by Maria Ramos, Contributing Editor
Now that most governments, environmental organizations, scientists and even the Catholic Church have agreed on the need to combat climate change, innovative solutions are being sought in many quarters. The old ways of doing things simply won’t cut it now that we’re aware of the harmful effects of traditional means of power generation, such as the burning of coal and the combustion of gasoline. Solar photovoltaic panels are one means of addressing this issue, but this equipment often takes up a lot of space – land that could be otherwise put to productive use. Now entering the picture is a method for placing solar panels on top of water, a type of technology dubbed “floatovoltaics.”
Although there are issues with covering up the surfaces of lakes, ponds and other natural habitats, these elements of our beautiful landscapes aren’t usually under consideration for floatovoltaic projects. There are vast areas of salt water, waste water, reservoirs and other places in which floatovoltaic setups will have little negative impact on either wildlife or aesthetics. By employing currently-unused watery areas to collect solar rays, we can avoid having to devote agricultural or other productive land to this task. Floatovoltaic systems can achieve better efficiency in converting solar energy into electricity than traditional equipment. Because they’re constantly being cooled by the water beneath, floatovoltaic setups aren’t subject to overheating as ground-based solar arrays are. Research suggests that this cooling effect makes floatovoltaics 8 to 10 percent more efficient than old-school solar solutions.
The way it works is that the panels are tied together and secured atop bodies of water so that they can’t float away. Certain components, particularly the wiring, need to be waterproof, which means that floatovoltaic systems tend to cost more for the initial hardware and installation than a normal solar array. On the other hand, they’re relatively safe from erosion due to sand and damage from humans or animals. The electricity produced by floatovoltaics can be used locally or tied into the pre-existing electric grid to power homes and businesses some distance away. Indeed, one of the advantages to this means of electricity production is the fact that revenues can be generated by selling excess energy to energy providers and nearby utility firms.
Another aspect of floatovoltaics that’s getting a lot of attention in drought-stricken areas, like California, is the fact that by covering bodies of water, they counteract evaporation. The Los Angeles Reservoir has been losing a lot of water to evaporation, making drought-related problems throughout the state worse. In a bizarre scheme, officials released millions of “shade balls” into the reservoir. These balls are specially coated to block sunlight and thereby hinder evaporation, and they also inhibit the growth of algae. Instead of introducing these shade balls, which have raised ecological concerns among some observers, public authorities could instead employ floatovoltaic panels to achieve the same ends while simultaneously generating some revenue through the sale of electricity.
Several similar projects are already underway right in the Golden State. A winery in Napa Valley hired SPG Solar, since acquired by SunEdison, to place the appropriate infrastructure on an irrigation pond. This allowed it to avoid having to cut down valuable vines while still becoming self-sufficient in electricity production. Sonoma County, in the San Francisco Bay Area, has decided to lease the rights to six ponds full of wastewater to the company Pristine Sun, which will set up floatovoltaic cells. The project is expected to generate electricity for 3,000 households while bringing in $30,000 annually in payments for the water rights.
Japan’s Kyocera is one of the leading enterprises in developing this kind of solar energy. It has created the largest such system in the world in Hyogo Prefecture and is working on an even bigger project at Yamakura Dam in Chiba Prefecture. Amazingly, the equipment will be able to withstand winds stronger than 100 miles per hour and is designed so that earthquakes will not affect its operations. French firm Ciel et Terre is partnering with Kyocera for the job, and it’s also working on creating floatovoltaic systems for use in Thailand.
From populous India and arid Australia to tech-savvy Japan and green-energy-conscious Brazil, countries around the world are working on using floatovoltaic technology to augment their clean energy efforts. Because it uses much of the same equipment as normal solar power, albeit with certain modifications, we’ll see floatovoltaic solutions march step-by-step in line with further advances in the solar industry as a whole. Extending humankind’s renewable energy efforts to aquatic environs means that total solar production will increase without putting pressure on scarce land resources.
by Maria Ramos, Contributing Editor
Plenty of attention has been devoted to the growing adoption of solar energy systems all around the world. A tremendous amount of experimental solar projects have helped drive the progression of this renewable power source, bringing it ever closer to solving more of the Earth’s energy needs.
However, additional applications for solar technology are far removed from the surface of the planet we inhabit. Way back in 1958, the “grapefruit sized” Vanguard 1 satellite took off, becoming the first solar-powered satellite to launch into the Earth’s orbit. Since then, many other solar spacecrafts have been cleared for launch – but none quite like the LightSail, Bill Nye’s groundbreaking achievement in low-cost, “democratic”, space exploration.
Initially proposed by the legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan (founder of the Planetary Society, the world’s “largest non-profit space advocacy group”), the LightSail employs solar sail technology: sheets of material that unfurl and gather energy from photons emitted by the sun. This energy is then used to generate thrust for a spacecraft. The IKAROS probe, launched in 2010 by Japan, and the NanoSail-D2 satellite created by NASA are two vehicles that have used solar sails to prior success.
The LightSail, promoted by Bill Nye as the now-president of The Planetary Society, is a citizen-funded spacecraft which uses similarly designed solar sails for propulsion. These sails are made of Mylar and are only 4.5 microns in width despite having an area of 32 square meters. As light from the sun hits the surface of the sails, the momentum from the photons is transferred, in accordance with well-established physical principles, to the sailing craft. As one would imagine, the energy thus imparted to the system at any moment in time is trivial. But because there’s hardly any friction in space and the sun’s rays are always shining, these gentle pushes can accelerate the craft to very high speeds.
Bill Nye, the “Science Guy” that is he, is a powerful promoter of science literacy and awareness among the public at large. In recent years especially, he has also shown himself to be an adept orator and science communicator, debating with those who continue to denounce the reality of climate change. After establishing the LightSail project, he teamed up with renowned cosmologist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to create a video explaining the principle motivation behind their work. Inspired by Sagan’s infamous cosmic wanderlust, the LightSail establishes solar as a viable propulsion source for a tiny spacecrafts called CubeSats which will allow for low-cost space missions for research and education.
The LightSail took off on May 20th. It encountered several problems initially, such as delayed deployment of the solar sails and a brief lapse in communication. But it made a recovery, and the sails did eventually deploy and data has been successfully sent from spacecraft back to Earth-based scientists. And while this first mission had a few hiccups, it was enough to convince researchers to begin preparing the craft for a real test flight in April of 2016. Private groups have already contributed more than $4 million to the LightSail’s next round.
As Carl Sagan once said, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” The growing prevalence of crowdfunded clean energy projects is indicative of a much broader trend – everyday people are increasingly aware of the need to both protect and better understand the nature of our world in the face of impending climate change. Whether it’s making the switch to a clean energy provider or backing another solar Kickstarter project, making a contribution (no matter how small) empowers individuals to connect with the planet in a more meaningful way.
If future hopes for the LightSail pan out, then it could mean a whole new way of exploring space by harnessing energy from the sun. By taking space exploration out of the hands of large government agencies and reducing its cost, ordinary people have the ability to invest in it in growing numbers. These advancements will likely tie in with the burgeoning solar power industry here on Earth, leading to more efficient and cost-effective solar energy options and a more hopeful future for our precious planetary home.
Researchers and product developers are on the cusp of designing solar cells that may be applied as a spray paint. This means that the surface area (rooftops, fields, etc) of solar collection may find its way onto everyday items, including shopping bags, labels and clothing. Lucelo Technologies in Texas is currently on that path and has (at an early stage) been able to develop a paint that is applied to surfaces and gathers solar energy that is converted to electricity. Instead of the traditional P-N exchange that is used in solar panel systems, Lucelo is able to use nano-crystals to absorb sunlight. And this solution is something that can be added to spray-applicators that you can buy at your local hardware stores. A true do-it-yourself solar system that can be painted onto the side of your home, rooftop, carport shelter, or even on tents while you’re out camping and need to get some electricity to run your LED lights at night.
Greater efficiencies in lighting (LED comes to mind) coupled with advancing rechargeable battery technologies will usher in this wave of do-it-yourself solar technology to just about anyone. Efficiency ratings for the current solar spray hovers around 3% (which is much lower than what current solar panels produce at 15%-20%), but give it some time. Just as solar panels used to have a very low rating, this new method will soon follow suit in building up its efficiency, thus making it a more viable option for low-power demands.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
ExpoSolar, which takes place Oct. 31- Nov. 1 in downtown San José Costa Rica, will be the first event of its kind in Central America to focus only on solar power. It is organized by the Costa Rican Solar Energy Association (Asociacion Costarricense de Energía Solar, or ACESOLAR). During the event a wide variety of firms will present their products, including systems for heating water and photovoltaic systems for generating electricity.
EXPO SOLAR in Costa Rica – October 31-November 1, 2014.
Costa Rica is perhaps one of the most technologically advanced nations in Latin America.
Currently 50 companies are involved in the solar energy business in Costa Rica. They offer services in a number of areas, including consulting, construction, design, installation and distribution, among others.
TEC students, who recently won the prestigious prize for “Favorite House” with their “Casa Tropika” at the Solar Decathlon Europe competition this year in France, also will be present. This was an impressive win not just for the 35 students who put the project together, but also for the country, which beat out submissions from all over the world. The winning Costa Rican entry is a single-family, intelligent house for senior citizens that not only feeds the dog, but also automatically dispenses medications to residents, and of course, is completely solar.
An Israeli solar “tree” was designed by artist Yoav Ben-Dov.
It features solar panels positioned as leaves on metal branches made of pipes and was designed to blend into parks and other green public spaces.
Apart from offering shade, Sologic’s eTree has a water fountain, a WiFi hotspot, a docking station to charge devices, and lights up with LEDs at night, according to the company.
“I wanted to integrate the idea of solar energy to the community by creating the eTree,” Sologic chairman Michael Lasry told NBC News.
The six-year-old Israeli company got its start by providing solar energy systems to homes and businesses.
The first eTree is due to be unveiled Thursday at a park near the town of Zichron Ya’akov, in northern Israel, according to Ynetnews.com.
Meanwhile in US Nevada the neon and incandescent lights of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign will be energized for the first time by newly installed solar trees in a switch-flipping ceremony, marking a new era in Southern Nevada’s clean energy history.
The effort was jointly spearheaded by Green Chips and Clean Energy Project and funded through generous donations from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), NV Energy, the Las Vegas Centennial Commission and Bombard Renewable Energy. CEA owns and operates International CES — the annual worldwide gathering for consumer technologies and new products — which runs through Jan. 10 in Las Vegas.
Juicebar Pocket Solar Charger.
This stylish, sleek and reliable pocket size Universal Battery Charger (Juicebar Solar Charger) is proven to be your best friend in a situation when conventional electric supply is not available or if you are trying to use eco-friendly renewable power supplies.
Great as a solar phone charger for any type of Mobile Phones, IPhones, PSA, PDA, Mp3 Players, Satellite Navigation, and much more.
Get it HERE.
SOLAR PATH LIGHTS.
Stainless Steel Conical Solar Path Light (Set of 2).
Path solar lights are an excellent choice for lighting your garden paths, walkways, driveway perimeters and other regions in your landscape. They are often used in multiples to guide the way along a set of stairs or a dark walk.
Featured Stainless Steel Solar Light set uses 2 ultra-bright LEDs for maximum light output and minimum battery usage.
The lights are safe around kids and pets and water and corrosion resistant.
Read more HERE
STONE SOLAR SPOT LIGHTS.
Stone Solar Spot Lights (also known as Solar Rock Lights) completely camouflage with existing landscapes and look like any other rock in your garden.
SOLAR GARDEN FOUNTAINS.
How to start using ecologically friendly energy to power up your garden fountains and other garden water features?
Why not go with a solar powered water pump?
To accommodate your needs the Solar Fountain Pump Systems we carry range from 2 to 8 Watt. Browse our collection of solar water pumps for your fish ponds and solar fountains.
Enjoy your garden water features and your energy savings at the same time. Make a note of the various power levels and the flow rate of the solar water pumps before your purchase.
Please write us your review after your purchase. Your opinion is important to us!
DECORATIVE SOLAR ACCENT LIGHTS.
Solar accent lights (Set of 2) create an enjoyable and inviting glow for your landscape.
They are designed to mark a place.
Solar Spot Light - $26.99
Super High Output Spot Light (4 Super Bright LEDs). Free Shipping!
Solar spot lights like this one rely on energy from the sun to charge their batteries and provide light throughout the night.
This means that there is no need to tap into the electrical grid for these lights to operate.
The solar spot lights will work consistently, even if the whole neighborhood is dealing with a power outage.
Learn more about Solar Spot Lights at http://www.yoursolarlink.com/solar-spot-lights, where we have a great selection of solar spot lights to choose from.
100% renewable energy
garden solar lights
outdoor solar lights
solar accent lights
solar garden light
Solar Garden Lights
solar light rechargeable batteries
solar path lights
solar powered lights
Solar Security Lights
solar spot light
solar spot lights
solar street lights
solar string lights
solar water heating Community Action (14)
Creative Solar (20)
Funny News (4)
Latest Technology (55)
Solar Gardening (16)
Solar News (141)
Solar Products Customers' Reviews (9)
World News (40)