Archive for May, 2007

Catch the sun in a jar with the Sun Jar Solar Light

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Sun Jar
Sun Jar Solar Light UK£ 19.99 or $39.69 at nigelsecostore.com

Perhaps you have heard of carrying moonbeams home in a jar? Almost as cool is the Sun Jar a solar night light inside a jam jar from Designer Tobias Wong. Simplicity is the word here, all you do is set it down in the sun somewhere during the day and then when night comes it will automatically turn on for up to 5 hours. The frosted glass diffuses the light to a romantic glow from the energy efficient let light inside. The orange light is similar to that of a candle.
Also available at SuckUK – with lots more info and photos.
$29.99 at Amazon

Sun Jar

More on Concentrated Solar Power

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Solar Two
Solar Two, an “older’ concentrated solar power plant in the Mohave Desert – (replaced by newer technology)

In yesterday’s post I revealed how little I knew about concentrated solar power. In fact I had never heard of it before saw the video clip posted yesterday. Presumably there are more people out there who are like me and are curious about this technology. This wiki link is a comprehensive look at solar thermal energy.

What baffles me is why hasn’t there been more attention to this proven source of renewable, clean energy? Why when we think of solar power don’t we think of solar power plants just as much as we think of panels of photovoltaic cells on rooftops? Concentrated solar power can involve a huge array of hundreds or thousands of mirrors that concentrate the solar rays reflected by mirrors to heat molten salt to 565°C (1050°F). The salt then boils water which drives a steam turbine to generate electricity. There are other ways to do this as well.

Wired has a good article about the huge Solar Plants in the desert. Currrently, there are at least nine solar power plants in the Mojave Desert known as the Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS). It uses parabolic trough solar thermal technology along with natural gas to generate electricity. The facility has a total of 400,000 mirrors and covers 1,000 acres. These plants produce 354 MegaWatts, making the system the largest solar plant of any kind in the world.

Spanish Solar Thermal Tower of Power – we need more of these things!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Solar thermal power generator tower in Seville, Spain

Europe is leading the way by putting online the first commercial solar power station which generates 11 Megawatts of electricity free of any greenhouse gas emission. It currently can power up to 6,000 homes. The video states that plans are being discussed to make an gigantic array of millions of these special mirrors in the Sahara, possibly enough to provide a significant source of power for all of Europe. More info in this BBC article.

I hope someone in the United States is paying attention! Imagine a similar arrangement in the Southwest desert.

BoGo Solar Flashlight – Giving Light to Developing Countries

Monday, May 21st, 2007

BoGo Solar Flashlight
BoGo Solar Flashlight $25.00 – (gets you one for yourself and one for donation) bogolight.com

The New York Times this morning has a good article about a company, bogolight.com that makes a solar flashlight. That isn’t very newsworthy in itself, but the interesting thing is that the acronym for their name “Bogo” means “Buy one, Give one”. What they are doing is for each solar powered flashlight you buy at $25.00 they give another one to various charities working in developing countries. This is very helpful in remote areas, refugee camps and similar place where there tends to be little light available after the sun sets. These flashlights can help children to study and read, help make women a little safer, and reduce the need for using kerosene or other fires for lighting. Regular flashlights in the developing world often tend to be crappier, don’t last long and require expensive batteries which also don’t last long.

Their website states the solar panel on the BoGo lasts up to 20 years, charges in 8 hours, and provides 4-5 hours of illumination. The solar panel provides power to 3 standard NiCad or NiMH AA rechargeable batteries. It also uses the super bright Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) – 6 super bright LEDs provide enough light to read at night. (from the bogo website)

Green Alternatives to Paper Towels

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Seventh Generation Paper Towels
Green Forest Paper Towels, White, 10 3 Roll Packs (30 Rolls)

I was in a BJ’s (giant box store) yesterday and stopped to consider their display of paper products. They have an enormous display of various brands of huge packs of 30 or so rolls of paper towels for ridiculously cheap prices. Needless to say it’s a popular item as busy people are lured by the convenience of using paper towels. Almost every cleaning task imaginable is now commonly used with paper products; from drying your hands, wiping the counter, floor, windows and pretty much anything else. As they are so cheap, many people mindlessly use them for everything and then just toss it.

It wasn’t that long ago you that people didn’t use paper towels, they used linens in the kitchen. They used a cloth for washing the dishes and yet another for wiping up counters. A hand towel in the kitchen for drying your freshly washed hands. Old rags could be used in a mop head. Cloth napkins. Newspapers for washing windows. All of them washed and reused time after time. It worked just fine for centuries.

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