The primary complaint against solar power — that it, you know, requires the sun — is perfectly valid. But Arizona's new Solana Generating Station, the largest capacity solar thermal plant on the face of the Earth, has just provided a $US1.4 billion counterpoint. Thanks to its massive molten salt reserves, this plant keeps producing power even after lights out.
Tagged With green
Solar power is fantastic, sure. But while the tech behind solar panels is zooming forward, there are other problems holding it back. Problems like installation and cleaning. Fortunately robots are here to help.
Get excited, Earthlings who like the Earth: IKEA just announced a new program to sell energy-saving solar panels in each of its 17 UK stores. This means that with a little bit more effort than it takes to purchase a set of Billy bookcases, Brits can be doing their part to bring the world a little closer to sustainable energy.
Only a decade ago, sustainable building techniques were fairly rare, a fringe culture on the periphery of mainstream architecture. But with Stephen Colbert interviewing radically green architects, like Mitchell Joachim and Passive House buildings popping up in New York City, that's all changing very quickly.
With the decreasing popularity of coal and increasing volatility of petroleum prices, natural gas is emerging as a major energy resource. And while we have plenty of reserves, an estimated 84 trillion cubic metres, it's still a non-renewable resource that must be used sparingly whenever possible — like this new natural gas power plant prototype from the Department of Energy. It produces just as much electricity with 20 per cent less gas every time the sun shines.
The Inland Empire's cadre of water treatment plants clean millions of litres of waste water every day. But what to do with all that left over poo? Normally, it's unceremoniously dumped in a local landfill, but at Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 1, that massive pile of crap is put to a better use — making electricity with the largest biogas fuel cell generator in America.
Bicycled is a new company that's building bikes out of junked cars. While that sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster, the results are actually amazingly beautiful.
In November of 2011, American commercial airlines consumed 1.83 million litres of fuel — every day — and paid a total of $US49.8 billion that month to do so. And with increasingly tight operating budgets, fuel efficiency has quickly become a primary concern for the airlines. Boeing thinks one possible solution is its new plug-in hybrid jet concept that burns 70 per cent less gas per flight with the help of local power grid.
Wind farms simply aren't reliable sources of steady power, which is why many rely on enormous battery systems to store excess current for times when the wind isn't gusting enough to meet our energy demands. But the production of these batteries is itself a drain on resources. So what if — instead of lithium and metal hydride batteries — wind farms could just store energy using the same air that spins the propellers?
When complete, the Vestas V164 is slated to be the world's largest and most powerful wind turbine on the planet. Standing 135 metres tall, with a diameter spanning 164 metres, the turbine to generates eight megawatts of power. This is no child's pinwheel. In fact, it cranks out enough juice to power a whole neighbourhood.
Winter makes you crazy because you spend so much time cooped up without fresh air or sunlight. With that in mind, some people in New York City have plans in the works for an underground park — the Lowline — to be built in an abandoned trolley station and lit through a remote skylight system.