Las Vegas now drawing 100% power from renewable energy

Las Vegas has moved on to 100% renewable energy for which they have spent the better part of a decade. The city partnered with NVEnergy the past year to run government buildings, community center lights, parks, and the city hall.

The city met its goal after Bouldar Solar 1 went online, a large scale project near Bouldar City. The city is powering more than 100 facilities with renewable energy. Along with solar energy the city will also tap into the Hoover Damn by the end of 2017.

Las Vegas began in 2008 with sustainable energy programs that implemented solar array installations and energy saving measures. The city’s energy savings from renewable sources is estimated at roughly $5 million annually.

Meet Teslas Powerwall 2.0

The Tesla Powerwall 2 is not just an updated home battery, its part of a new ecosystem by Tesla Energy.

Elon Musk introduced the Powerwall 2 after introducing Tesla’s new Solar Roof tiles. The Powerwall 2.0 has more than twice the energy storage capacity with 14 kWh capacity. Musk said the Powerwall 2 has enough power to charge lights, sockets, and a refrigerator for a 4 bedroom family home for an entire day.

The Powerwall 2.0 is similar to the previous version. It’s a large, rectangular, box thats usually depicted being mount in the garage, next to a Tesla Model S, and now Tesla Solar Roof tiles. The design is now flatter and more angular looking, but essentially the same.

The Powerwall 2.0 will be available for $5,500 per unit.

Teslas New Solar Roof Tiles

On October 28, Tesla unveiled its latest product, solar roof tiles. The tiles are actual functioning solar panels that are designed to look like roof tiles, with several different looks. This may be one of the biggest advantages when buying solar panels, the fact that they won’t change the way consumers homes look.

Elon Musk took the stage to show the houses and the technology at Hollywood. He started with climate change, keep in mind people were expecting solar panels not roof tiles, then dropped the bombshell “The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses,” Musk said. “Did you notice?” Not a lot of people noticed.

The tiles are very aesthetic and Tesla has generally been very high end when it comes to designing their products. The tiles are made of textured glass and allow light to pass through the tiles to a flat solar cell. They come in four different models: Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass, and Smooth Glass.

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Currently the plan is to have Tesla provide the glass tiles and Panasonic to provide the solar cells. Tesla says the tempered glass is “tough as steel” and Musk says “It’s never going to wear out, it’s made of quartz. It has a quasi-infinite lifetime.”

The current versions of the tiles have a two percent efficiency loss from traditional solar panels, according to Elon Musk. The company is working with 3M to improve coatings to increase efficiency. Musk also went on to say that Tesla’s roofs cost less than traditional roofs. The tiles will essentially, in time, bring back money to owners, and with the new powerwall battery, homeowners can store energy for later use.

Tesla plans to start selling with one or two of the four tiles and installations should begin by summer of next year.

 

MIT is building 3D solar towers

MIT is working with 3D solar towers to improve solar input and output efficiency. Researchers are working with nanoscale 3D structures to trap light and increase the amount of solar energy that it can take in. They are working on changing the shape of solar panels so the change of angle of sunlight won’t decrease the amount of energy absorbed. This new shape has the ability to tap in 20 times more power output.

Researchers tested 3D modules using computer algorithms, various latitudes, seasons, weather, and conditions. This led to a shift in vertical panels to absorb more energy, allowing sunlight to hit the panels over time. The MIT team tested different shapes such as cube like modules, which offered a 10% increase in power output.

The only downside is the increase in the cost of production, though researchers think it would be offset by the increase in energy output.

 

Brazil creates floating solar panels

In 1989 the Balbina, hydroelectric, dam had been constructed and became one of the worst environmental disasters after it flooded 2,400 square km (930 square miles) of the Amazon rain forest. Now in an attempt to fix the problem Brazilian engineers have developed floating solar panels to be placed on top of the flooded rain forest.

The Brazilian government plans to install 50,000 square meters (540,000 square feet) of solar panels by 2017. They are estimated to generate up to 5 megawatts of power, which should be able to power around 9,000 homes. Currently the Balbina dam generates a maximum of 250 megawatts, not to mention that recently water levels on many Brazilian dams have dropped significantly. They are working with Sunlution, which creates innovative solar technology, and Ciel et Terre, which finds different solutions to installing solar panels, to install the panels.

Engineers hope to increase power to 300 megawatts, which could power 540,000 homes, essentially dwarfing hydroelectric power dams. Interestingly Sunlution and French firm Ciel et Terre are going to also transform the hydroelectric power generators, of which there are 5, into unlimited power producers by accessing solar energy.

If this project is successful it could help fix Brazil’s problem and create significant gains for the future.

A breakthrough in graphene could be used to capture energy inside your home.

Imagine a future where you can capture energy from indirect sunlight, such as energy from household devices. A new breakthrough with graphene has the possibility to create indoor solar cells that can do just that.

Created by researchers from the University of Surrey in the U.K, this new type of graphene can be used to power the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smart watches, smart glasses, and various other wearable technology and household devices.

 

Graphene is a single atom thick, therefore its hard to capture light so researchers reportedly studied moth eyes to create this new type of graphene, which according to the researchers is the most light absorbing material to ever be created. Using “nano texturing” researchers modified graphene sheets to match patterns in moth eyes, which takes on a hexagonal pattern. You can find their work in Science Advances. 

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SOURCE|Brookhaven National Laboratory.

“Moths’ eyes have microscopic patterning that allows them to see in the dimmest conditions,” said in a statement by co-author Riva Silva. “These work by channeling light towards the middle of the eye, with the added benefit of eliminating reflections, which would otherwise alert predators of their location. We have used the same technique to make an amazingly thin, efficient, light-absorbent material by patterning graphene in a similar fashion.”

According to researchers these new graphene sheets increase the absorption of light by 95%, from its previous 2-3%. They could also be used on solar cells to boose light absorpotion and create a new type of device called a smart wallpaper, which can absorb small amounts of electricity and heat.

In the future this new technology could be used to save energy, reuse energy, and make it easier to absorb more energy.