– Arizona solar plant achieves six hours after sun goes down (Phys.org, Oct 11, 2013):
Abengoa’s Solana plant in the desert near Gila Bend, Arizona, passed commercial testing this week The 280-megawatt Solana solar thermal power plant producing electricity without direct sunlight made the announcement on Wednesday. Abengoa said Wednesday that the facility, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, can store the sun’s power for six hours via thermal energy. The three -square-mile facility near Gila Bend uses concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to collect the sun’s heat. Thermal energy storage is Solana’s distinctive feature. At 280 megawatts, Solana is one of the largest plants using parabolic mirrors. Its 2,700 parabolic trough mirrors follow the sun to focus heat on a pipe containing a heat transfer fluid, which is a synthetic oil. The heat transfer fluid flows to steam boilers, where it heats water to create steam. The steam drives 140-megawatt turbines to produce electricity.
– World record solar cell with 44.7% efficiency (PhysOrg, Sep 24, 2013):
German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin announced today that they have achieved a new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity using a new solar cell structure with four solar subcells. Surpassing competition after only over three years of research, and entering the roadmap at world class level, a new record efficiency of 44.7% was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. This indicates that 44.7% of the solar spectrum’s energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, is converted into electrical energy. This is a major step towards reducing further the costs of solar electricity and continues to pave the way to the 50% efficiency roadmap.
Back in May 2013, the German-French team of Fraunhofer ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin had already announced a solar cell with 43.6% efficiency. Building on this result, further intensive research work and optimization steps led to the present efficiency of 44.7%.
– A Material That Could Make Solar Power “Dirt Cheap” (MIT Technology Review, Aug 8, 2013):
Researchers discover that a material known for a hundred years could lower the cost of solar power.
A new type of solar cell, made from a material that is dramatically cheaper to obtain and use than silicon, could generate as much power as today’s commodity solar cells.
Although the potential of the material is just starting to be understood, it has caught the attention of the world’s leading solar researchers, and several companies are already working to commercialize it.
Researchers developing the technology say that it could lead to solar panels that cost just 10 to 20 cents per watt. Solar panels now typically cost about 75 cents a watt, and the U.S. Department of Energy says 50 cents per watt will allow solar power to compete with fossil fuel.
– Solar powered plane completes history-making cross-country flight, lands at JFK airport (Washington Post/Ap, July 7, 2013):
NEW YORK — A solar-powered aircraft completed the final leg of a history-making cross-country flight Saturday night, gliding to a smooth stop at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.The Solar Impulse touched down at JFK at 11:09 p.m., completing the final leg of the cross-continental journey that started in California in early May. For Saturday’s final leg, the aircraft left Dulles International Airport a little before 5 a.m.
The flight plan for the revolutionary plane, powered by some 11,000 solar cells on its oversized wings, had called for it to pass the Statue of Liberty before landing early Sunday at New York. But an unexpected tear discovered on the left wing of the aircraft Saturday afternoon forced officials to scuttle the fly-by and proceed directly to JFK for a landing three hours earlier than scheduled.
Pilot Andre Borschberg trumpeted the milestone of a plane capable of flying during the day and night, powered by solar energy, crossing the U.S. without the use of fuel.
– Germany Fires Live Ammo In Sino-European Trade War … At Brussels (Testosterone Pit, May 20, 2013):
The solar-panel industry, once fattened by taxpayer subsidies and false hopes, has been in a death spiral around the world. In the US, a slew of photovoltaic standouts like Solyndra went under, taking billions of subsidies and investor capital with them. In Germany, it has been just as brutal. Even large companies are licking their wounds.
Bosch Solar Energy AG will shut down production early next year, after having burned through €2.4 billion; 3,000 jobs are at risk. Siemens is trying to shed its solar units, if it can find a buyer. Victims of Chinese companies that flooded world markets with cheap solar panels. But even Chinese companies are going bankrupt, including one of the big four, Wuxi Suntech, subsidiary of US-listed Suntech Power.
– Boeing Subsidiary Spectrolab Sets World Record for Solar Cell Efficiency (Boeing, April 9, 2013):
- Highest ever energy conversion efficiency without solar concentration
- Increased efficiency for ground-based applications
SYLMAR, Calif., April 9, 2013 — A Spectrolab solar cell recently set a world record by converting more energy from the sun into electricity than any other ground-based solar cell without solar concentration.
The Boeing [NYSE: BA] subsidiary’s achievement in ground-based solar cell efficiency was verified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.
The cell converted 37.8 percent of solar energy using a new class of high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell, created from two or more materials and leveraging Boeing technology that makes semiconductor materials more reliable. The record was set without concentration, the common practice of having lenses or mirrors focus solar rays on the cells.
– [Hope] Technology to produce solar cell from wood pulp is developed, “Manufacturing cost is 1/100,000″ (Fukushima Diary, Feb 19, 2013):
Associate professor Nogi from Osaka university developed the technology to produce solar cell from wood pulp with his developing team.
The manufacturing cost is 1/100,000 of the one with glass substrates, 1/500 ~ 5,000 of the one with plastic.
WATCH Deepika’s winning presentation …
– Girl, 14, is America’s Top Young Scientist: Her Solar-Powered Jug Cleans Water (GoodNewsNetwork, Oct 22, 2012):
A 14-year-old New York student was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” for inventing a solar-powered water jug that changes dirty water into purified drinking water. Deepika Kurup not only surpassed 9 finalists with her science and math skills to win $25,000 from Discovery Education and 3M, she persuaded the judges with a dynamic five-minute LIVE presentation about the plight of a billion poor people who have no access to clean drinking water.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and for Palestinians living on the West Bank trying to break their dependence on Israel for energy has resulted in a new solar powered vehicle.
The four-seater is covered in solar panels to convert the suns rays into energy to power a small electric motor which pushes the vehicle along at 20 Kph for about 10 hours. And if the sun doesn’t shine it can be plugged into the wall, and the battery recharged from the mains.
It looks a bit like an over-sized golf cart and took the Royal Industrial Trading Company around two months and $5000 to develop. Continue reading »
– Toshiba to build Japan’s biggest solar plants in Fukushima (Reuters, June 20, 2012):
Toshiba Corp said on Wednesday it will begin building solar plants with a total generating capacity of 100 megawatts on the country’s disaster-hit northeastern coastline, making it the biggest solar project in Japan.
Electronics conglomerate Toshiba, which makes everything from lightbulbs to nuclear reactors, said it will spend around 30 billion yen ($379.6 million) t o build several large-scale solar plants in Minami Soma more than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
The project overtakes an earlier plan by Kyocera Corp , heavy machinery maker IHI Corp and Mizuho Corporate Bank, which said it will launch a 70-megawatt plant in southern Japan.
Toshiba said it will start building the plants this year and aim to start operations in 2014.
– Interview With Former US Army Intelligence Officer And Bestselling Author James Wesley Rawles: Global Economic Collapse – Gun Confiscation – How To Survive The End Of The World – If The Power Grid Goes Down We Are In A Massive Die Off Situation Where Literally More Than 50% Of The Population Of The Country Could Die In Just One Winter (Video)
– Reality check: When the power grid goes down, all grid-tie solar systems will go down with it (Natural News, June 16, 2012):
A lot of people believe they are becoming “power independent” by installing grid-tie solar systems, but what many don’t realize is that virtually all such systems are designed to actively go offline when the power grid goes offline.
A “grid-tie” solar system is one that ties into the power grid, pulling electricity from the grid when needed, then pushing excess electricity back into the grid when the local customer isn’t using the full capacity being generated by PV panels (photovoltaic). As long as the grid stays up, it’s a clever solution because it reduces or even eliminates the customer’s electric bills while generating “clean” energy.
– Germany sets new solar power record, institute says (Reuters, May 26, 2012):
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.
The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.
“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”
– Discovery of a ‘Dark State’ Could Mean a Brighter Future for Solar Energy (ScienceDaily, Dec. 15, 2011):
The efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased, according to new research on the mechanisms of solar energy conversion led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin.
Zhu and his team have discovered that it’s possible to double the number of electrons harvested from one photon of sunlight using an organic plastic semiconductor material.
“Plastic semiconductor solar cell production has great advantages, one of which is low cost,” said Zhu, a professor of chemistry. “Combined with the vast capabilities for molecular design and synthesis, our discovery opens the door to an exciting new approach for solar energy conversion, leading to much higher efficiencies.”
Zhu and his team published their groundbreaking discovery Dec. 16 in Science.
The maximum theoretical efficiency of the silicon solar cell in use today is approximately 31 percent, because much of the sun’s energy hitting the cell is too high to be turned into usable electricity. That energy, in the form of “hot electrons,” is instead lost as heat. Capturing hot electrons could potentially increase the efficiency of solar-to-electric power conversion to as high as 66 percent.
– German Village Achieves Energy Independence … And Then Some (BioCycle, August 2011, Vol. 52, No. 8, p. 37):
Wildpoldsried produces 321 percent more energy than it needs and is generating $5.7 million in annual revenue — a remarkable accomplishment for a modest farming community that has been able to invest in new municipal infrastructure without going into debt.
IN 1997, when the newly elected Mayor and Village Council of Wildpoldsried, Germany took their posts, everyone agreed that its goals should be to build new industry, keep initiatives local, bring in new revenues and create no debt. Those goals included construction of a new sports hall, theater stage, pub, and retirement house. Without going into debt, the mayor and council assumed it would take several decades to achieve. But clever thinking, a national policy that “paid back” on investments in renewable energy and a community-supported vision of environmental and economic stewardship, have led to fulfilling those goals in significantly less time. This article tells the story of Wildpoldsried, a small agricultural village in the state of Bavaria, which serves as a model of how to achieve community sustainability in the 21st century — and remain debt-free.
In May 2011, 14 years later, Mayor Arno Zengerle announced at a town hall meeting that it’s “half time” of his third term. He walked the community through a massive list of accomplishments that include nine new community buildings (including the school, gym and community hall) complete with solar panels, four biogas digesters with a fifth in construction, seven windmills with two more on the way, 190 private households equipped with solar, a district heating network with 42 connections, three small hydro power plants, ecological flood control and a natural wastewater system. Wildpoldsried (pop. <2,600) now produces 321 percent more energy than it needs and is generating 4.0 million Euro (US $5.7 million) in annual revenue. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a modest farming community that turned a village with no industry into an industry of renewable energy with the help of local entrepreneurs and pioneers. Small businesses have sprung up to sell and install technologies and provide services to the renewable energy installations — from solar panels to district heating to the anaerobic digesters and energy efficiency retrofits. Continue reading »
Solar power: Eric Jacqmain labelled his ‘death ray’ dish his ‘latest and greatest solar invention’ – and he is working on further developments
Power: This piece of wood stood no chance against Eric Jacqmain’s spectacular invention
While many teenagers are content to sit at home playing computer games, this one has set his sights on something a little more ambitious.
Eric Jacqmain, from Indiana in the US, covered an ordinary fibreglass satellite dish with 5,800 tiny mirror tiles – and made his very own ‘death ray’.
When aligned correctly it can generate a heat spot a couple of centimetres across, with an intensity of 5,000 shining suns, the 19-year-old claims.
The inventor then posted video of his invention on YouTube, with people commenting in awe of the power of the satellite.
Japan will launch the world’s first spacecraft tomorrow drawing its energy from a huge solar-powered sail.
Ikaros – which stands for Interplanetary Kite-Craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun – works on the same principle as a yacht, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
It will be launched from the island of Tanegashima aboard an H-IIA rocket before unfurling its ultra-thin membrane “sail” – half the thickness of a human hair – once it is in space.
Solar particles emitted by the sun will hit the 66ft sail to propel it through space towards Venus. Photons bounce off thousands of tiny mirrors to push it through the resistance-free environment.
And as the force acts continuously, a solar sail will eventually be able to reach speeds that are up to ten times greater than any rocket powered by conventional chemicals.
The 307kg craft also has engines that draw their energy from solar cells on the craft and act as a “hybrid” engine, primarily for steering it on its mission.
Yuichi Tsuda, deputy manager for the project, said: “We believe Ikaros will take six months to reach Venus, which we will use to test the craft and its responses, but after that we want it continue to fly for as long and as far as possible.” Continue reading »
Low-cost, more efficient solar cells mostly plastic
Photomicrograph of a silicon wire array embedded within a transparent, flexible polymer film. Credit: Caltech/Michael Kelzenberg
PORTLAND, Ore. – By growing arrays of silicon wires in a polymer substrate, researchers have demonstrated what they say are flexible solar cells that absorb up to 96 percent of incident light.
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers said the wires are made up of 98 percent plastic, potentially lowering the cost of photovoltaics by using just 1/50th the amount of semiconductor material used today. In tests, the experimental solar cells demonstrated over 90 percent quantum efficiency, compared with 25 percent for the best silicon solar cells.
“By developing light-trapping techniques for relatively sparse wire arrays, not only did we achieve suitable absorption, but we also demonstrated effective optical concentration,” claimed Harry Atwater, director of Caltech’s Resnick Institute.
The silicon wires measure just 1 micron in diameter, but can be as long as 100 microns and can be embedded in a transparent polymer. Light is converted into electricity only inside the wires, but light not immediately absorbed bounces around inside the matrix until it enters another wire. The result, researchers said, is both high concentration and high efficiency in the material.
Solar cells based on the technique could potentially be very inexpensive to manufacture since only 2 percent of the materials are expensive semiconductors while the remainder is made from inexpensive plastic. Continue reading »