This week at TreeHugger: Meet China's biggest solar geek, Zhao Chunjian, who installed, on his roof, China's first "domestic power station" using 22 solar panels. We check in with Pixel For Tree, a new web-based endeavor that does exactly what it sounds like: buy a pixel of ad space, get a tree planted in your name.
Hewlett-Packard is coming to the solar party, putting a 1 megawatt solar array at an HP facility in San Diego. Lastly, check out the first Cradle-to-Cradle certified keyboard (assembly), which teased us with its proclamations, only to fall just short of TreeHugger nirvana.
You can't look at a roof in China's countryside without seeing a solar water heater, often a dozen of them right next to each other. But while the country has gone crazy for solar heating — it's the world's leader in production and use of such heaters — solar cells for electricity are hard to find. While China produces 15 percent of the world's photovoltaic panels and is home to hot solar company Suntech, less than 3 percent of those panels are readily consumed in China. Zhao Chunjian, a professor at Shanghai University of Electric Power, is hoping to push that number up. In December of last year, he installed China's first "domestic power station" on his roof, using 22 solar panels. Since then, Zhao's solar power plant has produced 2,750 kilowatt-hours (kWh), enough to power his apartment.
As far as we know, Pixel For Tree is the first green spin-off of the "million dollar homepage", where one dollar was paid for each pixel of ad space rented. Like the more well-known version, the name says it all, except instead of a dollar, a new tree is the end result. Somehow, the one and only Will Smith is an inspiration behind the project, but if it gives us more to hug, we'd even watch "Men in Black II" again.
The new roof-top photovoltaic system at a Hewlett-Packard facility in San Diego, California will have a capacity up to a 1 megawatt, which puts it at roughly 63% of the recently installed system at Google. HP signed a contract with SunPower to install 5,000 solar-power panels in its San Diego facility; the new installations will cover 10 percent of the energy used by the facility and save HP $750,000 in power costs over 15 years. That's a lot of printer cartridges.
Lastly, we got all hot and bothered over the prospect of a Cradle-to-Cradle certified computer keyboard; the idea that we could type for a year or 18 months and then toss it in the compost heap was almost more excitement than we could contain. Alas, we discovered it was just the keyboard assembly — the keyboard mechanism, platform and palmrest — and not the keyboard itself. Dreams dashed, we had to disdainfully type for the rest of the week on an old school plastic keyboard, knowing the world had come up painfully short of compostable keyboard nirvana. Sigh.
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.