Category Archives: Solar News

Solar-Powered Flight: A 2015 Journey Around the World

Solar-Impulse-viewAt Solarrific, we try to stay abreast of new developments in the world of alternative energy, specifically when it comes to solar advancements.

That said, we’ve been watching in awe over the past several months as the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) began its mission to circumnavigate the world—exclusively by use of solar power.

The History of Flight

When one looks at the history of flight and exploration, it seems there has been little in terms of recent momentous aeronautic innovation that has served to inspire modern society.

We can likely recall such events as the Wright Brothers’ first flight (December 17, 1903) or the first man to land on the moon (Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969). For some, these are fond memories, for others, pages from a history textbook. This begs the question—what new flight technology is there to inspire the world and to create new memories and inspiration for people today?

The answer is: plenty.

The Next—Solar—Frontier

The name Bertrand Piccard may ring a bell. He was one of the men responsible for the first non-stop voyage to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon in March 1999. Since then, he has worked with fellow pilot and founder André Borschberg to bring his vision to fruition: to build a solar-powered aircraft that uses no fuel that is capable of circumnavigating the world.

The former has been achieved with the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), and the latter is already in the works. (To learn more, watch Piccard’s 2010 Ted Talk here.)

The Si2 is capable of flying during the day and at night without need for fuel outside of its massive panel of over 17,000 solar cells that power lithium batteries. Piccard and Borschberg work with a team of approximately 90 engineers, mission controllers and technicians to accomplish research, testing and development of the airplane.

Fun Facts about the Si2
  • The Si2 has a wingspan that is larger than a Jumbo Jet, yet weighs less than your average SUV.
  • Piccard and Borschberg will alternate turns flying the aircraft for 5-6 consecutive days at a time each.
  • The pilot is in an unpressurized/unheated cabin that is temperature-controlled using high-density thermal insulation.
  • The pilot’s seat is equipped to handle multi-day (five to six days at a time) ergonomic needs including reclining, toileting and has even been used for in-flight yoga!
Where’s the Si2 Today?

On March 9th, 2015, the Si2 began its journey around the world with a take-off from Abu Dhabi. There will be 13 legs to the journey, and the Si2 is currently on its 7th leg in Nagoya, Japan (as of today’s date).

Solar-Impulse-cockpit

The aircraft is set to take off for Hawaii as soon as a weather window has been identified. Information about the current location of the aircraft, along with captain’s log can be found here. You can also sign up for their newsletter for periodic updates or contribute to the cause by purchasing your own solar cell.

For more information about the Si2 and its journey, head to www.solarimpulse.com.

9 Ways to Celebrate the Earth—All Year Long

Today is Earth Day, and homosapiens all over the world are celebrating the Blue Planet in a myriad of ways. Also, since Earth Week lasts from April 20th to the 24th, this week is the high point of environmental activities and awareness all around the globe.

leaves in sun

But what about during the rest of the year? Here are some practical ways to show your love for our green earth—today, for the remainder of the week, and all year round.

Today:

1. Plant a tree. Earth Day often coincides roughly with Arbor Day, so it’s the perfect time to take part in this recognized Earth Day activity.

2. Celebrate with NASA. In addition to events being held on Earth Day in California, Virginia, and Washington D.C., NASA is inviting people to share your views of Earth via Instagram, Twitter, Google+, or Vine—using the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeHome.

3. Attend an Earth Day fair. Search for events in your area here.

This Week:

4. Purchase clean-energy products. At Solarrific, we are celebrating Earth Week with discounts on the following products (while supplies last):

The following radios are only $10 each, this week only (click images for product information):

Solarrific European Style Dynamo Radio
European Style Dynamo Radio (R1005)
4-in-1 Flashlight/Radio/Alarm/Charger (R1006)
4-in-1 Flashlight/Radio/Alarm/Charger (R1006)
AM/FM/WB dynamo crank radio cube
Solar/ Handcrank AM/FM Radio Cube (R1007)

Our Clip It/Squeeze It Flashlight is $5 (click image for product information):

Clip It Squeeze It Flashlight (L2017)
Clip It Squeeze It Flashlight (L2017)

Our Solar Cap Light is $10 (click image for product information):

Solar LED Cap Light (L2028)
Solar LED Cap Light (L2028)

5. Prepare eco-friendly meals. Using locally produced, organic ingredients that have little impact on the environment, devote this week to making special meals that use fewer resources than traditional boxed dinners. Clean up afterwards by using the low-water dishwashing method.

6. Pick up trash. This week, be mindful of noticing litter in and around your community, and place refuse in the trash when you see it, rather than walking on. Even better, contact a local community group and help them with their trash pick-up efforts.

 Year-Round:

7. Travel smarter. Find a carpool service or better utilize public transportation.

8. Make your garden green. Transform your outdoor space into a clean energy oasis by planting wildflowers and oxygen-producing trees, enhancing your landscaping with solar-powered lights, and installing a solar-powered water fountain.

9. Join a group. Volunteer, donate, or educate yourself and your family about the environment by becoming a part of a local group. Here’s a list to get you started.

However you choose to celebrate the earth, be it with small changes within your own home and family or by participating on a larger scale, we invite you to make Earth Day every day!

15 Reasons to Go Solar in 2015

orangesunsimmeringThe United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

This initiative is intended “to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.”

And what greater source of our light to appreciate than our ever-loyal sun? There is no better time to consider—and embrace—solar technology. Here are 15 reasons why going solar in 2015 makes sense.

By doing so, you will reduce energy costs related to household utility bills (specifically, electricity).

Even if solar systems and products cost more upfront, they end up being more affordable to use and maintain over time.

solar panelSolar technology is continually being improved, meaning increased efficiency and lower production costs—which eventually mean savings for the end user.

Handheld solar products don’t depend on electrical outlets for power, making them portable and useful.

The energy gained from the sun is renewable—free and unlimited.

The increasing demand for solar is producing jobs at an ever-increasing rate.

Solar systems and products often require little maintenance over time.

Reduce the need to purchase batteries to power devices.

Decrease your environmental impact (billions of batteries are thrown away each year, all of which end up in landfills.

When using or purchasing solar energy systems, tax credits or rebates may be available, on federal, state, and local levels.

Use of solar-powered devices decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar products and systems are not noisy; they silently produce energy.

Helps prevent the depletion of natural resources.

Solar power is versatile; useful for both high-powered and low-powered devices and applications.

Handheld solar products are reliable in emergency situations.

Whichever of the above reasons help motivate you to make the transition into using solar energy, you can be assured that the change will benefit you and your family for years to come.

Rafea: Solar Mama—New Film Inspires

“Rafea is a Bedouin living on the Jordan-Iraq border. She and 30 illiterate grandmothers from around the world will travel to The Barefoot College in India to become solar engineers. If she succeeds, she will power her entire village, but can she rewire the traditional minds of her Bedouin community?”

That’s the question posed by the new documentary, Rafea: Solar Mama. Programs like those provided by The Barefoot College have helped bring about technological and cultural progress in rural areas of the world, progress that starts small but has the power to bring about big changes.

“If a woman with a few years of schooling who has never left her village is able to learn solar engineering in a matter of months, what is impossible in the world?” asks the film’s director, Jahane Noujaim. “We do not believe that a film alone can change societies and cultural taboos… but the people that watch them can.”

That’s the kind of vision that inspires us at Solarrific. To put it simply, it’s why we do what we do. Take a moment to view the documentary’s trailer below and learn why people all over the world are being inspired by Rafea’s story.

Rafea: Solar Mama - watch the trailer here
Rafea: Solar Mama – watch the trailer here

Rafea has gone on to solar electrify 80 homes in her village in Jordan, and now dreams to create a solar engineering training center for women in Jordan. To learn more about how you can support sustainable development in impoverished parts of the world, visit The Barefoot College’s website.

Full Speed Ahead! Mass Transit Trumps Traditional Transportation

Photo credit: amoytrip.com
Photo credit: amoytrip.com

It’s been nearly a month since the world’s newest high-speed rail line entered into operation.

China’s Xiamen-Shenzhen Railway (which tops out at 250 kilometers per hour and has reduced travel time between two important cities by more than half) is one of technology’s modern marvels.

But it’s certainly not the first—or the only one—of its kind.

The world’s first bullet train, or “shinkansen,” debuted in Japan for the1964 Tokyo Olympics. It saw immediate success, preliminary numbers reflected 100 million passengers served in less than three years. It has now transported over seven billion people.

Other nations, seeing the viability of this alternate form of transportation, followed suit. From 1967 to 1992, such European countries as France, England, and Germany introduced high-speed lines of their own. Then, in 2003, China opened a 200 kph line, and in 2007, a modern, high speed line. The country’s railway network now spans over 100,000 km, including 10,000 km of high speed lines.

What is considered “high-speed” now varies amongst countries, but this type of transport operates much faster than typical rail traffic, usually around 150 to 200 miles per hour.

Fast can also mean efficient. In many cases, solar panels are used to generate electricity to supply power to trains, tunnels, and stations—making an already economical means of transportation even more productive. (For obvious reasons, we find this particularly exciting.) And, as transportation, energy, and pollution crises affect the globe, it makes sense to think smarter about the generation of power, rather than depending so heavily on fossil fuels.

When it comes to transportation, there are additional ways to conserve energy, even if such a luxury as a high-speed rail isn’t available.

For one, consider going car-free. The availability of public transit has made this more feasible than ever before. By using buses, trains, and subways, you help decrease pollution, congestion, and can even save yourself time, in certain cases. Better yet, buy a commuter bicycle and pedal to and from work each day.

If you absolutely must keep your car, here are some ways to decrease its negative impact on the environment:

  • Consolidate trips
  • Carpool whenever possible
  • Avoid idling
  • Stay up to date on oil changes and emissions testings

We want to know: When it comes to transportation, how do YOU reduce your environmental impact? Tell us in the comments below, or like us on Facebook and share there!

Solar-Powered Philanthropy: 10 Ways the Sun Keeps Giving

sun-in-handsOne of the year’s most significant holidays is officially behind us. Presents have been opened, feasts have been consumed, and family members are making their way to their respective homes. But while you’re taking down decorations and depositing gift wrapping in the trash, remember that, just because one of the country’s biggest days of gift-giving has passed, there is still plenty of room for generosity.

For one thing, when it comes to solar technology, many organizations’ philanthropic efforts have led to substantial improvements in living conditions and a better quality of life for individuals in less developed nations. Here is a round-up of some notable solar projects that are taking place around the world:

Oftentimes, helping those in need starts right in our own communities, but it’s inspiring to see how solar technology is making a greater impact worldwide—and changing people’s lives in rural communities abroad.

Solar News Roundup: Including Trends in Robotics and Transportation

It’s about that time—time for another solar news roundup, where we share information about trends and updates in the solar industry. Learn more about the solar technology being used by leading corporations and in public places, as well as cutting edge new research, and even its application in the world of robotics. Happy reading!

First, for a look at solar technology being employed around the nation, both in business and in public places, read on.

solar powered table on campus
Solar-powered table on campus at George Washington University

Next, have a look at some of the incredible ways solar power is being used worldwide.

Changwon's solar-powered tower is the largest and highest in the nation.
Changwon’s solar-powered tower is the largest and highest in the nation.

When it comes to transportation, solar technology is being employed more than ever before.

This pilot program outfits police cars with solar panels.
This pilot program outfits police cars with solar panels.

Also, check out these new discoveries in the world of solar and cutting-edge innovations.

Solar-powered cube
A concept of the solar-powered cube ‘Desert Cascade’ depicts a cascading waterfall in the middle of the desert.

You might also be surprised to learn about the use of robotic devices in solar installation, maintenance, and more. Read on:

These solar-powered Morphs move about and self-assemble to interact with humans.
These solar-powered Morphs move about and self-assemble to interact with humans.

And for further reading, learn more about groundbreaking research that is sure to change the world of solar as we know it.

Energy from... solar lasers?
Energy from… solar lasers?

Our Stormy Sun—A Closer Look [INFOGRAPHIC]

“Don’t look at the sun, you’ll burn your eyes!” admonishes every mom or dad at some point in their parenting career.

However, in this case, it’s best to ignore that advice and take a closer look, because these images of the sun are absolutely incredible (don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe).

orange sun simmering
Image courtesy of Mother Nature Network

Our sun’s dangerous storms make it one of the most dynamic bodies in our solar system, powerful and volatile yet so beautiful. (Not to mention, it provides energy for the solar technology we at Solarrific see as so crucial!) Learn more about some of history’s worst solar storms, or check out the following infographic for a visual illustration:

See how solar flares, sun storms and huge eruptions from the sun work in this SPACE.com infographic.

Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Solar Technology News and Trends [Roundup]

solar panelThere’s been a lot happening in the world of solar technology in recent weeks. And while Solarrific’s primary aim is to offer some of the most innovative solar- and dynamo-powered products available, we also make it our goal to keep our readers up-to-date on new developments in the solar industry.

So, starting today, we’ll regularly provide a roundup (via our blog) of solar news and trends so that you, as the eco-conscious consumer, can stay informed.

First, get a closer look at solar power at work around the nation, from a California recycling plant to Wisconsin’s bike paths.

Next, learn more about new developments in solar technology, including groundbreaking research that promises to change the industry as we know it.

Lastly, learn about worldwide solar happenings, including new inventions that utilize the power of the sun and rural towns being transformed by this exciting technology.

Do you have solar news you’d like to share? Drop us a line at: info at solarrific dot com.

Solar Means Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

A few weeks ago, we shared highlights from the Solar Means Business report, recently released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar. The report ranks the top 25 brands to install solar power at their warehouses, stores, and facilities; and research therein reveals that these organizations alone create enough solar energy to power 73,400 American homes (wow)!

To see a graphic look at the top ten businesses mentioned in the report, take a look at the Solar Means Business infographic below.

Solar_2013_Infographic

For a closer look at the research, view the full report here.