Friday, April 17, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
#DidYouKnow a #wind turbine works like the opposite of a fan? Instead of using electricity to make wind, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity to power homes and businesses. Learn more about how wind turbines work ⇢
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Monday, March 16, 2015
With utility-scale turbines installed in nearly every state, wind is already a major source of clean, domestic power for the nation. But what if wind supplied 35 percent of the country's electricity by 2050? That's one of the scenarios highlighted in our new #WindVision report, a detailed roadmap for America's wind energy future. Learn more: http://go.usa.gov/3aHGF
Monday, March 2, 2015
February 27, 2015Businesses have an opportunity to save energy and reduce operating costs by participating in Focus on Energy's Business Incentive Program (BIP) and Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program (RECIP). Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities' statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, is proud to offer cash-back incentives and technical expertise to energy-intensive businesses like Capital Brewery.
Middleton-based Capital Brewery was founded in 1984 and has been brewing beer since 1986. The company worked with Focus on Energy and their utility, Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E), to complete two projects, including the installation of a 13 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system and the installation of a high efficiency heat recovery system with controls. These equipment installations are helping the brewery save more than 19,000 kWh and 4,000 therms, resulting in a savings of more than $4,500 annually on their utility bill.
"It was the incentive and technical expertise from Focus on Energy that motivated us to do these projects," said Scott Weiner, president of Capital Brewery. "Capital Brewery is committed to sustainably brewing world class lagers and ales. We look forward to continuing our work with the Focus on Energy team and reducing our water and energy consumption as well as our carbon footprint."
"Breweries are a significant part of the industry and culture in Wisconsin," said Tamara Sondgeroth, director of operations for Focus on Energy. "By helping breweries make smart equipment choices combined with financial incentives, we are able to trim costs and help these businesses become more sustainable."
From lighting, to heating and cooling, and refrigeration systems, Focus on Energy offers both custom and prescriptive incentives to qualifying businesses. For more information on Focus on Energy's business programs, call 800.762.7077 or visit our focusonenergy.com.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Lighting is a critical component of every small business. Employees must be able to see to perform their jobs, and objects and spaces must be aesthetically pleasing to encourage sales.
Depending on the type of business you operate, lighting accounts for 20% to 50% of electricity consumption. This means that significant cost savings can be achieved with energy-efficiency improvements, and due to continually improving equipment, lighting usually provides the highest return-on-investment of major upgrades.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Contact us to reduce your energy costs today!
Monday, January 19, 2015
This article is part of the Energy.gov series highlighting the "Top Things You Didn't Know About..." series. Be sure to check back for more entries soon. 6. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth – 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That's more than 10,000 times the world's total energy use. 5. The first silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered devices, was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954. On page one of its April 26, 1954 issue, The New York Times proclaimed the milestone, “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams -- the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” 4. The space industry was an early adopter of solar technology. In the 1960s the space industry began to use solar technology to provide power aboard spacecrafts. The Vanguard 1 -- the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells -- remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit – logging more than 6 billion miles. 3. Fast track to today and demand for solar in the United States is at an all time high. In the first quarter of 2012, developers installed 85 percent more solar panels compared to the first quarter of last year. Total U.S. installations may reach 3,300 megawatts this year – putting the country on track to be the fourth largest solar market in the world. 2. As prices continue to fall, solar energy is increasingly becoming an economical energy choice for American homeowners and businesses. Still, the biggest hurdle to affordable solar energy remains the soft costs – like permitting, zoning, and hooking a solar system up to the power gird. On average local permitting and inspection processes add more than $2,500 to the total cost of a solar energy system. The Energy Department SunShot Initiative works to aggressively drive down these soft costs – making it faster and cheaper for families and businesses to go solar. 1. In California’s Mojave Desert, the largest solar energy project in the world is currently under construction. The project relies on a technology known as solar thermal energy. Once the project is complete 350,000 mirrors will reflect light onto boilers. When the water boils, the steam turns a turbine, creating electricity. The project is expected to provide clean, renewable energy for 140,000 homes and is supported by an Energy Department loan guarantee. More details on the Energy Department’s investments in large scale, innovative renewable energy projects in this slideshow. Want more solar? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Energy Information Administration, and Solar Energy Technologies Program are all great solar energy resources – for kids and adults alike.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Monday, December 1, 2014
LEDs: Lighting The Way To Major Energy Savings Eric Savitz Eric Savitz , Forbes Staff Guest post written by Chuck Swoboda Chuck Swoboda is CEO of Cree, which makes LEDs and LED lighting products. Chuck Swoboda President Obama set what he considers an ambitious goal for reduced energy consumption during his State of the Union address Tuesday night: “Let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years.” Why wait so long? The technology and economics to achieve much of this goal exist today. One of the most antiquated devices wasting power in your home right now is the light with which you’re reading this article. Your incandescent bulb is based on technology that is more than 130 years old, a light source that converts most of the bulb’s energy to heat rather than light. American companies that build lighting based on modern technology – LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) – can enable consumers to save money and slash their electricity usage for lighting by as much as 80 percent. Today. That change can achieve much of the President’s goal since lighting accounts for nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of electricity spending in the average household, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As consumers, we already rely upon LED lights in our cell phones and HDTVs. The barrier to the widespread use of efficient LEDs for lighting has been the high upfront cost of LED fixtures and bulbs. But now advancements in technology are dramatically lowering prices, so much so that a sub $10 LED bulb, which delivers brilliant, high quality light for more than a decade could soon be a reality. LED lighting is already cost effective – extremely so – for businesses and municipalities. The City of Los Angeles is saving $5.3 million annually thanks to the Green LA initiative that has thus far replaced 114,000 high-pressure sodium street lights with LED lighting, the nation’s largest such project. Once completed, Los Angeles anticipates LED lighting will save taxpayers $10-million-a-year, nearly two-thirds of what the city had been paying for lighting its streets. Sheetz, the convenience store and gas station chain, ranked 61st on Forbes Magazine’s List of America’s Largest Private Companies, has installed LED interior and exterior lighting at more than 130 of its locations across six states. The energy savings: 45 percent on interior lighting, and as much as 55 percent on exterior lighting that illuminates Sheetz’s gas pumps. As expenses drop, LED lighting is helping boost top-line growth, according to Sheetz, which reports customers find the brighter facilities more visually appealing and perceive them as safer. Such examples explain why LEDs accounted for 8 percent of the U.S. lighting market in 2012, according to McKinsey & Co., primarily in street lighting, retail and office environments. Now it’s the consumer’s turn. Fundamental advances in LED semiconductor technology, optics, and lighting system design now enable LED lights to break century old cost and performance barriers that have prevented consumers from realizing the savings businesses and municipalities already enjoy. While a typical incandescent bulb uses 60 watts of power to generate light, the current state of LED technology can produce the same light for less than 10 watts. A better, more efficient product means less expensive light. To a consumer, this means saving money – significant amounts of money. As the cost factor shrinks, adoption of LED lighting climbs. The industry’s current rate of cost reduction could result in a doubling of LED lighting adoption over the next year. The shorter the payback on the upfront expenditure, the more likely consumers will choose LED lighting. We’ve already seen this trend in commercial lighting markets. As we approach price parity with traditional lighting, any remaining barriers for commercial and consumer adoption should continue to diminish, and we believe the rate of adoption will accelerate. Not only does this trend result in better lighting that saves Americans money and time (imagine not changing a bulb for more than a decade), but it will also eliminate a tremendous amount of physical waste. According to IMS Research, collectively, 5.6 billion bulbs light American households and businesses, including 4.2 billion incandescent bulbs and about 1 billion compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs that contain toxic mercury. More than 1 billion new bulbs are purchased every year. The President’s own U.S. Department of Energy predicts the switch to LED lighting over the next two decades could save $250 billion in energy costs. There’s no need to wait.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Using lumens as the measure of a light bulb’s brightness will simplify shopping for light bulbs… By EARTHEASY.COM Posted AUG 17, 2011 Back in the old days, when there was only one basic type of light bulb consumers could buy, (the incandescent bulb descended from Edison’s original) we could rely on the term “watts” to help us choose the right bulb for our lamps and outdoor lights. Although “watts” refers to how much energy a bulb will use when lit, we understood the relative brightness levels between 60-watt, 100-watt or 150-watt light bulbs. Then along came the energy-saving CFL bulbs A 15-watt CFL bulb, according to the package, produced the equivalent light of a 60-watt incandescent. A 25-watt CFL was comparable to a 100-watt incandescent in light output. And so forth. Shoppers were expected to understand the wattage conversions of these strange looking new CFL light bulbs. LED bulbs, more efficient than CFLs, use even less wattage to achieve desired brightness levels As we gradually got used to the idea of the CFL bulbs and began to understand how to choose the right CFL for our lighting needs, the new LED bulbs came into the mix. Originally used for small task lights such as flashlights and instrument lights, LED technology has evolved rapidly with new LED bulbs available for most applications in the home. LED bulbs, more efficient than CFLs, use even less wattage to achieve desired brightness levels. A 6-watt LED is equivalent to a 15-watt CFL which is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb. It’s getting confusing isn’t it? And besides three different wattage equivalents for the three basic types of light bulbs on store shelves, there are new halogen incandescent bulbs, new LED tube lights, and terms like Coloring Rendering Index (CRI) and Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) which further describe characteristics of light quality from a bulb. the FTC has mandated packaging changes for all light bulbs, effective in 2012, which simplify and standardize the differences in light bulb output To help shoppers make sense of the many choices in lighting today, the FTC has mandated packaging changes for all light bulbs, effective in 2012, which simplify and standardize the differences in light bulb output. Wattage is no longer a reliable way to gauge a light bulb’s brightness. Lumens, the measure of a bulb’s actual brightness, is the new standard for comparing light bulbs of all types. Lumens, the measure of a bulb’s actual brightness, is the new standard for comparing light bulbs of all types Lumens measure brightness. A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb, for example, produces about 800 lumens of light. By comparison, a CFL bulb produces that same 800 lumens using less than 15 watts. But you don’t need to understand yet another conversion. It’s simple. The more lumens, the brighter the bulb. You can use lumens to compare the brightness of any bulb, regardless of the technology behind it, and regardless of whether it’s a halogen incandescent, CFL or LED. Using lumens helps you compare “apples to apples” when you shop for light bulbs. Once you know how bright a bulb you want, you can compare other factors, like the yearly energy cost.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
There is still time to cash in on incentives from Focus on Energy. Please consider us for all your lighting needs.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Rural Energy for America Program - Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses in rural America to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems; make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities; use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption; and participate in energy audits, renewable energy development assistance, and feasibility studies.
Monday, October 20, 2014
According to Greg Merritt, Vice President, Marketing, Lighting at Cree, Inc., "Every lighting solution will be LED, and every lighting solution will offer some type of automated intelligence. More contractors and even distributors will develop their own design and specifying capabilities."
Electrical Contractor Magazine 10/14
Electrical Contractor Magazine 10/14
Monday, October 13, 2014
Two reports released simultaneously last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) say that by the year 2050, solar power could eclipse fossil fuels, hydro, wind and nuclear as the world’s most widely used source of electricity generation.
Friday, October 3, 2014
We are pleased to announce that we are in the process of installing a Bergey Wind Power Turbine that will stand 80' tall at a farm in McHenry County.
Below are some Interesting facts about Wind Energy from the Wind Energy Foundation www.windenergyfoundation.org
Below are some Interesting facts about Wind Energy from the Wind Energy Foundation www.windenergyfoundation.org
Interesting Wind Energy Facts
#1. The United States currently has 61,110 MW of installed wind project capacity, comprising 5.7% of total U.S. installed electric generating capacity.
#2. Wind mills have been in use since 2000 B.C. and were first developed in China and Persia.
#3. Wind power is currently the fastest-growing source of electricity production in the world.
#4. Iowa and South Dakota generated more than 25% of their energy from wind during 2013.
#5. A single wind turbine can power 500 homes.
#6. In 2012, the Shepherds Flat wind project became the largest online wind project in the United States (845 megawatts), breaking the record previously held by the Roscoe Wind Farm (781.5 megawatts).
#7. In 2013, the roughly 168 million megawatt-hours generated by wind energy avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — the equivalent of reducing power-sector CO2 emissions by 4.4% or removing 16.9 million cars from the roads.
#8. There’s enough on-shore wind in America to power the country 10 times over.
#9. In 2013, 12 states accounted for 80% of U.S. wind-generated electricity: Texas, Iowa, California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration March Electric Power Monthly report.
#10. Most wind turbines (95%) are installed on private land.
#11. Modern wind turbines produce 15 times more electricity than the typical turbine did in 1990.
#12. At times, wind energy produces as much as 25% of the electricity on the Texas power grid.
#13. American wind power is a $10 billion a year industry.
#14. Unlike nearly every other form of energy, wind power uses virtually no water.
#15. By 2030, U.S. wind power will save nearly 30 trillion bottles of water.
#16. At times, wind power produces as much as 45% of the electricity in Spain.
#17. Wind energy became the number-one source of new U.S. electricity-generating capacity for the first time in 2012, providing some 42% of all new generating capacity. In fact, 2012 was a strong year for all renewables, as together they accounted for more than 55% of all new U.S. generating capacity.
#18. During 2013, California led the nation in new wind installations (with 269 megawatts), followed by Kansas, Michigan, Texas, and New York.
#19. 70% of all U.S. Congressional Districts are home to an operating wind project, a wind-related manufacturing facility, or both.
#20. As of May 2014, the United States is home to 46,000 operating wind turbines.
#21. Right now, 559 wind-related manufacturing facilities produce a product for the U.S. wind energy industry across 44 states.
#22. Both Nevada and Puerto Rico added their first utility-scale projects during 2012.
#23. In 2000, more than 60% of U.S. wind power capacity was installed in California, with 17 states hosting utility-scale wind turbines. Today, 39 states and Puerto Rico share 60 gigawatts of utility-scale wind project development.
#24. Wind is a credible source of new electricity generation in the United States. Wind power comprised 43% of all new U.S. electric capacity additions in 2012 and represented $25 billion in new investment. Wind power currently contributes more than 12% of total electricity generation in nine states (with three of these states above 20%), and provides more than 4% of total U.S. electricity supply. Source: 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report (PDF 3.4 MB)
#25. Wind energy prices have dropped since 2009 and now rival previous lows. Lower wind turbine prices and installed project costs, along with improved capacity factors, are enabling aggressive wind power pricing. After topping out at nearly $70/megawatt-hour in 2009, the average levelized long-term price from wind power sales agreements signed in 2011/2012 – many of which were for projects built in 2012 – fell to around $40/megawatt-hour nationwide.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
A friend of mine asked me:
Do You Need to Install Solar Panels in Direct Sunlight?
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are widely regarded as an ideal method of generating electricity. The materials in the panels, usually silicon, create an electric current when met with natural daylight and this current is then used as standard electricity within properties. The energy is renewable, therefore, considered green. However, many question how effective solar panels are in cloudy climates and wonder whether direct sunlight is, indeed, needed to get the full benefits of the panels.
Daylight not Sunlight
Solar panels use the energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight, to produce electricity so panels do not need direct sunlight to work. It is photons in natural daylight which is converted by solar panels cells to produce electricity. Heat has no effect on the production of electricity.
This being said, it is true that direct sunlight does provide the best conditions for the panels. However, even in overcast conditions light will diffuse through the clouds and reach the solar panels. Modern solar panels include concentrators which use a system of lenses and mirrors to maximize any light that does reach the cells. As a result it is estimated that solar panels will be 40% as effective in heavy cloudy as they would in direct sunlight. The clearer the skies are the more electricity will be produced.
So if you live in an area that is not the sunniest climate in the world, such as the east coastline of
Michigan, but there appears to be sufficient daylight to ensure
that solar panels will work effectively, a solar system may still produce
energy for you. It is worth noting that this is true for solar array systems
that are feed back into the power supplier. If your array is tied to battery
storage, having a long period of sunny weather will create electricity which
can be used later on.
Solar panels will not work at night and the property will still be dependent on electricity from the energy provider. Solar panels will work in winter, even in the
but of course less electricity will be created as the hours of daylight are
considerably shorter than they are in the summer months.
Despite common beliefs, solar panels do not need direct sunlight to work and the weather conditions in the
Midwest should not put off potential solar panel
buyers. It is energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight, which powers
the panels which means even on overcast days electricity will be generated.
There are many questions potential solar panels owners should concern
themselves with but the question of the panels needing sustained sunlight to
work can be dismissed.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
NIST test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare
Despite five months of below-average temperatures and twice the normal amount of snowfall, NIST's Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) ended its one-year test run with 491 kilowatt hours of extra energy.
Instead of paying almost $4,400 for electricity-the estimated average annual bill for a comparable modern home in
A net-zero energy house produces at least as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. A number of states are taking steps toward encouraging or even requiring construction of net-zero energy homes in the future. For example,
Both a laboratory and a house, the two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath NZERTF would blend in nicely in a new suburban subdivision. But it was designed and built to be about 60 percent more energy efficient than houses built to meet the requirements of the 2012 version of the International Energy Conservation Code, which
The 2,700 square-foot test house is built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards-the highest standard for sustainable structures. Its features include energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as energy-generating technologies, such as solar water heating and a solar photovoltaic system.
Despite 38 days when the test house's solar panels were covered with snow or ice, the NZERTF's sun-powered generation system produced 13,577 kilowatt hours of energy. That's 491 kilowatt hours more than used by the house and its occupants, a computer-simulated family of two working parents and two children, ages 8 and 14.
First year energy use totaled 13,086 kilowatt hours, which was about 3,000 kilowatt hours more than projected usage in a year with typical weather. In a normal year, a comparable home built to meet
In terms of energy consumed per unit of living space-a measure of energy-use intensity-the NIST test house is calculated to be almost 70 percent more efficient than the average house in
From July through October, the facility registered monthly surpluses. In November, when space-heating demands increased and the declining angle of the sun reduced the energy output of its 32 solar panels, the NZERTF began running monthly deficits. Through March 31, when the house's net energy deficit plummeted to 1,800 kilowatt hours-roughly equivalent to the combined amount of energy a refrigerator and clothes dryer would use in a year-temperatures consistently averaged below normal.
Starting in April, the energy tide began to turn as the house began to export electric power to the grid on most days.
In terms of cost, the NZERTF's virtual residents saved $4,373 in electricity payments, or $364 a month. However, front-end costs for solar panels, added insulation, triple-paned windows, and other technologies and upgrades aimed at achieving net-zero energy performance are sizable.
In all, estimates that incorporating all of the NZERTF's energy-related technologies and efficiency-enhancing construction improvements would add about $162,700 to the price of a similar house built to comply with
Planned measurement-related research at the NZERTF will yield knowledge and tools to help trim this cost difference. Results also will be helpful in identifying affordable measures that will be most effective in reducing energy consumption. And research will further the development of tests and standards that are reliable benchmarks of energy efficiency and environmental performance overall, providing information useful to builders, home buyers, regulators and others.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
In theory, the idea could work: replace all of the nation’s asphalt with solar panels, and we’d generate more than three times the electricity the
uses. Great idea and it would road and highway problems. Solar roads design
would also filter storm water, replace above-ground power cables, prevent icy
roads by melting snow, and light up to warn drivers if a deer wanders onto the
Unfortunately, the list of obstacles is long. The main problem is cost. There are roughly 29,000 square miles of road surface to cover. We need roughly 5.6 billion panels to cover that area. That’s a price tag of $56 trillion.
The researchers have been unable to secure any large piece of the more than $2 billion a year spent on solar research and development around the world. Probably because there are too many more-practical, more-promising investments to be made to seriously consider this pipe dream.
This brings up a good point. Rooftop panels and solar arrays are already established as a viable power source, but adoption is still low. It’s hard to imagine a city ripping up asphalt and installing a largely unproven technology when it could achieve the same level of power generation by planting panels along the road.
Most of the technological challenges seem solvable. Those include things like how to keep the roads clean, how to increase the efficiency of the panels in the road, how to store the solar power, how to get electricity from more remote roads to the grid, and whether the glass is durable enough. Whether they’re solvable for a reasonable price tag is another question.
The first thing that one has to understand before beginning to look at numbers is this: an apples to apples comparison between asphalt or concrete roads and solar roads is not possible.
An asphalt/concrete road is simply a hard surface to drive a vehicle on. A solar is a modern modular system with a multitude of uses and features.
For an accurate cost comparison between current systems and the solar road system, you'd have to combine the costs of current roads (including snow removal, line repainting, pothole repair, etc.), power plants (and the coal or nuclear material to run them), and power and data delivery systems (power poles and relay stations) to be comparable with the solar road system, which provides all three.
This will be interesting to watch.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
EIA said Chinese coal production and consumption increased for the 13th year in a row in 2013, the last full year for which data are available.
China, EIA said, consumes about 49 percent of the coal produced globally, besting the No. 2 consumer, the United States, which consumes about 11 percent of the world's total coal.
EIA said Wednesday coal is fueling the Chinese economy. Gross domestic product in 2013 grew 7.7 percent, though that growth rate followed a decade of 10 percent expansion that ended in 2011.
In terms of production, EIA said
is by far the world's largest producer accounting for 46 percent of the coal
produced globally. China
In February, the World Wildlife Fund said
could still thrive
economically while removing coal from its power mix. China
Friday, April 18, 2014
Let the Sun Shine In: Redirecting Sunlight to Urban Alleyways
In dense, urban centers around the world, many people live and work in dim and narrow streets surrounded by tall buildings that block sunlight. And as the global population continues to rise and buildings are jammed closer together, the darkness will only spread.
To alleviate the problem, researchers have developed a corrugated, translucent panel that redirects sunlight onto narrow streets and alleyways. The panel is mounted on rooftops and hung over the edge at an angle, where it spreads sunlight onto the street below.
Researchers expect the device to provide illumination to perform everyday tasks, and improve the quality of light and health conditions in dark areas. These dimly lit areas specifically include narrow streets, but the new panel could be used as a greener, cheaper, and more pleasant alternative to fluorescent and other artificial light.
While other commercially available window-like devices can redirect light, they are designed for shade and redirecting glare or for brightening a room-not a narrow street. So the researchers decided to create their own design. They wanted a simple way to redistribute natural light without the need for a tracking device that follows the rising and setting sun.
What they came up with is a panel made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), the same acrylic plastic of which Plexiglas is made. The bottom of the panel is smooth while the top is covered in ridges that are based on a sine wave, the mathematical function that describes everything from light to pendulums.
The researchers used computer simulations to find the size and shape of the grooves that distribute the most amount of sunlight in a wide range of sun positions all year round, whether it's high or low in the sky. A sine-wave pattern is also easy to manufacture.
Using simulations of sunlight shining on an alleyway, the researchers found that their panels increased illumination by 200 percent and 400 percent in autumn and winter, respectively, when sunlight is most limited. They also tested a small prototype and found that it lit up the area as designed.
The next step will be to build a full-scale model 10 times bigger to validate their calculations and to test it in a real alleyway. The team then plans to market and commercialize the panel.
And that may be a small price to pay for the benefits of sunlight. The lack of sun in urban areas doesn't just make life gloomy; it can be harmful to your health. Research has shown that lack of natural lighting can cause severe physiological problems, such as serious mood changes, excessive sleeping, loss of energy and depression.