Solar Power

Solar Power

By 2015, we could see a new generation of photovoltaic technologies, including 3-D solar cells

Image: Solar3DCross-posted from Climate Progress. Solar photovoltaics (PV) is one of the hottest high-tech areas around. For instance, 3-D technology is all the rage these days. Now, one company thinks it can bring the concept to solar too. Santa Barbara-based Solar3D is working on a silicon “microcell” at the nano scale that uses an optical element to direct sunlight into a walled-in structure, thus capturing more photons and increasing the amount of electrons that are discharged. If a traditional solar cell is the ceiling of a room, the 3-D solar cell would be the room itself with the optical element …

Solar breakthrough could lead to 90 percent efficient panels … someday

A researcher at the University of Missouri is making some eyebrow-raising claims, including that a new technology he has developed could lead to solar panels that convert 90 percent of the sun's energy to electricity. If he's even a little bit right, this would be more than amazing; it would be earth-shattering. So he's probably wrong, unfortunately. But let's suspend disbelief, shall we? The average plant converts about 1 percent of the sun's energy. That's one reason why conventional biofuels are kind of a joke. A good solar panel will convert around 20 percent of the sun's energy into electricity.  …

Critical List: Senate wimps out on oil subsidies bill; solar storms loom

The Senate voted down a bill that would have ended tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies. The bill had little to no chance of passing the House and becoming law, but the Senate wussed out on taking a stand even on a bill crafted only to score political points. In Maryland, "renewable energy" will come from the sun, the wind, and incinerated trash. We told you last week that the Fish and Wildlife Service was set to move forward on evaluating and listing 251 potentially endangered species, after a court settlement. Psych! The Center for Biological Diversity objected …

Solar Power

Sungevity partners with Lowe’s to bring solar to the public

Sungevity will install kiosks around Lowe’s stores in California.Photo: Grant BiermanCross-posted from Climate Progress. Yesterday’s news from the solar company Sungevity that it will partner with Lowe’s Home Improvement stores to help customers quote and install a solar system is a great indicator of where the industry is going. Critics often charge that solar is “fringe” or “inaccessible,” which has historically been true. Since the ’70s, home solar photovoltaics has been largely a technology for environmentally conscious first adopters and high-tech lovers. But with prices coming steadily — and now dramatically — down over the years, and companies adopting innovative …

Why Germany had to phase out nuclear to build its renewables

Lots of American journalists (including this one!) have gone on and on about renewables and nuclear power in Germany without having a first-hand appreciation of the situation, or even any German language ability. This has led us all to misapprehend some pretty basic facts about why the Germans decided to phase out their existing nuclear power plants, even if it means they’re burning more fossil fuels in the short term. (Granted, a big part of it was Fukushima.) Luckily a German popped over to Climate Progress to explain it all in the comments: …It turned out that [the Merkel government’s …

Nearly 1 million Bangladeshis rely on solar panels for electricity

Less than half of Bangladeshis have access to electricity, which is essential for economic productivity and the kind of night-time illumination that allows kids to study after dark. (Hey, not everyone is as determined as Abe Lincoln.) So the World Bank is spending to get solar-powered light systems installed where the (notoriously unreliable) electrical power grid of Bangladesh can't reach. So far 870,000 citizens have benefitted from the program, and the World Bank is putting $130 million more toward expanding it. Even so, it's a drop in the bucket: the country of 150 million people aims to provide 10 percent …

Critical List: Solar panels and toxin-filled boilers for all

The home improvement store Lowe's is partnering with Sungevity, a solar panel company, to offer instant, in-store estimates for home solar installation. The panels can be rented for a monthly fee. There goes your excuse: Get off the grid, already. The EPA caved to manufacturers’ push to delay emissions standards for toxins like mercury and lead from industrial boilers. Former Utah governor and GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman — who is a Republican, in case “Utah” didn’t tip you off — says he respects science and believes in climate change. All right, we might have someone in the 2012 race …

Solar Power

Cuts to U.K. solar incentive may spread economic benefits more widely

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. A proposed revision to the United Kingdom’s feed-in tariff program may have created an uproar, but it may also help spread the economic benefits of solar more widely.  The proposed changes, announced in March, would reduce solar payments for large solar projects (50 kilowatts and larger) by 50 percent or more, but leave payments for smaller projects largely intact. The following tables illustrate: The new tariffs will help redistribute more of the feed-in tariff (FIT) program revenue to smaller projects. The most …

U.S. finally catching up to rest of world on solar

In the U.S., solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are, somewhat unexpectedly, suddenly the belle of the renewable energy ball — and their dance card is wide open. There is now more solar PV capacity planned for the immediate future than any other renewable you can name. Wind, solar thermal, geothermal — it's like they all showed up at prom in powder-blue tuxes and Trump hair, and now they can't get a date with an investor. More than four gigawatts of solar PV are "in development" as of the end of 2010, which is almost as much as the entire sun-baked country …

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