Solar Panel Breakthrough April 1, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, In The News, Science & Technology.
Tags: Alternative Energy, Science & Technology, Solar
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A novel fabrication technique developed by a University of Connecticut engineering professor could provide the breakthrough technology scientists have been looking for to vastly improve the efficiency of today’s solar energy systems.
Silicon solar panels have a single band gap which, loosely speaking, allows the panel to convert electromagnetic radiation efficiently at only one small portion of the solar spectrum. The rectenna devices don’t rely on a band gap and may be tuned to harvest light over the whole solar spectrum, creating maximum efficiency.
The nano-antennas – known as “rectennas” because of their ability to both absorb and rectify solar energy from alternating current to direct current – must be capable of operating at the speed of visible light and be built in such a way that their core pair of electrodes is a mere 1 or 2 nanometers apart, a distance of approximately one millionth of a millimeter, or 30,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair.
The potential breakthrough lies in a novel fabrication process called selective area atomic layer deposition (ALD) that was developed by Brian Willis, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Connecticut and the former director of UConn’s Chemical Engineering Program.
The atomic layer deposition process is favored by science and industry because it is simple, easily reproducible, and scalable for mass production. Willis says the chemical process is particularly applicable for precise, homogenous coatings for nanostructures, nanowires, nanotubes, and for use in the next generation of high-performing semi-conductors and transistors.
The Dirty Solar Panel Fight Over Clean Energy October 10, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
Tags: China, Environment, Renewable Energy, Solar, Solyndra
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Chinese technocrats set out to create an industry that would dominate the world, and they succeeded. They aided solar cell manufacturers with easy credit from state banks—perhaps as much as $18 billion of cheap loans—and, some say, subsidies. As a result of central and local government support, Chinese manufacturers began to expand rapidly. Chinese competitors now own 70% of the world’s wafer-producing capacity.
Make that overcapacity. “Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun, in a statement released late last month. The company alleges that 90% of Chinese production had to be exported and that Beijing used subsidies to keep its manufacturers in business.
The powerful Chinese National Development and Reform Commission wants to see two-thirds of panel makers go out of business. Only the largest producers, which are presently nonviable, will survive.
In short, central government technocrats, to salvage their industrial policy, will now have to destroy what they worked so hard to create.
Solar Thermal Possiblities Abound March 9, 2008Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
Tags: Energy, Solar
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Solar Company Says Its Tech Can Power 90 Percent of Grid and Cars | Wired Science from Wired.com
Solar-thermal power is gaining adherents, including Google.org, which cut a deal with another player, eSolar, as a way to cleanly generate cost-competitive, city-scale amounts of power. Unlike traditional photovoltaics, which use panels to convert sunlight into electricity, solar-thermal plants focus the sun’s rays on liquids to make steam that powers turbines. Solar-thermal is flat-out more efficient — at 20 to 40 percent — than photovoltaics, which in the field convert sunlight to electricity at about 15 to 22 percent. And solar-thermal fits into the industrial model of power production, meaning that it works in big plants, not distributed across a bunch of houses and buildings.
new research (.pdf) was presented at the IEA SolarPACES conference in Las Vegas, and is described as peer-reviewed. The paper says Ausra expects to commercialize its energy-storage technology within two years. A prototype of the system will go into a model plant the company plans to finish this summer in Bakersfield, California, the company’s founder, David Mills, told Wired.com.
Companies have been piling into the solar-concentrating space. Stirling Energy Systems, SkyFuel, Solel, BrightSource, Rocketdyne, Abengoa and the aforementioned eSolar are all working on using mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy in one way or another.