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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 29, 2013

Summer Solar Powered Chandelier

Solar Powered Chandelier, Not Just Paper and Glue, Outdoor Lighting, Chandelier, Upcycle, Solar Lighting, DIY

A few years ago I saw several blogs showing how they took an old, ugly chandelier, and turned it into beautiful lighting for their laundry room.

I immediately started to look for one and then look what I found at the Salvage Store....
Solar Powered Chandelier, Not Just Paper and Glue, Outdoor Lighting, Chandelier, Upcycle, Solar Lighting, DIY
Pretty tacky, huh? Well, I could see a beautiful future for this lighting fixture but soon reality hit me. It wasn't long after I had brought my prized purchase home, when I realized that our home is not in the slightest bit built or decorated for a chandelier.

So, it sat in my craft room gathering dust... until NOW!!!

At the back of our property we have a secluded Picnic Area. With no electricity in this area, we always have issues with lighting, especially in the fall and winter.






To solve our lighting issues, I dusted off the old chandelier and removed all of the wiring and bulbs.

I then gave it a good coat of Black Spray Paint from Rust-oleum. I love using this stuff because it covers extremely well and is very durable.



Next I handed the project over to my husband....

Solar Powered Chandelier, Not Just Paper and Glue, Outdoor Lighting, Chandelier, Upcycle, Solar Lighting, DIY

  1. Remove the tops of your solar lights and pegs. 
  2. Add a good amount of Silicone Caulking to the base of the light (we used Polyseamseal from Loctite from Lowe's Home Improvement)
  3. Place the solar lights on to the light fixture base. 
  4. Allow to dry 8 hours or overnight. Make sure that the lights stay level while drying. 
  5. Once the caulking is dry, add your solar light tops to the base.
  6. Hang the Chandelier outside to absorb the sun
  7. Invite some friends over that evening to enjoy your new Summertime Solar Powered Chandelier

Solar Powered Chandelier, Not Just Paper and Glue, Outdoor Lighting, Chandelier, Upcycle, Solar Lighting, DIY
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Posted: Jun 29, 2013 5:07am
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
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 5, 2013

Sweetwater Schools Dedicate SunPower Solar Systems at Six Campuses
by Staff Writers
Chula Vista, CA (SPX) Feb 28, 2013


At the six district schools, SunPower installed solar shade structures in school parking lots, taking advantage of underutilized space and providing needed shade. The systems use high efficiency SunPower solar panels, the most efficient panels on the market today.

Today at San Diego's Southwest High School, Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) and SunPower are celebrating the installation of 3.3 megawatts of high efficiency SunPower solar power systems at six district schools.

In addition, SUHSD recently signed a power purchase agreement with SunPower for a potential 6.4 megawatts of solar power systems at 16 additional campuses. Construction of these solar power systems is contingent upon SunPower receiving financing which, if received, would allow the additional campuses to be completed by the end of the year. If constructed, SUHSD should expect savings from all 22 systems of $6 million over the next 20 years.

"These SunPower systems will generate about 80 percent of the electricity demand at the campuses where they are located, allowing the Sweetwater Union High School District to use the savings to support our academic and enrichment programs," said Dr. Edward M. Brand, superintendent of SUHSD. "With proven, reliable SunPower technology, we are maximizing our savings while minimizing the district's carbon footprint. It is the right thing to do for our students and our community."

At the six district schools, SunPower installed solar shade structures in school parking lots, taking advantage of underutilized space and providing needed shade. The systems use high efficiency SunPower solar panels, the most efficient panels on the market today.

"Sweetwater Union High School District can rely on its high efficiency SunPower solar systems to deliver guaranteed performance for the next 20 years or more," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. "SunPower works with school districts across California to reduce operating costs and repurpose the savings to the classroom. It is extremely rewarding to deliver needed savings to our public schools with power from the sun."

The district's six operational solar systems are financed through a power purchase agreement with SunPower. Under terms of the agreements, Wells Fargo owns the systems that SunPower designs, builds, operates and maintains. The district is buying the electricity at rates that are competitive with retail electricity, minimizing the effect of rising electricity costs with no capital investment. The district owns the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the systems.

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the currently operating SUHSD solar power systems will avoid production of more than 2,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of removing more than 10,000 cars from California's roads over the next 20 years.

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Posted: Mar 5, 2013 10:45am
Jun 18, 2009
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States

Too many members of Congress are only too happy to say that this global warming bill does enough - and pretend it doesn't undermine the EPA. We're going to need all the help we can get to get this insidious provision out of the global warming bill; can you help by getting some friends involved? You can just forward the sample letter below.

Spreading the word is critical, but please only pass this message along to those who know you -- spam hurts our campaign.

Thanks for all you do.

--The CREDO Action Team

Here's a sample message to send to your friends:

Subject: Remove the Trojan Horse from Global Warming Legislation

Your representative is about to vote on legislation designed to stop global warming. Unfortunately, members of the House who answer to the worst polluters have succeeded in including a Trojan Horse at the heart of the legislation - a prohibition on Obama's EPA being able to use the Clean Air Act to take additional action on CO2.

This little known, almost secret provision actually guarantees that the United States will fall short of doing what the scientists tell us must happen - a reduction of 80% of CO2 emissions from their 1990 level.

Mr. Obama ran for president on a very strong global warming platform which achieved the 80% reduction, launched a cap and trade market without giving away free permits to polluters, and set strong standards for boosting clean renewable energy. Special interests are warping his pledge almost beyond recognition.


But the worst and most important compromise - and the one most secret and hidden from view - is the crippling of EPA's powers. This is precisely what Newt Gingrich and the Republican-controlled House of the 1990s did to President Clinton's EPA from 1995 on. They simply prohibited EPA from enforcing many laws. We cannot let the House strip President Obama of his most powerful tool to stop global warming.

> I just signed a petition to tell my representative to stand up for President Obama's best weapon to fight global warming - the EPA. I hope you will, too. Please have a look and take action.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/trojan_horse/?r_by=4607-1953036-yRURS8x&rc=confemail
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Posted: Jun 18, 2009 7:37am

 

 
 
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