HomeDiagramsDatabaseMapsForumSkyscraper Posters
Welcome to the SkyscraperPage Forum.

Since 1999, SkyscraperPage.com's forum has been one of the most active skyscraper enthusiast communities on the web.  The global membership discusses development news and construction activity on projects from around the world, alongside discussions on urban design, architecture, transportation and many other topics.  SkyscraperPage.com also features unique skyscraper diagrams, a database of construction activity, and publishes popular skyscraper posters.

Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Discussion Forums > Engineering


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old Posted Apr 18, 2014, 4:44 PM
amor de cosmos's Avatar
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Posts: 6,042
Every 4 Minutes, Another American Home Or Business Goes Solar

If you missed yesterday’s Solar Summit at the White House, we have the whole rundown for you, including this little nugget: every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar. No, for realz. That’s a direct quote from the Solar Summit fact sheet.

However, apparently that four-minute mark is not good enough for the Obama Administration, which just used the Solar Summit to launch a whole new raft of initiatives that will ramp up the pace of development even faster. Combined with the falling-off-the-cliff trend in solar pricing, you’re looking at a major trend in US workforce development that should bury that tired old “jobs-versus-environment” argument once and for all.

New Solar Summit Programs

Top 5 Policy Tricks Against Solar
Originally published on SolarWakeup.
By Yann Brandt

After incredible victories by solar policy groups, the anti-solar world lead by the likes of ALEC and investor owned utilities is coming out with a new bag of tricks. We have already seen the work come out in drafts of bills and those filed by legislators doing the work of the crowd going against solar. Most local solar companies engage in some level of statewide policy advocacy and as such needs to be up to speed on the tactics that may be happening in other States.

Solar policies are written to catch up to the market that has been carved out by large corporations that don’t want any competition or consumer choice in the market. The ability to put solar on your house or business should be an option for everyone, regardless of the State you live in. The transparency in the tactics is becoming clearer since solar now has policy shops that can help the strong grassroots support for our industry. “Sunshine is the best disinfectant;” as we present the top 5 policy tricks being used against solar:

5. Kill solar legislation in committee; it’s just too popular with the people

4. Too much solar is a cost shift from the rich to the poor

3. The utilities love solar; we have no problem with it and welcome it

2. Get rid of net metering, for something that’s better (Pinky Promise?)

1. Allow solar leasing…but only if provided by the investor owned utility

April 18, 2014
Eleven states generated electricity from nonhydro renewables at double U.S. average

About 6.2% of total U.S. electricity supplies in 2013 were generated from nonhydro renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal, up from 5.4% in 2012. But 11 states produced electricity at more than twice the national average from these sources—accounting for between 14% and 32% of their net electric generation—according to preliminary 2013 generation data in EIA's Electric Power Monthly report.

US mid-scale solar market to get US$100 million finance boost
By John Parnell - 17 April 2014, 11:07
In News, Power Generation, Finance

A new US$100 million project finance fund for distributed solar in the US is to be set up by Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure (HASI) and clean energy finance firm Sol Systems.

The construction and term debt financing will be offered to developers and owners of commercial, municipal and utility-scale projects in the US.

"With this programmatic finance solution for solar developers, we are looking to take the economic and documentation uncertainties out of the finance process and accelerate a developer's ability to close on a project,” said Jeffrey Eckel, president and CEO, HASI.

“We believe this new offering will provide the distributed solar industry with a flexible source of capital for portfolios of smaller projects, along with the skilled staff needed to transact at scale, with speed,” he added.

April 17, 2014
High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - New "plasmonic metamaterials" that operate at high temperatures could radically improve solar cell performance and bring advanced computer data storage technology that uses heat to record information on a magnetic disk.

The materials could make it possible to harness clouds of electrons called surface plasmons to manipulate and control light. However, some of the plasmonic components under development rely on the use of metals such as gold and silver, which cannot withstand high temperatures. They also are not compatible with the complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing process used to construct integrated circuits.

Purdue University researchers are working to replace silver and gold with titanium nitride and zirconium nitride.

"These materials remain stable at the high operational temperatures required for high efficiency and performance," said Urcan Guler, a postdoctoral research associate working with Alexandra Boltasseva, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Vladimir M. Shalaev, scientific director of nanophotonics at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center and a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The promise of high-temperature plasmonics is described in an article appearing Friday (April 18) in the journal Science. The article, appearing in the magazine's Perspectives section, was co-authored by Guler, Boltasseva and Shalaev.

Metamaterials have engineered surfaces that contain features, patterns or elements, such as tiny antennas or alternating layers of nitrides that enable unprecedented control of light. Under development for about 15 years, the metamaterials owe their unusual potential to precision design on the scale of nanometers.

Now, researchers have discovered that a new class of plasmonic technologies might use high temperatures to achieve superior efficiency. One obstacle, however, is that the operational temperature required for high-efficiency devices is estimated to be around 1,500 degrees Celsius (about 2,700 Fahrenheit). Titanium nitride and zirconium nitride are said to be refractory, meaning they have a high melting point and chemical stability at temperatures above 2,000 Celsius (about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit).

The materials might be used for solar thermophotovoltaics, in which an ultrathin layer of plasmonic metamaterials could dramatically improve solar cell efficiency: Whereas today's solar cells have an efficiency of about 15 percent, in theory the efficiency might be improved to as high as 85 percent with solar thermophotovoltaics. The plasmonic layer acts as a thin "intermediate spectral converter" that absorbs the entire spectrum of sunlight and then illuminates the solar cell, Guler said.

The spectral converter is an extremely thin layer of metamaterial that uses plasmonic nanoantennas to absorb and emit light. The layer might be as thin as 500 nanometers, or half of a micron, roughly one-hundredth the width of a human hair. This layer of material would be heated by sunlight to about 1,500 degrees Celsius.

Internal report slams U.S. handling of Abound Solar guarantees
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, April 17 Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:55pm EDT

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy displayed a "lack of guidance" in how it dealt with millions of dollars in loan guarantees to now-bankrupt Abound Solar Manufacturing, the agency's internal watchdog said in a report on Thursday.

The DOE in recent years has tried to help commercialize the production of solar equipment such as panels and photovoltaic modules with a series of loan guarantees.

The program was savaged by Republican lawmakers after the high-profile bankruptcy of California-based solar manufacturer Solyndra in 2011. The latest audit of loan guarantees to Abound could re-open those wounds.

In a 32-page report, the DOE's Inspector General reviewed the case of Colorado-based Abound, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2012 and laid off more than 100 employees, after receiving about $70 million of a $400 million loan guaranteed by the government.

Although the DOE said it had identified and taken steps to mitigate risks, and suspended funding when the company failed to meet certain milestones, the IG report said the loan guarantee program had not established "comprehensive policies, procedures and guidance for awarding, monitoring and administering loans."

"We noted a lack of guidance in the areas of the Board's reconsideration of loans, the processes for resolving differences in professional opinions among the Program's technical experts, the nature and timing of financial and industrial analysis, and the management of distressed loans," the report said.

Shunfeng completes issue of USD 460 million in convertible bonds

Shunfeng Photovoltaic International Ltd. (Changzhou, China) has completed the private issue of USD 460 million in 10-year convertible bonds. USD 280 million of these convertible bonds went to shareholder Cheng Kin Ming and his company Peace Link Services Ltd. (British Virgin Islands) to repay his down payment on Wuxi Suntech (Wuxi, China).

Chen Kin Ming paid USD 410 million to secure Shunfeng's acquisition of the solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and module maker in December 2013, in accordance with terms of the acquisition. The remaining USD 180 million in convertible bonds were acquired by three individuals and Power Triumph (British Virgin Islands), all of whom are listed as independent third parties.

Placement to increase share capital by 50%

The convertible bonds bear no interest, and are priced at USD 0.46 per share, representing 1 billion Shunfeng shares. These bonds increase the company's share capital by 50%.

This is only one of a number of convertible bond issues and other measures that Shunfeng is undertaking to raise capital, both for costs associated with the Wuxi Suntech acquisition and its PV project business.

The price of USD 0.46 per share is equal to roughly 79% of the of the average closing prices of a six day period prior to the initiation of the bond issue.

Synergy Study: Colocating solar farms and biofuel crops
Written by Sandra Henderson 17 April 2014

Scientists at Stanford University in California (US) have created computer models for exploring the advantages (and possibly drawbacks) of “colocating” solar panel farms with biofuel crops. Such colocated solar-biofuel systems could be a win-win approach, potentially a creative solution to more than one problem: generating solar energy and easily transportable liquid fuel from biofuel cultivation while conserving land and water.

Dust and dirt have to be washed off photovoltaic (PV) panels regularly anyway to ensure optimal efficiency. Runoff water from cleaning the solar panels would water the crops. The vegetation in turn would help anchor the soil to alleviate erosion and reduce the dust being kicked up from the ground by wind. The locational advantages for sunny areas, where land or water are scarce, are evident — both land use and water use would be doubled up.

The types of plants the Stanford team has in mind for drylands, where many solar farms operate, are ones that can ecologically and physiologically adapt and achieve meaningful yields on less fertile soils with low water availability; for example, several species of agave, including the tequila plant. Native to North and South America, these perennial evergreen xerophytic plants can be used to produce liquid ethanol, a biofuel that can be mixed with gasoline or used to power ethanol vehicles.

“In water-limited areas, coupled solar infrastructure and biofuel cultivation could be established in marginal lands with low water use, thus minimising the socioeconomic and environmental issues resulting from cultivating biofuel crops in prime agricultural lands,” says Sujith Ravi, who is conducting postdoctoral research in environmental earth system science at Stanford.

Article Released Tue-15th-April-2014 19:16 GMT
Contact: Mikiko Tanifuji
Institution: National Institute for Materials Science
An abundant and inexpensive water-splitting photocatalyst with low toxicity

Researchers at Japan's National Institute for Materials Science have discovered a new photocatalyst, Sn3O4, which facilitates the production of hydrogen fuel from water, using sunlight as an energy source.

Technology that allows the direct conversion of sunlight, an ultimate renewable energy, into chemical energies (i.e., fuels) that can be condensed and transported is not yet available. As such, solar energy is not ready at present to be utilized in place of conventional fossil and nuclear fuels.

Many water-splitting photocatalysts, such as titanium dioxide (TiO2), can decompose water and produce hydrogen fuel when absorbing ultraviolet light. However, due to their inability to absorb visible light, which accounts for more than half of solar energy, their practical use in the conversion of solar energy is limited. While the development of new photocatalysts that can split water by absorbing visible light has been worked on globally, there are cost- and environment-related issues because many of the available photocatalysts contain expensive rare metals, such as tantalum, or high concentrations of lead, which is very toxic.

Last edited by amor de cosmos; Apr 18, 2014 at 5:03 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old Posted Apr 19, 2014, 4:32 PM
amor de cosmos's Avatar
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Posts: 6,042
Roy L Hales, Solar, Technnology
The Toxic Issue of Solar Panels
April 18, 2014
By Roy L Hales

Last year Robert Lundahl and I co-wrote an article about a California PV solar factory that is not disposing of their solar panels once their lifespan expires. We could not name the company, as our source still works there, but they use a known carcinogenic called gallium arsenide. This is not believed to be a problem as long as the panels are intact. However if they end up in a landfill the panels will be broken and the toxins can leech into the soil. Environment California recently directed me to a study that puts this problem in context and suggests areas where the industry can improve.

Amy Galland’s “Clean and Green” was inspired by companies that are not complying with environmental health and safety codes, but she found PV manufacturers actually do more than what is required.

Some beat standards set for emissions, have excellent procedural methods and reduce waste by recycling materials. Suntech’s panels, for example, (p 17) are 100% recyclable because 85% of the components are recycled materials. (p 18) Both Abound Solar and First Solar claim and recycle their semiconductor materials at-end of life. SolarWorld established a joint venture, SolarCycle, that deals with recycled solar materials.

Another article I’m researching deals with a company whose panels are exceeding their expected performance. A recent Kyocera news release cites tests proving that 10 year old modules still retain 95% of their original capacity. An installation made 30 years still has 90.4% capacity! As a result of these tests, Kyocera now guarantees that their solar panels will retain 80% capacity for 25 years.

Galland devoted a large portion of her study to correctly handling solar panels, from the manufacturing stage to final disposal. She suggested (19) the ends of some panels should be encapsulated, for added protection and longer life.

One of the carcinogenic’s she identified was cadmium (CdTe). More than 63% of the CdTe found in our bodies is attributed to the fertilizers used for plants, never-the-less it is also in solar panels. Solar companies need to protect their workers during the manufacturing stage and used panels need to be handled properly. (p 23) Galland notes that First Solar recycles up to 95% of the CdTe from used panels.

She did not go into detail about gallium arsenide other than to say (pps 45) it is only used in small quantities on satellites and concentrated solar power systems due to the expense.

The problem of ensuring that all solar panels are treated properly remains.

NRG Targets SolarCity: ‘We’d Love to Give These Guys a Run for Their Money’
As solar companies broaden their reach, new competition is emerging between service providers.

Stephen Lacey
April 18, 2014

When NRG Energy acquired the eighth-largest U.S. residential solar installer last month, it had a very specific goal in mind: to start challenging big solar service providers like SolarCity.

"We’d love to give these guys a run for their money," said Tom Doyle, CEO of NRG Solar. "It is such an important space for our business."

Turns out, SolarCity had the same idea when it started buying up other solar companies and vertically integrating itself. It also wants to challenge independent power producers like NRG and other regulated utilities for their customer relationships.

"We’re an energy company," said Tanguy Serra, the chief operating officer of SolarCity, speaking about the firm's broader vision to be more than just a provider of solar.

The two executives were part of a panel at GTM's Solar Summit this week. The discussion centered on solar business models, competition between utilities and solar service providers, and what needs to happen in order for solar to be truly considered "mainstream."

Although few utilities have seen solar PV nudge out their existing fossil-based power plants, all the panelists agreed the technology is already impacting customer relationships and eroding demand.

Howard Wenger, head of SunPower's international power plant business, concurred with Serra's observation that solar firms are "migrating to become energy companies."

"There’s a battle -- a war, if you will -- between companies to grab the consumer’s twenty-year relationship," said Wenger.

10 Charts that Reveal the Potential ROI for Solar Blogging
Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza, UnThink Solar
April 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

I know I write a lot about how solar companies can blog effectively, but I still see few companies truly embracing blogging. Perhaps that’s because solar marketers want to show their CEOs some objective stats that show how blogging can be effective and not a waste of time and resources.

And that’s where HubSpot, a popular inbound (content) marketing platform, brings some objective — though non-solar — statistics from surveys it's done with its clients.

First, let’s answer that burning question about ROI. Is there one? For most companies, yes:


51% of New US Electricity Capacity In 1st Quarter Came From Solar Energy, 92% From Renewables (CHARTS)
by Zach
on April 19, 2014

If you love solar, you’re going to love electricity capacity trends in the US. In the first quarter of 2014, over 51% of new electricity generation capacity came from solar (51% excludes small and medium rooftop solar projects), and renewable energy on the whole contributed 92.1%.

This follows a year (2013) when solar was the #2 source of new electricity capacity, adding 21% of all new electricity generation capacity (again, not including rooftop solar projects).

This is all better visualized in charts and tables, so below are several of those. Above is a chart of new electricity generation capacity in the 1st quarter of 2014, and here is a table on that split:


Last edited by amor de cosmos; Apr 19, 2014 at 4:52 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old Posted Apr 20, 2014, 5:07 PM
amor de cosmos's Avatar
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Posts: 6,042
Solar Industry’s Threat To Utilities Greatly Exagerrated, Says Solar CEO

One of the world’s leading solar company CEOs, Arno Harris of Recurrent Energy (a US arm of Sharp), has backed up Warren Buffet and said that much of the hype over solar’s threat to utilities is an exaggeration.

“You can’t just take on the utilities and destroy them,” Harris, who is also the chairman of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said in an interview at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) conference in New York. “To get to any significant solar penetration, we’ll need more and better utility services.”

Despite the fact that the trade association of investor-owned utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, released a report last year explaining how distributed (rooftop) solar could lead to a utility company death spiral, many utilities have since then come around and conceded that solar energy is a big part of the future of energy and they can help enable that future without killing themselves.

“Now they’re ready to have that conversation about how to integrate more solar,” said Harris. “It’s inevitable that solar will become a bigger part of the energy mix and we need the utilities to help manage the grid as it does.”

North America reaches 5 million square feet of solar air heating collector area

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA, Washington D.C.) reports that 5 million square feet (460,000 square meters) of building-integrated solar air heating collectors are now installed in North America, which it describes as a “major milestone” for the industry.

This represents 250 MW-thermal of capacity. While SEIA did not provide a breakdown by geography, International Energy Agency (IEA, Paris) data from previous years indicates that unglazed solar air heating systems in Canada have historically represented the bulk of installed capacity in the continent.

“Building-integrated solar air heating systems are often overlooked in the discussion about renewable energy,” said SEIA CEO Rhone Resch said. “We need to change that mindset.”

“These cost-effective, energy-efficient systems can reduce by 20 to 50 percent the amount of conventional energy used for heating buildings – or for agricultural or process drying applications. That can represent a huge savings to companies, business owners and farmers nationwide.”

SHC costs as low as USD 0.06/kWh

Resch notes that 44% of U.S. energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling. He also estimates that the United States can create 50,000 new jobs and save USD 60 billion in energy costs over the next 30 years by expanding the use of solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems across the United States.

SEIA also cites a study by BEAM Engineering (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.) which finds that SHC is the most efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat, with costs as low as USD 0.06 per kWh.
Reply With Quote
Old Posted Apr 21, 2014, 4:55 PM
amor de cosmos's Avatar
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Posts: 6,042
Solar Shingles’ Rise Brings Clean Energy and Aesthetics to Home Solar
Posted on April 21 2014 by Gary Hilson

Once the domain of early adopters who didn’t mind what their homes looked like, residential solar power is on the verge of becoming more mainstream thanks to innovative and aesthetically pleasing solar panels and shingles.

Solar power has long been an option for homeowners to save money and take advantage of clean, green energy — and it’s never been more affordable than it is today. But solar is now also becoming chic and sleek enough for homeowners to incorporate into new builds or even retrofit older houses to go solar.

What is making solar power for residential homes even more attractive is a great shift in the technology’s aesthetics, thanks to new products that integrate more smoothly into a house’s architecture. Now, rather than being an addition to a roof, solar panels can become the roof.

It has taken time for these technologies to gain traction, but installers are starting to see more interest from homeowners, and solar power installations are becoming much more intertwined with the roofing and construction industries, rather than being an afterthought bolted on by early adopters who care about the environment.

One technology that has been around since 2005 is solar shingles — usually photovoltaic cells designed to look like and integrate with conventional roof shingles. In their early days, these shingles were more expensive than bolt-on panels and mainly appealed to those willing to spend the money on solar power that could be completely integrated aesthetically into their home. However, solar shingles have become more competitive with panels price-wise and are catching the eye of homeowners who are looking to re-shingle since they function as actual shingles — they are protective and weatherproof.

Dow Solar is not the only company in the business of providing integrated solar power for residential homes. Building-materials manufacturer CertainTeed offers its own line of solar shingles that are designed to mesh with traditional roofs. Its Apollo II Solar Roofing uses monocrystalline silicon solar cells to capture and convert solar energy. Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles, meanwhile, are now available in 18 U.S. states, and they recently made their debut in Canada through an exclusive, authorized distribution agreement with Canadian Energy.

Craig Ballard, CEO of Canadian Energy, said the company sells the shingles through multiple channels in Canada — including roofers, builders and solar companies — as well as doing installations directly. “Our goal is to get clean, renewable energy being produced on as many rooftops as possible.”

However, Ballard said, the market is not well defined, as solar shingles are a relatively new technology. “The market is in its infancy, and in some ways solar power is in its infancy. We’re working with a lot of different people to connect this product with peoples’ roofs at the consumer level.”

He said the elephant in the room is that homeowners do not want to put solar panels on their roofs, even if they are environmentally inclined, because of how they will affect the look of the home. “They simply don’t want the appearance of solar panels because it hurts the aesthetic of their house.”

Solar shingles have a number of advantages over solar panels, said Ciota, in large part because they can be installed in combination with a re-shingling. The drawback of solar panels over a traditional roof is that the homeowner must make sure the roof will outlive the solar panels. If the roof needs replacing, the solar panels must be removed. In addition, many solar panels are raised off the roof, which creates cozy nooks for animals to take shelter.

Ciota said solar shingles make a great deal of sense for retrofitting older houses to take advantage of green energy, and noted that at least one local historical society, the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, has approved their use.

But not everyone sees solar shingles as the only appealing approach for solar power on residential homes. David Kelly, CEO of Calgary-based SkyFire Energy, said the residential grid-tied solar electric systems his company installs are more affordable and more efficient than current solar shingles and can function as the entire roof, while still being aesthetically pleasing. They come in a variety of colors including black and what Kelly describes as a frames version. They can also be integrated in the side of a home, he said, although solar shingles do make sense if you’re putting on a new roof.

Reply With Quote
Old Posted Yesterday, 4:45 PM
amor de cosmos's Avatar
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Posts: 6,042
Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells (w/ Video)
1 hour ago

In the quest to make sun power more competitive, researchers are designing ultrathin solar cells that cut material costs. At the same time they're keeping these thin cells efficient by sculpting their surfaces with photovoltaic nanostructures that behave like a molecular hall of mirrors.

"We want to make sure light spends more quality time inside a solar cell," said Mark Brongersma, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and co-author of a review article in Nature Materials.

Brongersma and two Stanford colleagues—associate professor of materials science and engineering Yi Cui and professor of electrical engineering Shanhui Fan—surveyed 109 recent scientific papers from teams around the world.

Their overview revolves around a basic theme: looking at the many different ways that researchers are trying to maximize the collisions between photons and electrons in the thinnest possible layers of photovoltaic materials. The goal is to reveal trends and best practices that will help drive developments in the field.

Solar energy is produced when photons of light collide with the electrons in a photovoltaic crystal. As loose electrons move through the crystal, they generate an electrical current.

Today's solar cells are already thin. They are made up of layers of photovoltaic materials, generally silicon, that average 150 to 300 micrometers, which is roughly the diameter of two to three human hairs.

As engineers continue to shave down those dimensions they have to develop new molecular traps and snares to ensure that photons don't simply whiz through their ultrathin solar cells before the electrical sparks can fly.

"A lot of the excitement now is about using the principles of photonics to manage light waves in the most efficient way," Fan said. "There are perhaps hundreds of groups in the world working on this."

The review article provides a high level view of how scientists are trying to design structures to facilitate interactions between the infinitesimal instigators of solar current, the photons and the electrons.

UK to install 16 GW by 2018
22. April 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Panorama | By: Edgar Meza

Britain's solar strategy will lay ground for a stable future for solar development, according to IHS, which estimates the country installed 922 MW of utility-scale systems in the first quarter of the year.

Examining the U.K. government's recently announced solar strategy, Josefin Berg, solar research senior analyst at market research group IHS, says the plan, along with prevailing investment conditions for ground-mounted PV plants, will drive total U.K. PV installations to 2.5 to 3 GW annually until 2018.

The U.K. government released the second part of its U.K. Solar Strategy in early April. While expressing continued support for the PV industry, the plan shifted the focus away from ground-mounted projects towards rooftop systems.

In a report released Tuesday, IHS says the government plan "breeds optimism among participants in the U.K. PV market" but adds that the document remains vague on exact support measures to spur the commercial rooftop segment. "Some key barriers are inherent in the nature of the U.K. real estate sector, such as the relation between tenants and owners, as pointed out in the strategy document."

Nevertheless, IHS has raised its near-term forecasts for the U.K., as the strategy document along with signs of high developer activity indicate continued growth. By 2018, IHS forecasts the U.K. to have 16 GW of installed PV capacity, 13 GW of that new capacity installed over the next five years. This would put the U.K. on track to overshoot the government's target of 20 GW by 2020, which may result in a revised support environment. This year, IHS expects 2.4 GW of new PV installations in the country.

US adds 584 MW of solar in first quarter, reaches 8.67 GW in March
22. April 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Edgar Meza

Solar accounted for more than 50% of new capacity installed between January and March. The number of new grid-connected plants reached 47 in the period, down from 66 a year ago.

The United States added 584 MW of installed large-scale solar capacity in the first quarter of 2014, according to a report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure (OEP).

New solar power plants to go online in March included:
  • Daniel Farm LLC's 5 MW Daniel Farm Solar project in Davie County, North Carolina (with power generated sold to Duke Energy Carolinas under a long-term contract
  • Strata Solar LLC’s 5 MW Roxboro Solar project in Person County, North Carolina (with power generated sold to Progress Energy Carolinas under a long-term contract)
  • Ignite Solar Holdings 1 LLC’s 6 MW PSEG Shasta Solar Farm project in Shasta County, California (with power generated sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. under a long-term contract)
  • OCI Solar Power’s 4 MW Alamo II Solar project in Bexar County, Texas (with power generated sold to CPS Energy under a long-term contract)
  • Genesis Solar LLS’s 125 MW Genesis Solar Energy Project Phase 2 in Riverside County, California (with power generated sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a long-term contract)
  • Winchendon Solar LLS’s 2 MW Winchendon Solar project in Worcester County, Massachusetts (with power generated serving the electric demand of the town of Winchendon)

Italian solar PV meets 8.0% of demand in March 2014

Italian solar photovoltaic (PV) plants produced 2.10 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in March 2014, according to figures by grid operator Terna (Rome). This was a 37% increase from a year prior and enough to meet 8.0% of the nation's electricity demand during the month.

Italy has the highest portion of power demand met with PV of any mid-sized to large nation on earth. In 2013 the nation met around 7.0% of its demand with PV throughout the year, but it is likely that this will increase in 2014 despite a slowdown in the nation's PV market following the close of its feed-in tariff.

When hydroelectric, wind and geothermal generation are included, renewables met 32% of demand during the month. This is an increase from a year ago, with lower wind output more than made up for by a 20% increase in hydroelectric generation.

During the first quarter of 2014, Italy met 5.2% of electricity demand with PV, and renewables overall met 30% of demand.

Japan installs 569 MW of solar PV in January 2014

Japan installed 86 MW of residential and 483 MW of “non-residential” solar photovoltaics (PV) under its feed-in tariff in January 2014, according to statistics released by the nation's Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry (METI).

This is a 3% sequential fall from December 2013 levels, and is consistent with the ongoing dominance by the commercial and utility-scale sectors over residential installations.

These figures bring Japan to 1.13 GW of residential and 4.61 GW of non-residential PV installed in the first ten months of the nation's fiscal year 2014, for a total of 5.74 GW. This represents just over 7 GW on an annual basis, and most market analysts project this level of installations throughout 2014.
Reply With Quote
Old Posted Today, 6:07 PM
amor de cosmos's Avatar
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Posts: 6,042
Researchers Achieve Higher Solar-Cell Efficiency With Zinc-Oxide Coating
Surface modification allows cell to absorb more light

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have achieved the highest efficiency ever in a 9 millimeter-squared solar cell made of gallium arsenide. After coating the cufflink-sized cells with a thin layer of zinc oxide, the research team reached a conversion efficiency of 14 percent.

A small array of these cells – as few as nine to 12 – generate enough energy for small light-emitting diodes and other devices. But surface modification can be scaled up, and the cells can be packaged in large arrays of panels to power large devices such as homes, satellites, or even spacecraft.

The research team, led by Omar Manasreh, professor of electrical engineering, published its findings in Applied Physics Letters and the April 2014 issue of Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.

An alternative to silicon, gallium arsenide is a semiconductor used to manufacture integrated circuits, light-emitting diodes and solar cells. The surface modification, achieved through a chemical synthesis of thin films, nanostructures and nanoparticles, suppressed the sun’s reflection so the cell could absorb more light. But even without the surface coating, the researchers were able to achieve 9-percent efficiency by manipulating the host material.

“We want to increase the efficiency of small cells,” said Yahia Makableh, doctoral student in electrical engineering. “With this specific material, the theoretical maximum is 33 percent efficiency, so we have some work to do. But we’re making progress. The beauty of zinc oxide is that it’s cheap, non-toxic and easy to synthesize.”

Makableh said the surface modification could also be applied to other solar cells, including those made of indium-arsenide and gallium-arsenide quantum dots. Solar cells made of these materials may be able to achieve 63-percent conversion efficiency, which would make them ideal for future development of solar cells.

Makableh used equipment and instrumentation in the College of Engineering’s Optoelectronics Research Lab, which is directed by Manasreh. Researchers in the lab grow and functionalize semiconductors, nanostructured anti-reflection coatings, self-cleaning surfaces and metallic nanoparticles to be used in solar cells. Their ultimate goal is to fabricate and test photovoltaic devices with greater solar-energy conversion efficiency.

UK installs 1.1 GW of solar PV in Q1 2014, dominated by utility-scale projects

Driven by a boom in utility-scale PV, the UK installed 1.085 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the first three months of 2014, according to NPD Solarbuzz Inc. (Santa Clara, California, U.S.).

This brings the nation to 4.46 GW of cumulative installed PV. The company expects this booming market to continue, citing policy stability and the success of the Renewables Obligation Credit (ROC) program.

“With the future of onshore wind looking increasingly at risk, a new Solar Strategy released from DECC, a likely reduction in Chinese module pricing in Europe, and a whopping project pipeline growing under 1.4 ROCs, it begs the question: can it get any better for the UK solar PV industry?” asks NPD Solarbuzz VP Finlay Colville.

Larger ground-mounted installations dominate new capacity

NPD Solarbuzz marks October 2013 as a turning point for the UK PV industry, given the resolution of the EU's trade case with China through the price undertaking. In the six months since October 1st, 2013, the nation has installed 1.54 GW of PV.

Of this capacity installed in these six months, 78% was in the ground-mounted segment, as opposed to only 22% in the rooftop segment. Of these ground-mounted installations, PV projects larger than 10 MW made up 2/3 of capacity.

Deployment of distributed solar PV to grow secondary power electronics market 134% annually

GTM Research Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.) has issued a new report predicting that the market for secondary power electronics equipment for solar photovoltaic (PV) integration will grow by 134% annually over the next three years to reach USD 320 million in 2017.

This will be driven by the expansion of PV and its effects on the distribution grid. GTM's “Advanced Grid Power Electronics for High Penetration PV Integration 2014” notes that secondary power electronics also allow grid operators to improve distribution grid efficiency through conservation voltage reduction, enhanced control over power quality and improved situational awareness.

“Utility-owned power electronics offer a variety of services for utilities at a fraction of the cost of competing storage solutions,” said GTM Research Senior Grid Analyst Ben Kellison.

“These enable utilities to fine tune unstable portions of the distribution grid, while allowing the bulk of the grid to operate using cheaper, more traditional technology.”

Contact: Komunikazio Bulegoa
Quantum simulators developed to study inaccessible physical systems

Quantum simulators recreate the behaviour on a microscopic scale of biological and quantum systems and even of particles moving at the speed of light. The exact knowledge of these systems will lead to applications ranging from more efficient photovoltaic cells to more specific drugs. Researchers in the UPV/EHU’s department of Physical Chemistry are working on the design of several of these quantum simulators so they can study the dynamics of complex physical systems.

Quantum mechanics is the mathematical tool that enables us to describe the physical processes that take place on a microscopic level; it is capable of satisfactorily predicting the stability of atoms and molecules, the reactivity of different chemical compounds, or the result of the interaction between radiation and matter. They are all situations that constitute the basis of our physical world and for which there is no explanation within the framework of classical physics. “The physical processes that take place on a quantum level obey such sophisticated mathematical models that they cannot be analysed by means of today’s computers because of the computational limitations of these devices,” explained Dr Jorge Casanova, researcher in the UPV/EHU's department of Physical Chemistry. One possible way of solving the problem of computational complexity of physical systems is to use a quantum platform or technology as a simulator.

Quantum simulators are systems capable of reproducing the dynamics of a specific physical system, and overcoming the limitation of conventional computers. Among the various technologies that are studied with a view to developing efficient quantum simulators, this UPV/EHU research group has been focussing on the technology of trapped ions. “Basically, these systems work by isolating individual atoms in a controlled environment so that there is no interference with the environment. They then undergo laser treatment, and after that, it is possible to conduct operations like exciting or de-exciting the electrons of these atoms. That way they are made to behave like the system we want to study," explained Casanova, the lead author of the work.

Turning Solar Farms into Actual Farms, Too
Posted on April 22 2014 by Scott Thill

Consolidating precious natural resources in a warming world is a must. Which is why literal solar farms make sense — and maybe dollars — to Stanford scientists recently researching a colocation approach for simultaneously creating solar power and biofuels. It’s a simple idea, really: Grow some agave plants beneath vast solar farms across Earth’s increasingly arid regions, and voila! You’ve got a potential agritech solution for decreasing lethal emissions, and perhaps a reliable source of domestic fuel.

More microcosmically, the solar sector could reduce its water footprint by relying instead more heavily on agave, and what Stanford’s colocation announcement called “other biofuel crops,” to capture runoff and moisture to keep our photovoltaic panels cleaner in inhospitable climates. It sounds good on paper; specifically, the new issue of Environmental Science & Technology wherein Stanford’s scientists explain their collocated energy concept.

“It could be a win-win situation,” said Stanford postdoc Sujith Ravi in a press release. “Water is already limited in many areas and could be a major constraint in the future. This approach could allow us to produce energy and agriculture with the same water.”

Florida lawmakers press Duke Energy to invest in solar, efficiency
By Claire Cameron
April 23, 2014

Dive Brief:
  • State and federal officials in Florida are calling on Duke Energy to invest more in clean energy.
  • In a letter delivered to Duke Energy Florida President Alex Gleen, lawmakers expressed “support for clean energy" and urged Duke "to deepen its investment in energy efficiency and solar power in Florida.”
  • Duke Energy spokesperson Nicole LeBeau said that the company had received the letter and would respond in due course.

Dive Insight:

This is part of a larger campaign by the Sierra Club. Karl Nurse, a city council member for St. Petersburg, said Duke Energy Florida is lagging behind the utility’s efforts to increase energy efficiency projects in other states. Officials said the letter wasn’t intended to reflect negatively on the utility; rather, it is intended to “empower us to do more to bring more energy efficiency and solar” to Florida, they said.

Currently, Florida ranks 16th in the U.S. for total number of solar installations, and 26 other states had better-performing energy efficiency programs than Florida. Lawmakers hope increasing energy efficiency efforts will help boost the state’s economy.

Juan Cole
Top 5 Reasons Solar Energy Will Save the World
Posted on Apr 23, 2014
By Juan Cole

This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.

1. The research and development monies now going into solar energy are great enough to fuel innovation and bring down prices rapidly. First Solar expects solar electricity generation costs to fall from 63 cents a watt to 35 cents a watt from now through 2017!

2. Honda is experimenting with a zero-carbon home. It includes a direct DC recharger for an electric car so as to cut down on energy lost to heat during the DC to AC conversion. Charging would take only 2 hours, direct from sunlight.

3. Thin-skin solar panels will be installed directly on the cars, and a canopy recharger will fill them back up.

4. Even poor countries of the global South like Pakistan are finding it affordable now to create enormous solar parks. Bahawalpur faces blackouts and a deficit of 4 gigawatts of electricity. It will soon get 1 gigawatt of electricity from solar and other renewables.

5. After seeing the way Russia is bullying Western Europe over opposition in Brussels to Russia grabbing Ukrainian territory, with Russia threatening to cut off natural gas, many countries will be encouraged to invest in renewable energy sources that cannot be cut off. Thailand is investing in 3 gigawatts of solar energy, not only because its government wants more electricity but because it wants more energy independence! The falling price of solar panels will give a further economic motive for going green, but tensions in the ASEAN countries over the possibility of gradually being reduced to Chinese puppets are real– something Obama is trying to address on his current trip to Japan and other countries of the far east. The alternative to solar, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to produce natural gas, is not affordable in many countries; it uses enormous amounts of precious water, damages the environment, and produces huge methane emissions that threaten deadly climate disruption. Solar gives both cost savings and security, as well as a brighter climate future.

SkyFuel's Parabolic Trough in Stillwater Hybrid Geothermal Plant
Published on 23 April 2014

SkyFuel, Inc. is providing the parabolic trough solar field being integrated into the heating loop of Enel Green Power (EGP) North America's Stillwater geothermal power plant.

The solar field is designed to return the temperature of the brine from the geothermal wells to its original design point and thus recapture the full capacity and economic value of the existing turbine generator. All equipment for the solar troughs has been delivered and the system is expected to be operational by the end of 2014. This will be the world's first commercial plant integrating solar thermal power with geothermal.

NY Region
Bloomberg Backs a Solar Lamp
Former Mayor's Foundation Aids Devise for Use in Africa

By Melanie Grayce West
April 21, 2014 10:04 p.m. ET

A trendy solar-powered lamp will soon brighten more homes and classrooms in Africa, thanks to a low-interest loan from the foundation of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is scheduled Tuesday to announce a $5 million deal with LittleSun GmbH, the German company that makes Little Sun, a hand-held solar-powered lamp created by Berlin artist Olafur Eliasson and Copenhagen engineer Frederik Ottesen. It is the first such support lent by the foundation to a so-called social business.

The lamp, introduced two years ago at the Tate Modern museum in London, is intended for use in areas where electricity is scarce and the primary source of lighting is kerosene lamps. The device is available in eight sub-Saharan African countries. At $9 to $17 apiece, the device pays for itself in roughly six months, say Mr. Eliasson and Rohit Aggarwala, who is part of the environmental group at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The commitment from Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow Little Sun to expand production and distribution until these functions can be supported with the company's revenue.

The Little Sun device offers a "huge opportunity" from an environmental perspective, said Mr. Aggarwala.

Kerosene lamps produce carbon dioxide and throw off particulate matter. The foundation estimates one hour of breathing the fumes from a kerosene lamp is equivalent to 10 cigarettes.

The lamp "will improve the health and quality of life of the people who purchase it because you get away from indoor air-pollution issues which are detrimental to everyone, but especially detrimental to children," said Mr. Aggarwala.

Little Sun isn't the only company providing a solar-powered solution to replace kerosene or other fuel lamps in Africa. But Mr. Aggarwala and his team liked the quality of light from Little Sun and the "useful and attractive" design, he said. "The fact is…you could be living in an off-grid community in Africa making only a handful of dollars a day, you're still going to be attracted to good design."

The Little Sun lamp has been widely exhibited in museums, art fairs and music festivals and is sold at museum design stores. Mr. Eliasson, the artist, is best known in New York for his 2008 public-art installation comprising four artificial waterfalls around the city.

RWE Invests in Its First U.K. Solar Park; Conergy to Build
By Tino Andresen Apr 23, 2014 12:48 AM PT

RWE AG, the German utility that cut its renewables unit’s investments by two-thirds, is funding construction of its first U.K. solar park, to be built by Conergy U.K. Ltd.

The 37-megawatt Kencot Hill Solar Farm, on a disused airfield in Oxfordshire, England, will be one of the country’s largest, providing about 10,000 households with electricity, Essen-based RWE said today in a statement.

The park is scheduled to start operating in late summer. RWE, providing financial and technical support, agreed to sell the facility to Foresight Solar Fund Limited (FSFL) once constructed, it said.

“RWE aims in future to repeat this structure, attracting investors” in the U.K. and other European countries, Stefan Judisch, chief executive officer of RWE’s Supply & Trading unit, said in the statement, referring to the financing.

RWE’s renewables unit will invest 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) from 2014 to 2016, a similar amount to last year alone. RWE posted its first loss last year since World War II.

Apr 23, 2014
SunPower and Google Form $250 Million Solar Lease Program

April 23 (Bloomberg) — SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, and Google Inc. are creating a $250 million program to finance residential solar systems.

The solar producer is committing $150 million and Google will provide $100 million, San Jose, California-based SunPower said today in a statement. The program will “help make solar accessible to more families,” said Chuck Boynton, the solar company’s chief financial officer.

The program will support solar leases for rooftop systems that use SunPower panels. Leasing, the fastest-growing part of the U.S. solar market, allows homeowners to pay little or nothing up front for systems in exchange for monthly payments.

This is the second clean-power investment in two days for the Mountain View, California-based search-engine company. Google has invested more than $1 billion in renewable energy worldwide, including two prior deals in residential solar, the company said on its website today.

SunPower gained 7.6 percent to $31.61 at 10:19 a.m. in New York. First Solar Inc. is the largest U.S. solar manufacturer.

Solar-thermal neighbourhood shines in Alberta
22 Apr 2014
Special to The Globe and Mail

Saving energy costs wasn’t the driving reason for Alberta mechanical engineer Robert Pugh’s move into a solar-heated community that was conceived a dozen years ago as the first of its kind in North America, where it remains unique in how it heats an entire subdivision in the winter.

You could say owning one of the 52 homes in the Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) in Okotoks, Alta., has proved to be an ethical ray of sunshine for residents, including Mr. Pugh, his wife Dana and their two young children.

Eight years after the completion of the DLSC, which is the brainchild of Natural Resources Canada and was developed in partnership with governmental organizations and private interests, Okotoks remains a shining example of how an entire community living much of the year in freezing weather can use the sun to drastically reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

Mr. Pugh, one of the first owners of a solar-heated home in Okotoks, a town of about 27,000 just south of Calgary, says he bought into the subdivision more for ideological reasons .

“I am extremely concerned about our carbon emissions and want to try to adjust my behaviour as much as I can,” Mr. Pugh says.

Drake Landing is the first – and according to Natural Resources Canada’s Doug McClenahan, still the only – large-scale, masterplanned community in North America to use borehole thermal energy storage (BTES). The technology stores solar energy in the ground in the summer to save it for winter, and acts as a large underground heat exchanger.

The 52 homes remain the largest subdivision of R-2000 singlefamily homes in Canada.

From the street, the homes don’t stand out as an example of cutting-edge green technology. Most of the solar magic happens at the back of the properties.

Mounted on the detached double garages located behind the homes are 800 flat-plate solar panels, which were manufactured by Enerworks, a Canadian solar equipment manufacturer. Glycol is used as the heat transfer fluid to move the thermal energy from the solar collectors through a network of insulated pipes to an Energy Centre, a 2,500-squarefoot building located in the corner of the community park, that houses short-term storage tanks .

The heat exchanger, using 144 boreholes drilled 37 metres into the earth, extracts the thermal energy from the solar collector loop that is stored in two 125,000litre steel tanks and transfers it to the surrounding soil. Heat is then recovered from the soil during the winter and transferred into a district energy network that is connected to each home, which has a low-temperature air handler that blows air across a warm fan coil.

4/21/2014 @ 9:35AM 3,797 views
Falling Solar Energy Costs Are Poised To Reshape The World's Economy

Jeremy Rifkin recently published a book called The Zero Marginal Cost Society. As an industry analyst it is my job to stay on top of technologies that have the chance to transform industry. Indeed, when MHI went through a very throrough research project to identify megatrends that will reshape industry through 2025, all the trends they identified, but one, are things that my company ARC has been paying close attention to.

Mr. Rifkin discusses the Internet of Things (IoT), advances in automation and robotics, 3D Printers, and the fundamental changes to our economy these things will drive. I’ve linked to just the most recent articles we have written on the topics of IoT and robotics transforming supply chains. ARC is less convinced that 3D Printers are transformative.

But Mr. Rifkind has identified one transformative trend ARC has clearly not paid enough attention to: the exponential price decline in solar power! I was somewhat doubtful this could be true, but a search of the Internet brings up research by Ramaz Naam, who published an article in Scientific American in 2011 on this topic. In a recent blog Mr. Naam states “the price decline in solar cost per watt has, if anything, accelerated since then!”

Exponential curves matter. Humans have a hard time comprehending exponential growth. Would you rather have one million dollars or be given one dollar on day one, two dollars on day two, four dollars on day three and so on for a one month period? Almost everyone would instantly say “I’ll take the million bucks.” Do the math, you’ll be surprised!

It is another exponential curve that is at the heart of the computer revolution, Moore’s Law. Moore’s law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This explains why while computers get so much more powerful, costs continue to decline. This will give you a sense of my age, but I can remember the first time I saw a spreadsheet and being astounded by the power of it. And I have continued to be amazed by one computer advance after another.

Over the last few years, there has been much focus on shale oil technologies. And truly, shale oil is proving to be a boon for the U.S. But remember the power of exponential curves! If these results are correct, we are in for a green energy future every bit as dramatic as the computer revolution.

Samoa sets sights on largest solar array in the Pacific
23. April 2014 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Ian Clover

The tiny South Pacific country announces plans to build a 2.2 MW solar plant, with financial assistance from the Asia Development Bank and neighboring New Zealand.

Construction of the largest solar power array in the Pacific is expected to commence soon after New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully announced this week details of a 2.2 MW plant for Samoa.

Commissioned as part of the European Union-New Zealand Energy Access Partnership, which was launched at the Pacific Energy Summit last year, the plant will be located in Samoa’s capital city, Apia, and will be financed via support from the Asia Development Bank.

"New Zealand is working in partnership with the government of Samoa, the European Union and the Asia Development Bank to increase the generation of renewable energy in Samoa," said McMully during a visit to the South Pacific island in which the minister toured further possible sites for renewable energy projects with EU Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

"The 2.2 MW array at the Apia Sports Complex will provide the highest electrical output from a single installation in the Pacific, and is a major part of a larger renewable energy program funded by New Zealand," added the minister. "Renewable energy is a strong focus of New Zealand’s support to developing countries. The investments in Samoa reflect commitments made at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland last year."

Wind and solar generation half the cost of nuclear
By Sophie Vorrath on 23 April 2014

New-build wind and solar energy systems can generate electricity for up to 50 per cent cheaper than new nuclear power plants, a German study has found.

The research, commissioned by German think tank Agora Energiewende, compares feed-in tariffs for new nuclear in the UK with FiTs for renewables in Germany, and finds that nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CSS) – a technology not yet available in Europe – are both more expensive than wind and solar as energy strategies for preventing climate change.


Oklahoma utilities hit homes using solar with extra fee
By Bobby Magill on 23 April 2014
Climate Central

Anyone living in Oklahoma planning to power their home using a rooftop solar panel will soon be charged a fee for the right to do that while still being connected to the local power grid.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed the “solar surcharge” bill into law on Monday, permitting utilities to charge an extra fee to any customer using distributed power generation, such as rooftop solar or a small wind turbine.

Distributed generation is seen in many parts of the country as a way for cities and homeowners to modernize their power system and become more resilient in the face of extreme weather, brought about in part by climate change. Rooftop solar and wind turbines generate clean energy to help to keep homes’ lights on when the power grid fails.

Oklahoma’s new law states that it is aiming to prevent the majority of utility customers from “subsidizing” those with solar panels on their homes who offset the cost of electricity and grid maintenance costs by generating their own power and feeding it onto the grid and receiving credit for the power they generate.

The practice of utility customers providing home-generated power to the grid and receiving credits for the power they produce is called “net metering,” and is legal in most states. But, it is something the electric power industry considers a threat to traditional utilities, which use centralized power sources that distribute electricity to customers via the power grid.

“Right now, a distributed generation customer is really paying less for the maintenance of the infrastructure than our other customers,” despite the up-front costs of installing solar panels on a roof, said Kathleen O’Shea, spokeswoman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric, or OGE, one of the state’s largest utilities.

Of OGE’s 800,000 customers, between 200 and 400 of them use rooftop solar or wind, she said.

“As solar prices come down and this becomes more popular, we want to make sure everybody who’s using the grid is paying their fair share,” she said, adding that it’s unfair for the utility’s traditional customers — roughly 799,600 of them — to foot the bill for grid maintenance when several hundred people end up saving money by using their own solar panels to provide power to the utility while not paying the grid maintenance surcharge.

New York Solar Spreads like Wildfire, and is Only Getting Hotter
Posted on April 23 2014 by Guest Author

New York is a big state — almost 55,000 square miles of city, river, pasture, suburb, mountaintop, forest and coast. Yet, in the past few years solar power has been spreading like wildfire from one corner to the next. Throughout the state — on factory rooftops, schools, farms, homes, fire stations and stores — you can see solar panels glinting in the sun. They’re producing clean electricity, creating new jobs, and saving consumers money on their energy bills. And they’re doing all that while helping to combat climate change and cut other harmful air pollution that can cause and exacerbate asthma, lung cancer and heart disease.

In fact, after years as a solar pipsqueak — left in the dust by states like New Jersey to the south — New York is now rocketing up the solar ranks. By the end of 2013, we were 9th in the nation in total installed solar capacity with over 247 MW of solar power installed — that’s enough electricity to power 40,000 homes. And, better still, we’re now 5th in the nation in solar jobs: with now more than 5,000 good-paying positions in everything from solar installation and maintenance, to business development, sales, manufacturing and component supply.

Contact: University of Malaya Institution: University of Malaya
Malaysian and Taiwanese researchers make major advances in dye sensitized solar cells
Two groups of researchers have recently advanced the field of solar cells with a cheaper and efficient replacement for platinum and better synthesis of zinc oxide.

Working on dye-sensitized solar cells - researchers from University Malaya (UM) and National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) have achieved an efficiency of 1.12 %, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices.

This work has been accepted for publication in the journal, Nanoscale published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and has been selected for the front cover of the issue.

The study carried out in Taiwan took on the challenge of making the technology behind dye-sensitized solar cells more affordable by replacing the costly platinum counter-electrodes with bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) nanosheet arrays.

Using a novel electrolysis process, the group managed to closely manipulate the spacing between individual nanosheets and hence control the thermal and electrical conductivity parameters to achieve the high efficiency of 1.12%, which is comparable to platinum devices, but at only at a fraction of the cost.

The research was led by Prof. Yu-Lun Chueh of the Nanoscience & Nanodevices Laboratory, NTHU, and Alireza Yaghoubi, UM HIR Young Scientist. “In light of the recent report by the United Nations about the irreversible effects of fossil fuels on climate change and as we gradually run out of economically recoverable oil reserves, we think it is necessary to look for a sustainable, yet practical source of energy” Yaghoubi stated.

Meanwhile at University Malaya, Dr. Wee Siong Chiu and colleagues were working on controlling the secondary nucleation and self-assembly in zinc oxide (ZnO), a material which is currently being scrutinized for its potential applications in dye-sensitized solar cells as well as photocatalytic reactions to generate clean electricity by splitting water under sunlight.

In this work, Dr. Chiu and Alireza Yaghoubi demonstrated a new route for synthesis of various zinc oxide nanostructures using the lipophilic interactions between a novel precursor and a number of fatty acids. They are hoping to further use this method to increase the efficiency of photocatalysts in the visible regime where most of the sunlight energy lies.

According to the researchers, if this approach is successful, generating electricity is as easy as pouring some bioinert nanomaterials into a lake and fusing the split oxygen and hydrogen atoms back into water in a photoelectrochemical cell.
Reply With Quote

Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Discussion Forums > Engineering
Forum Jump

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 8:28 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.