DeepResource

Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Archive for the category “solar”

New Perovskite Solar Cell

polarons[source]

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has laid the foundations for an entirely new type of photovoltaic cell. In this new method, infrared radiation is converted into electrical energy using a different mechanism from that found in conventional solar cells. The mechanism behind the new solid-state solar cell made of the mineral perovskite relies on so-called polaron excitations, which combine the excitation of electrons and vibrations of the crystal lattice.

[phys.org] – Scientists lay foundations for new type of solar cell
[onlinelibrary.wiley.com] – Evolution of Hot Polaron States with a Nanosecond Lifetime in a Manganite Perovskite
[cleantechnica.com] – Holy Hot Polarons, Batman! New Perovskite Solar Cell Shows Promise

Forget everything you know about solar cells and check this out. A research team based at the University of Göttingen in Germany has come up with something they call an “entirely new” way to harvest energy from sunlight. In effect, the new solar cell puts the brakes on excited electrons, extending their lifetime. The result is a more efficient solar cell, with less energy lost in the form of heat and more energy converted to electricity.

[wikipedia.org] – Polarons

A polaron is a quasiparticle used in condensed matter physics to understand the interactions between electrons and atoms in a solid material. The polaron concept was first proposed by Lev Landau in 1933 to describe an electron moving in a dielectric crystal where the atoms move from their equilibrium positions to effectively screen the charge of an electron, known as a phonon cloud. This lowers the electron mobility and increases the electron’s effective mass.

Read more…

Solar Project Completed in the Netherlands

delfzijl-zonneparkLargest solar park in the Netherlands, ironically covered in snow

Location: Delfzijl [Google Maps]
Capacity: 7500 households
Panels: 120,000
Owner: German energy company Wirsol
Size: 65 soccer fields

Coming Spring the title “largest solar park in the Netherlands” will move from Delfzijl to Vlissingen [Sloehaven], with 140,000 panels.

In general, investment in solar energy is booming in the Netherlands. In 2016 500 MW new capacity was installed, 100 MW more than in 2015.

[nos.nl] – Delfzijl heeft grootste zonnepark van Nederland
[nu.nl] – Grootste zonnepark van Nederland geopend in Delfzijl

zonnepark-delfzijl[source] Same park

790 GW Renewable Energy Potential SE-Europe

renewable-energy-potential-south-east-europe

The report underscores that SEE possesses vast technical renewable energy potential – equal to some 740 GW.” This renewable energy potential is dominated by wind and solar. “The region’s wind energy (532 GW) and solar PV (120 GW) potential is largely untapped, and 127 GW of this overall renewable energy potential could be implemented in a cost-competitive way today.”

[irena.org] – Cost-competitive renewable power generation: Potential across South East Europe (pdf 124p)
[cleantechnica.com] – 790 Gigawatts of Cost-Cutting Renewable Energy Potential in South East Europe

Track Side Solar Panels in UK?

Belgium giving the good example: railway tracks covered with solar panels.

Great-Britain is a mid-sized country with high population density. Not strange then that a study has been started to see if space near railway tracks can be used to place solar panels.

[solarlove.org] – UK Studying Track Side Solar Panels To Power Electric Trains

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Israel Building Giant CSP Facility In Negev Desert

Tower height: 240 m
Power: 121 MW
Cost: $700 million

[solarlove.org] – Israel Building Concentrated Solar Power Facility In Negev Desert
[wikipedia.org] – Ashalim Power Station

Solar Air Heater

Private preparations for a ‘sustainable future’ are progressing satisfactorily:

– Solar panels gave me 1450 kWh in the first year on a household consumption of 1550 kWh; that’s almost full coverage.
– Three seasons of running a vegetable garden, making substantial progress every season. Coming season the full garden will be available, providing 100% of potatoes and vegetables. Additionally a greenhouse will be installed in February after the last tree stubs will have been removed and 100 m2 will be available for gardening, enough for two persons.
– Freezers and generator backup are in place.

Motivation: anticipating a global financial “Big Reset“, as well as creating a pension plan not (entirely) based on paper assets. “Peak oil” is of secondary concern only.

The last item on the prepper todo list is space heating support. For that purpose 10 m x 1.6 m garden fence facing South-West is available. The idea is to construct a huge solar air heater, consisting of a large black plate, covered by double glass, so that during the day, air hotter than 21 C (if any) can be pumped into the living room. At a later stage, air from the collector can serve as input for an electric heat pump for temperatures < 21 C. Ideally the black backside solar radiation absorber will consist of black solar panels to gain extra electricity, to be used for the electric heat pump. In the Summer the glass cover needs to be removed to prevent over-heating of the solar panels. At a later stage a heat storage, like a vessel of 1 m3 filled with pebbles, could be added to the system.

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Solar Energy in Plants Retail

2,000 panels producing 520,000 kwh/year and reducing the energy bill to almost zero.

[google maps] – Celieplant Aalsmeer
[celieplant.nl] – Celieplant Aalsmeer
[aalsmeer.nl] – Celieplant met 2000 zonnepanelen duurzaamste gebouw Aalsmeer en regio

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SolaRoad Project Update

In the Netherlands space is scarce… but there are many roads. The idea is to let traffic drive over solar panels. In 2014 a bicycle path was created to test the concept. Meanwhile the results are in.

[deepresource] – SolaRoad Finally Launched (Oct 2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Operational (Nov 2014)
[wikipedia.org] – SolaRoad

Read more…

Utility Scale Solar for 5 cent/kWh

solar-apple

An upbeat report from a stakeholder: utility solar in the US is doing fine and reaching grid parity, if one includes tax incentives, scheduled to last until 2021. But reduced tax benefits maybe compensated by continued price decline of large scale solar installations. Several large utility scale PV power stations came online this year, such as the 550-megawatt (MW) Topaz Solar plant in San Luis Obispo County, California and the 550MW Desert Sunlight plant in Desert Center, California.

The first reported contract for solar power under five cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) occurred in 2014: Austin Energy’s 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunEdison for 150 MW of solar power. The trend continued in 2015, when Nevada Energy secured a 4.6 cent per kWh PPA with SunPower.

Editor: articles like this explain why we have lost interest a little in energy problems, because the initial fear, which prompted us to start this blog nearly four years ago, namely a world running out of energy fast, has been pushed to the background and replaced with worries about the state of the economy and international finance, the destabilizing refugee crises and the threat of war.

Personally, it costed merely 3000 euro to have a solar installation on the roof that will annually produce almost twice as much electricity as needed for the next 25-30 years.

Now that utility solar has reached grid parity, the only remaining energy related problem is storage, to overcome daily and most important seasonal demand and supply fluctuations. Potential solutions: pumped hydro and perhaps fuel production from electricity. But there is little doubt that a 100% renewable energy base is feasible within a few decades.

[blogs.edf.org] – A Sunny Future for Utility-Scale Solar

European Solar Transition Losing Steam

europe-solarVery bad news for the solar energy transition: it is stalling in Europe. Although per capita Europe clearly leads globally in both solar and wind, solar expansion is clearly on the wane.

[countercurrents.org] – Can We Afford The Future? By Richard Heinberg

solar-ranking

wind-ranking

[cleantechnica.com] – Solar Power Per Capita & Wind Power Per Capita Leaders

The First Kilowatthour

solar-panels

Solar panels where installed earlier this week and despite grey November weather, today the first kWh is produced, meaning the energy required to pull a standard car up the Eiffel tower.

[deepresource] – One Kilowatthour

The panels should generate 1.5 times the electricity required on a yearly basis, for a relatively modest standard consumption pattern to power desktop computer + monitor, fridge, freezer and television. The converter has a build-in wifi and can send the solar production data via the internet router to a server. Via a browser actual and cumulative data can be displayed, see screenshot above.

Additionally, the smart meter bridging the household with the grid operator also has a wifi, enabling to read consumption data, see iPhone-6 screen shot below.

stroommeter

In other words, at 11 o’clock on a half-clouded morning in November, the panels already produce more than is consumed. The rest is fed into the grid.

Later this month a gardening center will deliver a few m3 compost to upgrade the soil of the garden, that next season will be fully utilized for food production.

[deepresource] – Not in my Backyard?

Next prepping investment will be focused on producing ‘hot air’. The idea is to install 8 or so 100*165 cm solar panels (for electricity) against a palisade and additionally put glass plates in front of them, leaving a space of 5-10 cm. The panels are black and hence absorb all radiation. 10-15% will be converted into electricity, the rest into hot air that can be pumped into the living room with simple desktop computer ventilator.

*** UPDATE ***

After 13:00 MET the sun began to shine, 2.15 kwh on one November day with only two hours of sunshine.

panels2

buienradar[buienradar.nl] With solar panels on your roof the weather becomes more interesting than ever. A good cloud front can cost you half a euro.

Wafer-Thin Silicon Discs on Leading Edge of German R&D

Drittelzellmodul_Detail[source]
The German Fraunhofer Institute continues to make progress in reducing the cost of wafer used to produce solar cells.

Roughly a third of the costs for a silicon solar module is accrued before production of the wafer even starts… Holding a wafer-thin silicon disc between his two index fingers, Schönfelder explained that it is the industry standard, roughly 180 micrometres thin. He said that his research project is about producing even thinner silicon wafers, as well as reducing the breakage rate… Fraunhofer’s DiaCell project… DiaCell refers to the name of the diamond wire saw involved in the research… Reducing costs for the entire value chain is the mission of the DiaCell research project… This sawing gap created by the wire cutting process is incredibly expensive, representing a nearly 50% material loss… another research effort is developing wafer-splitting strategies to produce zero material loss. Instead of sawing the wafer into slices, with wafer splitting, a special polymer is glued to both sides of the wafer. When in a frozen state, the special polymer layer contracts, developing a strong enough force to split the wafer into slices.

[solarlove.org] – Wafer-Thin Silicon Discs on Leading Edge of German R&D
[invest-in-saxony-anhalt.com] – Highly coveted in the solar industry: wafer-thin silicon discs

Thin Film Solar Efficiency Record 18.6%

Thin_Film_Flexible_Solar_PV_Installation_2Thin film solar cells are flexible

The record was accomplished by US company First Solar. In general, thin film solar cells are less efficient, but cheaper, certainly if you integrate thin film solar in the roof of new houses.

In 2013 thin-film technologies accounted for about 9% of worldwide deployment, while 91% was held by crystalline silicon

thinfilmForecast of Thin Film Solar Cell Production and Market Share (2006~2015). Date: 2011

[cleantechnica.com] – First Solar Sets New Conversion Efficiency World Record Of 18.6% For Thin-Film Solar Module
[wikipedia.org] – Thin film solar cell

MIT Upbeat About Prospects Solar Power

Les-Mees-solar-farm
[source] Siemens solar plant, Le Mées, France

MIT comes to the conclusion that with existing solar panel technology, the world can very well be powered. The real bottleneck is not technology, but investment. By 2050 a large chunk of the current overall power consumption of 15 terawatts could be replaced using solar power. 15 terawatts represents the power equivalent of 15,000 standard 1 GW power plants.

MIT expects battery technology to play a key role in the development of the solar economy.

[rt.com] – Solar panels can power the world
[MIT study] – pdf, 356p, complete report

Solar Panel Covered Bicycle Lane in South-Korea

Published 28 March 2015
Travel from Daejeon to Sejong by bike (Watch it from the air)

Aerial view of the bicycle road between Daejeon and Sejong, both cities are located 2~3 hours south of Seoul. Solar panels not only generate power but also provide protection to cyclists from sun and rain. Taken by a drone camera in fall, see the golden rice fields!

[gas2.org] – Korea’s Solar Panel-Covered Bike Highway A Model For America

Global Solar Expansion is Stalling

Infographic_Snapshot_of_Global_PV_Markets_2014-page-001

Disappointing news from the International Energy Agency: in 2014 the installed base of photo-voltaic system merely grew with 39 GW to a cumulative 177 GW. Asia is clearly leading, Europe is behind.

[cleantechnica.com] – Global Solar PV Capacity Ends 2014 At 177 GW

Floating Solar Panels

floating-solar-pv
Floating solar panels, an interesting solution for overcrowded places like the UK?

Since 2011, French Company Ciel & Terre has been developing large-scale floating solar solutions. Their innovative Hydrelio Floating PV system allows standard PV panels to be installed on large bodies of water such as: drinking water reservoirs, quarry lakes, irrigation canals, remediation and tailing ponds, and hydro electric dam reservoirs. This simple and affordable alternative to ground-mounted systems is particularly suitable for water-intensive industries who cannot afford to waste either land or water.

[alternative-energy-news] – Floating solar panels: a viable solution?

Construct a One Megawatt Power Plant in One Week

Gepubliceerd op 24 mrt. 2015
This 1 MW hybrid solar-diesel plant was delivered, unpacked and fully operational in one week. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency supported Laing O’Rourke to develop this innovative new approach to off-grid power.
[more]

Editor: interesting to note what a relatively small area (ca. 15 m * 70 m) you need to generate 1 MW (peak), sufficient to power a few hundred-thousand households. There are absolutely no physical constraints that will stop villages world-wide from having these kind of arrays installed next to them.

Today, even in the least developed areas in Africa, most people use a mobile phone, a development that took 20 years. It is not a big stretch to image that someday, every person will have a few solar panels per capita installed, to cover the most ‘basic’ power needs (lights, WiFi and tablets replacing radio/television, mobile phones, fridge, water pump).

A solution could be that once the US empire is dismantled, Paris-Berlin-Moscow and China craft a global development plan, where both ‘divide the underdeveloped world’ between them and Europe and China ‘adopt’ countries on a voluntary basis (colonialism ultra-lite), where Europe and China can exploit local resources and implement a population limitation program, in exchange for real goods (bicycles, building materials, pumps, solar panels, consumer IT), not money that ends up in the wrong hands anyway.

Solar Grid Parity in Germany, Holland, Italy, California and Australia

PVgridparity_Snapshot3March2015
Notably in Germany and Holland it pays to invest in domestic solar energy

LCOE = Levelised cost of energy [*]

[iea.org] – Technology Roadmap, Solar Photovoltaic Energy – 2014

[*] – The LCOE represents the present value of the total cost (overnight capital cost, fuel cost, fixed and variable operation and maintenance costs, and financing costs) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle, converted to equal annual payments, given an assumed utilisation, and expressed in terms of real money to remove inflation.

Better Together

kumejima-01[source]
Plea to combine wind and solar in a single power plant. The key argument is that solar and wind are partially complementary: during the night there is guaranteed no solar power, but perhaps wind. And in certain areas like Europe, wind is stronger during the winter and, obviously, solar stronger during the summer.

Combining wind turbines and photovoltaic systems results in up to twice the amount of electricity being generated across the same surface area, while shading losses caused by wind turbines amount to a mere 1 to 2% – much less than previously thought. As an additional benefit, the construction of hybrid power plants does not require grid expansion because the plants generate wind and solar power at different times of day and during complementary seasons, ensuring the level of energy fed into the grid is more steady than that of wind or photovoltaic power plants alone.

[solarlove.org] – Study Finds Wind-Solar Hybrid Power Plants Are Twice As Efficient

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