Solar Power

Solar-powered bikini lets you charge gadgets with your boobs

Everybody knows you're not supposed to get a tan anymore. So what's the point of lying out on the beach, if you're just going to wear SPF 800 sunscreen? Well, if you're sporting designer Andrew Schneider's solar bikini, you can at least be charging your iPod while you nurse your pale yet cancer-free flesh. The bikini is covered in photovoltaic film strips terminating in a USB connector. You can get five volts out of it, which is standard maximum voltage for a USB, which means you can plug in your phone or your music player, or your external keyboard if …

Solar Power

Bachelorette contestant, Charlie Sheen add wattage to NYC solar campaign

The Bachelorette‘s Ryan Park. Photo: Karina Marchese of REC Solar What do GE, Charlie Sheen, and the most promising bachelor on The Bachelorette have in common? They all are playing a role in bringing solar to New York. The New York Solar Jobs Act is an effort to bring 5 gigawatts of solar to the state by 2025. It’s the biggest solar campaign currently underway in the U.S., and GE is doing its part by joining a broad coalition of businesses supporting the effort. The global solar photovoltaic market is going strong — it surged from $2.5 billion in 2000 …

Buildings that make more energy than they use gain steam

If every building made more energy than it uses, would all the world's power plants pack up and go home? Maybe education would be fully funded and the military would be forced to have a bake sale! But really: There is a building in Bellenberg, Germany that produces more energy than it consumes, mostly by being super energy efficient in the first place. It also has solar panels for electricity and ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. It doesn't just produce a little more energy than it uses, either: It's making 80 percent more juice per year than it …

How the ‘Arab Spring’ makes massive solar in North Africa more likely

Desertec is a massive project to to build solar thermal plants in the deserts of North Africa — you know, the same North Africa that had all the revolutions just now. But proponents are saying there’s no reason to put the project on hold just because of political unrest. In fact, they say, the economic benefits afforded by the Desertec plant might help the region in its shift towards democracy. The plants would take advantage of the Sahara’s sunshine — it gets so much that covering only 1 percent of its area in solar thermal plants could power the entire …

Obama administration overseeing explosion in renewables on public land

The Bush administration issued more than 40,000 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands, but approved zero solar projects (even though they received 300 applications). In contrast, in 2010 alone the Bureau of Land Management approved 9 solar projects representing 3,682 megawatts of electric power, reports Climate Central. Why the difference? According to Chase Huntley of the Wilderness Society, the Obama administration is committed to permitting new renewable projects: "This administration is taking action, not just tap dancing on process." Giant government bureaucracies are hard to change, though, so it's going to take a lot of time and …

Critical List: Christie ditches climate initiative; France opens huge solar farm

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has jumped ship from a regional greenhouse gas program, because "it's a failure." The owners of the Fukushima nuclear plant provided regulators with only a one-page memo on its tsunami and earthquake preparedness. One page. A decade ago. In Japan, the country that invented the word “tsunami.” Green tech companies need for everyone to start doing a better job of recycling those rare earth materials that make electronics run. Trust us, you’re never going to refurb that old Dell laptop that doesn't have wireless capabilities. Please just drop it off somewhere they can make use …

Norway plans billion-dollar clean energy fund for world’s poor

What is it about those hoar-frosted Scandinavians that makes them crazy ambitious when it comes to clean energy? First it was Denmark's promise to go 100 percent renewable; now their buddies in Norway want to launch a billion-dollar fund for building renewable energy in the developing world. Norway has already pledged more than $500 million a year to stop deforestation in Indonesia, so they're probably for real when they say that they want the "Energy+" initiative to attract billions in investment from developed countries, all of it aimed at building solar, wind, and hydro in the developing world. Only problem …

Japan to mandate solar panels on all new buildings

What do you do if your country depended on nuke plants for energy, but is now too freaked out about nuclear disaster to trust them anymore? You harness the awesome nuclear power OF THE SUN! At least that’s the plan of Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan, who announced an energy policy that may require all new buildings to have solar panels by 2030. Is this a realistic plan? Well, as the price of solar panels continues to drop, it's pretty clear that there are plenty of places where it will soon be competitive with the retail price of electricity. But …

Critical List: Bike to work today; Amazon deforestation rate rose this year

It's Bike to Work day. Now all you bike commuters know how secretaries feel on Administrative Professionals Day: “One DAY? I’ve been doing this day in and day out all year!” The rate of Amazon deforestation has been declining in recent years; this year, it climbed again. The Brazilian government is — rightly — freaking out. The head of Tokyo Electric Power, the company responsible for handling the Fukushima meltdown, resigned today. Rumor has it that BP CEO Tony Hayward has already invited him to join the new, quickly growing Ex-Heads of Disastrous Energy Companies club. (Motto: “We Just Want …

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