre have announced (release in Japanese) that they’re teaming up to create two huge floating solar power plants which will be up and running by April next year.

These are just the first two of a planned network of around 30 floating 2 megawatt (MW) power plants, capable of generating a combined 60 MW of power, a spokesperson from Kyocera told Chisaki Watanabe from Bloomberg.

The first of these floating solar farms to be build will have 1.7 MW of power capacity, making it the world’s largest floating solar power plant. Construction will start this month, according to the announcement, on the surface of Nishihira pond in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, west of Osaka. The second will have a capacity of 1.2 MW and will be built on Dongping pond, Jason Hahn reports for Digital Trends, and the plants are aimed to be finished by April 2015.

According to Digital Trends, just these first two floating solar power plants would be enough to power anywhere between 483 and 967 American households.

The floating power plants aren’t just good for saving space – because the panels are over water they have a cooler temperature,which makes them more efficient. India has also recently invested in floating solar panels.

Kyocera and Century Tokyo partnered in August 2012 to develop around 93 MW of solar power plants, Bloomberg reports. So far, 22 MW of these projects have begun operating.