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Flying a Solar Plane Around the World Takes One Hell of a Ground Crew

In about half an hour, the Solar Impulse solar-powered plane is going to touch down in Hawaii, at the end of a record-setting flight across the Pacific. Attention and praise are quite rightly going to be heaped on pilot André Borschberg, who will have been peeing into a funnel for 120 hours straight. But behind the… » 7/03/15 11:30am 7/03/15 11:30am

California Farmers Without Water Are Installing Solar Panels Instead

Due to the unprecedented drought, many of California’s farmers won’t be allocated any water this year, thanks to the way that the state’s water rights work. But what actually happens to the farms that don’t get water? Some of the farmers are ditching produce altogether for a more profitable alternative to… » 4/27/15 6:49pm 4/27/15 6:49pm

Tesla's New Battery Could Solve One of Solar Power's Biggest Problems

So far, specific details are thin on the new battery designed for home use that Tesla’s announcing next week. But just based on what we do know, it’s a pretty big deal. The quest for a good battery that can store home-generated power is kind of like the holy grail for a renewable energy future. This one product might… » 4/23/15 9:45am 4/23/15 9:45am

Tesla's Next Big Product Is Coming On April 30: Batteries

When Elon Musk makes his next big announcement later this month he won’t be joined by an electric car or a space-bound capsule. Tesla will finally be passing along details on its long-awaited batteries designed for home use, plus a “utility-scale” battery as well—both of which will likely be manufactured in its new… » 4/22/15 10:12am 4/22/15 10:12am

Our Cities Could Become High-Density Solar Power Plants

Solar energy has a dark side. Those gargantuan plants that sprawl out like deconstructed disco balls sacrifice valuable open space and put wildlife, and possibly human lives, at risk. A new study by Stanford researchers says that focusing our solar energy efforts in already-developed urban areas could yield more… » 3/17/15 5:35pm 3/17/15 5:35pm

Now We Actually Have a Real Reason to Dread Solar Eclipses 

Superstitions have surrounded the eerie solar eclipse since time immemorial. And now, for entirely scientific reasons, it turns out we have good reason to fear them. Earth's biggest solar eclipse since 1999 is happening this March, and it could cause some real disruption—thanks to Europe's reliance on solar energy. » 2/24/15 6:30pm 2/24/15 6:30pm

Dust Off That Day Planner For These Compact Solar Charging Panels

The Blackberry struck the first blow, but eventually those multi-page day planners were all but completely replaced by modern smartphones. However, they might have finally found a way to claw their way back into relevancy with these replacement day planner pages that are actually functional solar panels, letting you… » 1/01/15 2:00pm 1/01/15 2:00pm

This Ball Machine Fakes Perpetual Motion As Long As the Sun Is Shining

Why is watching a marble snake its way around a twisty maze so mesmerizing? Maybe it's an allegory on the human condition as we all try to make our way through the world? What's for certain is that they make for great desk toys, and as long as your office gets a bit of sun during the day, this one could—at least in… » 12/12/14 1:37pm 12/12/14 1:37pm

A Solar Cell Snowboard Powers Your Gadgets While You Cruise

A couple of years ago the folks at Signal Snowboards tried their hand at making a board with a thin layer of solar cells on top to charge a battery while it careened down the slopes. Not only was their creation a success, it actually worked so well the company decided to put it into production, and it's now available… » 9/29/14 4:33pm 9/29/14 4:33pm

How the World's Largest Solar Plant Wants To Fix Its Fried Bird Problem

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has a problem. The myriad mirrors that reflect the sun's searing rays onto towers that generate electricity also create a death ray that fries anything in its path, namely poor innocent birds flying through the desert. But don't worry. They're working on it. » 8/19/14 1:32pm 8/19/14 1:32pm

MIT Explains How To Turn an Old Car Battery Into a Working Solar Cell

There are over 1 billion cars in the world, and the vast majority of them use batteries made from lead. As lithium batteries replace these old timers, eventually there may be many of the lead suckers sitting in landfills. Which is why MIT wanted to find a way to reuse them—by turning them into a new kind of solar… » 8/18/14 4:22pm 8/18/14 4:22pm