Subscribe » Issue #50, Mar-Apr 2014 Mag Cover
Idealog—in the ideas business

  • Now you can sponsor a solar panel for your local school

    2014-02-18 10:53:34 //
    Solar Schools officially launched New Zealand’s first solar crowdfunding initiative for schools today with the installation of a 60-panel (PV) system at Henley School in Nelson.
  • SolarCity solar station arrives in Vanuatu

    2014-02-11 13:12:10 //
    SolarCity NZ’s first containerised solar station arrives in Vanuatu this week, the first in a series designed to power fresh water production for 11,000 people on the islands.
  • Solar plane shows off above San Francisco

    2013-04-29 10:12:20 // // The Idealog Blog
    You've probably heard about the Solar Impulse, a lightweight solar-powered plane that's about to fly across the US from west to east. It's covered in 12,000 solar cells and is only sturdy enough to withstand very mild weather and averages just 70 km/h. So while it won't be making any round-the-world flights, that isn't what it was made for – rather, its purpose is to demonstrate what is possible, and that includes a day-and-night flight without fuel, a milestone achieved in 2010.
  • Shed 10 trots out NZ's largest solar panel

    2013-04-04 09:39:47 // // The Idealog Blog | 7 comments
    Shed 10, the century-old historic cargo shed on Queen’s Wharf that's being refurbished for use as an events space and as Auckland's primary cruise ship terminal, is now home to the largest solar panel system of its kind in the country.
  • SolarCity to show off Nauru plant project

    2013-03-25 11:14:59 //
    Panasonic NZ and SolarCity partnered up over a year ago to collaborate on projects throughout the South Pacific region, and have won a tender to power a new desalination plant on the Pacific island of Nauru.
  • World-first solar power project lights up Tokelau

    2012-10-31 16:55:26 // // The Idealog Blog | 2 comments
    The energy crisis in Tokelau is over. This week the island was freed of its dependency on fossil fuels as Mount Maunganui company PowerSmart completed a world-first solar renewable energy project, officially making Tokelau 100 percent solar powered.
  • Innovators Awards 2012: Sustainability/cleantech winner, Powersmart

    2012-10-30 10:32:34 // // Idealog #42: features
    Tokelau is well on the track to becoming the first 100 percent solar powered nation on earth, and the Bay of Plenty’s Powersmart is a key part of the operation.
  • Tokelau on track to become world's first entirely solar-powered country

    2012-07-13 13:42:56 // // The Idealog Blog | 7 comments
    A Mount Maunganui company is spearheading a pioneering project to transform the diesel-dependent South Pacific nation of Tokelau into the world’s first solar-powered country.
  • Solar stations: A matter of when, not if

    2012-03-06 12:43:54 //
    Waikato's WEL Networks Limited is looking into the economic feasibility of solar power stations, replicating the success of similar schemes overseas.
  • Swiss town adopts solar ski lift

    2012-03-02 09:09:02 // // The Idealog Blog
    When the tiny Swiss ski town of Tenna, population 112, needed to restore its dodgy old chair lift, the bigwigs decided to go solar.
  • Canterbury to house NZ's largest solar housing project

    2012-02-02 11:04:54 // // The Idealog Blog | 2 comments
    The country’s largest solar subdivision is on its way to Canterbury, where new homes at Christchurch's Highfield subdivision will have solar installations providing around a quarter of their energy needs.
  • Solar schemes on the boil around the country

    2012-01-05 11:38:37 // // The Idealog Blog
    Six councils are considering new solar initiatives in their towns and cities as part of their Solar Promise.
  • Selling solar to the masses

    2011-12-06 09:13:56 // // Idealog #36: workshop
    Solar City's Andrew Booth is taking a different angle to solar rollout, and hopes councils will see the, erm, light.
  • Polymers could be key in affordable uptake of solar in homes and office buildings

    2011-09-28 15:39:26 // // The Idealog Blog | 2 comments
    We’re used to seeing massive solar panels strapped to the roofs of houses and office buildings, but a Victoria University lecturer says a process that incorporates solar cells into roofing materials could serve us better. According to Dr Justin Hodgkiss, these cells could provide all the energy used in a home or office building in New Zealand, at a more affordable option.
  • Underbelly of solar exposed as angry protests break out in factory

    2011-09-22 10:25:09 // // The Idealog Blog
    What would cause more than 500 people in China to flip company cars and storm the offices of a solar company? Solar may be heralded as a viable solution to our energy woes, but it takes power to make power and what you never hear about are the associated by-products created in the manufacturing of solar products. In protests that began on Thursday, protestors flooded the office of Jinko Solar Holding, a company that manufactures photovoltaic panels, wafers and cells. Protesters claim waste from the factory, located in Haining city in the Zhejiang province, is killing fish in a nearby river.
  • Make your own solar iPhone charger

    2011-09-20 11:00:00 // // The Idealog Blog | 1 comment
    If you’re gadget-making inclined, here’s a very cool and practical iPhone charging solution by Wisconsin man Joshua Zimmerman. According to Zimmerman, his invention takes only between 30 to 60 minutes to create and costs around NZ$25.
  • First Light team travels the earthquake and hurricane road

    2011-09-13 16:56:54 // // The Idealog Blog
    Shipping a flat-packed house to the US and constructing it in mere days is a challenge in and of itself. But when the First Light team recently touched down in the U.S to compete in the prestigious US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, it hadn't counted on the challenge posed by hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • NZ government, Tonga and Meridian form partnership to install mega solar plant in Tonga

    2011-09-07 15:05:12 // // The Idealog Blog | 3 comments
    With the Pacific Island Forum in full swing, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has taken the opportunity to announce that New Zealand will invest $7.9 million to fund the construction of a 1.5 mega watt photovoltaic solar plant in Tonga. What’s more exciting is that the technology has been designed on our own shores by Auckland-based Reid Technology. Once complete, the massive solar installation is expected to produce about four percent of Tonga’s annual generation, and will offset approximately 470,000 litres of diesel per annum.
  • Solar plastic bottle lamps provide lighting solution in Manila slums

    2011-08-04 10:37:10 // // The Idealog Blog | 2 comments
    Skylights are a great way to provide natural internal lighting, but installing them is expensive and if you live in the slums of Manila, you’d think it impossible. Not so. A group of innovative MIT students has found a solution by way of some old soft drink bottles. They've taken the bottles (all 10,000 of them so far), filled them up with some bleached water and popped them into the metal roofs, providing light for the ordinarily dark slums, many of which don’t even have electricity. The bottles work by reflecting sunlight and spreading 360 degrees of 55-watt light into the room below. And with algae inhibited by the bleach, the lights can last for up to five years, pretty impressive we think.
  • Introducing the solar-powered bikini with USB port

    2011-07-28 12:20:34 // // The Idealog Blog | 1 comment
    These days there’s all sorts of devices equipped with solar-powered technology—portable camping showers, radio, torches, even cars. But New York-based designer Andrew Schneider’s latest invention takes it to another level entirely. Introducing the Solar Bikini.
  • Nelson’s bid to be leading light in national solar roll out

    2011-07-11 15:47:35 // | 2 comments
    Nelson City Council today launched The Solar Promise, a nationwide campaign encouraging all NZ councils to embrace solar solutions and make it easier for their communities to go solar.Teaming up with the Nelson Environment Centre and SolarCity, the council is calling for other councils around the country, as well as central government, to make solar energy more affordable.
  • Alta Devices' quest to turn solar cells commercial

    2011-07-11 11:24:29 // // Idealog #34: features
    What if we could access solar energy as easily and cheaply as the grid? An idealistic young Kiwi is at the centre of a technology that could radically reshape the global economy.
  • Running on sunshine

    2011-06-17 15:30:45 // // The Idealog Blog
    The solar industry is on the brink of a boom, and electric fences powered by the sun's rays were just one of the options shown at Fieldays
  • The little house that could

    2011-04-27 18:01:55 // // The Idealog Blog | 3 comments
    Architects and designers have been a little slow when it comes to adopting greener building principles, and they need to wake up, according to builder and designer Lawrence McIntyre. His words come after the release of a report on a Golden Bay home, built by McIntyre, which has been awarded the highest energy efficient rating for a house in New Zealand.
  • Former Sears Tower turns to high rise solar

    2011-04-04 13:03:11 // // The Idealog Blog
    In 1974 it was once the tallest building in the world. Now the 108-storey Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago is getting set to become a massive vertical solar power generating plant, with plans firmly afoot to install a new type of photovoltaic glass on the south side of the 56th floor as part of a pilot solar electric glass project.
  • Construction ‘n’ Technology

    2011-04-01 10:14:35 // // The Idealog Blog | 2 comments
    With the skeletal frame of the First Light house complete, in their latest blog the team start to delve into the more technological side of things. There’s also a couple of very cool timelapse videos to give you more of a visual taster of the progress taking place.
  • Walls, floors, roofs and insulation: Solar bach build kicks off

    2011-03-18 09:55:07 // // The Idealog Blog | 2 comments
    The First Light house is well and truly starting to take shape with the team describing the initial stages of construction in their latest blog. There’s also an awesome time lapse video that brings the process to life.
  • We want woolly walls

    2011-03-04 14:58:34 // // The Idealog Blog
    Why use wool when building? Well, it's a renewable resource, it’s healthy, low in conductivity, non-allergic, fire resistant, environmentally friendly, safe to handle, absorbs gases and fumes, and is low in embodied energy. And that's just for starters. In their latest blog, the First Light team explain why they think wool is pretty much the best ever insulation to use when building a house.
  • A journey of miniature proportions

    2011-02-18 10:37:26 // // The Idealog Blog | 1 comment
    Small things can be quite complex. Like, for example, getting a delicate miniature model of an architecture project safely to the US for display. The First Light team explain.
  • Take a 3D tour through First Light’s solar bach

    2011-02-07 10:44:27 // // The Idealog Blog
    First Light, the Victoria University team of students competing in this year’s US Solar Decathlon competition (the first Kiwi team to ever do so), have been doing an awesome job at keeping us updated as they get set to compete in Washington D.C. later this year. And now, after reading about their progress and seeing it in pictures via their regular blogs, First Light have gone one better by giving us this fantastic fly-through 3D animation of their solar bach concept.
  • Getting excited about solar design

    2011-01-10 17:11:01 // // The Idealog Blog
    In their first blog entry of 2011, and in the year they’ll be competing in the US Solar Decathlon competition (the first Kiwi team to ever do so), Victoria University’s First Light team explain why they’re so excited about the development and use of solar technologies in building, and why its benefits extend far beyond simply environmental.
  • Practice makes perfect

    2010-12-10 09:57:05 // // The Idealog Blog
    In their latest blog entry, the First Light team tell us why they’re assembling their solar bach on Wellington’s waterfront in the lead-up to the US Solar Decathlon competition. And just exactly how much Wellington wind will the bach be able to withstand?
  • Eco-news

    2010-12-07 11:04:06 // // Idealog #30: celsias
    Solar power, biodiesel, cleantech, and parking in Palmerston North
  • Sustainability turns modular

    2010-12-03 10:17:11 // // The Idealog Blog
    Two “friendly rivals” in the bespoke architecturally designed end of the sustainable home market have teamed up to create a range of sustainably orientated self-build modular homes.
  • An actively passive house

    2010-11-09 14:40:31 // // The Idealog Blog | 1 comment
    In their latest blog, the Washington-bound First Light team give us the low-down on the passive solar design principles they’ll be utilising in the construction of their bach—a bach they say will use less than a third of the energy of a typical New Zealand home.
  • Book aims to clarify building code misconceptions

    2010-10-20 16:57:05 // // The Idealog Blog
    According to the Minister for Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson, energy efficiency in the home is all down to good building design. The words—though not rocket science— came as Williamson launched the second edition of Designing Comfortable Homes—a book commissioned by the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), with a little help from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. Recent changes to the Energy Efficiency clause of the Building Code, and the development of NZS 4218—the thermal insulation standard—spurred CCANZ to update the first edition.
  • Showcasing Kiwi lifestyle to the world

    2010-09-27 11:38:47 // // The Idealog Blog
    Welcome to the second installment from First Light, the Kiwi team from Wellington’s Victoria University competing on the world stage in the US Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon competition. The challenge has literally heated up for the team as they’re tasked with marrying passive solar features with strict competition rules.
  • Big backing for Kiwi solar bach

    2010-08-26 09:11:09 // // The Idealog Blog
    National and international groups are getting behind a group of four Victoria University students aiming to build a solar powered Kiwi bach in the United States. The team will be designing and building the house in Washington D.C. next year as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, where they’ll be competing against 19 other teams. What makes their entry even more notable is the that they are the only team from the Southern Hemisphere to have ever reached the finals. Better yet, readers of Design Daily can follow the teams progress with regular blogs on the Design Daily site from the team.