Thursday, January 21, 2010

How Thin films are made?

Here is a very good film I found at EPOD Solar

Highly automated thin film manufacturing.... Do we still need humans?

Renewable energy: Can Israel make it in the land of Stetson and BIG cars?

Photo by Chen Leopold/Flash 90.
Solar energy companies from Israel are expected to be of great interest in Texas.
Everything is big in the State of Texas. The Stetson hats are big, the oil fields are big, the cars are big, and if state legislators have their way, renewable and alternative energy will also be big in the region - with a little help from Israel.
On February 22, companies and investors in Texas are scheduled to hold intimate meetings in Austin with Israeli clean tech firms and investors.
The one-day conference, timed to coincide with other related local events, aims to establish business and trade ties in the alternative energy industries between the State of Israel and the State of Texas, two entities which at first glance don't appear to have much in common.
In the past, however, the two have cooperated in the fields of medicine and defense. This time, Texas VCs and state agencies already committed to participate in the conference represent over $1b in investment potential.
Adding cleantech to the Texas-Israel partnership
Organized by the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, the Government of Israel-Economic Mission and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Texas-Israel Cleanovation Conference is based on models established by similar groups in Atlanta and California, like the California-Israel Chamber of Commerce, which has been instrumental in partnering California utility companies with Israeli service providers and innovators. The Austin event is expected to draw about 200 people.
According to Arie Brish, an Israeli businessman in Texas and founder of the local chamber, there are long and established ties between Israel and Texas and the February event should be a stepping-stone to add cooperation in cleantech to the list.
It's easy to see what both can contribute in this industry, he tells ISRAEL21c: "Texas is the number one energy state in the US and it is also the number one state in wind energy, producing enough electricity from wind to power the entire state of Israel."
Israeli solar and water tech for Texas
Sunny Austin is a perfect venue to expose Texans to solar opportunities from Israel. The city is planning a local solar power plant with a 200MW capacity. But it's not just the sunny solar skills of Israel that could benefit Texas. According to Brish, "Texas suffers from major water problems and it's thirsty to connect with Israeli water technologies."
Israeli companies that are already cooperating with those in Texas include Miya, the Arison family's water conservation company and the IDE desalination company.
On the American side, the Texas water companies are to include the Lower Colorado River Authorities, San Antonio Water, Texas Water Board Department, Advanced Hydro and the Texas Water Resources Institute. Shell and Texas Instruments are also involved.
Utility companies from Texas such as Austin Energy and the Electrical Reliability Corporation of Texas are also expected to attend. Meanwhile, renewable energy firms and investors such as the Chief Scientist of Israel Dr. Eli Opper, Israel Cleantech Ventures and Terra Ventures are all on the confirmed list.
Intimate panels provide networking potential
While Brish says this will be the first cleantech conference for Israelis and Texans, the chamber is hoping to build on the success of previous conferences that focused on other areas where there is a natural fit between the two, such as the medical and defense industries.
The upcoming conference, designed to foster networking, will focus on three areas for cooperation, each to be represented by its own panel - one for investment opportunities, one for water technologies and one for smart grids.
The day following the event, the Israeli participants are expected to mosey on over to the other side of the street to the "Renewable Energy World" conference, so that those who didn't attend the previous day's Texas-Israel event will have a chance to familiarize themselves with the new clean technologies from Israel waiting for them at the Israel pavilion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just when you thought you've seen it all... Solar Power Bibles!

As reported on ABC
As international aid agencies rush food, water and medicine to Haiti's earthquake victims, a United States group is sending Bibles.
But these aren't just any Bibles; they're solar-powered audible Bibles that can broadcast the holy scriptures in Haitian Creole to 300 people at a time.
The Faith Comes By Hearing organisation says its Bible, called the Proclaimer, delivers "digital quality" and is designed for "poor and illiterate people".
It says 600 of the devices are already on their way to Haiti.
The Albuquerque-based organisation says it is responding to the Haitian crisis by "providing faith, hope and love through God's word in audio".
The audio Bible can bring the "hope and comfort that comes from knowing God has not forgotten them through this tragedy," a statement on its website says.
"The Proclaimer is self-powered and can play the Bible in the jungle, desert or ... even on the moon!"
Tens of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents are living outdoors because their homes have collapsed or they fear aftershocks following Wednesday's quake.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Holographic Hybrid Solar Panels for $1 Per Watt

New York-based Prism Solar Technologies has developed a unique solar panel that addresses some major concerns for solar technology. Material and module costs coupled with a lack of prime solar irradiance are major barriers for solar power in cloudy climates like New York. In Germany, the solution was lucrative solar rebates, and while those are essential in North America as well, Prism Solar is incentivizing through its unique technology.

Prism panels are comprised of strips of silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells between Prism’s patented Holographic Planar Concentrator (HPC) thin-film strips. Those strips focus direct, diffused and reflected light onto the PV strips, vastly increasing the amount of light striking the solar cells. This enables the same or more electricity to be generated with as little as one-third the amount of silicon used in standard panels. That, combined with the inexpensive thin-film strips, brings manufacturing costs down to $1 per watt.
The double-sided panels also use light from all directions, making them an ideal match for cool roofs and highly productive, even from sunlight at low angles. The thin-films contain Holographic Optical Elements (HOE), which are embedded with a grading formula that guides only usable light into the PV cells, increasing efficiency and keeping the cells cool. According to a PDF from Prism Solar, the benefits of HPC technology include:
  • 50-72% less silicon provides an efficient, low-cost solar panel
  • Passive Tracking: Holographic thin-films collect light from a wide variety of incident angles, increasing productivity at all times of day
  • Ability to collect light from back and front of panel
  • Panels operate at a lower temperature because the HPC strips allow unusable light to pass through the panel, rather than being lost as heat in the PV cell
  • Narrow strings of PV cells make for better electrical flow, increasing conversion efficiency
  • More efficient cell packing
  • Rugged and reliable: warranted at minimum 80% power after 25 years
  • Low material costs stemming from use of less silicon and very cheap holographic strips
Prism believes their holographic thin-film/PV hybrid solar panels, illustrated in this video, are essential for northern climates, where solar power is much more expensive than in sunny deserts. Their ability to capture low-angled incident light in the morning and evening, as well as reflected light at all times, is vital to their performance. Those sort of claims have been heard before, but the combination of increased light collection and panel efficiency with low-cost production is a rare find on the solar market.
 As always, you can find our other blog here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Enecsys raises £2.5m for new micro-inverters

A spin out from Cambridge University has secured £2.5m in new funding as it prepares to launch an innovative solar panel technology that promises to significantly increase power output from solar arrays.
Enecsys announced today that it has attracted £2.5m from clean tech investment firm Good Energies, taking the total funds raised since its 2003 launch to £8.5m.
Speaking to, vice president for business development Sulaiman Ahmad, said that the company would use the money to bolster its sales and marketing operations in the US and Europe and beef up its engineering team ahead of the imminent launch of its first product.
The company has developed a patented micro-inverter for use on solar panels, which Enecsys predicts will increase the output from solar arrays by providing a more effective means of converting the direct current (DC) electricity generated by photovoltaic (PV) solar cells into grid-ready alternating current (AC) power.
Currently, most solar arrays use a single inverter to convert DC power from all the panels in the arrays. However, if one panel is shaded or underperforming the output from the entire array is diminished.
In contrast, micro-inverters ensure that the power from each panel is converted for grid use independently, increasing the total output.
The advantages of this approach have been known for decades, Ahmad explained, but the adoption of micro-inverters has been hindered by their short lifespan – just 15 years compared with more than 25 years for most PV solar panels.
"Enecsys has overcome the problem of reliability by developing a patented design that removes the short-life components from micro-inverters," he said, adding that the technology would not only increase output from solar arrays, but also make installation easier and allow users to detect underperforming panels.
The company is due to launch its first product early this year and has enough sales in the pipeline to "keep us busy for the next three years", said Ahmad

Germany May Cut Rates 18% for Solar-Power Producers

Germany’s government aims to reduce rates earned by solar-power producers by 17 percent to 18 percent to lower consumer prices and spur solar-panel makers to compete more, two people familiar with the plans said.
In talks this week with the solar industry in Berlin, the Environment Ministry led by Minister Norbert Roettgen proposed cutting prices that utilities must pay to panel-owners starting July 1, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions are not public. Shares in manufacturers such as SolarWorld AG and Solon SE fell as much as 8 percent in Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is trying to lower consumer prices and speed up solar-rate cuts already scheduled annually, all without undermining the outlook for photovoltaic- panel makers such as SolarWorld and Q-Cells SE, the people said.
“Cuts of such magnitude could lead to a booming demand in the first quarter and afterwards to a market shakeout because small and financially weak companies with a narrow product focus might not be able to cope,” said Merck Fink analyst Theo Kitz. SolarWorld will likely be the “main survivor,” he said in a note to investors.
For a decade Germany has guaranteed businesses, homes and solar farms above-market rates for homemade power from the sun, turning the nation into the biggest market for photovoltaic panels with almost 20 publicly traded solar companies and about 50,000 employees, 15 times the number in 2000.
The above-market rates, which are passed on to electricity consumers in the form of higher bills, were scheduled to drop around 10 percent this year.
Follows France, Spain
Germany’s move would follow France, which on Jan. 13 cut tariffs for power from rooftop solar panels by 24 percent. The French government said it wanted to avoid overheating an industry that was expanding faster than other renewable energies. Spain made similar cuts in 2008 for similar reasons.
Solarworld and Q-Cells led declines among Germany’s solar power companies today after Reuters reported that the government will reduce aid to the industry by as much as 17 percent in April, more than some analysts estimated.
Solarworld slumped as much as 6.5 percent in Frankfurt trading, the biggest intraday drop since Sept. 1. Q-Cells fell as much as 7.5 percent while Solon SElost as much as 8 percent.
Tied to Roettgen’s proposal is a plan to subsidize rooftop solar systems that generate power for private consumption.
Guaranteed Prices
The government guarantees a price of as much as 39 euro cents (56 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour to small residential owners of solar-powered systems, about double what consumers pay for a kilowatt-hour of electricity. Germany has trimmed subsidies 5 percent a year from about 1 euro 10 years ago to spur the industry to control expenses and raise efficiency.
The government will put thousands jobs at risk in the industry if the Environment Ministry decides to cut solar power subsidies by a further “double-digit” percentage this year, the German Solar Industry Association said today on its Web site. “Large parts” of the German solar industry wouldn’t survive a cut of that magnitude this year, the lobby group said.
Merkel´s government aims to implement the measures on July 1 before parliament’s summer recess, said the people. Roettgen wants to give industry adequate time to adjust to the changes, they said. The steps still have to be approved by lawmakers, leaving the possibility of amendmen

Monday, January 11, 2010

recharge your phone out of thin air (or Wifi)!

Forget PowerMats and wireless charging and the like, because the Airnergy wi-fi signal harvester is my new front runner for the future of gadget charging.

It's not exactly new tech, as ohGizmo notes, but it's the first application that's of any real use to consumers. Put simply, Airnergy takes the energy created by wi-fi signals and stores it in a rechargeable battery. At CES, the device was able to charge a BlackBerry from 30% power to full power in about 90 minutes.

Pretty handy, and supposedly available this summer for $40. Not too shabby, and very appealing considering how ubiquitous wi-fi hotspots are these days. Very simple, somewhat cheap and incredibly useful if it works are advertised—by far one of the coolest things I've seen come out of CES this year. [OhGizmo]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here come's the "ReNu"


That's the ReNu, a portable solar panel designed for the mass market, for powering personal electronics like iPhones, music players, and desk lamps due to hit the shelves in June 2010. Reena Jana interviews Robert Brunner, Chief Designer on his tactics, and he shares 3 tips for innovation. Here's a snippet,

But they didn't ask them what they wanted in such products. They asked them more broadly about their experiences in conserving power.

Friends told them about the situations when they were acutely aware of power supply. For example, "when they used their laptops on planes, they started looking at power differently," Brunner said. "They paid more attention to the battery symbol on their screens." An investor had his own moments of not taking energy for granted: "He said he is most aware of power sources is when he is sailing," Thinking of such moments when people are focused on energy use, ReGen's designers paid particular attention to their products' charge-level displays, making them eye-catching and easy-to-interpret. By putting usage on display, the unobtrusive interface influences consumers' energy consumption habits with everyday home gadgets, and is hailed as one of ReNu's most innovative features.

It was being acutely aware of power shortages after his recent move to Kenya from Florida, that led Erik Hersman to uncover some solar powered alternatives available in the local market.


This is the ToughStuff solar panel that comes with accessories to charge mobile phones, radios and even fake D-cell batteries that take direct input from the panel to allow for flexibility of use such as at night.

You can find our other blog on Solar Energy on Thousand Suns