They are projecting 10GW per year by 2015 in the USA.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-electrical-professor-solar-power.html" target=blank>Robert Balog, an assistant professor, recently received a patent that makes it both more feasible and cost-effective for homeowners to install solar panels. The technology minimizes the double-frequency ripple power exchanged between the single-phase ac home electrical system and the dc photovoltaic (solar panel) energy source. Double frequency power is inherent in the physics any single-phase alternating current systems and arises from the sinusoidally varying voltage and current, which give both average power flow and power flow at twice the grid frequency.
“Photovoltaic cells are most efficient when they generate only average power, so preventing the double-frequency power from reaching the cells is absolutely critical to maximizing the energy conversion efficiency,” Balog said.
The new method does this by combining power electronic circuit elements, a control algorithm, and exploiting basic conservation laws.
his patent reduces the amount of capacitance by a factor or over 1,000. This allows the use of film capacitors instead of aluminum electrolytic ones. Although they cost more per microfarad, much less is needed and they have vastly superior reliability and operational lifetime.
“It allows us to manage the power ripple in a single phase power system in a way that’s never been done before,” Balog said. “While the technology can be applied to any scale PV system, it is particularly suited for residential solar.
“Unlike commercial power producers, most homeowners aren’t used to thinking of product life-cycle and replacement costs. Improving the reliability means a better return on investment but more importantly, no unplanned repair expenses down the road.”
While many people are interested in solar energy, Balog said there’s a large barrier because the technology is very expensive. Previously the options were very limited and an interested homeowner would have to install a large system of perhaps 15 panels at a cost of approximately $25,000 (less any rebates and government incentives). His technology allows homeowners to purchase and install individual single solar panels.
They can install one panel at a time instead of all or nothing,” he said. “Considering that the cost of one or two panels is about the same as the average US personal tax refund, someone can say, ‘I got my tax refund so now I can go solar,’ and do the same next year. The more panels they have the more power is generated and over the course of years they build it up and use less and less fossil fuel energy
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