Solar Events

Vision of an entirely Sun-powered Europe

A report commissioned by the German government proposes a cooperation between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to feed electricity from massive solar farms in desert areas into a multi-continent High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electricity grid.

The recommended solar technology is CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) using mirrors to generate temperatures high enough to drive any of a number of alternative generating systems.

‘The mirrors are very large and create shaded areas underneath which can be used for horticulture irrigated by desalinated water generated by the plants. The cold water that can also be produced for air conditioning means there are three benefits. “It is this triple use of the energy which really boost the overall energy efficiency of these kinds of plants up to 80% to 90%,” says Dr Knies.’

The report estimates that such a system, built now, would compete on even terms with oil at $50 per barrel, but that this price would drop to about $20 per barrel equivalent over a deployment period between now and 2050.

The report deplores the recent decision by 30 countries to spend US$12.6bn on an experimental fusion reactor in France, which it considers a bad bargain by comparison.

Read More….

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Two Major Companies to Co-operate on Stirling Solar System

Infinia and Open Energy are to combine their technologies to improve the performance of solar energy systems generating electricity by using a mirror dish to heat a free-piston stirling engine driving a linear generator.

Such systems have already been installed in some numbers, with considerable success. This move is hailed as a step to enhanced performance.

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China plans 100Mw Solar Power Station

It is reported that China will build “the largest solar power station in the world” at Dunhuang city of the backward Gansu province in northwest of the country.

Costs of US$765 are projected, over five years. The Dunhuang city government has apparently signed a letter of intent for the system with the Zhonghao New Energy Investment (Beijing).

It is not yet clear exactly which technology will be used, though rumors suggest that Suntech Power Holdings may be involved, in which case it seems likely the system may be photovoltaic.

Read more….

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Dye-sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC) Technology

I found a good article on the state of DSSC here.

DSSC is an alternative to the use of semiconductors like silicon. The solar panels it produces are only about half as efficient, so that twice the area would be required.

However, they promise to be less than half the price, so that except in situations where the actual area is limited they may prove a better buy.

Roof-top installations for residential use normally have plenty of roof area to spare, and DSSC may excel in this situation.

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Melanoma and its Recognition, with Melanoma Pictures

New articles today covering these topics.

With ozone depletion increasing our exposure to dangerous UV radiation from the sun, skin cancer, or melanoma (the ultimate form of sun poisoning), is on the rise.

We can minimize our risk my paying careful attention to limiting our exposure, and using various forms of sun protection, such as sun protecting creams for exposed skin, and sun protection clothing, glasses and hats for the rest of our bodies.

Just one or two lifetime events of serious blistering sunburn can increase your chances of later melanoma, and it makes sense, without any paranoia, to check yourself over now and again.

The information here is intended to help you with this checking. If you have the slightest concern, seek professional advice immediately. Do not rely on these pictures for an actual diagnosis. Caught early by your physician, melanoma is eminently treatable.

Be aware that diagnosis is immensely more subtle than these few pictures can show, and looking through them is no substitute for years at medical school.

So, with these provisos, you will find the two new articles by clicking on the following links :

What is Melanoma ?

Melanoma Pictures and Recognition

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Hinode sends back its first solar images

The japanese solar observation satellite Hinode (previously know as Solar-B) is sending back its first pictures.

From the SOT (Solar Optical Telescope):

hinode-sot-sun-picture.jpg

And from the XRT (X-ray Telescope):

hinode-xrt-sun-picture2.jpg

More details on the NASA website here.

Hinode is one of an internationally planned fleet of solar observing spacecraft, which includes Stereo, a recently launched NASA mission that will gather three-dimensional imagery.

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Developments in Solar Towers

EnviroMission’s first commercial solar tower, with 50MW capacity, will start construction in Australia in 2007, with completion planned for 2009.

It is claimed that other sites are under consideration in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, East California, China, India, and Pakistan.
Learn more about solar towers.

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Filming the Sun in 3d

US space agency Nasa has launched two spacecraft that are expected to make the first 3D movies of the Sun.

The Stereo mission will study violent eruptions from our parent star known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The eruptions create huge clouds of energetic particles that can trigger magnetic storms, disrupting power grids and air and satellite communications.

cme-solar-flares-nasa.gif

The mission is expected to help researchers forecast magnetic storms - the worst aspects of “space weather”.

“Coronal mass ejections are a main thrust of solar physics today,” said Mike Kaiser, the Stereo project scientist at the US space agency’s (Nasa) Goddard Space Flight Center. “With Stereo, we want to understand how CMEs get started and how they move through the Solar System.”

Stereo solar observation mission - details

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Other renewable energy sources

Here is an article on another low-impact energy source which is sun-originating (aren’t they all ?).

Compare the article on Stirling engine solar collectors here.

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Point your own collector at the sun for peanuts

My last post was about the sophisticated solar energy system pointing a dish at the sun and concentrating the energy on a Stirling engine to get 24% efficiency. The article is here.

I just found someone had blogged about a cheap sun-tracking controller available online for $35. You need your own drive motors, but this tracker will watch the sun and drive them as required to point your object at it.

Great for experiments, or for rotating a solar panel. You don’t need a Stirling engine.

Follow the links. The actual tracker page is one of those awful ultra-long things you have to wait for then scroll for ages. But it’s worth it.

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