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Joni Mitchell was wrong when she sang out against paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Ok, maybe not. Still, we think the demonstration project just built by the folks over at Solar Roadways would get a pass from the Canadian singer-songwriter. That's because the real estate in question is covered with a textured glass surface that can, among many other things, generate low-carbon electricity, melt snow, and throw up safety warnings with its integrated LED lighting system.

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When you drive a plug-in vehicle for the first time, it's common to get the "EV grin" that advocates have talked about for a long time. But, once that initial thrill quiets down a bit, something else can happen – you start to think about the bigger picture.

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What do you need to generate a lot of electricity from photoelectric solar cells? A lot of surface area. What is a lot of the surface of the United States covered in? Roads. Put those two ideas together, and the idea of turning the nation's highways into solar farms doesn't sound too odd, does it? Well, maybe it doesn't until you consider that you're talking about taking electronics – electronics that are typically somewhat delicate and rather expensive – and purposely putting them o

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General Motors has invested $7.5 million and taken an undisclosed stake in Sunlogics, a global solar energy systems provider. This significant lump of cash will help Sunlogics establish facilities in Michigan and Canada.

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In cooperation with Gestamp Solar, Renault is launching what it hails as the automotive industry's "biggest solar energy project." By installing solar roof panels at six of its French plants, Renault hopes to harness the power of the sun to cut its CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons a year. Renault says that the solar panels - eventually covering an area that's equivalent to 63 football fields - boast a total power output of 60 megawatts (the approximate annual consumption of a town with a population

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Under its SunShot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will hand out up to $112.5 million over the next five years to fund the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing processes throughout the U.S. The Department says that its SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships will assist the solar power industry in overcoming technical barriers and reducing costs for PV installations. This, the DOE hopes, should help the U.S. regain its position as a worldwi

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Researchers at the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded a study on the costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the U.S. and discovered that the average installed price for PV systems dropped dramatically in 2010.

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New York metal sculptor Josh Hadar has created a solar electric trike that's got some kick to it. According to the artist, "The first test ride was a virtual wheelie-fest that left its rider sprawled on the ground." Four 12-volt lead-acid batteries power the 15 horsepower Mars Electric motor which tops out at 45 miles per hour. The batteries are charged by six 125 watt solar panels mounted on the roof of Hadar's studio. A single charge gives the E-Trike a 30-mile range, but Hadar thinks that usi

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When Ford's re-tooled Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne starts building the Focus Electric next year, a chunk of the electrical energy used in the plant will be provided by one of the largest solar arrays in Michigan. Detroit Edison, Xtreme Power and the state of Michigan are partnering with Ford to install a 500-kilowatt solar array along with a 750-kilowatt battery system with 2 megawatt-hours of capacity. The solar power system will be used to power production of the Focus and Focus Electric a

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Click above to watch the video after the break

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What if you took the solar panel idea and applied it on a scale of epic proportions? Just imagine wrapping the entire 6,800-mile circumference of the moon with solar panels to harness the sun's power and then beamed all that collected energy back to Earth via microwave or laser technology to power the world. Sounds far-fetched, doesn't it? Sure, but the Shimizu Corporation, a Japanese construction firm, still hopes to one day make this dreamy idea a reality.

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Now that Audi is finally moving into the arena of electric cars, it has decided to also invest in renewable energy production. The German automaker has already installed an extensive array of solar panels at its main factory in Ingolstadt, which will be supplemented by up to 14,000 megawatts of wind power in the future.

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While the argument about whether a Hummer H2 is actually more environmentally friendly than a Toyota Prius has long since been debunked (even if it keeps popping up its ugly head), it does raise a valid point. A major part of the environmental impact of transportation devices like cars and trucks comes during the manufacturing and disposal phases of their existences. Evaluating environmental impact requires total lifecycle analysis of the product, something that Toyota has done for the new 2010

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Why no solar powered electric cars?

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Click above to watch the video after the break

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Seat Brisa and Duna concepts - Click above for a high-res image gallery

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Solar technology, while promising, doesn't quite seem ready to power our vehicles. Large solar installations that constantly collect the sun's rays and store them for later use may be an excellent option to power electric vehicles, but even the best photovoltaic cells in the world are not yet efficient enough to generate enough electricity to provide for any meaningful range, at least for the kind of vehicle that most people would want to drive.

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