Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unleash the Power of the Sun

As I write this blog entry, a team of men who call themselves PlanetSolar are readying their solar-powered yacht to journey across the Gulf of Thailand.  Three hundred and fifty one days ago, these men set out from Monaco on a mission to make a complete around-the-world trip using only solar power.  So far they have made it across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, around Australia, past the Philippines, through the South China Sea and are currently in the vicinity of Vietnam.  This project’s goal is to show how “high-performance solar mobility can be realised today by making innovative use of existing materials and technology,” and they’re doing it by sailing the world’s largest solar-powered vessel around the globe using nothing but energy from the sun.  How cool!  Go Team PlanetSolar!

Of course, solar-powered vehicles have been a goal of modern technology for a while, and PlanetSolar isn’t the only specially-designated team aiming at it.  For the last twenty years or so, the Stanford Solar Car Project has been working to put solar-powered vehicles on the road.  And it’s not just vehicles getting the solar treatment; solar power is up-and-coming as a use for powering homes.  Over on Long Island in New York, BP Solar and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA, as the locals call it) have been building a massive solar farm in Brookhaven.  Once completed, this farm should be able to power thousands of homes, as well as offering researchers a great opportunity to test out a big solar farm.  And remember that artificial leaf I told you about several months ago?  Solar power is hitting new strides all over.