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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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Don't get too excited yet, but reports are coming out of Japan that say Toyota is developing a solar-powered car. First of all an electric car that draws electricity solely from the sun is still quite a few years off. The first stage is a car that gets some power directly from vehicle mounted solar cells with the bulk coming from being plugged into a solar array at home. This is really not much different than some Tesla Roadster owners like Martin Eberhard and Elon Musk are doing today, some wit

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Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria recently got some face-to-face time with Elon Musk, who, as you surely know by now, is one of the "product architects" at Tesla Motors. There were plenty of interesting quotes to come from the interview, but a few truly stood out from the rest. For instance, Musk slams plug-in hybrids pretty mercilessly while also claiming that the "a majority of all new cars produced in the United States, perhaps worldwide, will be electric. And I don't mean hybrid. I mean pure electri

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Thule, self proclaimed "experts in maximizing a vehicle's roof space," have decided to maximize their own roof space, so to speak, by installing a 318-kilowatt (kW) DC solar photovoltaic (PV) system at their Seymour, CT U.S. headquarters. Consisting of two separate arrays with a total of 1,876 solar panels, the system will provide 26 percent of the facility's total electrical needs. The sun-loving system was subsidized by The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund's On-site Renewable Distributed Energy P

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Wanna build a solar car? Good new for you, then! Nelson Kruschandl has set up a website where he gives you the ins and outs of solar car construction. Sure, there's plenty of power available from the sun, the tricky part is harnessing enough of it to get anywhere. Therefore, lightweight parts and low power consumption are the name of the game. The make the process as simple to understand as possible, Kruschandl has broken the design down into nine essential components:

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The next Solar Decathlon will take place next year, the third in a series that started in 2002 and continues in 2005. Twenty collegiate teams will participate in the event, which is about finding ways to use solar energy to "sustain everyday household functions, power a car, and provide a comfortable and attractive place to live," according to BP, which announced Friday it will return to sponsor the event for the third time. The twenty teams will each receive $100,000 from the Department of Ener

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