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.


Mr. Mercy Vetsel said...

So we have get another unproven, untested claim giddily repeated by the media.

What's amazing about this claim is that we already have several ways to generate power at 7 cents per kwh that don't involve oil.

Even if this were completely true, it would have no effect on the price of oil.

At least when EEStore makes an absurdly unsupported claim about magic capacitors that are 100x better than the current state, THEIR fantasy really would change the game.

If SUNRGI wants to compete in realm of energy fantasy, they'll have to be a bit more imaginative. For example, they could claim that strapped to the wings of a Moller SkyCar, these cells will allow flying cars to operate at 120 mpg.


bw said...

I believe you are a known troll using an obviously fake name.

we'll see in 2009 if SUNRGI hits its target. There is nothing in the articles saying that SUNRGI by itself would effect the price of oil in any non-neglible way.

The SUNRGI claim is being able to reduce the price of concentrated solar power to half the best price.

Michael Anissimov said...

Brian, congrats on the link from Scott Adams!

This shows that you have a high search ranking for keywords related to common technology issues, like solar power.

Use your power wisely. ;)

bw said...

Thanks Michael. I will try to use this power wisely.

Using Dogbert as my guide.
Well probably someone more ethical and wise.

Mr. Mercy Vetsel said...


You can call me names all you like, but the oil factor was the whole point of the Dilbert post and apart from an unsubstantiated claim, there isn't much to this story.

Apparently it's just not a story anymore to say that you're taking a certain approach in your research -- you need a giant breakthrough to make the news.

I'd love to get excited about the next big future, but after 1000 unsubstantiated and uncritically reviewed claims, I'm ready for something substantial. Stories which include caveats and explain the specific challenges faced by a particular technology are actually more credible and therefore more exciting.

Don't get me wrong -- I love your blog and I'm glad that you cover this stuff, but if every poster just oohs and aahs everytime someone makes an outrageous claim, it all gets tedious rather fast.


P.S. Yes, it's an obviously fake name. If you prefer a less obviously fake name, call me Mike Watson.

bw said...

Well I guess you like the 1100 other more critical articles as I have written over 2100.

Like the ones I referenced in the above article.

Deaths from energy sources

The big energy picture where I said above "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."

I have compared solar and concentrated solar to other power sources

I am going to set the comments for review and identification.

DeadBeat Dad said...

The company in Tel Aviv has an interesting approach, but I question its' viability in the real world.

Even inorganic photovoltaics apparently have a drop-off in performance after a few years. But organic proteins?

Any biological material is going to degrade quickly. Ever left a piece of food outside and notice how fast it shrivels, dessicates and decomposes in the elements?

It might be 100 times cheaper, but consider that it might contribute enormously to our solid waste problem if these thngs only last a year and need to be replaced.

You don't want to climb up to your roof every year to put a new one up there. Or have enormous teams of people in the desert continuously swapping out old units for the new.
But hey good luck to them.

DeadBeat Dad said...

More on the Tel Aviv protein-based photosynthesis device:

--it's a vital function to keep everyone wanting a job to be employed, and we need to create millions of new jobs to create the new energy economy.

But I just don't think the 'Protein' PV device is gonna be practical.

--If it does have a short lifespan, then you would need tens of millions of people employed in factories to constantly make replacements, more people out there swapping out the devices, and still more millions handling the enormous waste/recycle tasks.

Not very practical.
I've been wrong before though.

raylambert said...

Last Sunrgi post to their own website is April, 2008.

R.I.P. Sunrgi.

Ray "starvin' for affordable solar" Lambert