Costa Rica has successfully ditched fossil fuels for over two months! 

The Latin American country of Costa Rica has achieved an impressive milestone in green energy production by generating 100 per cent of its energy from renewable resources, with a combination of hydropower and geothermal for 75 days in a row.

Thanks to the favorable rainy conditions in the first months of the year, four of Costa Rica’s hydropower plants — Arenal, Cachí, La Angostura and Pirrís — are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. Using a mix of geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the nation of 5 million inhabitants hasn’t needed an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on since December of 2014.

What an extraordinary effort by a small nation! Way to go!


The Sliding House

When the house slides open it is an unusual sight to behold.  Four electric motors silently slide the 20 ton outer house shell back to reveal the inner glass and steel structure. The motors that power this sliding run on car batteries automatically recharged through solar power.

Currently the house shell slides back 28 meters (92 feet), a trip that takes about 6 minutes. In the “back” position the shell shades a patio. The London-based architectural firm that designed the house, de Rijke Marsh Morgan, allowed for the possibly of extending the track further to allow the roof shell to cover a garden or swimming pool.

World’s Largest Solar Farm

This is an image of the Topaz Solar Farm in California - the largest photovoltaic power station on Earth.

Construction began in 2011 and was completed in November 2014. The surface area of the farm is over 25 square kilometres - about a third the size of Manhattan - and can power 180,000 homes.

From the ground, the rows and rows of solar cells seem to stretch on forever. But this Landsat photo shows the true extent of the farm.


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Image: Jesse Allen/Earth Observatory/NASA

Apple’s New Headquarters Will Be Powered Entirely By The Sun

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the company’s plans to build a 130-megawatt solar farm to power its stores and facilities located in California. Speaking at a technology conference hosted by Goldman Sachs, Cook said Apple will work with First Solar to build the $850-million plant, which will be sited on 1,300 acres in the interior of central California’s Monterey County. Apple’s two campuses in Cupertino, several hours’ drive north of the plant, as well as a data center and the state’s 52 Apple stores will all get power from the development, according to Cook.


Solar aeroplane sets new record -

Solar Impulse, the fuel-free aeroplane, has successfully completed the second leg of its historic attempt to fly around the world.

Project chairman, Bertrand Piccard, piloted the vehicle from Muscat in Oman to Ahmedabad in India, crossing the Arabian Sea in the process.

Tuesday’s journey took just over 15 hours.

The distance covered - 1,468km - set a new world record for a flight in a piloted solar-powered plane.

The vehicle has another 10 legs ahead of it over the course of the next five months.

Included in that itinerary will be demanding stretches when the craft has to fly over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Piccard is sharing the flying duties with project partner and CEO, Andre Borschberg, who made Monday’s inaugural trip from Abu Dhabi to Muscat.

Solar Impulse arrived in Ahmedabad in darkness, its wings illuminated by LEDs, and its propellers driven by the energy stored in its batteries.

The plane had left Muscat at 06.35 (02:35 GMT) and put its wheels down at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at 23.25 local time (17:55 GMT).

Preparations are already under way for the next leg to Varanasi in northeast India, although mission planners say that will not be for another four days, at least.

The time will be spent carrying a campaigning message on the topic of clean technologies to the local Ahmedabad people, and the wider Indian population.

The Solar Impulse project has already set plenty of other world records for solar-powered flight, including making a high-profile transit of the US in 2013.

But the round-the-world venture is altogether more dramatic and daunting, and has required the construction of an even bigger plane than the prototype, Solar Impulse-1.

This new model has a wingspan of 72m, which is wider than a 747 jumbo jet. And yet, it weighs only 2.3 tonnes.

Its light weight will be critical to its success.

So, too, will the performance of the 17,000 solar cells that line the top of the wings, and the energy-dense lithium-ion batteries it will use to sustain night-time flying.

Operating through darkness will be particularly important when the men have to cross the Pacific and the Atlantic.

The slow speed of their prop-driven plane means these legs will take several days and nights of non-stop flying to complete.

Piccard and Borschberg - they take it in turns to fly solo - will have to stay alert for nearly all of the time they are airborne.

They will be permitted only catnaps of up to 20 mins - in the same way a single-handed, round-the-world yachtsman would catch small periods of sleep.

They will also have to endure the physical discomfort of being confined in a cockpit that measures just 3.8 cubic metres in volume - not a lot bigger than a public telephone box.

The Solar Impulse venture recalls other great circumnavigation feats in aviation - albeit fuelled ones.

In 1986, the Voyager aircraft became the first to fly around the world without stopping or refuelling.

Piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the propeller-driven vehicle took nine days to complete its journey.

Then, in 2005, this time was beaten by the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which was solo-piloted by Steve Fossett.

A jet-powered plane, GlobalFlyer completed its non-stop circumnavigation in just under three days.

Andre Borschberg is a trained engineer and former air-force pilot, he has built a career as an entrepreneur in internet technologies.

Bertrand Piccard is well known for his ballooning exploits. Along with Brian Jones, he completed the first non-stop, circumnavigation of the world in 1999, using the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon. The Piccard name has become synonymous with pushing boundaries.

Bertrand’s father, Jacques Piccard, was the first to reach the deepest place in the ocean (a feat achieved with Don Walsh in the Trieste bathyscaphe in 1960). And his grandfather, Auguste Piccard, was the first person to take a balloon into the stratosphere, in 1931.


Borschberg’s 12-hour trip today will end 400 nautical miles away in Muscat, Oman. Piccard will take the second leg–and the first water crossing–when he flies from Muscat to Ahmedabad, India. Subsequent legs will take Solar Impulse to Myanmar, China, across the Pacific Ocean, North America, the Atlantic, Southern Europe, North Africa and finally back to Abu Dhabi. The entire voyage will be completed without a drop of liquid fuel burned. Instead, Solar Impulse will rely upon electricity generated from 17,000 solar cells that cover its dorsal surface. This electricity and battery storage will be enough to power the four electric motors day and night, and to let the plane climb to an altitude of around 30,000 feet.

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The National Bank of Abu Dhabi found that “cost is no longer a reason not to proceed with renewables”

The Gulf States may have been built on oil, but their future is going to be in solar. The opportunity is enormous, the technology exists and, according to a new report from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, “cost is no longer a reason not to proceed with renewables.” I’ll repeat that for emphasis: this report comes via the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, one of the biggest banks in the Middle East. And it couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the investment opportunities in renewable energy.

Solar is looking like it’s too good of a deal to turn down.

I believe that we are well on our way to a solar powered, clean energy future.

This is a future that can bring clean air and economic bounty to all.

Every homeowner that gets solar panels installed does his or her part to rid the world of air pollution. That person also saves money by becoming their own power provider. They have literally taken back the power traditionally held by their electric utility.

We have much work to do. The fact is that solar provides less than 1% of our energy needs. However, homeowners consume 20% of America’s total energy usage. The potential for change is huge.

Every person can make a difference. Collectively, homeowners can make a huge difference.

Please help spread the word.

Interesting piece describes a recent solar-power study. The focus: Instead of “sprawling solar farms in wild places,” panels integrated into existing city spaces.

If solar power were installed on the rooftops and urban spaces in just the fraction of the state that’s already been developed, it could generate enough electricity to meet California’s energy needs, three to five times over.

“Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact,” Hernandez wrote in the statement announcing the findings.

“Because of the value of locating solar power-generating operations near roads and existing transmission lines, our tool identifies potentially compatible sites that are not remote, showing that installations do not necessarily have to be located in deserts.

”In other words, we should bring the solar closer to the cities they power; onto rooftops, parking lots, and otherwise useless industrial waste sites.”

More at Motherboard.


Solar power is causing homes to grow from the minds of college students, and the competition is heating up for this year’s Solar Decathlon.

The U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored event, which happens every two years, challenges teams to design, build and operate homes whose sole power source is the sun. The buildings must be cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive to stand a chanceof winning, organizers say. This year’s competition will culminate in a 10-day event to be held in October at a park in Irvine, Calif., where the structures will be built and judged.

Winning teams will need to do more than merely erect a structure. The home must provide comfortable conditions for occupants while generating its own power to supply adequate hot water and electricity to run household appliances. 

Seventeen teams are competing in the 2015 decathlon, like the University of Buffalo crew that created the computer-generated walkthrough of their GRoW (Garden, Relax, or Work) House above. “GRoW House will take a radical stand on the concept of sustainable urban living in Buffalo, New York, where farming and gardening have become a widespread movement that is re-energizing neighborhoods,” they write in their entry. “The residents of GRoW House will resist energy-intensive food production and instead grow the fresh, healthy produce they consume.”

See more examples, from the University of Florida, the Technical University of Munich, Stephens Tech, and more below.

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As solar cells have become more durable, compact, efficient and cheap to produce, the technology has gradually found its way into a greater number of consumer products. From backpacks to watches , harnessing the sun’s energy has never been more accessible.

And the Sun King PRO from Chicago-based Greenlight Planet means a weatherproof solar panel charges a highly durable 165-lumen LED lamp. The lamp runs for up to 36 hours on a single day’s charge with three variable brightness settings and an automatic power-saving mode when battery levels dip.

More here.

— rw

With a wingspan measuring 236 feet, a weight similar to that of a Dodge Durango and a maximum passenger count of one, the Solar Impulse 2 isn’t your typical plane. Then again, it’s not embarking on a typical journey. Over the next five months, the Swiss-engineered aircraft will attempt to become the first plane powered entirely by solar energy to fly around the world — and it’s doing it for more than just the wow factor.

Levin Solstar – Solar Panel Charger – 5000mAh

Aside from this small, lightweight solar cell being water-resistant and Dirt/Shockproof, it also has two built in USB ports. That mean simultaneous charging of two separate devices at a time. Being that it has USB ports rather than cables, it is pretty much universally compatible with anything you can plug into it provided you use the existing charge cable that works on your device. Think of this as a maintenance and/or emergency charger. It takes about 7 hours in direct sunlight to give your iPhone a 50% charge. It’s perfect for when you are traveling about in your car or camping outside and can set your phone down connected to it having it trickle charge while not in use. Or maybe snap it to your belt loop while hiking and have the phone and cord in your pocket.

  • 1.2W monocrystalline solar pane
  • 2.1A output allows for simultaneous charging
  • LED flashlight
  • Compact size design
  • Grade A cell and premium microchips ensure it rapid charging and 1000+ recharge cycle life
  • 12 months worry-free product guarantee
  • Package includes: Levin&Trade; Solstar External Battery, hook, micro USB cable, instruction manual.