April 30, 2008

Solar power breakthroughs SUNRGI 7 cents per kwh 2009 and Israel Solar Power 100 times lower cost

SUNRGI's "concentrated photovoltaic" system relies on lenses to magnify sunlight 2,000 times, letting it produce as much electricity as standard panels with a far smaller system. They say they'll start producing solar panels by mid-2009 that will generate electricity for about 7 cents a kilowatt hour, including installation.

Update: Very cool: Dilbert blog [Scott Adams] has linked to this article.

In terms of Scott Adams idea that Israel with 100 times cheaper solar power could break the Middle East oil stranglehold. The Israeli government announced its support for a broad effort to promote the use of electric cars, embracing a joint venture between an American-Israeli entrepreneur and Renault, of France, and its partner, Nissan Motor, of Japan. The idea, said Shai Agassi, 39, the software entrepreneur behind the new company, is to sell electric car transportation on the model of the cellphone. Purchasers get subsidized hardware - the car - and pay a monthly fee for expected mileage, like minutes on a cellphone plan, eliminating concerns about the fluctuating price of gasoline.

Part of the global effort is the development of ultrabattery (cheaper, higher performance, longer lasting battery/supercapacitor combinations.

Solar panels generate electricity when photons in sunlight knock loose electrons in silicon or another semiconductor. Other concentrated photovoltaic makers magnify sunlight about 500 times. SUNRGI says it can multiply that by four because it has a system to instantly cool its germanium-based semiconductor from 3,300 degrees to 20 degrees above ambient temperature. High temperatures can melt a solar cell.

Also pushing down costs are a highly efficient semiconductor that converts 37% of the sunlight to electricity, more than double the industry average. The unit's compact size allows it to be made at electronics or PC factories, avoiding the need to build new plants.

SUNRGI technology is discussed in greater detail at their website.

SUNRGI panels

Scientists at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel claim they have found a way to construct efficient photovoltaic cells costing at least a hundred times less than conventional silicon based devices, and with 25% energy conversion efficiency.

The reactive element in the researchers' patent pending device is genetically engineered proteins using photosynthesis for production of electrical energy.

They also claim that PS I generates a stable charge separation in 200 ns across 6 nm of protein to generate an electric potential of 1 V with quantum efficiency of 1 and absorbed energy conversion efficiency of 47 percent. A further advantage of PS I is said to be its transparency to infrared radiation, which eliminates the need for expensive cooling equipment.

The researchers include Prof. Chanoch Carmeli, Dr. Shachar Richter, Dr. Itai Carmeli and Prof. Yossi Rosenwaks. Ramot, Tel Aviv Universitys technology transfer company, is set to help commercialize the invention.

Larry Loev, director of business development for high technologies at Ramot told EETimes the low cost of the proposed device is based on the low cost of PS I in comparison to silicon. While one square meter of PS I should cost around $1, a similar area made of silicon should cost around $200.

Coolearth's concentrated solar power balloons is my favorite for solar power. SUNRGI appears to be ahead by a few months to a couple of years. Nanosolar and Coolearth concentrated solar balloons are being deployed to municipal and rural areas.

The overall energy plan that I would recommend In the big energy picture solar power is tiny and even with these breakthroughs will take time to have a major impact. Plus without cheap power storage solar is not base load power.

For wind power, kitegen is a more promising architecture

Generation of fuel from algae is the best bet for a lot of efficient biofuel

Nuclear power can and will have far more positive impact than most people believe.

This article points how much risk there is for each energy source and show how rooftop solar can cause more deaths than Chernobyl. The solar options above SUNRGI, the protein pools and Coolearth are installed on the ground.

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