Whether they've been crossing the English Channel, traversing the Alps, or attempting to fly around the world, solar-powered planes have been in the news a lot this year. While the aircraft are certainly fascinating and inspiring, there's no way that most of would ever be able to afford one … or is there? If a new Kickstarter campaign is successful, you'll be able to get a Volta Flyer solar airplane for just US$40. The only thing is, it'll be a little on the small side.
Many smart home devices are designed to remotely control various aspects of living areas, with an added benefit of energy savings. One of the latest home automation products achieves those savings in a way that, so far, has been largely overlooked. Designed with mobile connectivity in mind and powered by solar panels, Axis Gear motorizes and automates home window shades, blinds, or curtains.
Five wearying days after setting off from Darwin, the Nuon Solar Team has beaten Dutch compatriot Solar Team Twente to claim its sixth World Solar Challenge. The two teams have been neck-and-neck over the mammoth solar-powered journey, and remarkably finished only minutes apart after covering some 3,000 km (1,864 mi) through the Australian outback.
The US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon has been run and won for 2015. It’s a nationwide contest between collegiate teams to see who can build the most attractive, cost-effective and efficient solar home. Fourteen teams duked it out for this year’s competition, and the winning team from the Stevens Institute of Technology drew inspiration from Hurricane Sandy to create a sustainable, solar coastal home that opens up for entertaining in summertime but locks down to resist severe weather damage in the winter – and uses some 90 percent less energy than a typical home.
The Maldives isn't exactly lacking in novel luxury hotels, but well-heeled travelers with a view to mitigate their carbon footprint can now check into what's being promoted as the Maldives' first entirely solar-powered five star resort. Finolhu Villas comprises 52 solar-powered villas located on an exclusive island in the Indian Ocean.
In a bid to help bring greater access to clean drinking water to the developing world, WaterStillar has created a solar-distillation system designed to produce clean drinking water from almost any source. Conceived as a cheap, efficient, modular system that can be scaled up to produce thousands of liters per day, Water Works is installed with no upfront costs and requires minimal maintenance or training to operate.
Thanks to an increase in solar panels and wind turbines, as well as a particularly sunny and windy quarter, renewable energy has supplied a record 25% of the UK’s energy mix in Q2 2015, leapfrogging coal for the first time to come into second place behind gas fired electricity. It’s nearly a 10% increase on the same period last year.
Turkish shipyard Nedship has teamed with Solarwave to create a new series of zero emission solar yacht designs. After nutting out the concept and spending four years testing the technology, the very first Solarwave 62' model is now approaching completion.
Colorado-based outdoor enthusiast Britton Purser has teamed up with his two younger brothers to create a series of lightweight teardrop caravans tough enough to take off road. The Vintage Overland teardrops weigh about 700 lb and provide the makings for a quick and easy getaway, offering shelter for two adults or, with a few additions, even a family of four.
Solar-powered homes, cars, and planes are all well and good, but decades of research in the field have finally resulted in something really useful: the IrresistiCat solar-powered cat toy. It's a simple device, featuring a ball that's propelled around a circular enclosure when enough juice has been received from its solar panel.