A new partnership between Silicon Energy and CrystaLite that was announced at the recent Living Future unConference in Seattle is bringing a new alternative to photovoltaic solar roof implementations and ground-mounted installations: the solar structure. PV-integrated structures provide home and business owners with extensive flexibility in the design and implementation of solar power when a solar roof is not cost effective or to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing integration of solar panels with structural design of patio and deck coverings, carport coverings, and picnic shelters.
Here’s an update to an old article about a tree-shaped charger powered by solar energy. Vivien Muller’s Electree+ is on Kickstarter seeking to raise $200,000 to mass-produce these little home/office gadgets here in the USA. The new prototype will be made with an 14,000 mAh internal battery, 27 amorphous silicon solar cells (each about 3.7 inches), and an easy-to-assemble tree structure that can be customized. In case you’re interested, the early bird gets in at the ground level for ~$199.00.
Turns out the Rhône Alpes team from France with the Canopea house won Solar Decathlon Europe held in Madrid. Their home is actually the top of a conceptual “Nanotower” that the team proposed to bring single-family style living back to the urban core. The top level acts like a rain forest’s canopy — hence the name — by collecting 95% of all solar energy and 30% of rainwater for the tower. Canopea was built of a prefab CORE, site-built SKIN, and a SHELL capable of off-site fabrication as well.
I’ve been watching plug-and-play solar systems like the one offered by SpinRay Energy to see how viable and affordable these can get. It turns out GoGreenSolar.com just unveiled a similar system called the SunPlug Plug n’ Play Solar Kit. The kit includes one 235-watt polycrystalline panel, a 120 VAC/60 Hz grid-tie inverter, racking mount, WiFi module for monitoring, and a connector to plug directly into an AC outlet.
I really like the dark-blue/black look of solar PV, but I suppose there may be someone that needs a different color, whether for aesthetics, compliance, or branding, etc. Colored Solar is trying to grab a toehold in this market with red, emerald green, forest green, and polished marble panels. In terms of panel efficiency, NREL found there is little performance compromised for a 16%+ efficiency colored 225W panel, according to Colored Solar.