“Silicon Valley has done a great job of talking about its disruptive potential, but there is something truly disruptive about solar: a fully distributed model of energy generation. We currently rely on the centralized hub-and-spoke delivery systems of the utilities, many of which are outdated and suffer tremendous losses as electricity travels from power plants, along transmission and delivery lines and into our businesses and homes. There is a massive infrastructure of regulation and enforcement in the energy market to underwrite the utilities; it’s one of the most highly regulated and noncompetitive markets in the country. Imagine a world in which homeowners and business owners are miniature power plants, with the full ability to sell power back to the grid at retail prices — power, literal and figurative, would be wrested from the hands of monopolistic, polluting utilities and their ancillary industries: mining, fracking and the like.”
AN: a USA centric article but applications apply to any country…getting power to residences and commercial entities can diversify the grid….and set up for smart grid tools…
via The Secret to Solar Power – NYTimes.com.
“Walking through BrightSource’s solar project in a desert in Israel, you can hear the persistent sound of tiny chirps emanating from the more than 1,600 mirrors sticking out of the ground. The chirps aren’t coming from critters that have moved into the solar farm, but the noises are emanating from the gearboxes on the bases of those hundreds of mirrors, which are re-shifting very slightly every few seconds. Using sophisticated software BrightSource uses real time data about the location of the sun, the wind speed, the dust levels, and other info, to constantly tweak the mirrors to ensure the solar generation from the site is as efficient as possible.Keely Wachs, BrightSource’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications, regaled the chirping story to me recently while I was on a tour of another BrightSource solar project in California. Call the trend the Googlization of solar, or the way that software, big data, and wireless networks will help remake the modern energy infrastructure.”
via The Googlization of solar — Cleantech News and Analysis.
It is exciting to see the ongoing innovation and striving to reach greater efficiencies and excellence in stewardship of our resources. Research and Development is vital to ensuring we can have clean energy in reality at a commercial level.
“Solar cells used today are unable to use certain wavelengths of light, thus reducing their efficiency. This band of solar spectrum that does not get utilized is the main reason behind the development of solar cells which are made of materials that would put to use, the currently unusable band of light.
Pioneering this technology are researchers at Stanford University who have demonstrated a set of materials which, when layered on the back of solar cells, would enable them to convert red and near infrared light into short wavelength light. This in turn would be converted to energy by the cells.
In collaboration with the Bosch Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, a working system of these improved solar cells would be available for demonstration within 4 years, according to claims by researchers. Current solar cells cannot use more than 30% of the sun’s energy because of their low energy content.
The new solar cells in development seek to change that by using a process called ‘upconversion’, which basically relies on a pair of dyes absorbing the photons of a certain wavelength and re-emitting them as usable short wavelength light. This would improve the efficiency of the solar cells from 11 to 15 percent says the leader of the Stanford group, assistant professor, Jennifer Dione, thereby making them more cost effective.
Upconversion, although not new, has never been demonstrated in a solar cell. The process involves two molecules absorbing high wavelength photons, then combining and re-emitting it as usable high energy photons. Nano particles are being developed by Dione to facilitate a higher probability of upconversion occurring with the ultimate goal being to create sheets of the material.
Bosch’s goal is to demonstrate the entire process’ viability in 4 years’ time and taking into account the time necessary to facilitate large scale manufacture of solar cells with this technology, Bosch estimates commercial availability of this technology in 7 to 10 years.”
via Stanford Researchers Show Off Infrared Solar Cells | Solar Feeds News.