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SmartPlanet reported on an interesting solar energy project that could have major impact. In the past year, UCLA researchers made great progress in the development of a transparent photovoltaic cell that converts approximately 7.3 percent of the energy received from the sun into usable electric power-- this is nearly twice the energy capacity of previously designed cells. The clear solar film has potential for placement on building windows, smartphone screens, and car sunroofs to capture and use solar energy. While this project is still in the works, its impact could be significant on large infrastructure including new housing developments and skyscrapers in urban settings. At Microsoft, we are excited at potential future opportunities to make our buildings smarter and more energy efficient through IT and renewable energy.
In other news, Mother Nature Network reported that new documents show steady growth in wind and solar energy production in the U.S. According to a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory annual energy analysis, from 2011 to 2012 solar energy production increased by 49 percent and wind energy increased by 16 percent. Despite these increases, wind and solar energy combined still only account for about two percent of the total U.S. electricity use in 2012.
The growth shown in this report is encouraging and there are reasons to be optimistic as researchers continue to experiment with and find even more efficient ways to produce energy. Recently, efforts in wind power improvement include increasing the height of turbines so they can reach and capture stronger air currents that move at slightly higher elevations. This advancement alone could enable the expansion of wind farms.