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Photovoltaic | Green and Alternative Energy Information

Efficient, inexpensive plastic solar cells coming soon

ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2010)  Physicists at Rutgers University have discovered new properties in a material that could result in efficient and inexpensive plastic solar cells for pollution-free electricity production.

The discovery, posted online and slated for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Nature Materials, reveals that energy-carrying particles generated by packets of light can travel on the order of a thousand times farther in organic (carbon-based) semiconductors than scientists previously observed. This boosts scientists’ hopes that solar cells based on this budding technology may one day overtake silicon solar cells in cost and performance, thereby increasing the practicality of solar-generated electricity as an alternate energy source to fossil fuels.

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Mimicking nature, water-based ‘artificial leaf’ produces electricity

A team led by a North Carolina State University researcher has shown that water-gel-based solar devices — “artificial leaves” — can act like solar cells to produce electricity. The findings prove the concept for making solar cells that more closely mimic nature. They also have the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current standard-bearer: silicon-based solar cells.

The bendable devices are composed of water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules — the researchers used plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments — coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite. The light-sensitive molecules get “excited” by the sun’s rays to produce electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugars in order to grow, says NC State’s Dr. Orlin Velev, Invista Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Materials Chemistry describing this new generation of solar cells.

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Abandoned Sites to Become Solar Fields

Brownfields like this may become solar fields. Via Srwenvironmental.com

Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use. Often, redeveloping such sites is hampered by real or perceived environmental contamination.

But a new partnership may change that. OPEL Solar, a supplier of high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar panels and advanced solar trackers and TRUENORTH Solar & Environmental, a designer and installer of high quality solar industry products, have teamed up to install utility-scale solar fields on brownfield sites across North America that have been deemed otherwise unusable.

One of the attractions of doing that is that blighted areas of land can be turned into renewable energy fields to meet growing demand, besides helping utilities to meet their clean energy mandates.

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Building-integrated photovoltaics

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are by definition photovoltaic materials that are used to replace conventional building materials. What this means is that photovoltaic materials actually become an integral part of the building, and in most cases they are planned together with the object as its integral part though they can be also built later on.

The global interest in the building integration of photovoltaics is constantly growing, and in the last couple of years BIPV are being increasingly incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power. Some energy experts even argue that BIPV is currently the fastest growing segment of the photovoltaic industry.

A Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) system’s main concept consists of integrating photovoltaics modules into the building envelope such as the roof, skylights, or facades. This means that BIPV not only serve as power generator but also as building envelope material, which in the end results in both savings in materials as well as reduced electricity costs.

A complete BIPV system consists of photovoltaic modules, a charge controller, a power storage system, inverter and other power conversion equipment, backup power supply, and different supporting equipment.

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Global photovoltaic market – Current outlook

Photovoltaic market continues to grow on global level, even despite some stumbling blocks such as high manufacturing costs. The good news is that photovoltaic industry has managed to significantly decrease its costs which has not only resulted in rapid technological development and increased efficiency but has also attracted many investors. According to the latest report from European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) the cost of Photovoltaic electricity is expected to decline 8% each year, halving generation cost every 8 years.

Photovoltaic industry is well aware that they need to continue decreasing the generation costs because incentives won’t last for eternity, and significant drop in prices is the only way to keep photovoltaics competitive on global energy market.

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Large photovoltaic solar station to be built in Washington State, U.S.

Via: Renewbl.com

A 75-MW photovoltaic solar Project is to be built in Washington State by Teanaway Solar Reserve (TSR) The permit was issued with a majority vote.

The facility will be located 90 miles east of Seattle, in Kittitas County. “With this decision, Kittitas County is in the forefront of the nation’s new renewable energy industry,” says Howard Trott, TSR’s Managing Director. “TSR’s vision to generate green jobs and energy is now a reality, and it marks the start of a new future for Kittitas County and Washington state.”

Besides generating clean energy, TSR says it will bring more than 200 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs to an economically depressed community The project will also produce a revenue stream of more than $97 million in purchases of goods and services during construction, and more than $1.5 million annually in property tax revenues to support local schools, roads and hospitals.

Source: Solar Daily

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Colorado to have world’s largest concentrating photovoltaic power plant

Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular renewable energy source in United States, especially after the significant drop in solar power technologies costs that occurred in 2009. California still leads the way in installed solar capacity but it is also good to see other states adding more solar power capacity to their energy portfolios. One of these states is also the Colorado that should in less than two years time (2Q12) become the home to a largest concentrating photovoltaic power plant in the world.

This 30-megawatts (MW) concentrating photovoltaic (PV) power plant will be located near Alamosa, in southern Colorado, and once completed should be able to produce up to 30,000 kilowatts of solar energy, roughly enough to provide electricity for approximately 6,500 homes.

Cogentrix Energy LLC has already finalized local permits and is currently in the process of securing financing for the project, and the construction of this project should start at the beginning of the next year.

It has to be said that concentrating photovoltaic (PV) power plants still lack popularity on global scale, mostly because they are connected with high costs. Despite this drawback this technology still presents one of the best options (due to high efficiency) for utility-scale applications in sunny and dry climates.

Concentrating PV power plants have somewhat different working principle compared to traditional solar power plants. These power plants use optics to focus large amounts of sunlight onto high efficiency photovoltaic cells, and this results in higher efficiency and more output compared to traditional solar power plants.

Posted byNed Haluzan

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