Hybrid Solar-Energy Harvester Aims for 50% Efficiency
Solar-energy researchers are eyeing a number of key ways to bolster the efficiency of current solar cells, one of which to harvest energy not only from sunlight but also the heat emanated from the sun. New research in this effort is from Purdue University, where researchers have developed a concept for a hybrid system they said has the potential to reach 50% energy efficiency. The system combines two different ways to harvest energy from sunlight and another way to generate that energy into electricity, and also stores the energy for future use. "For many years, there has been a debate about photovoltaic flat panels versus concentrating solar power, since both have certain virtues and disadvantages," Peter Bermel, an assistant professor in Purdue University's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, told Design News. "To us, it made sense to combine them, to benefit from the best of both worlds."
Australia's Solar Power Production to Triple With 12 New Plants to be Built
The federally funded agency has announced a $92 million investment in six plants in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one at Cervantes in Western Australia. ARENA said they would increase Australia's large-scale solar capacity from 240 megawatts to 720 megawatts, providing enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes. The agency said the projects were also expected to unlock almost $1 billion of commercial investment and boost regional Australian economies.The largest plant will be built on Queensland's Darling Downs, and will be able to generate up 110 megawatts of power. Other solar locations in Queensland include Dalby, Longreach, Oakey, Kidston, Collinsville and the Whitsundays. The five locations in New South Wales include Parkes, Manildra, Griffith, Dubbo and Glen Innes. Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey said it was a momentous day.
"Today is the beginning of a new industry in Queensland, with six projects - the hefty half-dozen as I call them," he said.
"My Government promised to establish a large-scale renewable energy industry, to act on climate change while creating new jobs and diversifying our economy.
"I am proud that the largest solar farm in Australia will now be located on the Darling Downs, and that two of the three largest solar farms will be located in Queensland.
What if Solar Forecasting Was More Precise?
A cutting-edge forecasting system designed specifically for the solar energy industry is about to have its moment in the sun.
Called Sun4Cast, the technology has been under development for the last three years at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). It utilizes a wide variety of systems, from advanced computer models to atmospheric observations and artificial intelligence techniques, to build forecasts up to 50 percent more accurate than current technologies.
"This type of research and development is important because it contributes to the reduction in costs for solar and wind energy and makes it easier for utilities to integrate renewables into the electrical grid," William Mahoney, deputy director of NCAR's Research Applications Laboratory,
said in a statement
. "When it comes to balancing demand for power with supply, it's vital to be able to predict sources of energy as accurately as possible."While renewables are the future of energy production, they're still an intermittent technology influenced by everything from a lack of wind to a cloud passing in front of the sun. But Sun4Cast's system is able to predict conditions for solar irradiance as far as 72 hours in advance, allowing plant managers and grid operators to more accurately estimate just how much green power will be available to the grid.
NREL Models the Increasing Use of Wind & Solar on Eastern US Power Grid
The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has modeled in "unprecedented detail" how the US eastern power grid could accommodate higher levels of wind and solar PV electricity generation. Many have been the claims that existing power power grids are unable to deal with the influx of fluctuating renewable electricity such as wind and solar generated electricity. It is believed that the ageing nature of so many power grids around the world make them incompatible with the perceived future of widespread renewable energy, with its natural fluctuations that come with the sun rising and setting, and the wind blowing and not. However, a new study representing work done by the United States Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has used high-performance computing capabilities together with visualization tools to model, in what the NREL describes as "unprecedented detail," how the power grid along the eastern United States could operationally accommodate higher levels of wind and solar PV electricity generation than are currently in place, but which are likely to be over the next decade.
The residential and commercial solar energy solutions firm Sungevity has raised more than $2 million for its nonprofit partners to date, according to a recent press release from the US solar company. Under the Sungevity.org partner initiative, the solar firm provides funding to organizations that take part, proportional to the number of nonprofit members or supporters who go solar through the program. Since its launch back in 2011, the partner list has grown to more than 100 nonprofits - including the Sierra Club, The University of California at Berkeley, MoveOn.org, and many others, of course.
The program was apparently first originally launched in order to support Westside Waldorf School.
" I want to thank all the organizations who participate in Sungevity.org for partnering with us,"
stated Andrew Birch
, the CEO of Sungevity. "Their partnership is a great example of the rooftop revolution in action - how organizations and individuals are leveraging solar power as a solution to a broad range of issues - and we're proud to have reached this new milestone."
Indian Scientists Design Device to Collect Solar Energy
Indian scientists have designed a new device they hope will solve one of the biggest problems with the use of solar energy.
They call the device a solar tree.
Solar trees have metal "branches" extending from a tall, central pole at different levels. Each branch holds a photovoltaic panel, also called a solar panel. These panels are flat surfaces that collect energy from the sun and turn it into electricity.
Daljit Singh Bedi is the chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR, in New Delhi, India. The CSIR laboratories are where the solar tree was designed.
Bedi says the shape of the solar trees makes it possible to fit more photovoltaic panels in a space than traditional systems do. This means less land would be needed to produce solar energy.
"It takes about four-square meters of space to produce energy which otherwise would have required 400 square meters of space," he says. "So almost 100 times the space is saved, which as you know is very valuable."
Buying land to develop roads, factories and other infrastructure has been a disputed issue in India. Disagreements often lead to protests by those forced to move. Some of the protests have turned violent.
Chile has officially debunked the argument that coal is cheaper than solar. Solarpack Corp. Technologica, a Spanish developer, won contracts to sell solar power for $29.10 per megawatt-hour at an energy auction in August, the lowest price ever. Not only does this beat out the deal in Dubai from last May, it went for almost half the price of coal at the same event. Chilean solar power is now at one of the lowest rates for any kind of electricity anywhere, according to Solarpack General Director Inigo Malo de Molina. "Solar energy technology has evolved and proved it is competitive," Molina told Bloomberg in a telephone interview from Santiago. "Prices for electricity generation have changed drastically in the last years. Solar energy in Chile is now the cheapest in the market." More
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