Archive for Solar

New Thin-Film Solar Cell May Provide Electricity at Grid Parity Using Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells

Global Photonic Energy Corp. (GPEC), has created a thin-film solar cell that has the ability to provide electricity at grid parity or the cost of traditionally provided electricity.
Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) is a better photovoltaic candidate than silicon reaching 30% or better efficiency. Problem with Gallium Arsenide cells is that they are very expensive to manufacture in large sizes. Instead these cells are used in concentrating solar PV arrays where the sun image is concentrated some 500 times focusing the light onto a small millimeter sized GaAs cell.

Dr. Stephen R. Forrest of the University of Michigan said the breakthrough, presented at the Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society, is the result of substantially reduced production costs. It is based on a patent-pending invention that reuses the same Gallium Arsenide wafer multiple times to produce solar cells. This unlimited wafer reuse approach to conventional “epitaxial lift off” technology that typically leads to wafer damage, and hence only a very limited number (1 to 2) of wafer reuses, has the potential to reduce the cost of a typical Gallium Arsenide solar cell to below $1 per Watt (peak).

“This exciting development implies that ultra-high efficiency solar cells based on Gallium Arsenide can eventually produce electricity at or below grid parity.” Dr. Forrest stated. “Using integrated solar concentrators and our adhesive-free, cold-weld bonding technology to plastic substrates, we estimate electricity could be produced as low as $0.45 cents per Watt, compared to traditional grid parity of $1 per Watt.”

GPEC is excited by the discovery. With this new discovery, the cost structure is dramatically reduced and can be used in numerous applications. The high efficiency, light weight and flexible solar cells are deployed on roll up plastic sheets. GPEC anticipates their use in spot powering vehicles, mobile military equipment and satellites, and off-grid locations. The company has big plans and want to license its intellectual property in order to commercialize the technology. To date, GPEC has a total of 425 patents.

Expect Solar Prices to Bottom Out and Begin to Rise Very Soon

The reason that solar panel prices are so low is because the supply of panels have exceeded the demand. The supply was projected on the historical growth of solar which had been rising at a spectacular rate, but governments around the world have fallen into a recession mode and have trimmed or eliminated the supports for the solar industry. Examples here are the elimination of the 1603 grant and the rising need to reduce solar set-asides in the renewable energy credits in many of our states. It started with Spain, then Italy and then Germany. China has cut back on the manufacturing of panels and many of their businesses as well as those around the world have seen their profit margins disappear. The spot price of polysilicon had reached a low of $13 per kilogram; way below the manufacturing cost of roughly $20. The smaller cell manufacturers and the panel makers have been failing narrowing down the supply of panels. The results are beginning to show up with the spot price of polysilicon rising to $16 on the spot market. With the rise in polysilicon prices will come an increase in the cost of cells and finally the cost of panels. So, if you can afford to buy panels, now is a good time. So, unless we increase the demand substantially, the price will remain static or rising until the scale of manufacturing expands significantly.

German Power Tumbles to Record Low as Solar Damps Demand

By Julia Mengewein – Jan 16, 2013 12:44 PM ET

Power for 2014 delivery in Germany and France dropped to records as rising solar output is expected to cut demand for other electricity sources.
German power, a European benchmark, fell as much as 1.5 percent, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The equivalent French contract declined 0.3 percent.
Electricity for Germany next year lost 65 cents to 43.30 euros ($57.93) a megawatt-hour, it’s biggest decline since March 6, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The French equivalent lost 15 cents to 46.20 euros.

As much as 18 percent of electricity demand may be replaced by solar panels not connected to Germany’s grid, reducing demand for other sources by 6 to 10 percent by 2020, Per Lekander, a Paris-based analyst at UBS AG (UBSN), said in a research note.

“The unsubsidized solar growth should drive wholesale power prices further down,” he said.

full article here

Knoxville Zoo Going Solar With Help From Wampler’s

Thanks to Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Knoxville Zoo is taking its most ambitious step yet toward sustainability; the installation of a solar power system on the roof of The Stokely African Elephant Preserve barn. The 50 kilowatt system, constructed by local energy electrical contractor ARiES Energy, LLC, will produce clean, renewable energy for the zoo and provide an opportunity to educate guests on the use of green power.
Knoxville Zoo partnered with Wampler’s Farm Sausage and Family Brands International, makers of Elm Hill hot dogs and Cades Cove barbecue, because of their success in solar power generation at their manufacturing facilities. Thanks to the assistance from Wampler’s, the zoo can further their mission of environmental conservation by reducing their carbon footprint with the added benefit of providing an ongoing income stream for the zoo as part of the TVA Green Power Providers Program

Full Press Release

Interested in how YOU can go solar?? Join ARiES Energy for a solar workshop at the zoo January 26th.  For more information, click here.

Can’t make it on the 26th?Join us Tuesday January 22 at United Community Bank in Farragut at 5:30PM or Wednesday January 23rd at Bearden Beer Market at 6:30PM

 

Advantages of Solar Heat Exchangers

Design and Operation

Solar water heating is a system that uses the heat of the sun to effectively heat water for households and commercial use. Solar heaters use collectors to capture and absorb solar energy. Some systems use a flat plate design composed of insulated boxes which house a black absorber plate that is surrounded by layers of glass. The heat travels through the glass and strikes the absorber plate, becoming trapped in the process. Liquid-filled tubes attached to the absorber plate carry the heated water wherever it is needed. Liquid to liquid systems use a transfer fluid that is heated, and then convey the heat to a separate water supply. Passive solar heat exchanger consist of an absorber material and a piping system which uses no moving parts, whereas an active system might use a pump to move larger water volumes. The coil-in-tank design uses a simple tube inside a storage tank. A tube-in-tube systems has an outer and inner tube allowing direct fluid to fluid contact. Shell-and-tube systems use two tubes encased in a shell outside the storage tank, allowing fluid to travel in opposite directions. Solar heat exchangers have many benefits over conventional heat exchanger designs.

Versatility

Solar water heaters can produce a temperature increase in almost any climate. This depends upon the amount of solar energy provided and the water source, but they can typically cause a temperature variation from incoming water of 60 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In freezing temperatures, Glycol is used, which has antifreeze capabilities to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the absorption effectiveness of the plate, coil or tube material over a sustained period of solar energy radiation; even a weak solar emission is magnified and sustained.

Electricity and Fuel Savings

Solar energy is cost-free, negating the use of electrical components needed to heat coils, tubes or plates, other than an assist pump to circulate the fluid when needed. This substantially reduces the electrical heating bill by as much 50 to 80 percent, which begins to show dividends after the initial purchase and installation is recouped. The requirement for oil, wood or coal fuels used to heat the incoming water are non-existent, allowing additional savings.

Maintenance

Depending upon the complexity of the system, solar heat exchangers are less likely to fail or breakdown and the maintenance requirements are reduced. The passive solar heat exchangers excel in this area. Solar heat exchangers can be dismantled and cleaned thoroughly, often times by the homeowner or resident. On the other hand, boilers and furnaces, used to heat incoming water, develop performance problems or fail and can cause high repair costs.

Carbon Footprint

Solar heat exchangers are environmentally friendly, since they produce no toxic emissions or chemicals that are harmful to the environment. They are less likely to cause health problems in a building structure should they emit airborne particles or leak fuel oil. These factors promote self-sufficiency and safety, as well as safeguarding the environment.

About the Author
Elliot Delaney is a writer for Brazetek.com, a leading online retailer of brazed plate heat exchangers

Homes with PV Systems Sell at a Premium

Many of our members have asked if there is information on the value of having a solar system on their home’s worth. The answer is yes. The proof is in a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) in April 2011. The report was based on home sales in California so the increased value may be different here in the TVA valley. With that proviso, what the LBL report found was that new homes with PV increased the value of their home between $2.30 and $2.60 per watt installed capacity. Existing homes produced a higher premium, somewhere around $6.00 per watt or more.
research report summary

Renewable Energy REITs or MLPs Would Unlock Billions for Project Development

According to Richard Kauffman, Senior Advisor to Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, making real estate investment trusts (REITs) or master limited partnerships (MLPs) available for renewable energy project financing is the key to advancing the industry.
In his DOE role he is trying to understand where market forces can be harnessed in order to unleash the flood of investment that is needed to bring about large renewable energy projects.
Kauffman explained what he sees as a disconnect between returns in renewable energy projects compared to returns in other investments. On the one hand, today, renewable energy projects are financed in what he called an “old-fashioned, archaic way” where for the most part, projects rely on private sector money that is looking for high rates of returns, typically around 12-14 percent. On the other hand, money managers, wary of the stock market and its risks, have returned to the bond markets, which offer more steady (but lower) rates of return, in the 5 or 6 percent range.
Kauffman explained that this “wall of money” that is looking for a stable rate of return, such as what can be found in the bond markets, could easily invest in renewable energy projects if only the financial vehicle existed that allowed it to. Renewable energy projects with signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) will deliver a healthy rate of return to their investors, one that will be stable for 20 years, exactly what the money managers are seeking.
According to Kauffman, REITs and MLPs, function like a bond and are currently used in more mature markets for project development. If they were available to renewable energy projects, said Kauffman, they would unlock loads of money for project development. Two separate bills have already been introduced in Congress seeking to allow renewable energy projects to be financed through REITs and MLPs but neither bill has come up for vote yet.

original article

Solar Thermal Workshop December 19th at 6:30 pm at Bearden Beer Market Presented by CaraSol

Join CaraSol Energy and ARiES Energy for a solar thermal workshop to learn how you can lower your energy bills and have a positive impact on the environment at the same time. The workshop will take place Wednesday 12/19 at 6:30PM at Bearden Beer Market located at 4524 Old Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919.

The WORKSHOP will take place INDOORS in the YAZOO ROOM!!

Solar thermal systems, also known as solar water heating systems, have been around for centuries because solar thermal technology is the easiest way to use the
sun to save energy and money to heat water. It is well documented that early American settlers and pioneers would leave a black pot in the sun all day to have heated water for the evenings. In 1891 Clarence Kemp patented the first commercial solar water heater, which consisted of several cylindrical water tanks of galvanized iron that were painted black, insulated with felt paper and placed in a glass-covered wooden box. Thousands of solar hot water systems (SHW) were installed in the early 1900’s in the United States until fossil fuel became readily available at cheap prices. Today, more than 1.3 million SHW systems are in operation in the United States, not including solar-heated swimming pools. Typical solar thermal systems consist of five main components.

CaraSol’s presentation will cover the main components of a SHW system:
Solar Panels (to generate solar energy)
Storage Tank (to store solar energy)
Liquid Fluid (the thermal mass transport medium)
Circulation Pump (to circulate liquid fluid)
Controllers (to operate pump and monitor system)

This workshop is part of Bearden Beer Market’s series of better building practices workshops to raise funding for energy/environmental improvement efforts at Bearden Beer Market (BBM). $1 from every pint sold will go to the “Good Beer. Good Energy.” campaign!!

TSEA Welcomes Brazetek as our Latest Business Member

Brazetek.com is the largest internet distributor of solar water to air, brazed plate, and shell & tube heat exchangers. The website’s product selection, competitive pricing and free shipping option has made it an online destination of choice for residential, commercial, or industrial heat transfer solutions. This is our first solar thermal business member.

Ten Years Shows Silicon Solar Modules Maintain 97% Original Performance

Even after a decade, aleo solar modules show only minimal age-related performance reduction (degradation). MBJ Services, an independent service provider, assessed a 5.44-kilowatt system near Bremen (Germany) which had been in operation for nearly ten years. They measured each of the 34 aleo modules’ performance with the help of a flasher. The result: an average degradation level of 2.73%. Photovoltaic system planners generally presume performance losses of 0.5% per year – but the aleo modules only degraded by about half that much. Read More