MIT Energy Storage Discovery Could Lead to ‘Unlimited’ Solar Power

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a new way of storing energy from sunlight that could lead to ‘unlimited’ solar power.

The process, loosely based on plant photosynthesis, uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. When needed, the gases can then be re-combined in a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity whether the sun is shining or not.

According to project leader Prof. Daniel Nocera, “This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years. Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now, we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.

Nocera has also explained that the process (video) uses natural materials, is inexpensive to conduct and is easy to set up. “That’s why I know this is going to work. It’s so easy to implement,” he said.

Other prominent scientists in the field have rushed to highlight the revolutionary potential of the new process. According to James Barber, biochemistry professor at Imperial College London, this research is a ‘giant leap’ towards generating clean, carbon-free energy on as massive scale. In a statement, he also said:

“This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind. The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production, thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.”

No news has yet been released of a predicted timescale to commericial development or mainstream adoption. However, Nocera has said that he’s hopeful that within 10 years homes will no longer be powered using electricity-by-wire from a central source. Instead, homeowners will be able to harness solar power during daylight hours and use this new energy storage method for electricity at night.

Source: CleanTechnica

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Solar Power from Outer Space: Microwaves and Frickin’ Lasers

In order to meet our world’s rising energy needs, and to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, some ideas that seem right out of a science fiction novel are picking up steam with start-ups and investors. But does using satellites for energy production really make sense financially or environmentally?

Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) is an idea first voiced by scientist Dr. Peter Glaser over 40 years ago, and during times of high energy costs or crises in fossil fuel supplies, the idea keeps rearing its head. The premise is that large photovoltaic arrays can be assembled in a geosynchronous orbit at 22,000 miles above the Earth, generating electricity that can then be transmitted via microwave or lasers to Earth.

On the positive side of SBSP, power can be produced 24 hours a day, regardless of the time of year, and…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knocked Down But Not Out: America Could Be Global Solar Leader by 2014

A new report reveals that America’s solar photovoltaic (PV) industry has gotten battered since the economy hit the skids last year.

But not to fret. A boost in federal incentives could trigger a rapid sector rebound and ultimately global solar leadership by 2014.

According to cleantech market researcher Pike Research, “The United States has become one of the more aggressive nations in promoting alternative energy technologies.” But here’s the problem:

“At the federal level tax credits and depreciation incentives are not currently enough to encourage sustainable demand growth.”

Washington’s latest boost in clean energy subsidies, in other words, is just not cutting it with investors, not in the face of this financial crisis.

“Financing for solar projects remains elusive,” says the forecast, U.S. Solar Energy Demand Dynamics.

The report find that solar demand in the U.S. lags behind market leaders Spain and Germany in 2009 — despite fizzling subsidies and slow starts to the year in both those nations. In America, project cancellations and delays are also…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Toyota Plants Giant Solar-Powered Flowers Across US Cities

Meant to represent the theme of “Harmony between Man, Nature, and Machine,” the 18-foot flowers have behind their petals and at the base of the stem. The generated travels down the stem to plastic green benches with 110-volt outlets. Each of the five flower provide room for up to 10 people to sit while charging their cell phones, laptops and other devices. Currently appearing in Boston, the solar flowers will later travel to New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The flowers operate daily from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm.

In addition to the flowers, Toyota is also demonstrating solar ventilation bus shelters in some cities. The shelters feature on the…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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MIT preparing to unleash solar power revolution

A new revolution in solar power is set to bring energy from the sun into the night. A major barrier to large-scale solar power is having a way to store the sun’s energy so that it can be used at night or when skies are cloudy.

Solar power has historically been restricted to being a daytime source of energy as conventional photovoltaic solar panels produce energy only when the sun is shining. Storing solar energy for use at night has been expensive and inefficient. However, the Massachussettes Institute of Technology, or MIT, has announced that they have developed a simple, inexpensive, and very efficient solar energy storage process.

“This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years,” said MIT’s Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power…Read More.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Americans Waste $130 Billion a Year on Energy

Our houses leak, our light bulbs produce more heat than illumination, our big screen TV sets draw power when they are turned off, and that’s just the start of it.

U.S. businesses and individuals could save money, curb emissions of global warming pollutants, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020, merely by taking sensible, practical steps to use energy more efficiently, says a report from McKinsey & Company released today.

What’s more, energy efficiency is the very best way to create so-called green jobs — yes, even better than subsidizing solar or wind power — because it makes the economy more productive in the long run.

So what’s standing in the way?…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Plastics That Convert Light To Electricity

We all are familiar with the positive impact of alternative energy on our environment. Now researchers are trying to improve upon the existing alternative energy technology. As far as solar energy is concerned they are trying to make solar panels cheap and people friendly. Normally the solar panels are quite bulky and difficult to fit in on existing architecture. Therefore scientists all over the world are focusing on developing organic solar cells. They could be inexpensive and look like thin films.

Although the above concept looks so romantic on paper reality is always different. Researchers are facing many hurdles to acquire a desired result. One major obstruction is to utilize these carbon-based materials to unfailingly form the appropriate structure at the nanoscale (tinier than 2-millionths of an inch). This way the structure would be highly efficient in converting light to electricity. They…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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