How India’s Solar Plans Miss the Mark

Today, the New York Times published a story I wrote about the state of the solar industry in India. This is an issues I’ve been keeping a close eye on since arriving in Chennai, India last month. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, and Tamil Nadu is Exhibit A in what can go wrong when a government takes a hasty and haphazard stab at something as complicated as solar energy. [...]

Brilliant Ideas in Biomimicry

Happy New Year, world, and let’s start things off with a ray of sunshine. My latest “Innovate” column in the January/February issue of Sierra magazine is about how engineers are employing biomimicry to increase the usefulness of solar power. The title: “Solar Designs from Nature.” [...]

Clouds Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

The New York Times just published a story I wrote about the new science of solar forecasting. To track the clouds, scientists have developed new cameras that provide startling images of the sky. Click on the buttons to enjoy this slideshow.

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Two scientists at the University of California at San Diego, [...]

New Story About Solar Forecasting in the New York Times

Years ago, on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains with my friend Eric, we stopped to rest in a lake basin beneath a giant blue sky. We had been in the backcountry long enough that our minds had unchained from the city, and it seemed obvious to ask Eric to name his favorite force of nature. “Clouds,” he replied, as we gazed up into the sky where a few of them wandered lonely. “Because they’re the one force on Earth that Man can’t control.” I’ve thought about Eric’s answer often, and especially in the last week or so while I reported a story for the New York Times on the new science of solar forecasting. [...]

New Forbes Post: The Sun-Powered Spy Drone

As “green” technology finds its way into more parts of our society, it is starting to be bent toward all sorts of ends — like spying on people. I just posted a story on Forbes about the Silent Falcon, a new robot drone that vastly increases its flight time with wings carpeted in solar panels. [...]

What Matters This Week: Solar Planes, Hungry Bears, Fake Farmers’ Markets

Solar Plane Goes All Night: A milestone in clean transportation was achieved on Thursday when pilot Andre Borschberg flew the Solar Impulse for 26 hours high above Switzerland, setting new altitude and speed records for a solar plane and conducting the first all-night flight on battery energy stored from the sun. Next: a model due in 2011 with a pressurized cabin for transcontinental flight. Move over, Prius: One of the biggest perks of owning a Toyota Prius or other hybrid in the state of California is access to the highway carpool lane. But — holy halos! Hybrids are set to be booted from the HOV lane in 2011 in favor of all-electric cars. Don’t cry, Prius owners; at least you won’t be sucking anyone’s fumes as you park in second place. In other car news, Ford discovers that soy oil makes rubber twice as stretchy, and the first volleys are fired in the Chevy Volt vs. Nissan LEAF flame war. Safeway Fakes a Farmer’s Market: When a Safeway in Kirkland, Wash. launched a farmer’s market, there were just a couple problems: no local food, and no farmers. Instead, the supermarket planned to use its own employees to sell industrial produce in the parking lot. The brilliant plan collapsed before the first Chilean avocado was sold; the “market” violated both state and union rules. Compare this to Whole Foods’ declaration last month that it will require all its personal-care suppliers to verify the “organic” claims on their labels. Why Are the Polar Bears So Hungry? Everyone knows that the melting of the Arctic is bad for polar bears — but will it really kill them off? An interview in Yale Environment 360 explains exactly how melting ice puts the polar bear in peril, and what the prospects are for the magnificent mascot of the North. Breakthroughs of the Week: A new road material promises to suck up exhaust from the tailpipe; the little AQUA2 robot conquers land and sea (and looks kinda cute); and undertakers ask for the right to dissolve human corpses and flush ‘em. [...]

What Matters This Week: Solar’s Sugar Daddy, Terrafugia’s Flying Car

Terrafugia Flying Car

This is David’s summary of the week’s news for the Matter Network. To see the original, or post your comments, go here.

Solar’s Sugar Daddy: During his Saturday address, President Obama lavished an astonishing $2 billion in loan guarantees upon two solar companies. This upended the administration’s seedling strategy with renewables [...]

What Matters This Week: Investors Love Tesla, Belkin Kills the Vampire

This week in cleantech and sustainability: Tesla issues a strong IPO, the Nissan Leaf gets a slew of new customers, and a new class of companies catches the eye of Goldman Sachs. [...]