Solar Windows and Solar Paint: An endless source of energy and Power

After an era of using fossil fuels as the only source of energy, we now harvest the sunlight as one of the most effective ways of producing power for our use.

While the use of solar panels is now one of the cheapest and most efficient means of obtaining power, a team of scientists is now focusing on something more important and that is – production of hydrogen using solar power! To achieve power through sunlight, many solar farms are now being built around the globe.

Similarly, almost all of the buildings or street lights in cities are equipped with solar panels to produce solar power. So far, the idea was to place the solar panels on the building’s roof but as the buildings are now too tall and most of the sunlight only hits the sides of a building, scientists felt the need to build something more efficient, hence, solar windows.

So how can we actually replace a window glass that is supposed to pass the light, with something that absorbs light – a solar panel?

A group of researchers has already worked hard to make it possible and explain the mechanism as follows;


The Light Passing Solar Window

We know that a solar panel absorbs light while windows let the light pass through. Solar panels and windows are actually polar opposites. But with the creative use of quantum mechanics, we are now able to have the cake and eat it too.

Researchers have now built a glass pane filled with quantum dots (small size silicon particles). When sunlight falls on these dots they absorb and emit light at various frequencies. The absorbed light bounces around the glass (inside) until it hits and gets absorbed by the solar panels installed at the edges of the window.

Since the quantum dots are spread out in the solar pane, therefore, most of the light simply passes through the window while enough gets directed towards the sides to generate electricity. Nevertheless, the research and its implications are in the initial stage for now. Soon though, we might all have these windows installed in our commercial and residential properties.

Going one step ahead and to surprise you even more, researchers have also developed a paint that can easily absorb water vapours and split them to produce hydrogen – the cleanest form of energy.


 Paint – Now an Energy Producing Unit

The current success story of RMIT University – Australia has turned a painted wall into the unit of harvesting energy in homes. The newly developed synthetic molybdenum-sulphide, a compound found in paint, acts as a catalyst and a semi conductor, splitting water atoms into oxygen and hydrogen.

As per Dr. Torben Daeneke – Lead Researcher:

We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air”

This extraordinary concept of producing fuel from water in the air and the sun has a great many advantages. You can have clean and filtered water automatically to feed the system. Moreover, hydrogen can be utilized in fuel cells and combustion engines.

The bottom line, with the development of advanced solar windows and solar paint, we can not replace fossil fuels and take a step ahead in making effective and efficient use of our natural resources such as sunlight and water.

185 Potential Pumped Hydro Storage sites Identified in South Australia

South Australia never let go of the ways to secure its future energy need more efficiently. And in continuation of that, almost 185 potential sites have been found that are suitable for pumped hydro storage across South Australia.

These sites are all gathered at Pumped Hydro Atlas in South Australia. Whereas the state of SA constitutes the largest proportion in terms of variable renewable electricity (solar PV and wind), this is eventually expected to lift in between the range of 50 to 100 percent in the next few years.


An opportunity to secure Australia’s energy

The ANU team states that Australia’s electricity grid is likely to be secured with the development of pumped storage. The storage of hydropower works by uphill pumping of water and then the water is held and used later on to generate electricity as per the requirements.

The identification of potential sites is, however, considered as the first step in the whole electricity generation project – says Andrew Blakers – Professor and Lead Researcher.

“There are many sites in South Australia that may be suitable for establishing pumped hydro storage, to help build a sustainable, secure and affordable electricity grid. This assessment is based on very appealing physical characteristics. But the 185 potential upper reservoir sites identified would require detailed due diligence, involving land ownership, and engineering, hydrological, environmental and other considerations” said Blakers.

Professor Blakers shows confidence in the successful execution of the energy generation technique and hopes that it gets implemented real soon.

“It could happen quite fast — there are many winds and solar farm developers and other companies looking at ways to enter the market to offer stabilization technology for South Australia in particular because South Australia is leading the way with the wind and solar photovoltaic,” he said.


Pumped hydro is practical with renewable energy

As per Blakers, pumped hydro makes for energy storage up to 97% across the whole world and is excellent to facilitate places that have high-levels of renewable energy.

“All the potential sites in South Australia are outside national parks and urban areas” says the researcher.

In order to generate power, river pumping requires at least two reservoirs of storage that are too, linked with a pipe and use a pump and turbine to freely move water between the lower and upper reservoir.

As per another research team member – Matthew Stocks,

“About 400 hectares of reservoir is required to support a 100 per cent renewable energy grid for South Australia, which is four parts per million of the state’s land mass”

“[The] annual water requirement would be less than 1 per cent of SA’s annual extraction from the Murray”, he further continued.

The ANU research is also helped by the ARENA – Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Ivor Frischknecht – Chief Executive ARENA says, “Pumped hydro is the most mature form of energy storage and studies like these are helping to determine whether it could play an even greater role in increasing grid stability”

In another news, Pacific Hydro saved 500 million US$ last month for renewable energy projects in terms of under development and operation. This also includes hydro in Chile and Australia.

Australia Aims at Producing Electricity from Rotten Garbage

Ranking on 8th position, Australia is one of the largest municipal waste producing countries amongst all the other developed economies – as per the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Also as per the previous year report by the Australian Council of Recycling, in comparison to Germany, Australia only recycled 41% of the waste whereas Germany recycled almost 65 percent.

However, the poor track record of Australia in recycling waste is now shifting. This will be done as one of the largest and well-known garbage organizations – Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd. now aims at producing electricity from waste. The company believes in its potential of using rotting rubbish to extract enough gas that would be able to produce electricity for almost 80,000 homes in Australia – says Vik Bansal, CEO.

Bansal further added in his interview to Melbourne; “Twenty years ago, this was all going to waste. The gas was getting flared up in the environment, now it’s creating electricity


Cleanaway is not alone in extracting gas from rotting rubbish to produce power

In the year 2014, Suez – Paris based company generated almost 263000 MWh of power from the landfill sites of Australia, as stated on the company’s website. It is also stated by Veolia Environment SA that the company is currently capturing sufficient gas to provide electricity to 2500 homes in New South Wales State and in the coming 10 years the company will additionally be powering 12000 homes from a facility located in Queensland.

Similarly, Cleanaway stated that they have increased the capacity up to 8.8MW at the Melbourne landfill site, being its largest facility and that will be coming online in this October. Bansal said that in just 20 years, we will be able to produce enough power to nationally provide electricity to several areas in Australia.

While Australia is itself the biggest supplier of coal and gas in the world, yet it is still struggling to get enough fuel to actually meet its power demands. The frequent outages and sudden rise in electricity price have created many concerns in terms of deteriorating energy security in Australia.

Australia generated almost 1.5% or 3608 GWh of the total generation of electricity from bioenergy – enough to provide electricity to almost 687,238 homes in Australia as per the 2016 report of Clean Energy Council. Bioenergy extracts gas from several forestry and landfill including the agriculture waste which is burned in many power stations.

But only if Australia get can any better in recycling waste and further cut down on rotten rubbish as it develops as the ‘circular economy’ the extracted gas from several landfills will play a quite limited role.

Almost for the past 20 years, Europe has already set up a lot of examples in owning waste to energy strategies and many of these power plants do not have enough waste now to burn, so they are even importing waste from other countries.

Similarly, if Australia continues striving to meet power demands of the economy, crucial measures like the one planned to be taken by Cleanaway are crucial to support the economic needs.

LED Lighting – A Solution to Save 88 Billion of Kerosene Every Year

Do you know that on burning, just one liter of kerosene produces almost 3kg of CO2 into the atmosphere? While in almost every underdeveloped country, kerosene of paraffin is commonly used for lighting purpose, as per estimation, almost 88 billion liters of kerosene is burned every year solely for the purpose of light.

However, in the developed countries, usage of light bulbs is very common. To look more closely, the basic lamp that works on oil, as per the research, produces only 1 percent of light in comparison to a 100W light bulb. Similarly when it comes to efficiency, electrical lighting has no health risks that are typically associated with burning oils or kerosene especially in small homes or poorly ventilated spaces.

While the two third of the entire population in the third world countries is out of electricity supply, there is an efficient and well-reputed company that takes a step in turning the hopes of many into reality.


PHILIPS Lighting Revolutionizing the Lives with Solar Power LEDs

The idea of solar power has been there in earlier days as well but the small solar panels were not sufficient to generate enough power for sodium-based bulbs or incandescent. But now this is totally irrelevant to consider since there has been a drop in the LED lighting cost.

“We are at the tipping point in the LED revolution”, said Senior Director – Harry Verhaar – Energy & Climate change and also the head of strategic initiatives – Philips Lighting

As per the idea of Verhaar; this global change of lighting from oils to LEDs is not only crucial to tackling climate change but also very economical for people to afford. Moreover, these solar LEDs will also have several benefits in terms of environment and social, in urban areas instead of just replacing kerosene in rural communalities.

The company is also expanding its operations and with One Foundation and The Climate Group, Philips is installing solar LED lighting on streets in China. This project has also been chosen for Momentum for Change program by UNFCCC. Along with China, Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and Kenya too are some of the countries which are about to get benefitted from these installations real soon.

When it comes to the cost of this project, it is easily outcast by the many benefits that come with solar LEDs. As Verhaar stated, “the initial investment is obviously higher but when you look at the performance throughout its lifespan, the technology is already cost effective”.

To help the parties get around the cost problem, Philips is offering a few tailored finance packages and the repayments of these loans are based on the energy savings that are predictable hence, the buyer is actually never out of pocket.

Nonetheless, this major innovative step from Philips is commendable. Whereas the private sector is expected to play its role towards the effective implementation of this initiative, Philips efforts will definitely help in achieving the goal of sustainable energy by the year 2030.

Fighting off Climate Change – Y2K offers us a valuable lesson

We are at our wit’s end when it comes to fighting off climate change. New York magazine recently published a frightening look at our future of the home planet that is under serious threat of climate change and has already started facing the many consequences of these changes.

While the article became one of the most read pieces in the history of the magazine, many critics considered the perspective depicted by Wallace-Wells as the worst-case scenario – a negative take.

As per the words of the writer – David Wallace-Wells;

“Parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century” 

David, on the other hand, believed in the power of fear and tried to prompt the readers to start taking actions by telling them the worst-case that still has chances to haunt us in reality.

To be honest, David’s call to action is somewhat based on the rare, yet real, example we have seen previously. The scenario in which business, government and ordinary people successfully combat a man-made complex problem and pushed the global havoc of Y2K far away.


The lessons learned from Y2K havoc

The incident or mess of Y2K was a ticking bomb which was defused by modern civilization. We may have forgotten the incident, but Y2K has taught us many valuable lessons as well as made us more confident in tackling any major problem, including climate change.

Y2K taught us the lesson that in order to prompt a collective, expensive, and global action, people need to know the worst-case which has the chance to become reality. Technicians that first spoke of climate change in the early 1990s were only mocked and ignored until the urgency took over in mid-90s and finally the global catastrophe of Y2K took over the world.

At that time, the catastrophe was made to appear in a very frightening way and it was held responsible for shifting modern living a great deal. Y2K was even expected to cripple the US tax office – IRS and SSA – Social Security Administration, causing economic chaos.

As a result, the US spent around 100 billion US dollars to address Y2K, out of which 8.5 billion was actually spent by companies. Across the globe, almost 580 billion US dollars were spent to get rid of Y2K and this is clear evidence that people get things done after they can clearly what’s at stake.

This was probably kept in mind with the approach that David used to prompt a reaction to deal with climate change. Y2K made us learn that the way solutions are approached depends upon how the issue is portrayed. Discrete problems are usually easier to understand than incremental ones. Therefore, giving people a more specific example of a situation that can go wrong was highly effective approach to get things done the way they should be.

Will Elon Musk Save The World From Global Warming?

If you think Elon Musk just wants to sell you an electric car, you only have a fraction of his planet-saving story. To really get an idea of the scale of his masterplan, you have to look to Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Nevada, which Musk claims is on schedule to mass-produce lithium-ion batteries at rock bottom costs by 2018.

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