Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”

[read more at MSU] [paper] [picture credit: Yimu Zhao]

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!

Bladeless wind turbines generate electricity by shaking, not spinning

Scientists hope to hugely reduce the cost of wind energy by removing the blades from wind farms, instead taking advantage of a special phenomenon to cause the turbines to violently shake.

Vortex, a startup from Spain, has developed the tall sticks known as Bladeless — white poles jutting out of the ground, that are built so that they can oscillate. They do so as a result of the way that the wind is whipped up around them, using a phenomenon that architects avoid happening to buildings and encouraging it so that the sticks shake.

They do so using vortices, which is where the company gets its name from. The bladeless turbines use special magnets to ensure that the turbines are optimised to shake the most they can, whatever speed the wind is travelling at.

As the sticks vibrate, that movement is converted into electricity by an alternator.
Costa Rica has been running on 100% renewable energy for 2 months straight
76 days and zero fossil fuels.
By Bec Crew

Costa Rica ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 76 straight days between June and August this year, according to a new report, demonstrating that life without fossil fuels is possible - for small countries, at least.

This is the second time in two years that the Central American country has run for more than two months straight on renewables alone, and it brings the 2016 total to 150 days and counting.

According to Costa Rica’s National Centre for Energy Control (CENCE), 16 June 2016 was the last day this year that fossil fuels-based energy was used by the national grid. (Data for September is still forthcoming.)

Since then, the country has been powered on a mix of hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar energy, with hydro power providing about 80.27 percent of the total electricity in the month of August.

Geothermal plants contributed roughly 12.62 percent of electricity generation in August, while wind turbines provided 7.1 percent, and solar 0.01 percent.

Just like last year, when Costa Rica managed to power itself for a total of 299 days without burning oil, coal, or natural gas, 2016’s milestone was helped along by heavy rainfalls at the country’s four hydroelectric power facilities.

Continue Reading.

Forty year old Mize Juma Othman installs a new photovoltaic panel on a home in Matemwe village, on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Othman trained for six months in India to become one of the first 13 “solar mamas” in Zanzibar, able to install, troubleshoot and repair the systems.

Zanzibar’s ‘Solar Mamas’ flip the switch on rural homes, gender roles

Photo Credit: Sam Eaton
Stanford engineers develop state-by-state plan to convert U.S. to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050
Mark Z. Jacobson and colleagues show that it's technically possible for each state to replace fossil fuel energy with entirely clean, renewable energy.

This 50-state plan for good, clean, renewable energy would create jobs, reduce air pollution related deaths, and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Sounds pretty good if you ask me!


Germany generated so much renewable energy, electricity prices went negative

Over the weekend, Germany did something amazing: It produced so much solar, wind and hydro energy that the cost of electricity actually went negative for a few hours. Yes, companies were actually paying some people to use electricity. This is an incredible achievement, but it revealed a problem going forward.

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More Solarpunk inspiration images!! To recap: some of the defining features of how I imagine solarpunk are: Art Nouveau + other old styles of architecture and fashion, stained-glass solar panels, sustainable-energy-powered tech, lots of inner-city gardening, and lots of streetcars. 

Okay, on to image credits:
1: Kingsbury, from Ghibli’s How'l Moving Castle
2: Stained glass dome, photo by Jyoti Srivastava
3: A streetcar running in Portland
4: Photo taken by John Meckley 
5: Cityscape by Imperial Boy
6: Image by me, traced over image by Alphonse Mucha
7: GaiaOnline avatars made using
8: Art by Owen Carson

I really wish I could draw my own cityscapes, but alas, I am no artist. Instead I have to comb the internet, searching for “close enough.”

Maybe someday I’ll have the disposable income to commission artists to draw pieces that are intentionally solarpunk….. Someday….