Thursday, April 16, 2015

Picture this: A camera that is powered by its own photos

It's interesting and perhaps hard to imagine that this is actually true. The clip below was shot using a self-powered camera and yes, the quality is somewhat 'stone age'. But hey, no battery's included.

Researchers at Columbia University captured a video of a person using the self-powered camera.

No battery or power: How did they do it?

It works on the principle of turning light into electricity. Remember solar PV? They make use of photodiodes, which are common in both cameras and solar panels, that are permanently set to collect energy, not simply conduct it.

"The camera uses a supercap rather than an external source as its power supply. For a scene that is around 300 lux in brightness, the voltage across the supercap remains well above the minimum needed for the camera to indefinitely produce an image per second." - Columbia University 

Will it replace your energy-hungry DSLR? It's a long shot.

As you can see from the blurry animation above, the existing technology won't compete with the camera in your phone, let alone a pro DSLR. Columbia's prototype captures just 1,200 black-and-white pixels, and it needs a lot of light just to keep running.

Even so, it's promising. If scientists can refine the technology to work at multi-megapixel levels, you could see cameras that last a long time on battery, and might not need a battery at all.

How long before this prototype enters the mainstream photography industry is left to be known.

- Source: Dept. of Computer Science, Columbia University 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Global solar PV market hit cumulative 177GW in 2014

Worldwide installations of solar PV are now producing more than 1% of the global electricity use.

According to greentechsolar, by the end of 2014, cumulative installed capacity for solar PV globally amount to at least 177 GW, up from nearly 140 GW in 2013. This is about 10 times more than the installed capacity in 2008.

Source: International Energy Agency's Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme, IEA PVPS

Global solar PV market continues to grow, but last year's performance didn't quite meet expectations. Preliminary data shows that global PV market saw only a modest increase year over year - from an increase of  37.6GW in 2013 to 38.7GW in 2014.

The market in Europe decreased significantly, while in China, the solar PV market saw significant growth although it did not hit the 14GW target some believed it could have reached.

Modest global PV expansion

This year, China's National Energy Administration announced the country plans to install as much as 17.8GW of solar projects in 2015. The world's largest polluter has also put a new policy focus on distributed solar and innovative financing tools to help meet its goals.

Top three in terms of new solar installations (2014):
  • China - 10.9 GW
  • Japan - 9.7 GW
  • United States - 6.2 GW

There are 19 countries that currently produce at least 1% of their electricity from solar PV, with top spots helmed by:
  • Italy - 7.92%
  • Greece - 7.6%
  • Germany- 7.0%
Note: The IEA calculated production figures based on each country's cumulative PV capacity at the end of 2014, project siting and average weather conditions.

PV development in 2014 remained concentrated in 40 countries. Source: IEA PVPS

The Green Mechanics: All these reports and signs indicate the global PV market will continue on an upward trend for years to come. Exactly how much growth and where it will take place is less certain though. Still, this should be an encouraging piece of report.

- Reference: Greentech Media