catamaran, not kitty, in case you were wondering. I'm not sure what the
use of this really is, besides a display of technology, as most
catamarans already run on a renewable resource, the wind in their
sails. But the Sun21, which sleeps six and will be crossing the
Atlantic ocean in under a year, will be the first vessel to cross an
ocean using nothing but photovoltaic power.
The consortium sponsoring the effort, Transatlantic21
has this to say for itself: "Demonstrating the potential of solar power
is the objective of Transatlantic21. In September 2006, sun21
which has been constructed specifically for this purpose, will begin
its journey from Basel to New York. It will be the first solar boat
ever to cross the Atlantic: entirely dependent on sunlight, not
consuming one drop of gasoline."
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.'