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A TECHNO-SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION MOVEMENT
Earth Energy - Build Solar Panel for Home
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power for homes is a renewable and much better energy source. Many
homeowners are going green these days because they want to save money
and the …
Cooks- next generation on Pinterest | Kid Cooking, Cooking and …
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Worksheets: Pizza Box Solar Oven
How to Turn a Pizza Box into a Solar Oven- 2.58 mins
Learn here how to REALLY use your new iPhone http://bit.ly/1UKdTgJ
Watch more Cooking Equipment videos: http://www.howcast.com/videos/155609-…
Save that last slice of pizza! You can reheat it in its own container, using the sun’s power.
Step 1: Draw a square
the ruler and black marker, draw a square on your pizza-box lid,
leaving a 1-inch border from the edge of the box to each side of the
Step 2: Form the flap
With the box cutter or utility
knife, cut through three sides of the square you just drew, leaving the
line at the rear of the box attached. Fold the flap back so that it
stands up when the pizza-box lid is closed.
Step 3: Cover the flap with foil
the underside of the flap with heavy-duty aluminum foil, which will
reflect sunlight into the oven. Glue the foil to the flap, smooth out
wrinkles, and cut off any excess.
Step 4: Tape plastic sheet
the scissors, cut two square pieces of clear plastic wrap, each 1
square inch larger than the flap opening. Open the pizza box, and tape
one piece of plastic to the underside of the hole so that the plastic
Step 5: Tape second plastic sheet
Close the lid,
and tape the second plastic sheet over the top of the hole, creating a
window that helps keep the sun’s heat in the box. Pull both sheets taut
as you tape them.
Maintaining an airtight box is crucial in keeping the oven hot.
Step 6: Layer the bottom with foil
Glue or tape a layer of aluminum foil to the inside bottom of your pizza box for insulation.
Step 7: Cover with black paper
the foil layer in the box with sheets of black construction paper and
glue them into place. The black base will absorb light and generate more
heat inside your oven.
Step 8: Find best angle
Close the lid,
and you’re ready to start cooking! On a bright day, place your solar
oven outside in direct sunlight. Adjust the foil flap to find the best
ray-reflecting angle, and use the ruler, a stick, or a hard-plastic
straw to keep the flap propped in place.
If you want to
test the reflective angles of your oven before you head outside, shine a
laser pointer onto the foil flap to simulate rays of sunlight.
Step 9: Preheat
your oven by leaving it in direct sunlight for 30 minutes. The box’s
temperature will reach about 200 degrees, so while you won’t be able to
cook a roast, you can reheat cooked food, melt cheese or chocolate,
or—if you have all day—prepare a veggie stew.
Step 10: Cook
you decide to cook, place it—on its own, or in a heat-safe container—in
the center of the oven, so that it is directly under the plastic-wrap
window. Close the lid, leaving the flap propped open, and check on your
food every 15 to 30 minutes.
Did You Know?
Earth receives more energy from the sun in one hour than our entire planet uses in a year.
Solar Cooker Oven Pizza Box - School Project-18.00 mins
Published on Oct 18, 2014
Cooker Oven Pizza Box - School Project - Jonathan’s School Science
Project. Science project for using solar energy for cooking. This
project was allot of fun and educational to do so we decided to record
it in stop motion as well, this way you can see how the egg gets cooked.
We had a lot of fun doing it, hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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7 New Solar Innovations That Could Change The World
• By Jacob Sandry
• June 20, 2013
• 0 Comments
a tough time for solar innovation. Heightened global solar PV
production, especially in China where production has multiplied 17 times
over the last few years, has created such an oversupply of panels that
prices have dropped 80% in the last four years. Plummeting prices is
exciting news for the distribution of solar energy, but threatens to
stymie innovation of new clean energy products. Solar technology
startups that are attempting to break into the PV market are finding it
challenging to make even the most innovative products cost effective
when the cost of traditional solar panels is so low. The disappointing
buyout of MiaSole and crash of Solyndra are cacophonous illustrations of
the difficulty of this new landscape. But fret not, Mosaic is here to
remind you that there are still opportunities for innovative new
technologies to transform our clean energy future. Here are seven.
1. Bringing Light to Developing Countries
are 1.2 billion people in the world who live without access to
electricity. In order to provide nighttime light, many of households in
developing countries use kerosene lamps. Breathing the fumes from
kerosene lamps poses numerous health hazards and the lamps cause
frequent fatal accidents. Moreover, kerosene lamps add an estimated 200
million tons of GHGs to the atmosphere annually. Bringing even small
amounts of light and electricity can have enormous impacts on economic
possibilities for workers and scholastic performance for children.
like D.Light, Greenlight Planet and Angaza Design have developed small,
durable, solar charging lamps and appliances that can cheaply replace
kerosene lamps. Over the last few years, these companies have begun to
distribute their products on wider networks. On a slightly larger scale,
companies like OMC, Powerhive, and Mera Gao Power are developing clean
energy “microgrids”. A few solar panels provide electricity (to power
2-4 LED lights and a cell phone charger) for up to 100 households. These
innovative companies face many challenges in distributing their
technologies in difficult to access regions of developing countries, but
exciting progress has already been demonstrated. (Photo courtesy Social
2. Infrared Solar Energy
Only about 60% of
the light that hits the earth’s surface is visible light. The rest lies
in the infrared (think night vision goggles) and ultraviolet (think
sunburn) spectrums. Our traditional silicon-based solar photovoltaics
can only convert visible light into energy, leaving huge amounts of
potential energy untapped. A group of MIT researchers have pioneered a
new carbon-based solar panel that can harness the light in the infrared
range. Luckily, the new carbon cells are transparent, meaning they could
be transposed on top of silicon-based cells to gather both infrared and
visible sunlight. The cells are made of carbon nanotubes which are
highly absorptive while needing very little material. So they shouldn’t
cost much. According to MIT, a peer reviewer of the paper called this
discovery “a dream for the field.” The downside is that with many kinks
to be worked out, they’re nowhere near ready for commercial production.
(Photo courtesy Co.Exist)
3. Building Integrated Photovoltaics
Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs) are thin-film solar panels built
smoothly into building materials like roof shingles, curtain walls,
facades, or windows (yes, you can spray solar panels onto your windows).
BIPVs have actually been around for over 20 years, but have largely
been relegated to the realms of R&D and showcase works and currently
account for only 1% of global solar PV output. These products are now
emerging on the commercial marketplace due to the technological
leadership of a number of producers and attractive feed-in tariff
programs in numerous European countries. The global overproduction of
solar panels means that installation is now taking up an increasingly
large percentage of the total cost per watt of solar.
BIPVs are an
enticing alternative because they cut out many installation costs (they
don’t require racking, laborers don’t necessarily need to be trained in
solar installations) especially on new buildings. A report from the
National Renewable Energy Lab demonstrates that BIPVs could economically
compete with traditional rack-mounted Solar installations, even in the
short term. Moreover, BIPVs are aesthetically appealing for many
customers who may not be pleased with a large rack mounted system on
their roof. (Photo courtesy Marathon Roof)
4. Solar Leaf
Nocera and his research team at MIT have developed the first
“artificial leaf.” Made from a thin silicon solar cell, the leaf is
dropped into water where it separates hydrogen and oxygen molecules that
are collected and connected to fuel cells that produce electricity. The
leaves can’t collect energy as efficiently as traditional solar PVs,
but are incredibly cheap to make. Nocera and his team believe the leaf
could bring electricity cost effectively, especially in developing
countries, to households that aren’t connected to energy grids. (Photo
courtesy National Geographic)
5. Solar Powered Mobile Gadgets
power on mobile gadgets is still in its novelty phase, but expect to
see more innovations in the next few years. There are currently over 1
billion smartphones in use around the world. While the energy usage of
charging a smartphone is small for each individual, collectively we are
contributing 10 trillion pounds of CO2 each year. There are a few
innovations that could begin to offset that enormous amount. Solar
Focus’s new SolarKindle is a Kindle cover integrated with a thin solar
panel. With just one hour of sunlight, the SolarKindle gathers enough
charge to run your device for three days. This means you can take your
Kindle with you on your next trip without having to bring a cable.
listening to reading? Rukus Solar by eton is a portable speaker system
that streams music via bluetooth. Fully charged in 6 hours, the rukus
can play music for 8 more hours out of the sunlight. Eton also sells
portable charging stations that can charge phones and tablets using
solar energy. SunPartner Group’s new Wysip Crystal panels are
transparent screens that can be implemented on mobile devices to charge
devices and will be available for sale next year. (Photo courtesy
6. Solar Powered Transportation
100% solar powered Solar Impulse airplane completing its across the
country voyage, new terrritories are opening in the realm of clean
energy transport. While we’re far from hopping on commercial solar
flights, electric cars are making exciting new strides. A major barrier
to electric cars making a dent in the transportation market is their
prohibitive upfront costs. However, a recent Greentech Media report
demonstrates that many electric car models have reached cost parity with
traditional vehicles over their lifetime. In fact, the Nissan Leaf, is
10% cheaper than an avearge conventional car over a 60 month lifespan.
fastest growing electric car company, Tesla Motors, has been making
exciting progress recently as they posted their first quarterly profit
in 2013 Q1 and repaid their Department of Energy loan nine years early
in May. And finally someone made environmentally friendly cars look
good. New innovations in solar fueled charging could complete the solar
to transportation chain. In 2012 CSU Fullerton flipped the switch on
three 1.16 megawatt solar parking canopies that had integrated car
charging stations (See our Top 15 California Solar Schools). (Photo
7. New Solar Manufacturing Processes
not as flashy as fuel-cell leaves or solar airplanes, new innovations
in the manufacturing process of the silicon solar panels that currently
permeate the market could have the biggest impact in bringing production
costs low enough to compete with fossil fuels. Here’s where it gets
technical. The conventional process of creating the silicon in a solar
panel involves sawing a block of crystalline silicon into what are
called “wafers” that are traditionally 180 micrometers thick (your hair
is 50-180 micrometers thick). Unfortunately, about half of the original
block is wasted as sawdust during this process.
A few companies are
working on ways to reduce the amount of waste (and therefore cutting
costs) by creating thinner, but equivalently efficient, slices of
silicon. Astrowatt is developing a process that involves peeling apart
thin sheets of silicon. 1366 Technologies has developed a machine that
creates wafers straight from molten silicon, removing some manufactruing
processes to cut costs. Crystal Solar developed epitaxial growth
methods, used for decades by the chip industry, to deposit silicon films
straight from gases, skipping the wafer stage altogether. None of these
processes have been proven on an industrial scale and companies need to
develop methods to safely handle thinner silicon films (one suggestion
is to magnetically float them!), but they provide exciting glimpses of
our solar manufacturing future. (Photo courtesy Inc. Magazine)
• Mosaic President Billy Parish on the fastest way to 100% clean energy.
• The 5 Reason Solar is Already Beating Fossil Fuels
• How to find good investments.
Sandry is an Energy Studies scholar at Yale University and a fellow at
Mosaic. He has worked in Colorado to protect endangered waterways and in
Bolivia to protect animals rescued from the black market. Jacob has
been to 5 continents, but originally hails from Minnesota where he
developed his appreciation for the environment by camping, hiking and
running. Follow him on twitter @yaakovsandry.
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Applications For Solar Energy
Nikkei Business knows Solar Power. Find the Latest Solar News Here!
Solar energy which is a combination of light and heat is produced by
sun. This energy moves from sun and reaches the earth where human
collects it through solar collectors and convert it into any desirable
form of energy. According to an assumption this renewable source of
energy is powerful enough to replace the need of electricity that we get
from 650 barrels of oil per year.
Below read some practical applications of solar energy
Some of Applications of solar enery
- Power plants: In conventional power plants
non-renewable energy sources are used to boil water and form stream so
that turbines can rotate and water to produce electricity. But with
application of solar energy heat of sun can boil that water to create
steam and rotate turbines. To convert sunlight into electricity solar
panels, photoelectric technologies and thermoelectric technologies etc
- Homes: Use of solar energy is increasing in homes
as well. Residential appliances can easily use electricity generated
through solar power. Besides this solar energy is running solar heater
to supply hot water in homes. Through photovoltaic cell installed on the
roof of the house energy is captured and stored on batteries to use
throughout the day at homes for different purposes. In this ways
expenditure on energy is cutting down by home users.
- Commercial use: on roofs of different buildings we
can find glass PV modules or any other kind of solar panel. These panels
are used there to supply electricity to different offices or other
parts of building in a reliable manner. These panels collect solar
energy from sun, convert it into electricity and allow offices to use
their own electrical power for different purposes.
- Ventilation system: at many places solar energy is
used for ventilation purposes. It helps in running bath fans, floor
fans, and ceiling fans in buildings. Fans run almost every time in a
building to control moisture, and smell and in homes to take heat out of
the kitchen. It can add heavy amount on the utility bills, to cut down
these bills solar energy is used for ventilation purposes.
- Power pump: solar power not just help in improving
ventilation system at your homes but with that it can also help in
circulating water in any building. You can connect power pump with solar
power supply unit but you must run it on DC current so that water
circulate throughout your home.
- Swimming pools: swimming pools are great joy for
kids and adults in all seasons. But during winters it is tough to keep
water hot in these pools with minimum power usage. Solar energy can help
many in this matter as well. You can add a solar blanket in the pool
that will keep the water hot with energy generated from sunlight.
Besides this you can install a solar hot water heating system with solar
hot water heating panels.
- Solar Lighting: these lights are also known as day
lighting, and work with help of solar power. These lights store natural
energy of sun in day time and then convert this energy into electricity
to light up in night time. Use of this system is reducing load form
local power plants.
- Solar Cars: it is an electrical vehicle which is
recharged form solar energy or sunlight. Solar panels are used on this
car that absorb light and then convert it into electrical energy. This
electrical energy is stored in batteries used with the car, so that in
night time as well we can drive these vehicles.
- Remote applications: Remote buildings are taking
benefit of solar energy at vast scale. Remote schools, community halls,
and clinics can take solar panel and batteries with them anywhere to
produce and use electric power.
These are most common applications of solar energy that we get to see in our daily lives. As solar industry grows more diversified applications are expected to be seen in future.
practical applications of solar power
got some money saved and going solar crossed your mind. But you’d
rather have new floors or walls, or invest in the little addition you
always wanted. Why not do both?
5 PRACTICAL SOLAR APPLICATIONS
Solar energy is making strides in many a home, but most homeowners
still think it’s beyond them. Up-front costs in the tens of thousands
loom large, and not every state’s got an encouraging rebate program to
speak of. Then there’s the technology. Take the confusing reports of
building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), for instance. BIPV products
are made from thin film solar cells, reportedly growing in efficiency,
but still far behind the productivity of traditional silicon panels.
Are they worth the investment? Issues such as this create a mental block
that prevents a lot of homeowners from getting started.
However, solar energy isn’t just a scientific novelty for
big laboratories and power plants. And when it comes to residential
applications, it does not begin and end with expensive PV panels.
Several options are readily available for harvesting sunlight toward a
more energy-efficient home, and, moreover, for a practical price. For
many of us, the real challenge lies in getting the information,
making some room alongside time-tested, traditional values, and finally,
getting over the disbelief. Let these very real possibilities help
1.) Upgrade your water-heating system using solar thermal power.
Solar thermal is finally gaining ground, making a name for
itself alongside its more publicized “cousin” – photovoltaics. Solar
electricity, however, entails a more expensive, less efficient use of
renewable energy. You can use 70% of the sun’s energy with a solar
thermal collector, compared to a 12% conversion rate with PV panels.
You do the math.
If you want to let the sun help you warm your water, you don’t even need to buy a new tank. Solar thermal systems can be retrofitted into existing water heating systems. Using this method, you would only spend $3,000 to $6,000.
2.) Start with a small PV system and work your way up.
Back to photovoltaics for a moment. After all, the point
isn’t to dismiss them altogether. The neat thing about these systems
is you can choose the amount of energy you want to produce and the
size of the system you want to start with. Paul Smith of Sunstream USA advises the following for homeowners on a budget:
“In most cases, a customer can attain a rebate that will
cover approximately 40% of the cost of an array. When that sum is added
to the state and federal tax credits, nearly 50% of the cost of an
array can be covered. In most cases, residential customers can
purchase up to a 10 Kilowatt system and receive a rebate. There is no
reason why a customer couldn’t buy a smaller array (Perhaps a 4
Kilowatt system) and then enlarge it at a later date. The customer
would still be eligible for the remaining 6 Kilowatts of rebate money
whenever they might decide to add to their existing array.”
When it comes to recouping your money, keep savings in electricity costs in mind, as well as an increase in property value.
3.) Combine an existing remodeling project with passive solar methods.
You’ve got some money saved and going solar crossed your
mind. But you’d rather have new floors or walls, or invest in the
little addition you always wanted. Why not do both?
Passive solar homes have come to be known as “smarter”
homes. Long before the solar panel was invented, our ancestors built
their abodes in conjunction with the position of the sun. If you build
your walls or floors with materials high in thermal mass, the house
itself works for you, effectually absorbing, storing, and even
distributing heat from the sun into your living spaces. All without
mechanical devices or operational costs.
Concrete, brick, and water all have high thermal mass. Before
we get too caught up in design, let’s get back to that addition. Why
not make it a sunspace? If you’re strategic with placement, window
installation, and the set up of your walls, your new addition can help
collect heat when you need it, distributing it to the rest of your
home and lowering your energy bills in the process.
4.) Forget CFLs, think LEDs.
Do you have any idea how long these little gizmos last?
We’re not talking 25 hours – more like 25 years. LEDs are perfect for
the garden. They bask in the sun all day long, transferring energy
into a battery, which then powers the lighting device at night. They
don’t even need to be plugged in. And they’re made for the indoors,
too. The cost? A Cypress Solar Powered Metal Garden Accent, 2 Light
Kit by Brinkmann is $69.95. Solar security lights by Silicon Solar range in price from $39.95 to $229.95.
5.) Take the burden off your AC.
For as low as $400, you can purchase a solar powered fan
for your attic. As you know, heat rises, and poorly ventilated attic
spaces are culprits to your air conditioning system and your
electricity bill. Like other solar-powered solutions, solar attic fan
draws power from the sun. Requiring no additional power, it’s
absolutely free to run and keeps the air flowing freely through your
Thinking carefully about the way you use residential power,
you’ll find that solar solutions fit in where you may never have
expected them to. Remember, solar power solutions require, light,
not heat, to run. So even if it gets downright cold where you live,
most regions in the U.S. receive enough sunlight to make solar power
viable. Even the small steps, taken collectively, will reduce our
country’s dependence on foreign oil and protect our global resources
from further damage caused by processing nonrenewable resources.
Solar power applications
by Barbara M. Drazga
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP):
Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants are utility-scale generators
that produce electricity using mirrors or lenses to efficiently
concentrate the sun’s energy. The four principal CSP technologies are
parabolic troughs, dish-Stirling engine systems, central receivers, and
concentrating photovoltaic systems (CPV).
Solar Thermal Electric Power Plants:
Solar thermal energy involves harnessing solar power for practical
applications from solar heating to electrical power generation. Solar
thermal collectors, such as solar hot water panels, are commonly used to
generate solar hot water for domestic and light industrial
applications. This energy system is also used in architecture and
building design to control heating and ventilation in both active solar
and passive solar designs.
Photovoltaic or PV technology employs solar cells or solar photovoltaic
arrays to convert energy from the sun into electricity. Solar cells
produce direct current electricity from the sun’s rays, which can be
used to power equipment or to recharge batteries. Many pocket
calculators incorporate a single solar cell, but for larger
applications, cells are generally grouped together to form PV modules
that are in turn arranged in solar arrays. Solar arrays can be used to
power orbiting satellites and other spacecraft, and in remote areas as a
source of power for roadside emergency telephones, remote sensing, and
cathodic protection of pipelines.
Solar Heating Systems:
Solar hot water systems use sunlight to heat water. The systems are
composed of solar thermal collectors and a storage tank, and they may be
active, passive or batch systems.
Passive Solar Energy:
It concerns building design to maintain its environment at a
comfortable temperature through the sun’s daily and annual cycles. It
can be done by (1) Direct gain or the positioning of windows, skylights,
and shutters to control the amount of direct solar radiation reaching
the interior and warming the air and surfaces within a building; (2)
Indirect gain in which solar radiation is captured by a part of the
building envelope and then transmitted indirectly to the building
through conduction and convection; and (3) Isolated gain which involves
passively capturing solar heat and then moving it passively into or out
of the building via a liquid or air directly or using a thermal store.
Sunspaces, greenhouses, and solar closets are alternative ways of
capturing isolated heat gain from which warmed air can be taken.
Also known as daylighting, this is the use of natural light to provide
illumination to offset energy use in electric lighting systems and
reduce the cooling load on HVAC systems. Daylighting features include
building orientation, window orientation, exterior shading, saw tooth
roofs, clerestory windows, light shelves, skylights, and light tubes.
Architectural trends increasingly recognize daylighting as a cornerstone
of sustainable design.
A solar car is an electric vehicle powered by energy obtained from
solar panels on the surface of the car which convert the sun’s energy
directly into electrical energy. Solar cars are not currently a
practical form of transportation. Although they can operate for limited
distances without sun, the solar cells are generally very fragile.
Development teams have focused their efforts on optimizing the
efficiency of the vehicle, but many have only enough room for one or two
Solar Power Satellite:
A solar power satellite (SPS) is a proposed satellite built in high
Earth orbit that uses microwave power transmission to beam solar power
to a very large antenna on Earth where it can be used in place of
conventional power sources. The advantage of placing the solar
collectors in space is the unobstructed view of the sun, unaffected by
the day/night cycle, weather, or seasons. However, the costs of
construction are very high, and SPSs will not be able to compete with
conventional sources unless low launch costs can be achieved or unless a
space-based manufacturing industry develops and they can be built in
orbit from off-earth materials.
Solar Updraft Tower:
A solar updraft tower is a proposed type of renewable-energy power
plant. Air is heated in a very large circular greenhouse-like structure,
and the resulting convection causes the air to rise and escape through a
tall tower. The moving air drives turbines, which produce electricity.
There are no solar updraft towers in operation at present. A research
prototype operated in Spain in the 1980s, and EnviroMission is proposing
to construct a full-scale power station using this technology in
Renewable Solar Power Systems with Regenerative Fuel Cell Systems:
NASA has long recognized the unique advantages of regenerative fuel
cell (RFC) systems to provide energy storage for solar power systems in
space. RFC systems are uniquely qualified to provide the necessary
energy storage for solar surface power systems on the moon or Mars
during long periods of darkness, i.e. during the 14-day lunar night or
the12-hour Martian night. The nature of the RFC and its inherent design
flexibility enables it to effectively meet the requirements of space
missions. And in the course of implementing the NASA RFC Program,
researchers recognized that there are numerous applications in
government, industry, transportation, and the military for RFC systems
From article about “Solar Power Commercial Market Applications” Energy Industry Business Reports
Clean Energy Intro: Top 10 Alternative Solar Uses
February 25th, 2008 by Michelle Bennett
Powering your home with big solar panels is expensive. Despite the
long-term benefits, not all of us can fork over the cash for the initial
investment. Fortunately, since the sun is such a tantalizing and
constant source of energy, innovative minds have made lots of ways to
harness sol’s rays. Here’s a top-10 list (and introduction) to other
forms of solar power that might fit your budget and your practical
needs. For less practical needs, a few are just plain cool.
#1: Solar Water Heater
Solar water heaters come in a variety of types and designs
which means they’re a versatile and practical option for everyone who
enjoys a hot shower. How do they work? Most use the heat of the sun to
warm water, which means your hot water tank expends less natural gas or
electricity to do the same job. The benefits of this technology: price,
investment return, and size. You can upgrade an existing water heater
into a solar water heater for $4,000-$6,000. Typically you’ll spend less
if you’re building a new home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy,
“your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%” after installation. That
means you’ll regain your investment in savings more quickly than other
solar systems. And let’s not forget size – these are smaller systems
that won’t clutter your roof. Check out this site for diagrams about regional climate, maintenance fees, and more.
#2: Skylights and Tubular Daylighting Devices (Solatube Daylighting Devices)
Most homes were not built with windows in the ceiling and installing a
skylight can be expensive. Instead, consider installing a tubular
daylighting device (aka Solatube Daylighting
System) – a clever reflective tube that directs sunlight into interior
windowless spaces. Solatube Daylighting Devices provide natural light
without electricity, are versatile and inexpensive, and they don’t have
to take up any more space than a normal light fixture. Accessories like dimmer switches and lightbulb fixtures allow you to control the brightness and use the tube at night. You can DIY for a few hundred dollars or hire a professional. Fiber optic solar lighting uses the same idea, but it’s more complex (and expensive).
#3: Solar Battery Chargers
is my personal favorite, and the source of much envy: Portable solar
panels that charge your cell phone, ipod, or even your laptop. They tend
to appear as messenger bags, backpacks or roll-outs
and are perfect for
outdoor excursions, off-grid applications, or
emergencies. Your GPS or
cell phone don’t do you much good if their
batteries die, and you could
take all those pictures on your next
vacation with a fully charged
camera. This is definitely a luxury item,
but we’ve all known the
frustration of a dead battery in one or more
#4: Solar Lights
are perhaps the most recognizable and accessible solar products on the
market. We’ve all seen the little garden lights
poking up out of the
ground, their little solar-tops staring back up at
us. But these garden
lights, in their endless varieties, do not
represent the end of solar
lighting. There are also portable solar lights and lanterns for camping
or emergencies. On a larger scale, some cities have invested in solar
street lights or solar trees. If you need to illuminate something but
can’t plug it in, solar lights are the perfect solution.
#5: Solar Screens (also known as curtains)
I can just see you rolling your eyes, but let’s face it – as much
love the sun, sometimes we need a break in the shade. “Passive solar
is a fancy way of saying “sunshine warm, shade cool”. Put
principle to work in your home by regulating when and where you let
sun in. If you let the southern sun shine during the winter it will
keep your house warm. (Just remember that sunshine can’t compete
cold draft from poorly-insulated windows.) Conversely, if you
shades during the summer it will lighten your air
especially during the hottest part of the day.
Putting passive solar
energy to your advantage can reduce your energy
bills. If you have the
opportunity to build, “incorporating passive
solar design elements into buildings and homes can reduce heating bills
by as much as 50%.”
#6: Solar Oven
If you’ve ever ignited anything
with a magnifying glass, you know the
heat potential of the sun. Put
this idea to work for your next cooking
adventure – solar ovens!
technology directs sunlight towards a focal point to raise
temperature and cook whatever finds itself in the way. Designs
from the most basic tin-foil box to complex permanent appliances.
These ovens easily reach temperatures high enough to cook meat or boil
water and come in many designs.
They’re great for outdoor cooking,
especially in areas without fuel to
burn or where burn-bans are in
effect; it’s also safe (no burnt food),
making an easy educational
activity for kids. Cool factor: in many
designs you can watch the food
cook before your very eyes!
#7: Solar-Heated Pool or Pond
borrows the same principles of the Solar Water Heater, but
at a much
larger scale and with different equipment. If you’re dead set
and heating a swimming pool you’ll save a lot of oil by using a
pool cover and/or a solar pool heater
to regulate the temperature. The
pool cover isn’t a floating solar
panel. It’s an insulated pool sheet
designed to keep in the heat, thus
reducing the amount of energy
required to maintain water temperature.
The solar pool heater acts like a
radiator in reverse: water is pumped
out into a lattice of tubes where
it’s heated by solar panels, then it’s
pumped back into the pool.
Circulating water through this system keeps
it warm, even in cold
climates. And just so you know, water has a “large heat capacity, high
That means it takes a lot of energy to heat up
water and it will
transfer that heat into other materials, like the
ground. Lots of energy
means lots of money, even if you harness free and
#8: Solar Decor
There are a plethora of garden
and home ornaments that make the most out of solar power. Solar
fountains and bird baths are just the beginning. While these may seem a
bit frivolous, I think it just goes to show that you don’t have to give
up everything you own to go green. You can indulge a little and find
gifts for the least eco-inclined people in your life. There are even
educational kits that you assemble into trinkets or toys. Who doesn’t
want a solar-powered frog?
#9: Solar Signs
This is a practical
solar panel application that we tend to overlook,
but is already
widespread. Use the sun to power signs along the road. Billboards aside,
real estate, traffic, and construction signs are hot solar sites. Let’s
not forget the urge to stand out
from the crowd! This usage of solar
power expands our ability to
communicate, whether to warn motorists of
construction or an accident
ahead or to broadcast a product. Whatever
your message, lighting a sign
with solar makes more than a statement –
it expands the application of a
powerful modern tool.
#10: Solar Gadgets
you just find something so cool or different that you
someone could even imagine it. Solar gadgets are no
exception. Here are a
few that tickled my wallet or just made me laugh: solar tents for your
next camping adventure, solar lighters to impress your friends, solar
“personal massage” for someone special, solar tombstones for the dearly
departed, and more! How about the “9 most unusual solar gadgets“?
just goes to show that you don’t have to buy big solar panels for
home to benefit from the energy of the sun. Some techniques,
passive solar energy, don’t require any money at all. Solar means
than silicon wafers or fancy gadgets – it’s any application that
our nearest star to work. Many of these applications can save you
and all of them encourage a powerful and practical energy
Images courtesy of:
1. Solatube – solar tube
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Energy Efficiency & Environmental News:
Practical Uses of Solar Energy
Florida Energy Extension Service and Mike West
PRACTICAL USES OF SOLAR ENERGY
put solar energy to work for you and save energy and money.
to solar helps protect Florida’s beautiful and delicate
reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Today, there are
uses of solar energy for the homeowner: pool heating,
hot water, and
electricity for remote locations.
Less use of
generated from fossil fuels means less greenhouse gas and
emissions. Every kWh saved eliminates 1.5 pounds of carbon
pounds of sulfur dioxide, 0.25 pounds of carbon monoxide,
pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions.
To purchase solar
consult a local contractor. Many communities are served by an
conservation or solar contractor. Check the yellow pages under
Follow up on each potential contractor’s list of references.
Solar Pool Heating
practical and popular use of solar energy for the homeowner is
pool heating. A solar pool heater extends the swimming season from
through October to February through November (in Central Florida,
temperature at least 75 degrees). This amount of heating is
to $1500 worth of electricity (heat pump) or natural gas for a
A solar system for a 24’ by 20’ pool costs
$3200 to $4200.
The installed cost of a solar system is about the same
as a heat pump,
or about twice the cost of a natural gas heater ($1500
depending on the desired pool temperature and the size of the
Solar heater maintenance costs are much less than either type
conventional heater. An additional advantage of solar is
solar pool heaters are almost silent.
best type of pool heater
collectors are the rubber mat type, according
to FEES specialist Gary
Cook. The mats are virtually indestructible, and
if damaged, are easily
repaired. Gary has had this type of collector on
his roof for over 12
years. The mats heat his 700 gallon hot tub from
75°F to over 100°F in
less than one hour (two hours in winter). His
swimming season is
extended three months (Gary lives in Gainesville).
Solar Water Heating
are thousands of solar water heating systems installed in
put the sun to work heating water for showers, hot tubs,
Reliable solar water heating systems are
natural gas is unavailable. Modern systems can supply
at least 70% and
up to 90% of a family’s hot water needs. This can cut the
Florida home electric bill by 10% to 13%. In this sense, a solar
hot water heater is a good economic investment.
investment is the cash saved on utility bills. This
corresponds to an
annual rate of return of 7-9%, very respectable for
such a safe
investment. Quality systems last as long as the home they
in. The Florida Solar Energy Center can provide their
ratings of solar
collectors and systems (see References).
water heating systems
range in price from $1600 for a small system
serving two people,
$5000 for a system that serves a family of eight. A quality
sized for a family of 4 costs $3000 to $3500. A solar water
save the average Florida family around $300 per year, and
the environment by reducing the pollution caused by
electricity from fossil fuels.
Be aware of a few
details when selecting a solar water heating system. A system
sized for a
typical Florida family uses two 4’ by 8’ collectors. Look
for a system
that uses a solar powered pump. According to Tom Lane of
Conservation Services, most Floridians should select closed-loop
that use antifreeze to protect the system from freezing.
systems are another option. (Open-loop systems are suitable
Florida and the Keys).
The storage tank should hold at least
gallons of water per family member. Extra storage capacity
recommended, and is inexpensive.
Licensed solar contractor,
Gainesville FL.(904)373-3220. FEES does not endorse brands
Solar Electric Power Generation
photovoltaic (PV) systems are at work converting the suns
directly to electricity. PV generated power has three main
over all other types of remote power generation:
Power Simplicity Low Maintenance PVs provide electricity
homeowners, ranchers, and farmers for TV, VCR, stereo,
security lighting, pumps, electric fences, and livestock
without connection to the power company. Some farmers use PV
pumps for watering of livestock on remote grazing areas. PV
power street, billboard, bus stop, and highway sign lights,
buoys, and emergency telephones throughout Florida. Small
provide portable power for camping equipment, computers,
and test equipment. PV cells are used in calculators and
Photovoltaic power is practical where access to utility company
costly, and for low power/portable needs.
reduced the cost of PV systems to 25-50¢ per kWh. This
considerably more than the 7-10¢ per kWh of utility power. The
Department of Energy (DOE) goal is PV power at 12¢ to 20¢ per kWh
To take advantage of the economies of large scale
the DOE announced a new strategy to accelerate the use of PV
DOE Solar 2000 plan calls for an increase in PV use by a
factor of ten
by the year 2000. Use of PV power is increasing by over
25% each year,
and has been for the past few years.
systems range in price
from $75 to $40,000 depending on how much
electricity the user needs.
The box below shows how system cost varies.
PV systems are a poor economic investment if power is readily available: the annual rate of return is around 1%.
in outlying or isolated locations, connecting to faraway power lines
can cost more than a complete PV power station!
Comparison. High Capacity Solar
PV Systems Cost Considerably More Than
Appliances Powered By Solar
DC power for computer or TV
TV, VCR, stereo, lights, computer
– above plus
– above plus well pump (home)
– above plus
– above plus central A/C
As Table 1 shows, even modest increases in electrical capacity increases the price considerably.
using PV power, it is especially cost effective to replace
inefficient appliances with modern energy efficient ones —
allowing selection of a less costly PV system. Since PV cells
produce DC voltage, the use of DC (instead of conventional
AC) pumps, fans, refrigerators, lights, etc. makes sense.
Use of DC appliances reduces the cost of the PV system since they
are typically more efficient and require no invertor capacity. (
The invertor is the part of the PV system that changes the PV cells DC
voltage to AC.) In most cases, it is not yet economical to power
cooling and heating equipment with PV power since these are seasonal
Heating and cooling accounts for over half the residential energy use of a typical Florida family.
power systems are modular, so they easily grow with the users budget
and electricity needs. PV system size is measured in watt-hours per
day (WH/D). Typical system cost is around $3 per WH/D of system
smallest systems (around 200 WH/D) can cost up to $5 per WH/D, while
very large systems (10,000 WH/D) cost less than $3 per WH/D.
are required for power at night and on overcast days. The
and cost of a PV system can be estimated using the
Sizing Worksheet given in Table 2.
bills can be used to determine the WH/D of electricity currently
consumed. Most bills give “average kWh used per day,” simply
multiply this number by 1000 to obtain WH/D. Or, (1) take the total
kWh on the bill, (2) divide by the number of days in the
billing period, and (3) multiply by 1000 to obtain WH/D. Using
this method, one can see that a conventional small home, with a $65
monthly electric bill, would require 25,000 WH/D of PV capacity
to go completely solar using the same appliances and lighting. The
great cost of such a system emphasizes the importance of using
efficient lighting and appliances, natural gas for cookingand heating,
and fans for cooling.
Solar Photovoltaics: Out of the Lab and onto the Production Line. Mechanical Engineering
1992 by Steven Ashley.
Solar Equipment Standards: some Questions and
Answers. Florida Solar Energy Center #GP-9.
Directory #421. Contact the
Center at 407-783-0300.
Simplified Sizing Procedure for Solar Domestic Hot
Water Systems. Florida Solar Energy Center #GP-
10. ERD #417.
Thermal Performance Ratings of Solar Collectors.
Florida Solar Energy Center #’s GP-14 and GP-16.
FSEC Approved Solar Energy Systems: Domestic Hot
Water and Pool Heating. Florida Solar Energy
Measurement of Solar Radiation. IFAS publication
#CIR-827, ERD# 214.
Solar Water Heating: A Question and Answer Primer.
Florida Solar Energy Center #EN-5. ERD #426.
Solar Heating of Swimming Pools: A Question and
Answer Primer. Florida Solar Energy Center #EN-6.
Solar Swimming Pool Heating in Florida: Collector
Sizing and Economics. Florida Solar Energy Center
#GP-13. ERD #423.
Solar Water Heating Options in Florida. FSEC #EN-9.
Sources of Solar Consumer Protection. Florida Solar
Energy Center #FS-29. ERD #428.
Global Climatic Change Primer. Florida Energy
Extension Service # EES 72.
The Greenhouse Effect. FSEC #EN-16. ERD #431.
The worksheet in Table 2 will aid in estimating the
required size of a solar photovoltaic electric power
system. In the first block, list all the appliances which
are to be powered by the PV system. Check the
appliance label or nameplate for its rated wattage. Next,
estimate the number of hours per day each appliance is
“on”. Then, follow the calculation instructions in lines
to arrive at the estimated cost of a
complete PV power system.
PV Sizing Worksheet. Check Appliance Labels For Wattage. For Ratings in AMPS, Multiply AMPS x
VOLTS (120 or 240) to Obtain WATTS. HOURS/DAY is Hours Used Per Day.
List All Appliances to be PV Powered
A. Load: Sum of all WH/D above LOAD WH/D =
B. Battery and Invertor Losses: 25% of line A. LOSSES WH/D =
C. Net energy needed per day: Add lines A and B. NET WH/D =
D. Desired number of days of storage capacity. STORAGE DAYS =
E. Total required system size: Multiply line C by line D. TOTAL WH/D =
F. System unit cost. (typically $3 to $5) $ per WH/D =
G. Total system cost. Multiply line E by line F. TOTAL COST =
When using PV power, it is especially cost effective to
replace inefficient appliances with modern energy
Practical Uses of Solar Energy
can put solar energy to work for you and save energy and money.
Switching to solar helps protect Florida’s beautiful and delicate
environment, and reduceour dependence on fossil fuels. Less use
of electric power generated using fossil fuels means less greenhouse
gas and acid rain emissions.
Solar Pool Heating
most practical and popular use of solar energy for the homeowner is
solar pool heating. A solar pool heater extends the usable
swimming season from May through October to February through
November (in Central Florida, water temperature at least 75 degrees).
This amount of heating is equivalent to $1500 worth of electricity (heat pump) or natural gas for a 24’ by 20’pool.
Solar Water Heating
there are thousands of solar water heating systems installed in
Florida. They put the sun to work heating water for showers, hot
tubs, laundry, and dish washing. Reliable solar water
heating systems are practical where natural gas is unavailable.
Modern systems can supply at least 70% and up to 90% of a
family’s hot water needs. This can cut the typical Floridians home electric bill by 10% to 13%.
water heating systems range in price from $1600 for a small
system serving two people up to $5000 for a system that will serve a
family of eight. A quality system sized for a family of 4 will cost
$3000 to $3500. A solar water heater will save the average
Florida family around $300 per year, and help protect our
environment by reducing greenhouse gas and acid rain emissions
from electric power generating plants.
Solar Electric Power Generation
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The story of Gautham Buddha, the founder of one of the major religions
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