Part of the reason that solar cells aren't on top of every roof everywhere harvesting energy is that they're expensive, and part of the reason that solar cells are expensive is because they're made with exotic elements like indium. How about, let's instead make them with one of the top five most common elements in the entire Universe: say hello to the all-carbon solar cell.
Solar power for residential homes is still too expensive for most Americans. The problem isn't the cost of the power, but rather the hardware. Technological advances are only bringing costs down so much.
Solar cells work best when you leave them out in the sun all day. In order to leave them out in the sun all day, however, you have to leave them out in the sun all day, and most electronics will fry themselves when exposed to concentrated heat like that. Solution? Spin them right 'round, baby, and boost your juice by 20 times.
Why aren't you driving an electric car right now? Let's ignore the fact that they're expensive, temperamental, and inconvenient, and focus on the impossibility of long-distance travel, because that's a problem that Tesla Motors has just solved with a network of solar-powered battery "Superchargers" in California.
The idea of a beautiful solar panel probably seems like a bit of a stretch, unless you dig rectangular, mirrored panels. But German architect André Broessel saw a way to make solar panels (well, really, solar-gathering shapes) beautiful while also making them more efficient. He made them into enormous spheres.
It seems the NFL can't keep the competition limited to the field, as various iconic stadiums have added solar and renewable energy installations as others rush to get on board. Renewable energy upgrades could power everything from decorative stadium lighting, general stadium power needs and even electric vehicle charging stations.
Tokelau, a small island nation, is officially becoming the first habited place on Earth to completely rely upon solar for its energy needs. Tokelau is a tiny group of coral islands that have up to now used diesel fuel for the daily needs of its roughly 1,400 residents. Within the next few weeks, the nation will make the historic switch to solar.
Everyone's favorite Danish artist, Olafur Elisasson, is at it again. The artist, known for his New York City waterfalls, also has some awesome installments (check out this giant kaleidoscope). This time, he's making solar powered lamps that look like little suns.
Imagine something that's made of glass: your home's windows, a car's windshield, the screen on your smartphone. Now imagine that glass surface acting as a power generator. That could be a reality one day soon, thanks to a new transparent solar cell developed by researchers at UCLA.
Solar cellphone chargers are a dime a dozen, but this one from British telecom company Vodafone puts a few new spins on an old idea.