Global Solar Capacity Now Exceeds 100 Gigawatts. Wind Farms Break Records And Want Some Lovin Too.

Record breaking solar and wind power capacity.Not too shabby. Since 2011, over 60 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity has been installed worldwide. The last 30 GW installed in 2012 push the total solar capacity to 102 GW total. From Smart Planet:

“The preliminary results of the EPIA report shows that growth isn’t just concentrated in well-known solar regions, such as Germany. This year, there was a shift towards a more global PV market, with 13 GW of PV installations occurring outside of Europe, compared to just under 8 GW in 2011. The top three non-European markets were China with at least 3.5 GW and possibly as much as 4.5 GW, the United States with 3.2 GW and Japan with 2.5 GW.”

And not to be forgotten, wind farms added 44.7 GW of capacity in 2012 – beating the industry’s single year record, set in 2011, by 10%. Great to know 2012 was win win for renewable energy and not the end of the world. [Smart Planet and Smart Planet]

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Growing Solar Power Industry Leads To An Increase In Hazardous Waste.

Solar Panel FarmShould you go solar or not? If you read through the AP story, “Solar power boom fuels increase in hazardous waste sent to dumps,” it’s hard to tell which way to go. Here’s an excerpt:

“While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.”

Translation: renewable solar power is far less polluting than coal and natural gas but thanks to $$$ in government incentives, demand and production are up and so is the associated pollution.

In related news, Scientists in Brazil have determined that “if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass when he’s hopping.” [Grist and Newser]

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Drink Coaster’ish Epiphany onE Puck Charges Your Mobile Phone With Hot And Cold Drinks.

Epiphany onE Puck mobile phone charger.The Epiphany onE Puck from Epiphany Labs uses a small Stirling engine to recharge any USB device drawing 1000 mA or less (iPods, iPhones and Android devices). Stirling engines have been around for almost 200 years and they quietly work exhaust-free by turning heat differences into energy.

Here’s the Epiphany onE Puck video:

Seems pretty simple – place a warm drink on the red side or a cold drink on the blue side to charge your mobile device. Epiphany Labs is on Kickstarter where a $115 pledge will get you a Epiphany onE Puck, t-shirt and window sticker. It’s not mentioned on their Kickstarter page but I assume the Epiphany onE Puck will also charge your mobile device if you defrost an item or let a pan cool on it. There’s no mention of an internal battery.

Would I buy an Epiphany onE Puck? No. In a pinch, a $25 solar or hand-cranked charger would be more practical. Being on the road and having to purchase a cold/warm drink in order to charge my phone seems a little backwards. I might as well bring my phone’s USB cable and adapter to get a quick charge everywhere rather than paying for several beverages to get a partial charge. [Gizmag]

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Everything You Need To Know About Tar Sand Oil And Keystone XL In One Video.

The Keystone XL Tar Sands Climate Threat video perfectly explains the environmental costs of the tar sand oil and the importance of President Obama’s decision to build, or not build, the Keystone XL pipeline.

US politicians supporting the Keystone XL pipeline point to energy independence as one of the main reasons why it needs to be built. Unfortunately, they never considered how important energy independence is going to be in our warming future. Sounds like the “Cut off your nose to spite your face” doctrine is in full effect . [CDCW]

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Panasonic Hopes Its Artificial Photosynthesis System Will One Day Convert Factory Released CO2 Into Ethanol.

Watch the video. I’m not even going to try to explain how Panasonic’s Artificial Photosynthesis System works. [DigInfo]

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Volkswagen Chattanooga Will Get 12.5% Of Their Power From Solar Panels.

Volkswagen Chattanooga plant solar park.From Volkswagen of America (via CSRwire):

“Volkswagen today ‘powered up’ the largest single solar installation at an automotive manufacturing facility in the United States and the biggest solar installation in the state of Tennessee.

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to VW’s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year – equivalent to the energy consumed annually by around 1,200 homes in the area.

The electricity produced from the solar park is expected to meet 12.5% of the energy needs of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant during full production and 100% during non-production periods.”

So who’d you rather – electric vehicle built with nonrenewable energy or gas powered car built with renewable solar power? [Volkswagen]

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