Solar Car Circles the Globe

Just in time for the December Poznan Climate Conference, Swiss inventor, Louis Palmer completed his round-the-world solar powered trip.

Palmer, a teacher on leave from his job, spent 17 months driving his own creation — a fully solar-powered car built with the help of Swiss scientists — through 38 countries. The two-seater travels up to 55 mph (90 kph) and covers 185 miles (300 kilometers) on a fully charged battery.

“This is the first time in history that a solar-powered car has traveled all the way around the world without using a single drop of petrol,” he said, adding that he lost only two days to breakdowns.

Solar Asphalt

“Researchers are developing a solar collector to turn roads and parking lots into cheap sources of electricity and hot water. “Asphalt has a lot of advantages as a solar collector,” says Rajib Mallick of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “For one, blacktop stays hot and could continue to generate energy after the sun goes down, unlike traditional solar-electric cells.

Plus there’s already gynormous acreage of installed roads and parking lots. They’re resurfaced every 10 to 12 years. The solar retrofit could be built into that cycle. No need to transform other landscapes into solar farms. Or maybe not as many.

Furthermore, extracting heat from asphalt would cool the urban heat-island effect, cooling the planet a wee bit. Finally, solar collectors in roads and parking lots would be invisible, unlike those on roofs. Cuz we all know how attractive roads are.”

Solar Superhighways

Solar Energy Storage Breakthrough

This could be very promising indeed.

In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn’t shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today’s announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera’s lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases.[which can be stored] Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

More at Wired.

CA Environmental Legislation

Jared Huffman is Marin/Sonoma counties’ offering to the California State Assembly. In his first session he’s managed to get quite a few bills of environmental interest all the way through to Governor’s signature. Not bad for a freshman.

“Passing these types of reforms is the reason I ran for office,” said Huffman. “These bills represent the values of my district and I’m honored to have them put into law.”

* AB 1109 – Energy Efficient Lighting
One of the most important pieces of legislation this year, this bill directs the California Energy Commission to reduce California’s consumption of electricity for lighting uses by 50% in 10 years. As part of this strategy, the bill would phase out the purchase of inefficient lighting sources by state government. It also establishes mercury and lead reduction standards for lighting.

* AB 1470 – Solar Thermal
This breakthrough legislation creates a ten-year statewide incentive program to drive half a million California consumers toward solar heating technologies that directly displace the use of natural gas for water and space heating in homes and businesses.

* AB 1406 – Recycled water – Condos
This bill encourages water reuse by permitting the use of recycled water in condominiums, as it is currently used in apartment buildings.

* AB 1560 – Water Conservation – Building Standards
Creates an important new standard of water conservation by requiring the Energy Commission to prescribe water preservation standards for new residential and non-residential buildings.

You can see the entire list in his October newsletter, here.

AB 1470, about Solar Thermal, is here and you can look up any of them here.