Photokina 2014 highlights

Photovoltaic

The Nyngan solar PV plant will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere

With plenty of sun-drenched, wide open spaces, Australia is an obvious place for large-scale solar power plants. It would seem that large reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, have on the other hand made it difficult for the country to wean itself off fossil fuels. But renewable energy is getting a boost down-under with the announcement of two solar projects, one of which will be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Southern Hemisphere.  Read More

Pure Tension Volvo Pavilion

"How am I going to prevent that battery from dying on my trip?" It's a sentiment that's been echoed again and again, even by the most ardent EV early adopters, and certainly by the auto consuming public at large. With only 100 miles (161 km) of battery power on a good day, and few charging stations along most routes, the fear of sputtering out on the highway is real and pervasive. With help from a collaborative of designers and architects, Volvo shows one possible solution – a collapsible, carport-sized solar charging pavilion named Pure Tension.  Read More

The SunSocket uses mono-crystalline solar panels

To get the most out of solar panels they need to be facing the right way. Systems that track the sun are often used in large solar power stations and some larger home installations, but most flat panels for portable applications just lie there. Colorado-based Aspect Solar has come up with the SunSocket Solar Generator, a lightweight, portable, self-contained solar power system consisting of a battery and solar panels that brings the advantages of automatically tracking the Sun to small applications.  Read More

The OnBeat headphones feature photovoltaic cells on the headband and hinges to charge buil...

The rain-soaked streets of Glasgow have provided the unlikely backdrop for the development of the PV-packing OnBeat Solar Headphones. As the sun beats down on these on-ear cans, custom-molded polycrystalline silicon photovoltaics on the headband and side hinges harvest its energy to charge up powerful batteries within the housing. A charging cable connected to the USB port on the right cup can be plugged into your smartphone or digital music player, topping up your device while you listen to some cool tunes.  Read More

NuOffice scored 94 points in LEED's Core and Shell category (Photo: Haupt Immobilien)

A recently-completed Munich-based commercial property, dubbed NuOffice, is being hailed as the world's most sustainable office building. Commissioned by Haupt Immobilien, and created with the help of both European-funded research group DIRECTION and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, NuOffice breezed through LEED Platinum certification. It snagged the highest rating ever issued by the body for a building of its type.  Read More

Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in ...

Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina hit Kickstarter back in March to try and raise enough money for their classroom to go off-grid. A rather modest target of US$800 was smashed within a day by the kindness of the international community and, at campaign end, the kids found themselves with the handsome sum of $5,817 to spend on the purchase and installation of a roof-mounted solar energy harvesting system. A wind turbine was added to the shopping list, and just two months later, the 208ers threw a huge "Flip the Switch" party to celebrate leaving the grid. Sebens reports that the classroom has been running on renewables ever since.  Read More

Stafier's PV roof tile system recesses into the roof

If aesthetic concerns are keeping you from buying some solar panels to stick on your roof, Stafier's expansion into photovoltaics may be of interest.  Read More

Tel Aviv University's new building, featuring its EcoWall (Image: Axelrod-Grobman Architec...

A new building at Tel Aviv University features a standalone EcoWall that aims to provide vertical garden space and research facilities for its faculty. The university's Porter School of Environmental Studies (PSES) hopes that its new green building design will not only join the small number of LEED certified buildings in the country, but will also highlight sustainable methodologies for future buildings in Israel.  Read More

AT&T, Goal Zero and Pensa have started rolling out the Street Charge public solar charging...

Telecomms provider AT&T has partnered with portable solar power systems developer Goal Zero and Brooklyn design studio Pensa for the roll out of Street Charge public solar charging stations in New York. Each station is topped by PV panels that charge up a powerful internal battery to provide smartphone and tablet users with a free juice up. The first units debuted at Riverside Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fort Greene Park and Governor's Island on June 18, and will be followed by another 20 or so stations in the coming months.  Read More

The building has received LEED-NC Platinum and Net-Zero Energy certification (Photo: Gregg...

Originally constructed in 1972, the former Castle Boutique Megastore in Phoenix, Arizona, has been transformed from an adult-themed store into the new headquarters of sustainable-building firm DPR. Despite its origins, it would be a mistake to underestimate DPR's new premises, as the building received both LEED-NC Platinum certification and Net-Zero Energy certification from The International Living Future Institute, thus making it currently the largest net zero building in the world.  Read More

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