solar

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The Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center have something new-a total of 80 solar panels for heating water.

The panels are part of a $20 million dollar project the county says is at no additional cost to taxpayers. With the help of contractors, Hamilton County chose these buildings because they had flat roofs and available space.

The Justice Center:

Ann Thompson / WVXU

A solar panel is typically made up of lots of silicon cells that together form a circuit. The electrons zip through the panels to create electricity in a very efficient manner. But what if scientists could create the same efficiency in a different material that was cheaper?

Fei Yu, a University of Cincinnati doctoral student in materials engineering, is studying how to make polymer solar cells more efficient. Right now their performance is well below the most efficient silicon solar panels.

Why polymers:

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Plans for more solar on city building rooftops in Cincinnati are looking up this year.

Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability Larry Falkin says the city laid low in 2013 because the value of renewable energy credits was down and some state programs expired. "We think we're back in a situation where the economics work now and we have projects that we're working on and we hope to be able to announce them in the near future."

Falkin says the announcement could come in the next two to three months.

A Cincinnati invention will soon be on its way to India following months of marketing and development.

The product, still in the testing stages, is a 10-foot-long cold storage shed, something badly needed in India where nearly 40 percent of crops spoil before they get to market.

University of Cincinnati business professor Ilsa Hawkins and her students recognized a need for cold storage. They went to Mumbai (Ice Expo) with a brochure and a business plan.

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A new report sings the praises of solar in Cincinnati.

The group Environment Ohio hopes Cincinnati follows the lead of such solar giants as Ann Arbor, Phoenix and Toledo. Co-author of the new report, called Building a Solar Cincinnati, Christian Adams, wants the city to get 10% of its energy from solar by 2030. He says certain barriers remain like up front cost but suggests third-party financing.