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California98Civic 09-09-2011 06:20 PM

New solar panel technology
 
I think some of you may find this interesting.

Arragonis 09-09-2011 06:43 PM

There are quite a few companies going for the "printed solar panel" market. It is interesting here in the UK as a lot of older buildings don't have flat areas to mount conventional panels, so something like a wraparound might be quite attractive.

Plus of course if it makes Solar cheaper then I won't have to nominate the feed in tarrifs associated with solar power, which my taxes pay for in the UK, into the big wastes thread... ;)

EDIT - of course if it doesn't work or you get faulty one it will be put into landfill as it can't be repaired. Wonderful thing Solar energy...

drv2die 09-10-2011 05:34 AM

sounds good hope it turns out better than these guys

Solar Company Solyndra Follows Evergreen and SpectraWatt into Bankruptcy Court - Yahoo! News

California98Civic 09-10-2011 08:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drv2die (Post 260344)

Yeah, it stinks that some of these companies are failing. And thanks for sharing it. But I gotta say, isn't this article weak? Here's my list of major problems in the argument:

1 - "the blind obeisance of the energy department to green ideology appears desperate and political." No evidence of that whatsoever. Perhaps it's true. He should show us.

2 - "But why can't the solar industry stand up on its own without taking money from strapped taxpayers?" This is a rhetorical question. And its conclusion is wrong. Two or three start-up companies are not "the solar industry."

3 - And here's the money-shot: "What is that "regulatory and policy uncertainties" Mr. Harrison is talking about? Isn't that what Republican business economists are saying is responsible for their inability to invest and create jobs?"

Worst... the author's own conclusion is to let the private sector outsource the jobs for the sake of profitability.

jamesqf 09-10-2011 01:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by California98Civic (Post 260356)
"But why can't the solar industry stand up on its own without taking money from strapped taxpayers?"

Of course we could be asking the same question of the oil industry :-)

California98Civic 09-10-2011 02:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jamesqf (Post 260370)
Of course we could be asking the same question of the oil industry :-)

Good point. And let's add agriculture, corn in particular. How about space exploration? Should the failure of Netscape in the end raise serious doubts about the wisdom of federal research funding for this "internet" thing?

solarguy 09-10-2011 06:00 PM

Really, I hope this turns out well, but...
 
Really. I hope it works out. But the track record is not very good.

How many millions has the taxpayer spent on fed funded research into the hydrogen economy?

The result? A big hole in our pocket.

How about the fed/california initiative to get zero emission/electric cars into the mainstream?

Go read about "Who Killed the Electric Car":

Who Killed the Electric Car? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Anybody remember the feds encouraging development of solar power back in the 70's and early 80's? How did that turn out? Oh yeah, it practically killed the industry by the time it was over.

What about all the many many many millions of dollars the taxpayer spent on fusion research?

Oh yeah, a big fat goose egg. That's what we got out of that.

What about president Obama's proposal that we totally modernize our electric distribution system with all that stimulus money to take better advantage of wind and solar?

The money is gone, but the grid is not smart yet.

I figure if the idea is that good, the private money will bring it to market successfully.



Maybe this one will be different.

I hope so.

troy

jamesqf 09-10-2011 11:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by California98Civic (Post 260372)
How about space exploration? Should the failure of Netscape in the end raise serious doubts about the wisdom of federal research funding for this "internet" thing?

I think there's a difference between funding basic research (the results of which are open to anyone who wants to use them), subsidies for startup businesses like this one, and ongoing subsidies for established businesses, especially when they're making substantial profits.

Arragonis 09-11-2011 08:12 AM

Not sure about solar as here in Scotland we only know of the sun from reading about it in books and hearing the strange tales of travellers from far off lands - such as England.

But the green energy "incentives" here are going to cost us 300 a year, when we have had increases in the 10-20% range annually now for about 2-3 years. My own energy supplier has just anounced another 15% increase partly to pay for this stuff.

Wind farms seem to hoover up government cash for little return (less than 1% of demand here last year).

And now we have Thorium - which I don't understand, yet. :o

I like the idea of wraparound solar and if the printed process makes it cheaper than all to the good. I wait on the fence for a convincing case though.

EDIT - Our own Prime Minister's father in law makes 1000 a day from wind farm subsidies. Madness, sheer madness.

NeilBlanchard 09-11-2011 10:12 AM

Wave machines are good for Scotland -- there are some already; wind turbines, too. ;-)

California98Civic 09-11-2011 10:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jamesqf (Post 260425)
I think there's a difference between funding basic research (the results of which are open to anyone who wants to use them), subsidies for startup businesses like this one, and ongoing subsidies for established businesses, especially when they're making substantial profits.

I agree. But to be clear, the root of my problem was not to disagree with such a point but with the article a few posts back that attempts, as usual, to blame a single administration for a long-term structural issue in the US political-economy. That kind of argument only serves the interests that want the status quo to continue: Congress has long forced us to fund the profits of corporations with substantial earnings in established markets: oil, corn, military hardware, banks ... and many more. So in Congress, the Obama Administration's policies regarding grants and incentives to these tiny startups has come in for a quite bogus "free-market" objection from a highly opportunist opposition. Also, start-ups in new technologies are different than established companies in established markets. Early rail, telephone, and automobile companies all received supports from government--even if indirectly through roads and rights of way. Without such supports the "free market" would never have developed the systemic public goods these technologies produced. I think I like the idea of such grants to small startups, such as these. It is really akin to what the Small Business Administration does. Are we going to eliminate the Small Business Administration too, just because many of those business fail?

Arragonis 09-11-2011 11:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard (Post 260456)
Wave machines are good for Scotland -- there are some already; wind turbines, too. ;-)

Yep - all of them eating my taxes faster than an MP with an expenses to claim. :rolleyes:

sid 09-11-2011 10:03 PM

Solar electric is working well for me and some other people I know. But my panels are Sanyos.

Which brings up an interesting observation: All these failing PV manufacturers are US based. They aren't failing in China, Japan, or Germany. Is it because we don't have the know-how? Or is it because of insufficient government support, at least relative to the other countries? Have our political leaders decided this market and capability isn't important? The world-wide market for PV technology is definitely growing. Abandoning this market does not seem like a good way to keep jobs in this country.

deathtrain 09-11-2011 10:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sid (Post 260568)
Solar electric is working well for me and some other people I know. But my panels are Sanyos.

Which brings up an interesting observation: All these failing PV manufacturers are US based. They aren't failing in China, Japan, or Germany. Is it because we don't have the know-how? Or is it because of insufficient government support, at least relative to the other countries? Have our political leaders decided this market and capability isn't important? The world-wide market for PV technology is definitely growing. Abandoning this market does not seem like a good way to keep jobs in this country.

the big differance is that we have unions and not sweat shops. also the energy is corporation owned not by the gov. I mean California the tree hugger capital has a solar kick back to the people. but Texas dont. I mean I have had ZERO rain not clouds for at least 3 months now. Do you know how much power it would have saved if everyone in houston just ran one solar panel. Myself i am not looking for 100% off the grid. I will start with 4 home made panels and go from there.

Arragonis 09-12-2011 04:19 AM

At the last estimate published here, Renewable energy in general generated less than 1% of the total required for the country. The cost per unit of energy produced is 10-20x that of conventional power.

In Spain they have one of the most advanced solar energy companies in the world - real pioneers in everything from the panels themselves to how to arrange them and how to store the heat energy (salt piles) so it can be used when its needed. But even the boss of that company readily admits that his company only survives from tax subsidies.

A study here in the UK (maybe even Scotland specifically) also calculated that because of the rise in energy costs to provide subsidies for that 1% of the total to survive, a number of companies were considering moving production overseas. The loss of jobs because of that outnumbers any "green" jobs created.

I'm glad to see the technology going and I would like to see governments encouraging it with SEED funding or even trials to see if it works. I object to the government spending billions on it, especially when I'm being told that everything else - education, healthcare and even defence - has to be the subject of spending cuts and these subsidies seem to be going to make rich people far richer for doing no good whatsoever. And also when something like 25% of households in the UK are already in energy poverty - the heat or eat decision.

euromodder 09-12-2011 06:50 AM

Solar energy was highly subsidized - and thus highly profitable - in Belgium.

To the point of 1 kWh bringing in 2.5 times the cost of a regular kWh - for the next 20 years !
In addition, the people who installed them, could also use up the generated energy, raising the benefit to 3.5 times the cost of a kWh !
For companies, it was the signal to start building huge solar farms, and greenwash themselves, while cashing in big time.

Add tax deductions for private installations, and you ended up with a highly profitable situation ... paid for by anyone else.

The tax deductions mean less state income.
The green certificates for solar energy are paid for by the electricity distribution company, who promptly pass on the cost to their (non-PV owning) private customers.

We pay more for energy-related taxes than for the energy itself.

The subsidies for PV are now coming down fast though, as it was becoming wildly expensive - and highly opposed.

jamesqf 09-12-2011 01:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sid (Post 260568)
All these failing PV manufacturers are US based. They aren't failing in China, Japan, or Germany.

Is that really so? Or is it that we simply don't hear about a failing foreign manufacturer, 'cause they didn't get money from the US, and therefore the failure isn't news?

It'd also be interesting to know how many US manufacturers haven't failed, and the ratio of fail/non-fail for various countries.

order99 09-18-2011 01:58 AM

All of which-in a somewhat circular manner-leads to the main issue:

When are we, the consumer, going to get all these wonderful new toys at a price we can afford...said price adjusted for jobless, bank-fraud, undeclared multiple Billion-dollar wars, politically ravished economy?

(goes back to spraying soup cans with BBQ paint for his second heating unit-winter's around the corner y'know...)

IamIan 09-18-2011 11:31 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 260612)
The cost per unit of energy produced is 10-20x that of conventional power.

Of course it varies significantly from place to place ... and some places RE ( solar etc .. ) is much more expensive per unit energy than what the grid sells for... but in other places RE ( solar etc ) is already significantly cheaper per unit energy than what the grid charges.

My opinion is that is is better to crunch the real numbers for a specific proposed location and installation ... some will be a good investment others will not.

Let me know if you see an obvious errors in this line of thinking bellow ( or if you need additional detail of any parts ):
  • Most PV systems today come with ~20 year power warranties to 80% of initial rated power ... Although it will produce more than this we can be conservative and assume a ~20 year average of ~80% of Initial power rating.
  • The Cost of 'conventional' grid type power varies significantly from place to place ... According to the EIA, the average price per kwh of grid residential energy in Hawaii in January 2011 was $0.30/kwh , but at the same time was only $0.0691/kwh on average for North Dakota residential energy ... so there is a huge difference in what people pay for the same amount of a kwh of electrical energy.
  • There is a significant difference in RE potential , especially solar from location to location... the EIA yearly average of solar hours per day ( 5.8 Fixed position , 8.0 sun Tracking ) for Kahului HI , and ( 4.9 Fixed , 6.6 Tracking ) for Bismark ND.
  • 1 watt of installed PV power in Kahului HI will produce an average over the 20 years of it's power warranty of more than ~33 kwh for the fixed position system and more than ~46 kwh for the sun tracking system The same scenario in Bismark ND results in more than ~28 kwh fixed , and ~38 kwh tracking... so there is also a large difference in potential solar energy in the different locations.
  • To get the same energy the grid would charge you:
    • Kahului HI 33*0.3 = ~$9.90
    • Kahului HI 46*0.3 = ~$13.80
    • Bismark ND 28*0.0691 = ~$1.93
    • Bismark ND 38*0.0691 = ~$2.63
    So there is also a large difference in the break even point with the grid... In some places PV solar is already cheaper than the grid if it can get installed for anything under ~$13.80 per watt ... and other places it would have to get down to under ~$1.93 per watt to be cheaper than the grid.
  • Although the installed cost of PV per watt will also vary depending on the specifics of location and install etc ... the last I read ( 2011 Berkley Lab report # LBNL-5047E ... I've included a picture of the graph bellow if you don't have that report ) the 2010 average cost of installed PV per watt in the U.S. was ~$6.20 / watt ... which will make it more expensive per unit energy in some places ... like Bismark ND ... and less expensive per unit energy in other places like Kahului HI.

So my only point in the above is that ... it varies depending on the specifics of a given context ... RE ( solar etc ) is not always cheaper or more expensive than the grid ... sometimes RE is cheaper per kwh of energy ... sometimes the grid is cheaper per kwh of energy... it isn't a black and white issue anymore.

The other aspect of RE vs Grid ... is that as seen in the attached picture ... the $/Watt of installed PV has been going down at a significant rate.

Arragonis 09-18-2011 03:43 PM

@Ian - Your argument works, but is based on the fact that someone else at the end of the pipe, wire or cable is ready to consume that energy. And that that pipe, wire or cable is inside a reasonable range to be able to use it - there is a limit to how far you can "transport" electricity. Otherwise it is wasted.

Unfortunately also at the times when Solar (and indeed Wind) are being productive the demand isn't there.

We could store it of course - the Spanish company I mentioned in a previous post (I think Neil Blanchard mentioned it too but maybe in a different thread) worked out a method of using salt piles to store energy as heat.

Other people have experimented with giant batteries and we have schemes (dating from the 1950s) such as Hydro produced by dams with two reservoirs - the upper one being filled by pumping using excess energy at low peak times. But these have limits in terms of the energy stored vs costs, and potential energy release vs the energy originally produced.

A conventional power station can be stoked up and added to the grid as and when the demand is needed. Even if you take into account the polution of this solution and the resources required, having something you can just pop-on when needed seems far more efficient that making too much of something and storing it and watch it decline until you decide you need it.

Argument - An idling power station does consume energy, but nuclear (at least) makes its own.

The argument the other way is of course that you produced that energy for 'free' via renewables.

But when I check my power bill and find a 5-10% levy added to fund this so called "competitive" energy source, and when I read things like wind farms being paid not to produce anything then I wonder if that energy is really all that "free" in the first place.

The debate of course is where the 'free' part comes from and what we include in the costs of conventional (including nuclear) energy. Thats tetchy and starts arguments about politics, so I'm not going there.

I remain optimistic about renewables and would agree with an investment in fundamental research into how this can be achieved but again I object to people in the UK being forced to decide between food and heat/light just so someone can make a lot of money from an artificial levy and subsidy. But this takes time. In Scotland we have research into wave energy, it has been going for 30-40 years now and is just about making something useful. Thats the kind of long-term boring but basic research that gets some results.

Ryland 09-18-2011 05:04 PM

I don't mind not getting tax write offs for any solar I install, but I don't like the fact that coal and oil get big tax write offs and tend to have some of the largest tax refunds of anyone in the country, so in the end more of my tax dollar is going to coal and oil then could ever go to renewable energy.

I was a little shocked to hear that companies like Evergreen Solar went under, but they were also working with some very new ideas in manufacturing solar panels, things like growing silicon in ribbons instead of in round rods, so they spent a lot on new tec that never hit the main stream and yet for every solar panel manufacturer that I hear about going under in the USA I hear about two new factories opening up here.
On top of all of that, the installed price of solar is getting to that price point that people only dreamed of 10 years ago and it's been proven time and time again that it will last, to the point where your big question is not how you are going to pay for it, but who is going to get your solar electric system in your will.

gone-ot 09-18-2011 07:45 PM

...it's simple: the LABOR and production COSTS are so much lower overseas that USA startups are literally climbing a (very) steep $-wall over here.

sid 09-18-2011 11:17 PM

One concern I have is with reliability. PV panels from US and Japanese sources have been very reliable over the years. Many panels built decades ago are still producing at least 80 % of their new rated power. Are Chinese panels going to be as reliable?

For comparison, compact fluorescent bulbs were also very reliable until the Chinese started producing them. All but one of the bulbs I bought in the 1980's and 1990's (over a dozen) still work. But two of five Chinese bulbs I have failed in less than a year. I've heard this same complaint from many others.

Ryland 09-18-2011 11:52 PM

Longevity is key, Kyrocera has been around for a long time, they build panels in the USA and Japan and last I checked some of their panels were getting close to $2 per watt (really cheap!) but people see 99 cent per watt HappySun panels or whatever from China and they flock to them, the Arco solar panels (Siemens bought them out in 1989) that my parents have are getting close to 30 years old and are still producing at their rated output (not at 80%) and I suspect that they will keep producing at their rated output for another 30 to 50 years or more.
But if you look at what types of solar panels people have issues with, they are the printed solar cells, the flexible solar cells and the Chinese made panels.

jamesqf 09-19-2011 12:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
@Ian - Your argument works, but is based on the fact that someone else at the end of the pipe, wire or cable is ready to consume that energy.

That's why you have an electric (or plug-in hybrid) car :-) And if your car (and the grid) is smart enough, it'll know to charge itself when there's excess energy being produced.

IamIan 09-19-2011 07:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
@Ian - Your argument works, but is based on the fact that someone else at the end of the pipe, wire or cable is ready to consume that energy.

not quiet ... let me try and explain.... sorry this post did get a bit longer than intended. :(

My statement was about what you pay for some amount of kwh of electrical energy... and how that varies from context to context ... RE is not always cheaper than the grid and it is not always more expensive than the grid for that same quantity of kwh of electrical energy... context matters.

Usage of that energy how , where, when , etc ... are all valid and important issues ... for determining a specific context ... which would be 100% in agreement with my previous statement.

The variation from one context to the next is not based on any unilateral assumption in 100% synchronized usage.

Even if some of the RE ( solar or whatever ) was wasted ... that does not necessarily guarantee anything one way or the other without still quantifying the specific context... how much was wasted or used , etc...

Context matters... it is not a black and white issue one way or the other.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
And that that pipe, wire or cable is inside a reasonable range to be able to use it - there is a limit to how far you can "transport" electricity. Otherwise it is wasted.

Transportation losses are a benefit to distributed RE intertie systems.

100% grid centralized power plants will have more transportation losses ... this issue is a negative for the centralized grid.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
Unfortunately also at the times when Solar (and indeed Wind) are being productive the demand isn't there.

This goes back into context of the application again.

Last I checked Peak power demand for the utility grid was during daylight hours ... when the sun is providing energy for Solar types of RE... So I see it as there is significant demand that coincides beautifully with some forms of RE... and I don't agree with , "the demand isn't there".

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
We could store it of course

Storing still goes back to the context of the application again.

Storing momentary surplus is not a issue for all application contexts of RE.

Not an issue for solar sized bellow the up swing surge the grid sees during the daylight hours.

Not an issue for hydro-electric ... which has built in storage.

etc.

Even if storage is needed for some specific application context ... that is not necessarily guaranteed to mean anything one way or the other.

When it is needed the storage just becomes part of the specifics of a applications context ... and weighs into the analysis of that context ... depending on the context it could still go either way , and be either more or less expensive than the grid for the same quantity of used kwh of electrical energy.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
But these have limits in terms of the energy stored vs costs, and potential energy release vs the energy originally produced.

100% agree ... and sometimes in some contexts RE will be more expensive per unit of energy than the grid ... and in other contexts RE will be less expensive per unit of energy than the grid.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
A conventional power station can be stoked up and added to the grid as and when the demand is needed. Even if you take into account the polution of this solution and the resources required, having something you can just pop-on when needed seems far more efficient that making too much of something and storing it and watch it decline until you decide you need it.

It might seem more efficient ... but depending on the context of a specific application ... it may or may not be more efficient.

More or less efficient ( while it is important ) is also a very different issue from more or less expensive for the same quantity of energy.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
Argument - An idling power station does consume energy, but nuclear (at least) makes its own.

I doubt you intended it ... I just don't like that wording ... so this bit is mostly just a pet peeve of mine.

My 2 bits ... nuclear doesn't make it's own energy any more than a coal power plant makes it's own energy ... they both consume a fuel and operate at less than 100% efficiency ... Neither one makes energy... they convert it from one form to another at significantly less than 100% efficiency.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
But when I check my power bill and find a 5-10% levy added to fund this so called "competitive" energy source, and when I read things like wind farms being paid not to produce anything then I wonder if that energy is really all that "free" in the first place.

Fair.

The government tax payer funded support for fossil fuels falls into the same argument... And I don't like that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
The debate of course is where the 'free' part comes from and what we include in the costs of conventional (including nuclear) energy. Thats tetchy and starts arguments about politics, so I'm not going there.

Not my debate.

My debate was just the simple concept that :
Context matters.

It is not a 100% black and or white issue one way or the other as far as what it cost per unit of energy... In different contexts the grid is cheaper per kwh ... and in other contexts RE is cheaper per kwh.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arragonis (Post 261736)
I remain optimistic about renewables and would agree with an investment in fundamental research into how this can be achieved but again I object to people in the UK being forced to decide between food and heat/light just so someone can make a lot of money from an artificial levy and subsidy.

I'd go further ... myself.

I think the government has done its part ... neither the fossil fuel industry nor the RE industry need the crutch anymore... let them both stand on their own.

The only role I still see the government should be playing is in the appropriate regulations ... worker rights, building codes, illegal discrimination , pollution, truth in advertising , consumer right to know, etc ... types things.

IamIan 09-19-2011 07:51 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ryland (Post 261744)
I don't mind not getting tax write offs for any solar I install, but I don't like the fact that coal and oil get big tax write offs and tend to have some of the largest tax refunds of anyone in the country, so in the end more of my tax dollar is going to coal and oil then could ever go to renewable energy.

Last I checked ... the difference in tax payer funded support looked like the attached bellow:

Arragonis 09-20-2011 05:13 AM

@Ian - I think we are coming to the same ideas maybe from different starting points.


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