Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Solar Energy from Saharan Sun Could Power Europe


Solar PlantSolar thermal parabolic trough power plant;Source: Solar Millennium, TREC
According to an article published recently in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, EU scientists are working on an ambitious plan to harvest the sun in the Sahara desert in Africa to provide electricity for Europe. Europe needs a lot of electricity, but gets little sun. Vast solar power farms in the Sahara desert could provide clean electricity for the whole of Europe.

The EU scientists are calling for the creation of a series of huge solar farms - producing electricity either through photovoltaic cells, or by concentrating the sun's heat to boil water and drive turbines - as part of a plan to share Europe's renewable energy resources across the continent.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona (ESOF), Arnulf Jaeger-Waldau of the European commission's Institute for Energy, explained how electricity produced in solar farms in Africa, each generating around 50-200 megawatts of power, could be fed thousands of miles to European countries by using high-voltage direct current (DC) transmission lines instead of the conventional alternating current (AC) lines. Energy losses on DC lines are far lower than AC ones where transmission of energy over long distances is uneconomic.

Depending on the size of the grid, building the necessary high-voltage lines across Europe could cost up to €1-billion a year every year till 2050, but Jaeger-Walden pointed out that the figure was small when compared to a recent prediction by the International Energy Agency that the world needs to invest more than $45-trillion in energy systems over the next 30 years.

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK's chief scientist, welcomed the proposals: "Assuming it's cost-effective, a large-scale renewable energy grid is just the kind of innovation we need if we're going to beat climate change."

The idea for developing a major innovative super-grid based on renewable energy is already gaining political support in Europe, with both the UK Prime Minster Gordon Brown and and the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, recently backing the north African solar plan.

The scientists say that harnessing solar energy from the Sahara would be especially effective, because the sunlight in that area is much more intense: solar photovoltaic panels in northern Africa could generate up to three times the electricity compared with similar panels in northern Europe. And it would require the capture of just 0.3%of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle East deserts to meet all of Europe's energy needs.


Note: An earlier article in Spiegel Online from April 30, describes the project and also how it will benefit Africa because it is important that such an ambitious development is sustainable and beneficial to both continents. Read more: "Is Desert Solar Power the Solution to Europe's Energy Crisis?"

For the original plan visit:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Solar-Powered Umbrella - Unique Light for your Patio or Backyard Area


Solar-Powered Umbrella
Solar-powered umbrella is an excellent idea and a really cool summer gadget that already exist on the market and you can buy one for your patio, backyard, or garden.

This item is great for providing shade during the day and lights for your patio or backyard area at night without adding to your energy bill. During the day, it utilizes and stores energy from the sun in a solar panel located on top of the umbrella. When the sun goes down, the solar patio umbrella lights automatically turn on, proving sophisticated, gentle illumination. It is perfect for those outdoor summer gatherings and romantic dinners.

Solar-powered umbrella has a hi-tech solar panel attaches at the finial (top) of the umbrella to power the white LED's which are located on the ribs. Most models have also been designed with a center hub light that includes several LED's inside. The batteries inside the solar panel are replaceable and the LED's are also replaceable. The panel will charge in direct sunlight and fully charged provides 6-8 hours of light.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Solar-powered Tech Chair on the Beach


The solar-powered Tech Chair is definitely an interesting idea thought up by experts from the UK-based computer retailer PC World. It may easily become the summer favorite possession especially for the geeks as it boasts all the essential ports for various gadgets to hook up to while you're lying on the beach and tanning under the summer sun. Keep in mind, however, that you should place all your gadgets in a shaded area or under an umbrella, since the direct exposure to sunlight is incompatible with electronics.

The major feature of the chair is that it is solar-powered, harnessing energy from the sun so you can plug in all your gadgets. The overhead shade maker is equipped with solar cells to power the docks for your phone, MP3 player, camera, video recorder, and laptop, plus there's a game console holder, LCD screen, speakers, and headphone sockets. An interesting feature also is the automatic sunshade which follows the sun to keep your face shielded. The special solar fabric will provide protection from sun, wind, sand, water and suncream.

Solar-Powered Tech Chair

Perhaps most useful is the built-in long-range WiFi and Bluetooth antenna for keeping you connected. Another nice thing is a sliding laptop table which is available so you can work in the sun. And at the foot of the tech chair there is even a GPS device.

Anina Castle, spokesperson for PC World said: "We're also looking to incorporate a mobile text reservations system, whereby the Tech Chair can be booked by text and located via GPS so Britons don't have to worry about getting up before their early-rising European cousins."

"The Tech Chair unites a number of electrical products in a lightweight portable package that can be folded into a compact suitcase design small enough to take as carry-on luggage.", a PC World spokeswoman also said.

The solar-powered Tech Chair is still a concept design and experts have not yet worked out how much it will cost to buy.

Sources: The Design Blog, Sky News, Metro Headlines

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rotating Skyscraper Powered by Wind and Sun in Dubai


Rotating Skyscraper Dubai

The Italian architect David Fisher said he is ready to start construction on a  futuristic rotating skyscraper in Dubai that will be "the world's first building in motion". The modern "Dynamic Tower" construction, which would be energy self sufficient and cost about 700 million dollars to build, will represent an 80-storey tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape. 

The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile central column, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the city's skyline and the Persian Gulf. Each floor will rotate independently at different speeds. It will take between one and three hours for the floors to make a complete rotation.

Rotating floors are just one of several futuristic features in the building. Using wind and solar power, it will generate more electricity than it uses. Horizontally mounted giant wind turbines fitted between each rotating floor will generate enough energy to power the tower and nearby buildings. 20% of each roof will be exposed to the sun and photovoltaic cells placed on the roof of each rotating floor will produce solar energy. For the interior of the luxury apartments will be used only natural and recyclable materials, including stone, marble, glass and wood.

The dwellings will be assembled in a factory outside Bari in southern Italy, equipped with plumbing and electricity systems, kitchens, bathrooms and ceilings. They will arrive also painted, decorated and, in some cases, with walls hung with artwork. An apartment will cost between $3.7 million to $36 million dollars. Lifts will allow penthouse residents to park their cars right at their apartments.

The plan was revealed by Mr Fisher in a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York on June 24. "Today's life is dynamic, so the space we are living in should be dynamic as well," he said. "Buildings will follow rhythms of nature. They will change direction and shape from spring to summer, from sunrise to sunset, and adjust themselves to the weather. In other words, buildings will be alive."

Construction of the rotating skyscraper is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

Update 2020: The project has not been completed yet.