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Research team is looking to make solar panels more efficient and give LEDs color changing capability

A pair of researchers at Arizona State University has announced a new advancement in making nanowires that could one day lead to significantly more efficient solar panels and LED lighting that is color changeable. The engineers who made the advance are Cun-Zheng Ning and Alian Pan.

The pair are working on ways to improve the quaternary alloy semiconductor nanowire raw materials. The nanowires the pair work with are nanometers in diameter and tens of microns in length. They are made from four elements, typically by alloying two or more compound semiconductors.

The researchers say that the band gap is the most important thing that controls how solar panels absorb sunlight and what color light LEDs produce. The more available band gaps for solar panels, the more of the spectrum of light panels will be able to absorb. With LEDs, more band gaps mean more colors of light can be produced. 

The big hurdle for the researchers is that naturally occurring and manmade semiconductors today only have a specific band gap. The only way to widen the band gap available to the semiconductor is to compound two or more semiconductors. The trick to accomplishing the alloy of semiconductors is that they two have to have a lattice with similar inter-atomic spaces to match and be grown together.

Ning said, "This is why we cannot grow alloys of arbitrary compositions to achieve arbitrary band gaps. This lack of available band gaps is one of reasons current solar cell efficiency is low, and why we do not have LED lighting colors that can be adjusted for various situations."

So far, the team has been able to create a zinc sulfide and cadmium selenide alloy to produce a quaternary semiconductor – this is the first time that a quaternary semiconductor has been produced in the form of a nanowire or nanoparticle. The team is now studying the application and use of the quaternary alloy materials for making solar cells and has developed a lateral multi-cell design panel.



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Promises promises
By danobrega on 3/22/2010 10:37:55 AM , Rating: -1
Promises are great but... that's all we see.




RE: Promises promises
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 3/22/2010 10:52:53 AM , Rating: 2
I hope you're wrong. I long for the day where cheap, highly efficient solar power is feasible for the general populous.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 11:43:08 AM , Rating: 1
I long for the days of antigravity and Warp-10 spacecraft also...but I fear they're not much further away than cheap solar power.

Even if the panels themselves were free, you still have the twin problems of energy storage and land usage.


RE: Promises promises
By martinrichards23 on 3/22/2010 11:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
Land usage is not an issue, the building you're in has a roof doesn't it?

Storage isn't too bad either, even with existing technologies it wouldn't make solar completely useless. After all, it would be a buffer more than actual storage.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 12:05:17 PM , Rating: 1
"the building you're in has a roof doesn't it?"

A roof situated at an angle to destroy efficiency, and not nearly large enough to generate enough power...a situation made far worse for those people who live in apartments, or those with roofs shades by adjoining structures, trees, or the like.

In any case, residential power is only one small part of the problem. Industrial/commercial power usage far outweighs it.

For cities like New York, the city's total power requirements would require an area much larger than the city itself..paving over not just rooftops with solar cells, but roads, yards, parks, and everything else...placing the entire city into permanent subterranean gloom.

"After all, it would be a buffer more than actual storage."

Not sure what you're talking about here. When the sun goes down at night -- or when clouds cover the sky all day -- you need energy storage, not a short-term buffer.


RE: Promises promises
By whiskerwill on 3/22/2010 12:16:02 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
...placing the entire city into permanent subterranean gloom.
Hey, it worked in The Matrix, didn't it?


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 12:43:15 PM , Rating: 1
A buddy of mine claims to have done the math and hit an interesting idea: Solar panels covering the entire Federal highway system. It's all public land (no imminent domain problems, so no land usage problems), and the surface area and the efficiency of available solar cells (according to him) provided for a fat percentage of the nation's power, even accounting for huge swaths of the highways to be covered in snow or storms (a side benefit would be protecting the highways from snow cover).

I don't present this to say I agree with his conclusions (for instance, I argued that the cost would likely be prohibitive versus conventional or nuclear power), I only mention it as an observation that there is land out there, publicly owned, huge portions of which are undeveloped and flat already, accessible, and regularly run straight up to or through almost every major metropolitan center in the country.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 1:05:28 PM , Rating: 3
There are countless problems with this. First of all, his numbers are far off base. Assuming 50K miles of Interstate Highway and an average width of 50 ft (4 lanes), that works out to 500 sq. miles. Assuming 20% efficient solar cells, though, would require an area 100 times as much -- 5,000 square miles, not even counting tranmission line or storage losses:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/myths.html

Then there's the problems. #1 is that transmitting energy over 50,000 linear miles would result in line losses eating up nearly all the generated power. You could cut that by using HVDC technology...but 50K miles of HVDC line and upconverters every mile or two would bankrupt the nation.

Covering the interstates would require you to either light them underneath (using more power) or have drivers in the dark 24 hours a day. You'd need support posts strong enough to survive a car impact (increasing the risk to drivers) or else every time a car veered off the road you'd take out a section of pricey solar panels...and drop them right onto the road, in the path of other drivers.


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 4:03:20 PM , Rating: 1
First off, your own numbers are off.

"...a minimum of two travel lanes in each direction, 12-foot lane widths, 10-foot right paved shoulder, and 4-foot left paved shoulder."

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/interstate.cf...

That puts your estimate at least 25% too low, and that's not including non-paved land (like the central median) that the Feds also own along the highway routes.

Further:
quote:
would require an area 100 times as much

To do what? Provide a significant percentage of our electricity needs?

quote:
#1 is that transmitting energy over 50,000 linear miles would result in line losses eating up nearly all the generated power.

Who said anything about transmitting energy over 50,000 miles? Most of the electricity generated would be within 100 miles of where it would be used.

quote:
Covering the interstates would require you to either light them underneath (using more power) or have drivers in the dark 24 hours a day.

A 75-100 foot wide overhang would be pathetically insufficient to block out a significant portion of sunlight bouncing off the ground and atmosphere, much less leave them "in the dark".

quote:
You'd need support posts strong enough to survive a car impact

Uh, naturally.

Sorry, Pork, but compared to your usual posts, these are some very weak nitpicks. And again, it was mentioned only to point out the flaw in "land use" arguments: The land is there, and there's a lot of it.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 4:36:00 PM , Rating: 3
"That puts your estimate at least 25% too low, and that's not including non-paved land (like the central median)"

So? Even if you double my initial estimate, its still only 1/50 the amount of land you need, even ignoring the vast amounts extra needed due from energy storage and transmission losses.

"You'd need support posts strong enough to survive a car impact... Uh, naturally."

You agree, but you don't see the implication. 100,000 miles (50Kx2) of concrete support posts, topped by steel supports at least 20' tall and strong enough to survive the impact of a truck moving at highway speeds...do you have any idea how much that would add to the cost of the proposal? Or the gargantuan amounts of materials it would entail, regardless of cost? Materials that would need to be continually maintained on an annual basis?

"A 75-100 foot wide overhang would be pathetically insufficient to block out a significant portion of sunlight bouncing off the ground"

Huh? Look at any current Interstate overpass. If it's wider than 60 feet (five lanes), the space below is lit. A strip 75' wide and miles long would block out a large amount of sunlight...unless you elevated the strip more than 20-25' in the air (which itself causes significant problems).

"Most of the electricity generated would be within 100 miles of where it would be used."

No. Look at a map of the Federal highway system...most of those highway miles, especially in the Western US, are well outside major population centers.


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 4:52:26 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
So? Even if you double my initial estimate, its still only 1/50 the amount of land you need, even ignoring the vast amounts extra needed due from energy storage and transmission losses.

Again, to do what? What do you think the proposal is suggesting?

quote:
You agree, but you don't see the implication.

I see it very well. It just means it would be expensive, which is a single problem... quite a distance from the "countless" problems you mentioned. Please, identify some of these other "countless" problems.

quote:
Huh? Look at any current Interstate overpass.

I do. Regularly. It's called "shade". It looks darker in pictures due to contrast and poor dynamic range. It's NOT "in the dark" as you suggest, nor does it necessitate lighting.

quote:
No. Look at a map of the Federal highway system...most of those highway miles, especially in the Western US, are well outside major population centers.

I'm looking at the map right now. The Eastern United states would put most of the highway system within some dozens of miles of population centers... and regardless, it's still nowhere near your silly notion of transmitting the power 50,000 miles.

Again, Porky, not your best nitpicks.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 5:39:46 PM , Rating: 3
"What do you think the proposal is suggesting?"

By your own words, you suggested the amount of land was enough to provide "a fat percentage" of the nation's power. If something between 1 and 2% is "fat" in your book, then I concur.

" It just means it would be expensive, which is a single problem... quite a distance from the "countless" problems you mentioned. Please, identify some of these other "countless" problems."

I identified several, the two largest being a) the amount of land is only enough to provide a tiny fraction of our power needs, and b) Highway siting would be far more expensive than using undeveloped land somewhere, despite the space above the highway being "free", due to the need for elevated supports.

If you think that's still a viable alternative just from those two factors alone, I don't know that continuing the discussion will be fruitful.

" It's called "shade""

This is a little silly. A tunnel 100' long is quite dark in the middle. Is it as black as the depths of a moonless night? No, but its certainly in the twilight realm, and dim enough to require car lights, or some other source of lighting.

Take a look at any large wall-less structure, for instance a large horse arena. There's one near my house, that is roughly 100' x 300'...and lit from above, even during daylight shows...and it gets additional light from all four sides, which a miles-long highway would not.


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 6:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
By your own words, you suggested the amount of land was enough to provide "a fat percentage" of the nation's power. If something between 1 and 2% is "fat" in your book, then I concur.

But we've already seen that your numbers are hasty, inaccurate, and low-balled.

quote:
I identified several, the two largest being a) the amount of land is only enough to provide a tiny fraction of our power needs, and b) Highway siting would be far more expensive than using undeveloped land somewhere, despite the space above the highway being "free", due to the need for elevated supports.

You had two insignificant quibbles, the first of which was sloppy math on your part, and the second of which simply observed that we can't build these things out of stacks of newspaper and Q-tips. That's hardly "countless".

quote:
If you think that's still a viable alternative just from those two factors alone, I don't know that continuing the discussion will be fruitful.

You tell me if I think it's a viable alternative. Hint: I say as much in my very first post. I'm sorry your heightened emotional state has hampered your literacy.

quote:
This is a little silly. A tunnel 100' long is quite dark in the middle.

The word "tunnel" does not at all describe the described structure. I don't even know how you got that. The fact that you would even suggest that as a real counter only throws doubt on everything else you're saying.

Anyway, a "tunnel" has stupidly narrow apertures at either end, relative to the volume contained therein. A road covering would have exposed sides and let in orders of magnitude more light relative to volume.

quote:
Take a look at any large wall-less structure, for instance a large horse arena. There's one near my house, that is roughly 100' x 300'...and lit from above, even during daylight shows

For comfort, not by necessity. Attendees to a large event do not come with a pair of powerful lights attached to their faces, in addition. Again, it does not seem like you have any coherent argument; it's like you're just shouting the first thing that pops up in your ADD mind.

And, again, since you don't seem to know what you're arguing: The point was raised only to demonstrate the availability of land. I never presented it as a viable option; only your hasty fevered mind interpreted that. The land is available, public, very undeveloped for the most part, stupidly accessible (as opposed to the "middle of nowhere" option you presented), and most importantly, would cost nothing to acquire.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 7:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
"But we've already seen that your numbers are hasty, inaccurate, and low-balled."

Come now, don't descend to hyperbole. Even taking into account your objections on road width, it only boosts my figure from 1.0 to 1.25%...and we still haven't subtracted what's necessary for transmission and storage losses. I am generously positing a value as high as 2%.

Is 2% a "fat percentage" of our nations electric needs? Yes or no.

"The word "tunnel" does not at all describe the described structure"

It most certainly does. A strip several miles long is effectively enclosed front and back -- zero sunlight will penetrate that far. It's also enclosed top and bottom.

That leaves two sides for light to penetrate. If the strip is 100' wide, that's equivalent to a tunnel 100' long. Mathematically, they are equivalent. Would you prefer it if I formulated it as a formal boundary value problem?

"The land is available, public, very undeveloped for the most part, stupidly accessible (as opposed to the "middle of nowhere" option you presented), and most importantly, would cost nothing to acquire."

That certainly sounds like you're calling it a viable option. Which one is it? If you don't consider it viable, why are you fighting so hard to portray it as such?

And while this "land" would cost nothing to acquire, it would cost at least 10X as much to cover with solar cells as would an equivalent sized piece of undeveloped land, far outweighing any savings in acquisition costs. We have even more "free land" in the open ocean. Does that mean floating solar cells in the middle of Pacific is a better alternative than putting them in the NM desert?


RE: Promises promises
By Keeir on 3/22/2010 7:21:28 PM , Rating: 2
Here... let me add some numbers.

The US currently produces/uses ~
4 x 10 ^15 Wh a year.

Solar Insolation
http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/redbook...
I assumed Horizontal Flat Plate.

Across the US, we are looking at an Average of ~ 4500 Wh/m2/day

A really good solar panel is 20% efficient.

So that leaves use with

4 x 10 ^ 15 Wh / 4500 wh /356 days * 1 m2 / .2 efficieny = 12.45 x 10 ^ 9 m2 or about 4,800 square miles

Since you have decide that 100' wide or so is adequate, we would need approx 250,000 miles of roadway to provide 100% of the power needs, at generation source. This of course leaves off the ~10% due to current lines losses, which I can't imagine would get any better with the above system. In fact, assuming 10% line losses and near magical 20% solar panels, covering the entire ~47,000 mile could provide ~16%. I guess we could describe that as fat.

Oh, and for your information, the structure we are talking about would be a continous strip of solar panels with no breaks. It would need to be mounted a minimum of 33' in the air if you didn't want to light the area underneath and even higher in some situations. A larger problem would be the wind breaks. Since a 100' wide structure would likely catch the wind, we would need to design in ways to lighten the wind load... which would let direct sunlight down below... which is in turn would likely require the additional lighting as Human eyes can't really adjust that fast.

I doubt covering the entire US highway system would result in more than 10% of our power needs... and I doubt it could be accomplished much less than the original cost of the system (~425 Billion dollars).

(Oh by the way, nothing can really help the system if a tractor trailor full of gasoline smashes into a post. A large section will be destroyed... there are reasons why that land is not readily availble.)


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/23/2010 4:04:26 PM , Rating: 2
Spoofe, I'm going to cede the land use point to you. I made a rather shocking math error. I correctly calculated ~500 sq m for road usage, and 5000 sq. miles required for power-- but then somehow read (a) as being 1/100 of (b), rather than 1/10.

So yes...if you could solve the other myriad problems, this would give you enough land to power a 'fat percentage' of our electric needs.


RE: Promises promises
By JediJeb on 3/22/2010 5:52:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
quote: So? Even if you double my initial estimate, its still only 1/50 the amount of land you need, even ignoring the vast amounts extra needed due from energy storage and transmission losses. Again, to do what? What do you think the proposal is suggesting?


I have to agree with Spoofe here, that is a valid argument if you are trying to supply the total electricity the US needs, but if you are trying to offset some then it is more than sufficient. It is like saying to provide the total US electricity supply with hydroelectric you would need to flood an entire state. The original idea was to offset some energy needs, that of a large city, not an entire country. But if you were using this only to offset NYC then yes you would need the 50K miles of transmission lines, but to offset the amount of electricity NYC uses but spread across several large cities then it would not be such a problem.

quote:
quote: Huh? Look at any current Interstate overpass. I do. Regularly. It's called "shade". It looks darker in pictures due to contrast and poor dynamic range. It's NOT "in the dark" as you suggest, nor does it necessitate lighting.


Here I would also expect the sides to not be touching the ground, if they are 20feet high then a lot of light is going to get under them. Also the added benefit of a shaded highway would reduce gasoline consumption in summer as the A/C would not be working as hard to combat the heat of the sun on the cars, and personally I prefer not driving in super bright sunlight, as the dimmer light of an overcast day is much easier on my eyes when driving so this would help also. Dry pavement versus wet pavement driving is also something to consider. Reduction of cost due to snow removal in winter and no road salts needed also helps not to mention less corrosion of vehicles from said salts.

Can't overlook the side advantages to this idea. I doubt it would ever be fiscally feasible but not totally without merit.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 6:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
"but if you are trying to offset some then it is more than sufficient."

If you're trying to offset just 1-2% of our electric needs by spending tens of trillions of dollars, then yes, this is more than sufficient.

"Reduction of cost due to snow removal in winter..."

If you don't remove the snow from the solar panels, how do they generate electricity? You can simply slant them...but you'd need a pitch close to 10:12 to reliably shed snow. Not only does that reduce efficiency -- even in summer months -- but it means a peak height of 105 feet for a 100' wide highway. That's a big structure to build 50,000 miles of.

"Can't overlook the side advantages to this idea."

Sure, there are some. There are also far more side disadvantages that I didn't even mention. Things like maintenance....how do you work on solar panels above a highway filled with rapidly moving vehicles? Stop traffic? Or build the panels strong enough to be walked on from above? (adding even more to the cost).

Face the facts. Using the "free space" above highways would be far more expensive than just using some undeveloped land somewhere. It's just not a practical idea.


RE: Promises promises
By bh192012 on 3/22/2010 7:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
Probably based on something like http://www.planetthoughts.org/?pg=pt/Whole&qid=314...

(which I'm not saying it's true, this is the internet... just citing a source)

cross that with things like http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/991/

Big solar makes good sense in the south. Lots of air conditioners running, offset by lots of PV. Plus lots of land in the southwest etc. Probably doesn't make sense in the north east where it's cool and dim. Build nuke plants there, then upgrade the grid so they can shuffle power back and forth effeciently between nuke and PV.


RE: Promises promises
By bh192012 on 3/22/2010 7:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
Ohhh, and don't build over the highway.... we've got plenty of regular open space in the parts of the country where this makes sense.


RE: Promises promises
By aegisofrime on 3/22/2010 1:10:05 PM , Rating: 2
I have no idea why you were voted down: Your post makes a lot of sense so I voted you up. Solar power is great in principle, but Earth-based solar power will never be as efficient as Space-based. If you are going to cover the USA's highways in solar cells, might as well build a Star Ladder, and then we can easily build a space-based solution powerful enough to power the Earth. And maybe get an Ion Cannon as part of the bargain. :D


RE: Promises promises
By icanhascpu on 3/22/2010 1:29:35 PM , Rating: 1
Great idiots think alike?


RE: Promises promises
By aegisofrime on 3/22/2010 2:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
If you don't agree with me or porkpie, state why instead of making ad hominen attacks, it only makes YOU look stupid.


RE: Promises promises
By Jeffk464 on 3/22/2010 8:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, this is great. Its like watching an episode of the big bang theory.


RE: Promises promises
By icanhascpu on 3/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 1:40:41 PM , Rating: 2
"ts not that hard to store power for a few days. Esp when its FREE. Its a huge no shit Shurlock t"

I'm not sure why I'm replying to this sort of mentality, but the fact remains there is no practical means to store the vast amounts of power required by cities for overnight periods. None. Do a little research.

Batteries don't come close to the energy levels required,and would be far too expensive even if they did. Pumped hydro is effective...but it requires a large dam and a few million acres of water-covered land. Systems like molten salt storage waste half or more of the power stored.

Even without power storage, solar is prohibitively expensive. Throw storage into the mix, and it can be 30-50X as costly as conventional electricity. If you really don't mind having your $200/m power bill go to $10,000, then solar is right for you.

"Trees cant be trimmed? lol?"

The problem in cities like NYC isn't trees, its other buildings. Want to "trim" the Empire State Building so that neighboring structures aren't shaded? Worse, any structure more than a story or two tall is going to have too little roof area to meet its power needs-- shade or no shade.


RE: Promises promises
By amirite on 3/22/2010 2:24:49 PM , Rating: 2
For large densely populated cities, solar would not be feasible. Nuclear would be ideal for NYC. For the suburbs that don't have multi-family homes, it would work for them.

Storage is not really an issue. Most solar installations don't use storage. They are hooked up to the grid and continualy send power to the grid when not powering the home during the day. There is normaly enough excess during the day to offset what is used at night. The electric company buys or gives you credit for the energy you send to them. During the day, that electricity costs more due to high demand. At night, when you will need to draw power fromt he grid, it costs you much less due to less demand. You can still pay for electricity for a small installation, to nothing or get paid for a larger installation depending also on the power company's policy.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 2:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
" At night, when you will need to draw power fromt he grid, it costs you much less due to less demand."

Err, but if solar became popular, nighttime demand would be far larger than daytime demand, reversing the situation. In fact, night time demand is already larger than day, in the winter in many locations.

But there's an even bigger problem. If you're assuming dirty coal and gas power for your baseline demand, then peak shaving saves you money. But if you assume clean nuclear power, then over 98% of the cost is capital costs, rather than fuel.

What does that mean? It means shutting down your nuclear plants during the day (when the sun is shining) doesn't save you any money. It means your "free" solar power isn't saving you a penny. You're still having to build and operate those plants for peak nighttime (and cloudy day) demand.


RE: Promises promises
By amirite on 3/22/2010 3:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
I would have to disagree that night time demand is higher than day. Look at your electric bill. You get charged more during the day because it is considered peak time. My power company states that its peak times during the summer are from 1pm -7pm and during winter they are from 7am - 12pm. You can use more power at your home during off peak times than on peak times as many do. I am not sure how they calculate peak times, but I am assuming that large businesses play a huge roll.

http://www.duke-energy.com/pdfs/NCScheduleRT.pdf

The electric company wants you to use more power at night to balance their distribution as much as possible. I guess I'm looking at this at a consumer's point of view. I doubt they would have to idle nuclear power plants during the day unless everyone has a large solar panel array installed. This is not feasible for everyone. I would say maybe less than half (probably closer to 25%) the homes in the US can have an even balance of what they put into the grid and what they draw from it.

In the end, solar power is very inefficient and can only act as a supplement to most people's needs. It is an option to reduce our dependency on oil and coal.


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 4:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would have to disagree that night time demand is higher than day.

He didn't say it IS higher, he said it would be, IF solar was a significant percent of our power generation.


RE: Promises promises
By amirite on 3/22/2010 4:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
"In fact, night time demand is already larger than day, in the winter in many locations"

Peak hours during the winter for my electric company is 7am - 12pm.


RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 5:57:53 PM , Rating: 2
Your electric company is in NC. Locations that currently have higher peak energy demand at night are in northern (and thus very cold) locations. Also remember that northerly climes tend to get a much higher percentage of their total energy needs from oil and gas heating, rather than electric heat pumps (which are less efficient as ambient temperature drops).

But that's a side issue. The real point is that any serious usage of solar power would reverse the situation, causing night time demand to be greater than day.

And yes, while that would still reduce coal and oil usage, it can't make a very large dent in it. The only thing that can is nuclear...and if we have to build nuclear plants anyway, its far cheaper and more sensible to run them during the day, as well as the night.

Conclusion? Even if we solve the cost problems, solar is really only viable for a peak-shaving approach, rather than substantially filling our energy needs.


RE: Promises promises
By Fritzr on 3/22/2010 11:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
I found many relevant news and product reports with the following Google search string "solar power generatiion highway parking lot"

How much more is there that was missed by this search? Even with just the examplesfrom this search, a new more efficient photovoltaic cell will greatly improve power generation.

Forget long distance distribution of photovoltaic electricity. Most of the power will be used close to the point of generation. This is distributed power generation, not the centralized generation that is the current model our utility system is based on.

Note: This post lacks any links due to a constantly repeated "This post is apparently spam" message. Run the Google search to see highways paved with solar panels (now in initial production), Parking lots with solar panel roofs (currently producing excess electricity) and other things that are being dismissed as Pie in the Sky or useless in this thread.


RE: Promises promises
By whiskerwill on 3/22/2010 11:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Parking lots with solar panel roofs (currently producing excess electricity) and other things that are being dismissed as Pie in the Sky or useless in this thread.
rofl, so you believe just because we actually used some solar cells somewhere, that proves solar power is actualy a good idea?


RE: Promises promises
By Fritzr on 3/23/2010 2:40:35 AM , Rating: 2
No it proves that those parking lots now are lit after dark and are paid for the excess power they don't need. Oddly enough they do not have problems with lighting that has been stated and restated in these threads as the killer problem with overhead solar panels.

I realize that a negative power bill is bad for the centralized utility's revenue stream, but it does demonstrate that it is possible for individuals to operate their own personal electric utility with enough capacity for their own needs and a small excess that can be sold to the neighbors.

These real world, functioning today, examples using old tech just prove we don't need more efficient photovoltaics. Or maybe they just demonstrate that current tech can do the job and more efficient tech will generate still more excess electricity.

Bad news for centralized utilities when the consumers start putting power into the grid and getting paid for their share of decentralized micro-generation. Good news for consumers though, especially as more efficient tech allows an increase in KW per sq meter.

Micro-generation does not need to be 100% replacement. If it handles 50% of demand then that capacity of dams, nukes, coal, oil etc. electric generation plants no longer needs to exist.


RE: Promises promises
By Sahrin on 3/22/2010 12:35:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I long for the days of antigravity and Warp-10 spacecraft also


Not me. I've seen what happens when you go past transwarp and no amount of instantaneous travel could make me want to spend time with lizard-Kathryn Janeway.


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 12:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, that episode was so awful...


RE: Promises promises
By Jeffk464 on 3/22/2010 8:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just waiting for fusion, now that would be nice.


RE: Promises promises
By mfed3 on 3/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: Promises promises
By SoulBlighter on 3/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: Promises promises
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 1:13:41 PM , Rating: 3
" but never ben funded enough for the research, till recently"

The US DOE has been spending billions on solar technology since the late 1970s. One of the first large-scale solar plant was Solar One in the Mojave, which began construction in 1979. In 1980, a PV based system was built in Utah, also funded by DOE dollars.

Counting NASA and corporate research on PV panels for satellite operation, research actually began in earnest in the late 1960s.

Yet despite all that, solar power today is still 4-10X as expensive as conventional sources, and up to 50X as expensive for power delivered when the sun isn't shining.

"Please do some research before making such remarks."

Oh, what irony...


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 4:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The US DOE has been spending billions on solar technology since the late 1970s.

How much of that was research, and how much was construction?


RE: Promises promises
By martinrichards23 on 3/22/2010 11:55:48 AM , Rating: 3
Just because the technology doesn't appear on your supermarket shelf 6 weeks later doesn't mean it nothing has happened.


RE: Promises promises
By shin0bi272 on 3/22/2010 12:33:51 PM , Rating: 3
no I agree with him. They invented solar panels that were twice as efficient (PbSe) back in 05 and we havent seen any of them yet. There have been dozens of these types of reports here on DailyTech and we havent seen any of these ideas come to fruition. You go do a google search for solar panels to purchase right now... I'll wait....

doo bee doo bee dooooo....

Done? Ok...

Did you find anything in any online store or on any number you called that was anything other than a standard silicon panel? probably not unless you searched for a few days. The fact is while technology may be a little slow to develop, if these "breakthroughs" were really all that meaningful we would see them on the market within a year or two... not 5 or 10 or 20. Why? Because if it was worth investing in people would make panels out of this new material, sell it so an investor or two (maybe a venture capitalist) and get it out to market asap to bring down the cost of solar for everyone while making a tidy profit for themselves.

Hell more than half the work of a solar panel is in the design and manufacture of the things. Once youve got a material to make them and a design to do so you just have to get funding to start cranking them out... It doesnt take THAT long if you are changing a product that already exists either. There are already solar panel companies around the country (well that one in MA just shipped all of its jobs to china) so all you'd have to do is take your new material to them and tell them how to make it (i.e. patent it and sell them the rights to manufacture and distribute it) and boom new solar panel tech! no line no waiting!

That's the beauty of capitalism if you have an idea that works or improves something and you can manufacture it you are usually (I say usually because there are unions, licensing boards, patents, cronies of politicians running a competing business, and on and on to get in your way now... good old fascism dont cha know)... but we dont see any of these amazing new breakthroughs on the shelves do we? no.

I suppose the people who invent these things and patent them dont give out their ideas for free any more (no more Ben Franklins I guess)... and they dont do it "for the good of the planet" or whatever so money is probably the factor holding up these new technologies.

Hey How about DT only posts solar panel articles when a new Panel actually HITS the market? That way we dont all get our hopes up and have to wait 20 years for the government subsidies to kick in... cause ya know its not a REAL green product till the government gives you billions to produce it.


RE: Promises promises
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 12:49:01 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
They invented solar panels that were twice as efficient (PbSe) back in 05 and we havent seen any of them yet.

Yeah. Stuff's hard to make. The dominating technology isn't that which is technically "the best", it's "the best we can make at an affordable price". A huge amount of R&D is figuring out to to mass-produce an item, not simply cobble together a few proof-of-concept versions in a lab.

That's why some technology advances faster than others. You hear about new carbon nanotube discoveries several times a week because just about every lab on Earth can afford graphite.


RE: Promises promises
By adiposity on 3/22/2010 1:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just because the technology doesn't appear on your supermarket shelf 6 weeks later doesn't mean it nothing has happened.


If they don't ever appear anywhere, can we then saying, "nothing has happened"? Because that's usually the case with these incremental solar advancements.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen











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