How China’s space-bound solar installation will beam power down to earth

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Solar panels in space

Researchers are exploring new means of providing power.

Researchers in China are planning a solar farm in space, an ambitious project that could deliver energy at six times the intensity of installations on Earth. The project, which made the front page of China’s Science and Technology Daily last week, would orbit in space and beam down energy to a receiver.

The station would reportedly orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth and benefit from harvesting energy without any complications from seasonal changes or atmospheric conditions, providing energy 99 percent of the time. It’s expected to weigh a staggering 1,000 tons, around 600 tons more than the International Space Station, so the researchers are exploring alternatives like using robots and 3D printers to build the construction in space. The idea is nothing new: NASA started researching the idea in the mid-1970s during the Arab oil embargo, and even devised bold concepts like the SunTower:

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Transparent solar panels will turn windows into green energy collectors

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A team of researchers from Michigan State University managed to develop a fully transparent solar panels – a breakthrough that could lead to countless applications in architecture, as well as other fields such as mobile electronics or the automotive industry. Previous attempts to create such a device have been made, but results were never satisfying enough, with low efficiency and poor material quality.

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These Origami solar panels generate electricity for apartments

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Solgami wants to help people living in cities.

A new design of solar panel could help apartment dwellers harvest electricity from their windows without prohibitive installation costs. Solgami, designed by Australian architect Ben Berwick, is a window blind that generates power while bouncing more light into the room using a folded origami design.

“It’s a bit of a reconnection to the natural setting,” Berwick, who founded architecture firm Prevalent, told Fast Company* this weekend. “It’s making your apartment a better place to be.”

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India’s first solar-powered, driverless bus has made its maiden journey

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Students of Lovely Professional University (LPU) at Jalandhar has designed this bus with the uses of GPS and Bluetooth for navigation

Jalandhar (Urban Transport News): India’s first solar-powered, driverless bus made its maiden journey at the Indian Science Congress in last week Thursday. A team of students of Lovely Professional University (LPU) at Jalandhar has designed this bus with the uses of GPS and Bluetooth for navigation.

According to the project head Mandeep Singh, the camera installed on top of the bus allows for image processing. It senses the road pattern and the bus moves accordingly.

“We have been working on this project for the last five years. Around 300 students, from departments of electronics, electrical and civil and mechanical engineering, have been part of it. It was a huge project and bringing everyone together itself was a huge challenge,” said Mandeep Singh.

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Tesla proposes microgrids with solar and batteries to power Greek islands

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Tesla has met with the Greek government to propose ways to modernize the electric grid of the country’s many islands in the Mediterranean sea with microgrids and renewable energy to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Several Greek islands are relatively remote and rely heavily on fossil fuels to power their electric grid.

Over the years, Tesla has acquired some experience in building microgrids to power remote islands using solar panels and its energy storage systems, like the Powerpack.

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The world’s largest floating solar plant is finally online

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This massive power plant is taking energy to a whole new level.

The world’s largest floating solar power plant is now online in China. Built by Sungrow, a supplier of PV inverter systems, the 40MW plant is now afloat in water four to 10 meters deep, and successfully linked to Huainan, China’s grid. The placement was chosen in large part because the area was previously the location of coal mining operations; and, as a result, the water there is now mineralized and mostly useless. The lake itself was only formed after years of mining operations, the surrounding land collapsed and created a cavity that was filled with rainwater.

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Scientists develop liquid fuel that can store the Sun’s energy for up to 18 years

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No matter how abundant or renewable, solar power has a thorn in its side. There is still no cheap and efficient long-term storage for the energy that it generates.

The solar industry has been snagged on this branch for a while, but in the past year alone, a series of four papers has ushered in an intriguing new solution.

Scientists in Sweden have developed a specialised fluid, called a solar thermal fuel, that can store energy from the sun for well over a decade.

“A solar thermal fuel is like a rechargeable battery, but instead of electricity, you put sunlight in and get heat out, triggered on demand,” Jeffrey Grossman, an engineer works with these materials at MIT explained to NBC News.

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The future of construction may be concrete that generates its own electricity

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We need buildings in which to live, but crafting those buildings is making it harder to live on this planet. As much as 10% of global carbon emissions come from the production of concrete. One ton of CO2 is generated by making one ton of cement, which is made from limestone and a few other things heated to an extremely high temperature.

But what if concrete could generate its own energy? The era of photovoltaic concrete may be getting closer. Photovoltaics, which work by converting light to energy via semiconducting, are starting to migrate from solar panels into the building materials themselves.

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Japan’s new solar-powered “Second Skin” device revolutionizes wearable tech

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It looks more like a band-aid than a watch.

Advances in wearable tech have been pretty impressive lately, but the device described in a new Nature study blows the competition out of the water. While the Apple Watch is now equipped with an FDA-approved EKG sensor and companies like Samsung are going out of their way to make smartwatches look like fashion statements, the device described in the paper, published Wednesday, puts both to shame. This heart-sensing device has no wires, requires no charging, and is so small that it can wrap around a rat’s heart.

Study co-author Kenjiro Fukuda, Ph.D., a research scientist at Japan’s RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science is quick to say that his device represents a big step forward for wearables. It looks more like a band-aid than a watch, and it’s thinner than a piece of cardboard.

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Supersized solar farms are sprouting around the world (and maybe in space, too)

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In a quest to cut the cost of clean electricity, power utilities around the world are supersizing their solar farms.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in southern Egypt, where what will be the world’s largest solar farm — a vast collection of more than 5 million photovoltaic panels — is now taking shape. When it’s completed next year, the $4 billion Benban solar park near Aswan will cover an area 10 times bigger than New York’s Central Park and generate up to 1.8 gigawatts of electricity.

That’s roughly the output of two nuclear power plants combined and almost double the planned capacity of the vast Villanueva facility now growing in the Mexican state of Coahuila — currently the largest facility in the Americas. (The largest solar farm in the U.S. is the 580-megawatt Solar Star facility near Los Angeles.)

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Power worth less than zero spreads as green energy floods the grid

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Wind and solar farms are glutting networks more frequently, prompting a market signal for coal plants to shut off.

Bright and breezy days are becoming a deeper nightmare for utilities struggling to earn a return on traditional power plants.

With wind and solar farms sprouting up in more areas — and their power getting priority to feed into the grid in many places — the amount of electricity being generated is outstripping demand during certain hours of the day.

The result: power prices are slipping to zero or even below more often in more jurisdictions. That’s adding to headaches for generators from NRG Energy Inc. in California to RWE AG in Germany and Origin Energy Ltd. in Australia. Once confined to a curiosity for a few hours over windy Christmas holidays, sub-zero cost of electricity is becoming a reality for hundreds of hours in many markets, upending the economics of the business in the process.

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Amazing solar panel device is now open source

Anyone who has wanted to generate their own energy and filter their own water can now do so with an amazing open source device.

Speaking on stage at Inspirefest 2018, Chinese-Canadian mechanical and electrical engineer Eden Full Goh described what inspired her to develop a cheap, easy-to-build solar panel device called the SunSaluter.

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