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Energy Net

Nanotechnology Now: "Nanoparticle breakthrough could improve solar cells" - 1 views

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    Abstract: The sun may soon power many more homes and appliances, thanks to chemists at Idaho National Laboratory and Idaho State University. They have invented a way to manufacture highly precise, uniform nanoparticles to order. The technology, which won an R&D 100 Award this year, has the potential to vastly improve photovoltaic cells and further spur the growing nanotech revolution. Nanoparticle breakthrough could improve solar cells Idaho Falls, ID | Posted on October 29th, 2009 INL chemist Bob Fox and his ISU colleagues were looking for a better way to make semiconducting nanoparticles for solar cells. When the researchers introduced "supercritical" carbon dioxide - CO2 that behaves like both a gas and a liquid - to their reactions, they generated high-quality nanoparticles at low, energy-saving temperatures. And, surprisingly, the nanoparticles were incredibly uniform. With subsequent tweaking, the team figured out how to make nanoparticles of prescribed sizes - anywhere from 1 to 100 nanometers - with unprecedented precision. Because the properties of nanoparticles are so strongly size-dependent, the implications of this breakthrough are vast.
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    Abstract: The sun may soon power many more homes and appliances, thanks to chemists at Idaho National Laboratory and Idaho State University. They have invented a way to manufacture highly precise, uniform nanoparticles to order. The technology, which won an R&D 100 Award this year, has the potential to vastly improve photovoltaic cells and further spur the growing nanotech revolution. Nanoparticle breakthrough could improve solar cells Idaho Falls, ID | Posted on October 29th, 2009 INL chemist Bob Fox and his ISU colleagues were looking for a better way to make semiconducting nanoparticles for solar cells. When the researchers introduced "supercritical" carbon dioxide - CO2 that behaves like both a gas and a liquid - to their reactions, they generated high-quality nanoparticles at low, energy-saving temperatures. And, surprisingly, the nanoparticles were incredibly uniform. With subsequent tweaking, the team figured out how to make nanoparticles of prescribed sizes - anywhere from 1 to 100 nanometers - with unprecedented precision. Because the properties of nanoparticles are so strongly size-dependent, the implications of this breakthrough are vast.
Energy Net

Arizona Rep. Giffords authors U.S. Solar Roadmap bill as CA plows ahead - 0 views

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    In continued efforts to promote clean energy, U.S. House Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has introduced the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which is now on its way to the full House after achieving commendable bipartisan support after short deliberation in the Science and Technology Committee. Giffords' bill would designate the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the leading organization for developing a strategic plan to direct solar energy research and its deployment into the commercial sector. The legislation would also allocate $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years, which is a far cry from the pro-oil Bush administration that pillaged funding for renewables.
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    In continued efforts to promote clean energy, U.S. House Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has introduced the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which is now on its way to the full House after achieving commendable bipartisan support after short deliberation in the Science and Technology Committee. Giffords' bill would designate the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the leading organization for developing a strategic plan to direct solar energy research and its deployment into the commercial sector. The legislation would also allocate $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years, which is a far cry from the pro-oil Bush administration that pillaged funding for renewables.
Energy Net

ASES Solar Tour: Massive National Event for Solar Education : TreeHugger - 0 views

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    Largest Grassroots Solar Event in America: Register Now! Imagine 140,000 people participating in a national tour of solar-powered homes and institutions - all in one day. That's what happened last year at the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour - and this year looks set to be even bigger. Whether it's DIY solar homes and solar cars, new homes with solar as standard, or utility-scale multi-megawatt solar installations, TreeHugger is not short of stories about how solar power is leading us away from fossil fuel dependence and helping to stem climate change. But while change is beginning to happen, it's not happening anywhere near fast enough. That's why the ASES tour is so important - getting people in front of real, live solar installations, showing them how they work, and encouraging folks to go solar themselves. Read on to find out how you can participate.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: Concentrated solar power could generate 'quarter of world's energy' - 0 views

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    The Guardian has an article on a report from Greenpeace, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association and the International Energy Agency's SolarPACES group on the potential for solar thermal power to supply a large proportion of our energy needs (why they limit it to 25% is a mystery to me) - Concentrated solar power could generate 'quarter of world's energy'. Solar power stations that concentrate sunlight could generate up to one-quarter of the world's electricity needs by 2050, according to a study by environmental and solar industry groups. The technology, best suited to the desert regions of the world, could also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and save millions of tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Concentrating solar power (CSP) uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto water. This produces steam that can then turn turbines and generate electricity. It differs from photovoltaics, which use solar panels to turn sunlight directly into electricity and can operate even on overcast days. CSP only works in places where there are many days with clear skies and is a proven, reliable technology. At the end of 2008 CSP capacity was around 430MW, and worldwide investment in the technology will reach
Energy Net

Concentrated solar power goes mainstream: Lockheed-Martin to build large CSP plant with... - 0 views

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    What is the best evidence that concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) aka solar baseload is indeed a core climate solution with big near-term - and very big medium-term - promise? One of the country's biggest companies, Lockheed-Martin, with 2008 sales of $42.7 billion, has jumped into the race to build the biggest CSP plant with thermal storage.
Energy Net

Roll-Up Solar Panels - 0 views

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    Technology Review has an article on thin film solar vendor Xunlight's approach - making cells on flexible steel sheets - Roll-Up Solar Panels. Xunlight, a startup in Toledo, Ohio, has developed a way to make large, flexible solar panels. It has developed a roll-to-roll manufacturing technique that forms thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells on thin sheets of stainless steel. Each solar module is about one meter wide and five and a half meters long. As opposed to conventional silicon solar panels, which are bulky and rigid, these lightweight, flexible sheets could easily be integrated into roofs and building facades or on vehicles. Such systems could be more attractive than conventional solar panels and be incorporated more easily into irregular roof designs. They could also be rolled up and carried in a backpack, says the company's cofounder and president, Xunming Deng. "You could take it with you and charge your laptop battery," he says.
Energy Net

Maker Faire 09: GoBe Solar Charger : TreeHugger - 0 views

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    Wandering through the Maker Fair expo, I came across this solar charger I hadn't heard of before. It's called GoBe, and looks like a great portable way to charge up some hefty devices, possibly even your laptop. It comes in two parts - a brief case-sized fold-out solar panel that can be propped up at different angles, and a lantern-sized battery pack. The solar panel has a max of 13 watts, which means you'll get back-up power to a laptop after a day's worth of charging, but can't really run a laptop off of it. However, it's great for charging up the GoBe hub so you have spare power for a wide range of other devices.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: Largest Solar Plant in the World Coming to Arizona ? - 0 views

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    TreeHugger has a post on a solar thermal power plant planned for Arizona (Which isn't the largest announced, but how many of these get built in the short term remains to be seen) - Largest Solar Plant in the World Coming to Arizona ?. Could be--details are still emerging and sketchy, but it looks like one of the world's biggest solar projects will find its home in Arizona. The proposed 340 megawatt system would use advanced parabolic trough technology, and would cost over $2 billion--and yes, it would take advantage of stimulus funding. Looks like Arizona's becoming a hotbed for solar power indeed--this would be the fourth solar plant in Mohave County, AZ alone. Here are the whispered details: Mohave Sun Power and Albiasa Solar are the companies behind the ambitious installation, and they'll be using the same technology as another recently proposed massive solar project:
Energy Net

Municipal Solar Financing: The Biggest Revolution that You've Never Heard Of : Red, Gre... - 0 views

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    The whole thing is happening without flashy ad campaigns, so it's not surprising if you've never heard of municipal solar financing. But the financing program, also known as property tax financing, is a veritable underground solar revolution. It all started in Berkeley, CA with the Berkeley FIRST Program, which allows homeowners to pay for solar panels through property tax bills over a 20 year period. The bills carry a fixed interest rate and stay with the house, so there's no need to worry about paying for panels on a house you don't live in anymore. The Berkeley program was so popular that California passed the AB811 bill to let any interested city in the state launch a similar program.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: Cheaper Solar Concentrators - 0 views

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    Technology Review has an article on making solar power cheaper using concentrators combined with PV panels - Cheaper Solar Concentrators. Skyline Solar, a startup that today announced its existence to the world, has developed a cheaper way to harvest energy from the sun. The company's solar panels concentrate sunlight onto a small area, reducing the amount of expensive semiconductor material needed to generate electricity. The technology will bring the cost of solar power in line with the average cost of electricity, at least in sunny areas, says Ben Eiref, Skyline Solar's director of product management. Currently, solar power can be far more expensive than electricity from conventional sources; many governments have resorted to subsidies to increase its use.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: World's Largest Solar Power Tower Commissioned - 0 views

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    REW reports the world's biggest solar thermal tower has opened in Spain - World's Largest Solar Power Tower Commissioned. Abengoa Solar has begun commercial operations of the world's largest solar power tower plant, a 20 MW installation. The company claims that the performance of the power plant, the so-called PS20, has exceeded its design output in the wake of its three-day production and operational testing period. Located at the Solúcar Platform, near Seville, Spain, PS20 is the world's second power tower plant in commercial use and features a number of significant technological improvements with respect to its predecessor, PS10. These enhancements include a higher-efficiency receiver, various improvements in the control and operational systems, and a better thermal energy storage system. PS20 consists of a solar field made up of 1255 heliostats with a surface area of 1291 square feet each. This reflects the solar radiation it receives onto the receiver, located on the top of a 531 foot-high tower, producing steam which is converted into electricity generation by a turbine. Plant construction was carried out by Abener.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: Powerful Polymers: Pushing Plastic Solar Cells - 0 views

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    Technology Review has an article on plastic solar cells with "near-perfect internal efficiency" - Pushing Plastic Solar Cells. Plastic solar cells are lightweight, flexible, and, most important, cheap to make. But so far, these devices have been too inefficient to compete with silicon solar cells for most applications. Now researchers from a few institutions claim to have made polymer solar cells with record-breaking efficiencies. These cells still aren't good enough to compete with silicon, but polymer efficiencies have been increasing at a rate of about 1 percent a year. If they can keep this up, say researchers, plastic solar cells will be competing with silicon within a few years.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: Passive Solar Thermal Energy In Europe - 0 views

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    Renewable Energy World has an article on a plan to greatly expand the use of passive solar thermal energy in Europe - Action Plan for 50%: How Solar Thermal Can Supply Europe's Energy. The research efforts and infrastructure needed to supply 50% of the energy for space and water heating and cooling across Europe using solar thermal energy has been set out under the aegis of the European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP). Published in late December 2008, more than 100 experts developed the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), which includes a deployment roadmap showing the non-technological framework conditions that will enable this ambitious goal to be reached by 2050. A strategy for achieving a vision of widespread low-temperature solar thermal installations was first explored by ESTTP in 2006, but since then the SRA has identified key areas for rapid growth. These focus points include the development of active solar buildings, active solar renovation, solar heat for industrial processes and solar heat for district heating and cooling. Meanwhile, amongst the main research challenges is the development of compact long-term efficient heat storage technology. Once available, they would make it possible to store heat from the summer for use in winter in a cost-effective way.
Energy Net

Why Are Renewable Energy Systems for Homeowners Still So Expensive? - Renewable Energy ... - 0 views

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    Can you explain to me and the readers why solar panels are so expensive? Why can we not get the cost of this energy down to US $0.15 per kWh while we're paying off the equipment? Why are we paying for future production capability today? It is like the current electricity providers are saying, "Well, your house will use 12,000 kWh this year so we want our $1,800 now" or worse "give us 20 years up front" as the solar industry does today! If the solar market really wants to see a green planet then I feel they need to get the green out their eyes! Can they not see that they can truly make every home owner self sufficient if they bring their costs in line. It seems as though this renewable energy game is for the wealthy. If I want my home to be totally self-sustaining, it would cost me $80,000! A: Ian, I am happy to respond to your question since I have spent my own money on both my net-zero-energy home and my zero-energy office building - so I am acutely aware of the costs.
Energy Net

Calif. Desert Becomes Home For Renewable Energy : NPR - 0 views

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    California's utilities are in a tight spot. They're mandated to procure 20 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by the end of next year. Currently, renewable energy provides only 12 percent of the state's needs. Green energy is needed, and fast. Where to get it? The southeastern corner of California is becoming the state's Wild West of renewable energy. Five years from now this patch of desert will hold one of the largest solar thermal plants in the world. An area of 10 square miles will be filled with 38,000 "sun catchers," which look like enormous satellite dishes with mirrors.
Energy Net

SunEdison Activates 1.2-MW Solar PV System - Renewable Energy World - 0 views

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    SunEdison has activated a 1.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system for Progress Energy Carolinas. Sited on 10 acres of land at Progress Energy's Sutton Plant near Wilmington, the 1.2-MW ground mount system is the largest in North Carolina. SunEdison financed, built, and operates the PV solar energy system. Progress Energy purchases electricity from SunEdison under a 20-year solar energy purchase agreement. Progress Energy also purchases renewable energy credits from SunEdison.
Energy Net

Economist.com: producing electricity with cheap Solar balloons - 0 views

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    SOLAR cells are expensive, so it makes sense to use them efficiently. One way to do so is to concentrate sunlight onto them. That means a smaller area of cell can be used to convert a given amount of light into electricity. This, though, imposes another cost-that of the mirrors needed to do the concentrating. Traditionally these are large pieces of polished metal, steered by electric motors to keep the sun's rays focused on the cell. But now Cool Earth Solar of Livermore, California, has come up with what it hopes will be a better, cheaper alternative: balloons. Anyone who has children will be familiar with aluminised party balloons. Such balloons are made from metal-coated plastic. Cool Earth's insight was that if you coat only one half of a balloon, leaving the other transparent, the inner surface of the coated half will act as a concave mirror. Put a solar cell at the focus of that mirror and you have an inexpensive solar-energy collector.
Energy Net

US Installs 342-MW of Solar PV In 2008 - Renewable Energy World - 0 views

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    The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released its 2008 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review, highlighting a third year of record growth for the solar industry. According to the report 1,265 megawatts (MW) of all varieties of solar power were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 17 percent to 8,775 MW. California was the leader among state grid-tied PV installations with 178.6 MW, New Jersey followed with 22.5 MW installed, Colorado was next at 21.6 MW, Nevada installed 13.9 MW and Hawaii with 11.3 MW. The 2008 figure included 342 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, 139 MWTh (thermal equivalent) of solar water heating, 762 MWTh of pool heating and an estimated 21 MW of solar space heating and cooling.
Energy Net

The Associated Press: DOE approves loan support for solar plant - 0 views

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    The government announced approval Friday of the first loan guarantee for an energy project under a program that Congress approved four years ago, only to see it hamstrung by years of delay. Energy Secretary Steven Chu vowed as one of his top priorities to revamp and speed up the loan guarantee program, promising to cut the time it takes to review applications, many of which have been on file at the department for a year or more. On Friday, Chu announced approval of a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc., a company in Freemont, Calif., that makes solar panels for commercial buildings. The company said the government guarantee will cover debt financing for 73 percent of the cost of a second manufacturing plant in Freemont.
Energy Net

Peak Energy: Solar Panels at Costco - 0 views

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    Jamais Cascio has a post on the widespread availability of DIY solar panels in the US - Living in the Green Future. Popped into Costco today to pick up a couple of items, and what did I see? Just in case you can't read that too well, it's a 60W solar panel setup, with inverter (allowing it to power 110V devices), junction box to hook the four panels together, cabling, and frame... for under $300. Stacked like tires at Costco. This is a beautiful example of why I talk about the banality of the future. Cheap solar power systems readily available to the unwashed masses was once something out of science fiction; today, it barely elicits a glance from shoppers stocking up on cases of pickles and TVs by the six-pack.
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