In this monthly roundup, we share how solar helps thousands of K-12 schools across the United States save money and expand their curriculum. Solar also is in the spotlight as scientists continue to find creative ways to use it for energy and to create other types of electricity and even water!
5,500 U.S. Schools Use Solar Power – Number is Growing as Costs Fall
Public and private schools across the country are reducing their electricity bills with solar, leaving them more money to spend on educational programs, including clean energy in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lessons. About 5 percent of all K-12 U.S. schools are now powered by the sun, and their solar capacity has almost doubled in the last three years, according to a new study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation and Generation 180. The schools using solar power have a total of 910 megawatts of solar capacity, enough to power 190,000 homes, according to the study. Read more here.
Color-changing Windows Tap into Solar to Create Energy
Considering how many square feet of windows there are — from people’s homes to massive office buildings and skyscrapers and vehicles — solar technology fused with windows could increase renewable energy use. Scientists have created a new type of window, dubbed “thermochromic” for their ability to change colors in response to heat, to convert sunlight into electricity using minerals called perovskites and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Eventually, these could help power your home, car, or entire office building one day. Read more here.
Solar Panels Pull Drinkable Water Directly from the Air
Technology that harvests drinking water out of thin air, using a combination of materials science, solar power and predictive data, is now widely available in the United States. The technology is designed to help people go from a position of “water scarcity to water abundance,” regardless of whether they live in an area where access to clean water is a severe problem or live in a place where bottled water is often half-drunk and discarded. Marketed by Zero Mass and first developed at Arizona State University, the solar panels — called Source — cost $2,000 each and produce an average of two to five liters of water per day. Read more here.
Affordable Device Uses Solar Energy to Produce Hydrogen and Electricity
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have created a hybrid device that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity in a cost-effective manner. The invention is a significant step forward in the quest to harness the power of hydrogen as a fuel source, particularly in transportation. Current commercial production of hydrogen is costly and carbon intensive, but using ever-cheaper and clean solar power could change the game. Read more here.