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.
Solar panels: Great idea if you're a spaceship, not so good anywhere it gets dark. There are some ways around this limitation, but MIT had a better idea: they invented a photovoltaic panel that doesn't need sunlight at all, and they've built it into a button-sized generator that can run your smartphone for a week straight.
Solar power is wonderful. Really, it is. And if you don't think so, it means that you hate the planet, and you don't hate the planet, do you? The one teeny tiny little problem with solar power is that so far it's proven to be more or less useless with the things that could really benefit from it, like mobile electronics. So what's the problem?
NASCAR racing and treehugging are not activities that normally go hand in hand, but a California NASCAR circuit is making a big push to ensure that their facility is as green as possible.
The Sahara desert: it's hot, with lots of sand and not much else. To you and me that might look like nothing more than a recipe for boredom and an epic sunburn, but to Markus Kayser and his solar-powered sand printer, it's just a giant pile of raw materials which can be used to make anything you want out of glass.