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solar power

  1. Science

    Call Harvey Birdman, the World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Melting Birds

    The world's largest solar power plant located in California, which started generating power just last week, is a beautiful sight, because it uses mirrors to focus the heat in sunlight instead of solar cells. It's so beautiful, in fact, that birds are drawn to it and then melted by the extreme heat.

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  2. Science

    Japan Wants To Solve The Energy Crisis With A Solar Power Plant On The Moon

    Okay, so we know the Japanese have some pretty epic ideas, but this one might just take the delicious steamed cake. Architectural/engineering firm Shimizu has proposed a Moon-based solar power plant to solve our energy and climate crisis here on Earth. No word yet on whether or not it will be powered by Queen Serenity's Silver Crystal.

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  3. Tech

    Product Review: Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Charger

    We've been testing out the Goal Zero Nomad 7 portable solar charger and battery pack for the past few weeks. If you're thinking about buying a solar charger to power your electronics on the go, see what we thought about the Nomad after spending some time with it.

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  4. Science

    New Technique Hijacks Photosynthesis to Create Electricity From Plants

    Plants use energy from the Sun through photosynthesis, and humans use energy from the Sun through things like solar panels. A new technique created by researchers at the University of Georgia allows humans to get electricity from plants by hijacking the photosynthesis process. This research could someday lead to some very literal power plants.

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  5. Science

    It’s Always Sunny in Germany: Fox News Fails to Grasp Solar Power Reality

    Solar power is one of those divisive political issues that stereotypical Republicans hate and stereotypical Democrats love. Alternative energy in general falls pretty strictly down party lines, but solar power tends to receive the most flak. Government subsidies and the like are constantly talked about for one reason or another. Germany's producing a whole mess of solar energy, on the other and, and Fox & Friends apparently seems to think that it's because "they've got more sun than we do." One guess as to how accurate that statement is.

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  6. Science

    Different Photosynthesis Rates Show The Grass Really Is Greener Sometimes

    Researchers at Brown University have found the anatomical and evolutionary basis behind the fact that some varieties of grass really are greener than others -- or at least why they're able to produce food for themselves via photosynthesis more effectively than their cousins. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a slight difference in the cellular structure around the veins in blades of grass can make the difference between a grass that is highly efficient and successful and one that just putters along.

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  7. Science

    Peel-and-Stick Solar Panels Now Reality, Solar-Powered Unicorn Stickers Likely Not Far Off

    One of the most limiting elements of solar power technology so far has been that panels require a rigid surface to support them, making their placement an effort and cost-intensive chore. A new process discovered at Stanford University though, may allow thin and flexible solar panels to be applied to virtually any surface in the near future. The new panels work like decals that can be applied with an adhesive to almost any surface, meaning that middle school children of the future may be able to power their mobile devices with the Lisa Frank stickers on their notebook. Truly, we live in an age of wonders.

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  8. Tech

    Flexible Silicon Solar Cell Wires Could Make Solar Charging Fabrics A Reality

    A team led by Penn State researchers has succeeded in building silicon fibers thinner than a human hair that can act as solar cells. If the work scales up to produce longer fibers as well as the team thinks it could, these solar energy absorbing threads could be woven into clothing in the future. So if you've ever wanted a jacket that can pull in energy through the fibers it's made of and use it charge your phone while you take a stroll in the park, take heart -- you might be getting it sooner than expected.

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  9. Science

    Pacific Islands of Tokelau First Territory To Be 100% Solar Powered

    The island territory of Tokelau consists of just three small islands, including Atafu Atoll, above, which looks really pretty from the International Space Station, and has just 1,500 residents, so you can be forgiven for not knowing that it...is a thing that exists. This little group of islands has taken in a big step, though, becoming the first territory in the world to draw 100% of its energy from solar power.

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  10. Science

    Tesla Unveils Solar-Powered Supercharger Network, Ambitiously Plans to Cover Entire United States

    Tesla Motors has apparently taken to heart the idea that they should go big or go home. The company behind the Model S electric car has announced their ambitious Supercharger network, which will allow their cars to charge at ludicrous speeds compared to other electric offerings. There are currently only six stations, all of which are in California, but Tesla is already planning on expanding across the continental United States. The kicker? Model S owners will get to charge free at any Supercharger station.

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  11. Science

    Solar Panels Made By Ion Cannon Could Halve Production Costs

    Solar power is a pretty direct and elegant way to generate power. After all, most traditional fuels involve energy that originated from the sun in one way or another, and unlike oil, gas, even hydroelectric and wind, solar power doesn't require any of those pesky turbines. You just sit a panel out in the sun and wait. The problem is, convenient as that all may sound, the actually production of solar panels has been pretty inefficient up to this point, making them prohibitively expensive considering their relatively low level of energy collection. Now, however, a new production technique utilizing a literal ion cannon may be able to halve the production cost of solar cells and make them even better in the process.

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  12. Science

    First Solar Power Plant That Can Generate Electricity Without Sunlight Opens

    A recently opened solar power plant near Seville in southern Spain, is the first of its kind to be able to generate electricity from sunlight during the day and still retain enough heat to continue generating energy all the way through the night. The $410 million Gemasolar plant has a output of 20 megawatts, although at the moment, it does not produce at full capacity when the sun isn't out.

    The plant is of the heliostatic variety, meaning that it doesn't derive its power from photovoltaics, but rather from the raw heat energy of sunlight. A series of concentric mirrors, 2,650 in this case, direct the sunlight at centrally located salt tanks. The heat melts the salt, which boils water around it, and the steam generated turns the turbines. The salt tanks' ability to retain heat is what affords the plant up to 15 hours of sunless energy generation.

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  13. Science

    Graphene Creates Electricity When Struck by Light

    According to researchers at MIT, graphene generates an electrical current when struck by light. If you aren't familiar, graphene is something of a miracle material. It's basically a one-atom thick sheet of carbon that manages to come in sheets as thin as paper while being as strong as steel. That's already pretty impressive, so the ability to generate electricity from light is just icing on the cake.

    The way it works is that when hit by light, pretty much any kind of light, graphene generates a hot carrier response. This means that the electrons of the molecules in the graphene sheet gain enough energy to start moving (creating the current) but the carbon underneath still manages to stay cool.

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  14. Science

    13-Year Old Uses Fibonacci Sequence for Better Solar Power UPDATED

    While walking through a forest in the winter, 7th grader Aidan Dwyer thought he saw a pattern in the way leaves and limbs grew from trees. Some photography, measurements, and investigating the work of other naturalists confirmed that plants produce new growth following a Fibonacci sequence. This pattern, where the previous numbers are added together to make the next number in sequence (1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+2=5, 5+3=8, etc.), and its corresponding golden ratio have been observed all over the nature world. This got Dwyer thinking about why trees grew in this way, and if there was an evolutionary advantage in doing so. He knew that trees, like all plants, use their leaves to photosynthesize and decided to make that the focus of his investigation. To do so, he constructed a "tree" using the sequence of leaves found on an oak tree. Except on his tree, Dwyer placed photovoltaic cells instead of leaves.

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  15. Space

    Japan To Shoot Lasers From The Moon, Solve Energy Crisis

    Shoot lasers at the moon, solve Earth's energy crisis. Boom. Done. Next global problem please, we're on a roll. This is the statement I wish Japan's Shimizu Corp. had released about their new energy plan, but alas they've simply just announced the details of a scheme to harvest solar power from panels on the moon. But, what a plan it is. Robots will build a belt of solar panels to encircle the moon. The panels will gather up energy from the sun, convert it to electricity and then channel the electricity by cable around to the Earth-facing side of the moon. From there the power will be zapped to large receivers on Earth's surface using lasers. Why did it take so long for someone to propose this?

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