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Renewable Energy

Sun done, now the moon’s energy

We’ve harnessed the power of the sun’s energy through solar technology and SolarCity is an example of it. The Moon has been feeling bad about it and it wants to be helpful and important too. Well guess what, we might soon be putting it’s power to use. How, you say? Tidal energy.

Ocean waves carry immense power that is just waiting to be tapped into. We’ve tapped into the power of flowing rivers (waterfalls, primarily). Tidal waves are probably even more powerful than a river would be. So why not harness that energy? What’s been stopping us from doing so? The answer is technology. We did not have the system design that would be able to harness that power. With rivers, the turbine is forced to move with the flow with part of it being outside the water. This allows for it to be pushed at one end, forcing circular motion. But with the ocean waves, the turbine, to be in a wave intensive area, would either have to be completely submerged, or really, really huge. Let’s not go to designing huge turbines. We still have to move ships in the ocean.

So submerged it is. But being submerged would leave the traditional turbine design useless. Equal force on both ends would leave no room for the circular motion. The idea then would be to design the rotors in a hydro-dynamic fashion. We already have something similar. Wind mills, with their aero-dynamic designs. Why not replicate that? Actually people have and it has not turned out to be the best of the ideas. It is a bit inefficient, things don’t move as fast under the ocean pressure. And the marine life is not particularly happy about it either. But marine life primarily resides in the depth of the oceans. Why not do something closer to the shores? We have quite some ways around there too.

Well a British start up has done just that. It has proposed the plan to build a “Tidal fence” that will convert the power of the waves to energy as they moved towards the shore. It is expected to produce more power more cheaply than the off-shore wind farms. FYI, these are the non-eco-friendly installations in the ocean. Being in the shallow regions might prove to be friendlier to marine life. In any case, it is definitely an interesting venture but only an idea as of yet. It remains to be seen how it performs on the stage. You can read more about it over at Gizmodo.

-Akshar Rawal

SolarCity: Elon Musk and cousins

We’ve talked about Elon Musk’s more prominent ventures Hyperloop and SpaceX. But another firm that has Elon Musk’s name attached to it is Solar City. It is led by Lyndon and Peter Rive and was based on a suggestion by Elon Musk over a family discussion. Oh they’re cousins, Musk and the Rive brothers.

Solar City is exactly what it sounds like. Solar powered cities. But these aren’t cities being built by the company. Rather, the company strives to provide residential and commercial solar installations across the US. It offers financial solutions to it’s customers that fit into their budget structure while allowing them to switch to Green energy. It also takes care of the peripherals, like the paper work and installations and has quite a track record.

Since 2007, its first full year of operation, Solar City has been the leading residential solar power provider in California. It was also the largest residential solar installer in the US in 2013. Overall, it was ranked 2nd (residential and commercial installations). Solar City has expanded operations to 15 different states and is planning to build a new manufacturing facility in NY.

But that’s not the best part. You know Tesla Motors? That is also an Elon Musk venture. What does that have to do with this? Well, what is it known for? High-storage car batteries. Combine that with the solar grid and you’ve got yourself a setup with almost no need for external utility. Solar City spent 3 years developing the software that facilitates the interaction between the photo-voltaic array, the grid and the Tesla batteries at home. But, (isn’t there always one?). Why but, there should be no but. But, REGULATORS. The big well-established companies stop earning and lose control. And they have a problem with that. Can you believe it? They have a problem with not earning. Anyways, but because of this, the local storage venture of Solar City is yet to kick off. And it remains to be seen if the regulators will comply. Read more about it @ The Atlantic.

You can get a free quote for your home or business over at

Read more in detail about the company on their wikipedia page.

-Akshar Rawal

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