Solar Power

The Takeaway

Karzai Walks Away From Peace Talks, FEMA Flood Maps Have Big Consequences

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Bumpy Road? Karzai Walks Away From Peace Talks | Special Senate Elections in New Jersey and Massachusetts | FEMA Releases New Flood Insurance Maps for New Jersey | John Hodgman on the End of the World | Happy Juneteeth! | An Inside Look Into the Largest Solar Boat Ever Built


The Takeaway

Welcome to the Solar Capitol of the Universe

Thursday, April 11, 2013

If you were the mayor of a small city, what would you aspire to? Better road work? More efficient waste disposal? What about something bigger? How about making your town the "solar energy capital of the universe"?

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The Takeaway

Gun Special, David Cross of Arrested Development, and the End of Television

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gun Owners React to Senate's New Proposals | Welcome to the Solar Capitol of the Universe | The End of Television on the Television | David Cross on "Arrested Development" and "It's a Disaster" | A New History Puts a Critical Eye to Florida's Past


Solar Generators Power Sandy-Stricken Areas

Monday, December 03, 2012

A non-profit clean energy group, Solar One, has been deploying solar generators to areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy. The group currently has several generators running in the Rockaways, and made a recent delivery to Midland Beach on Staten Island.

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New Jersey News

Brownfields to Solar Farms, Christie Boosts Renewables

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Governor Chris Christie was in Hackensack Tuesday to break ground on a Public Service Electric and Gas project that will convert a former brownfield site belonging to the utility into a solar farm along the Hackensack River. 


Transportation Nation

Will Carmakers and Drivers Warm Up to Solar-Powered Vehicles?

Friday, January 20, 2012


Pickup truck powered by solar panel. Photo by Gail Delaughter/KUHF

"Bouncy and peppy" is the way Houston electric car dealer Rick Ehrlich describes the small, three-wheeled pickup that sits outside his Houston electric car business.

"It's a funny little truck," adds Ehrlich as we take it for a spin around the parking lot.

It's a no-frills Zap pickup that weighs about 1800 pounds. It's doesn't look a lot different from the other vehicles at the Houston Electric Car Corporation, but what makes this one different is that you don't have to plug it in to a charging station to power it up. It gets all its power from the sun.

That funny little truck is powered by a lightweight 180-watt solar panel mounted over the bed, which feeds a battery that powers a small, quiet electric motor.  The truck only has a top speed of around 35 MPH and you can't drive it on the freeway, but it's legal everywhere else. Ehrlich says on a clear day you can go eight to ten miles just on the power of the sun, a bit further if you use the power stored in the battery, and it's perfect for people who drive 30 miles or less in a day.

As for the cost, Ehrlich says you can get an electric vehicle for as low as $6,000.  The solar panel costs another $1,000.

"To me, it sounds like nirvana, to find a car for $10,000, that you can drive up to 30 miles a day, virtually for free. When I say virtually for free, they cost between one and two cents a mile."

Erhlich adds, "I think if you go out and buy gasoline every week for your heavy vehicle, you're crazy."

But that's what most Houston drivers are still doing, and their cars and trucks can hardly be described as bouncy and peppy.  Large SUVs and heavy-duty pickups are the predominant vehicles on Houston's freeways.

University of Houston architecture professor Patrick Peters works extensively in solar design.   Along with developing green buildings with his graduate students, Peters is involved with a start-up company that develops solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles.

Peters says interest is being generated by international solar vehicle competitions,  such as the American Solar Challenge.  While the aerodynamic competition vehicles aren't very practical for everyday use, Peters says these events lead to new technologies that can migrate into the commercial sphere, showing up in vehicle lines that target early adopters for new technology.   Mercedes,  for instance, uses a solar-powered ventilation system to help keep a vehicle's interior cool on hot days.  The Toyota Prius also has a solar-powered sunroof.

Peters is encouraged to see a totally solar-powered vehicle enter the marketplace, but to make the vehicles popular on a large scale,  car makers will have to find ways to integrate the solar panels into the body of the vehicle.  He says the panels also need to be included in a vehicle's warranty so they're not just an add-on part.

Developing lightweight materials to build solar-powered cars is also essential.  Peters says if you can build a bigger car with lighter materials, that will give you more surface space to collect sunlight.  There's also thin solar film that's currently used in various industrial applications.

"Those thin films can take the geometry of the vehicles that's required to maximize its aerodynamic qualities."

The first customers for hybrids, says Peters, were people who wanted to show their concern for the environment through their choice of vehicle. He expects it will be the same with solar cars.   Peters thinks more people will get interested once they start seeing solar vehicles on the roads.

And Peters says if gas prices continue to rise as some analysts predict,  Houston drivers will "respond to the pressures of pragmatic constraints" and take an interest in that funny little vehicle in their neighbor's driveway.

"When fuel costs go up, people get very interested in energy-efficient vehicles of every kind."

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It's A Free Country ®

Solyndra a Scandal? What it Means for Obama and Green Energy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For me, a scandal would mean that you do it for your own personal self-interest, and although there's a lot of smoke out there, no one has proven yet that this was done for political purposes.

Joe Stephens of the Washington Post on The Brian Lehrer Show

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Solyndra, Subsidies, Scandals and Solar

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Congress is investigating the Obama administration's investment in the failed solar company Solyndra. Joe Stephens of the Washington Post explains the story, and Lisa Margonelli, director of the Energy Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation, puts it in context of the green energy sector.

→ Add Your Comments, Listen, and Read a Recap at It's A Free Country

Transportation Nation

Senate Energy Reform Gets Even Smaller

Thursday, July 22, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The slimmed-down energy bill we've been forecasting for the Senate floor next week will be even slimmer than expected.

The Hill newspaper is quoting Senate Democratic aides who say that the energy bill will leave off any attempt set a price for carbon. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will go with an even narrower package, regulating BP and other oil drillers as well as promoting green energy production and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Supporters of a cap-and-trade approach to regulating greenhouse gases had floated the idea of applying the scheme to utilities alone in recent weeks. That approach might have been politically more palatable to a Senate that is wary of slowing down the economy with new energy mandates. Now it seems even the less ambitious carbon policy is off the table until next year.

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Transportation Nation

Pelosi Defends Solar-Powered Ferry As Stimulus

Thursday, July 15, 2010

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending a transportation project in her home district, saying it would help spur the renewable energy industry in the U.S.

Pelosi put the $500,000 earmark in an upcoming transportation spending bill, saying the money would fund two solar-powered ferries from San Francisco to Berkeley, across the Bay.

The project fell under criticism Tuesday from Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-earmarking group in Washington. "In this instance, going green wastes the taxpayers' greenbacks,"

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Swiss Pilot Lands Solar-Powered Plane

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A solar-powered plane successfully touched down at a Swiss airport this morning, following a 26-hour flight.


Studio 360

Power Cart

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mouna Andraos is an artist and web designer who’s always been fascinated by street vendors since her childhood in Lebanon. She created a working portable generator that uses a crank and a solar cell to charge cell phones and laptops, and even run small appliances.

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