Showing posts with label renewable energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label renewable energy. Show all posts

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eco Homes: X2Shelter – A portable green home for disaster relief

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Eco Factor: Emergency shelter designed to be powered by renewable energy.

GEOTECTURA Architectural Studio has come with a concept emergency shelter that is both green and easy to deploy. Dubbed the X2Shelter or X2S, the emergency shelter can be airdropped to unreachable disaster zones and is powered by renewable energy. The X2S can be used as a standalone tent for dwelling, sanitation and health care and can also be connected with other X2S shelters to provide shelter for many people.

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The shelter optimizes passive ventilation and illumination and also features solar panels and small wind turbines that provide the energy it needs for lighting and telecommunication. The X2S has a rain collector on its roof that stores water inside the structure’s poles. After use, the X2S can be folded for reuse or recycling.

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Via: GEOTECTURA

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fraunhofer claims world record in solar cell efficiency - 41.1%

Munich (Germany) – Solar cells remains one of the most fascinating and promising research areas these days. Scientists at the German Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems (ISE) recently announced that they've developed a solar cell capable of providing 41.1% efficiency, which is the highest level achieved to date. They are now working to make the technology commercially available.


The new solar cell is an evolution in Fraunhofer’s metamorphous solar cell research, which has been in place since 1999. The research is focused on combinations of semiconductor materials, in this case it's GaInP / GaInAs / Ge (Gallium-Indium-Phosphid / Gallium-Indium-Arsenide / Germanium). In 1999, the scientists discovered that these materials are well-suited for converting sunlight into electricity, and today it seems their long effort is paying off.

Over the years, the research group at Fraunhofer has been working on methods to better align the material and its cell structure with spectrum received from sunlight on the surface of our planet. What makes this newly developed solar cell special is that the scientists were able to identify and correct defective areas within the non-electrical crystaline portion of the solar cell, thus creating a much more efficient cell; one that can be created virtually free from defects.


Fraunhofer's new solar cell. At 454x normal sunlight concentration, it achieved 41.1% efficiency.


A 5mm2 solar cell (Ga0.35In0.65P / Ga0.83In0.17As) built with this new material and knowledge was exposed to a concentration of sunlight 454x times normal. It achieved an efficiency of 41.1%, and at 880x normal sunlight intensity, it achieved a 40.4% efficiency. What is even more noteworthy though, is the fact that Fraunhofer is already working with Azur Space and Concentrix Solar to implement their technology into "competitive" commercial products. The researchers did not say how long it will take until the cells are available.

However, we did hear that it is unlikely mainstream consumers will be able to buy this technology and install it at home anytime soon. When available, these will be a fairly expensive solar cells that are likely to be used in large-scale photovoltaic systems as well as solar power plants - at least initially.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

War against ivory trade takes to the sea

It's the "other" ivory. And this week, conservationists in London stepped in to stop its sale. It might not be as well known as the stuff that comes from elephants, but the ivory from the narwhal, the tusked whale of the northern seas, is just as much in demand – and with that demand comes a threat just as severe as the one elephants face.


Not only is the narwhal's single spear-like tusk (which can be 8ft long) an object of great beauty, it is the object of myth and legend – in the Middle Ages it was considered to come from the unicorn – and so is highly prized by collectors. The demand for tusks is increasing and, as a result, so is hunting in the narwhal's core area of northern Canada and Greenland.

Campaigners from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) believe the rising hunting rate is a threat to the animal and so when seven narwhal tusks were entered into a major antiques sale at Bonhams, the London auction house, this week – where they were expected to fetch up to £10,000 each – they pressed for them to be withdrawn. The company agreed to do so; now the campaigners are calling on Bonhams to exclude narwhal tusks permanently, although the auction house confined itself to saying the tusks were withdrawn from the sale "for procedural reasons" and gave no indication about future policy.

"We welcome Bonhams' decision to remove the narwhal tusks from sale, and we hope that the company will extend this decision to future sales both at its UK auction houses and overseas salerooms," said Chris Butler-Stroud, the WDCS chief executive.

The tusks were entered in The Gentleman's Library Sale, an annual auction bringing together natural history curiosities of the sort that might have adorned the library or the smoking room of a wealthy Victorian; when it took place on Wednesday, the full sale of more than 1,000 items – featuring items from antique globes to antlered deer heads – raised nearly £900,000.

WDCS believes that the seven tusks originally listed for auction would have represented the largest single offering of narwhal ivory in the UK since the European Union banned its import from Canada in 1984 and limited imports from Greenland to personal effects only (ie, not for resale) in 2004.

Although elephant ivory is banned from general sale, apart from in specially licensed auctions – one such took place last year – the sale of narwhal ivory is still legal, although the trade has to be monitored. But the WDCS believes that demand is steadily growing, with prices rising accordingly, and that this is pushing native peoples in artic Canada and Greenland to hunt more and more of the animals.

One of the main narwhal populations in Greenland has been listed as critically endangered on Greenland's Red List of Species, and in 2008, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, cited over-hunting as the major threat and warned that the species as a whole could become "endangered" or "critically endangered" within five years.

The society has also contacted Bonhams' US branch, Bonhams and Butterfields, with its concerns, as it has sold at least four narwhal tusks at its Los Angeles salesroom in the past two years, for prices ranging from $11,000 (£8,000) to $20,400 for a single tusk.

"The publicity surrounding sales such as these, and the high prices fetched by the tusks, adds to the motivation for hunters to take as many narwhals as possible, and for management agencies to set quotas way above sustainable levels," Mr Butler-Stroud said.

Kate O'Connell, a WDCS researcher in the United States, said: "I think most people would find it abhorrent that such a trade should impact on such a beautiful animal."

Narwhals: The facts

The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is a toothed whale closely related to the all-white beluga. Its single tusk is an elongated incisor tooth that in fully-grown males ranges from 7ft to 10ft long. An exclusively arctic species, it is hunted only in Canada and Greenland, where between 300 and 500 animals are taken annually by native people. However, last November, hundreds of narwhals were trapped in the ice on the northern coast of Baffin Island, perhaps because the ice-formation regime in the arctic is being altered by climate change. Eventually all 629 were killed by Inuit hunters.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Charlie Brown Christmas

It happens every year. Right on the heels of the most gluttonous Thursday of my life, it strikes: Christmas season.

In fact, it seems like even before Thanksgiving is over, the makeshift pumpkin patches of Halloween have magically transformed into Christmas tree lots. Rooftops are trimmed with various blinking colorful lights. And front lawns are now covered with inflatable or mechanical woodland creatures–or both.

It all walks a thin line between festive and seizure inducing.

And just as would be shoppers have claimed another Wal-Mart employee, I am stuck there with my annual Frosted Mini-Wheats dilemma: The kid in me really wants a fresh Christmas tree, but the adult in me cannot justify it.

I know what you are probably thinking. Why not an artificial tree? All I can say is that it’s just not the same.

As a kid, my father and I went to tree farms where we would chop one down in its prime. Not one of those “lots” people go to these days. I have very fond memories of being covered in tree sap, and impaled with pine needles. All of which I cherish to this day.

Do you know how hard it is for an environmentalist to reconcile memories of chopping down a tree? It sucks.

I have tried other options. My favorite is the Christmas rosemary bush. It comes all Christmas-tree-shaped. And it isn't like the smell of rosemary is a horrible thing.

But in the end, it’s not the same. I come back to this point because I think this is the same dilemma we all face everyday. As we work towards a greener lifestyle, how do we balance habits that we cherish with “what is right?”

I’d like to say I know, but I really don’t. Do you?

As for the Christmas tree, well, most years I just don’t get one. Instead I cruise the lots like a meth addict, taking in that pine fresh smell and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. But some years I do break down and buy one.

Don’t even get me started on whether or not I should get it flocked

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

California Ups Renewable Energy Mandate to 33% by 2020

Written by Timothy B. Hurst

Published on November 17th, 20082 CommentsPosted in Center, Energy, Leader
Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Executive Order to Raise California’s Renewable Energy Goals to 33% by 2020 and Clear Red Tape for Renewable Energy Projects


In an executive order signed on Monday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger committed to getting a third of California’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Schwarzenegger made the announcement while speaking at a solar panel factory in Sacramento. California Executive Order S-14-08 puts the state’s renewable energy requirement at 33% by 2020, securing its place as the most aggressive renewable energy mandate in the country.


vote nowBuzz up!The order comes Just three days after Schwarzenegger issued another unprecedented executive order to state agencies telling them to make preparations for rising sea levels caused by global warming.


Schwarzenegger’s aggressive target, however, cannot be met without additional changes in the current policy landscape. In fact, just two weeks ago, California voters soundly rejected Proposition 7 which sought to increase the state’s renewable energy standard. Environmental groups were nearly unanimous in their opposition to Prop 7 because it created an exclusion for smaller utilities and power providers. Schwarzenegger said:

“…we won’t meet that goal doing business as usual, where environmental regulations are holding up environmental progress in some cases. This executive order will clear the red tape for renewable projects and streamline the permitting and siting of new plants and transmission lines. With this investment in renewable energy projects, California has a bright energy future ahead that will help us fight climate change while driving our state’s green economy.”

The Governor will propose legislative language that will codify the new higher standards and require all utilities, public and private, to meet the 33 percent target and spread implementation costs across all ratepayers with safeguards for low-income customers. The executive order will also allow for the expansion of eligibility for California’s RPS program to renewable energy generation from other western states.

The Governor made today’s announcement at the site of OptiSolar’s new plant in Sacramento, which will begin manufacturing solar panels in early 2009. When fully built out, the one-million-square-foot plant will be the largest photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing plant in North America.

Image: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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