Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Eni-MIT energy center focuses solely on the sun

MIT is stepping up its research into solar energy, hoping to finally make sunlight an affordable, efficient power source.

In a new research center officially opened last week, 21 Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty members and dozens of students are working together to make advances in solar technology. Called the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center, it is funded largely with a grant from Italian energy giant Eni, which recently provided $2 million in equipment for two new labs, in addition to a $5 million annual commitment for the next five years.

Moving away from fossil fuels is essential for global security, to meet growing demand for energy, and to protect against further climate change, MIT president Susan Hockfield said after a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The center, she said, aims to “fundamentally transform how the world produces and consumes energy.’’

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Solar panels are not just for the wealthy

By Mardina Graham

When you think of homeowners with solar panels, you probably don't think of me: a retired postal worker and grandmother who has lived in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood for nearly 50 years.

I know I didn't think of me when I thought of solar power. I was interested in going solar, but it seemed like something expensive that only companies in Silicon Valley or well-to-do homeowners in Marin could afford.

So that's what caught my attention in 2006 when I attended a neighborhood meeting. Someone from the San Francisco Department of the Environment spoke about a program with the nonprofit GRID Alternatives. It was all about helping lower-income households in Southeast San Francisco take advantage of solar energy.

Certainly it was appealing to do something that was good for the environment, but I was also eager to reduce my very high electric bills.

So the idea of installing solar was great, but what would it cost me? Turns out, nothing, except for the hot dogs I decided to prepare for the workers and volunteers.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/opinionshop/detail?&entry_id=63038#ixzz0nLK5wGSM

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bacteria may aid solar energy technology

CORAL GABLES, Fla., May 5 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they are studying the light harvesting properties of purple bacteria in hopes of adapting their natural designs in solar technologies.

University of Miami scientists said purple bacteria are single-celled microscopic organisms that live in aquatic environments, such as the bottom of lakes and in sea corals. They said the bacteria's natural design seems the best structural solution for harvesting solar energy.

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