Tag Archives | Solar Energy

The Oil Industry is Going Solar

solarprice

Zachary Shahan writes at Climate Crock of the Week:

There’s no way around it — the future of energy is solar energy. But here’s the fun part: the future starts now.

Solar panels have been on the market for decades, but saying solar panels of today are the same as solar panels of the 1990s is like saying phones of today are like phones of the 1990s. True, you can’t play Tetris on your solar panels or listen to music via them, but who wants to climb onto a record-hot roof to do that anyway? Getting back to the central point here, it’s that the cost of solar has fallen off a cliff, and solar power is increasingly the cheapest option around. (see graph above).

Solar power prices are falling so fast that it’s hard for just about anyone to keep up. Last year, many of us jumped for joy as a record-low solar PPA was signed in Austin, Texas (for 5 cents/kWh).

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Tesla’s Dream Of Wireless Transmission Of Electricity Realized In Japan

Nikola Tesla’s dream realized? Phys.org says it’s happening in Japan:

Japanese scientists have succeeded in transmitting energy wirelessly, in a key step that could one day make solar power generation in space a possibility, an official said Thursday.

Tesla coil (discharge)..JPG

“Tesla coil (discharge).” by Daniel Grohmann (CC)

Researchers used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power—enough to run an electric kettle—through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver 55 metres (170 feet) away.

While the distance was not huge, the technology could pave the way for mankind to eventually tap the vast amount of  available in space and use it here on Earth, a spokesman for The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of  via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,” he said.

JAXA has been working on devising Space Solar Power Systems for years, the spokesman said.

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Using ‘Fuzzy Logic’ to Optimize Hybrid Solar/Battery Systems

This image shows the fuzzy logic algorithm which reads the consumption energy and the monthly average of daily solar radiation and gives the output of the system which is the PVP surface and the battery capacity. Credit: Chokri BEN SALAH/Control and Energy Management Lab. (CEMLab), Department of Electrical Engineering, National School of Engineers of Sfax, BP. W, 3038, Sfax, Tunisia.

This image shows the fuzzy logic algorithm which reads the consumption energy and the monthly average of daily solar radiation and gives the output of the system which is the PVP surface and the battery capacity.

Credit: Chokri BEN SALAH/Control and Energy Management Lab. (CEMLab), Department of Electrical Engineering, National School of Engineers of Sfax, BP. W, 3038, Sfax, Tunisia.

Via ScienceDaily:

How did fuzzy logic help a group of researchers in Tunisia and Algeria create an ideal photovoltaic system that obeys the supply-and-demand principle and its delicate balance?

In the Journal of Renewable & Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, the group describes a new sizing system of a solar array and a battery in a standalone photovoltaic system that is based on fuzzy logic — a many-valued logic system designed to reason outputs by considering a range of possibilities rather than a simple, binary yes or no, as with classical logic.

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In 10 Years Solar and Wind Power Will Be the Cheapest Forms of Energy in Northeast Asia

Intel Free Press (CC BY 2.0)

Intel Free Press (CC BY 2.0)

Via Lappeenranta University of Technology:

A new study demonstrates that an energy system based completely on renewable forms of energy will be economically viable in the future. Research done at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows that it will be worthwhile for North-East Asia, and China in particular, to switch to a completely renewable energy system within 5–10 years. According to the Neo-Carbon Energy project, which conducted the research, the price of solar electricity will drop by half by 2025−2030.

Completed at the end of last year, the study concluded that within ten years solar and wind power will be the cheapest forms of energy production for Asia’s largest energy markets. According to LUT Professor of Solar Economy Christian Breyer, this is because renewable energy is the cheapest way of producing energy in Asia.

Economic viability has been one of the challenges of making the transition to renewable energy sources and doing so on the terms of the market.

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A Solar Cell That Stores Its Own Power

Credit: Yiying Wu, The Ohio State University

Credit: Yiying Wu, The Ohio State University

Via ScienceDaily:

Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device invented at The Ohio State University is both: the world’s first solar battery.

In the October 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications, the researchers report that they’ve succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.

Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.

“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said.

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The Coming Era of Unlimited — and Free — Clean Energy

When I saw this headline in  a tweet from Daniel Pinchbeck I thought it was going to link to one of “those” blogs, but no, it’s straight from a stalwart of the mainstream media, the Washington Post, which is touting 100% solar-generated electricity meeting all our needs, sooner rather than later:

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones.  McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant.  It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out.  McKinsey was wrong, of course.  There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use in 2000; there are billions now.  Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone.

The experts are saying the same about solar energy now.  

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Solar Panel Arrays Setting Birds On Fire While In Flight

PS10 solar power tower.jpg

Who said solar energy wasn’t going to cause casualties? AP’s The Big Story reports on burning birds flying over solar panel arrays with flames and smoke trailing behind them:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

The deaths are “alarming.

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Multilayer, Microscale Solar Cells Enable Ultra-High Efficiency Power Generation

PIC: University of Illinois (C)

PIC: University of Illinois (C)

Rick Kubetz, writing for the engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

As an energy source, the Sun has always been a dependable provider. Although it freely shines on everyone, the ability to capture and convert the Sun’s abundant energy is anything but free. However, new technologies aimed at achieving “full spectrum” operation in utility-scale photovoltaics may soon make solar energy a viable option.

“A few simple ideas in materials science and device assembly allow us to bypass many of the limitations of traditional photovoltaic technologies,” explained John Rogers, whose research group is developing these concepts. As a result of these new efficiencies, external industry experts project solar energy electricity generation costs that can reach, without subsidies, levels that are lower than coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

A Swanlund Chair and professor of materials science and engineering, Rogers is a pioneer in semiconductor devices and manufacturing techniques.

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Atomically Thin Solar Cells

Pic: Smokefoot (CC)

Pic: Smokefoot (CC)

Yet another breakthrough in solar technology (via EurekAlert):

It does not get any thinner than this: The novel material graphene consists of only one atomic layer of carbon atoms and exhibits very special electronic properties. As it turns out, there are other materials too, which can open up intriguing new technological possibilities if they are arranged in just one or very few atomic layers. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have now succeeded for the first time in creating a diode made of tungsten diselenide. Experiments show that this material may be used to create ultrathin flexible solar cells. Even flexible displays could become possible.

Thin Layers are Different

At least since the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded in 2010 for creating graphene, the “two dimensional crystals” made of carbon atoms have been regarded as one of the most promising materials in electronics. In 2013, graphene research was chosen by the EU as a flagship-project, with a funding of one billion euros.

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Spain Privatizes the Sun: Issues Heavy Penalties for Collecting Sunlight

AngrysunEarth First! Newswire cleans up and considerably shortens govtslaves.info‘s partially comprehensible translation of an article at Diario Digital Nuestro País:

If you get caught collecting photons of sunlight for your own use you can drop a fine not exceeding 30 million.

So if you were thinking that the best option was just to have some solar panels that were down 80% in cost and have the opportunity to disconnect from the mains and your bill scam, you can forget about it.

With the terror of “destabilized” power consumption, sometime in 2010 someone has decided to privatize the sun …. yes you read that right: Spain, unlike the rest of Europe, levies a toll on electricity generated and injected to the line.

Committing the sacrilege of being energy independent can be very expensive, and the sun now is only for the privileged few and the power companies. The ”Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF ), which brings together some 300 companies representing 85% of the industry, ensures that these changes would be more expensive than resorting to conventional supply.

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