Shared Renewable Energy Program Welcomed in Orlando

shared-solar-orlando

America has long questioned whether or not customers would be interested in renewable energy as a source of energy. This question has found its answer as all around the nation as utility companies and consumers rework the grid to add in more renewable energy sources. Florida is famously known as the “Sunshine State”, so the installation of solar panels in Orlando should be an obviously effective and reliable source of alternative energy. Orlando’s utility provider, Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) has sold out a total of 400kW of renewable energy in an alarming six days. Solar, wind, and all forms of renewable energy are clearly emerging as a logical next step for energy creation. This progression looks as if it won’t be slowing down any time soon considering many of the obvious benefits I will discuss below.

Benefits

Clean energy comes with a host of financial and environmental benefits that informed consumers today readily appreciate. We would benefit financially as people and as a nation by reducing our reliance on rapidly depleting fossil fuels that we do not control. This would free us from any sort of price hikes that foreign oil producing nations might implement. This new industry would also create new jobs and spur investment from global players. Already clean energy has risen to creating about $260Billion globally and an estimated 2.3 million jobs.

Some studies show that wind power alone could provide a total of 9% of global electricity by 2030. While that may not seem huge, consider that it’s providing almost 10% of the entire worlds energy needs. One country with a true penchant for pursing clean energy has been Brazil. In Brazil hydroelectric dams provide the country with a shocking 83% of its total electricity needs. If the above numbers shock you then you would not be alone. Most people would be shocked to learn that even geothermal energy could provide up to 15x the worlds required energy production. Yet one must remember that the renewable energy approach is a multi-faceted affair in which society must leverage all the available options to the best effect.

Positive Reception

As I wrote about earlier, OUC’s solar energy program has been welcomed with consumers wallets open and ready to purchase. Already their 400kW of renewable and clean energy has sold out and another 300kW of applications have resulted in more construction and investment in central Florida. Almost no one in the Sunshine State expected this new source of energy to sell out so quickly, including some of the managers at OUC itself. One such example is Jennifer Szaro who reportedly exclaimed “We never dreamed it would sell out in six days”.

One of the features in OUC’s solar roll out that has been so well received is its price. While 1-3 cents/kWh is slightly above the normal rate, that price will also be locked in for 25 years as the cost of traditional energy increases. This is a big win for the residents of Orlando.  Hopefully Florida as a whole adopts renewable energy programs like this since Florida’s environment is one of its main attractions.

Byline: Eduardo Dieguez is a professional blogger for BobheinMillerSolar.com. He is a 1st generation American born Cuban that is currently in pursuit of his AA Degree at Valencia.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Advanced Crystalline Silicon Solar: Will it Hit $1/Watt?

Klassieren

Advanced crystalline silicon technologies are the most likely to achieve the US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative goal of reducing the cost of solar to $1 per installed watt, according to a recent report from Lux Research.

While silicon solar cells are unlikely to meet that milestone by the 2020 goal, emerging advanced silicon technologies will likely achieve the solar panel price goal of 50 cents per watt by 2030, according to a recent release from the research firm.

“Crystalline Silicon will be able to meet the goal,” said Fatima Toor, the report author, “but with advanced cell designs, not with the designs we have now.”

Thia means investment in research and development will be key, something the industry has struggled with since global oversupply led to the demise of many solar companies in the United States and abroad.

Companies have been operating on tight margins with little leftover to invest in developing new technology. Government investment has waned and venture capital has been tight.

In fact, U.S. government investment in solar industry research has dropped dramatically since 2008.  Government and private funding has slowed to a trickle of it what it used to be. Thankfully, there are still some bright spots. Texas recently announced a $600 million solar research facility.

“A lot of the venture capital investors were really burned by investing large sums of money in companies that didn’t make it,” Toor stated. “The days of the $200 million investments are gone.”

She said venture capitalists are sinking smaller amounts – $6 to $14 million – into solar research and development projects.

In 2008, the United States was leading the country in intellectual property generation in the solar industry. Today, the country has fallen behind China.

“And the gap is really increasing,” she added. “The U.S. is not taking on the solar industry as aggressively as China is.”

The next logical R&D resource for the U.S. solar industry is universities and colleges.

Lux analyzed 940 different corporate partnerships in the global solar industry and identified some of the leading research institutions developing new technologies in partnership with companies that will commercialize them.

Arizona State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Delaware emerged as three major U.S. universities with multiple research facilities dedicated to developing new solar technologies.

Toor said Crystalline silicon, more than other technology, including CIGS or thin film, has the potential to meet SunShot price per watt goals, though perhaps not by 2020.

The goal would bring the installed cost of solar down to 6 cents per kilowatt hour – well below the current average price of electricity from utility providers today.

Toor doesn’t expect such a low price point to drive solar demand much higher than it is now, however.

“The idea is that since solar would be so cheap, there wouldn’t be any need for government subsidies.  Whether it would increase the pace of solar adoption remains to be seen.”

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

IKEA: Selling Solar Panels Like Hotcakes

ikea-solar

Ikea has already installed solar panels on hundreds of its retail centers around the globe, but announced that it will begin selling solar to customers at its British stores.

The Swedish housewares retailer famous for flat-packing trendy affordable furnishings wants to make trendy solar energy more accessible and affordable to the masses.

Ikea will sell systems with a minimum size of 3.36 kilowatts, or 18 panels, for 5,700 pounds ($9,200). That’s enough energy for a semidetached house with a south facing roof to generate $1,200 a year in subsidies and energy savings, which would enable the homeowner to recoup the expense of the systems in about seven years, according to a release from the retailer.

The cost includes in-store consultation, installation and maintenance. All of the panels are made by China’s Hanergy Holdings, but in a German manufacturing plant.

“We know that our customers want to live more sustainably and we hope working with Hanergy to make solar panels affordable and easily available helps them do just that,” Joanna Yarrow, Ikea’s Head of Sustainability in the UK and Ireland, told The Guardian.

An Ikea spokesperson told ABC News that the United Kingdom rollout of the program is a pilot and that the retailer will evaluate its success before considering implementing solar sales in its stores in other countries.

All 17 of the British stores will carry solar within the next 10 months, according to the release. The program is an expansion of an earlier pilot program in Lakewood, a suburb of London, where Ikea sells a solar system nearly every day.

In addition to offering competitive in-store pricing for solar, Ikea also offers financing programs to help homeowners who don’t have the cash to go solar.

The plan to begin selling solar panels almost as if they were flat screen televisions fits into Ikea’s greater green vision for the company’s sustainable future. Ikea has pledged to get all of the energy it uses from renewable sources by the year 2020. That dramatic 100 percent net-zero goal is unique in the corporate world.

But Ikea has now gone beyond greening its own stores and is now helping its customers green their homes.

“In recent years, the company has aggressively pushed a portfolio of products intended to curb energy consumption, including LED bulbs, ultra efficient appliances and products that conserve water. Sustainability plays a massive role in IKEA’s marketing efforts,” Steve Howard, the company’s sustainability chief, told The Wall Street Journal.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Most Efficient Commercially Available Solar from Semprius

solfocus

Semprius recently announced that it has achieved a new efficiency record of 35.5 percent using concentrated solar photovoltaic technology.  The announcement makes Semprius’ high concentration photovoltaic solar panels the most efficient commercially available and mass-produced panels in the world, according to a release from the company.

The achievement is particularly significant because the efficiency wasn’t achieved in a small-scale laboratory test.

“The record module was produced on the production line at Semprius’ new manufacturing facility, located in Henderson, N.C.,” according to the release. “The module incorporates standard production techniques and materials.”

Semprius uses epitaxial wafers supplied by partner Solar Junction. The smallest commercially available solar cells enable Semprius to employ state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques that increase overall panel efficiency.

“Our R&D team continues to raise the bar for solar module efficiency as it executes against our product roadmap,” said Scott Burroughs, Vice President of Technology at Semprius.  “We have an extensive program of efficiency improvements and cost reductions over the next several years that will allow us to continue to improve performance and drive down the cost of solar energy.”

Semprius also announced that it has achieved 37.1 percent efficiency in a demonstration module.

The company has deployed its sun-tracking HCPV modules in eight countries over the last 18 months.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Solar Manufacturing Limited in China

china-solar-factoryt

China announced this week that it will begin banning the development of new solar panel manufacturing facilities that simply add capacity.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology made the public announcement on its website Tuesday.

The move, analysts say, is expected to drive a flurry of merger and acquisition activity in the sector, as well as increase the competitiveness of Chinese solar manufacturers.

Top tier Chinese solar company stocks responded positively to the news, with players like Yingli and Canadian Solar rising slightly. It’s interesting to note, however, that Chinese solar stocks did not respond quite as positively as Taiwanese solar stocks such as Neo Solar Power Corp., which saw its sharpest one-day spike since June following the announcement.

While China might limit new capacity, Taiwan has no such constraints and will likely benefit from reduced competition from Chinese manufacturers, analysts suggest.

The move from the Chinese Ministry of Industry was initially a surprise.  To many, however, the annoucement seemingly provides for the long-term health of an industry in which the Chinese government has invested in heavily.

Overcapacity caused solar panel prices to plummet 20 percent in 2012 according to an article published by Bloomberg. And presently, existing solar manufacturing capacity in China is far greater than necessity.

If Chinese solar manufacturers operated at max capacity, they could produce 49 gigawatts of solar panels a year, according to Bloomberg. That’s 61 percent more solar than was installed globally in 2012.

A report from Lux Research found that the move to limit new solar capacity demonstrates China’s dedication to its solar industry.  It also stated that China will increase it domestic demand for solar, using up more supply locally.

The report went on to say that China would encourage acquisitions that will leave top-tier companies to gobble up smaller ones.  And that China would invest more heavily in research and development, which will keep manufacturers globally competitive.

These predictions are playing out in the Ministry of Industry’s recent announcement.  The government, in addition to limiting new capacity, will require solar manufacturers to spend at least 3 percent of their annual revenue on research and development, as well as new or upgraded equipment.

While additional solar manufacturing capacity will be limited, it won’t be impossible for Chinese manufacturers to add it.

“They may be able to add capacity without actually building it,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ told Bloomberg. “The Chinese government would be more than OK with companies if they joined forces or capacity gravitated toward the tier-one manufacturers.”

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

First Solar Teams Up With Belectric

first-solar-farm

As solar companies attempt to expand their reach, they’re forging new partnerships to increase access. Most recently, First Solar formed a joint venture with Germany’s Belectric. Under the agreement, the two companies will pursue selected photovoltaic projects in Europe, North Africa, and smaller, utility-scale projects in the U.S.

“We are happy to celebrate this important new milestone in our long-term partnership with First Solar,” said Belectric CEO Bernhard Beck. “By joining forces to create a world-class project delivery platform, we hope to strengthen both companies’ relationships with key stakeholders – including project developers and investors – at a time when prices of electricity from solar power plants can already compete with the prices for conventionally generated electricity in a growing number of regions.”

“With its industry-leading capabilities, this joint venture will ensure that our individual project obligations are delivered to the highest standards,” added First Solar CEO Jim Hughes. “First Solar and Belectric share a long history of excellence and we are confident about the future of this initiative, which is based on a firm foundation of mutual trust, expertise and a track record that is unrivaled in the solar energy industry.”

Projects in the U.S. that will be developed under the agreement will be less than 20 megawatts and all projects in the joint venture pipeline can be independently acquired or developed by either of the two companies. All projects developed under the joint venture will use First Solar’s thin-film modules, as well as other First Solar components, like the First Solar Tracker. Belectric will provide its advanced balance of systems services and a range of service capabilities. Depending on project location and geography, either company will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the projects. The agreement also is non-exclusive, which means that both companies can also pursue projects outside of the agreement.

In the U.S., the agreement will also include those projects under 20 megawatts in Belectric’s pipeline of 280 MWs of PV projects. When combined, the pipeline of projects for both companies comes to over 8 gigawatts worldwide. Belectric has a 5 gigawatt pipeline and First Solar’s is over 3 gigawatts, with 7 gigawatts of installed PV worldwide.

This new partnership builds on a longstanding relationship between the two companies. For instance, they recently completed the 128 megawatt Templin solar farm in Germany, which the companies said was the largest power plant in Europe to use First Solar modules. In addition, roughly 80 percent of the 1.4 gigawatts of solar power installed by Belectric use First Solar modules.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Demand from Asia Lifts Global Solar Industry

solar-clouds

Demand for solar photovoltaic panels in the Asian Pacific is forecast to double in the second half of this year.

Combined, China and Japan are expected to have 9 gigawatts of solar demand in the second half of 2013, according to a report released today by NPD Solarbuzz, a market analysis firm. That’s twice the demand those two countries had in the first half of the year and up 70 percent year-over-year. The entire Asian Pacific market, which includes Australia and India, will demand more than 16 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic modules in the second half of this year, a 90 percent increase over demand in the region during the second half of 2012. Combined, the Asian markets will claim 40 percent of the world’s solar installations in the second half of 2013.

That’s good news for Chinese and other Asian market solar module manufacturers, according to the report. Despite strained trade agreements with Europe and the United States, manufacturers are showing dramatic signs of recovery.

“The record level of PV shipments to China and Japan coincides with corporate margins returning to positive territory and the final shakeout phase of uncompetitive manufacturers nearing completion,” according to Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz. “Having entered 2013 with a highly cautious outlook, tier-one suppliers are poised to exit the year with restored confidence, ahead of optimistic shipment and margin guidance for 2014.”

Module manufacturers that were struggling through a period of oversupply are starting to see a dramatic shift and have even reported having difficulty keeping up with the fresh demand as there is less competition in the market now. That shift has been most notable in Japan, which led the world in solar adoption during the first half of this year.

The country’s aggressive replacement of nuclear power with renewable generation sources resulted in a 150 percent growth spurt so far in 2013. Japan already has 5 gigawatts of solar projects in the pipeline and expected to be developed before the end of the second quarter in 2014, according to NPD Solarbuzz.

Utility scale development is expected to lead demand in Japan during the second half of the year while distributed residential and commercial projects dominated the first half of the year.

China is expected to surpass Japan this year in demand for new solar and will likely see greater interest in distributed generation projects. However, the country is working to alleviate bottlenecks in project financing and permitting for larger scale projects that could result in great utility-scale solar development in China during the second half of the year.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

In Focus: Energy Infrastructure’s Future

energy-infrastructure

Transmission lines hold much of the same challenge and promise of the interstate highway system a century ago. The transmission network – the high voltage, long distance power lines that carry electricity from power facilities and into communities – is currently a patchwork system, lacking centralized organization or planning. Assuming that America cannot achieve 100% clean energy with distributed resources, the transport of renewable electric energy across state lines is a major hurdle to realizing a future without fossil fuels.

Transmission line siting is state rule. Generally, the federal government regulates the electricity that travels in the transmission system and the sale of that electricity. Siting is a matter of local land use controls and state sovereignty. Every transmission line that crosses a state border must go through the years long siting and permitting process of each individual state.

America has massive renewable energy potential. The Great Plains has been called the Saudi Arabia of wind. This photo has been floating around the Internet showing how little solar we would need to power the world. Wyoming has nowhere to sell its wind energy.

How do the transmission lines get built to move this energy from geographically isolated places to urban areas throughout the country? Why would any state sacrifice its sovereignty and bear the environmental, social, political, and economic burden of covering itself in transmission line networks to serve out of state end users? It’s a problem more complicated than requiring more renewable energy. It necessitates the federal government or perhaps regional interstate compacts to consider environmental, land use, federalist, economic, and political values.

Initially, transmission lines caught the nation’s attention after a series of blackouts in the early 2000s. Addressing these reliability issues and the underlying problem of transmission line bottlenecks, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the DOE to establish National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (“NIETCs”) and gave FERC some added authority over transmission line siting within NIETCs. A full recounting of these regulations and the resulting litigation is available here [pdf (pg. 8)]. Basically, eight years later the NIETCs do not yet exist and FERC’s siting authority is limited to being able to step in if a state does not act within a year on deciding on a transmission siting permit in a NIETC.

The pdf cited above focuses on FERC’s authority and does not fully consider what may be the best solution to the transmission line issue: regional interstate compacts. Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, states of three or more can sign regional compacts creating a siting authority that functions as a layer of government somewhere between federal and state. It provides a way of preserving state sovereignty while offering the administrative convenience of a single forum for multi state transmission line permitting. Rules would be created for the application process and federal courts would provide judicial review for any appeals. Importantly, member states would be able to work together to consider regional benefits. Kansas is taking the lead with House Bill 2101, which authorizes a regional compact and is now in the State Senate Committee on Utilities after passing in the House 118 to 1.

Interstate compacts may benefit the goals of FERC Order 1000 [pdf], which is meant to integrate renewable energy goals into transmission planning. Furthermore, these compacts could push state RPS programs, especially those that require in-state generation (which is unconstitutional anyway), to reconsider the amount of energy that could be supplied and where it would come from. They also may become more palatable if transmission lines were located underground like natural gas pipelines or offshore.

Utility scale renewable energy facilities will find a way to produce and there are multiple forces pushing them forward. The 7th Circuit just upheld MISO’s plan to finance transmission lines that will transport the supply of wind energy from remote areas of the Great Plains to meet the demand of urban areas throughout the service area. Essentially, rather than using the traditional method of allocating transmission costs to the geographically closest utility, MISO’s plan will require all utilities to proportionally share the cost of “Multi Value Projects” (transmission lines built to deliver renewable energy among other purposes), putting more of a burden on urban areas.

The wedge idea still exists; there will continue to be many complimentary energy solutions. I recently co-authored articles on the viability of microgrids for climate resilient communities and the interconnection rules for small-scale renewable generation. It’s been an exciting time to track the evolution of frequency regulation and storage. Developing these solutions and more while wrestling with multiple value systems is the best way forward. As far as transmission lines go, under current federal laws, regional interstate compacts seem promising.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Alaska Airlines Installs Solar Boarding Ramps

airport-ramp-san-jose-intl

Boarding on Alaska Airlines in San Jose is getting faster thanks the addition of a new solar powered boarding ramp.

Airports normally provide jetways only for the forward door of single aisle-aircrafts. Ramps are hard for elderly, disabled or customers carrying children in car seats, Alaska Airlines said in a press release.

The new aluminum ramp is driven up to the aft door of a 737 and is covered with nonslip material. Three switchbacks provide a gentle slope easy to push up a wheelchair, the release said.

The unit drives to the aircraft where a self-leveling ramp is lowered into place forming a bridge to the door. Set at a right angle to the boarding door, it automatically guides deplaning passengers away from the aircraft to the terminal building.

The unit is solar powered but can be hitched to a tug using a standard tow bar if the drive motor’s battery dies. A fully charged battery provides enough power to operate the ramp for about four days, Warren Barden, San Jose customer service manager said in a press release.

The ramp was designed specifically for Alaska Airlines by Keith Consolidated Industries of Medford, Ore. It cuts boarding time by up to 10 minutes, the press release said.

The ramp is charged by four separate solar cells strategically positioned around the ramp to allow for constant charging regardless of the ramp position and time of day, said Mike Keith, sales manager with Keith Consolidated Industries, in an email. The four cells are capable of nearly 1 kw of input into the system. The two motors draw 60 to 80 amps under power each and the lighting system uses minimal power due to energy efficient LEDs and a computer system ensuring they are only active when needed, he said.

Using solar can save the company money on fuel, Bobbie Egan with Alaska Air said in an email. Alaska Airlines also has an initiative to reduce environmental impacts. The airlines was the first in the United States to install a wind turbine at an airport in Nome, Alaska and along with Horizon Air, recycles more onboard waste than any other carrier in the country, Egan said.

San Jose was chosen to test the ramp because the employees have experience boarding passengers from both ends of the plane using ramps and a stair truck before moving to a new terminal with jetways in 2010. The test began in January 2013. A second prototype was deployed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in July 2013 with improvements like better solar cell placement and a more robust energy system to support the upgrade, Keith said.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Renewable Energy Masters Degree Now Offered at Penn State

penn-state

Penn State University has joined a growing number of respected higher education institutions offering courses in renewable energy.

The school announced this week that it has introduced an online masters program in renewable energy.

“Policy changes, technological advances and an increased awareness of the world’s resources are creating a growing need around the globe for advanced expertise in renewable and sustainability systems,” according to the course catalogue description of the new program. “There is an urgent need to prepare professionals who can serve as leaders of the emerging ‘green’ economy.”

Penn State opted to offer the masters degree as part of its growing World Campus, a collection of 90 online degrees provided through the school and aimed at attracting working students and students who live far from the physical campus in Pennsylvania. The online catalogue of courses gives students flexibility.

The curriculum for the masters degree requires 32 credit hours and includes courses in designing and managing sustainable and renewable energy systems, ethics, energy markets and some foundational renewable energy and sustainability courses developed for this masters program.

“The new Intercollege Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems is designed to prepare professionals to lead the world’s transformation from an unsustainable, fossil energy economy to a renewable, sustainable basis of operation,” said Ali Demirci, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and iMPS-RESS academic program chair.

The masters program draws from the colleges of agricultural sciences, earth and mineral sciences, engineering and liberal arts.

“This program is focused on giving students the technical expertise and advanced project management skills they will need to effectively create or manage successful renewable and sustainable energy systems,” said Daniel Ciolkosz, the academic program coordinator. “Options in bio-energy, sustainability management and policy, solar energy and wind energy will allow students to tailor the degree to their career goals.”

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Envision Solar Announces Portable EV Charging Station

envision-portable-system

The EV ARC is a standalone charging station that doesn’t connect to the electric grid, needs no infrastructure and can be placed as a temporary structure in a parking lot without the need for a building permit in most communities.

“(This is) a paradigm shifting technology product which should appeal to anyone interested in rolling out EV chargers,” said Envision CEO Desmond Whaetley.

The EV ARC is designed to fit within the confines of a single standard parking space. The tracking solar panel mounted on the portable charging station will generate enough electricity during a day to charge electric vehicles until the sun sets when an onboard battery pack, also charged during the day will be available to provide around-the-clock vehicle charging without drawing any power from the grid.

“One of the main prerequisites to mass adoption of electric vehicles is having broadly dispersed and rapidly deployed charging stations,” Wheatley said.

Envision Solar has been known until now for its Solar Tree, a large tracking solar panel atop a concrete pillar that allows room for parking beneath it. The company has been working to modularize its Solar Tree over the last two years so it would be easier to ship and install, reducing expenses for the customer and making the process of buying and installing a Solar Tree more palatable to the major corporations that were most interested in the attractive design.

Wheatley announced earlier this year that Envision had managed to completely modularize its signature product and could begin marketing it abroad. There was no mention of new technologies in development until Envision made the announcement this month about its new EV ARC.

Wheatley said he anticipates a broad and responsive market for the new portable solar charging station.

“The fact that these units are installed in minutes and can be moved without disrupting the host site makes EV charger installation painless and available to anyone for the first time,” Wheatley said. “The EV ARC is ideal for any entity looking for rapid, hassle-free deployments of a charging infrastructure without all the challenges associated with conventional units.”

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

Here Come The Solar Drones

drone-solar

Solar-powered drones might have the ability to replace certain types of satellites.

Titan Aerospace presented its Solara 50 and Solara 60 prototypes at the Association of Unmanned Systems International conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this month and offered up an interesting new use for drones.

Rather than the spying or killing contraptions exclusively useful to military and intelligence operations that drones have been portrayed to be, Titan argues they could have a solid commercial application that has the potential to improve telecommunications.

“What we’re focusing on from the capability perspective is cell tower in the sky scenario where you can put a 4G repeater in there and it replaces literally 100 cell towers,” Maximus Yaney, chief technical officer for Titan, told CBS News.

The new solar-powered drone is expected to be available for the commercial market in 2014, according to information from the New Mexico company.

Every available inch of the unmanned aircraft is covered in solar cells and the drone is designed to absorb enough sunlight during daylight hours to maintain the its operations and fully charge a bank of lithium-ion batteries in the wings that will support the drone through the dark night. The aircraft is covered in more than 3,000 solar cells.

Yaney said the drone would fly to 65,000 feet, where it could act as an atmospheric satellite.

“Solar power, you have the capability effectively of staying up there indefinitely,” he told CBS. “You’re simply limited by the rechargeable batteries.”

Other reports about the Titan drones suggest that they would most likely stay in orbit for about five years before landing for maintenance repairs. That means they will be easier to remove from orbit than traditional satellites. Skidding in for attention and being redeployed could make the solar-powered drones a strong alternative to traditional atmospheric satellites. The drones also present an opportunity to modernize cellular communications in an efficient way.

“What we’re really focusing on from the capability perspective is creating an alternate to adding to the satellite technology platform,” Yaney told CBS.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

SolarWindow Technology Moves Forward

solarwindow-technology

New Energy Technologies announced this week that it has successfully achieved 21 new patent filings for its spray-on SolarWindow technology.

The company has been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado to develop a technology that will transform any see-through surface, such as a window in any house or office building, into a transparent solar panel for several years.

“Our technology has the capacity to turn ordinary glass windows in America’s 5 million skyscrapers and commercial towers into power generators — a huge commercial opportunity,” said John Conklin, President and CEO of New Energy Technologies.

The Maryland company has announced past successes in laboratory tests and research, but has been working to scale its technology up.

“As we continue to make important strides towards commercial manufacturability of our SolarWindow, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that various patent protections are secured immediately,” Conklin said in a statement.

The 21 new patents include some in US patent courts and some in international jurisdictions, according to a press release from New Energy.

The spray-on solar technology has huge market potential if it’s successful largely because it could be cost competitive as it could be sprayed onto existing surfaces and windows at room temperature. The aftermarket application could enable building owners to affordably solarize their entire buildings.

The technology is also able to transform indirect and ambient light as well as light from artificial sources like the fluorescent bulbs found in most high-rise office buildings.

SolarWindow can also be sprayed onto a see-through surface without disrupting the view out of the window any more than window tinting would.

New Energy Technologies also reports that its SolarWIndow technology has been able to successfully adhere to thin plastics and other flexible materials other than glass, which could open additional markets for SolarWindow beyond skyscrapers.

Of course, the company has said it expects the market for its product could be huge and include more than 85 million commercial buildings and dethatched single-family homes in the United States alone.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority

World’s Thinnest Solar Absorbers Created at Stanford

stanford-smallest-solar-absorbers

Last week Stanford scientists published work that in the journal Nano Letters that makes most thin-film PV devices look like a whale. The new gold nanodots that the researchers created are each about 14-by-17 nanometers and coated in tin sulfide—you could fit thousands of the dots across a human hair. They’re also incredibly efficient at absorbing light. By creating such thin materials, the researchers could significantly reduce the need for materials in a PV device, reducing its cost.

“Our results show that it is possible for an extremely thin layer of material to absorb almost 100 percent of incident light of a specific wavelength,” said Stacey Bent, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford and a member of the research team. “Achieving complete absorption of visible light with a minimal amount of material is highly desirable for many applications, including solar energy conversion to fuel and electricity.”

Postdoctoral scholar Carl Hagglund and his team tuned the gold nanodots to absorb reddish-orange light waves about 600 nanometers long, according to Stanford. “Much like a guitar string, which has a resonance frequency that changes when you tune it, metal particles have a resonance frequency that can be fine-tuned to absorb a particular wavelength of light,” Hagglund, lead author of the study, said. “We tuned the optical properties of our system to maximize the light absorption.” That said future versions would likely have to respond to more of the light spectrum to harness more energy.

“The coated wafers absorbed 99 percent of the reddish-orange light,” Hagglund said. “We also achieved 93 percent absorption in the gold nanodots themselves. The volume of each dot is equivalent to a layer of gold just 1.6 nanometers thick, making it the thinnest absorber of visible light on record—about 1,000 times thinner than commercially available thin film solar cell absorbers.” In fact each wafer had about 520 billion nanodots.

Now the team will work on making semiconducting layer to make a fully functional PV cell with the nanodots. “We are now looking at building structures using ultrathin semiconductor materials that can absorb sunlight,” Bent, co-director of the Stanford Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion (CNEEC), said. “These prototypes will then be tested to see how efficiently we can achieve solar energy conversion.”

Looking forward the team is considering materials other than gold for the devices to help reduce costs and improve the technology further. For instance, the teams said silver has a better optic qualities. Despite reaching submicroscopic levels of thickness, the team believes they can make the device even thinner.

Original Article on Cleanenergyauthority