Sorry that I fell so far behind in the blog. Will try to do some updates in the next few days
I don’t know if the TV ads by SolarWorld prompted Sharp to start its own campaign to promote solar power, or if the company (which has a major manufacturing plant in Tennessee) had already scheduled a campign, but I saw the ad running on CNN twice. Maybe now the local powers that be will start getting the message.
Join us for the 3rd Solar Social tomorrow (Tuesday — Aug. 17) from 5:30 to 7pm at SOL Restaurant 1611 Habersham. Great nibbles, great bar prices and great conversation.
The 2nd Annual Southern Solar Summit will be held in Atlanta, Aug. 19 & in Savannah, Aug. 25. Presented by the Georgia Solar Energy Association, it will bring together an outstanding group of industry leaders to present key insights facing Georgia as it moves towards a more sustainable future, incorporating solar energy. For more information and to register, visit http://www.gasolar.org.
Colorado knows how to attract and support solar enegryn projects. The location of an NREL lab doesn’t hurt, but local and state governments are making the most of the collaboration among federa and university research labs and the entrepreneurial companies they spin off.
Two recent cases in point:
1) MP2 Capital, a leading developer, financier, and operator of solar projects throughout North America launched a 1.6MW photovoltaic array that will power Denver International Airport’s (DIA) fuel storage and distribution facilities. MP2 Capital utilized a unique private-public partnership to develop the project, which is one of the first and largest solar power plants completed to date under the Obama Administration’s grant initiative (Stimulus funds) The solar array will help DIA offset the environmental and monetary costs of its jet fuel storage and distribution facility, generating approximately 2,450,000 kWh of clean electricity in the first year of operation and approximately 47 million kWh during the system’s lifetime. Despite the struggling economy, this project moved from concept to completion within 120 days.
2) RSB Funds has partnered with Jefferson County Public Schools to bring solar energy to 30 neighborhood schools. With no upfront cost to Jeffco because of federal, state and Xcel Energy renewable energy incentives, the goal is to save an estimated $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years for the Jefferson County taxpayers. The project responds to recent legislation that gives Colorado the highest renewable energy standard in the Rocky Mountain West, requiring that 30% of electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2020.
The panels will generate about half the electricity for an average elementary school. Another benefit from the program is the Teach the Teachers classroom education component to teach students and teachers about solar power and other energy-saving measures.
Frankly, I shook my head in disbelief. There on CNN was a commercial for SolarWorld — the German-based solar giant with manufacturing facilities in the US — promoting solar panels. Spokesman Larry Hagman (TR of Dallas fame) is himself a true proponant of solar power having installed a $750,000 system years ago, perhaps the largest residential system in the country, on his mountain top compound in Ojai, CA. If I can do this right the commercial follows — if not here is the URL — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-XNNPTqNMQ&feature=related
Finally, perhaps we can get a serious national dialogue going on the importance of solar power — both for our economy and to help the planet (which needs all the help she can get).
The solar naysayers said it couldn’t be done when First Solar claimed that its thin film modules would cost under $1.00 per watt. Then they scoffed at the idea that costs could drop to 50 cents per watt. Well, they were wrong then and they will continue to be wrong in the future.
First Solar just announced its financial results for the second quarter ended June 26, 2010. PV module manufacturing cost was reduced to $0.76 per watt, down $0.05 from the prior quarter and 13% year over year. The company also saw an uptick in orders for its turnkey system sales. Projected operating capacity in their Arizona facility was raised from 2.1GW to 2.2GW by 2012.
(from a press release) The research program of Natcore Technology Inc. being conducted at Rice University under the direction of Prof. Andrew Barron has successfully encapsulated silicon quantum dots with a uniform coating of silicon dioxide
This represents a crucial milestone in Natcore’s development of an all-silicon, super-efficient tandem solar cell. To the knowledge of Natcore scientists, such an encapsulization of individual silicon nanocrystals, or quantum dots (QDs), in silicon dioxide has never before been accomplished.
The silicon dioxide coating was achieved using Rice University’s patented liquid phase deposition (LPD) process, to which Natcore has the exclusive worldwide license. Natcore can now work toward the construction of multiple layers of silicon QDs in orderly, three dimensional arrays that could more efficiently absorb shorter wavelength light (i.e., higher-energy photons) than is possible in ordinary bulk silicon.
When added to the top of a standard silicon solar cell, such stacked arrays could significantly increase the efficiency of the silicon solar cell at a much lower cost per additional watt than that of the original cell itself. Theoretical calculations by various independent research groups and published in the open literature show that efficiency of over 30% for tandem solar cells in terrestrial sunlight is possible.
Efficiency of greater than 30% would represent approximately double the power output of today’s commercial silicon solar cells, and would likely bridge the economic gap between solar and conventional power generation
Tandem solar cells are a proven technology currently employed in space applications. The major issue preventing their broad use in earth-based applications has been the need to use exotic semiconducting materials for the upper layers, and the expensive special vacuum processing technology that limits large-scale production.
In contrast, Natcore’s LPD technology eliminates the need for such materials and their costly processing, and promises to usher in a period of unprecedented growth in the application of solar cells for electrical power generation.
Chuck Provini, Natcore’s president and CEO, notes “We hope to be able to stack them, much like ping-pong balls in a box. The resulting array promises to make a silicon tandem cell possible. We’re now working aggressively toward that goal.”
— from their website they also claim their process uses 60% less silicon.
BOTTOM LINE: Not only will this reduce the cost per watt, it will also mean that existing buildings that only have a limited amount of roof space that receives sunlight at least 6 hours a day can double the amount of electricity they can produce — opening up a huge market.