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October 28, 2011

NREL Research May Lower PV Solar Panel Costs

Creating solar panels takes lots of energy and time in a furnace.  A new “Optical Cavity” furnace developed by the NREL can create more efficient solar cells.

“ … Optical Cavity Furnace … uses optics to heat and purify solar cells at unmatched precision while sharply boosting the cells' efficiency.”

“ … can … maximize efficiency while minimizing heating and cooling costs.”

The end result is more efficient solar panels.


Via:  National Renewable Energy Laboratory  LINK

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October 27, 2011

GE Looks to Cut Cost and Weight of Rooftop Solar Systems

GE recently received federal funding (from US-DOE) to find more cost effective ways to bring solar to homes.

One part of solar PV (photovoltaic) system that they are looking to improve is the inverters that convert DC to AC. Current inverters have drawbacks including “… higher cost, less than ideal efficiency.  Research will focus on integrated inverters that are lower in cost and more efficient to help get the cost closer to retail electric prices. 

Another opportunity is to reduce the weight of systems.  Systems today are 2 – 3 lbs / sq-ft with external (to the panels) wiring.   GE is looking to develop systems in then range of 1 lb / sq-ft. with connected wiring.  These could unfold at the installation site and be ready to install – without the need for heavy racking systems.


Via:  GE Global Research LINK

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October 22, 2011

Bay Area Pervious Concrete

Pervious concrete can allow for hardscape areas while not causing / contributing to rain water runoff often resulting from development.  Compared to typical concrete it has little or no sand it has about 20% interconnected voids that let water pass through … to the soil below.

“ … can take in stormwater at a rapid rate of over one thousand inches of water per square foot per hour, which far exceeds the flow rate needed to prevent runoff in even the most severe rain events. “

This results in little of the water runoff problems caused by imperious paved areas and allows rain to seep back into the ground and recharge aquifers.



Via:  Bay Area Pervious Concrete  LINK

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October 19, 2011

Facebook Energy App–Compete with your Friends

Facebook is planning to launch an app that lets friends see who can use less energy at home.  The app is from OPOWER and is expected to be available in early 2012.

“OPOWER … is working with Facebook and the Natural Resources Defense Council to create an app that will let people share data about how much -- or little -- electricity they're using at home.”

“ … app essentially builds on how OPOWER already works. …” POWER can download data from smart energy meters to give people a very detailed picture of their energy use and how it compares with others.The app is expected to be available early next year, according to Facebook and OPOWER.




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October 17, 2011

Infineon Raceway in California Greens Up the Racetrack

Infineon Raceway has a number of green indicatives underway including solar power (over 1,600 panels), recycling and using sheep to cut the grass instead of gas powered equipment.

“Since 2004 … has recycled more than 141 tons (282,541 pounds) of materials … “ including 14,000 tires.

“ … partnership with Panasonic Corporation [on a] … major solar installation that accounts for 41-percent of the raceway’s overall energy usage …”

The video below gives more details on the sustainability efforts at Infineon Raceway.


Via:  Smart Planet  LINK and Infineon Raceway LINK

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Renewable energy supply chain

needs storage to balance generation and demand requirements effectively.  The US DOE research agenda is beginning to focus grants exploring enablers for renewable energy storage.  …

…   “Without good ways of storing peak output for later release, alternative-energy plants become the most erratic parts …”   …

Via Bloomberg: Alternative Energy Storage.

Renewable energy storage awards.

California’s energy commission is supporting the research into energy storage, such as battery systems integrated with solar photovoltaics.

Novel approaches to energy storage include compressed gas, such as the technology offered by SustainX to store potential energy.

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October 13, 2011

Mike Biddle Video on Sustainably Recycling Plastics–from TED Global 2011

The statistics on waster are amazing … “Less than 10% of plastic trash is recycled … because of the massively complicated problem of finding and sorting the different kinds. …” 

Mike Biddle has developed a solution to change that “ … developed a patented 30-step plastics recycling system … that takes less than a tenth of the energy required to make virgin plastic from crude oil. …”  The process is sustainable, uses waste streams as a raw material, helps eliminate waste and reduces CO2 emissions … instead of oil.

See the fascinating TED video for details …on an efficient plant that can, and does, recycle any kind of plastic.


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October 12, 2011

Peninsula Packaging Uses Solar Power Greener Packaging

Peninsula Packaging uses recycled materials and green energy.  I recently saw some apples packed in one of their clamshells that noted the plastic was 70 % recycled and made with 50% solar energy.

They own and operate “ … one of the largest privately funded renewable energy solar "farm" in North America.

Over the past 3 years their use of recycled plastics and green energy have resulted in some impressive results …

“ … 2.9 billion drink bottles recycled … ..enough electricity saved to power 20,600 homes … over 84,000 tons of green house gas … was NOT emitted in the atmosphere … “


Via: Peninsula Packaging Company Link

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October 10, 2011

King of Prussia Mall (PA) Gets EV Chargers

The King of Prussia Mall, in King of Prussia PA is getting EV charging statins.

The first 2 in front of Nordstrom and are expected to be available for use in October.  Two more are to follow in front of Bloomingdales.

“ … chargers will be installed and operated by 350Green, an electric vehicle service provider … initially will be free … will partially charge customers' vehicles in 60 to 120 minutes.”

The King of Prussia Mall is owned by Simon Properties Group – they have installed EV charges at some of their other malls.


Via:  PhillyBurbs.com   LINK

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October 08, 2011

Germantown Friends (Greater Phila, PA) Green Science Center

Germantown Friends School’s (Philadelphia) new science center is very green.  The facility is energy efficient, has rainwater cisterns, a green roof, solar panels and a dashboard that provides real time data on water and power usage. 

Click HERE to see the current dashboard information and to learn more about this unique facility.

The building uses geothermal wells for heating and cooling to greatly reduce the energy costs.

The cisterns collect rainwater for use as gray water for flushing toilets leading to significant water savings.  The green roof absorbs rainwater that would otherwise have to be treated by the city sever system.

The facility will receive LEED certification.

Via:  Germantown Friends   LINK

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October 06, 2011

Solar panel assemblies accelerate installation

SolFocus used its installation partners feedback to design its new concentrator panel, simplifying the structure, its packaging, and the deployment.  …Solar concentrator panel by SolFocus

…   “The SF-1136SX is constructed using Multi-Panel Assemblies (MPA's) of four panels each, with nine MPAs comprising a single array.

The MPA's are precision-assembled at the factory and completely eliminate any field alignment requirements.

Installation of the equipment now comprises a series of non-specialized assembly steps, followed by a totally automatic calibration process prior to the start of energy generation.”   …

Via  SolFocus: Solar Panel Installation.

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October 03, 2011

Artificial leaf is silicon solar cell


Daniel Nocera and his research team is developing the artificial leaf that harnesses sunlight to generate hydrogen gas, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.  The next phase of his research is to scale the device down, so that it mimics the behavior of algae and increases the generation of hydrogen.  …

…   “The device, Nocera explains, is made entirely of earth-abundant, inexpensive materials — mostly silicon, cobalt and nickel — and works in ordinary water.”   …

Via MIT: Silicon Leaf.


Artificial Leaf generates hydrogen

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October 02, 2011

Build Your Own Green Roof …

I found this interesting guide to building a green roof.  I have not tried it (I do not have a flat roof) but it seems do-able.

Green roofs can make your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and can control  water runoff. 

 Here is what a green roof might look like in cross section.

NOTE: Only you or a contractor can determine if this is safe for your roof. !!

Via:  Instructables  LINK

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Canon Inkjet and Toner Cartridge Recycling Program

Canon Canon supports sustainability … from using bio-plastics to remanufacturing products … They also support inkjet and toner cartridge recycling.

“ … first in the printing industry to create a toner cartridge recycling program. … toner cartridges are 100% recovered with zero landfill waste.”

“ … offers a collection and recycling program for … plastic toner containers. … “

“ … strives to attain 65% recyclability and 75% recoverability for its products, as stipulated by the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive …”


Via:  Canon LINK

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Hot air power tower technology pilot

Technology to harness the power of rising hot air will be tested in the Arizona desert.  EnviroMission is working to fund and build its proposed project.  …

…   “the technology has been proved by a smaller version that worked for seven years on the plains of Spain. It created 50 kilowatts of electricity per day …”   …

Via CNN: Free Fuel.

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