In 14 and a half seconds, the sun provides as much energy to Earth as humanity uses in a day. In 112 hours – less than five days – it provides as much energy as is contained in all proven reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas on this planet. If humanity could capture one tenth of one percent of the solar energy striking the earth – one part in one thousand – we would have access to six times as much energy as we consume in all forms today, with almost no greenhouse gas emissions. At the current rate of energy consumption increase – about 1 percent per year – we will not be using that much energy for another 180 years.
NREL just announced a huge breakthrough in making solar electricity competitive with fossil fuels as they unveiled the Amonix 7700 Concentrated Photovoltaic or CPV Generator. We cover a lot ofsolar technologies at Inhabitat, but what makes this system so special is the technology behind it – Amonix has basically taken space grade solar cells and put them under a lens here on earth. The resulting system tracks the sun and produces nearly double the power of traditional solar electric arrays at utility-scale installations. The technology has the added benefit being the least land-intensive form of solar power in the world.
“The proposed design calls for 1,203 “stalks,” each 180-feet high with concrete bases that are between about 33- and 66-feet wide. The carbon-fiber stalks, reinforced with resin, are about a foot wide at the base tapering to about 2 inches at the top. Each stalk will contain alternating layers of electrodes and ceramic discs made from piezoelectric material, which generates a current when put under pressure. In the case of the stalks, the discs will compress as they sway in the wind, creating a charge.”
“By using the batteries to store renewable energy generated by solar and wind sources, utilities will be able to use them to meet demand during high-peak power periods. In theory, the batteries could be used to help provide power for entire communities by acting as a back-up energy source during power outages. Businesses could also use the batteries to provide power during peak-hours, reducing their energy costs. Not bad for something that would generally be thrown away.”
“The Greenasium , which opened Wednesday, has three specialty spin bikes that push electricity back into the grid, helping provide power to the gym and other electricity customers. Its the first human-powered fitness studio in San Diego, according to its owners.
“The bike’s [sic] are retrofitted by a company up in Seattle that we work with called Resource Fitness,” said Greenasium’s co-owner Byron Spratt. “As the bike (spins), the wheel creates DC power, converts it to AC power, which is plugged back into the wall, which puts energy back into the grid.”
“Solar company Global Solar on Tuesday introduced a line of flexible solar modules which are designed for flat commercial rooftop buildings.
Rather than install racking systems to hold heavy glass-covered solar panels, the company’s PowerFlex BIPV modules can be adhered onto a roof or built right into roofing materials. The modules are quicker to installer, lighter, and don’t require any penetrations into the roof, according to the company.”
We cover a lot of solar panel technologies here at Inhabitat — some are pie in the sky, some are a few years down the road and some are exciting products that are actually available today. SoloPower’s new flexible rolling solar panels are in the latter group, and they stand to significantly reduce production and installation costs. With a notable 11% efficiency, the easily-installed thin-film panels may be able to give traditional silicon panels a run for the money.
Case in point: this graphic, which points out that the energy wasted by 75,000 homes a year equals the energy contained in the biggest oil spill in US history.
The point seems to be that this spill, which occurred because our demand for energy has grown so high that we’ve resorted to risky procedures to meet it, is but a drop in the bucket amongst all the energy we waste on a routine basis.
“The Portland-based Oregon Sustainability Center is being developed using the LBC’s doctrine of neither taking resources nor causing environmental harm — this means that the building will produce all of its own water sources and energy…
“Rainwater will be collected for irrigating the many trees and plants that will be incorporated to make the space feel more natural for its fortunate occupants and visitors.”