Renewable Energy

Solar Impulse: Around the World in a Solar Air Plane

May 25, 2013 - 10:04:44 PM

 

Source: SustainableBusiness.com News

Solar Impulse, an airplane powered solely by solar energy, began its flight across the US on May 3rd 2013.

It took off at 6:15AM PST from Moffett Field in south San Francisco, a civil-military airport, and is headed to Phoenix first. That leg of the trip took 15-20 hours.

After that it stopped in Dallas, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. and finally ended up at JFK in New York. The whole trip will take about two months, flying day and night, depending on the weather. It can't fly in cloudy or rainy conditions or in strong wind or fog.

The plane was initially meant to demonstrate it could fly during both day and night, but just for 24 hours. But it has performed so well that it's flown across Europe and Africa (separate trips) and now it will fly across the US.

It doesn't have the technology needed for its ultimate goal - to fly around the world in 2015. A more advanced version is being developed for that.

"Our future depends on our ability to convert rapidly to the use of renewable energies. Solar Impulse is intended to demonstrate what can be done already today by using these energies and applying new technologies that can save natural resources," says Bertrand Piccard, who co-founder and co-pilot with Andre Borschberg.

The Airplane

The plane gets its power from 207-foot wings - the wingspan of a jumbo jet - covered with 12,000 solar cells.

The solar cells keep four large batteries charged that are under the wings, storing about as much energy as Tesla's electric car. Also on the bottom of the wings are tiny motors, which provide about 25% of its torque.

It is very light - about the weight of a small car - because it's made from carbon fiber. And it travels at about 43 miles per hour.   

In 2010, Impulse completed a 24-hour test flight  that demonstrated its ability to fly through the night with power stored during daylight hours. Last June, it flew the first intercontinental flight, from Spain to Morocco. 

The project has $112 million in backing with various manufacturers involved in the technology that are using it as a way to test new materials and gain brand recognition. 

A similar effort is underway but using a solar-powered boat, MS Tûranor PlanetSolar. It completed its first trip around the world last May using SunPower solar panels. 

Learn more about Solar Impulse: 

Website: www.solarimpulse.com/en/


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Biggest Solar Project in the World is Under Construction

May 25, 2013 - 09:03:22 PM

Antelope Valley Solar Project

SustainableBusiness.com News

Construction has begun on Antelope Valley Solar Project, the largest solar PV project in the world - at 579 megawatts.

Buffet's MidAmerican Solar bought the project from SunPower for $2 billion in January, and SunPower is developing it using its own panels. 650 people will be employed to build the project on 3200 acres, and in 2015 it will begin providing power to 400,000 homes.

It is one of several large solar projects being built in the area of Lancaster, the first city to require solar on all new homes.

Unlike some solar projects which have been given the go-ahead even though they are on sensitive lands, the Sierra Club praises this one for environmentally responsible development. From the outset, it was planned and sited in a way that protects native  plants and wildlife, they say.

Antelope is being built on former agricultural lands that were planted with alfalfa and other crops that require heavy irrigation. Since it is located on disturbed land there are no threatened or endangered species.

Because it is near existing transmission lines, including a major
substation, no new infrastructure is necessary.

"The developers listened to our concerns about the local lands and wildlife in the Antelope Valley and incorporated them into the planning and siting for the project," says Georgette Theotig of 
the Sierra Club Kern-Kaweah Chapter. "The proposal came out stronger for it, and we were proud to endorse the project and testify on its behalf during the approval process. Solar projects like this show it's possible to move forward with larger clean energy projects and respect conservation values at the same time." 

Some locals have criticized the project however because it creates a feeling of industrialization in the rural area. 

SunPower's Oasis® Power Plant is a modular solar technology that can be rapidly deployed for utility-scale projects that also  minimizes land use. Its high-efficiency solar panels are mounted on trackers that follow the sun during the day, increasing energy capture up to 25%.

In January, MidAmerican Solar purchased the project for $2 billion. It also owns the world's second-biggest solar plant - the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm under development in California. And it has a 49% stake in the 290 MW Agua Caliente solar project in Arizona.  

Since it began acquiring renewable energy projects last year, MidAmerican Renewables has quickly grown to an 1830 megawatt (MW) portfolio in wind, geothermal, solar and hydro. When current wind projects are completed, it will have 2284 MW in that sector alone, making it the largest owner of US wind farms by an investor-owned utility. The utility also recently agreed to retire  seven old coal plants.  

Dust Is An Issue          

Antelope Valley also has an approved re-vegetation plan to control dust, which is an emerging concern.

Antelope Valley Solar Project is different from another nearby - Antelope Valley Solar Ranch, under construction by First Solar. Los Angeles County recently halted the project because of health issues caused by dust.

Building a solar plant in the desert requires considerable scraping and clearing to make way for thousands of acres of solar panels. That kicks up dust, which can cause "Valley fever" when people working at the site or living nearby breathe in fungal spores that are released when desert soils are disturbed.

Agricultural workers have long contracted this illness when working in the desert, but the risk is rising with the enormous solar projects being built now. About half the people that get infected develop flu-like symptoms. Wearing a respirator can prevent it, but workers often take it off when working in such hot conditions.

 


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A Network of Farmers, Engineers, & Supporters Building the Global Village Construction Set

November 17, 2011 - 10:00:49 PM

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is an open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts.  (Website)

A modern, comfortable lifestyle relies on a variety of efficient Industrial Machines. If you eat bread, you rely on an Agricultural Combine. If you live in a wood house, you rely on a Sawmill. Each of these machines relies on other machines in order for it to exist. If you distill this complex web of interdependent machines into a reproduceable, simple, closed-loop system, you get these Key Features:

  • Open Source - we freely publish our 3d designs, schematics, instructional videos, budgets, and product manuals on our open source wiki and we harness open collaboration with technical contributors.
  • Low-Cost - The cost of making or buying our machines are, on average, 8x cheaper than buying from an Industrial Manufacturer, including an average labor cost of hour for a GVCS fabricator.
  • Modular - Motors, parts, assemblies, and power units can interchange, where units can be grouped together to diversify the functionality that is achievable from a small set of units.
  • User-Serviceable - Design-for-disassembly allows the user to take apart, maintain, and fix tools readily without the need to rely on expensive repairmen.
  • DIY - (do-it-yourself) The user gains control of designing, producing, and modifying the GVCS tool set.
  • Closed Loop Manufacturing - Metal is an essential component of advanced civilization, and our platform allows for recycling metal into virgin feedstock for producing further GVCS technologies - thereby allowing for cradle-to-cradle manufacturing cycles
  • High Performance - Performance standards must match or exceed those of industrial counterparts for the GVCS to be viable.
  • Flexible Fabrication - It has been demonstrated that the flexible use of generalized machinery in appropriate-scale production is a viable alternative to centralized production.
  • Distributive Economics - We encourage the replication of enterprises that derive from the GVCS platform as a route to truly free enterprise - along the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy.
  • Industrial Efficiency - In order to provide a viable choice for a resilient lifestyle, the GVCS platform matches or exceeds productivity standards of industrial counterparts.



World's First Full Scale Floating Wind Turbine

September 29, 2009 - 11:34:19 PM

Via: www.statoilhydro.com

StatoilHydro has decided to build the world’s first full scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, and test it over a two-year period offshore Karmøy. The The company is investing approximately 400 million NOK. Planned startup is autumn 2009. HyWind is based on floating concrete constructions familiar from North Sea oil installations. In this way we exploit the wind where it is strongest and most consistent — far out to sea. The project combines known technology in an innovative way. A 2.3 MW wind turbine is attached to the top of a so-called Spar-buoy, a solution familiar from production platforms and offshore loading buoys.  READ MORE »


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Milan World Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, energy for Life

September 23, 2009 - 11:37:14 PM

Via: Abitare - international design magazine 

by Herzog & de Meuron, Jacques Herzog
London School of Ecomics, Ricky Burdett
Stefano Boeri Architetti, Stefano Boeri
William McDonough + Partners, William McDonough

1.
Over the past few months we have worked with EXPO SpA, the local institutions and the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions) to create a revolutionary new concept of the world exposition. We are convinced that a visionary and successful EXPO has to abandon the outmoded idea of an exposition built around complex systems of representation and gigantic architectural monuments which often have no real purpose after the event. Instead EXPO 2015 will be remembered for giving visitors a direct and immediate experience of all aspects of the question of food. It will be an EXPO that embodies its theme-Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life-directly within its own space, with none of the usual simulations and documentation that can easily be found today on any computer. Secondly, it will be an EXPO that overturns the whole concept of monumentality: in place of giant structures (like the Eiffel Tower of Paris 1898), Milan will build a new landscape of monumental lightness and natural beauty. An environment that reflects the environmental sustainability, technical precision and haunting beauty of Venice’s winding alleys, Leonardo’s canals and the open countryside of rice fields and vineyards. The EXPO we envisage will be a Planetary Botanical Garden open to the citizens of Milan and the world. A place for a fresh encounter between farming and the city that will feed Milan literally, spiritually and intellectually. A vast agrofood park built on an orthogonal grid, surrounded by water ways and punctuated by striking landscape architecture.  READ MORE »