Engineers design ‘living materials’

Inspired by natural materials such as bone — a matrix of minerals and other substances, including living cells — MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots.

Solar-induced hybrid fuel cell produces electricity directly from biomass

Although low temperature fuel cells powered by methanol or hydrogen have been well studied, existing low temperature fuel cell technologies cannot directly use biomass as a fuel because of the lack of an effective catalyst system for polymeric materials.

SunCycle is a solar-electric cargo bike

NTS Works, which last year brought us the 2×4 Cargo Bike as an electric bike option, is back again with a new offering which combines solar and pedal power to propel it forward. Known as the SunCycle, it is set to price for around $4,100 when it goes on sale in April.

Feds pay out $30 million for more efficient solar

ARPA-E, the federal program that backs revolutionary energy research and that even Mitt Romney supported during the 2012 campaign, emerged with about $100 million less than the Obama administration wanted when the fiscal year 2014 budget was finally put to bed [PDF].

Solar takes the lead as wind lags in 2013 (US) installs

The first look at comprehensive data on energy generation infrastructure added in the United States in 2013 shows a big jump in solar, a massive decline in wind, and natural gas dominant.

Solar energy helps the military save

Security, predictability, climate change, safety – all of these are cited by the U.S. Department of Defense as motivating factors for its embrace of energy-efficient and renewable technologies. But a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts puts just as much emphasis on another factor that might come as a surprise: cost.

Solar goes FTW in North Carolina

Who’s the rising star in U.S. solar? It’s North Carolina. The state isn’t quite challenging California as the U.S. leader for solar development – the hugely populous, sun-splashed Golden State is most likely a permanent fixture at No. 1. But North Carolina appears to be nosing past the likes of Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Massachusetts to claim the No. 2 spot.

Harnessing the sun’s energy during day for use at night

Solar energy has long been used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but it could only be harnessed during the day when the sun’s rays were strongest. Now researchers led by Tom Meyer at the Energy Frontier Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have built a system that converts the sun’s energy not into electricity but hydrogen fuel and stores it for later use, allowing us to power our devices long after the sun goes down.

Mosaic Plans Crowdsourced Solar Expansion to Developing Countries

Leading solar crowdsourcing firm Mosaic is the latest entrant into clean energy’s next big market: off-grid applications. Thanks to a grand prize of $1 million from Verizon Powerful Answers, Mosaic will develop a mobile app, and expand loan products to emerging markets in Africa, Brazil, India and Asia. With Machine to Machine (M2M) technology poised to unlock clean energy for hundreds of millions of people around the world, the move couldn’t be more timely. Making solar accessible to anyone is a key part of Mosaic’s mission.

A simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent.

Understanding the wind-solar connection

Construction of a big New Mexico array that will provide some of the cheapest electricity ever under contract from solar photovoltaics is “well underway” and expected to be completed in May, according to the state’s land commissioner.

Texas eyes big solar

One-tenth of the way – that’s about how far along OCI Solar Power is in constructing a planned 400-megawatt photovoltaic power generating plant in San Antonio. Still, even with just the 41-MW first phase completed, the company has now constructed the largest PV plant in Texas.

Soft Costs Account for Majority of Installation Costs for Solar

According to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), soft costs accounted for 63.5% of total costs of residential solar installations, 56.7% for small commercial systems ( Balance-of-System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems, Using a Bottom-Up Approach and Installer Survey, broke down soft costs into the following categories: sales tax, supply chain costs, installer/developer profit, indirect corporate costs, transaction costs, customer acquisition, permit fee, PII labor, and installation labor.

When will solar close the gap with gas?

It’s just one energy sector watcher weighing in, but Lux Research does have pretty good credentials, so we’ll run with it, leading with their headline: “Solar to Become Competitive with Natural Gas by 2025.”

Researchers shed new light on solar water-splitting process

With the help of a new method called "dual-electrode photoelectrochemistry," University of Oregon scientists have provided new insight into how solar water-splitting cells work. An important and overlooked parameter, they report, is the ion-permeability of electrocatalysts used in water-splitting devices.

Distilling (solar powered) Vodka in Hawaii

When you open a distillery in sunny Hawaii, it should be

Is this the cheapest solar light bulb in the world?

Nokero has made a bit of a name for itself in marketing and selling environmentally friendly solar-based technologies such as solar lights and solar battery chargers. It is now introducing what it says is the most affordable solar light bulb in the world, and it is aimed at emerging markets.

Scientists develop heat-resistant materials that could vastly improve solar cell efficiency

Scientists have created a heat-resistant thermal emitter that could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells. The novel component is designed to convert heat from the sun into infrared light, which can than be absorbed by solar cells to make electricity – a technology known as thermophotovoltaics.

Yes, evening solar power is here!

An era of nighttime solar power is dawning in the U.S.

32 acres to power 1,000 homes?

In a high-profile critique of utility-scale renewable energy, Robert Bryce wrote in the New York Times in 2011 that energy sources like sunlight and wind “(require) vast amounts of natural resources – most notably, land.”