12 days of Xmas: A boatload of solar energy

We’re doing the 12 days of Christmas Appropriate Technology style.

Day 1: A boatload of solar energy.

We’ve got Nanosolar, inflatable solar, solar powered buses and more.

1. Searching for the Planet’s Sunniest Spots from Treehugger

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a technology or database in place to locate the world’s sunniest spots? Not only could it help spur further investment in solar energy technologies by giving businesses or governments the best bang for their buck; it would also provide more cost-effective energy solutions for developing countries – particularly in Africa – which receive a lot of sunlight but lack a proper power grid infrastructure.

NASA has been working on building just such a database, gathering and scrutinizing 22 years’ worth of maps compiled by European and U.S. satellites to find Earth’s sunniest places; it has so far determined that the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Sahara Desert top the list of sunniest locations. The effort is being spearheaded by the Group on Earth Observations, a 72-nation coalition that seeks practical applications for scientific information to “benefit society.”

2. Nanosolar Kicks Off the Solar Revolution: 12/18/07 from Jetson Green


Thin film solar company Nanosolar has started shipping product. Woohoo!

They’ve accomplished a slew of world’s firsts…

  • world’s first printed thin-film solar cell in a commercial panel product;
  • world’s first thin-film solar cell with a low-cost back-contact capability;
  • world’s lowest-cost solar panel – which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as $.99/Watt;
  • world’s highest-current thin-film solar panel – delivering five times the current of any other thin-film panel on the market today and thus simplifying system deployment;
  • an intensely systems-optimized product with the lowest balance-of-system cost of any thin-film panel – due to innovations in design we have included.

See also [Video] Nanosolar Causing Disruptions at 1/3 Cost from Jetson Green

3. TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Tindo, the Solar-powered Bus! from Inhabitat

Tindo Bus

Solar-powered mass transportation? It’s no longer a dream! Tindo, a solar-powered electric bus, was introduced just last week in the city of Adelaide in Australia. The best part? It’s free to ride the supercute, supersolar Tindo.

4. China’s ‘Sun King’ Aims to Lead Shift to Solar Power from NPR

Workers at China's Suntech

Reports that China will soon overtake the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases have attracted much concern.

But there’s another side of the story. China is investing as much money in alternative energy sources as wealthier nations, such as Germany. China is aiming to generate 16 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., is one of China’s leading entrepreneurial businesses in the renewable energy field.
Suntech is already the world’s third largest maker of solar cells, and it’s aiming for No. 1.

5. Energy efficiency agency pushes for more solar traffic lights from Engineering News ZA via from Solar Power Rocks

The National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA) hoped to roll out a further 100 solar-operated traffic-light intersections through the 20 major Metropolitan areas in South Africa, NEEA operations manager Barry Bredenkamp told Engineering News Online on Tuesday.

“Following the phenomenal success of the pilot project solar-powered, eight-robot intersection on Plantation road in Cape Town, the NEEA has had many requests for solar intersections throughout the country,” he added.

6. Inflatable Solar: Coolearth Concentrated Photovoltaics from Treehugger
[Check out comments section for folks input]

Duration: 1 min 6 sec

[A]ccording to Coolearth Solar, they’ve patented a design for inflatable solar collectors that are supposedly a cheaper way to concentrate sunlight onto photovoltaic cells. The makers claim their design is up to 400 times cheaper than polished aluminum mirrors which, if true, would certainly improve the economics of concentrated photovoltaics

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How it’s Made: Solar Panels (Discovery Channel; YouTube)