Photovoltaic systems are great, especially when you are in a very sunny location. But they are still extremely inefficient at converting light intoelectricity. SunPower
, a manufacturer
of solar panels, has announced
a new, high efficiency panel that is 22 percent efficient. The
company expects to have these new panels commercially available in 2007.
Compared to the numbers on other systems, 22 percent efficiency seems pretty unremarkable. But, considering that the source input is free, it's the
increase over previous technologies, not the system efficiency that is the mostimportant. These panels are able to generate up to 50 percent more thanprevious generations of solar panels, and that's a more impressive number.
According to the company's press release:
"The new SPR-315 solarpanel enables our customers to generate more power with fewer panels -maximizing energy production while reducing installation cost. A typical 4 kilowatt (AC rating) solar system requires 30 conventional 160 watt panels and covers 410 square feet of roof space. Our new SPR 315 panels produce an equivalent amount of power using only 15 solar panels on 265 square feet."
They'll probably want a few of these in Ontario.
According to a Washington Post article
, the province of Ontario is requiring utility companies to pay premium rates for energy generated from solar, wind, hydro orbio-electric production.
Solar generated electricity will receive 42 cents per kilowatt hour. Other forms of generation will receive from 11 to 14.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Thisis a premium, since electric rates average 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour in the province.
While there are places in the United States that require net metering (paying the same retail rate for surplus electricity generated that the customer payswhen they draw power from the grid), this is the first instance in North America where a premium is being paid for surplus electricity.
As a result, there has been a great deal of activity in setting up new powersystems, particularly new photovoltaic systems, across the province. With this premium, payback on a solar PV system is reduced from 50 years to 15 years.
via: Greenbuilding list
Global shipping has always bothered me. I mean, how much fuel does it
take to get my new Dell to me really. Most of it comes, quite
literally, from the other side of the world. And while we've been
working on improving the automobile for years now, we haven't done or
said much about the barge, those ubiquitous behemoths that measure fuel
use in gallons per mile, not miles per gallon.
So you can imagine how excited I was when, today, I read about the E/S Ocelle, and emissions free barge that has been designed by Wallenius/Wilhelmsmen.
The barge would be powered mostly by fuel cells, but it would require
much less power than other barges for several reasons. First, it is
light weight and extremely aerodynamic (for a barge, anyway.) But even
more interesting are it's alternative sources of power. The huge fins
on the back of the barge are not only solar collectors, but can also be
positioned to be wind sails, and the vessel contains a system to
generate electricity from the power of the waves it rides in.
More than being emissions free, the barge also has no need for ballast
water, which has been shown to cause huge amounts of environmental
degradation because they can transmit exotic species as well as
poisonous chemicals from the ballast walls.
We're going to be be waiting for a while on this one, probably at least
fifteen years. However, some of the components of it's design (the solar cells / sails, or the drag reducing body) could be implemented within five years. Nevertheless, this is a dramatic statement from the shipping industry, and a wake-up call to all of us who currently buy goods from overseas (and I do mean 'all of us.'
Photovoltaic technology is still rather pricey,
are finding new applications. As a result, the original energy source is finding its way into our daily lives.
Photovoltaic systems have long been out of reach for most homeowners
but Stellaris' ClearPower
changes all that. ClearPower
Solar uses passive concentrating optics technology,
decreasing the amount of expensive silicon-based photovoltaic material required
while boosting efficiency. Since direct sunlight is not needed no moving parts
or maintenance are required. Low-energy light passes through the units allowing
for architectural integration in the form of skylights or curtain walls.
Integrating solar in the household can also be achieved using
the Energy Curtain, a window shade woven
from a combination of textile, solar-collectors and light-emitting materials.
Designed by the Swedish Interactive Institute, as part of
a study on how everyday products might be designed to better express patterns
of long-term energy use, it collects light during
the day then during the evening, the collected energy is expressed as a glowing
pattern on the inside of the shade.
Another bright idea for integrating renewable energy into
our daily lives is the patent pending Suntrap Handbag.
A Solar-charged battery powers the electroluminescent lining making it easier
to find things inside. The lighting shuts its self off after 15 seconds to
conserve energy. Portable devices such as cell phone, PDA, or MP3 player can
also be charged via USB port.
The Power of One Solar Car Project, or Xof1 for short, was
initially developed with the intention to compete in the prestigious World
Solar Challenge. Instead their car set off to break
the world distance record for a solar car. The space age looking car weighs
roughly 660 lbs (300kg) with driver and the entire top body of the car is covered
by solar cells and tops out at 75mph (120 km/hr). The website features
instructions on how you can make your own mini solar car.
Sunlight is the standard for lighting. It's what our eyes are adapted to, it's absolutely free, and
is the light we are most comfortable with. Inside buildings, we've gotten
used to having artificial lighting, but spaces with daylight are always nicer.
A range of companies are now producing systems for capturing sunlight and
transmitting it into the interior of a building with fiber optic cables, where
it is used to illuminate spaces that cannot benefit from direct daylighting
through windows. Today we feature three companies with fundamentally similar systems.
Each uses a rooftop collector (though each has its own approach for this) to
gather sunlight and a fiber optic cable bundle to carry the light into the
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