Solar Events

Solar Energy

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.

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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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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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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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Is THIS the future of solar energy instead ? Chug-chug-chug ?

Early in 2008 a US company will be offering you a solar energy system which goes “chug-chug-chug” in your backyard. A cross between a baby steam engine and a satellite dish.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it, but it claims an electricity-producing efficiency of 24%, just better than the best silicon photovoltaics, and more or less on their theoretical limit.

And allegedly more environmentally friendly, both in the materials used, and in the manufacturing techniques.

This is so fascinating, I have prepared a detailed article telling you exactly how it works and why it looks so good.

Read it here

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First step to cloaking a starship

Researchers have successfully “cloaked” a half-inch copper cylinder. This is genuine invisibility, with the light being actually bent around the object so that it is simply “missed out” of the view, with what is beyond it clearly visible. The implications if this can be extended are obvious and of huge military significance. The techniques may also be usable for focussing and concentrating radiation, as in solar energy applications.

But there are still huge problems to overcome. The technigue works by covering the surface of the object with a sort of conducting pattern like an antenna array, which must be tuned to the precise wavelength to be bent. The demo therefore uses a single wavelength, which is a longer wavelength than visible light (microwave), because this allows a coarser “antenna pattern” which is easier to fabricate.

Huge problems remain to cloak a full sized vehicle at a wide range of wavelengths including the visible light we see with. It would need an “antenna pattern” all over, so fine that it would need to be built with nano-technology, and getting it multiwavelength is hard to imagine. If it needed to work from every direction, the vehicle would probably have to be spherical. More starship than cadillac.

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Solar Powered Catamaran to tackle Atlantic

A team of Swiss solar power enthusiasts in Basel has launched its bid to cross the Atlantic Ocean to New York using a specially designed catamaran.
The organisers say the purpose of the exclusively solar-powered trip is to raise public awareness of environmentally friendly forms of energy consumption.

Link

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