Thursday, March 29, 2012

MIT 3-D Designs for Solar panels can expand power generated for same area from 2 to 20 times or more

A new dimension for solar energy
Two small-scale versions of three-dimensional photovoltaic arrays were among those tested by Jeffrey Grossman and his team on an MIT rooftop to measure their actual electrical output throughout the day.
Photo: Allegra Boverman

Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface, or sometimes attached to motorized structures that keep the cells pointed toward the sun as it crosses the sky.

Now, a team of MIT researchers has come up with a very different approach: building cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from the structures they’ve tested show power output ranging from double to more than 20 times that of fixed flat panels with the same base area. 

More @ MIT News Office

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why power generating companies are terrified of solar

Here is a pair of graphs that demonstrate most vividly the merit order effect and the impact that solar is having on electricity prices in Germany; and why utilities there and elsewhere are desperate to try to rein in the growth of solar PV in Europe. It may also explain why Australian generators are fighting so hard against the extension of feed-in tariffs in this country.
The first graph illustrates what a typical day on the electricity market in Germany looked like in March four years ago; the second illustrates what is happening now, with 25GW of solar PV installed across the country. Essentially, it means that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators — as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV — it is in fact eating their entire cake.

The arrival of solar PV, and the achievement of parity against retail prices, means that consumers do now have a choice. As Jeff Bye, the head of solar at CBD Energy told RenewEconomy last week, he is fielding dozen of calls each week from consumers asking how they can install solar and be taken off the grid.

More @ Crikey

Monday, March 26, 2012

Amazing water-powered gadgets

6. • HydroWind – A portable water/wind powered generator for campers:

Designed by Ange Solomon, the HydroWind is a wind turbine that can also work in water, generating hydroelectricity. To accomplish these two tasks simultaneously, the charger has been made waterproof. The package contains a folding waterproof mill with a magnetic bobbin that generates electricity at 12 volts, which can be used to power small devices and small lighting systems.

8. • ECOLight shower cabin light runs on hydro power:

The ECOlight by Sylvania is a water-powered LED shower head. Designed to cater to a sustainable lifestyle, the light comes with temperature sensors. The LED glows blue for temperatures less than 78 degrees Fahrenheit and red for temperatures greater than 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

11. • Mini Hydro Turbine water powered gadget charger:

Designed by Jin Woohan, the Mini Hydro Turbine is a mini water turbine that uses water pressure to power up a turbine, which eventually generates enough electricity for you to power your cellphones or other portable electronic gear with. The electricity generated can either be used directly by connecting the turbine to a wall outlet or can be used to charge batteries for future use.

More from Ecofriend

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Solar panel made with ion cannon is cheap enough to challenge fossil fuels | ExtremeTech

Twin Creeks' Hyperion particle accelerator wafer machine thing 

Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today’s cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. The best bit: Twin Creeks’ photovoltaic cells are created using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator.

3-millimeter-thick silicon wafers are placed around the outside edge of the big, spoked wheel. A particle accelerator bombards these wafers with hydrogen ions, and with exacting control of the voltage of the accelerator, the hydrogen ions accumulate precisely 20 micrometers from the surface of each wafer. A robotic arm then transports the wafers to a furnace where the ions expand into hydrogen gas, which cause the 20-micrometer-thick layer to shear off. A metal backing is applied to make it less fragile (and highly flexible, as you see on the right), and the remaining silicon wafer is taken back to the particle accelerator for another dose of ions. At a tenth of the thickness and with considerably less wastage, it’s easy to see how Twin Creeks can halve the cost of solar cells.

it is promising a cost of around 40 cents per watt, about half the cost of panels currently coming out of China (where the vast majority of solar panels are made). At that price, solar power begins to encroach on standard, mostly-hydrocarbon-derived grid power — but, of course, we still need to create batteries that can store solar power over night. Still, one step at a time.

More @ ExtremeTech