Whether you live off grid or in a regular home, you need light. With the right number and position of windows, you can get along just fine during the day, but once the sun goes down, you start needing some sort of lighting. Fortunately today there are lots of options for those of us who live off grid. (more…)
One of the world’s biggest solar power collectors is being built next to the tiny town of Nipton, Calif., which is ironic because Nipton is the closet thing to an off-grid town – with 85 per cent of its energy coming from a set of solar panels installed by one of its 60 residents.
Gerald Freeman unlocks the gate to the small power plant and goes inside. Three rows of solar collectors, elevated on troughs that track the sun’s arc like sunflowers, afford a glimpse of California’s possible energy future.
This facility and a smaller version across the road produce almost all of the power required by Nipton’s 60 residents, its general store and motel.
Freeman, a Caltech-trained geologist and one-time gold mine owner, understood when he bought this former ghost town near the Nevada border that being off the grid didn’t have to mean going without power.
He contracted with a Bay Area company to install solar arrays on two plots of land. The town has a 20-year agreement to buy its power at a below-market rate. (more…)
In Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries on earth, a renewable energy company is busy installing nearly 1,000 solar home systems each day.
In November 2012 Grameen Shakti hit 1 Million Solar Home Systems (SHS) installed. The company’s milestone reinforces a lesson that is increasingly clear. Whether it’s Germany, the US, or evenChina distributed solar installations are driving the solar revolution. (more…)
As China expands its presence in Africa, a new wave of renewable energy companies are bringing off-grid innovation to the continent while Western competitors stand around and watch.
JinkoSolar, a Chinese solar module manufacturer has declared that it is supplying South Africa’s first utility scale, off-grid photovoltaic solar system. The 1 MW plant will supply electricity to a chrome mine in the Limpopo province, in the north east of the country.
Oil-replacement photovoltaic solutions are continuing to emerge as a fully-proven power source in mission-critical situations.
This installation will sharply reduce the daytime diesel usage at the mine in the northernmost South African province, an area in which utility company Eskom is active, but repeatedly letting its customers down, allegedly through a mixture of corruption and poor management in the opinion of some. Reports suggest that the State-owned utility will shortly seek yearly price increases of between 14.6% and 19% – well over the rate of inflation.
Installation in the Limpopo mine will be designed and constructed by Solea Renewables and will employ 4,170 JinkoSolar modules. The plant is likely to be completed in October of this year.
Mhlanzi, the Director of Solea Renewables, stated that, “Mines and other consumers face power supply constraints due to capacity challenges at Eskom. The delivery of our PV plant will not only benefit (the chrome mine), but in turn help reduce the ever increasing energy demand Eskom faces.”
JinkoSolar, indicated in announcing the supply deal, that it has “great expectations” for the country. According to, Kangping Chen, Chief Executive Officer of JinkoSolar, “The region’s booming population, strong economic growth and abundant sunlight represent an exciting opportunity for solar and for JinkoSolar.”
As well as ordering a clean-up of Eskom management criminality, South Africa has taken a number of steps in recent months to drive the growth of cleaner energy in the country. In August, the US Export-Import bank signed a declaration of intent (DOI) with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa which will see the Ex-Im bank provide financing up to US$2 billion worth of US technologies, products and services to South Africa’s energy sector, with a focus on clean-energy development. This is expected to lead to bribery by US energy companies, and further corruption during the tendering process
A hunting lodge in Maine with two small solar panels, some old used car batteries,a quarter mile of wire and careful management. An old-timer explains how he does it in this video.
The old batteries are important – recycled from the owners car once he buys a new one. The Deep cycle batteries which we are told are the right product for this environment, in reality do not hold a charge over the winter when not in use. (more…)
The makers of the ubiquitous Swiss Army knife have already branched out into watches, camping gear and even a motorised bike – now Wenger have extended their brand to launch a portable solar charger.
There are three models – the smallest sells for $125+delivery on Amazon, and the heavy duty pro version has three times the life and retails for $275. There are so many cheap and awful portable solar products on the market, most made in China.
So although we have not tested this one, the brand is strong and it is good to know that there is probably a quality product out there. Please let us know if you try it. It would be great if the battery is exchangeable, both so you could charge two in the field and also because the battery life is much shorter than the panel life.
The mid-range version features: weight: 17.5 oz. with battery, 4 photovoltaic solar panels, mounted on flexible water resistant fabric. folded: 11.6-Inch x 6.7-Inch x 1.2-Inch unfolded: 17.7-Inch x 11.6-Inch x .2-Inch
4.5 w power, 5v Micro USB output, 5000 mAh battery included, charging time around 7 hours
charges, smartphone, mp3, gps systems, includes USB cord & 5 adapters that connects many portable devices, LED light compartment for optional LED light # 44005, strap attaching points to secure charger to most anything.
water resistant, rear battery and adapter storage pocket, compact design, foldable, LED light compartment for optional LED light # 44005
approximately charging time of included battery: 7 hours, recharges smartphone in approximately 2 hours. Charging times are made with solar charger positioned perpendicularly to sunrays in full sunlight coverage.
Tate Director Nicholas Serota has got behind an off-grid lighting initiative by a leading Artist.
Olafur Eliasson’s new work is a solar-powered lamp that he and his engineer partner, Frederik Ottesen, designed and developed. It will be launched at Tate Modern later this month, and visitors will be able to view parts fo the exhibitions solely with its light.
Designed to look like an iconic sun image, with a light on the front and solar panels on the back, the Little Sun looks set to sell millions of units.
The fact the lamp was designed by an artist was important. “People want beautiful things in their lives; they want something they can use with pride . . . everyone wants something that’s not just about functionality but also spirituality.” (more…)
Whether you are living off the grid, or just moving around away from power outlets for your smartphone or laptop, solar chargers can be a life-saver. They also help reduce your carbon footprint by using natural energy rather than electricity. but its vital to carry the right one, or you will find yourself in a remote spot with no phone or wireless.
Two of the leading products are Solio and Power Monkey but they are not in the same league. True they can both recharge an iPhone or HTC in less than a day under a cloudless sky, but there the similarity ends.
Expert tests of the Solio Bolt and Powertraveller Powermonkey Explorer, two solar chargers that can recharge portable electronics such as cellphones, handheld GPS devices and e-book readers found the Solio to come a very distant second.
The $60 Bolt is easy to set up, but doesn’t hold as much power as the Powermonkey, and it has some design flaws. The Powermonkey is more expensive at $89, and has more parts to it, but it’s worth it since it has a larger battery and works even when the sky is slightly cloudy. The Bolt is light and compact, but there’s no easy way to carry it on a backpack or even lay it out on a car’s dashboard. Also, the multifunction button on back isn’t protected enough and can be easily pressed by accident, thus draining any stored energy. This happened several times during testing.
The Bolt might offer the convenience of an all-in-one design, but the Powermonkey Explorer can give devices more charge on the go with little maintenance, making it the better portable solar charger.THere is also a more powerful version of the Powermonkey – though it costs twice as much (more…)
Looking for free solar power and live in North Wales?
Farms and rural businesses without mains electricity in Conwy, a costal community at the tip of Snowdonia National Park North Wales, are being invited to take apply for free solar power installation in a trial funded by the local government. (more…)
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