solar roof

Why You Should Go Solar

solar roof

The energy from the sun is powerful: Every year the earth receives 15.000 times more energy than the human consumption and many times the energy stored in the earth. Solar energy is environmentally friendly and will play a big part in the production of useful energy in the future.

Some appliances we are going to talk about in this article could potentially save you money through lower energy bills. However, some of them would most likely end up costing you more, even in the long-term, but of course contributes in the fight against global warming

There are many ways to harness the energy from the sun. Passively with the principles of green houses, thermal heating, photovoltaic cells generating electricity are the most important. The illustration above uses solar water heaters on the roof for warm water (both room heating and water itself) – In many cases the most cost-efficient solar solution.

DIY solar panel kits have been on the market for some time now and happy customers worldwide have been using these kits to generate their own free electricity. Solar power for homes is a good idea if you live in the right geographic location and can harness the energy efficiently. The initial costs can be expensive, but this is a long-term investment and should bring in some bucks in the future.

Solar battery charger kits are in principle the exact same thing as solar panels, using the technology of photovoltaic cells to generate electricity, in a more practical manner. The idea is to supply electricity to charge batteries for everything from cell phones to large vehicles. It works really well and should be one of the things someone who spends much time travelling should look into

The potential in the energy from the sun is huge. Most of the energy sources we use today are actually coming from the sun, the exception being geothermal energy from the center of the earth. At the current time the technologies of these methods are still relatively young and prices are high. Big solar power projects still need quite large incentives to be able to compete with the prices of more convectional forms of producing energy.  Solar power is a big part of our future and we will see an increasing amount of appliances in the years to come.

Solar energy is only one small piece in the puzzle of moving towards a renewable and sustainable energy system. One thing is clear – we are facing a massive transition in our climate. There is not really anybody that can say for certain what will happen – if we continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels and other carbon emitting energy sources.

You can read on the other things that are absolutely necessary in solving global warming at EnergyInformative. This site covers a wide array of different relevant subjects such as energy storage, increasing energy efficiency, as well as both renewable and non-renewable energy sources.


New Solar Fund Claims 8% Returns to Investors

Goldfield Partners in London have launched UK`s first pension fund, which aims to help to finance, install and maintain solar power for social housing residents.

The Goldfield Solar Green Energy Fund claims a ₤50 million will offer stable returns as high as 8% to investors (this is based on a 3% inflation assumption), which will be generated by the UK feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme, while residents reaps the benefits of electricity generated onsite.

“We hope to fund a lot more free solar… for people who may not have been able to afford the equipment in the first place,” Goldfield Partners’ chief executive David Gammond told BusinessGreen. “If we can raise the [£50m] we would definitely expect the fund would get bigger.”

The assets that are available for purchase are all pre-installed and therefore already generating the minimum desired yield already from the get-go. The managers have already identified these assets and believe the investor`s money should be rapidly allocated.

However, with the recent cuts in UK`s feed-in tariff scheme, the market does not seem to provide a good foundation of stability that the company looks for. Gammond admits that if there are any more dramatic changes to the feed-in tariff, they would have to reevaluate the pricing of the PV equipment.

Goldfield Partners is still confident that they will be able to reach their goal of raising ₤50 million for the fund. Contracts with solar installers for the entire amount are already in place. Their subscription target is already set at June 2013.

New funds and investments in the renewable energy sector will undoubtedly lead to job creation, lower energy bills, but maybe more importantly a better public awareness of energy saving. Let`s hope there are no further cuts in the feed-in tariff any time soon.

This article is written by Mathias Aarre Maehlum. He writes more on solar panel costs at Energy Informative.

Source: BusinessGreen

Natcore Develops First Black Silicon Solar Cell

Natcore is a solar company based in Red Bank, New Jersey, and cooperates with Rice University and National Renewable Energy Laboratory to bring new and promising thin-film solar cell technologies to the market. The collaboration has now developed what appears to be the “blackest” solar cell to date.

There are constantly new technologies emerging that increases a solar cell`s ability to absorb sunlight. You`ve probably heard of a handful of these technologies already – anti-reflective coating, algae shell surfaces, three-dimensional solar cells just to name a few.

A white-colored surface reflects the majority of the sunlight it is exposed to. Likewise, a black-colored surface is great for absorption. Ever wondered why you get incredible hot in black clothes during the summer?

Scientists at Natcore have now pioneered a method called “liquid phase deposition (LPD)” in order to create an “absolute black” solar cell based on black silicon wafer.

Hao-Chih Yuan, NREL research scientist, noted, “We have a good synergy with Natcore on black silicon technology. A silicon surface, without proper coating, is detrimental to the energy conversion efficiency of the solar cell. It is not unusual to grow silicon dioxide coatings on black silicon surfaces for this purpose, but the growth is typically at very high temperatures. Natcore’s coating uses chemistry. They are the ones who can passivate a black silicon surface cheaply.”

There are two main reasons why the new black solar cells are exciting. Natcore claims their solar cell only has one tenth of the reflection of convetional solar cells, which means the efficiency rate would increase by 3% – a significant amount in the solar industry.

The black solar cell is also more receptive to light from greater angles. Black solar panels would therefore be even more efficient during morning and afternoon hours.

“Its higher energy output, combined with a lower cost using Natcore’s patented process, could quickly make black silicon the global solar technology of choice,” states Natcore’s CEO, Chuck Provini.

Natcore`s slogan says, “We have the technology that will change the world”. Only time will tell whether this is true or not. The company is clearly sitting on promising technology, but will the absolute black silicon solar cells ever be scalable and profitable?

Source: PV-Tech

New Record Efficiency for CIGS-Based Solar Panels

Manz AG in Germany has set a new world record for the efficiency of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar panels. The new numbers are 14.6% and 15.9% for total module and aperture efficiency, which they claim are the highest rates of any thin-film solar module. Note that module efficiencies are different from single solar cell efficiencies, which in laboratory conditions have reached much higher levels.

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory has previously confirmed a 13.8% module efficiency of a large-area (meter-square) CIGS-based solar panel.

Manz says that their new record for thin-film solar panel efficiency puts CIGS-based solar panels in line with polycrystalline solar panels. Their mass production line, the Manz CIGSfab, can produce their new CIGS-based solar panels at a cost of between 0.04 – 0.08 Euro (0.05 – 0.10 US dollars) for every kWh. A CIGSfab production line with an annual capacity of 200 MW would equal 0.44 Euro (0.55 US dollars)/Wp.

The German solar panel manufacturer has in two years been able to cut investment costs for their production lines by as much as 40%.

Image credit: Manz

“The thin-film panels manufactured on our systems are competitive everywhere in the world, and as a result, the solar market’s growth will no longer be dependent on national subsidy conditions.” said Dieter Manz, founder and CEO of Manz.

Manz says their new CIGS-based solar panels and their new production line pushes solar panel costs down, past offshore wind parks, to the prices of fossil fuels.

Source: Semiconductor Today

Solarsphere – Hybrid PV/CSP Capturing 72% of the Sun`s Energy?

Solarsphere, one of the semifinalists at this year`s Cleantech Open, claims their new hybrid photovoltaic/concentrated solar power system could capture as much as 72% of the sunlight that falls onto it. This is thanks to their patented SolarConcetrator that by itself reduce the surface are required for solar cells by a factor of 1000 times.

Image copyright Matt Hagen

The fact that their “sphere” is made up cheap materials – half of it comes from post-consumer recycled plastic – makes the new invention cost-effective with traditional PV systems. And on top of this, it could also capture the solar thermal energy that is generated within the device.

The system consists of a reflector that is based on traditional telescope designs. By using a parabolic dish reflecting sunlight onto a smaller dish, energy concentrated in a single beam can be captured by a triple junction PV chip.

“With that much concentration we can generate energy in two ways. First, we produce electricity with 40 percent efficiency, as high as the most efficient units commercially available today. But that’s just the photovoltaics part. With a 1,000 times concentration there’s a lot of heat generated. So we capture that thermal energy in a liquid.” Says the founders Corbyn Jahn, COO, and Adam Burwell, CEO, both students of Renewable Energy Engineering at Oregon Tech, in an interview with GeekWire.

The team is currently early in the process of designing their system. They are contemplating to run the hot liquid through a Rankine cycle or Stirling engine in order to elimante the intermittence of standard solar power. They are also open for capturing the heat energy in other ways.

Jahn and Burwell are currently in the process of finding an investor for seed capital and take their prototype to a pilot system.

Sources: Solarspehere & GeekWire