Watching the list of solar energy companies to appear and disappear over the years is almost like watching a revolving door….as solar energy industry continues to evolve. Yes, cost and efficiency are the two areas where many solar companies are concentrating their energy and effort in at the moment. In recent years, many companies are directing their effort toward kerfless technology. One of these companies, 1366 Technologies, is worth keeping an eye on. The company’s name is referenced to the solar constant, representing the watts of solar energy that hits each square meter of the surface of the earth. It is a company based in Bedford, Massachusetts that has developed a technique to produce siliconwafers by casting them in their ultimate shape directly in a mold, rather than the prevailing standard method in which wafers are cut from a large ingot. The company aims to manufacture multi-crystalline silicon wafers, the building blocks of solar cells, at half the cost of current methods.
Traditional solar technologies may be replaced by thin and kerfless wafter technologes (credit: Smallman12q/Wikipedia)
1366 Technologies casts wafers with a conventional thickness from molten silicon, creating a more uniform wafer quality than the current industry standard. (credit: Bob Frechette of 1366 Technologies)
The company used a $4 million grant obtained from the United States Department of Energy‘s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program in December 2009 to fund research over an 18-month period. Grants from ARPA-E are designed to provide money to relatively small projects offering the potential for high-payoff results in fostering advanced techniques. 1366 Technologies was able to announce eight months into the grant period that it had achieved success in its casting technology, in which molten silicon is poured directly into a mold to produce wafers in their final form, a square 6 inches (15 cm) on each side that is 200 micrometers thick and are then extracted from the mold using a proprietary technique to ensure that the wafer doesn’t break while being removed from the mold. In traditional methods, wafers of this size are cut from a large single ingot or crystal, in an approach that leaves as much as half of the original silicon ingot as waste.
Below, a video that was published back in 2009 on the basics behind silicon-based solar cell technology by 1366 Technologies:
David Danielson, program director for solar energy at ARPA-E said that “early indications show this could be one of our great success stories.” ARPA-E’s first director Arun Majumdar estimated that current techniques generate solar power at a cost of $4 per watt, and that bringing down that cost to $1.50 per watt could lead to the widespread adoption of solar energy (solar industry is evolving very fast and is currently already at the cost level of slightly over $1.00 per watt). Company president Frank van Mierlo estimated that solar power generated using wafers from 1366 Technologies would be cheaper than power generated using coal. The company is now on their third generation of wafer-producing machines, which are full-sized, industrial line machines. The company will open a commercial-scale factory in upstate New York, slated for completion in 2017. This plant will start producing 50 million wafers annually, totaling 250 megawatts of output. It will eventually scale to 600 million wafers and 3,000 MW of annual production.
1366 Technologies has raised $70 million in capital to commercialize their innovation, from such investors as South KoreanHanwha Chemical, a major user of silicon wafers, as well as from Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.
As the revolving door continues to rotate during Solar Evolution/Revolution, perhaps the name of a solar constant will bring forth a longer stay than other abbreviated variables.
Nine Biological solar cells connected into a bio-solar panel. The panel has generated the most wattage of any existing small-scale bio-solar cells, 5.59 microwatts ( credit: Seokheun Sean Choi)
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Wow! The ingenuity and innovative potential of human mind continues to amaze me!
I’ve always been certain that there will be more wondrous works waiting to improve the efficiency level and reliability, decrease the cost of solar in decades to come. Here is one more in line to be investigated:
Few days ago, on April 11, 2016, Binghamton University researchers took the concept of using cyanobacteria, a phylum bacteria obtaining energy through photosynthesis, to produce clean energy. These researchers used nine biological solar cells, also known as bio-solar cells, and connected them to a biological solar panel, resulting in the continuous production of electricity from the panel. The amount of electricity it produced reached 5.59 microwatts, which is higher than what any small-scale bio-solar cells can produce.
The paper was entitled “Biopower generation in a microfluidic bio-solar panel” written by Seokheun “Sean” Choi, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science together with graduating students Xuejian Wei and Hankeun Lee ’15, graduating in May, according to Science Daily.
The Binghamton University Nanofabrication Lab provided the fabrication facilities for the work, while the University Research Foundation (Interdisciplinary Collaborations Grants (ICG) Program/Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence) provided the funding. The findings are currently available online and will be published in hard copy in the June edition of the journal Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.
The breakthrough occurred last year, after this group of scientists attempted to innovate the dual-chambered bio-solar cell. They created a microfluidic-based single chambered device to house the bacteria, and they also changed the materials on the positive and negative terminals of the bio-solar cell. With further investigation, using a 3×3 pattern, the group installed nine identical bio-solar cells to form a bio-solar panel, which they observed for 60 hours. Their observation showed the continuous production of electricity due to the bacteria’s respiration and photosynthesis. It may be a very low amount of energy production as it can only produce 0.00003726 watts while a regular 60-cell rooftop solar panel generates 285 watts, but the great potential in this discovery may lead to a more reliable energy source, as reported by Energy Matters.
“Once a functional bio-solar panel becomes available, it could become a permanent power source for supplying long-term power for small, wireless telemetry systems as well as wireless sensors used at remote sites where frequent battery replacement is impractical,” said Seokheun “Sean” Choi.
When conservative naysayer commented to me,”What good is it?! It’s only able to generate such a small amount of power!” I’d retort, borrowing from one of Dr. Ben Franklin’s famous lines, “What good is a newborn baby?”, often used by Faraday as well….as we wait for the unfolding potential of one of many newborns in our Solar/Renewable Energy Age. This newborn baby offers great potential for a long-term, reliable power source in remote areas.
This is SO EXCITING! I can’t wait to share the unveiling of Tesla 3 that many of us have been waiting for….Model 3 has achieved 215 miles of range (at minimum) per charge, with automatic safety features, starting at only $35,000 before incentive. Buyers of plug-in hybrids and electric cars benefit from a tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the size of the battery in the car. On the low end of the spectrum, cars with 4 kWh battery packs will qualify for a $2,500 tax credit. The credit maxes out at $7,500 for cars with a 16 kWh battery pack, like the Chevy Volt. The credits were provided as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the “stimulus bill.” (The incentive begins phasing out after an automaker sells 200,000 vehicles that are eligible for the credit.)
This is all part of Elon Musk’s effort in helping to speed up our transition toward the renewable future by accelerating world’s transition into sustainable transport. Let us give Elon Musk a round of applause for, unveiling of Tesla Model 3 (March 31, 2016 event), and for his contribution in slowing the CO2 emission into earth’s atmosphere….below:
Tesla Model 3 is essentially the fourth generation vehicle subsequent to Roadster, Model X, and Model S. Now Model 3 is designed to attain the highest safety ratings in every category. All Model 3’s will have supercharging capability (translating to freedom to travel) and be able to contain a 7-ft surfboard inside. There are currently about 3608 superchargers globally, about 3689 destinations superchargers. By the end of next year, number of superchargers will double ( to 7,200) and quadruple destination superchargers (to 15,000). The gigafactory will be busy, with high volume and the most advanced technology, and will be the world’s largest lithium ion cell producer… 50 gigawatt-hour per year of production! It is the first Tesla electric vehicle that will be able to be massively afforded by general public and will definitely be able to dramatically help to reduce CO2 emission into our planet earth’s atmosphere. And thanks, Elon, for adding the autopilot feature into Model 3. Within the first 24 hours of its unveiling, there were 115,000 orders for Tesla Model 3. The world is definitely ready for Tesla Model 3!!! For those of you who want to order Tesla Model 3 online, please visit Tesla.com . Delivery will not begin until 2017 the earliest. Way to go, Elon!
From our previous post, there was the mention of Elon Musk’s talk at the Sorbonne in 2015. Since I’ve come across several other discussions referencing this talk, I think it’d be a good idea to share this talk with you all, below:
Discussion of Climate Change, Carbon Cycle and the vertical climb within the last few hundred years: 5:10-15:47
Need To Address Climate Change Q & A: 16:18-17:27
Solar Energy As The Main Power Source : 30:50-31:40
Keep in mind that, if we wait to transition into the Renewables, the best case is postponing the inevitable transition to sustainable energy (believed by 3% of the scientists), and the worst case is more displacement and destruction than all the wars in history combined (believed by 97% of the scientists). As Elon commented, “this is the dumbest experiment in history EVER…why would you do this?!” He explains that the reason that there has been such a delay in transition into renewable/sustainable energy is because there is a hidden carbon subsidy (there is an annual $5.3 trillion subsidies for fossil fuels industry, according to IMF, International Monetary Fund) on all of the carbon emitting activities. Therefore, there is 35 gigatons of CO2 emissions per year from fossil fuels into our earth’s atmosphere,
Elon Musk’s Talk at Sorbonne-Atmospheric CO2 chart readings at Mauna LOA Observatory
equating to not paying for garbage collections. Of course, due to the existence of such a huge subsidy, there is great amount of resistance to removing the subsidy for fossil fuel or carbon emitters. He continues to explain the need for revenue-neutral carbon tax (carbon tax + tax cut somewhere else), ideally in a phased-in approach.
Elon Musk’s Talk at Sorbonne-Carbon Cycle1
03:34. Carbon cycle & temperature rise 08.10. Fossil Fuels Era 10:44. Carbon Tax
Elon Musk’s Talk at Sorbonne-Carbon Cycle3
16:18. Importance of climate change 17:35. Effectiveness of incentives 19:50. Storing CO2 21:07. Lithium availability 22:30. Tesla PowerPack big projects 24:13. Government role 26:43. Colonising Mars 27:52. Future energy sources 29:16. Nuclear fission / Nuclear Fusion 31:45. Advices to energy entrepreneurs 33:22. Government incentives 35:00. Artificial Intelligence 36:22. Fund raising challenges (Tesla insight)
38:54. Changing society energy behaviour 41:19. Green energy lobbying 45:55. COP21 in Paris 46:50. Getting CO2-dependent countries on-board 49:21. Batteries carbon footprint 51:50. Sustainable future roadmap
We all need to talk to our policy makers about Sustainable Future, Carbon Tax, and policies that will speed up the transition toward our Renewable/Sustainable Future! So Let’s Do It! Did you know that states (such as CA, HI, and CO) within USA and countries (such as Germany) within EU that are more progressive with their renewable energy policy all have much lower unemployments rates than those that are not progressive with their renewable energy policy?
Sunshine of Hawaii (credit: sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)
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I’ve received a call from some one in Hawaii today, mentioning the likelihood/resistance of NextEra-Hawaiian Electric merger . It’s been months since I last read up on Hawaiian Electric Co., a quick research made me realize that even though both Hawaii and Nevada are going through growing pains, showing similar signs and symptoms, but their pains actually have very different root causes. In Nevada, the Nevada PUC (Public Utilities Commission) is reacting to the solar growth by implementing policy to stifle the distributed solar rooftops, without considering Value of Solar (the most fair way for consumers and power generators alike) or potential long term consequences for NV Energy. But in Hawaii, the Hawaii PUC (Public Utilities Commission) actually has established reforms through a collaborative process that will support further sustainable growth in the market for rooftop solar systems and other distributed energy resources (“DER”) desired by Hawaii’s residents and businesses.
View from a Hawaiian island, Kauai (credit: sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)
For better understanding of Hawaii PUC’s Reform Energy Programs issued on Oct. 12, 2015 , please click HERE. This order will promote rapid adoption of the next generation of solar PV and other distributed energy technologies, encourage more competitive pricing of DER systems, lower overall energy supply costs for all customers, and help to manage each island grid’s scarce capacity. The Commission views distributed energy resources (including rooftop solar PV) as an important contributor to meeting the state’s 100% renewable energy goal, complemented by the recently enacted community-based renewable legislation and larger utility-scale projects (source: from http://www.puc.hawaii.gov).
One important element needs to be understood and appreciated by all is the fact that as more and more people install solar, in any form, the value of solar will be lowered. Since Hawaii does want to have a fair system that would be inclusive as well as ensuring all customers to benefit from continued growth in distributed solar energy, the rate needs to be re-evaluated periodically to reflect the actual Value of Solar (fair way of valuing solar for all) that changes with time. As more solar installations are in place, the NEM (Net Energy Metering) is no longer as feasible because it will not be valuing solar fairly for all. If there should be any displeasure resulting from the fact that NEM is on its way out when the possibility of NextEra-Hawaiian Electric merger is being discussed, that is purely Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc or post hoc fallacy: a simple example of this phenomenon–> the rooster crows immediately before sunrise;therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise. It is not surprising that the Hawaii PUC has proposed caps on the NEM program, for NEM is on its way out simply because it has already served its useful purpose and now requires some enhancement in order to be fair for all. If Hawaii PUC does not place caps on NEM, then Hawaiian residents who install solar may fall into the trap similar to Nevada residents who install solar, ending up with a monthly fixed surcharge.
“Self-Supply” systems: for customers that primarily intend to consume all of the energy produced by their solar system onsite at their home or business, and do not need to export excess energy to the grid. These systems will typically be designed to use energy management and energy storage systems to balance onsite generation with demand. With these advanced features, self-supply systems have reduced technical impact on the grid and will receive expedited interconnection review. At this time, there is no cap on the number of Self-Supply systems that may be installed.
“Grid-Supply” systems: this will allow customers to export excess energy to the grid as needed, and customers will receive energy credits on their monthly bills, similar to the NEM program. The Grid-Supply option does reduce the credit rate for energy exported to the grid for participating customers, and as a result, it will reduce the overall cost of each island’s renewable energy portfolio, which benefits all customers (including those who do not have the ability to install DER). The lower credit rate for energy exported to the grid reflects the Commission’s commitment to achieve an affordable, cost-effective energy supply for all customers. There is a cap on the total capacity of Grid-Supply systems to ensure each island grid can accommodate GridSupply systems, complemented by community-based renewable projects, and lowercost utility-scale projects.
“Time-of-Use” tariffs: – The Commission has also directed the HECO Companies to develop a new, expanded time-of-use tariff that allows customers to save money by shifting energy demand to the middle of the day to take advantage of lower-cost solar energy. Initially, this tariff will be available for any residential customers that opt-in to the program. By sending the right price signals to customers, customers can increase energy demand during times of high solar supply and alleviate some of the grid constraints to further renewable integration. This new tariff will also spur investment into new “smart home” and “smart business” technologies that can help customers take advantage of this program.
*The time-of-use tariff of Hawaii is similar to the Value of Solar that’s been discussed in various discussions with Karl Rabago, below:
Karl Rabago’s comments about NEM and Value of Solar Tariff/Time of Use Tariff, below:
Astronomer Antoine Caron Studying Solar Eclipse (public domain in USA)
Solar Eclipse path map for March 8/9, 2016
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Sharing an event that’s occurred between March 8-9, 2016:
For Movement of March 2016 Total Solar Eclipse Shadow (Animation), below:
The moon will pass in front of the sun, casting its shadow over much of Southeast Asia on March 8, 2016 EST (March 9 local time). People on the nearly 100-mile-wide path of totality will experience a total solar eclipse, in which all of the sun’s bright face is blocked by the moon, while people outside this path will see varying degrees of a partial eclipse.
The total solar eclipse was visible from parts of Indonesia including Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawesi, and from locations in the Pacific Ocean. Observers in northern and eastern Australia, in South Asia, and in East Asia were able to see a partial eclipse. Take a look at the Solar Eclipse on March 9, 2016, from the Pacific Ocean, below:
For better understanding of Solar Eclipse, please feel free to visit our previous posts at:
This is a continuation from the previous post, by Karl Rabago, on the Value of Solar, in Boulder, Colorado. This talk explores many issues associated within solar industry and is very timely and relevant. With more than 25 years of experience in policy and regulation, energy market and energy technology development, Karl Rabago brings us in-depth insight. He now operates an energy consulting practice, Rabago Energy LLC, providing strategic policy, regulatory and market development consulting in the clean and innovative energy sectors. He is serving as the Chair of the Center for Resource Solutions, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization that advances voluntary clean energy markets, and sits on the Board of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Without further ado, Karl Rabago in Boulder, CO, talks about Value of Solar, Beyond Value of Solar (where Value of 4S’s-Storage, Smarts, Security, Savings), and Ideal Distributed Solar Tariff are also discussed, below:
Now for the Q & A session after Karl’s talk, below:
Solar Decathlon 2013 of U.S. Department of Energy-Collegiate teams at Orange County Great Park, Irvine, CA
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Some of you have written me and asked why is it that I am not posting as frequently as I used to. To this, I respond: my dear solar friends, because I believe Solar Tsunami is unstoppable now. When I started posting at www.sunisthefuture.net back in 2011, the solar age was approaching the inflection point, a region on the curve when it was much more likely to be stifled by unfavorable policies. But now, we have gone way beyond that point of inflection. Solar industry has become an industry of over $100 billion and cannot be stopped. Efforts or policy such as what occurred in Nevada in placing that extra $40/month of fixed fees on solar installations may slow down the distributed solar installations in the short term, but it is going to drive Nevada Energy toward being unprofitable at a much faster pace in the long run….for this would speed up the process of consumers wanting to go off grid rather than trying to stay on the grid. As for states that are progressing slower, such as my beloved Florida, solar installations will continue to increase simply for the fact that cost of solar has dropped so much within the past five years and battery technology continues to advance. If the utility companies are able to learn and adapt to becoming more bank-like/energy service manager rather than energy generator establishment and consumers take on more of a prosumerrole, the transition may be much smoother. So, I hope those involved in the energy industry will keep an open mind while listening to some words of wisdom from Karl Rabago and Toby Couture below:
I apologize if you have already seen these two videos above….for I believe these two experts (Karl Rabago and Toby Couture) have thoroughly understood and presented our next phase of energy profile.
Disney Solar Farm at the Reedy Creek Improvement District
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Yes, this is definitely a project both Walt Disney himself
Walt Disney stamp
Mickey Mouse (credit: Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker)
would have approved! For those of you who are not aware of the project, it is located in the Reedy Creek Improvement District (the Disney controlled taxing district) occupying about 20 acres near World Drive and Epcot Center Drive at Walt Disney World Resort in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Mashable posted photos received from satellite imaging from NearMap of the installation, below.
Disney Solar Farm at the Reedy Creek Improvement District (image: nearmap)
This Mickey shaped solar farm is built and operated by Duke Energy, composed of 48,000 solar PV panels and five-megawatt. Last year, Duke Energy of Florida announced that it would build up to 500 megawatts of solar by 2024 as part of a multiyear plan.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District Board of Supervisors voted to accept a 15-year power-purchase agreement with Duke Energy Florida Solar Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Florida, to purchase solar energy from the facility. Administrator of Reedy Creek Improvement District, Bill Warren, said, “The use of solar energy builds on our commitment to protect the environment and is another step toward realizing our long-term sustainability goals.”
“We are committed to working with customers to expand their use of renewable energy,” said Alex Glenn, president of Duke Energy Florida. “This opportunity to serve the Reedy Creek Improvement District is another example of how we are meeting our customers interests in renewable energy, while bringing more solar choices to Florida.”
Duke Energy has also funded more than $8 million in solar PV system installations at approximately 50 K-12 schools and universities in Florida to generate electricity and help foster renewable energy education.
As for bringing more solar choices to Florida, please keep in mind that Floridians For Solar Choice is still alive, awaiting for more signatures in order to provide Floridians with more solar choices, allowing third party power providers such as Solar City that would be able to help Florida residents to take part in generating and using solar power
Florida sunshine (credit: Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker)
without having to worry about installation cost. Be sure to sign and send in the petition in the red link above.
While we’re on the topic of Mickey shaped solar farm, did you know that Disney is fond of placing hidden Mickeys throughout its theme parks, movies, and other properties. More than 1000 hidden Mickeys have been recorded. Fans estimate that more are waiting to be discovered. I have actually seen, via Google Maps, a hidden Mickey forest in Orlando. Do you know where it is?