South Florida will soon get its largest solar array, 4,620 panels installed on the roof of a new IKEA store set to open in the Miami area next summer.
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Home solar panels are “the new granite countertops,” according to Tom Werner, CEO of US-based SunPower, one of the largest solar panel companies in the world. What does that mean? That means that, for an increasing number of new homeowners, solar panels are becoming an add-on right from the beginning. Furthermore, Werner is confident home solar panels will move beyond the “granite countertops phase” to mass adoption rather quickly.
Homeowners across the United States have begun a rooftop solar revolution. Since 2000, more than 1,460 megawatts of residential solar installations have been installed across the country, and more than 80 percent of that capacity was added in the past four years. In 2012 alone, rooftop solar installations reached 488 megawatts, a 62 percent increase over 2011 installations and nearly double the installed capacity added in 2010.
In northern New Mexico the sun shines nearly every day of the year. If solar energy is going to be viable anywhere, it will be here—and a small electric cooperative in historic Taos is taking advantage of it. In addition to supporting new solar projects in its service area, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative is offering its customers the opportunity to buy solar energy from “plots” in a “garden” of solar power generation.
Farmers in Japan can now generate solar electricity while growing crops on the same farmland. In April, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) approved the installation of PV systems on existing crop-producing farmland. Previously solar generation on farmland, productive or idle, was prohibited under the Agricultural Land Act.
This co-existence or double-generation is known as “Solar Sharing” in Japan. The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004, who was a retired agricultural machinery engineer who later studied biology and learned the “light saturation point.” The rate of photosynthesis increases as the irradiance level is increased; however at one point, any further increase in the amount of light that strikes the plant does not cause any increase to the rate of photosynthesis.
We typically see photovoltaic panels up on roofs, as they're broad, open surfaces that receive a lot of sunlight. You know what else spends a lot of time in the scorching sun, though? Sidewalks. With that in mind, a team at Washington DC's The George Washington University has created what is claimed to be "the first walkable solar-paneled pathway in the world."
Greetings from the Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, Australia! It’s been a while since we last posted from Port Augusta – and a lot has happened. Since departing from the Southern coast, we ran an approximately 1250km mock race, camped in the Outback while driving through the Northern Territory, settled down in Darwin at the Racetrack, drove a few laps, and (mostly) completed the scrutineering process for the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
When I visited the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which sits in the Mojave Desert on the border between California and Nevada, I had to be careful where I looked. The engineers warned me not to look directly at the receivers arrayed on top of the centralized solar towers, which collected the desert sunlight concentrated by thousands of mirrors on the desert floor. The solar receiver was as bright as the heart of the sun, glowing with a retina-melting white. I had to force myself to look away.
If you ask Solar Decathlon director Richard King why the average person might want to swing by the U.S. Department of Energy's biennial competition when it opens in 12 days, he answers with a question of his own:
"Where else can you see 20 houses so inspiring, side by side?"
The company behind Solar Impulse, the first solar airplane capable of flying day and night without using any fuel, is partnering with Google to help promote its goal of circumnavigating the globe in 2015 using only solar energy.