Friday, November 30, 2007

The Great Solar Cell Race is ON!


The Great Race

Since writing the last piece on the new solar electric panels, I have been gathering information on just a few of the runners in this Great Solar Race.

A few weeks ago I wrote up a short piece on Innovalight and their CEO Conrad Burke. I spoke to Mr. Burke today who promised to send me some news of where his company is in the Solar Race.

Some of the other players of note in the field are; Signet Solar, Ava Solar, Nano Sys,, and Solaris, just to mention a few.

I have a feeling that this is going to be one hell of a technological race. The prize is huge and the implications will reverbrate throughout history.

There appears to be two distinct lines of development in the basic science involved. 1. Silicone Based, and 2. Non Silicone or Dye based. I am very uninformed in the science of solar cells but I will be doing a lot of reading in the next few weeks. What I learn, I will try to translate from TechnoSpeak into English, and will post the results right here.

I am getting very excited about this new Solar Cell Tecnology.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

NanoSolar The New “Microsoft” of Solar Cells?


NanoSolar The New “Microsoft” of Solar Cells?

Think of a solar panel without the bulky panel. Just a thin coated sheet, little thicker than a credit card. The coating material is where the trick lies - it is the new nano technology at work.

This light tough flexible sheeting can easily be mounted onto roofs, walls, garden sheds, fences etc. The daylight does not have to be very sunny or the sun does not need to be at all warm in order to make electricity. These new photocells will make power in freezing cold sunny conditions almost as well as in hot sunshine. It is light intensity not heat that does the work. They are much more efficient than the older type of cell, they are also much more robust, they are lighter by far, and they are much – much cheaper.

Entire Cities Self-Powered

You could have entire buildings covered in these solar electric sheets. Indeed entire cities could be self powered by cladding all the roofs and buildings.

We are all familiar with PV solar panels, they have been around for a long time. Your little calculator that needs no batteries, your solar garden lights that charge up from the sun, up to hugely expensive large power generating solar installations that you may read about.

The factors that have kept solar electricity from being widely utilised are; 1. Cost, they have been very expensive, 2. Fragile plus difficult to mount and handle, 3. Low efficiency.

The new nano technology is about to bring the cost of solar panels way down, by tens or even hundreds of times, to the point where going solar will be cheaper, and of course cleaner, than burning coal to make power. That is what thin-film nano technology solar cells hold as promise. Solar power will become vastly widespread because it will be so cheap and so easy to install.

A New Technological Revolution.

This is a technological revolution, which promises to be on a similar scale to the Silicone Valley revolution of the seventies and eighties. Way back the cost of computer chips was so high that thieves took to breaking into offices to steal – not the computers – but the memory chips. Weight for weight they were more expensive than gold. Now you can buy a 1 gigabyte memory chip for around €30 or less, back then that much memory would have cost well in excess of €10,000.

The computer chip example might provide you with a historical example of what is about to happen with PV Solar Cells. The price of the new panels will come down to perhaps 30 US cents per watt that is 21 Euro cent in the next year or so. An array of 6 kilowatts, enough to power the average home would cost a mere €1260 – then free power for life!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course there would be other investment costs such as installation costs, inverters, and perhaps storage batteries. It is an investment I would borrow to buy into.

The new day is about to dawn when all these radical changes will be a reality, because Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar, and others like them, have created the manufacturing technology that can make it all happen.

The company are already producing nano solar cells with printing-press type machines that spray a coating of light absorbing ink onto lightweight metal foil at a speed of several hundred feet per minute.

Investment Opportunities?

Nanosolar has built one of the world’s biggest PV solar-panel factories in San Jose. When it reaches full production it will churn out some 430 megawatts worth of solar cells a year. That is the equivanent of 200 of those big wind turbines in terms of power.

They have another factory in the pipeline in Europe. Some of the first produce will be used in Europe to build a 1.4-megawatt solar power plant in 2008. The revolution has started.

There will be some serious money to be made by investing in this technological revolution, just as there was in the Silicone Valley of the seventies and eighties. You have all heard of the millions made by those who invested a few thousand in Microsoft in the early days. The trick will be in picking the “Microsoft” or the “Intel” horses from the field that are running.

Watch this space.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Renewable Energy Grants Ireland


SEI and the Irish Renewable Energy Grant System

I have in the past extensively dealt with the Irish renewable energy grant system run by SEI and IMHO its disastrous effect on the Irish alternative energy market place.

It is time again for me to take a look at the situation, what with the lowering of the grant amounts and with new players coming into the marketplace.

Are we better off or not? Have the new players made any difference? Would I now go for my wood pellet system?

Stay tuned to this channel folks, I am working on these questions and will post the results in the near future.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sun Power - Sun Flower


Did you notice the SunFlower??

A stray sunflower seed at the fence gives us the contrast of
man and natures ways of harvesting the suns rays


Solar Power


Solar Power Plant Pictures

Here is a detail of the Big Mirrors at SanLucar La Mayor which track the sun
the boffins call them "Heliostats" I much prefer the name "Girasol",
after the Spanish for sunflower

The facility at SanLucar has two other means of harvesting the suns rays,
in this photo you see a PV Cell array.


Friday, November 23, 2007

SunTower SunFlower

Beautiful Power

Lord of the Rings type Magic Tower.

We are just back from a short holiday on the Costa Del Sol Spain. While there we made a 3+ hour pilgrimage to an area some 25 Km west of Seville, in the municipality of SanLukar La Mayor to see a “solar tower”.

Sunflower Suntower.

Sunflower in Spanish is “Girasol” which means, more or less, “track sun”. It was strangely significant for me, in an area where one of the main agricultural crops are sunflowers, to see the sun being harvested in a super high-tech and visually beautiful way.

Light from Light.

The solar tower stand some 115 meters or 337 feet high and is surrounded in a semi-circle of 600+ huge morrors. Each mirror is 120 Sq Meters and tracks the sun like the millions of locally grown sunflowers in the surrounding fields. All the beams converge at a point near the top of the tower.

This heat collecting area is intensly bright and heated to super high temperatures which drive the generator turbines on the top of the tower.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

MagLev Wind Turbines


The Mini and the Mega
MagLev Turbines

Artists impression of the US MEGA Turbine

New designs in wind turbines are emerging from at least two directions. One in China, where small scale MagLev turbines with outputs up to 5Kw are being produced, to an Arizona based company MagLev Turbine Technology are planning the concept on the GRAND scale.
The idea is that these turbines would have very little bearing friction and would therefore operate at very low wind speeds and require much less maintenance. Speeds as low as a 3.3-MPH breeze have been mentioned.

These efficiencies will allow cheaper power generation. The company are claiming that its design is so efficient that it can produce power for less than 2 cent per kilowatt hour.

The Mega

The US company have plans to gear up to a MASSIVE sized baby. The makers are looking at a 1000 MegaWatt Turbine - a giga-watt turbine - hard to swallow that one, power for a fair sized city!!!

If one is to believe the hoopla and the thing actually works it would mark a big advance in turbine design. The publicity claims that the turbine's operational costs are 50% less than other large-scale wind turbines, and that they can generate 20% more power.
I hope this is not another Steorn, Airoption CoreTech, moving statue phenomena.

The Mini

In China construction has begun on the world's largest production base for magnetic levitation (maglev) wind power generators. The base will produce a series of maglev wind power generators with capacities ranging from 400watt up to 5Kw (mini-turbines for the back garden sort of thing).

The Chinese maglev generator co-developed by the company and Guangzhou Energy Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences is expected to create new opportunities for harnessing wind power in low-wind-speed areas, as it can utilize winds with starting speeds as low as 1.5 meters per second.

The blurb says that the frictionless maglev generator would cut the operational expenses of wind farms by up to half, keeping the overall cost of wind power under 3.7 Euro cent per kilowatt-hour.

Hope these ideas are for real.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Subaru 200Km Electric Car

Subaru has announced a new electric car the G4e which is a 5 seat car. Thing thats different about this electric car is the new 346 volt modified lithium – vanadium battery which can give 200Km or 124 miles on a charge. The battery can be rapidly charged in just 15 minutes to 80% capacity. The vanadium material can store two to three times more lithium ions than the regular type of battery. The car also boaster a maintenance free 65 Kw electric motor - I like the sound of that, maintenance-free.

Apart from being almost maintenance free, the other big saving is on juice. Electric cars run at about one tenth the cost. For anyone making relatively short journeys this could be one good investment.

Only caveat that comes to mind is how safe and reliable this new battery is. If they offered a 5 year guarantee on the battery plus a staggered replacement cost after that, it would answer that one.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Kerry 100% Wind Powered?

County Kerry has 100% Power Needs in Wind

Has nothing to do with the story just took my attention

I learned that General Electric is investing in a 120 Mega-Watt wind farm in which will be built in Texas. It would seem that Texas because of its open flat lands is an increasingly attractive area for wind turbines. Building commenced this summer and is expected to be completed by April next. The wind farm will have 80 1.5 MegaWatt GE wind turbines. It will produce enough power for an estimated 37,000 homes.

According to GE. all power will be sold in the Texas market. Now that’s an idea for Ireland - selling the power where it is generated!!!

Kerry is already self-sufficient in wind power. All that is needed to complete the effectiveness are some Redox battery storage installations, and the “Kingdom” of Kerry could declare independence, from the national grid that is, and have cheaper power to boot!!!