Sunday, June 29, 2014

Solar Manufacturing Inspired By "Tofu" production In Reducing Toxin Chemical

Thin-film solar offers the characteristics of being flexible and low-profile to all kinds of surfaces. Unfortunately, the key ingredient to produce millions of thin-film solar panels is cadmium chloride,which is highly toxic and expensive.

Inspired by the production of "tofu", researcher from University of Liverpool, U.K., found that the magnesium chloride used to make tofu and bath salts could replace the highly toxic and expensive substance used to make the solar cells.

Safe and at a fraction of the cost – US$0.001 per gram compared to US$0.3 per gram for cadmium chloride, it makes the finding full of potential.

The cheapest solar cells being manufactured today are based on a thin film of insoluble cadmium telluride. Alone, these cells convert less than 2% of sunlight into electricity. By applying cadmium chloride to them, the efficiency increases to over 15%. When the team from University of Liverpool replaced the cadmium chloride with magnesium chloride, similar boost in performance was achieved.

Of course, simply finding a cheaper ingredient doesn't necessarily make for a cheaper solar cells. But the potential of replacing a highly toxic cadmium chloride makes the finding valuable.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Yingli Supplies 12 MWp Of Solar Modules To Malaysian Projects

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited is supplying 12 MWp of solar modules to Gading Kencana Sdn Bhd., Malaysia.

8 MWp of Yingli's modules will be used in solar farm in Malacca, Malaysia, which covers approximately 14.5 acres and estimated to generate 11 GWh of electricity every year. The remaining 4 MWp of Yingli's modules will be used for residential installations across Malaysia. This is estimated to produce about 4.16 GWh of electricity per year, which is enough to power 1,000 typical homes in Malaysia.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Lighter Solar PV Module Helps To Reduce Cost

Why weight matters in solar PV installation? According to Giga Solar this is because heavy solar module increases overall cost, limits application and slows adoption.

Giga Solar has come out with an innovative new design of non-glass and frameless PV module which allows for significant weight savings while still maintaining strength and durability. Comparing Giga Solar's 265W module to conventional glass-covered module, Giga Solar's product only weights 1/3 of conventional one.

This helps to reduce the installation cost of residential solar system by 1/3. Also, being very low profile and light, a 40ft container can fit 3 times more Giga Solar's modules, compared to conventional modules, thereby reducing shipping cost by half. Below picture shows a person simply using one hand to hold the module.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Significant Of 4.5 Degree Celsius Changes In Global Temperature

Randall Munroe, from XKCD, uses a very comic pictorial way to describe the significant impacts of 4.5°C changes in global temperature. The 4.5°C is derived from the difference between the norm temperature of 20th century and the coldest temperature during last ice age. Randall calls every 4.5°C be 1 "Ice Age Unit" (IAU).

(1) If we are -1 IAU (4.5°C below) then Randall's neighbor (in Boston, U.S.A.) will be 1/2 mile under ice.

(2) If we are -4 IAU (18°C below) then the whole earth will be a snowball.

(3) If we are +1 IAU (4.5°C above), which will be 86 years from now, Randall is not sure how the earth will be...

(4) If we are +2 IAU (9°C above) then the sea level will be 200 meters above today, no more ice on North and South Poles, and palm trees will grow on the poles.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Nano-Technology Turns Wires Into Energy Storage Too

Batteries are used to storage energy and electrical cables are only used to transmit electricity. These two things seem to have no similarity in functionality.

However, nanotechnology scientist and professor Jayan Thomas and his Ph.D. student Zenan Yu, from University of Central Florida, have merged these 2 functions into one thing - a single lightweight copper wire to both transmit and store electricity. Copper wire is the starting point but eventually, Thomas said, as the technology improves, special fibers could also be developed with nanostructures to conduct and store energy.

This is how the cable works:

First, the team took a single copper wire and placed a sheath over the wire made up of nanowhiskers on the outer surface of the copper wire which treated with a special alloy to form an electrode. The whiskers then wrapped around with a thin plastic sheet and grew another layer of whiskers, to act as second electrode. Finally, a metal sheath was used to wrap around the cable to form the outer covering.

Because of the insulation, the inner copper wire retains its ability to channel energy and both the outer whiskers acted like a supercapacitor to store powerful energy.

It can be applied in the design and development of electrical vehicles, space-launch vehicles and portable electronic devices. By being able to store and conduct energy on the same wire, heavy, space-consuming batteries could become a thing of the past. Although more work still needs to be done, but it holds a tremendous potential to revolutionize the energy storage industry.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mini Wind Turbine That Can Be Fitted On Your Rooftop

When we talk about wind turbine we always refer to those gigantic 50m tall, 20m blade-span wind turbine. Unlike solar energy which sunlight is everywhere on the earth, wind turbines are very selective on locations and it also generates loud noise that most people won't be able to deal with.

A Dutch renewable energy start-up called The Archimedes is working on a wind turbine, called Liam F1, that is compact (weighted about 75kg and blade diameter of 1.5m), quiet and very efficient. Liam F1 is capable of generating maximum power of 1.5 kW at wind speed of 15 m/s. Even at just 5 m/s the turbine also can generate 1,500 kWh of energy per year.

Because of its screw-like blade design, Liam F1 will automatically point into the wind to capture the most amount of energy, allowing it to reach 80% of the theoretical maximum energy that could be harnessed from the wind.

The company is now working on an even smaller wind turbine, half the size of Liam F1, which can be installed on the lamppost to power the light.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MIT To Improve Performance Of Shaded Solar Panels

Shading has been a big challenge for solar system. Merely a 3 % of shading on solar array could lead to a 25% loss in output. Solar panels on residential rooftops that are partially shaded by clouds or trees sacrifice as much as 30% of their energy potential over a year. Group of graduate students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), U.S.A, has formed a startup called Unified Solar to solve this problem.

Current solutions for partially shaded solar panels optimize power at the panel level. But these bulky “boxes” rely on costly energy-storage components, such as capacitors and inductors. Failing to account for the strength or weakness of each individual PV cell, these also only restore roughly half of lost power. But Unified Solar innovates “at the cell level” by integrating entire power balance circuit onto a low-cost chip that can be integrated into a solar panel to regain that lost energy. The energy capture under partial shading is basically 2 times better compared to panel level solutions.

The team has received US$100,000 from U.S.A. Department of Energy on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clean Energy Prize, and US$125,000 from the NSTAR MIT Clean Energy Prize, to further develop their idea.