Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sanyo’s New 235-Watt Solar Panel Has An Energy-Efficiency Of 21.1%

At the beginning of this month, the European division of Sanyo has officially released its new enhanced HIT solar panel. Dubbed HIT-N235SE10, the new 235 watt solar panel has an energy-efficiency of 21.1%, improving the performance in limited space installations and offering more power generation per square meter. According to the company, the HIT-N235SE10 has a 18.6% overall module efficiency by adopting a new tab design, anti-reflection glass and more efficient HIT solar cells.Unlike the HIP-215NKHE5 (one of the Sanyo HIT solar panel range currently available in Australia) which already has an impressive performance, the new solar panel features an 8.7% increase in efficiency.The new N series are equipped with thinner tabs, thus way capturing more sunlight because the effective area is enlarged. The anti-reflective glass is also very useful, especially at dusk and dawn.The solar modules will be produced in Hungary at Sanyo’s factory, for the moment being available only to the European market. The company hasn’t announced any date regarding their availability in Australia or the United States.
[Source: EnergyMatters]

Organic Solar Cells Have Lower Environmental Impact

GetSolar Staff. Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 09:00
Organic solar cells - or those that use carbon, rather than inorganic substances like silicon, to conduct electricity - require less energy to produce than their inorganic counterparts, new Rochester Institute of Technology research shows.

Researchers at the Rochester, New York university performed life-cycle analyses of both types of solar cell. While the environmental benefits of using solar power are well-known, little was understood about the energy consumed in solar modules' production, RIT doctoral candidate Annick Anctil said.

"A broader analysis [was] needed to better evaluate the overall effect of [organic solar cells'] production and use," she noted.

Anctil performed a detailed analysis of the energy used to make each component of an organic solar cell - and she calculated the "energy payback period" of both organic and inorganic cells.

That payback period was shorter for the organic cells, suggesting that organic solar components could be both cheaper than and environmentally superior to inorganic materials.

"The data produced [by Anctil's research] will help designers and potential manufacturers better assess how to use and improve [organic solar] technology and analyze its feasibility," faculty advisor Brian Landi said.

Solar-cell producers may make smarter strategic decisions thanks to the research performed at RIT - and the cost of going solar could be lowered, to boot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Solar skeptics love the fire at BP Solar!

  frrom our good friends at Global Rumbling
Those Deadly, Green Solar Panels

Not only does solar energy cost more to produce than it gives back, but rooftop solar panels are dangerous to your health and hearth. In Germany, Australia, and the U.S.A. fire departments are warning of the deadly threat of fighting blazes associated with solar panels.

In Germany the issue has recently become a major news item. While city and local governments, swept by the Green mania, are demanding more rooftop panel installations, many fire departments have warned that fires cannot be fought on houses with rooftop solar panel units, and the property will be completely destroyed.
The largest solar panel blaze in history took place in June 2009 in Germany at the warehouse complex of BP Solar! Talk about "accident prone." BP's 200 square meter array, at Buerstadt, near Mannheim, was one of the largest roof-mounted installations in the world. And it was fabricated by BP Solar.
A rooftop solar array produces direct current electricity at a potential of 600 to 800 volts, more than enough to kill—and it cannot be turned off. The standard firefighting technique of opening up the roof to vent a blaze is not possible, because putting an axe through the solar panels exposes the firemen to deadly voltages.
Firefighters in the U.S. also have a policy of letting the solar panel-related fire burn out, rather than fighting it. Reporting on a 2009 meeting of New Jersey fire chiefs, a Florence Township chief wrote: "The final question which was asked really put things in perspective — someone asked that since California is number one when it comes to Solar Panel System installations, 'What do their Firefighters do when a structure fire involves these systems?' Answer was 'they let it burn!'"

And the solar panels themselves are often the cause of the blaze. In Australia, where government subsidies sparked a boom in rooftop panel installations, a survey of 200 systems found 3% were incorrectly wired, leading to serious fire risk. Apart from faulty wiring by installers, poor quality control in manufacturing has led to fracture in the joints between the solar cell modules, which can lead to electrical arcing. The resultant fires burn at quite high temperatures.

Solar electricity generation is ridiculously costly, and has only caught on because of huge government subsidies. Studies in the U.S. show that the true cost for the average home is 35 cents per kilowatt hour, and 25 cents per kWh in the desert. Electricity can be generated from nuclear plants at 1.3 cents/kWh, if plant construction time is reduced to a reasonable 5 years or less. Uranium fuel is so energy dense, that the main cost of nuclear power is in the plant construction. Knowing this, the Green Nazis in the U.S.A. fought for punitive regulations which dragged out construction times to 10 years or longer. They thus ran up amortization costs at high compound interest rates to high levels, making it appear cheaper, in the short run, for a utility to build coal or gas-fired plants.

Meanwhile, Green alternative energy is subsidized at huge taxpayer expense. In Germany, Der Spiegelreports that a study by the Arrhenius Institute for Energy and Climate Policy calculated that solar energy receives EU2.7 million PER DAY in subsidies! This figure is obtained simply by multiplying the EU35 cents/KWh which consumers pay as a subsidy on solar energy, by the overall production of one day, as measured on July 8. Today, one of the largest solar panel installations in the world is atop the roof of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Friday, September 17, 2010

EU PVSEC: Solar thin-film reaches €0.50/Wp

Oerlikon Solar says it will reach solar silicon thin-film production costs of €0.50/Wp with its new ThinFab production line – it has also achieved 11.9% efficiency with its Micromorph lab cell.
The ThinFab solar silicon thin-film line incorporates:
  • New generation of the core equipments PECVD, TCO and laser;
  • Thinner cell structures with reduced degradation and reduced gas consumption;
  • Stabilised module efficiency of 10% (143 Wp per module); and
  • New low voltage module design, based on simplified new backend equipment.
Oerlikon Solar has also achieved 11.9% stabilised efficiency with its newMicromorph lab cell in cooperation with Corning Incorporated. The result has been confirmed by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
“The 10% efficiency of our non-toxic, environmentally friendly modules, combined with the lowest production costs ever, provides the solar industry with completely new opportunities. On top of that our new champion cell with 11.9% stabilised efficiency demonstrates even further potential of the thin-film silicon technology,” says Jurg Henz, Oerlikon Solar CEO.
“Our technology offers the lowest energy payback time compared to other crystalline technologies and is not based on limited resources,” he adds.

Possibly the cheapest solar panels in the UK?

Our good friends at Thousand Suns possibly have the cheapest high quality panels on the web!

Check these:
100 watt monochrystaline : £219
100 watt offgrid system (100 watt panel, 105Ah Deep Cycle Battery, 20A controller and MC4 cables) £365

and if you use the voucher "mysolarnews", you'll get 10% off!
So wether it is for your caravan, your motorhome, your boat or your house...

Happy hunting

Monday, September 13, 2010

Special guide on how to fit solar panels on a narrowboat

A client of Thousand Suns has published a very detailed description of the installation process of our panels on his narrowboat. Here is an extract of his excellent walk through:

Why did we decide to fit solar panels? Basically it was a decision taken because we have had a spate of problems with our 3.5 Kva travel power / charger combination. It was time to have a second line backup. The first line of backup is to rewire the electrics to use the starter battery alternator to charge the domestic bank as well. That takes about 2 hours, is fraught with danger (playing with over 800 amps of power is always fraught with danger) and one day that poor little alternator is going to complain of overwork. It also costs a fortune in diesel as the engine has to run 4-5 hours a day.

How did we expect the solar panels to work? We want to cruise between 2 and 4 hours a day which will bring the batteries up and then have them “topped off” by the solar panels. There was never any intention, or expectation, that solar cells would replace other forms of charging. Just reduce the amount of engine running solely for charging.


Dreaming up the system:
So it's all dead simple, one or more panels, a cable, and a charge controller, just spend your money and it will generate free power for years. If only life were that simple. So I spent some time on the potential problems.What is the real day to day efficiency, nobody mentions that. Keeping them on the roof despite the vandals, thieves and muggers. False voltage levels confusing the control of the battery by alternators/chargers. Potential cable damage when you lob a few sacks of coal or half a tree trunk on the roof. Voltage drops due to the length of the cable.Losses due to the panels being flat rather that being pointed at the sun; nobody ever mentions that either.


Not doing this last year, or the year before.
Buying special sealant rather than using ordinary silicone.

On a summers day the panels supply most of our electrical needs between 8am and 8pm. With an engine run of 2 hours (cruising) no extra running of the engine will be needed. The system works better than I expected. Even in total overcast it produces a few amps (which covers the overhead use) although one big dark cloud did reduce it to zero for about 10 minutes.

Fitting the system was straightforward but the details, such as weatherproofing the electrics were tedious and time consuming. I will re-visit them in two weeks to see if I did a good job before fixing the cable to the roof.

Give considerable thought to fixing the panels down. Lots of people recommended various methods including various forms of bonding (it seems it is the normal method for caravans) but you will be bonding to paint which is not the strongest of substrates. Our battery monitor computer readout is now unreliable as it shows the solar charger output voltage rather than the actual voltage of the battery until it gets dark. We will have to re-learn the management of our electrics.

Mooring the boat will be more difficult. At the moment I try to find a place which has a good telephone signal, a good mobile broadband signal, line of sight for satellite TV. Now I must add free from shadows.

Thanks John. Read the whole thing there!