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Sep 7, 2013

New connection between stacked solar cells can handle energy of 70,000 suns
Fri, 09/06/2013 - 8:57am

The discovery means solar cell manufacturers can create stacked solar cells that can handle high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, potentially improving conversion efficiency. Image: North Carolina State Univ.The discovery means solar cell manufacturers can create stacked solar cells that can handle high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, potentially improving conversion efficiency. Image: North Carolina State Univ.North Carolina State Univ. researchers have come up with a new technique for improving the connections between stacked solar cells, which should improve the overall efficiency of solar energy devices and reduce the cost of solar energy production. The new connections can allow these cells to operate at solar concentrations of 70,000 suns worth of energy without losing much voltage as “wasted energy” or heat.


Stacked solar cells consist of  several solar cells that are stacked on top of one another. Stacked cells are currently the most efficient cells on the market, converting up to 45% of the solar energy they absorb into electricity.


But to be effective, solar cell designers need to ensure the connecting junctions between these stacked cells do not absorb any of the solar energy and do not siphon off the voltage the cells produce—effectively wasting that energy as heat.


“We have discovered that by inserting a very thin film of gallium arsenide into the connecting junction of stacked cells we can virtually eliminate voltage loss without blocking any of the solar energy,” says Salah Bedair, a prof. of electrical engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work.


This work is important because photovoltaic energy companies are interested in using lenses to concentrate solar energy, from one sun (no lens) to 4,000 suns or more. But if the solar energy is significantly intensified—to 700 suns or more—the connecting junctions used in existing stacked cells begin losing voltage. And the more intense the solar energy, the more voltage those junctions lose—thereby reducing the conversion efficiency.


“Now we have created a connecting junction that loses almost no voltage, even when the stacked solar cell is exposed to 70,000 suns of solar energy,” Bedair says. “And that is more than sufficient for practical purposes, since concentrating lenses are unlikely to create more than 4,000 or 5,000 suns worth of energy. This discovery means that solar cell manufacturers can now create stacked cells that can handle these high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, thus potentially improving conversion efficiency.


“This should reduce overall costs for the energy industry because, rather than creating large, expensive solar cells, you can use much smaller cells that produce just as much electricity by absorbing intensified solar energy from concentrating lenses. And concentrating lenses are relatively inexpensive,” Bedair says.


The paper was published online in Applied Physics Letters.


Source: North Carolina State Univ.

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Posted: Sep 7, 2013 1:57am
Jun 4, 2013
Solar Wind Energy Tower Receives Patent For Atmospheric Energy Extraction Device

by Staff Writers
Annapolis MD (SPX) May 28, 2013



File image.

Solar Wind Energy Tower has been awarded an allowance of Patent Application Number 13/098,476, titled "Atmospheric Energy Extraction Devices and Methods", by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent covers a structure for producing electricity, specifically a tower capable of adding moisture at the top of the structure to hot-dry air so as to generate a downdraft of wind within the interior of the Tower, vanes coupled to the exterior of the Tower that at least partially define a plurality of elongated pockets at the exterior of the Tower, flaps located within the pockets configured to redirect incident wind downwards, and at least a first wind tunnel configured to receive the redirected wind so as to convert such wind to electricity.

Ronald W. Pickett, President, Chief Executive Officer of SWET, stated, "We are pleased to have received notice that our patent application for the Tower structure design has been allowed, and that a patent will be issued shortly.

The patent application incorporates the entire core Tower structure, including the injection of moisture as a catalyst to generate the downdraft wind, and the additional exterior dual wind capture vanes.

In the future, as we expand our geographic footprint, the dual wind technology will provide us with the ability to construct our power plant in locations with potentially more variable weather conditions, since we can now incorporate the power created by the ambient wind captured along the outer surface of the Tower structure with the power generated internally.

This external wind capture boosts the overall power output. This patent allowance, along with our previously issued patent titled 'Efficient Energy Conversion Devices and Methods', encompasses our overall basic system architecture.

"We intend to continue to protect our technology as we develop enhancements to it. Our business plan has always been to efficiently extract the maximum energy generated by the captured wind, with the least loss of power while compensating for the normal differentials in atmospheric conditions."

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Posted: Jun 4, 2013 10:59am
Jun 2, 2013

Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Of The Year (Part One: #1-10)

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We’re trying to get more solar energy stories going over on Planetsave. To catch readers up, I’m doing a short series on the top 50 solar energy stories of 2013 so far. I guess that’s 10 per month, theoretically. Learning from the Top 33 EV Stories article I recently published, I’m splitting this one into 5 posts. Otherwise, the page would take forever to load. Plus, it’s easier to swallow 10 at a time.

It’s pretty hard to actually rank these top 50 articles, so I didn’t even try. The list is in no particular order. The numbers are basically just for referring people (your friends, family, coworkers, etc) to specific stories you think are worth highlighting. Don’t forget to do that! Once the posts are up, I will add links here:

OK, here are the first 10:

1. World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Now Under Construction
Antelope Valley solar

Image Credit: SunPower

MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp. in April marked the start of construction on the 579 megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Projects (4 months after MidAmerican bought the project). The solar power plant (aka solar farm) is expected to be the largest in the world when completed.

Extra Notes:

2. New Electricity Capacity On The California Grid Is Set To Be Almost 100% Solar In The 2nd Half Of 2013
Image Credit: California ISO

Image Credit: California ISO

Solar is growing fast, especially in California, where sunshine and healthy incentives make it competitive. Plus, utilities there have renewable energy mandates they have to hit. The stars have lined up for a fun second half of 2013, with nearly all new electricity capacity in the state scheduled to be from solar power systems.

3. So Many Solar Efficiency Records Set
solar cell efficiency records

Click to enlarge this beast.

Let’s just run down them:

4. Solar Grid Parity Now In Over 100 Countries

solar-grid-parity-map

This definition of “grid parity” is the cost of rooftop solar versus the cost of electricity sourced from the grid – this is sometimes known as “socket parity.” At least one source finds that 102 countries have now hit grid parity.


5. Solar Likely To Be #2 Source Of New Power Capacity In US In 2013

solar growth us

In an on-air Google Hangout in March, Recurrent Energy CEO and Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) Chairman Arno Harris noted that more solar power capacity is projected to be installed in 2013 than from any electricity source other than natural gas. And, by 2016, solar energy may actually be the #1 source of new power for at least one year.

6. World’s Largest Single-Unit Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plant Launched
CleanTechnica Director Zachary Shahan (me) at the Shams 1 CSP power plant in Abu Dhabi. Photo Credit: Marika Krakowiak / CleanTechnica

CleanTechnica Director Zachary Shahan (me) at the Shams 1 CSP power plant in Abu Dhabi. Photo Credit: Marika Krakowiak / CleanTechnica

The world’s largest single-unit concentrated solar power (CSP) plant launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE in March. The Shams 1 “will power thousands of homes in the United Arab Emirates and displace approximately 175,000 tons of COâ‚‚ per year.” I was quite lucky to visit the solar power plant in January and learn much more about it.

7. Hawaii At Grid Parity

hawaii-solar-infographic

Hawaii has hit “solar grid parity.” In other words, you’re better off going solar than paying for conventional electricity from the power grid. Above is a fun infographic about that and related matters, which actually shows that residents there &ldquoay off” their solar power investments within 3–5 years, and then have free electricity for decades. Nice. (By the way, utility-scale solar has actually hit grid parity in cloudy Oregon, too!)

8. Grid Energy Storage Projects Starting To Take Off; Promising Energy Storage Companies Budding

energy-storage-market-potential

Grid energy storage is not very important for renewable energy growth at this point in time. However, when renewable energy accounts for a large percentage of our power supply, it will be quite important. So, it’s good to see that significant and competitive projects are starting to get off the ground. Here are a few hot stories along those lines:

9. Solar Equaled 100% Of New US Power Capacity In March

new power capacity solar us 2013

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects in April released a report, “Energy Infrastructure Update,” that showed that renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 82% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in the first quarter of 2013. Furthermore, solar power accounted for all new power capacity in March. (Note: this doesn’t even include residential or commercial solar power systems.)

10. Africa’s Largest Solar Power Plant Launched
Image Credit: Masdar

Image Credit: Masdar

It’s no giant, but at 15 MW, the Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant is apparently the largest solar PV power plant in Africa. The project is located in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country with considerable solar and wind resources, but also considerable energy poverty.


Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/06/01/top-50-solar-energy-stories-of-the-year-part-one-1-10/#z1Yz1OpgiOIwwuRf.99 

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Posted: Jun 2, 2013 7:28am
May 14, 2013

KDC Solar and North Jersey Media Group Cut Ribbon on Large Solar Facility
by Staff Writers
Bedminster NJ (SPX) May 10, 2013


The solar operation will cover more than 60 percent of the power needs at North Jersey Media Group's printing plant.

KDC Solar LLC, headquartered in Bedminster, New Jersey, through its wholly owned subsidiary, KDC Solar NJMG, has commenced commercial operations at North Jersey Media Group's (NJMG) printing facility in Rockaway, New Jersey.

The solar project is the largest PV solar system (4.96 megawatts) at any printing facility in the State of New Jersey. The new system, which will generate approximately 6.2 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity per year, will allow North Jersey Media Group's facility to receive approximately 60% of its annual electric needs from clean renewable solar energy and substantially reduce its carbon footprint.

This is the equivalent of 700 homes being supplied with all their electricity for the year. In addition, there are discussions underway to add additional solar capacity when a new roof is installed on a portion of the facility.

A ribbon cutting ceremony marking the commencement of commercial operations was held at NJMG's facility on May 6th. Among the local dignitaries in attendance were Don Reddin, Rockaway Township Council Member, Dave Washington, Rockaway Township Council Member, Gregory Poff, Rockaway Township Business Administrator, Vincent Brennan, Rockaway Township Police Captain and Planning Board Member, Jim Lutz, Rockaway Township Engineer and Craig Babcock, Rockaway Fire Marshall.

KDC Solar signed an engineering and construction contract for the installation of the facility with Samsung C and T. J. Fletcher Creamer and Son, a fifth-generation contractor headquartered in Hackensack, New Jersey, was the general contractor.

The solar facility uses over 20,400 photovoltaic panels, 10 SMA America 500 kilowatt inverters and is ground mounted, roof mounted and on car ports across 50 acres of land.

"North Jersey Media Group is pleased and proud to have served as the host and electric off-taker of this solar project," said Stephen Borg, President of NJMG.

"This use of clean energy helps us continue our environmental stewardship as well as reduce costs. KDC Solar is a wonderful partner and I strongly recommend them to those considering similar projects," he said.

"We are very pleased to have worked with North Jersey Media Group and, in particular, the Borg family to bring this concept to reality. This facility is the largest PV solar facility at any printing facility in the State of New Jersey and will supply clean, lower cost, long-term solar energy to North Jersey Media Group for many years," said Hal Kamine, KDC Solar's Chief Executive Officer.

"This project is another example of a successful 'behind-the-meter' clean solar electric system for business/government and institutions, which in turn create or preserve both short and long-term jobs for the state."

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Posted: May 14, 2013 5:24am
Apr 16, 2013
How Solar-Friendly City Permitting Processes Can Work in the US
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Posted: Apr 16, 2013 1:47am
Mar 31, 2013
Discovery Opens Door to Efficiently Storing and Reusing Renewable Energy

Mar. 28, 2013 — Two University of Calgary researchers have developed a ground-breaking way to make new affordable and efficient catalysts for converting electricity into chemical energy.

Their technology opens the door to homeowners and energy companies being able to easily store and reuse solar and wind power. Such energy is clean and renewable, but it's available only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.

The research by Curtis Berlinguette and Simon Trudel, both in the chemistry department in the Faculty of Science, has just been published in the journal Science.

"This breakthrough offers a relatively cheaper method of storing and reusing electricity produced by wind turbines and solar panels," says Curtis Berlinguette, associate professor of chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Energy Conversion.

"Our work represents a critical step for realizing a large-scale, clean energy economy," adds Berlinguette, who's also director of the university's Centre for Advanced Solar Materials.

Simon Trudel, assistant professor of chemistry, says their work "opens up a whole new field of how to make catalytic materials. We now have a large new arena for discovery."

The pair have patented their technology and created from their university research a spin-off company, FireWater Fuel Corp., to commercialize their electrocatalysts for use in electrolyzers.

Electrolyzer devices use catalysts to drive a chemical reaction that converts electricity into chemical energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen fuels. These fuels can then be stored and re-converted to electricity for use whenever wanted.

The only byproduct from such a 'green' energy system is water, which can be recycled through the system. To store and provide renewable power to a typical house would require an electrolyzer about the size of a beer fridge, containing a few litres of water and converting hydrogen to electricity with virtually no emissions, the researchers say.

Key to their discovery is that they deviated from conventional thinking about catalysts, which typically are made from rare, expensive and toxic metals in a crystalline structure.

Instead, Berlinguette and Trudel turned to simpler production methods for catalysts. This involved using abundant metal compounds or oxides (including iron oxide or 'rust') to create mixed metal oxide catalysts having a disordered or amorphous, structure.

Laboratory tests -- reported in their Science paper -- show their new catalysts perform as well or better than expensive catalysts now on the market, yet theirs cost 1,000 times less.

Their research was supported by the university's Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, Alberta Innovates, Mitacs and FireWater Fuel Corp.

FireWater Fuel Corp. expects to have a commercial product in the current large-scale electrolyzer market in 2014, and a prototype electrolyzer -- using their new catalysts -- ready by 2015 for testing in a home.

Happy Easter !

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Posted: Mar 31, 2013 8:04am
Mar 31, 2013
They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot 

Parking-lot owners are finding a new use for their vast expanses of pavement: solar power.

From Long Island to the Arizona desert, developers are covering their lots with canopies of solar panels. Lot owners get to double up on their use of underutilized land and to offset their utility bills at the same time. And very little stands between most lots and the sun, so they can produce plenty of power. What's more, the canopies provide shade when it's hot and prevent snow from accumulating in the winter. Some have charging stations for electric vehicles.

NRG Energy Inc., NRG +0.95% Princeton, N.J., installed and owns the panels, leasing the site and selling power. The company and the team both declined to disclose financial details about the project.


The solar parking-lot system meets 20% of FedExField's power needs on game days.

One of the country's largest solar carports is now under construction at Rutgers University's Livingston Campus in Piscataway, N.J. The eight-megawatt installation will cover about 32 acres and will cost about $40.8 million before federal and state incentives. The project is being built by a private company, which will lease the panels to the university. Rutgers expects to save $28 million in electricity costs over 20 years.

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Posted: Mar 31, 2013 3:28am
Mar 16, 2013
Another Banner Year for Solar Power: Industry Breaks Records in 2012
In 2012, the U.S. solar industry grew 76 percent over 2011, adding 3.3 GW of new solar capacity.
 
Nashua, NH -- Today the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association along with GTM Research released the results of its annual year in review, and 2012 numbers give the solar industry another reason to celebrate.
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Posted: Mar 16, 2013 12:48am
Mar 14, 2013

New Zero-Down, No-Risk Energy Efficiency Investment Fund Aims To Unlock $150 Billion In Savings

Double your money, create more than 1 million jobs and make a big dent in US carbon and greenhouse gas emissions – that’s what could be realized if the US were to double energy productivity by 2030, according to the Alliance Commission on National Energy Policy’s recently release Energy 2030 report.

Looking to spur energy-efficiency gains across the US, CalCEF and Metrus Energy on March 13 launched a new financial intermediary service that could unlock the doors to a projected $150 billion in energy-efficiency savings by providing “otherwise hard-to-get financing for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).”

With the Efficiency Resource Fund, CalCEF and Metrus have come up with a no-risk, zero-down way to offer SMBs funds to finance energy-efficiency projects, projects that could yield $15 billion a year in energy savings over the next decade, according to a joint press release.

Credit: NEEA's Suite Search

Credit: NEEA’s Suite Search


Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/13/new-zero-down-no-risk-energy-efficiency-investment-fund-aims-to-unlock-150b-in-savings/#gASEEV0XuVWlQFJ4.99 
The CalCEF-Metrus Energy Efficiency Resource Fund

Working through the Efficiency Resource Fund process, building owners sign an Efficiency Service Agreement (ESA) of up to 10 years, “then hire contractors to design, install, measure and maintain energy-saving improvements,” the Fund partners explain.

The latest energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and other energy efficiency equipment and appliances typically have useful lives that extend well beyond 10 years. Fund customers can continue to realize savings and benefits once the term of the ESA expires.

By making energy-efficiency improvements, building owners, as well as building inhabitants, benefit from improved safety, health, wellness, comfort, and productivity, and a reduced carbon and overall environmental footprint, while also realizing savings on utility bills. The Fund recoups its investment by billing customers for realized efficiency gains.

Moreover, the Fund bridges a big gap in financing available to SMBs looking to carry out energy efficient projects. According to the Fund partners, “This innovative approach bridges the funding gap that has stymied these small- and medium-sized retrofit projects – some 4 million building nationwide.”

Added CalCEF managing director Paul Frankel:

“The Efficiency Resource Fund is a trail-blazing investment vehicle that taps a massive, underserved market opportunity.”

“We’re enabling a whole class of projects that would otherwise not be completed, while at the same time delivering not just savings for customers but also attractive returns for impact investors and generating capacity for utilities.”

The returns and benefits from making investments in energy efficiency are increasingly being recognized in the US. CalCEF and Metrus are pitching the Efficiency Resource Fund to pension fund managers and construction industry in particular, prospects for whom such investments can prove particularly attractive.

Energy-efficiency investments, according to the CalCEF and Metrus, garner “a substantial return on investment, while also generating new local construction jobs that will increase pension contributions.”

The Wide-Ranging Benefits And Advantages Of Investing In Energy Efficiency

New York State Comptroller and trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Thomas P. DiNapoli, is encouraging portfolio companies to boost investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, the Fund partners highlighted. Adding to the impetus, executive director of the Los Angeles County Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and 20-year pension trustee Jim Wilson was quoted as saying:

“There’s a huge amount of money to be saved—and, for investors, earned—by improving energy efficiency throughout our economy and putting professional contractors and skilled tradesmen to work.”

A long-standing supporter of CalCEF, Sidney E. Frank Foundation trustee Cathy Halstead emphasized the multiple, cross-cutting gains and benefits to be derived from investing in energy efficiency improvements.

“The Efficiency Resource Fund is a unique opportunity for investors to put money to work in an area that will produce multiple positive outcomes. We’ve supported the development of this novel financing mechanism because we see its potential for advancing green buildings, green jobs, emissions reductions, and cost savings for small and medium businesses.”

Now Accepting SMB Applications

The Efficiency Resource Fund is now accepting financing applications from facility owners with energy-efficiency retrofit project plans under $1 million.

CalCEF expects to raise another $10 million in capital from investors by the end of 2013. Fund details are available online in its concept paper, “The Sub-Million Dollar Question: Leveraging Impact Investment and Service Agreements for Small and Mid-Sized Energy Efficiency Projects.”


Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/13/new-zero-down-no-risk-energy-efficiency-investment-fund-aims-to-unlock-150b-in-savings/#gASEEV0XuVWlQFJ4.99 

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Posted: Mar 14, 2013 1:55am

 

 
 
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