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Published on May 2nd, 2010 | by Tina Casey

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Italian Greenhouse Will Produce Food and Solar Power, Too

May 2nd, 2010 by  


Solyndra and Solar ReFeel partner on new solar energy system installed in greenhouseIn what appears to be a match made in solar heaven, the renewable energy company Solar ReFeel has partnered with solar industry leader Solyndra to test a greenhouse that produces both food and electricity with a photovoltaic system integrated within the structure of the building.  The test is being conducted at a facility owned by a nonprofit company run by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Handicraft and Agriculture of Savona, Italy.

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Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the Gulf Coast is bracing for the full impact of British Petroleum’s potentially catastrophic oil spill.  The monstrous slick has already shut down the region’s fishing industry, and that should be more than enough to hammer home the point: it’s time we get out of old fashioned, seriously out of date fossil fuels, and pump more money into new sustainable energy technologies that help enhance food supplies instead of destroying them.


Solyndra and Greenhouse-Integrated Solar Power

The greenhouse project will test how well crops grow in a greenhouse outfitted with Solyndra’s photovoltaic systems, which are cylindrical in contrast to the flat panels or films used in many other systems.  The cylindrical design enables more light to pass through into the greenhouse, with the expectation that crops would grow more efficiently than they otherwise could.  It’s another interesting twist in the ever-expanding field of building integrated solar, which is rapidly turning buildings into mini power generating stations.  It also dovetails with the development of solar-powered sensor systems than enable greenhouses to function more efficiently.

Solar Power and Green Jobs

Though this latest project is in Italy, Solyndra has been proving itself a green jobs powerhouse in the U.S., too.  Last spring, the company was awarded a $535 million loan guarantee to support construction of a photovoltaic manufacturing facility, which the company expects will generate thousands of green jobs in the U.S.

Image:  Greenhouse by spigoo on flickr.com. 
 





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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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