Glass Roofing Tiles Collect Heat To Warm Homes

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SolTech Energy, a Swedish company selling solutions for clean solar power, has developed a unique home heating system contained within roofing tiles made out of ordinary transparent glass. The attractive house-warming tiles (somewhat ironically) give roofs a beautiful, icy appearance quite unlike anything else we’ve ever seen before.

In 2009, the SolTech Energy System was selected by a jury and nominated among nine as the year’s “Hottest New Material.” Based on votes by the people, the company’s glass tiles were awarded with a gold medal from the North Building Fair, Nordbygg. “The winning entry combines an attractive design with essential functions for clean and sustainable energy. It is an innovative product that is well in time,“ said the chairman of the jury, PhD. Bengt Toolanen.

So what makes the system so special and award worthy? For starters, the tiles are made from ordinary glass and have about the same weight as those made of clay. Secondly, the system doesn’t, like competitors’ versions, heat up water or vacuum pipes, but clean air. The tiles are installed on top of a black nylon canvas, under which air slots are mounted. The black colour absorbs heat from the sun and the air starts to circulate. The hot air is then used to heat up water, which is connected to the house’s heating system via an accumulator. The beauty of the system is that it cuts energy costs throughout the year, during dark winter days as well as night time, due to its capacity to store heat in the isolating layers of air under the canvas.
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Building An “Earthship” Inspired Home In France

Check out my favorite episode of the “Grand Designs” program. This one covers a family building an earth ship inspired home in the south of France in a place called Brittany. It runs through all the stages of building the home and then goes back and revisits it a year later to see how everythings worked out for them.

A realistic example of what is achievable if you’ve got the money to build a home, meaning an “eco friendly carbon neutral home one is definitely a viable option. It also explores the limitations you might encounter if you try and build a home like this in England, it’s almost impossible for most due to planning regulations. Wales on the other hand are very open to the idea of sustainable homes. Hopefully things will change sooner rather than later.

Who doesn’t want a home that has no utility bills and even earns you a small profit everyday?

For more information: http://www.groundhouse.com/

The Solar Generating Sunflower That Desalinates Water Too

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A new piece of solar technology from IBM not only provides electricity – it can desalinate water for sanitation and drinking

Computer giant IBM last week revealed the prototype of its advanced solar electricity generators: a 30ft-high concrete “sunflower” fitted with wafer-thin aluminium mirrors and a maze of tiny tubes for carrying coolant through the heart of each device. The machines, which will be built in conjunction with the Swiss company Airlight Energy, can convert 80% of the sun’s radiation into electricity and hot water, it is claimed, with each generating 12 kilowatts of electricity and 20kW of heat on a sunny day, enough to supply several homes.

At the device’s official unveiling in Zurich, executives for both companies said they hoped that by 2017, when their sunflower generators should be ready for the market, they could be manufactured for half to one-third of the cost of comparable solar converters today. According to IBM, the machine’s secret lies with the microscopic tubes that carry water through the cluster of photovoltaic chips at the heart of each device. This system has already been adopted by IBM to cool its high-performance supercomputers. “We were inspired by the branched blood supply of the human body,” said Bruno Michel, from the IBM Research laboratories in Zurich.

The sunflower operates by tracking the sun so that it always points in the best direction for collecting its rays; these are then focused on to a cluster of photovoltaic cells that are mounted on a raised platform. The cells convert solar radiation into electricity. However, without the microchannel cooling system, which carries distilled water through the chips, temperatures would reach more than 1,000C. With the microcooling system, which carries water to within a few millimetres of the back of each chip, temperatures are kept down to 90C – a far safer, and far more efficient, operating level. Electricity is generated while the system also produces large amounts of hot water from the cooling system. “That hot water is a game changer,” added Michel. “Electricity is obviously vitally useful but so is the heat – for we can use it for desalinating water.”

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UK’s First Solar Farm Built To Float On Reservoir

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Berkshire project owners to target water utilities with scheme to cut energy bill

They have become a familiar sight on rooftops and fields across Britain. Now, solar panels are set to start appearing in a new and surprising location: floating on reservoirs.

Britain’s first ever floating solar panel project has just been built in Berkshire, in a scheme its developer claims will act as a blueprint for the technology to be installed at hundreds of sites across the country.

The 800-panel green energy project was installed earlier this month on a reservoir at Sheeplands Farm, a 300-acre soft fruit farm near Wargrave.

The scheme is eligible for renewable electricity subsidies, which are funded by energy bill-payers.

Its owner, Mark Bennett, says that floating panels are even more lucrative than solar farms on fields because no earnings from valuable agricultural land have to be sacrificed to make space for them.

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Solar Power Could Be World’s Top Electricity Source By 2050

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Falling cost of solar photovoltaic panels could help technology generate up to 16% of world’s electricity by mid-century

Solar energy could be the top source of electricity by 2050, aided by plummeting costs of the equipment to generate it, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the West’s energy watchdog, said on Monday.

IEA Reports said solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050, while solar thermal electricity (STE) – from “concentrating” solar power plants – could provide a further 11%.

“The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels constitute the fastest-growing renewable energy technology in the world since 2000, although solar is still less than 1% of energy capacity worldwide.

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Hot Water From Your Compost Heap

Great video showing how to get hot running water at an off grid (remote or inconvenient) location. I’ll be using this one on my allotment when I get round to it, be for simple things like washing hands, maybe even use it to heat the shed or pollytunnel during the winter, take the edge off things. Interesting stuff!

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Canary Island The First In World To Be Powered By Just Wind And Water

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The smallest and southernmost of Spain’s Canary Islands is about to make an outsized mark on the path toward a more renewable energy-powered future.

With the opening of a new wind farm next month, El Hierro, population just over 10,000, will become the first island in the world to be fully energy self-sufficient through combined wind and water power. The five wind turbines will provide 11.5 megawatts of power, enough to meet the demand of the population and the desalination plants on this small crop of land off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.

When the wind isn’t blowing, hydropower will fill the void. When the wind is blowing, power will be used to pump water into a reservoir in a volcanic crater about 2,300 feet above sea level. Then when power is needed, that water will be released down to a lower reservoir and used to generate electricity on the way. This process is known as pump-storage hydroelectricity, and is used in many other countries across the globe — including the world’s largest outside of Washington, D.C.

“This system guarantees us a supply of electricity,” said the director of the Gorona del Viento wind power plant, Juan Manuel Quintero.

With the $75 million project set to come online, El Hierro will no longer have to rely on costly and dirty diesel generators for electricity — although it will maintain an oil power station just in case. According to Phys.org, the island’s transition to renewable energy will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20,600 tons per year and save the island from using 40,000 barrels of oil a year.

Other islands are taking advantage of renewable resources to become wind- and solar-powered, but El Hierro is believed to be the first to do so exclusively with wind and hydro power and without having any connection to an outside electricity grid.

LINK: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/01/3433002/spanish-island-renewable-energy/