Way behind in Blogging

November 23, 2010

Sorry that I fell so far behind in the blog. Will try to do some updates in the next few days

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Solar Social Tues. Sept 21

September 18, 2010

The fourth Solar Social for Solar Champions takes place Tuesday, Sept. 21 at SOL restaurant, 1611 Habersham from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All are welcome and the event is free. Updates on Sustainable Fellwood, and news items re: Habitat for Humanity, GE, DOW, Corning, and new legislation in Illinois will be shared. Also please think about the next series of action we can take. A possible solar workshop (or a series) has been suggested. Your suggestions are encouraged.

Sharp Starts TV Ad Campaign for it Solar Modules

August 31, 2010

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.

Solar Social Tuesday — Solar Summit Late August

August 16, 2010

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.

3rd Solar Social & Solar Ready Sponsors

August 12, 2010

The 3rd Solar Social will be held Tuesday, Aug. 17 at SOL restaurant 1611 Habersham from 5:30 to 7 pm. I have had calls from people new to solar who will probably be there, so all are welcome. There is no charge and SOL has special beverage prices and more.

The drive to provide sponsors to make 6 buildings solar ready in the Sustainable Fellwood Development (Phase II) is coming along nicely. Our efforts were reported this week in the Savannah Morning News – you can read it at:

http://www.savannahnow.com/news/2010-08-10/sustainable-fellwood-gets-solar-ready

In additon to the four sponsors mentioned: Michael Griffith, Mikell Cates, Charles Davis and Julian Smith, we can now add Corby and Kathy Claar (who have installed solar hot water, solar PV, and solar skylight on their Thunderbolt home). We have one to go for Phase II — so if you can think of anyone I should contact, or if you would like to sponsor, please contact me: Jack Star tel: 233-4288 or jack@solarcitiesusa.com.

Hope to see you Tuesday.

What Does Colorado Know That We Don’t

August 9, 2010

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.

SolarWorld’s TV Commercial Goes National

August 4, 2010

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).

First Solar Posts New Gains

August 2, 2010

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.

Solar Champions to Hold 2nd Solar Social

July 17, 2010

SAVANNAH. Solar Champions will hold it’s second Solar Social from 5:30 to 7pm Tuesday, July 20, at SOL restaurant, 1611 Habersham St. The prime purpose of Solar Socials is to share information about the dynamic changes that are talking place in solar technology to produce pollution-free, fuel-free electricity and hot water. There will be an update on the project to provide solar ready materials to Sustainable Fellwood. The event is free and open to the public.

“It is ironic that there is so little activity in the installation of solar systems in Savannah and the Low Country when this region has the highest number of solar hours per year of any region on the East Coast except for Southern Florida,” notes Star.

He points to the fact that none of the hotels, motels, academic buildings, housing developments, public buildings, commercial structures and warehouses built within the past few years have incorporated a single roof mounted solar electric (photovoltaic) generating panel.

“There appears to be a great deal of misperception about solar costs, tax credits, accelerated depreciation, buy-back premiums, and available grants. Solar Champions seek to implement educational outreach programs as one of the first objectives,” says Star. “Also ignored is the job creating potential of a thriving local solar industry”

“Even those architectural firms which embrace LEED certification (a measure of energy efficiency and sustainability) have been unwilling, or unable to convince their clients to incorporate solar power in new structures,” he says. “None of the most energy conscious home builders in the area have even installed a single solar panel on a model home.”

Star is optimistic, however, and points to the new, 5.1kW solar canopy at the Chatham County Recycling Center on Eisenhower, the announcement that the German firm MAGE SOLAR GMBH will be building a major solar panel manufacturing campus in Dublin GA that will start production by the end of this year, and the success of the solar installation training program at Savannah Tech.

“It looks as if the City of Tybee is taking a leadership position on renewable energy with plans to incorporate geothermal, solar, and perhaps urban wind. Maybe that will shame other municipalities to follow.”

He hopes the monthly Solar Socials will act as a catalyst to propel the region into a promising solar future.

New process can raise efficiency of solar modules to 30%

July 13, 2010

(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.