17 Apr 2012:
New Solar Panel System
Could Double as a Tinted Window
A German startup has developed a new type of lightweight solar panel its developers say can be integrated into the design of buildings and even used in electricity-producing tinted windows
. Designed by Dresden-based Heliatek, the technology utilizes small, organic molecules in the production of the solar cells. While such organic solar cells have become commonplace, this technology uses molecules called oligomers. They are more stable than the commonly used polymers, which developers say will make the cells more efficient and longer-lived. Because they are lighter and have greater flexibility than most panels, the company hopes they can be integrated into building construction as a cheaper alternative to mounted panels, according to a report in MIT’s Technology Review.
The company also is working with one manufacturer to use the semi-transparent panels as windows. The panels currently cost more per watt than conventional solar cells, but Heliatek says larger-scale production could drive the price down to 40 to 50 cents per watt within five years, which would make them more cost competitive.
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A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.