Solar power is primed to make a big impact on the home energy market in the coming years, although that doesn’t mean everyone should rush out right now and get panels installed on their roofs. The Federal Trade Commission has put together a handy guide for prospective solar power system buyers that lists some key questions they’ll need to answer before they take the plunge. Below we’ll go over some of the essential issues you need to think through before making a big investment in home solar power. More →
Rooftop solar panels are becoming such a powerful factor in the energy market that they now can push the price of electricity to negative territory in the sunniest regions of the world. This is possible because powering down fossil fuel energy generators during peak solar power periods would be more expensive than paying customers to use the electricity. More →
Apple’s massive billion-dollar North Carolina data center, which received a failing rating in a Greenpeace report earlier this year, may soon be powered by a solar farm. The Charlotte Observer recently uncovered permit plans from North Carolina’s Catawba County that show Apple’s intentions to adjust the terrain on a 171-acre plot across from its data center. The plans are titled “Project Dolphin Solar Farm A Expanded” but they do not discuss the solar farm itself. Instead, they detail roads, erosion control and a strategy to avoid disturbing local streams and the local environment with construction work. Apple has yet to apply for a building permit for the site, but more information will likely be revealed if it does. This is not Apple’s first foray into eco-friendly power; its facilities in Austin, Texas; Sacramento, California; and Cork, Ireland already run on 100% renewable energy. The Cupertino-based company currently relies on coal and nuclear power from Duke Energy to run its North Carolina data center. More →
We’ll be honest, we didn’t quite expect Ralph Lauren to be the company to introduce a useful solar-powered backpack to power our gadgets while on the move. The Ralph Lauren RLX backpack offers a pretty large solar panel built in to the back of the backpack, one that the company says can charge a phone in around two hours. The backpack itself is water-resistant, with a decent amount of pockets and storage space, and generates a 3.45 watt current which is enough for most any mobile device or handset. It’s available in two colors, black and orange, is made in Italy, and will run you a steep $795. More →
GigaOM is reporting that T-Mobile is testing a completely solar-powered cell phone tower here in the States. The single tower — located in Chalfont, PA — generates enough power to keep the site off the grid and, at times, feed power back into the country’s aging electrical system. Pike Research estimates that 4.5% of all cellular stations worldwide will use solar or wind energy by 2014. The report indicates that although the tower does cost 2 to 3 times more than the standard, grid-powered equivalent, savings in the long run — in electricity, tax benefits, and initial setup costs — could very well make up for the difference over the life of the tower. Hit the read link for the full report. More →
Here at BGR, we’ve learned several truths over the years: What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas, you really shouldn’t eat yellow snow and most importantly, there is no such thing as a phone with a big enough battery. Discounting those first two for the time being, we’re long-time Proporta portable battery users as having that extra 3400 mAh of juice in reserve can be a life saver. Last month however, we were made aware of an alternative option from London-based Devotec Industries and our interest was immediately piqued. While Devotec’s offering holds 47% less juice than our Proporta battery, we couldn’t help but get reeled in by a key feature that no other portable charger we’ve come across in the sub-$40 price range can tout — solar. Needless to say we scooped up a handful of them and went to town. Hit the jump to read our impressions of the Devotec Solar Charger after a few weeks of abuse from the BGR staff.