Posts Tagged ‘solar energy’

Spray-on films turns any windows to Solar Panel

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

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Photo courtesy of Gizmag

Imagine if all the windows of a building, and perhaps even all its exterior walls, could be put to use as solar collectors. Soon, you may not have to imagine it, as the Norweigan solar power company EnSol has patented a thin film solar cell technology designed to be sprayed on to just such surfaces. Unlike traditional silicon-based solar cells, the film is composed of metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix, and operates on a different principle. EnSol is now developing the product with help from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“One of the key advantages is that it is a transparent thin film that can be coated onto window glass so that windows in buildings can also become power generators,” said Chris Binns, Professor of Nanotechnology at Leicester. “Obviously some light has to be absorbed in order to generate power but the windows would just have a slight tinting (though a transmission of only 8-10% is common place for windows in the ‘sun belt’ areas of the world). Conversely the structural material of the building can also be coated with a higher degree of absorption. This could be side panels of the building itself, or even in the form of ‘clip-together’ solar roof tiles.”

Research partners are developing prototype squares of the material, measuring 16 square centimeters each. Ultimately, EnSol hopes to achieve a cell efficiency of at least 20 percent, and have its product ready for the commercial market by 2016.

This development is reminiscent of Sphelar cells – solidified silicon drop-based solar cells recently developed by Kyosemi Corporation. Although the technology is different, they are also intended to be used in solar panels that double as windows.

Courtesy of Gizmag

Assemble your own solar panel

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Since there’s almost any size and shape of solar panel available for purchase from a myriad of vendors across the Internet why would anybody want to go through the hassle of tabbing together their own cells to build a solar panel? Because you can, obviously. This DIY video will run through the basics of chaining together polycrystalline cells and leaves the details like enclosure and such to the user.

courtesy: Make

First Solar breaks solar energys $1 per watt barrier

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

This is great news…soon it will be possible to have solar powered nodes at a low cost. As a comparison point, solar panels cost about $7/watt in 2002…hmm…wonder if this has anything to do with the 2 gigs of RAM I bought for $20…

First Solar Inc this week claimed a milestone in the solar industry toward providing a sustainable and affordable solar energy solution: solar modules manufactured below the $1 per watt point, at a cost of $0.98 per watt.

“This was truly a worldwide goal,” said Ken Zweibel, director of the Institute for the Analysis of Solar Energy at George Washington University. “The solar industry has been aiming at this goal for the past 25 years, and now it has been met by First Solar. The US leads the world in photovoltaics in terms of the technology with First Solar being the lowest cost practical manufacturing modules below $0.98 per watt and SunPower reporting the highest solar converting efficiency of approximately 20%.”

San Jose-based SunPower last May touted full-scale solar cell protototypes at 23.4% efficiency. The company has reported improvements in mass production since its first all-back contact solar cell prototype in 2003. CEO Tom Werner has stated that SunPower’s Gen 2 technology in mass production since 2007 is 22% efficient.

Source: Electronic New

Track the sun for home lighting

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

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Have a room in your house that really could benefit from some sunlight? Build a Suntrack to reflect light in as long as possible. The two axis motor set up is built from a couple of  satellite dish positioning motors with the control electronics removed. The whole thing is controlled with a PIC 18f2520.  Once calibrated, it will reflect the sun into your room, updating every twenty seconds. While this may not be the most efficient way of lighting a room, it is a cool way to do it if you absolutely must have sunlight. We can’t help but wonder if there would be a way of using a solar powered system to do this to save energy. Could this possibly be done using BEAMhead” circuit?

Source: Hacked Gadgets

Solar Hybrid Yacht Shows Electricty and Water Do Mix

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

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Who says water and electricity don’t mix? The world’s first solar-electric-diesel hybrid yacht will have you impressing the greenies at the Yacht Club and sailing the seas in style.

The Island Pilot DSe Hybrid catches rays with a 6.8 kW solar array that’ll get you to Margaritaville and back at 6 knots with zero emissions. But if the sun ain’t shining in Cocomo, you can crank up the Steyer Motors parallel hybrid system that mates a 75-horsepower diesel engine and a pair of 36-horsepower electric motors powered by a 20-kilowatt-hour battery pack.

The 40-footer was a hit at the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where it was one of several green vessels and gadgets that ranged from the Epower Marine Calypso Classic electric fishing boat to the 100 percent recyclable propellers made by Piranha Propeller.

But it was the $600,000 DSe that really wowed the crowd.

The DSe can run for as long as two hours on battery power. Kick on the diesels and she’ll cruise at 13 knots while charging the battery pack through a pair of 25-kW generators. Run the diesel engine and electric motor in tandem and she’ll hit 15 knots. (more…)

The Solar Powered COM-BAT Spy Plane

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

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In this season of specters and spooks, what could be scarier than a steel-winged robotic spy plane shaped like a bat? The aptly named COM-BATis a six-inch surveillance device that is powered by solar, wind, and vibrations. The concept was conceived by the US military as a means to gather real-time data for soldiers, and the Army has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five year $10-million dollar grant to develop it. (more…)

Researcher Pushes Enormous Floating Solar Islands

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

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Creating cheap, clean energy is a huge problem.

So, how’s this for a big solution: Swiss researcher Thomas Hinderling wants to build solar islands several miles across that he claims can produce hundreds of megawatts of relatively inexpensive power.

He’s the CEO of the Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique, a privately held R&D company, and he’s already received $5 million from the Ras al Khaimah emirate of the United Arab Emirates to start construction on a prototype facility in that country.

While limited information is available on the solar islands website, Hinderling laid out his scheme at The Oil Drum, a well-known blog about energy. Hinderling estimates that an island a mere mile across could generate 190 megawatts of power with a breakeven price point of $0.15 a kilowatt hour, or about twice current electricity prices in the United States.

solar island 2 The islands will consist of a plastic membrane loaded up with solar concentrating mirrors floating above the water. The mirrors are used to heat liquid to turn it into steam, which drives a turbine that generates energy.

On land, this type of electricity generation is fairly well known. So-called solar thermal plants are emerging as a leading alternative to fossil fuel power plants for future energy generation, with two of Google’s three alt-energy investments coming in solar thermal companies.

But why head to the ocean to create solar thermal power? Hinderling claims that the entire platform can be turned to align with the sun, generating maximum efficiency without a complicated tracking system. The company’s production schedule has it splashing a 1500-foot in diameter platform into the water at the end of 2010.

Mark Bollinger, a renewable energy researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National lab, thought it would be possible to create such an island, but questioned the viability of the enterprise.

“I’m sure it’s possible, but it seems a little bit out-there, just given where the technology is and how little of it has been developed on land,” Bollinger said.

From a feasibility perspective, he questioned the necessity of pushing solar thermal out to sea, where new variables like the waves could throw off precision-tracking of the sun’s rays.

“The reason you’d do that is if space was at a premium, but I don’t think it is, at least for solar thermal,” he said. “Where it works best is in the desert of the Southwest, and there’s a lot of land down there.”

Another big question Hinderling doesn’t address is transmission, i.e. how you get the power off the island and to the people. Luckily, offshore transmission options (.pdf) are already being explored for wind farms located out in the ocean. And Bollinger noted that there are ocean barges that already produce power for “load-constrained” areas of the Northeast.

All that said, we can’t help but think that this would be a great way to power The Seasteading Institute’s floating ocean colonies.

Source: Wired