The Jagpod: A Solar Powered Shipping Container Home

by Dion Boyd

An interesting article on the Clean Technica website posted by Jake Richardson on March 15th, discusses the Jagpod, the World’s first energy-efficient tiny home that uses recycled shipping containers and solar panels to provide affordable and sustainable housing. [https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-jagpod-solar-powered-shipping-container-home–2#/] The Jagpod was created by founder of Jaguar Containers, William Coit, who after spending three months in West Ghana realized that many villages do not have sustainable housing. As of now, the Jagpod comes in two standard types, a 20 ft. and a 40 ft. unit. The 20 ft. unit has 144 square feet of living space and starts at a price around $30,000 whereas the 40 ft. unit has 300 square feet and starts at about $60,000. Because of smaller size, the 20-foot pods are much easier to transport but the larger unit satisfies the needs of people who would prefer more space over ease of transportation. William Coit was not the first person to create a home out of a shipping container, but what he is a front runner for is providing energy for these homes through solar power. Each type of container includes 2 to 4 235 Watt solar panels with a 27-volt battery tank to diminish the unpredictability of off the grid energy. Continue reading

Energy Storage Breakthrough Aims at $54 per kWh

by Dion Boyd

An interesting article on the Clean Technica website, posted by Tina Casey on February 26th, discusses the development of the next generation’s low cost high capacity battery. A company called BioSolar is set to surpass the previous goal of $100 per kwh, set by researchers a few years prior, by achieving $54 per kwh. The company recently completed an international patent application by filling out applications for what they call a “multicomponent-approach to enhance stability and capacitance in polymer-hybrid supercapacitors.” [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/26/new-energy-storage-solution-could-hit-magic-54-mark/] Continue reading

UK’s First Home Installation of Tesla Powerwall

by Dion Boyd

In an interesting article posted on The Guardian on February 5, 2016, blogger Steven Morris discusses the UK’s first home installation of a Tesla Powerwall by a company based in Port Talbot called Solar Plants. The Tesla Powerwall is a wall-mounted 7kWh or 10kWh lithium-ion-battery system that works by absorbing solar energy from exterior panels and then storing that energy for later use. It was first launched in California in May of 2015 with a price tag of $3000 or $3750 depending on the battery capacity. All orders sold out within the first 10 days and Tesla is now working on fulfilling backlog orders in 2016. They are also planning to release a second version of the Powerwall in July or August. Founder Elon Musk has not specified the details of the updates but has stated that the battery cells used in the updated model will come from the Gigafactory rather than their current dispenser, Panasonic. [http://www.fastcompany.com/3056330/fast-feed/tesla-will-launch-a-new-version-of-its-powerwall-battery-this-summer] Powerwall is not the first of its kind as there are other battery systems on the market, but its sleek, slim, and simple design makes it very attractive to consumers. According Mark Kerr, the owner of the Powerwall installed in this article, “its design is very sleek and minimalistic and something you can hang on the wall like a piece of art, definitely nothing like some of the other clunky looking batteries.” [http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/05/welsh-home-installs-uks-first-tesla-powerwall-storage-battery] Continue reading

First German Nuclear Fusion Experiment is Successful

by Dion Boyd

An interesting article written by Nathaniel Scharping in Discover Magazine on February 3, 2016 examines the completion of an early phase of German scientists’ nuclear fusion experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to test processes of a reaction that will one-day produce nuclear fusion for use as energy. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Particle Physics in Greifswald, Germany conducted the experiment using a machine called the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator, a donut-shaped device that uses magnetic fields to suspend hydrogen gas while zapping it with powerful microwaves. During the reaction, researchers heated up a hydrogen sample to 180 million degrees Fahrenheit and succeeded in creating a sweltering hot plasma that lasted for a quarter of a second. The Wendelstein stellarator experiment has been developing for over twenty years now, costing nearly €1.06bn with Germany being the primary funder and the US, Poland, and the European Union following closely behind. Although the W7-X isn’t designed to be a major energy producer itself, the experiments it runs will show that plasma can be contained for a period of time when heated to such extremes. [http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2016/02/03/germanys-nuclear-fusion-experiment-marks-initial-success/#.VrU7_ZMrIdU]     Continue reading

U.S. Navy Deploys First Biofuel-Powered Fleet

by Dion Boyd

An intriguing article posted on The Guardian by the Associated Press on January 21, 2016 examines the U.S. Navy’s first attempt at constructing it’s highly anticipated “green fleet” by launching their first ecofriendly carrier strike group. The group is powered partly by a 10% to 90% ratio of biofuel to petroleum. The “Great Green Fleet” is the title of this project and aims to launch a force of naval ships, planes, and submarines that are powered entirely by biofuels. The navy began testing its first green fleet in 2012 and plans to have it ready for launch sometime in the year 2016. [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/20/us-navy-green] Continue reading

Africa Renewable Energy Initiative Aims to Produce 300 GW by 2030

by Dion Boyd

An intriguing article by Joshua S. Hill, on the Clean Technica blog posted in December of 2015, examines an attempt by the head of state of African nations to lead a coalition called the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The primary objective of the AREI is to provide the continent of Africa with 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030. AREI aims to produce 10 GW by 2020, so already we can infer that significant progress is intended to be made over those ten years. This article caught my attention because it is closely related to a documentary I recently watched called Burning in the Sun. This film portrays the mission of West African and Italian Daniel Dembélé on his quest to bring electricity to the rural communities of the Sahara Desert. Immediately after reading the article about AREI, I made the connection between the article and the film. I began to realize that (contrary to popular belief or at least contrary to the non-existent amount of information you hear from media outlets about positive initiatives taking place in Africa) there are people in the world after all who are aware of people living in regions of Africa that do not have access to energy resources, and are taking a stab at resolving some of those issues. Continue reading