Can rooftop solar panels support the grid? Time to measure it up! | EarthTechling

Source: Can rooftop solar panels support the grid? Time to measure it up! | EarthTechling

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) are looking for volunteers across the Australian Capital Territory to take part in a new study that analyzes how user-installed solar panels interact with the power grid.Every homeowner who chooses to participate will get data logger installed in their meter boxes to see how much solar energy is being produced. This will allow engineers to predict the amount of energy these panels pump into the grid and adjust the supply of conventional power stations accordingly. While it’s relatively easy to measure the total output of these panels over long periods of time, estimating the amount of energy they can generate at different times of day is another matter altogether, says Dr. Chrisfried Webers from ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.The University called on Data61’s Machine Learning Group – formerly National ICT Australia (NICTA) – who are working to develop methods of forecasting power output from rooftop solar energy systems.“What we need is to be able to predict how much energy will be produced over five minutes to 60 minutes,” Webers said. “That’s necessary information for the energy market operator — they need information on what’s coming from hour to hour.”Around 14 % of households in the ACT have operational photovoltaic solar panel installations, which means that one in ten houses can cover their energy requirements at least in part.The facts show solar power is great for the users and the environment both, but engineers take this number with a pinch of salt – should the panels stop producing energy, these households will start drawing on the main grid. If this happens and the power stations are not prepared, it could cause rolling blackouts, especially as more panels are installed.

Source: Can rooftop solar panels support the grid? Time to measure it up! | EarthTechling

How small businesses can get more done during the holiday season

Mashable’s latest #BizChats Twitter chat, sponsored by Staples, discussed how small businesses can be more productive during the busiest time of the year.SEE ALSO: Learn how small businesses can ‘sleigh’ the holiday season in our next #BizChatsOver the course of an hour, @MashBusiness covered an array of topics, ranging from the major holiday marketing trends every small business should pay attention to, to unique ways businesses can show customer appreciation to drive loyalty during the holiday season.Several small business experts joined the conversation including: Amy Jo Martin, founder and CEO of Digital Royalty; Doug and Polly White, writers for Entrepreneur Magazine, small business experts and serial entrepreneurs; Mari Smith, Facebook marketing expert, social media influencer and speaker; Marley Majcher, CEO of The Party Goddess and small business expert; Martin Jones, sr. social media and content marketing manager; and Matthew Toren, owner of,, writer at Entrepreneur and serial entrepreneur.

Source: How small businesses can get more done during the holiday season

Windspire: 1 kW Wind Turbine for Your Backyard : TreeHugger


With its sleek, bladeless design and capacity to produce nearly 2000 kilowatt hours per year, the Windspire might just inspire some YIMBYism — that’s Yes, In My BackYard — about wind power. At 30 feet tall and 2 feet wide, the propeller-less design is bird-safe, relatively quiet — it produces about 25 decibels of noise at five feet, roughly equivalent to the average noise of a residential neighborhood at night — and doesn’t take much breeze to get it spinning; it fires up at 8 mph, and is rated to survive 100 mph gusts. It comes with a wireless modem that connects to your computer, so you can sit back and watch the energy in action at any time.At about $4,000, it ain’t exactly cheap — at 10 cents a kilowatt, it’ll take about 20 years to get any return on your investment — but it sure is cool and sure beats getting your energy from coal-fired power plants, which pretty much suck. Learn more about Windspire — performance & installation specs, maintenance required (not much), test data, etc. — over at Mariah Power’s website. ::Windspire via ::Materialicious

Source: Windspire: 1 kW Wind Turbine for Your Backyard : TreeHugger

California Gets World’s Largest Green Roof | EarthTechling


You don’t usually think of taking the elevator up to the roof to enjoy your lunch in the park, but that’s exactly what shoppers in Cupertino are going to be able to do once the world’s largest green rooftop is built there.The Hills at Vallco is a huge green-roofed building project planned for the downtown heart of Cupertino, California. The 1.2-million-square-foot Vallco shopping mall, on 50 acres of land, struggled for years in a declining economy, until the Silicon Valley-based Sand Hill Real Estate company bought the land in 2014. Vallco’s new owners have plans to revive the dreary mall into a green and vibrant town center that will prioritize stewardship of the environment. The winning design for the space, by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly and Olin Landscape Architects, includes plans for 800 apartments and 2 million square feet of mixed office and retail space across a grid of several easily-walkable city blocks.Green DesignThe area will be laid out with foot traffic in mind, and not cars. Instead of a concrete mall surrounded by acres of paved parking lots, gardens and running trails will weave through the neighborhood. The design for the new town center even includes plans for an orchard and a vineyard, both open to the public.But these parks and orchards won’t be on the ground. Instead of the traditional neighborhood parks, squares of green in a concrete grid, Viñoly’s plan is more lofty. Literally. An impressive 30 acres of gently rolling green space will connect the tops of many of the buildings in the complex, giving The Hills at Vallco what would be the world’s largest green roof to date, taking the title from Chicago’s 24.5-acre Millennium Gardens.The plans for the green roof include 3.8 miles of walking trails winding among the vineyards and orchards, which will be irrigated by a combination of recaptured rainwater and recycled water. The landscape design features several acres of native drought-resistant plants, which will provide a natural and familiar refuge for local wildlife while improving local air quality by absorbing excess CO2.

Source: California Gets World’s Largest Green Roof | EarthTechling