October, 2013Archive for

1st Earth-sized rocky planet found beyond solar system

Astronomers have found the first roughly Earth-sized planet outside our solar system that seems to be made of the same stuff as Earth: rock and iron. While it's been speculated that other small planets found circling other stars are rocky, Kepler-78b is the first one confirmed to have a density almost identical to that of Earth, suggesting a similar composition, reported two studies published this week in the journal Nature. One was led by Andrew Howard at the University of Hawaii and the other ...

Giant Halloween Solar Storm Sparked Earth Scares 10 Years Ago

Ten years ago this week, scientists worldwide got the spooks when a Halloween solar storm disrupted communications, GPS and even a United States defense operation. While residents in Texas and Florida delighted in auroras usually not seen that far south, the storm which was most intense between about Oct. 29 and 31, 2003 caused some spooky sun-spawned havoc both on the Earth and above it, officials with United States Geological Survey explained in a statement. You see a video of the Halloween ...

Solar energy helping to power Lockport convenience store

Energy from the sun is now being used to help operate a Niagara County convenience store. A 200-panel solar array system has been installed outside the Crosby's store on Lake Avenue in Lockport. Company President Paul Quebral says the panels will generate more than 55,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power the entire store for about 70 days.

Solar Means Business, More than Ever

Guest blog by NRDC legal fellow Nick Jimenez Photo by Black Rock Solar, under Creative Commons licensing: Students at Rainshadow Community Charter High School in Reno, NV celebrate the installation solar power at their school. NRDC has a crowd-funded campaign to help bring solar power to schools, called Solar Schools: Powering Classrooms, Empowering Communities  Prices for renewables are dropping: last week the blog talked about implications for utilities and dirty energy, this week, we no...

Rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse May Be Visible from Eastern US Sunday

The moon will blot out the sun Sunday Nov. 3 in an eclipse that will be visible from eastern North America to the Middle East. Sunday's celestial event is a relatively rare occurrence known as a hybrid solar eclipse. It will begin as an annular or "ring of fire" eclipse along the path of totality, then shift to a total eclipse as the moon's shadow sweeps across our planet. What you'll observe depends on where you live. Skywatchers in the eastern United States, ...

Astronomers discover solar system amazingly similar to our own

Astronomers have been finding exoplanets orbiting distant stars for years now, but rarely have they ever spotted a collection of planets arranged like our own solar system. Recent examinations of the star KOI-351 have revealed more planets than were previously known to exist. The new discoveries bring the total to a record seven planets orbiting KOI-351, and they’re arranged in the same way the planets of our solar system are — small rocky planets closer to the star and gas giants f...

Natcore's Black Silicon Technology Projected to Slash Solar Cell

"Making plans to take our technology to market": Provini ?RED BANK, N.J., Oct. 30, 2013 /CNW/ - An independent study has concluded that Natcore Technology's NXT.V; NTCXF.PK; 8NT black silicon technology could reduce silicon solar cell production costs by up to 23.5%. The savings derive from a streamlining of the production process whereby a silicon wafer is processed into a black silicon solar cell. To make solar cells, manufacturers typically acquire silicon wafers from an outside source...

Bankrupt solar panel firm took stimulus money, left a toxic mess

A Colorado-based solar company that got hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees before going belly-up didn't just empty taxpayers' wallets - it left behind a toxic mess of carcinogens, broken glass and contaminated water, according to a new report.  The Abound Solar plant, which got $400 million in federal loan guarantees in 2010, when the Obama administration sought to use stimulus funds to promote green energy, filed for bankruptcy two years later. Now its Longmont, Col...

Solar advocates and Xcel spar over the future of rooftop solar power

An attempt to find common ground on state policies for rooftop solar started Tuesday with a sharp exchange between Xcel Energy and solar-energy advocates.The session ended with Xcel's refusal to withdraw its proposal — which is pending at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission — to cut rooftop-solar incentives.In turn, the representatives from Vote Solar, a solar-energy advocacy group, said they were not sure of the value of continuing the talks.The session, hosted by the Colorado ...

As solar power takes off in Australia, energy utilities fight back

With the price of solar power dropping, in some areas, it is now cheaper for consumers to supply their own energy than to rely on the grid.In what can be seen both as a sign of progress and an example of the challenge of systemic change, Australias major electricity utilities are reportedly attempting to slow or even halt the transition away from dirty energy to clean solar power.Giles Parkinson or RenewEconomy and CleanTechnica reports:The push to contain the rush for solar PV which is occurri...