Environment Forum

A parka with windows, a big box in the sky

September 26, 2011

Could you find domestic happiness living in an angular white parka with windows? A big box set on top of an apartment building? A turtle-shaped shell? A modular Y filled with triangles?

A solar-powered all-terrain vehicle, on extremely unfamiliar terrain

September 2, 2011

On Earth, we consider design, fuel efficiency, and enduring power when thinking of “green” vehicles. But there’s one solar-powered all-terrain vehicle that has by some lights out-performed anything rolling around on Earth. It is the doughty little robotic rover Opportunity, doggedly using its seven-year-old solar array to chug over the rocky surface of Mars.
Opportunity, like its twin rover Spirit, was designed to drive about .6 mile (1 kilometer) along the martian surface; by last month, Opportunity had driven more than 30 times that distance. It completed its primary mission in 2004 and since then has made important discoveries about parts of ancient Mars that might have been hospitable to microscopic life.
Like many earthly vehicles that are a bit past their prime, Opportunity has a few quirks, according to NASA’s Dave Lavery, who spoke at a briefing on the rover’s latest findings.
“We’re no longer driving a hot sports car,” he said. “We’re now driving a 1965 Mustang that hasn’t been restored.”
Even though Opportunity’s “drivers” are on Earth, controlling the golf-cart-sized robot remotely, they plainly feel a fair amount of affection for the little craft. NASA’s John Callas described the rover’s status almost as if it were a spunky grandparent.

Pure water from solar power; will it catch on?

January 31, 2011

water1 Remote villages in developing countries might benefit from these twin 40-ft long containers (left) — a water purification system driven by solar power — as a substitute for noisy diesel-powered generators, trucks bringing in water or people spending hours every day walking to fetch water.

China’s Trina Solar launches $800 million expansion, as SpectraWatt sputters

By Todd Woody
December 28, 2010

IMG_1324Days after solar cell maker SpectraWatt notified New York authorities that it will shut down its seven-month-old factory and lay off 117 employees, China’s Trina Solar announced Monday that it will invest $800 million in new manufacturing plants over the next three years.

Why the solar industry is booming while the wind business faces tough year

By Todd Woody
December 17, 2010

RTR2GMCH.jpgThese days there’s not a lot of industries that can report booming growth year after year (the one-company juggernaut that is Apple excepted). But it’s blue skies for the photovoltaic industry, according to a new report showing that solar installations in the United States are expected to have grown 62 percent in 2010 from the previous year.

Chinese solar player Yingli looks to score at World Cup

February 4, 2010

worldcupChinese solar power companies have shone amid the downturn in the solar industry,  converting their low cost advantage into bigger market share and profits.

Ted Turner returns to solar

January 29, 2010

tedturnerU.S. billionaire Ted Turner is taking a shine to solar power — again.

Back in 2007, Turner sold solar developer Turner Renewable Energy to solar panel maker First Solar for $34.4 million — which has since ramped up its push into developing its own solar power projects.

Obama gets high marks for green record: environmental group

December 30, 2009

obama_solarPresident Barack Obama came into office with climate change and the environment on his list of top priorities.

Solar power mounts in Canada

December 11, 2009

canadaflag Solar power is heating up in the northern reaches of  Canada, a country not exactly known for its sunny rays and warm weather.