Here in the U.S., we're used to thinking about solar power as one of those happy eco-friendly things that we'd all totally be using except for the fact that it's so much more expensive than fossil fuels. In the developing world, though, it's exactly the opposite: solar power is gaining ground with 1.3 billion people simply because it's the cheapest way to go.
For as long as people have been envisioning the house of the future, it almost always features control initiated with the briefest of gestures. Now, in the name of conserving energy that vision could come true with a solar house designed to use an Xbox Kinect to switch off energy consuming devices with simple movements.
It's a solution that seems so obvious its amazing scientists haven't thought of it before. Recently, solar researchers have experimented with using the spiraling pattern found in the florets of sunflowers and daisies to more efficiently channel the sun in concentrated solar plants (CSP) by reducing the area needed for operation.
Power outages — is there anything as frustrating? Well, okay, plenty of things, but how many of these other frustrating things make you feel as if you've gone back in time more than a century?
A solar-powered cellphone sure sounds like a great idea: use the power of the sun to never have to charge your phone again, woo! For the last six months, Nokia has had some prototype solar phones out in the wild to see how well this actually works, and the results are in: the sun kinda sucks for charging phones.
It's common to see houses with solar panels on the roof harvesting energy to power household electricity, and if lucky the electrical grid. Now, a team from the University of Notre Dame is swinging back around on the idea of solar paint, and using semi-conducting particles to produce energy. This paint would be cheap enough to cover your entire house and turn it into a massive solar powered generator.
How's this sound: giant solar arrays in orbit around the Earth, harvesting undiluted and virtually endless power from the sun and then beaming it straight down to the ground with lasers. Badass, right? And according to a three year, ten nation, peer reviewed study by the International Academy of Astronautics, we could make it happen within ten years.
Most solar device chargers sound like a good idea, until you realize that your savings are perhaps a few pennies per charge at best. But what if your charger could Tweet about how socially responsible you are, while you sit there smugly basking on your ecological high horse?
The fact that portable electronics are getting to the point where battery life is simply not a concern is absolutely wonderful. We're not quite there yet, but we're so, so close. Intel is working on a new processor architecture that can run itself using nothing but light: no plugs, no batteries, just solar power.
Back in '09, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) gave Idaho-based Solar Roadways $100,000 to do what the company's name implies: build a prototype smart road that could generate electricity (as well as perform other tricks). Now, Solar Roadways is taking the next step and making its concept a reality.