Tag Archives | Solar Power

Solartopia! Winning the Green Energy Revolution

The_Sun_by_the_Atmospheric_Imaging_Assembly_of_NASA's_Solar_Dynamics_Observatory_-_20100819Harvey Wasserman writes at Common Dreams:

High above the Bowling Green town dump, a green energy revolution is being won. It’s being helped along by the legalization of marijuana and its bio­fueled cousin, industrial hemp.

But it’s under extreme attack from the billionaire Koch Brothers, utilities like First Energy (FE), and a fossil/nuke industry that threatens our existence on this planet.

Robber Baron resistance to renewable energy has never been more fierce. The prime reason is that the Solartopian Revolution embodies the ultimate threat to the corporate utility industry and the hundreds of billions of dollars it has invested in the obsolete monopolies that define King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).

The outcome will depend on your activism, and will determine whether we survive here at all. Four very large wind turbines in this small Ohio town are producing clean, cheap electricity that can help save our planet. A prime reason they exist is that Bowling Green has a municipal­owned utility.

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Another Step Closer to Low Cost Solar Cells

Pic: Qi research group that studies Flextrodes.  From left: Yabing Qi, Yuichi Kato, Min-Cherl Jung and Michael Lee. (C) OIST

Pic: Qi research group that studies Flextrodes. From left: Yabing Qi, Yuichi Kato, Min-Cherl Jung and Michael Lee. (C) OIST

Via ScienceDaily:

The dwindling resources for conventional energy sources make renewable energy an exciting and increasingly important avenue of research. However, even seemingly new and green forms of energy production, like silicon-based solar cells, are not as cost effective as they could be. An OIST research team led by Yabing Qi is investigating solar cells based on organic materials that have electrodes both flexible and transparent, enabling the fabrication of these solar cells at a low cost.

In a recent paper published in the journal Organic Electronics, Qi and his research group characterized the electrodes made with new materials, including plastic, conductive material and zinc oxide. They also successfully identified methods by which to clean the electrodes to restore their conductivity and work function after an extended period of storage, thus contributing to the optimization of making these new solar cells.

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Solar Powered Plane to Fly Around The World

People powered might just as well be the description of this nifty solar plane, as the 12,000 solar cells are all sponsored to the tune of $200 each.

640px-Flea_Hop_HB-SIA_-_Solar_Impulse

Finn Olaf-Jones reports for the Wall Street Journal:

…In 2003, [Bertand] Piccard approached European companies to sponsor what has become a $148 million project and began assembling a team of 80 engineers and technicians plucked largely from Swiss universities. After seven years of tinkering, they arrived at a machine with a deceptively simple design: Solar Impulse—with its sleek, clean lines, white-gloss finish and rakishly angled 208-foot wings (bent to increase the plane’s stability)—resembles what you might get had Steve Jobs reimagined a child’s balsa-wood glider in giant form.

“The crux to flying nonstop around the world with solar energy is being able to fly even when the sun isn’t out, especially at night,” notes André Borschberg, a former Swiss air force fighter ace and McKinsey & Company consultant who, as the project’s CEO, oversees the design team and takes turns piloting the plane.

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Wall Street Journal: Solar a “Mortal Threat” to Utilities

Picture: NASA (PD)

Peter Sinclair writes at Climate

Denial Crock of the Week:

Three weeks ago, I had my 5 minutes at a local “listening session” on energy, put on by the Governor of my fair state.

My main message was that a technological sea change is coming in energy production – and if regulatory and utility policy do not anticipate the further build out of wind, solar, and distributed energy, the transition is going to be ugly.  Traditional energy producers who think they can hold back the tide will be like typewriter makers trying to bad-mouth word processors. They are going to go away.

Last week had coffee last week with a well-informed friend, who agreed with me that this is an oncoming freight train. He pointed me to some new survey results from Ernst & Young.

Renewable Energy World:

We conducted a telephone survey of executives involved in corporate energy strategy at 100 companies with revenues of US$1 billion or more.

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Wind and Solar Power Paired With Storage Could Power the Grid 99.9 Percent of the Time

And it wouldn’t cost more money than our current system.  Via ScienceDaily:

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College.

A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.

“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage — which we did by an exhaustive search — and to calculate costs correctly.”

The authors developed a computer model to consider 28 billion combinations of renewable energy sources and storage mechanisms, each tested over four years of historical hourly weather data and electricity demands.

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Tiny Pacific Island Becomes The First Completely Solar-Powered Nation

Think a completely renewable-energy-based society is a pipe dream? Tiny Tokelau will no longer rely on imported diesel, instead switching over to solar panels and coconut-based biofuel. Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tuvalu plan to follow suit in the next decade. Voice Of America reports:

The remote islands of Tokelau have become the first territory in the world to be powered by the sun, officials say. The move is expected to save money and ease the environmental burden of relying on imported fossil fuels.

“The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project is a world first. Tokelau’s three main atolls now have enough solar capacity, on average, to meet electricity needs,” said New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister Murray McCully in a statement. “Until now, Tokelau has been 100 percent dependent upon diesel for electricity generation, with heavy economic and environmental costs.”

The island nations of Samoa and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

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Scientists Hope to Find Aliens by Searching for Dyson Spheres

Searching for aliens? Search for their solar panels.

Picture: Segrim (CC)

In 1960, mathematician, physicist, and all-around genius Freeman Dyson predicted that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, provided it survives long enough to do so. Dyson argued that this event constitutes a major hurdle in a civilization’s evolution, and that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Astronomers have taken to calling these theoretical megastructures Dyson Spheres. Dyson’s insight may seem like nothing more than a thought experiment, but if his hypothesis is sound, it has a striking implication: if you want to find advanced alien civilizations, you should look for signs of Dyson Spheres.

Last month a trio of astronomers led by Penn State’s Jason Wright began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies.

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Low Cost, High Efficiency Solar Technology Developed

Picture: Anna Scafford (PD)

So much for the old “solar is too expensive” dodge.  Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers at RTI International have developed a new solar technology that could make solar energy more affordable, and thus speed-up its market adoption.

The RTI solar cells are formed from solutions of semiconductor particles, known as colloidal quantum dots, and can have a power conversion efficiency that is competitive to traditional cells at a fraction of the cost.

Solar energy has the potential to be a renewable, carbon-neutral source of electricity but the high cost of photovoltaics — the devices that convert sunlight into electricity — has slowed widespread adoption of this resource.

The RTI-developed solar cells were created using low-cost materials and processing techniques that reduce the primary costs of photovoltaic production, including materials, capital infrastructure and energy associated with manufacturing.

Preliminary analysis of the material costs of the technology show that it can be produced for less than $20 per square meter — as much as 75 percent less than traditional solar cells.

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Germany Sets New Solar Record By Meeting Nearly Half of Country’s Weekend Power Demand

Photo: Túrelio (CC)

Photo: Túrelio (CC)

This story from inhabitat has the sustainable energy movement incredibly excited, and rightly so methinks:

Germany fed a whopping 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour into the national grid last weekend, setting a new record by meeting nearly half of the country’s weekend power demand.

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan opted to shut down all of its nuclear power stations and Germany followed suit after considerable public pressure. This seems to have paved the way for greater investment in solar energy projects. The Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster announced that Saturday’s solar energy generation met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs AND was equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity! …

By meeting a third of its electricity needs on a work day and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed, Germany’s solar power industry has broken all previous records.

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Solar-Powered Plane Flies Over Mediterranean

Solar Impulse

Photo: Matth1 (CC)

Via the Telegraph:

The Solar Impulse took off on the world’s first cross-Mediterranean flight from an airfield in western Switzerland and is scheduled to make a stop-over in Spain after a 20-hour flight, before finally flying to the Moroccan capital Rabat on Monday.

Lessons learned on this fight will help prepare the pilots for an attempt at a round-the-world journey. “Today it’s the last rehearsal for the flight around the world in 2014. For Andre and myself as pilots and for the entire team, the mission control team and technical team”, Solar Impulse founder, Bertrand Piccard, told Reuters. Pilot Andre Borschberg, who was flying the aircraft to Madrid, found it “rewarding” that the plane flies only using solar power.

“Well the most fun is to be able to go up to 9,000 metres with solar energy, and the more I will fly during the day, the more energy I will collect even in the batteries, so that’s very impressing, very different”…

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