German solar technology firm Heliatek claims to have outdone itself by setting a new world record for directly converting sunlight into electricity using organic photovoltaic cells. In 2012 it claimed a then world record 10.7 percent conversion efficiency and said it was gunning for 15 percent in the near future. This week it announced it's halfway there, achieving a new record of 13.2 percent.
Austrian startup Fontus is developing a novel water bottle that is vaporware in just about every sense of the phrase. Not only does it not yet exist in the marketplace, but it is claimed to literally pull water vapor out of the air to fill itself.
NASA's unmanned Juno deep space probe may still be over six months away from reaching Jupiter, but it's already flown into the record books. On Wednesday, January 13 at 2:00 pm EST (19:00 GMT) the planetary orbiter became the most distant solar-powered craft from Earth as it passed a point 493 million miles (793 million km) from the Sun. Juno is the ninth deep space probe to visit the outer Solar System and the first to rely on solar panels for power instead of nuclear generators.
Although velomobiles in general are a rather obscure class of vehicle, the human/solar-powered Elf is certainly one of the better-known recent examples. Inspired by its design and performance, Spanish startup evovelo recently put the finishing touches on the prototype of a similar vehicle, known as the mö. Like the Elf, it's propelled by pedal-power and/or an electric motor – and that motor is in turn powered by the sun.
Although solar panels can be used to power a home with clean energy, demand for power fluctuates during the day and excess power is often also produced. A new development in Chiang Mai, Thailand, reportedly solves these problems. It converts excess power to hydrogen and stores it for use later.
In remote areas of Africa, there aren't always schools nearby, let alone ones equipped for teaching digital literacy. An alternative is to take digital education to such remote locations. The DigiTruck is a fully equipped solar-powered mobile digital classroom that can do just that.
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.