Archive for April 25, 2012

Tennessee Could Power the World’s 1.5 Billion Without Electricity

An estimated 1.5 Billion people, or a quarter of the world’s population, are without electric power.  Reliable electric power is key to economic development around the world.  Electricity is needed to power cell phones, medical equipment, schools, lighting, radio, and many other uses to increase human health and the quality of life.  The answer to reliable electric power for all people is a solar powered, inexpensive, air-droppable power source.

According to the Humanitarian Technology Challenge sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and the IEEE, what is needed is a low cost, high reliability, low maintenance, high scalability and flexibility, environmentally friendly solution to energy accessibility.  A household in a rural area without power only needs a modest 0.1 to 1 kW of power, and a rural hospital only needs 3 to 5 kW of power.  A solar powered air-droppable power source fits all of these requirements.

Our vision is a 5 kW solar array combined with a power box that will house all the power electronics and enough energy storage to continue supplying power at night or through the rainy season.    The power source is neatly packaged and air-dropped into location, where it can be set up in a few hours by the local population.  All they have to do is inflate the solar panel array, plug it into the power box, and then simply plug in their lights, cell phones, or anything they require day or night.

As the village requires more electricity, the modular design of the system allows for the flexibility of adding more panels or more energy storage in the future.  A system can accommodate energy storage levels from 1 kWh to 50 kWh.  The system could also be used as an energy source for a micro grid connecting to all of the houses and small businesses in the village.

This is an achievable goal with new technology in the next 5 years at a low price that would enable a village to buy their own systems.  Instead of relying on foreign aid money, the people of the village can pay as little as $2.00 a month to buy their own power source through micro loans.

We could build a factory for these systems here in Tennessee, and sell these systems to the people of less developed countries all over the world.  This would be a giant leap to helping our fellow humans.  We can bring jobs and money into our community, while making the world a better place for everyone.  We are our brother’s keeper.

For more information on the Humanitarian Technology Challenge, visit their website at: ieeehtc.org.

Energy Department Announces Funding to Develop “Plug-and-Play” Solar Energy Systems for Homeowners

As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced up to $5 million available this year to develop “plug-and-play” photovoltaic (PV) systems that can be purchased, installed, and operational in one day. This effort is part of the Department’s broader strategy to spur solar power deployment by reducing non-hardware, or “soft” costs, such as installation, permitting, and interconnection, which currently amount to more than half of the total cost of residential systems. The funding will help drive innovations to fundamentally change the design and installation of residential PV systems, reducing costs for homeowners and simplifying installations and grid connectivity.

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LightWave Solar Completes Tennessee Project

LightWave Solar has completed the installation of a 1 MW PV project at Agricenter International in Memphis, Tenn. Silicon Ranch, which provided the funding for the project, owns and maintains the system.
Covering five acres, the array incorporates 4,160 Sharp 240 W solar panels that were locally manufactured in Memphis. The panels are mounted on Array Technologies’ DuraTrack single-axis tracking platform. Other components include a PV Powered MV1040 kW inverter and a SPX Arguson Solar Power Monitoring system.
According to LightWave Solar, the system will produce more than 1.6 GWh annually.

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