My husband sent me this video, a truly inspired entry in Environment Minnesota's solar power video contest. The contest is meant to promote solar energy in Minnesota—a goal that makes a bit more sense than you might think. Minnesota can't really rely on solar, and solar alone, to meet its energy needs, but it does have the potential to replace some of the dirty coal the state currently uses. And here's the cool thing you'll learn in the video: This is partly possible because solar panels actually convert sun to electricity more efficiently here than they do in the really hot climates we usually associate with solar power. It's an interesting lesson, and a clever video, made by a team of more than 50, led by husband and wife Steve and Lisa Fait.
Of course, there's a flip side to this, once you get past the pro-Minnesota message. This video also serves as a handy reminder that solar panels do not convert all the energy they absorb into electricity. The most efficient solar cells available to buy today can only harness about 21% of the energy they absorb. And that's in the lab, as individual cells. When you gang cells together into panels and expose them to real-world conditions, like high temperatures, you lose some more of that efficiency. In fact, part of the reason solar power is so expensive today (in general, it's the most expensive form of energy available, although that does vary a lot by location) is because of that low conversion efficiency. In order to produce a set amount of electricity, you're forced to buy more solar panels than you otherwise would have to if the panels could convert sun to electricity more efficiently.
Marginalized Native American communities throughout the United States could have better access to high-speed internet if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides to allow tribes to use the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum for services like telemedicine, transmitting medical records electronically, or an online high school.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied an application by the Chinese telecommunications provider China Mobile to provide services in the U.S. over concerns about national security and risks to law enforcement.
A 13-year-old boy is wrongly accused of sexual harassment, then railroaded by zealous school administrators. Abused by the system and shunned by real-life friends, he finds new ones—on Reddit and 4chan. What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right. Those online pals were happy to explain that all girls lie—especially about rape. And they […]
Kudos to those of us who have chosen a less wasteful third option to “paper or plastic” at the supermarket or club stores. Tote bags are reusable, but they can be a pain to tote around. Here’s an upgrade to that planet-saving measure. The Club Cart Lotus Trolley Bag is that rare tote you’ll want […]
Looking for a career in IT, gaming or software development? In the ever-changing world of the internet, versatility is your biggest asset. In other words, mastering Java might not cut it in an interview if you don’t know C#. However, there’s a bundle that covers the essentials in most any language. The Legendary Learn to […]
Getting a set of cookware that will outlast you is one of those signs you’ve truly grown up. It used to be easy to find durable materials that also cook well, but these days it can be hard to tell what’s quality and what brands are coasting by on a recognizable name. Well, there’s at […]