Sunday, September 30, 2012

A new record in solar panel efficiency

21.7% a new record in solar panel efficiency

A new solar photovoltaic conversion efficiency record of 21.4% was recently set, thanks to the innovations of researchers at EPFL’s Institute of Microengineering in Neuchatel. The research team, led by professor Christophe Ballif, director of the Photovoltaics Laboratory (PVlab), recently presented their work at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition that just happened in Frankfurt.
Thin-film solar cells are the specialization of the PVlab, and for the past few years they have been working on “hybrid technologies, better known as heterojunction technologies,” these are “hybrids” designed to enhance the performance of solar captors. “We apply an infinitesimal layer — one hundredth of a micron — of amorphous silicon on both sides of a crystalline silicon wafer,” says Christophe Ballif. The structure of this ‘sandwich’ helps to contribute to the sensors’ effectiveness.
In order for this to work efficiently, the interface that’s between the two different types of silicon needs to be optimized.
“Antoine Descoeudres managed to achieve this feat together with Stephaan DeWolf and their colleagues. They chose the commonest — and therefore cheapest — crystalline cell (called ‘p-doped silicon’), took care of its preparation and improved the process of application of amorphous silicon. They obtained a 21.4% conversion efficiency, which had never been achieved before with such type of substrates: nowadays, the best quality monocrystalline cells only attain an energy conversion efficiency of 18-19% at best. In addition, the measured open-circuit voltage was 726 mV, which constitutes a first-time accomplishment as well. Last but not least, they broke the 22% efficiency barrier on a less common substrate.”
This process, which has been validated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Germany, will be published by the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics.
According to the researchers, commercializing these innovations and bringing them to the market will still be a few years off. However, the research was financed in part by Roth & Rau Switzerland, whose parent company, Meyer Burger, is already beginning the commercialization of the machines that will be used to assemble this type of heterojunction sensors.
“Within three to five years, we expect to reach a production cost of $100 per square meter of sensors, estimates Stefaan DeWolf. In Switzerland, with the conversion efficiency achieved, such a surface will be able to produce between 200 and 300 kWh of electricity per year. ”
Thanks to Jean at Thousand Suns for this story

Solarpod Buddy - the best performing solar charger in the world!

Introducing the new Solarpod Buddy, simply the best looking and high performance solar charger available in the UK today. With super sexy stylish design, The Solarpod Buddy is so handy and reliable that you’ll never have to worry about running out of juice again.

Solarpod buddy conveniently charges any device. That includes your smart phone or blackberry; IPods; IPod touch; MP3 players; GPS devices; dongles, remotes; just about any personal electrical gadget that you might use as long as it has a USB port.

For its size, the Solarpod Buddy has incredible high performance ensuring, at the very least, a full charge of your average smart phone every time. To maximise performance give the Solarpod a boost from the grid and then it just keeps charging the whole time, sat on your desk, windows or even a car dashboard. Because the Solarpod Buddy is always charged, it means that your phone will never run out, it gives you ultimate reliability. Its stylish and tactile design means it is tiny, good-looking and will easily into your handbag, manbag or even your pocket.

Jean Viry-Babel, Founder of the Solarpod Buddy said; “I was so frustrated that my phone kept running out of juice that I was inspired to create the Solarpod Buddy and make convenient, great value reliability available to everyone. This product is so convenient and reliable; you will always end up needing it.”

The Solarpod Buddy is available from Power on Demand with an RRP £34.99.

For more information you can also visit Thousand Suns

Thanks to solar generator guide for the article

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Top Ten Solar Gadgets for Christmas 2012

Here is my Top 10 Solar Gadgets for Christmas 2012:


Want to look cool anywhere you need to plug or keep your internet during power cuts (or your fridge for that matter). Here is the coolest portable solar generator from Thousand Suns. and you can buy it here 

2 The Automower

If anything would look cool in your garden, its is the Husqvarna solar automower...

3 The Soulra XL

and what about the best looking ipod player around! find it here

4 The Sun Table

the garden furniture must have for 2012...

5 The solar powered water bottle cap

Utterly useless therefore a must have! here

6 The solarpod buddy

The smaller cousin of the solarpod (see no1). The best solar phone charger around. Check it here. Buy it here

7 The solar keyboard

I definitely want one of these.

8 The solar tree

Just because it does look really cool! here

9 The solar shaver

Because I had the terrifying experience to try one! here

10 The solar waving flower

Because it is by for the most useless solar gadget out there! here

top ten solar panel manufacturer

Ever wonder who produces the most panel...
here is my take on the top ten solar panel manufacturer:

  1.  First Solar
  2. Suntech
  3. Sharp
  4. Q-Cells
  5. Yingli
  6. JA Solar
  7. Kyocera
  8. Trina Solar
  9. SunPower
  10. Gintech
This is not a scientific approach to that list but it should give you a good overview!
Here is a more scientific approach:
2011 RankingSolar Module Company2010 rankingMarketshare
2First Solar27.9%
3Sungen Solar46.4%
5Canadian Solar65.3%
8Hanwha Solarone7

using a portable generator while camping

Found on Thousand Suns:

Here is a clever little gadget to have access to power while camping. Solarpod is a portable solar generator that delivers 400W of power and can be used anywhere. it is powered by a 60w foldable panel.
It is the perfect gadget for Christmas... and you can buy it here

you can find the original article here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Personal Electricity System Uses Solar Energy and Mobile Phone Technology

What if you could tap into a personal electricity system that uses solar energy and mobile phone technology, rather than grid-based power? Recently, a UK company called Eight19 announced a solution called IndiGo, which is a pay-as-you-go, personal electricity system for the developing world. Combining solar power and mobile phone technology subscribers can light their homes and charge mobile phones using scratchcards.

Using solar energy, Eight19 believes it can increase access to electricity for over 1 billion people who are not connected to the grid. The project will not only help improve the lives of Third World residents by bringing light and refrigeration to the villages, but it also helps minimize the negative impacts of living with kerosene – both via the fumes and expense.

Steve Andrews, CEO of Solar Aid, commented:

“We are excited to be working with Eight19 on this revolutionary technology. Solar energy offers huge economic, health and social benefits to the world’s poorest people; for lighting and mobile phone charging. Eight19’s technology opens up these benefits to many more people. This is a major breakthrough”, said Steve Andrews, CEO of Solar Aid, a charity supporting product trials in Kenya.

Its easy to switch to solar power with the IndiGo system. Components include a low-cost solar panel, a battery unit with inbuilt mobile phone charger and a high efficiency light emitting diode (LED) lamp. Users can put credit on their IndiGo device using a scratchcard, validated over SMS using a standard mobile phone.

Simon Bransfeild-Garth, the CEO of Eight19 comments:

“We are very encouraged by this new way of delivering energy to off-grid applications in emerging markets. Indigo enables a new generation of solar power products that are affordable, providing customers with access, often for the first time, to clean low cost energy that eliminates the health risks and carbon emissions of kerosene.”

Source :

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rooftop solar prices fall 'precipitously'

The upside to the brutal global competition in the solar industry is a steady and sizable price drop for homeowners and utilities.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory yesterday released the latest figures in a multiyear study of price trends for solar photovoltaic equipment and installation. Overall, the study, commissioned by the Department of Energy and the Clean Energy States Alliances, paints a picture of a maturing industry and falling product prices.

From 2009 to 2010, the price of a residential solar electric system fell 17 percent to $6.20 per watt, or a $1.30 decline. Measured from 1998, the installed costs fell 43 percent. The data is garnered from more than 100,000 installations of commercial and grid-tied residential solar panels, which are usually under 10 kilowatts in capacity. The costs don't include a 30 percent federal tax rebate and state incentives.

"Wholesale PV module (panel) prices have fallen precipitously since about 2008, and those upstream cost reductions have made their way through to consumers," Galen Barbose of Berkeley Labs' Environmental Energy Technologies Division and report co-author said in a statement.

Related stories:
• Econ 101: Solar panels increase home values
• Falling solar costs: Good for buyers, bad for makers
• Solar industry shakeout leads to more large projects

The trend will continue this year as the average cost of systems has already fallen 70 cents per watt, or 11 percent in the first half of 2011, the study found. Larger systems, including commercial arrays and utility-scale plants, saw the lowest price declines. The average installed costs for systems over 500 kilowatts fell 26 percent from 2009 to 2010.
(Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

The data should not be a surprise to solar industry followers who have seen three U.S. solar companies declare bankruptcy in the past few weeks and ongoing industry consolidation. In another indication of tough times, solar industry analyst Jesse Pichel of Jefferies this morning cut his ratings for three Chinese solar manufacturers, citing questions over demand in Europe and "adrift" prices.

Another notable finding from Berkeley's data is that costs separate from the panels, or modules, are moving downward as well. About half of the cost of a solar installation is tied to other equipment, such as inverters, and the installation.

"The drop in non-module costs is especially important as those are the costs that can be most readily influenced by solar policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers, as opposed to research and development programs that are also aimed at reducing module costs," report co-author Ryan Wiser said in a statement.

Systems prices can vary by state significantly and new homes have significantly lower installed costs compared to retrofits, the study found.

Analysts say that lower prices will help entice homeowners and businesses to buy panels, but the bigger impact may well be on solar leasing financing programs. Because solar installers have lower equipment costs, they can offer financing services, which avoid upfront costs, in more regions.

Waiting for prices to fall further, however, does not seem to be the best strategy. The Berkeley study notes that price declines were offset by changes to state incentives for renewable energy. Pre-incentive prices dropped $1 per watt for residential customers and $1.50 for commercial customers last year, but incentive changes resulted in net installed cost decreases of 40 cents per watt and 80 cents per watt.