Two days after President Donald Trump signed hefty tariffs on imported solar panels, a five-man team was hauling slabs of them up the outside of a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park.In below-freezing January winds, they set up steel tilt racks on the roof to hold 16 panels and wired the system to a solar inverter, making the power usable in the house and able to feed back into the electrical grid. The team from Brooklyn SolarWorks, an installation company with 21 full-time employees, finished the job around sunset.
On Monday, August 21, 2017, the world will go under, or so it might well feel like if you position yourself along a 70-mile-wide swath of the US from South Carolina to Oregon. From here you can witness the moon move in front of the sun in the middle of the day and darken the skies above you. A total solar eclipse is a spectacular event that has struck fear into people throughout history, and at the same time has enlightened us in our quest to understand the cosmos. Our ability to predict this year’s event with such specificity is thanks to scientific inquiries dating back thousands of years.
You probably don’t think of China as a clean energy champion given its frequent problems with smog and continued dependence on coal power, but you may have to rethink your views after today. The country’s National Energy Administration has revealed that its solar energy production more than doubled in 2016, hitting 77.42 gigawatts by the end of the year. The country is now the world’s biggest producer of solar energy in terms of capacity — it doesn’t compare as well relative to population (Germany, Japan and the US could easily beat it), but that’s no mean feat for any nation.
It’s never been easier to give your house a solar roof. Falling manufacturing costs and increasing demand have led to a number of fascinating new solar products in recent years, including roof shingles with integrated solar cells,modular solar arrays and even efficient thermal tiles made from glass. As the technology improves and more people get turned on to the benefits of renewable energy, we expect to see even more innovative products hitting the market in the coming months and years, pushing forward the envelope for solar power production.
Lunar eclipses are pretty amazing, but statistically speaking, they aren’t really all that rare. Catching a full solar eclipse, on the other hand? That’s hard. The moon blocks our planet’s view of the sun about ever year and a half — but these eclipses can typically only be seen from extremely remote locations. Next year, things will be different. On August 21st 2017, a total solar eclipse will be viewable from 14 US States in North America — marking the first time Americans have been able to see the phenomenon since 1979. If you’re reading this from the USA, that means you’re only one year and a short road trip from seeing an exclusive celestial ballet.
From our perch here on Earth, the sun seems pretty uniform from day to day. But a closer look in this new magnetic map reveals that it’s teeming with activity—and with some intriguing bright spots.
The first thing you notice when you step onto Tesla Motors TSLA -5.22% production floor are the robots. Eight-foot-tall bright-red bots that look like Transformers, huddling over each Model S sedan as it makes its way through the factory in Fremont, Calif., on the eastern, shaggier side of Silicon Valley. Up to eight robots at a time work on a single Model S in a choreographed routine, each performing up to five tasks: welding, riveting, gripping and moving materials, bending metal, and installing components. Henry Ford and the generations of auto industry experts who have followed would dismiss this setup as inefficient–each robot should do one task only before moving the car on to the next Transformer.