Archive for Technology

Living Light Solar House moves to Oak Ridge’s Children’s Museum

The Living Light Solar House, designed by more than 200 UTK students, has been donated by the University of Tennessee to the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum. The home is 750 square feet and is a zero-energy structure, providing an example of what energy efficient housing could look like in the future. Originally produced to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, the house will now serve as an educational and inspirational tool for children and visitors to the museum.

More information here and here.

SolarCity follows Tesla’s “Gigafactory” path, will manufacture own solar panels

GigafactorySolarPlant

SAN MATEO—In a recent move by SolarCity, the company will attempt to bring solar energy into the hands of a much larger portion of the population. Currently, photovoltaic solar panel systems are out of reach for many people because of their prices, forcing them to continue to rely on energy produced using fossil fuels. However, SolarCity’s goal is to change this, producing solar energy grid components on such a large scale that their prices will become low enough so as to become more economically viable than fossil fuels. In order to achieve this goal, SolarCity has purchased Silevo, a solar panel manufacturing firm, which SolarCity will expand, opening a new manufacturing plant in New York, and potentially more in the future. SolarCity will target a true “Gigafactory” to produce more than a gigawatt of solar power capability.  “What we are trying to address is not the lay of the land today, where there are indeed too many suppliers, most of whom are producing relatively low photonic efficiency solar cells at uncompelling costs, but how we see the future developing,” the company’s blog post read. “Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed.”

Silevo is known for its ‘tunneling junction’ solar cell structure.  Combining the benefits of increased carrier generation, back of the cell contacts, matrix redundant cell connections, and eliminating bussbar current collection will create the next generation of silicon solar cells and panels that will reduce the cost of the panel by increasing the overall efficiency.  The target is rooftop solar which is the kernel of SolarCity’s business.

With TVA sales on the down side, it would be a great coup if TVA could entice SolarCity to build a plant here in Tennessee.  One gigawatt sized factory would create a $200 million yearly income for TVA and employ hundreds of workers with high paying manufacturing jobs.

TVA to study value of small providers like solar

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The Tennessee Valley Authority is studying the value of electricity produced from small, dispersed sites, such as solar, wind or small gas turbine installations.

According to a news release from the utility, the initiative will develop methods to set the value of distributed generation to the electric grid and the value of the grid to the small energy producer. TVA will undertake the study with the help of local power companies and other stakeholders.

Solar energy will be the first resource investigated. The process is expected to last through the end of 2014. Public comments will be accepted and stakeholder group information will be posted at http://www.tva.gov/dgiv .

Note: Stakeholder group meeting should be available to the public as utube, webinar or as published on the TVA site..

More Affordable Solar PV Systems by Richard Swanson

In answer to the question What new technology will it take, Dr. Swanson replied.

Richard Swanson1“Solar panels now account for less than half of the cost of a solar panel system. For example, installers spend a lot of time and money designing each rooftop solar system. They need to have a certain number of panels in a row, all getting the same amount of sunlight. A bunch of companies are automating the process, some with the help of satellites. One of the most exciting things is microinverters [electronics that control solar panel power output] that allow you to stick solar panels anywhere on a roof—it’s almost plug and play.

To almost everyone’s surprise, silicon is still chugging along. The new developments are pretty amazing. Panasonic just announced a record solar cell efficiency. We need to do things like keep improving efficiency with new solar cell architectures, like the one Panasonic used. There are three basic new cell structures, and all of them are nearing or are already in production. We need to make thinner silicon wafers, improve ways of growing crystalline silicon. We need to switch to frameless solar panels because the cost of the aluminum frame hasn’t been going down much. We need to get rid of silver electrical contacts and replace them with cheaper copper. It’s tricky, but it can be done.”

Obama Climate Plan Relies on States

President Obama’s new plan to fight climate change depends heavily on states’ devising individual approaches to meeting goals. The regulation unveiled on Monday offers the states flexibility to pick from a menu of policy options. Intended to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 — represented Mr. Obama’s boldest step in using his executive authority to halt the warming of the planet. In order to comply with the new national rule, states can, among other actions, shut down coal plants, install wind and solar power and energy-efficiency technology, or join the California or Northeastern cap-and-trade programs. E.P.A. officials said states could even choose to comply by enacting a state-level tax on carbon pollution.

It will be interesting to see what the Tennessee state legislature plans to do, if anything, to comply with the EPA order. It will be up to the supramajority of state Republicans to decide on how to implement the reduction in carbon emissions. Ask your legislator why Tennessee does not have a master energy plan for the state. Might get some interesting answers.

relevant article on the subject

We will be Breathing Cleaner Air

What Is Cleaner Air Worth to You?

Clean Air is Nice to Breathe

Knoxville Citizens Support President in Reducing Carbon Emissions

Support for Carbon Limitations here in Knoxville

Knoxville, TN– Today, Tuesday June 3, in front of children playing in Market Square’s fountains, volunteers and supporters from Organizing for Action Tennessee (OFA-TN), the Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club, and Oak Ridge’s Citizens’ Climate Coalition are holding a community action event, If Not Now, When?, as part of a nationwide Day of Action to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Carbon Pollution Standards for existing power plants, which will help curb the dangerous carbon pollution causing climate change and threatening our health. While climate change deniers still ignore the basic science of climate change and try to block progress, President Obama is proposing what the New York Times called

“the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.”

Scheduled speaker Rose Williams said,

“A child born this year will be 36 in 2050, a benchmark year that scientists mention when they warn us about the consequences of inaction. You realize that it’s not the distant future when you think about it that way. That’s all we want, is for our children to have the same opportunities that we have. That’s why we are staging our event with the water-play fountain in the background where children are having fun, children who count on us to leave them a healthy planet.”

“Climate change is real, it is now, and it is dangerous to our health, our economy, and our communities,”

Williams said.

“The good news is that we have the solutions we need to keep the lights on, create jobs, and protect our children. The President’s plan is an essential step,” Williams said.

Why We Need Professional Solar Installers

fire_SCHOOL-FIRE-MAY15-14_051414kc_001_0A Wednesday afternoon blaze at Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School means Thursday classes are canceled.

The fire was reported about 4:45 p.m. Clark County firefighters arrived at the school, near Hualapai Way and Charleston Boulevard, and found several roof solar panels on fire. The school had already been evacuated, firefighters said.

Firefighters checked inside of the building and went to the roof to extinguish the flames. They removed some roofing materials while putting the fire out. Three classrooms had water damage as a result, the fire department reported.

Because of the damage, the smell of smoke and the failure of the cooling system, school officials decided to cancel classes on Thursday, with the exception of the class taking the advanced placement world history test.

Firefighters are still investigating what started the fire, which caused an estimated $60,000 in damage.

- See more at: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/fire-rescue/faith-lutheran-cancels-classes-after-blaze-causes-60000-damage#sthash.hd61TNjl.dpuf

White House on Climate Change

Solar panels on the White House