Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Photovoltaic

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

The map displays solar radiation data with outstanding resolution (Photo: MIT)

MIT researchers have developed a new technique that can be used to accurately predict the annual yield of a photovoltaic solar array located anywhere on the planet, taking into account local climate, panel orientation, and obstructions from nearby buildings. As a proof of concept, the scientists have mapped out the 17,000 rooftops of Cambridge, Massachusetts and created a user-friendly web interface that residents can use to look up their homes and get an accurate projection of the cost and return on investment of placing a PV panel over their heads.  Read More

The Solar Electric Scooter uses a PV panel as its riding platform

If you've ever thought that the rider platform of an electric scooter is just crying out for a solar panel, you're not alone. California renewable energy veterans Mike Donnell and Tony VanMeeteren have spent the last four years working on some PV-panel-packing, adult-sized, emission-free electric scooters called SES, and are now moving toward mass production.  Read More

Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered a method for creating solar cell mat...

For most people, experiments involving a home microwave typically don't go much further than inflating a marshmallow like a balloon or reheating leftovers in plasticware – both with messy results. For metallurgists though, microwaves are sometimes employed to efficiently process metals, which is how researchers at the University of Utah found themselves using a secondhand kitchen appliance in their lab. Their resourcefulness paid off recently, when the team discovered a method for creating solar cell material with just a few basic ingredients and an old microwave.  Read More

Research at UNSW increases the conversion efficiency of solar cells made using lower-cost,...

While we wait for affordable multi-junction solar cells that are pushing past the 40 percent conversion efficiency mark to make it out of the lab and onto our roofs, we have to make do with standard commercial silicon cells that currently max out at around 19 percent. A team from the University of New South Wales in Australia has found a way to improve the quality of low-grade silicon, enabling higher efficiency solar cells to be produced from cheaper, low-grade silicon.  Read More

The SOLARWATT Carport System

BMW’s sustainable mobility-focused sub-brand BMW i has announced it is to join forces with German photovoltaic firm SOLARWATT GmbH, in a bid to supply consumer-friendly solar-powered carport and rooftop charging systems to future i3 and i8 owners.  Read More

IBM is developing an affordable High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system tha...

Solar power may provide a clean, abundant source of energy, but we know the sun's rays are capable of much, much more. Aside from generating electricity, we've seen solar energy harnessed to produce drinkable water as well, so why not combine the two processes into one system? That's what IBM and its collaborators are hoping to do with an affordable High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system that uses cooling technology from supercomputers to harvest solar energy more efficiently and produce purified water at the same time.  Read More

North Carolina 4th-grade students have raised enough funds on Kickstarter to allow their c...

After looking into the pros and cons of nine methods of electricity production (including coal, geothermal, biomass, and solar), a group of 9 and 10 year-olds from Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina decided that their classroom should be powered using only energy from the sun. They hit Kickstarter at the beginning of this month with a modest funding goal of just US$800 to help finance the installation of a small PV panel array – a target that was smashed in less than a day.  Read More

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