Posts Tagged ‘National Lab Report’

1 December

Using the Math and Magic of Origami to Increase Solar Efficiency


If you prefer to listen rather than to read, audio portion of this post is available at: AUDIO (<–Click)

Dear Friends & Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

I just spent a full day at WordCamp 2012 at Orlando, FL, learning how much more I can improve this site.  Wow, I certainly have much to  do….thanks to all of those WordPress volunteers responsible for organizing this event!  Well done! Much appreciated!


Today’s post is an embellishment of May 7, 2012 post on Solar Future From The Eye of  a Twelve-Year-Old, Solar Cells in 3D .  Life is simply delicious when the confluence of my three hobbies, origami-math-solar, would play a part in our energy future by boosting the efficiency level of solar panel.  For those of you who have been following this site ( for almost two years, hopefully you have come to realize the three difficult triad historically associated with being the barrier to prevalent implementation of solar energy is: cost, efficiency, and battery storage.  Our previous post in Nov. 27, 2012, reported on dramatic decline in cost of solar energy. I will present to you, in today’s post, an interesting way to increase solar efficiency, followed by next post’s piece on battery storage.

Below is a wonderful presentation by Robert Lang, “The Math and Magic of Origami”, selected from TED talks, demonstrating the use of origami concept in increasing solar efficiency.

Regardless be it from researchers in MIT, Virginia Tech, or the teen William Yuan, they have all utilized the origami concept to dramatically boost the efficiency or power produced by solar panels (ranging from doubling to 20 times or more  than the traditional fixed flat panels, claimed by some researchers/experimenters).  The origami-like 3D solar structure is much more efficient than the flat panels, absorbing more light and generating more power than a flat panel containing the same area footprint.  The idea is that all unused light which has been reflected off one panel would be captured by other panels.  Panels of this type is most ideal in situation with limited space. “This was a fully ‘bio-inspired‘ idea. I was hiking up at Lake Tahoe in California and noticing the shapes of trees, and wondering, ‘Why do they have a given shape over another?'” said researcher Jeffrey Grossman, a theoretical physicist at MIT.  In the past researchers in photovoltaic panels have kept these panels mostly flat to prevent any shadow effect because shadowing would diminish the amount of light panels harvest.  Furthermore, 2D panels are easier to install on rooftops and better suited for large-scale fabrication techniques.  Scientists now use a genetic algorithm in a computer simulation to determine the optimal 3D shape for harvesting the largest amount of light for solar panels. This algorithm creates random combinations of flat, triangular, double-sided panels and analyze them in response to the sun’s movement across the sky. The best ones are selected to be mated to create “offspring”;this process is then repeated for millions of generations to see what might evolve.

A huge advantage of 3D solar panels is that they require no moving parts and generate an even flow of power throughout the day.  In order to achieve this with flat panels, they must be arranged on a tracking system that moves with the sun, “which is a big bummer, since you really don’t want any moving parts sitting on your rooftop,” Grossman said. Anything that moves can break easily and requires more maintenance.  It is exciting that this simple idea will ultimately help to reduce the cost of solar power. We wish much success with these researchers and experimentalists in coming up with the optimal, computer generated, 3D designs.

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
Any of your questions, comments, suggestions will be welcomed at


HTML adl

27 November

Cost of Solar Energy Continues Significant Decline, According to National Lab Report


(Please click on red links below)

National Lab Report: Cost of Solar Energy Continues Significant Decline
U.S. Solar “Soft Costs” Offer Opportunity for Additional Price Reduction

The average cost of going solar in the U.S. continued to decrease significantly in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to a report released today by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Solar advocates noted that these findings are the latest indicator that solar is an important and growing part of America’s new energy economy.

“This report shows just how far solar power has come in the U.S., and how much more we can do. Faced with a recession economy, messy election politics and an entrenched electricity marketplace, solar is quietly defying the odds and reinventing our national energy landscape. It’s really remarkable,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of the Vote Solar Initiative.

“With solar energy more affordable than ever, more American families and businesses are going solar to meet their electricity and hot water needs,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Declining costs have driven record growth over the last four years and we expect the solar market to double in 2012 and double again in 2013. This growth proves that smart federal and state energy policies diversify our energy portfolio and grow our economy.  With 5,600 companies employing 119,000 Americans, the U.S. solar industry has become an economic engine for America.”

The latest edition of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s “Tracking the Sun,” an annual report on solar photovoltaic (PV) costs in the U.S., examined more than 150,000 PV systems installed between 1998 and 2011 and preliminary data from the first half of 2012. Key findings include:

•    The average installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 range from $6.1/W for smaller projects to $4.9/W for larger projects, an 11-14% decrease from the year before. Installed prices fell an additional 3-7% in the first half of 2012.
•    Historically, installed PV prices have declined an average of 5-7% per year from nearly $12/W in 1998, with particularly sharp reductions occurring since 2009.
•    The recent price decline is, in large part, attributable to falling module prices, which fell by $2.1/W from 2008 through 2011, and have fallen further still in 2012.
•    Non-module costs, such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30% from 1998 to 2011, but have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. Market-building policies that target non-module or “soft” costs represent a significant opportunity for continued price reduction.

Tracking the Sun gives us more good solar news as we see efficiencies built into labor and permitting practices without sacrificing quality and safety,” said Jane Weissman, executive director, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC).”The solar industry has built in safeguards through standard-based performance and competency assessment programs which together lead to consumer confidence and sustainable market growth.”

The price declines found in Tracking the Sun add to a number of recent reports that illustrate:

•    Rapid Market Growth: PV installations totaled 742 megawatts (MW) in Q2 2012, up 45% over the previous quarter and 116% over Q2 2011. Source: Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and SEIA.
•    Strong Job Growth: Solar employs 119,000 Americans across all 50 states. Solar job growth has far outpaced the general economy with 13.2% annual growth over 2011. Source: The National Solar Jobs Census from the Solar Foundation.
•    Overwhelming Bipartisan Support: 92% of Americans agree that it’s important to use and develop more solar. Source: Hart Research National Solar Survey 2012

An infographic illustrating the U.S. solar industry’s recent success is available at:
The full Tracking the Sun report is available at:


About Vote Solar:
Founded in 2002, the Vote Solar Initiative is a grassroots non-profit organization working to combat climate change and foster economic development by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About SEIA:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,100 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at

About IREC:
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) is a non-profit organization accelerating the use of renewable energy since 1982. IREC’s programs and policies lead to easier, more affordable connection to the utility grid; fair credit for renewable energy produced; best practices for states, municipalities, utilities and industry; and quality assessment for the growing clean energy workforce through the credentialing of trainers and training programs.

Media contacts:
Vote Solar – Rosalind Jackson,, 415-817-5061
SEIA – Jamie Nolan,, 202-556-2886
IREC –Jane Pulaski,

~have a bright and sunny day~

posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,


HTML adl





Copyright © 2011-2018 · Susan Sun Nunamaker All Rights Reserved ·