New Year's Eve is fast approaching, and workers in New York City are hard at work installing 32,256 LED lights on the Times Square New Year's Eve ball. As we close the book on 2012, Inhabitat has been reflecting on all the top clean energy and green technology stories from the past year. From news that Germany met half the country's energy needs with solar power to an Egyptian teenager who built a new quantum space propulsion system, 2012 was a big year for clean tech. To ring in the New Year we also rounded up the top green transportation and wearable technology posts, and we're inviting all our reader to vote on the stories they liked best!
Now that Christmas is behind us, it'll soon be time to start figuring out how to sustainably dispose of all those holiday decorations. In China, Christmas light recycling plants will process some 20 million pounds of Christmas lights and recycle them into useful products. In other green tech news, Spanish researchers have developed a new type of biological concrete that makes it easier to attach plants to the side of buildings to create living walls. Researchers at Wake Forest University recently developed a new type of light bulb that uses field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology to create a soft white, full spectrum light that could last a decade. And to help keep your heating bill low, we've rounded up the top six gadgets for the home to help you go green this winter.
In green transportation news, China unveiled the world's longest high-speed rail line this week. The 1,428-mile railway connects Beijing with Guangzhou, halving the travel time between the two cities. A bike called the ReCycle became the world's first 100 percent recycled bike to hit the road, and the city of Los Angeles announced that it will soon launch the nation's second-largest bike-sharing program. The $16 million project will bring 4,000 bikes, complete with solar-powered bike stations, to downtown LA. And if you've ever dreamt of driving on pillows, your dream just got one step closer to becoming a reality: Humanix's new iSAVE electric vehicle is completely wrapped in air-filled cushions which are meant to soften the blow between the vehicle and anything it comes into contact with.
In what could prove to be a major breakthrough for solar technology, engineers at Stanford University have successfully fabricated thin, flexible solar cells that are able to be peeled and attached to almost any surface. California recently set a record for winter solar power generation, almost reaching the previous record set this summer of just over 1 gigawatt of solar energy. And in one of the best Christmas gifts ever, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Christmas Eve that an additional $250 million will be made available for renewable energy projects across the state.