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Archive for the category “solar”

World’s First Solar Car Presented in the Netherlands

Lightyear One is a Dutch startup, emerging from the Technical University Eindhoven-based Solar Team Eindhoven, that very successfully participated in several editions of the Australian World Solar Challenge, see links below. The company presented today their first “solar car”, a car that in sunny climates can drive for months without having to be recharged, provided it is parked in the sun and not under trees or under carports. With this condition fulfilled the car can drive ca. 20,000 km in sunny climates, like in most parts of the US or southern Europe, 10,000 km in cloudy Holland, without external charging. Note that in Holland average annual distance driven is ca. 13,000 km.

Data sheet:

– 5 m2 solar cells
– Max range with charged batteries and additional sun: 725 km
– No rear window, camera’s only
– CW-value: less than 0.20
– 4 electric motors in the wheels
– Weight ca. 1000 kg
– 2021 small scale production
– End 2022 1500/year production
– 2024-2025 mass production in Helmond
– Design Lowie Vermeersch (Ferrari e.o., #12 in world car designers ranking)
– Initial price low volume production: 119,000 euro

[wikipedia.org] – Lowie Vermeersch
[automotivecampus.com] – Production site
[ed.nl] – Eerste zonneauto van Helmondse Lightyear onthuld
[deepresource] – LightYear Solar Car – Update
[deepresource] – Solar Driving – State of the Art
[deepresource] – TU-Eindhoven Presents Stella Vie
[deepresource] – TU Eindhoven Wins Solar Challenge 2013 (Cruisers)
[deepresource] – Stella Lux (2015)
[worldsolarchallenge.org] – 2019 edition

D66 Wants Solar Panel Fields in the IJsselmeer

The very EU-friendly Dutch left-liberal party Democrats-1966 (D66) proposes to install in the inland sea IJsselmeer, 4000 hectare worth of “solar islands”, enough to supply 1 million households with electricity (year-to-year, ignoring storage). That would amount to 4% of the IJsselmeer area. The Netherlands btw has 8 million households, so 32% of this relatively calm water body would suffice to cover the entire Dutch private electricity needs, assuming adequate efficient storage would be in place. The far less calm North Sea could easily provide the rest with wind turbines. A mixture of the solar and wind is desirable because it more or less compensates for seasonal fluctuations (solar in the summer and wind in the winter) and thus reduces the need for storage.

The timing of the launching of the plan could have something to do with the upcoming EU-elections, on the other hand, the Dutch are far behind with the implementation of the EU renewable energy policy and something has to be done. Money could for a large part come from private investors and pension funds, who will see this as a safe investment opportunity with predictable returns, exactly like every German farmer in the north could cash in from the wind energy Bonanza.

Other parties have not yet reacted.

[trouw.nl] – Als het aan D66 ligt, drijven er binnenkort zonnepaneeleilanden op het IJsselmeer
[ijsselmeervereniging.nl] – Predictable objections from the “not-in-my-backyard” crowd
[twitter.com] – D66

Morocco Turns Sahara Into Solar Energy Oasis

Organic Solar Cells

Most people associate solar cells with silicium. There are however other materials with which the photo-voltaic effect can be achieved, materials like conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules. The energy conversion process has some resemblance with natural photosynthesis. Maximum reported efficiency is ca. 15%.

Wikipedia:

The molecules used in organic solar cells are solution-processable at high throughput and are cheap, resulting in low production costs to fabricate a large volume. Combined with the flexibility of organic molecules, organic solar cells are potentially cost-effective for photovoltaic applications. Molecular engineering (e.g. changing the length and functional group of polymers) can change the band gap, allowing for electronic tunability. The optical absorption coefficient of organic molecules is high, so a large amount of light can be absorbed with a small amount of materials, usually on the order of hundreds of nanometers. The main disadvantages associated with organic photovoltaic cells are low efficiency, low stability and low strength compared to inorganic photovoltaic cells such as silicon solar cells.

Compared to silicon-based devices, polymer solar cells are lightweight (which is important for small autonomous sensors), potentially disposable and inexpensive to fabricate (sometimes using printed electronics), flexible, customizable on the molecular level and potentially have less adverse environmental impact. Polymer solar cells also have the potential to exhibit transparency, suggesting applications in windows, walls, flexible electronics, etc. An example device is shown in Fig. 1. The disadvantages of polymer solar cells are also serious: they offer about 1/3 of the efficiency of hard materials, and experience substantial photochemical degradation.

Polymer solar cells inefficiency and stability problems, combined with their promise of low costs[5] and increased efficiency made them a popular field in solar cell research. As of 2015, polymer solar cells were able to achieve over 10% efficiency via a tandem structure. In 2018, a record breaking efficiency for organic photovoltaics of 17.3% was reached via tandem structure.

[tue.nl] – Molecular Materials and Nanosystems (M2N)
[tue.nl] – Research group site
[wikipedia.org] – Organic solar cell
[nemokennislink.nl] – Zonnecelonderzoeker René Janssen wint Spinozapremie

English language presentation by prof. Rene Janssen of the Technological University of Eindhoven on the topic of organic solar cells:

Read more…

SolaRoad Update 2019

Portfolio of current SolaRoad projects

The road-dual purpose project SolaRoad in the Netherlands still exists. The idea is to combine the traditional transport function of the road with generating solar energy from panels on top of the road structure. The panel is the road, so to speak. It began with a bicycle path, now bus lanes are next. The glass cover layer has been replaced by synthetic material. The rationale behind this project is that in the Netherlands, space is rare and expensive. Hence the idea that dual use of road surface could be economical.

Dutch language video

[solaroad.nl] – Project site
[tno.nl] – Nieuwe fase SolaRoad: ook autoweg gaat elektriciteit opwekken
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Followup Project (2018)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Project Still Alive (2017)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Project Update (2016)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Operational (2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Finally Launched (2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad (2013)

Merger of Photo-Voltaics and Nano-Technology

Dutch language videos

25% of the cost of a conventional solar cell is in producing the required silicium. Most of that silicium is not used other than for providing mechanical stability, but has no electronic of photo-voltaic function. The idea is to get rid of 90% or more of the conventional amount of silicium used in a solar cell and aim at “printing” a super-thin layer of silicium onto some cheap substratum. Think of printing a newspaper. Five of those printing machines, operating for 10 years on end, would suffice to provide the entire world with low-cost solar energy.

[nanonextnl.nl] – Goedkopere zonnecellen door nanotechnologie
[zonnepaneelfolie.nl] – Nano zonnepanelen
[ecn.nl] – Nanodeeltjes kleuren zonnepanelen groen
[nemokennislink.nl] – Nanodeeltjes vangen licht voor zonnecel

How do Solar Cells Work?

Giant Solar CSP and PV Projects in Dubai

[cnn.com] – $13.6B record-breaking solar park rises from Dubai desert

Renewable Energy is Going to Win on Price Alone

Dutch language video

No need to fence with debatable arguments like “fossil fuel depletion” or “climate change” or “clean energy” or “silent energy” in order to push renewable energy.
Prospects are that renewable energy is going to beat the competition on price alone.
Prof. Dave Blank argues that solar panels will be very cheap soon.

2018 – 50% Increase Installed Solar Power in the Netherlands

The Dutch national statistics office CBS says that in 2018, installed PV-solar power increased with 50%, or 1500 MW, increasing the total from 3000 to 4500 MW. This means that additional 460,000 households were covered with renewable energy, of a total of 7 million households.

[cbs.nl] – Vermogen zonnepanelen meer dan de helft toegenomen

Agro-Photoivoltaics or how to make 86% More Money from the Same Land

Farmer’s dilemma: should I use my land for electricity production or should I stay with farming. Do both! says the renowned German Fraunhofer Institute. In a time of global warming, growing crops actually get too much sun, even in Europe. A little shade won’t harm crop yield but will bring extra revenues from electricity harvesting.

[fraunhofer.de] – Agro-Photovoltaics
[cleantechnica.com] – Fraunhofer Reports Combining Farming With Solar 186% More Efficient In Summer Of 2018

Easy choice to make: either 100% crop or 100% solar? Wrong! Go for a combined 103% solar and 83% crop instead!

Stirling Engine & Solar Thermal Power

Simple solar thermal power with a Stirling engine. Storage comes included.

[pointfocus.com] – EuroDish – Stirling System Description
[azelio.com] – Company site
[swedishcleantech.com] – Company site

Read more…

Solar Panels That Create Hydrogen Out of Thin Air

The university of Leuven in Belgium has developed a solar panel that can use the electricity it generated to convert atmospheric water vapor into hydrogen gas. Current production rate 0.25 m3 per panel per day (on average over a full year), where 15% of the sunlight is converted in hydrogen. The researchers claim that 20 panels can provide a family of electricity and heat all year around (1825 m3 hydrogen).

The claims are to be verified in a test home in Oud-Heverlee, near Leuven, where 20 “hydrogen panels” will be installed in combination with a 4 m3 hydrogen storage.

[kuleuven.be] – KU Leuven scientists crack the code for affordable, eco-friendly hydrogen gas
[sciencebusiness.net] – Solar panel produces hydrogen gas at KU Leuven
[cleantechnica.com] – Belgian Scientists Announce New Solar Panel That Makes Hydrogen
[twitter.com] – University Leuven, Solar Fuels
[kuleuven.be] – Solar Fuel Efficiency Records

[vrt.be] – Lots of Dutch language videos here

Read more…

EU Largest Floating Solar Park in the Netherlands

Households: 600
Scale: 6150 panels
Date: September 2018
Initiative: grass-roots
Installation time: 4 weeks
Wind resistance: Beaufort 10
Financial payback time: 15 years
Location: Lingewaard, Bemmel (Nijmegen)
Advantages: higher yield because of water reflection, surface water has a cooling effect on the the panels (higher yield), no alternative economic exploitation.

We couldn’t find any exact figure of the surface area, but we estimate it to be 10,000 m2. In the Netherlands an additional 7,000,000 m2 similar surface water could be used for the same purpose. That would be enough for 700 similar additional projects or 420,000 households of 8 million in total.

Unexpected additional benefit: reduction of evaporation of scarce surface water. This could become more important in the light of climate change.

[energiekaart.net] – Lingestroom gaat zonnestroom leveren van grootste drijvende zonnepark in de EU

[source]

[source] After a month the first results are in: the first 1 MWh has been harvested. Negative development: bird poop, lots of.

Solar Panel Still Working After 40 Years

Journalists discovered a shabby, nearly-forgotten, 40 year old solar panel in New Hampshire. And it was still producing electricity. Perhaps not as much as in the beginning, but “on a partly cloudy midafternoon” it could still cough up 24 Watt of the original 42 nameplate peak-Watt. This shows that the standard 20-year economic lifetime of solar parks is very conservative.

[concordmonitor.com] – A solar panel in the New Hampshire woods is old enough to run for president

Even more spectacular and accurately German-academically established are the results from a 35 year old solar array at the University of Oldenburg:

[presse.uni-oldenburg.de]
[uol.de] – 30 Years at the Service of Renewable Energies

Spectacular! Conversion efficiency decreased only mildly from 8.55% to 8.2%! The panels survived the companies AEG and Telefunken that build the installation.

[source] The 35 year old solar modules at Oldenburg University

Some calculations. A standard 300 Watt panel of 160 x 100 cm at a price of 250 euro (without installation cost) will produce in Oldenburg something like 285 kWh per year. Multiply that with 50 years = 14.250 kWh lifetime total. One liter of gasoline contains 12 kWh energy in the form of heat. Note that electricity from a solar panel is “higher grade” than heat. You can power your fridge on electricity but not on heat. Conversion of heat into electricity comes with a loss of perhaps 50%.

So this 30 kilo solar panel will produce the thermal equivalent of 1188 liter of gasoline over 50 years or 2375 liter of gasoline if required for electricity generation. Note that these 2375 liter gasoline weigh 1710 kilo. An amount that needs to be transported from Siberia or Saudi-Arabia to Germany first, where the Good Lawd deliverers all these photons at location in Oldenburg, free of charge.

Current consumer price gasoline in Oldenburg: 1.35 euro/liter.
1188 liter would cost 1604 euro.
2375 liter would cost 3208 euro.
The panel would cost ca. 500 euro, including installation and grid connection.

From this it becomes obvious that once a society is able to store renewable electricity efficiently, and all the signs are that this is going to work (battery 98%, pumped hydro 80%, power-to-gas 70%, CAES 60%), the shocking result is that renewable energy will be much cheaper than fossil fuel. Note that the figures here relate to Oldenburg in Northern Germany. In North-Africa, Australia or elsewhere, solar conditions are up to twice as good and renewable electricity prices can be slashed accordingly, giving poor but sunny countries the excellent opportunity to make money with the export of hydrogen-based stored energy (H2, NH3, CH4, NaBH4), generated by huge solar arrays at a cost of 2 cent/kWh.

P.S. criticasters might bring forward that the gasoline prices contain a considerable chunk of taxes, which is true. The counterargument is that that argument applies to the solar panels as well. We are comparing end-consumer prices for both gasoline and solar panels. Add to that that gasoline prices are unlikely to fall, but could very well increase, certainly if a carbon tax is applied, hand-in-hand with increasing signs of disastrous climate change:

[omroepbrabant.nl] – February 15, 2019, warmest 15-2 day in recorded history in the South of the Netherlands.

It is safe to predict in contrast that prices for solar voltaics will further come down considerably:

[newenergyupdate.com] – Solar costs forecast to drop 40% by 2020

Massive further reduction of cost of solar arrays is possible if one abandons the concept of heavy and expensive solar modules and corresponding all-weather mounting racks and replace them with thin solar film, mounted on lightweight plastic and rails, much like a curtain. A bit like this:

They can be installed in a desert with low air circulation, with the possibility of closing “the curtains” in case of rare strong winds.

Rapid Growth Global Solar

From 40 GW in 2010 to 640 GW in 2020.

[energiebusiness.nl] – The Solar Future: einde aan dalende elektriciteitsprijzen

Impressions Car Solar Team Eindhoven

Solar Team Eindhoven will present its latest solar car in July and participate in the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2019. Here a student of the TU Eindhoven in discussion with dr Peter Harrop.

[tue.nl] – ‘We want to show that solar cars are the solution in the energy transition’
[worldsolarchallenge.org] – World Solar Challenge Australia 2019
[deepresource] – LightYear Solar One Goes in Production

Read more…

Dutch Grid Can’t Take More Solar Power

Ameland, 6 MW

The Netherlands has 3.7 GW nameplate solar power, but the grid in its present shape can’t absorb much more new power and network operators refuse to take solar power from larger parties, like companies or private associations. Private households are still welcome. The problem is the largest in the North of the country, where land prices are relatively lower and much private money is available for new solar parks. It could take years to install new cable capacity.

[nos.nl] – Geen plek voor nieuwe zonneparken op stroomnetwerk
[nos.nl] – geen nieuwe zonneparken, het net kan het niet aan
[vk.nl] – Het netwerk is te krap

Perhaps the parties that are shunned by the grid should contemplate producing hydrogen off-grid:

[fluxenergie.nl]

In preparation:

– Hoogezand-Sappemeer, 103 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Zonnepark Midden Groningen B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Borsele, 55 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Solarpark Scaldia B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Steenwijkerland, 51.3 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Herbo Groenleven B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Heerenveen, 51.3 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Herbo Groenleven B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Tynaarlo, 32.06 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Herbo Groenleven B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Delfzijl, 30.8 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Sunport Delfzijl BV. Inmiddels gerealiseerd.

[zonopkaart.nl] – Map of solar projects in Holland, realized and planned

Frisian village Garyp is self-sufficient with largest solar park in the Netherlands

The Scale of the Global Energy Transition

[source] An area in the Sahara with the size of Bulgaria, covered with solar panels and all the world’s present day energy needs would be covered.

The Sahara is associated with strong solar irradiation. How much Sahara surface area would be required to power the entire world with pv-solar? Mehran Moalem, PhD, UC Berkeley, Professor, expert on Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Fuel Cycle, did the calculation.

How much energy is the world consuming anyway?

The total world energy usage (coal+oil+hydroelectric+nuclear+renewable) in 2015 was 13,000 Million Ton Oil Equivalent (13,000 MTOE) – see World Energy Consumption & Stats. This translates to 17.3 TW continuous power.

OK, so how much of the Sahara would be required to generate these 17.3 TW? Surprisingly little:

Now, if we cover an area of the Earth 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels, even with moderate efficiencies achievable easily today, it will provide more than 17,4 TW power. This area is 43,000 square miles.

For Europeans, that’s 111,370 km2 or relatively small European countries like Bulgaria, Iceland or Greece. For Americans, think Tennessee or Virginia.

[forbes.com] – We Could Power The Entire World By Harnessing Solar Energy From 1% Of The Sahara
[wikipedia.org] – List of countries and dependencies by area

PV-Solar Global Installed Base

Note that the European installed base grew from 45 GW in 2010 towards 120 GW in 2017. That’s 85 GW in 7 years. Linear extrapolation to 2030 would imply an extra 134 GW. In reality it could be (much) more as the price of solar panels is expected to further reduce significantly, think $100/m2 soon. Let’s say 300 GW nameplate in total in 2030, which would be equivalent to 30 GW average power 24/7/365 (see explanation of “nameplate power” in the previous post). From this it is obvious that wind power will be dominant in Europe for years to come.

[jrc.ec.europa.eu] – EU PV Status Report 2017

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