Rooftop Solar Panels Are Almost All Facing the Wrong Direction

If you're thinking that solar panels face south to capture the most sunlight and thus the most energy, then you'd be absolutely correct. Yet, solar experts are saying that rooftop panels should be installed facing west. This surprising turn can be explained by quirks in our electrical grid. » 10/09/14 6:11pm 10/09/14 6:11pm

New Crystal Clear Solar Cells Could Power Your Smartphone One Day

The idea of a completely transparent solar panel has always been a bit of a dream. Such revolutionary technology would mean that we could turn windows into power generators and build phones with self-charging screens. Well, guess what? That dream is becoming a reality. » 8/20/14 11:06am 8/20/14 11:06am

NASA Is Working on Origami Solar Arrays That Unfurl in Space

The dream? Orbiting solar panels that beam energy down from space. The problem? Solar panels are shaped with maximum surface area to catch as many rays as possible, but wide, flat disks are also not very aerodynamic on the trip into space. The solution is to get clever with geometry. » 8/15/14 2:29pm 8/15/14 2:29pm

Go Inside the Factory That Makes the World's Solar Panels

While you're watching the final game of the World Cup today, keep a keen eye on the advertisements along the sidelines. You're likely to see the name Yingli Solar: a massive Chinese solar power manufacturer that few soccer fans are likely to know. Climate Desk recently visited Yingli's sprawling plant, and got a… » 7/13/14 4:00pm 7/13/14 4:00pm

Scientists Swapped a Toxic Chemical in Solar Cells For a Tofu Ingredient

Thin-film solar cells promise to bring flexible, low-profile solar power to all kinds of surfaces. Unfortunately, constructing thin-film panels requires cadmium chloride, a finicky, expensive, and toxic material. Now, University of Liverpool scientists have figured out how to make solar cells using magnesium chloride,… » 6/26/14 7:15pm 6/26/14 7:15pm

Why the future of a solar powered life isn't here yet

You'd think that with all the solar farms we've been building up and all those solar panels on people's roofs we would figure out how to use solar power to replace those old smoking power plants of ours. But we can't yet. Because of stupid clouds. » 6/19/14 9:04pm 6/19/14 9:04pm

Color Solar Panels Let Stained Glass Windows Produce Cheap Power

Because solar panels are designed to accumulate as much light from the sun as possible, they're typically very dark in color. It makes them more efficient, but also kind of an eyesore, minimizing their adoption. So researchers at the University of Michigan have developed what they believe to be the world's first… » 3/03/14 4:00pm 3/03/14 4:00pm

A Roomba For Solar Panels That Keeps the Sun Shining Through

It's easy to live with a few smudges on your smartphone's display, but for devices like solar panels that are completely dependent on every last drop of light making it through, cleanliness is a top priority. And when you've thousands of solar panels in a field drinking in sunlight, cleaning them all manually isn't… » 11/29/13 9:00pm 11/29/13 9:00pm

Almost Everyone Is Angling Solar Panels the Wrong Way

Conventional wisdom in the northern hemisphere is to face solar panels south so they get the most light all day. Architects and panel installers implement this approach all the time, especially on homes. But a new study indicates that panels facing west may actually get more juice from the sun, and at more convenient… » 11/17/13 12:04pm 11/17/13 12:04pm

Solar Panels: Not Just Big Rectangles on the Roof Anymore

In designing the 28th Street Apartments in South Los Angeles, architects at KoningEizenberg had several underlying missions: To restore an 80-year-old structure, to add a new residential wing, and to modernize the entire complex, making it more sustainable. In sunny L.A., adding solar energy was a no-brainer. » 11/12/13 4:30pm 11/12/13 4:30pm

Pop Music Makes Experimental Solar Panels Work 50% Harder

Ever notice how you feel more productive while listening to a great song? It's not just you. Researchers just discovered that a certain type of solar panel works most efficiently when exposed to the acoustic vibrations of pop music. Crank it up! » 11/08/13 12:40pm 11/08/13 12:40pm

Super Thin Graphene Solar Panels Could Pave the Way for Powered Paint

Covering any and all things with solar panels would be an awesome way to get power, but the bulk and expense of the tech we've got today makes it a little less than practical. But wonder-material-at-large graphene is shaking up the scene with ultra-thin solar panels and, maybe someday, solar-powered paint. » 5/03/13 11:53am 5/03/13 11:53am

New Solar Panels Keep Buildings Cool In Direct Sunlight

Someday your home might be nice and cool in the middle of July without air conditioning. How? Some Stanford researchers have created a solar panel that cools buildings in direct sunlight. » 4/16/13 11:16am 4/16/13 11:16am

Assert Your Dominance Over the Sun With a Solar Charging Patio Umbrella

Though we can't knock it out of the sky, man has learned to completely and utterly dominate the sun, making it do our bidding without fear of recourse. Case in point: this outdoor patio umbrella featuring a set of four solar panels on top and a pair of USB ports at table level. » 4/04/13 4:03pm 4/04/13 4:03pm

Stylish Sun Shade Is the Easiest Way To Harness Solar Power For Your…

If you like the idea of getting free energy from the sun, but don't want to deal with the complications of installing a solar array on your roof, Umbrosa has created a lovely backyard sun shade that does double-duty—turning those rays into electricity. » 5/19/12 11:30am 5/19/12 11:30am

Flexible Solar Panels Stack Cells on Sheets Printed Like OLEDs

Solar panels are finicky devices—they have to be specially mounted, angled, and presented with the precisely correct environmental conditions to function at capacity. The complexities make it hard for the technology to gain mainstream appeal. A German startup could change all that with flexible solar cells built using… » 4/24/12 11:30am 4/24/12 11:30am

Solar Power and Battery Backup: Tesla and SolarCity's Dream Home

Electric car maker Tesla Motors is teaming up with the solar panel leasing company SolarCity to make what might be the first complete, packaged electrical system for an off-the-grid solar home. » 4/17/12 6:20pm 4/17/12 6:20pm

Solar Panel-In-a-Tube Generates Power and Hot Water At the Same Time

Solar photovoltaic cells and solar thermal collectors both capture the sun's rays. The first one turns the light into electricity, while the other turns it into hot water for heating. They usually battle for rooftop real estate, but Naked Energy has found a way to merge them both into a single solar solution. » 4/12/12 4:40pm 4/12/12 4:40pm

Was Our Beloved 13-Year-Old Solar Power Genius Just Proven Wrong?

Many of you in the comments remarked that 13-year-old Aidan Dwyer's breakthrough was nothing new. Fair enough. But it'd be different if someone totally disproved it. One blogger claims to have done it. Can I get an expert in here? » 8/20/11 4:00pm 8/20/11 4:00pm

Japanese Company Wants to Turn Moon Into Disco Ball

The moon is pretty, we guess, but what has it ever done for us? Nothing. Until now! The Shimizu Corporation, an enormous contracting conglomerate, has a plan to turn the moon into a giant, solar panel-covered disco ball, providing "13,000 terawatts of continuous solar energy being transmitted back to receiving… » 5/30/11 5:40am 5/30/11 5:40am