The nation announced that within four months, it will commence pilot tests of a giganticfloating solar farm located atop the Balbina hydroelectric plant in the Amazon. It’s currently unclear how physically large the floating farm will be, but the enormous reservoir it will sit oncovers 2,360 square kilometers.
At 350 megawatts, Brazil’s ambitious project would easily trump Japan’s currently largest 13.4 megawatt floating solar power plant in terms of power output. To put that in another perspective, the largest solar farm in the world is the 550 megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California.
Diversifying energy sources is clearly a necessity for the notoriously parched country. Brazil is experiencing its worst drought in four decades, causing electricity blackouts in many regions. Below-average rainfall in the last few years have depleted its reservoirs, thus gutting its formerly plentiful supply of hydropower, which supplies more than three-quarters of the country’s electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
As Climate News Network reported, “the reservoirs in the drought-affected region could fall to as little as 10 percent of their capacity, which … Mines and Energy Minister Eduardo Braga admits would be ‘catastrophic’ for energy security.”
While the sunny country has tremendous potential for solar power, Brazil has been slow to embrace this form of renewable energy. It was only in October 2014, when Brazil made its first foray into this sector with the construction of 31 solar parks, its first large-scale solar project with a combined capacity of 1,048 megawatts.
A shift to solar energy might be fitting, as the Balbina Dam (where the proposed solar farm will eventually sit) has been criticized for emitting more greenhouse gases than a coal-fired power plant.
“We are adding technological innovation, more transmission lines, diversifying our energy generation source, introducing solar energy in a more vigorous manner and combining solar energy with hydroelectric energy,” Braga told reporters about the solar farm project.
“We are preparing ourselves to win the challenge in 2015 and be able to deliver a model and an electric system starting in 2016 which will be cheaper, more secure and with greater technological innovation,” Braga said. Electricity produced at the farm is expected to cost between $69 and $77 per megawatt hour, reports say.
Vancouver has pledged to derive all of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050, after its city council passed the mayor’s motion in an unanimous vote. It’s the first city in Canada—and one of the few urban centers worldwide—to take this major step to away from fossil fuels.
In a statement from Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, city staff have been directed to come up with a reasonable timeline by this fall on how to shift the city to 100 percent clean energy, which will tackle everything from transportation, buildings and even street lights. Currently, only 32 percent of Vancouver’s current energy need is met by renewable power, the motion said.
“Cities, as the most direct level of government, need to take action,” Robertson said before the historic vote. “The world can’t wait for national governments to finish their negotiations. It’s time we get on the path of figuring out how to eliminate fossil fuels in as aggressive of a timeline as is realistic.”
The city plans to cut rising costs due to the impacts of climate change and the resulting extreme weather, which have cost metro Vancouver an estimated $9.5 billion, the motion said.
The motion also called for regional, provincial and national governments to advocate for a worldwide commitment to renewable energy.
“Cities around the world must show continued leadership to meet the urgent challenge of climate change, and the most impactful change we can make is a shift toward 100 percent of our energy being derived from renewable sources,” Robertson said. “The future of Vancouver’s economy and livability will depend on our ability to confront and adapt to climate change, and moving toward renewable energy is another way that Vancouver is working to become the greenest city in the world.”
In 2011, Vancouver released its award-winning Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, pledging to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Since making the declaration, the city has made progress in decreasing total water consumption by 18 percent, decreasing landfill- or incinerator-bound solid waste by 12 percent, as well as other green measures.
Cities such as San Francisco, Sydney, Stockholm and Copenhagen have similar goals to shift to renewable energy or go fossil-free by 2050.
Regular electric bikes are already pretty eco-friendly, but they usually need to be powered by fossil fuels. But now a Danish solar engineer, Jesper Frausig, has found a way around that by creating a bike that’s powered by the clean, green energy of the sun—the Solar Bike.
The Solar Bike has “highly efficient” and “shadow optimized” solar cells on the wheels that deliver power directly to the battery when it’s standing still, according to Frausig. When it’s in motion, the solar cells and the battery also provide energy for the motor.
Depending on how sunny it is, a standard charge lasts between 1-15 miles. At peak hours, a fully charged battery can take a rider up to 40 miles at a top speed of 30 mph, Frausig claims. When it’s overcast or night time and the battery is low, it presumably works like any regular bicycle.
The beauty of the Solar Bike is that, unlike typical electric bikes, one doesn’t have to look for a charging station since it runs on renewable—and free—solar energy.
It’s no surprise that Frausig, who developed the Solar Bike after three years of product development and two prototypes, hails from the bike-friendly city of Copenhagen. According to his LinkedIn page, the theoretical and practical feasibility of a solar-powered electric bicycle was the subject of his master thesis at the Technical University of Berlin.
Frausig intends for the Solar Bike to be used for commuting in the city as well as off-grid transport, where charging facilities aren’t available. The mostly effortless nature of an electric bike also makes it appropriate for the elderly, people with disabilities or anyone who prefers less pedal power.
The bike has been nominated for an INDEX Award that recognizes designs that improve life with a €500,000 prize (about $530,000). At the moment the Solar Bike is not currently on the market, but check out the video below to see one of the prototypes in motion.
When Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first sustained, powered, heavier-than-air flight at the turn of the 20th century, few people who weren’t science fiction enthusiasts envisioned that their small craft was the precursor of a major mode of international transportation.
“Solar Impulse is the only airplane of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel,” says the company.
Solar Impulse was the brainchild of Swiss psychiatrist and adventurer Bertrand Piccard, a man descended from a long line of dreamers who made their dreams a reality: his father and grandfather were inventors and explorers who broke ground in both stratospheric and deep-sea exploration. Yes—THOSE Piccards.
The launch of the project was announced in November 2003, almost exactly a century after the Wright brothers’ historic flight. The team began work soon after that. The plane went on its first test flights in 2010, and in July of that year, it made the first night flight in the history of solar aviation, lasting more than 26 hours. It took progressively longer flights, leading up to its upcoming circumnavigation of the Earth this year.
“One could easily imagine oneself in a Jules Verne novel: a team wanting to promote renewable energies sets off round the world in a solar airplane, aiming to fly without fuel or pollution,” said Piccard. “The revenge of Icarus, in a way. A new Utopia? A beautiful scene from science fiction? No, a cutting-edge technological challenge! A sufficiently eccentric project to appeal to one’s emotions and get one’s adrenalin pumping: to harness a clean and renewable form of energy, and use it to fly night and day without limit.”
The round-the-world flight is scheduled to take off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in early March and return there by late July or early—taking far longer than the 80 days of the famous 1873 Jules Verne novel whose protagonists traveled the globe by rail and steamer. It will make numerous stops along the way, including Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; Chongqing and Nanjing, China; and Phoenix and New York City. It may also make a stop in the midwest U.S. depending on weather conditions. After crossing the Atlantic, it will make a final stop in southern Europe or northern Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi.
A single-seater made of carbon fibre, the astonishing Si2 has a wingspan bigger than that of a Boeing 747 but it weights only one percent of that—about the weight of a large passenger car. Built into the wing are 17,000 solar cells that feed four electric motors and recharge lithium batteries for night flight.
The Si2 still has drawbacks. As is clear from the five months allocated for the global trip, its flight speed is slow, ranging from 30-60 mph. It can only carry the pilot in an unheated, unpressurized cabin. (Piccard himself will be piloting the global flight, along with André Borschberg, in five- to six-day legs). Special pilot training was needed, since flying the craft is so different from piloting other airplanes. Passengers won’t be flying solar from New York to Paris any time soon. But in the future, who knows? Ten years ago, the ability to make sustained solar-powered flights at night didn’t exist either.
As Piccard says, “By writing the next pages in aviation history with solar energy, and voyaging around the world without fuel or pollution, Solar Impulse’s ambition is for the world of exploration and innovation to contribute to the cause of renewable energies, to demonstrate the importance of clean technologies for sustainable development; and to place dreams and emotions back at the heart of scientific adventure.”
Many of us have profiles on social networking sites, those companies display advertisements specifically targeted to our interests and preferences making tons of money in the result, the money that ends up in the pockets of the shareholders. But what if, there would be a social platform that gives most of their revenue back to the users? That is the idea behind Tsu, new social network that promises to give back 90% of their advertising revenue back to the users!
Watch this short clip explaining the philosophy behind this idea:
Their model works like this:
From $100 revenue, $90 is shared with users. If four users have shared and re-shared content, the revenue is split like this:
The original content creator receives 50 percent of the remaining $90; in this case, $45. The first user to share the content gets 33.3 percent (one third) of the original $90 generated. In this case, $29.70.
The second degree user, who shares the re-shared content, receives 11.1 percent (1/3 of 1/3 = 1/9) of the original $90 generated. In this case $9.99. The third user (think your third degree connection) receives 3.70 percent (1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 = 1/27) of the original $90 generated. In this case $3.33.
To join you have to sign up using an invitation (click here to get invited), it is free and it only takes a minute or two to set up the profile.