Posts Tagged ‘NREL’

10 September

Are You Ready For The First Wave of Solar Tsunami-First Solar PV Plant in TX w/o PPA


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

Generous SunShine Is Ready To Rock (credit:sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

(Please click on red links and note magenta)

Recently (Sep. 4, 2014), First Solar has completed the initial 18MW phase construction of the 22MW Barilla Solar PV plant in Pecos County of TX.  18 MW is not a big deal, you might think…why is it being covered in various Solar news agencies? Well, it is a big deal because this represents a major Game Changer for Texas solar due to its unique position of being the first plant in the state to be constructed and financed without a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) as a backstop.  The power generated from this plant will be offered into the wholesale market, competing with other power generation sources effectively without a contract. This type of ‘merchant’ PV power plant of Pecos County will sell electricity on Texas’ ERCOT (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas) grid spot market.  Even though  merchant power projects have become more common in countries (such as Chile) where solar offers a viable alternative to costly fossil fuel generated power, but it is essentially untested here in U.S. With years of experience as world’s largest contracted solar project  development (approximately 3 GW up to this point) and proven track record of execution in converting more PPA’s to energy than any one else in the industry,

First Solar PPA Development Timeline (credit: First Solar)

First Solar would have its pulse on the moment if/when Solar Energy is ready for mainstream.

Below is an interview of First Solar CEO, Jim Hughes, at Future of Energy Summit 2014. Mr. Hughes believes that the cost of solar will continue to plummet:

Below, are some statements made by various people, regarding this project’s announcement:


Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster, commenting on the announcement said: “First Solar is a pioneer in bringing West Texas solar into the diverse energy portfolio of Texas. In West Texas we’ve got plenty of land, some with a lot of oil under it, and all of it with sunshine which makes it perfect for solar plants like this. I’m excited to see Barilla as the first project in what I hope will soon be the ‘Texas solar patch.'”

“It is exciting to enter the Texas market with a clean, renewable energy source that is competitively priced against traditional high-cost peak resources,” said Tim Rebhorn, Senior Vice President of Business Development for First Solar. “This project demonstrates First Solar’s capability to rapidly develop, construct and commission a solar asset offering clean, renewable energy at competitive rates to the grid when and where it is needed.”

Rebhorn said that the Barilla power plant will contribute to lower electricity prices for Texas consumers, while providing a reliable resource to power providers.

According to the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Texas has the greatest technical potential for solar development in the U.S. The Barilla Solar Project takes advantage of one of the best solar resource geographies in the state, with the added benefit of tying into nearby existing power transmission infrastructure in the West Texas region. The solar power plant utilizes no water for electricity generation, an important additional benefit in an area where scarce water resources must be preserved.

Regarding the Barilla project, state Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D – Eagle Pass) said, “We are blessed with sunshine in Pecos County and West Texas. Harnessing it would give us an opportunity for clean and efficient power for Texas’ future. What a great investment!”


This Game Changing position of First Solar indicates to us, that we are observing the first wave of Solar Tsunami. Solar Energy is ready for mainstream. I’d like to ask rest of the sunny states of USA, are you also ready for the Solar Tsunami? Are you ready to take advantage of the generous sunshine bestowed upon you?

~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

Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics:

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4 August

Solar Is Preferred For Water Conservation


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

Solar PV is the major solution for avoiding water-related conflicts (credit: sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)


(Please click on red links and note magenta)

In addition to our Aug. 2, 2014 post, there is another important reason that we prefer Solar Energy use: it is critical in avoiding water-related conflicts.

In a new CNA report, A Clash of Competing Necessities (Water Adequacy and Electric Reliability in China, India, France, and Texas), PV is being identified as the major solution for avoiding water-related conflicts. The first solution is energy efficiency, moving from coal to using PV, wind, and natural gas, according to this report. The Director of Energy, Water and Climate at the CNA Think Tank‘s Institute for Public Research, Paul Faeth, says he is very surprised that water conservation is not “part of the sales pitch” for PV. The dramatic drop in prices for solar is making it a cost effective solution to water scarcity, he added.

An estimated 40% of all freshwater withdrawal in the U.S. is being used for thermal cooling, in order for power generation to remain safe and stable. As energy demand, economic and population growth, and climate change  place more strain on water access, there have been/are/will be scrutinising water use in the power sector by competing necessities. Thermal power generation is heavily dependent on water use: Faeth describes the growing concern  of plants having to power down or completely shut down in drought and heat waves.

The report indicated that for water being removed for the process of thermal cooling and being put back into the local environment, or “withdrawal”, the water use by different energy sources are as follow:

  • coal with carbon capture and storage (CSS) uses 4.3 cubic meters per MWh
  • nuclear uses 4.2 cubic meters per MWh
  • coal alone uses 2.3 cubic meters per MWh
  • natural gas uses 1 cubic meters per MWh
  • wind uses zero cubic meters per MWh
  • solar PV uses 0.1 cubic meters per MWh  (solar PV uses a small amount of water for washing the panels once in a while, but none for power generation)

For ‘consumption’ of water, whereby water is completely removed from the local environment,

  • coal with carbon capture and storage (CSS) uses 3.2 cubic meters per MWh
  • nuclear uses 2.5 cubic meters per MWh
  • coal alone uses 1.9 cubic meters per MWh
  • natural gas uses 0.7 cubic meters per MWh
  • wind uses zero cubic meters per MWh
  • solar PV uses 0.1 cubic meters per MWh

According to Faeth, policy for water conservation for the power sector and energy efficiency doesn’t exist at the moment. “Water concerns for policy makers and for many people are also a higher priority than climate change,” he said, “in drought it doesn’t matter what the cause of drought is you still have to respond, and if you can respond in a way that is cost effective and mitigates emissions, such as using wind and PV, then that is a real plus.”

The report uses figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), focusing on China, India, France, and Texas as case studies, since there are already challenges in power generation and water scarcity in these regions. China has high agriculture demand (second only to U.S.) and relies heavily on coal, requiring water for cooling, is already experiencing blackouts from a lack of water for cooling. India already uses 1.3 billion cubic meters of water per year, with forecast of 7 billion by 2040. “You have to wonder if that is even possible,” said Faeth. Solar is inexpensive in India and is a cost effective way to reduce water conflicts. Faeth added, “If water is taken from agriculture, it would be politically untenable….India has to start doing something else to avoid water competition that is already happening and we expect to get worse.”

In India 52% of the population live in water scarce areas, with 73% of electricity generation located in water stressed areas, with frequent blackouts.  Currently 79% of newly built capacity is scheduled for construction where the water supply is under threat.

In 2003, a heat wave in France lost 4 GW of nuclear and hydro energy, causing France to restrict its electricity exports, definitely reflecting its energy insecurity for its European importers. In 2009, France used 64% of its (withdrawn) water for thermal cooling due to its 80% nuclear energy generation, this presents a unique threat to energy security during droughts. Energy demand in France is expected to grow by 28% by the 2040s. France’s reliance on nuclear energy means even modest growth is a concern for water scarcity.

Current drought in Texas has already taken water from farmers to avoid blackouts. The case is now in the U.S. court. The report indicated that Texas is likely to meet water and energy demand from new PV, wind, natrual gas, and energy efficiency, despite the challenges due to drought. But the state needs to avoid new coal generation. Texas is now “looking to do more wind and PV, not particularly for climate change mitigation but because these strategies can save water,” said Faeth.

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your questions/comments/suggestions will be welcomed at

Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics:

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16 May

In-Depth Analysis of Renewable Energy Policy With Toby D. Couture


Dear Friends, Readers/Viewers, Fellow Solar Enthusiasts,

(Please click on red links and note magenta below)

Sun Is The Future ( is very pleased to be able to share this interview of M. Toby D. Couture with our readers/viewers. We can learn much from this astute scholar of advanced renewable energy policy. His thorough examination of feed-in tariffs and overall renewable energy policy analysis are extremely insightful. We need more analysts such as M. Couture to guide us during our earthly transition toward the Renewable Energy Future. I am particularly optimistic with the “prosumer” concept mentioned in this video. I also liked his analogy of utility companies being equivalent to banks of financial services, becoming more of an intermediary between the electricity suppliers (from wide range of sources) and end-use customers. Finally, M. Couture reminds us the importance of encouraging environment to reduce risk for future growth potential of renewables. It is not often that during a conversation/interview of this duration (about 90 minutes) that I would be impressed with every point he’s made in his analysis. From his global perspective, we’ve come to appreciate the strength, weakness, and the reason behind various policies in different parts of the world. One cannot help but arrive at a sense of hope and optimism for our renewable energy future, if sufficient finance and policy are correctly in place as the motive force. Without further ado, I give you Toby D. Couture, below:
Besides being a Fulbright Scholar (2008-2009), Toby D. Couture had also received Contemporary Achievement Award from Mount Allison University (2012), Canadian SSHRC Scholarship, Baxter & Alma Ricard Foundation Scholarship, and A.H.Johnson Philosophy Award, you will find out more about his background, below:


Among his credentials:
1. Energy Analyst of Conservation Council of NB (2006-2007)
2. Energy & Financial markets Analyst of NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) (2008-2009)
3. Founder and Director of Energy Analysis of E3 Analytics (2009-2012)
4. Director of Renewable Energy at IFOK (2012-present)
5. Founder & Director of Renewable Energy (2014)

His Educational Background:
1. BA w/Distinction, Honours in Philosophy, Env. Policy & some Economics, from Mount Allison University
2. MA w/Distinction in Energy & Environmental Policy from Universite de Moncton
3. Studies in Renewable Energy Finance, Post-Master’s in Renewable Energy from Ecole des Mines de Paris, Sophia Antipolis
4. MSc w/Merit, in Financial & Commercial Regulation from London School of Economics and Political Science

Besides being an excellent speaker, M. Couture has also demonstrated, through his publications and reports, his impressive understanding of the integration of financial, political, and regulatory landscape of renewable energy. His publications are listed below:
1. The Rise and Fall of Oil (2011)
2. Analytical Brief on FITs vs. Auctions (2010)
3. Analytical Brief on Spain’s Solar PV Boom and Bust (2011)
4. Feed-in Tariffs: Arguments and Counterarguments (2010)
5. The Lesson From Spain (2013)

6. A Policymaker’s Guide to Feed-in Tariff Policy Design (2010)

Toby D. Couture now works at E3Analytics to help both private and public sector clients to navigate challenges in transitioning into an abundant, dispersed, and renewable energy resources.

To find out more about Toby Couture, his writings, and/or his ongoing projects, please visit:

Related articles:

1. Learning From Ed Regan & Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan About FIT (Feed-In-Tariff)

2.Further Updates To FIT (feed-In-Tariff) Worldwide

3.Incentive For Solar (15)-Feed-In-Tariff-US

4.Aussie’s Transition Into The Renewable Energy Age

5.Australian State Feed-In-Tariff

6.China Installed The Most Solar in 2013! China May Possibly Become The Cleanest Country On Planet Earth!

7.Why Should Utility Companies Consider Working With FIT (Feed-In-Tariff)?

~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
Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics:

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13 April

News Update on Feed-In-Tariffs


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers, (Please click on red links below),

Solar Wind Power image (credit: Todd Spink, wind farm near Montfort, Wisconsin) NREL

Once again, our friend from the wind persuasion, Paul Gipe & ILSR-John Farrell are keeping us abreast of Feed-In-Tariffs

News on Feed-in Tariffs

April 9, 2014,   by Craig Morris: Even when the foreign press reports on the correct numbers, a lot of the terms can still be slightly misleading. Today, we focus on a report at Reuters to help the international audience understand the issues.

April 4, 2014,   by Linda Archibald: The man who initiated the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) concept says Malaysia should increase the quota for renewable energy (RE) for its own FiT programme to create enough mass to face potential roadblocks ahead.

April 4, 2014,The Strategy makes clear DECC want this market to grow over the next few years, so it will be key to change the feed-in tariff reduction triggers and the upper tariff band to enable this. We can fix the barriers, but the policy framework must allow the growth we all want to see.

April 4, 2014,The use of the fixed feed‐in systems that have so far been successful in minimizing financing costs is prohibited from January 2015 for all but small installations. This shift to a “market premium” is likely to increase financing costs and might have negative effects on the efficiency of short‐term markets and effectiveness of forward markets.

April 3, 2014,   by Craig Morris: While the German government does not specifically plan to change the design of feed-in tariffs for PV this year, the application of the renewables surcharge to solar power directly consumed does change things considerably.

April 3, 2014,   by John Parnel: End-market demand was said to have been driven by Japan and the UK, which combined accounted for more than one-third of demand globally as well as setting new quarterly records for PV deployed.

March 28, 2014,   by Paul Gipe: In a potentially far-reaching decision, the European Commission has decided that the French system of feed-in tariffs for wind energy on land is not excluded under prohibitions against “state aid,” and is therefore permitted under European Union (EU) regulations. [more]

March 28, 2014,Three German federal states have reached a deal with German Economics and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) whereby only part of the feed-in tariff surcharge will be applied to new solar photovoltaic systems which supply electricity for the system owner’s use.

March 28, 2014,   by Craig Morris: Yesterday, Brussels approved French feed-in tariffs for wind but said it would investigate industry exemptions. In related news, a draft of the latest energy policy proposals leaked earlier this month probably provides so many backdoors for feed-in tariffs as to make the policy viable going forward.

News on Nuclear & Renewable Energy Policy

April 7, 2014,   by Andrew Dewitt: Japan’s energy policy regime appears dangerously adrift in the context of accelerating climate change. The core problem is agency. On the one hand, Japanese PM Abe Shinzo and the nuclear village appear obsessed with nuclear power restarts and 20th century paradigms of the power economy.

March 31, 2014,   by Craig Morris: On Friday, German power provider Eon confirmed that it will shut down a nuclear plant ahead of schedule. The premature discontinuation of lignite excavation also announced that day, however, is a governmental decision, albeit one the firm may have been about to make itself.

March 27, 2014,   by Glen Estill: Natural gas in storage in the US continued its decline in the most recent update from the US Energy Information Agency. (Why doesn’t Canada publish this type of data?) The ongoing cold winter reduced the gas in storage to 896 Bcf. This compares with the 5 year average of 1822 Bcf, a reduction of 51%. Gas in storage dropped in the week ended Mar 21 by 57 Bcf. Last year in the same week gas in storage was pretty much the same as the week before.

March 26, 2014,   by Bernard Chabot: But as his Figure 1 and, in particular, Figure 3 show, the boom in nuclear mainly took place in the 1970s. Growth continued in the 80s, but began stagnating at the end of the 90s, and has taken a dive since Fukushima.

March 24, 2014,   by Glen Estill: Areas with periodic droughts, like California, Australia, and even the US and Canadian west (remember the dust bowl) need to preserve their rivers and aquifers, or face severe economic consequences. In Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan are especially vulnerable to drought. And these two province rely primarily on thermal electricity generation.

March 23, 2014,   by Dave Toke: The Hinkley C nuclear power plant deal that gives the nuclear developers a £92.50 per MWh premium price for 35 years will give nuclear power a clear competitive advantage over solar pv in what will be a growing electricity for motor vehicles market.

March 20, 2014,   by Chisaki Watanabe: Japan added 7,044 megawatts of clean energy capacity since it began an incentive program in July 2012 through the end of last year.

March 19, 2014,   by Craig Morris: In any normal situation, such hard facts would simply be reported – it’s not like there’s no way to say “carbon emissions are slightly down year-over-year” in German.

March 18, 2014,A majority of respondents continue to oppose bringing idle nuclear reactors back online, despite moves by the Abe administration to allow restarts as soon as this summer, according to an Asahi Shimbun poll.

March 17, 2014,   by Glen Estill: Some have forecast that the fracking boom may be close to running it’s course. The depletion rates for fracked gas are very high – that is, the well stops producing very quickly. We may not have the surpluses we think we do. But we can make huge surpluses without fracking if we choose to.

News on Wind Energy

April 3, 2014,   by David Suzuki: I think windmills are beautiful. They harness the wind’s power to supply us with heat and light. They provide local jobs. They help clean air and reduce climate change.

March 30, 2014,   by Karl-Friedrich LenzDaniel Wetzel at WELT reports on a new nationwide anti-wind organization recently founded in Germany. The name of the new lobby group is “Vernunftkraft” (reason power). I am not linking to them, but I think that’s an interesting name.

March 24, 2014,   by Ketan Joshi: Recently, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) released a comprehensive position statement on the curiously invulnerable issue of ‘wind turbine syndrome’. One phrase from the statement caught my eye, because it goes slightly further than other institutions (like the Victorian Department of Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council, or New South Wales Health), in that it mentions the impact of misinformation:

March 19, 2014,   by Sarah Taylor: A proposed wind turbine installation near Camp Perry in Northwestern Ohio has recently been halted (see article) by environmental groups that turn out to have connections to the oil, gas and tourism industries.

March 17, 2014,The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity. The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well below the level where known health effects occur, and there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause heal

News on Community Power

March 31, 2014,   by Jonathan Migneault: Bob Jeffery, vice-president of the SUN Co-operative board, said the group has made an application with the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program, which offers small green-power generators a chance to sell power to the provincial grid at a guaranteed rate.

March 24, 2014,   by Mark Pengilly: SB 1520, which passed the Oregon House and Senate with bipartisan support, has been signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber. The bill allows renewable energy cooperative corporations to be created and capitalized without the requirement of securities registration.

March 19, 2014,   by Craig Morris: The switch from state-run water services to the private sector made the public aware of the difference between the two options, but the possibility of energy democracy is poorly understood outside Germany even among proponents of renewables. Do citizens have the right to make their own energy? Should such a right be made law explicitly?

News on Household-Size (Small) Wind Turbines

April 7, 2014,   by Mike Barnard: Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) continue to get attention, press and R&D funding. Antagonists of mainstream wind generation continually point at them as if they were a superior technology. People perpetually re-invent them and believe that they have found something new and exciting. However, they are undeserving of any significant attention, are an inferior technology and definitely aren’t new. Outside of a couple of niches, they are more of a distraction from deployment of effective utility-scale, horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) than anything else.

March 24, 2014,The world market for small wind has continued to grow: As of the end of 2012, a cumulative total of at least 806’000 small wind turbines were installed all over the world. This is an increase of 10 % compared with the previous year, when 730’000 units were registered.

This feed-in tariff news update is made in cooperation with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The views expressed are those of Paul Gipe and not necessarily of ILSR

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments/suggestions/questions will be welcomed at

Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics:

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3 August

How Does Community Solar Work?


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

Since our Aug. 1, 2013 post, there’s been quite a few people asking questions about some basic mechanics in how Community Solar Garden works. I’d like to direct you to the page on Start A Community Solar Garden/Farm under the Information section at I would also like to share another video clip that will help with this explanation, below.

Our research and interviews suggest that CEC (Clean Energy Collective)‘s community solar model leverages economies of scale, along with fully maintained array for maximum power production, to deliver  very low price for renewable energy. This would allow consumers/purchasers to bypass the research, construction, maintenance, and ongoing repair of building a costly system of their own. It would also allow renters and owners of poorly sighted properties for solar to participate.


This is why community solar (gardens/farms) is important in spreading the solar energy use (Sources: NREL, DOE, IREC, HUD)

Furthermore, as long as they stay within the region serviced by the same utility company, there is the flexibility of having their bill credits move with them. If purchasers need to move out of the region, they may sell their panels any time.


I  found  that CEC also had been partnering with SunFarm to establish Vermont’s first community-owned solar garden at Putney, VT, the Putney Community Solar Array (or SunFarm Community Solar), a 147 kW & 588-panel photovoltaic system servicing Green Mountain Power (GMP) utility customers. Solar panel owners in the Putney Community Solar Array will receive all available rebates and tax incentives, as if the system were located on their roof, and will be credited for the power their panels produced on their monthly GMP electric bills. Each panel in the Putney Community Solar Array costs $813 and is expected to pay for itself in about 10-12 years; but owners of the panels will be able to continue receiving power from these solar panels for as long as 50 years or more. To date, over half of the array have been reserved and each of the panel owners will see a power credit on their utility bill as soon as the array goes online this month (August of 2013).

More information on the Putney Community Solar Array: , email:, or (802) 536-4471.

For more information on Clean Energy Collective: or (800)-646-0323.

The future looks bright for solar energy as more and more of these community solar gardens will be springing up throughout our planet earth.  What are you/we waiting for? Let’s start planting our community solar gardens!

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

any of your comments and suggestions will be welcomed at


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26 April

Multijunction Solar Cells May Exceed 50% Efficiency In The Near Future


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

Just quickly sharing some of the things I’ve learned from a solar-cells course I’ve been taking recently at Stanford and from

In the past decade, the best lab examples of traditional silicon solar cells have efficiencies around 25%, while current world record of multi-junction/3-junction solar cells is 43.5% (based on former Professor/Dr. Jim Harris & his group  at Stanford and then Solar Junction ) . Commercial examples of tandem cells are widely available at 30% under one-sun illumination, and improve to around 40% under concentrated sunlight. However, this efficiency is gained at the cost of increased complexity and manufacturing price. To date, their higher price and lower price-to-performance ratio have limited their use to special roles,   such as in aerospace (where their high power-to-weight ratio is desirable).

Sun Seen From Space Station (Credit:STS-129 crew, NASA), available @ Sun Is The Future of

In earthly applications, these multijunction (MJ)  solar cells are used in concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) with operating plants all over the world.

Tandem techniques can also be used to improve the performance of existing cell designs, although there are strict limits in the choice of materials. In particular, the technique can be applied to thin-film solar cells using amorphous silicon to produce a cell with about 10% efficiency that is lightweight and flexible.

At this point, please allow me to share a graph developed by NREL (now available at, the Best Research-Cell Efficiencies, summarizing the results of various solar cell efficiencies from 1975-2013, below:

Best Research-Cell Efficiencies (by NREL, available at

Now, based on the collaboration of researchers from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena; the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland; the University of Maryland in College Park; and ,Boeing-Spectrolab Inc., in Sylmar, California. The team published a paper on their work in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.  These scientists have designed a new multijunction solar cell that can achieve an efficiency of 51.8%. This high performance exceeds the current goal of 50% efficiency in multijunction solar cell research as well as the current world record of 43.5% for a 3-junction solar cell. In multijunction solar cells each junction or subcell absorbs and converts sunlight from a specific region of the spectrum. The subcell can be stacked one on top of  another so that sunlight first strikes the highest bandgap subcell (tuned to light with shortest wavelengths or highest frequencies). The longer wavelengths pass through the first subcell and strike the lower band gap subcells. In order to approach its theoretical limit, multijunction solar cells not only need multiple subcells but also optimal semiconductor materials for the subcells to provide a combination of band gaps that cover as much of the solar spectrum as possible. To improve upon the current best 43.5% efficiency level of MJ solar cells, researchers focused on improving the current match between the different subcells, along with using a lattice-matched design. These two factors have previously limited MJ solar cell efficiency. Below is a video clip on new multijunction solar cell during a lecture given by Dr. Vijit Sabnis of Stanford University:


The lattice match corresponds to the matching between the crystal unit cells from the different subcells,” lead author Marina Leite, an energy researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told “By using subcells that are lattice-matched, we can minimize dislocations and other crystal defects that can significantly affect the performance of the device. A current match is required for two-terminal tandem configurations because in this case a single current passes through all the subcells and the voltages are added; therefore, if one subcell has less photocurrent it will limit the current generated by the entire device. The current match is desired so that each individual subcell works at its own maximum power point of operation.”

Solar energy world is definitely dynamic, with constant progress made beating the previous record ! We will look forward to the day when  a new Multijunction Solar Cell will be able to exceed 50% efficiency goal.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments & suggestions are welcomed at


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9 April

Thanks To Nebraskans For Solar and NREL’s PVWatts Renewable Resource Data Center


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please be sure to click on red links below)

Thanks to our friends from “Nebraskans For Solar“, I was reminded of a wonderful resource to be shared here with you all, below:

NREL PVWatts Renewable Resource Data Center:

PVWatts logo of NREL

NREL’s PVWattsTM calculator determines the energy production and cost savings of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, installers, manufacturers, and researchers to easily develop estimates of the performance of hypothetical PV installations.

The PVWatts calculator works by creating hour-by-hour performance simulations that provide estimated monthly and annual energy production in kilowatts and energy value. Users can select a location and choose to use default values or their own system parameters for size, electric cost, array type, tilt angle, and azimuth angle. In addition, the PVWatts calculator can provide hourly performance data for the selected location.

Using typical meteorological year weather data for the selected location, the PVWatts calculator determines the solar radiation incident of the PV array and the PV cell temperature for each hour of the year. The DC energy for each hour is calculated from the PV system DC rating and the incident solar radiation and then corrected for the PV cell temperature. The AC energy for each hour is calculated by multiplying the DC energy by the overall DC-to-AC derate factor and adjusting for inverter efficiency as a function of load. Hourly values of AC energy are then summed to calculate monthly and annual AC energy production.

The PVWatts calculator is available in two versions. Site Specific Data Calculator (Version 1) allows users to select a location from a map or text list of pre-determined locations throughout the world. Grid Data Calculator (Version 2) allows users to select any location in the United States.

The PVWatts calculator was developed by NREL’s Electricity, Resources, and Building Systems Integration Center.

Thanks to NREL’s PVWatts and Nebraskans For Solar, we will have a better chance in reaching a brighter tomorrow !

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments or suggestions are welcomed at


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5 April

Sunisthefuture Team Goes To State Capitol To Meet Senator Geraldine Thompson


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

Being a resident of the beautiful Sunshine State of Florida,  I would love to see greater spread of solar installations (for the sake of cleaner, healthier, less war-proned planet earth and creation of local jobs) and be able to build a solar farm for future generations in Florida some day.  These are some of the main motive forces (in addition to memory of my father) behind my embarking on the journey of Sun Is The Future. I personally feel strong and urgent enough about the issues of energy-pollution-climate change that I have taken sabbatical from teaching university/college math to devote my time into educating general public about solar energy.  Along this route of sharing and discovery, I’ve come to realize that the most important driving forces behind solar installations any/every where on planet earth are policy and economics. For this reason, I’ve traveled (with my technical supporter and hubby Michael Nunamaker) to our state capitol, Tallahassee, on April 4, 2013, to see our Senator Geraldine F. Thompson, who proposed the renewable energy bill, SB 0498. We would have loved to travel to Tallahassee to meet with other solar advocates in March, but my March/Spring allergy delayed this trip. This is the first time in my life EVER that I have personally scheduled for an appointment with a State Senator concerning any legislation! Naturally, during the drive toward Tallahassee, I tried to mentally prepare myself with a short introductory speech, below:


Greetings, Senator Thompson,

Thank you for agreeing to meet with us on April 4, 2013,  at the Senate Office Building to discuss the SB 0498. My name is Susan Sun Nunamaker, next to me is my technical support and husband Michael Nunamaker. We are here representing . I started in 2011 as an educational site, advocating solar energy;then recruited Michael in 2012 for technical support. As the site has reached viewers/readers from 160 different countries across the globe, we’ve imbued ourselves in learning, researching, and comparatively analyzing renewable energy policies from different countries. So, we’d like to offer our input for any of your current or future renewable or solar energy bills.

During our research, we’ve come across a very informative document  produced by NREL, A Policymaker’s Guide to Feed-In-Tariff Policy Design at :
(Toby D. Couture is no longer with NREL but is reachable via , but I believe Karlynn Cory Claire Kreycik and Emily Williams are still at NREL)

Since we are strong proponents for solar energy, we’re very pleased to find that you are introducing the renewable energy bill, SB 0498.

Regarding SB 0498, its strength lies in the fact that it is clean and simple. However, it would be even stronger if:

  1. The  contract duration will be of 20-year term rather than 10-year term.
  2. The feed-in rate will not be fixed but subject to periodic re-evaluation by the Public Utility Commission depending on grid penetration and cost of solar (e.g.Germany now reassesses its feed-in rate on a monthly basis, much more frequently than in the earlier years). This type of periodic reassessments would help to avoid problems that occurred in Spain or Czechoslovakia, where the market became over-heated, resulting from overly generous feed-in rate that was not  reassessed frequently enough.

We hope you will be taking an interest in some issues in future bills, separately:

  1. Setting Solar/Renewable Energy Goal for the state of Florida, given that state of Florida is one of the 13 states that still does not have any Renewable Portfolio Standards or Goals
  2. Streamline the permitting process of solar PV and solar thermal so to reduce the cost and amount of time in completing the process. Residents at Broward County of Florida are now able to get a solar energy system permit online in just half an hour;please refer to Jefferery Halsey, Broward County of Florida’s Director of Pollution Prevention, Remediation, and Air Quality Division during the video clip below, at our Feb. 22, 2013 post of Sun Is The Future: Streamlining the permitting process would help to reduce costs for government and therefore be welcomed by both Democrats and Republicans.
  3. It seems feasible to introduce regulation to require solar thermal (solar hot water heating systems) when/where it is already a foregone conclusion that this would be an economically feasible approach in building design. Perhaps it is time to start the discussion in considering implementing this as part of the building code.

Senator Thompson, we here at Sun Is The Future of would be happy to assist with any future research or gathering of information and material concerning solar energy or effective renewable energy policy for the state of Florida.


sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker & Michael Nunamaker


This is the first time for us to visit Tallahassee;it is a beautiful city and state capitol, full of the Southern charm, with swaying Spanish moss adhering to majestically aged trees.

State Capitol of Florida, at Tallahassee, 2013, photographed by Susan Sun Nunamaker

With the help of Legislative Aides Roosevelt Holmes III

Legislative Aide Roosevelt Holme III, photographed by Susan Sun Nunamaker

and Dan Rogers,

Legislative Aide Dan Rogers, photographed by Susan Sun Nunamaker

we not only managed to present our findings to Senator Geraldine Thompson, but learned a great deal about the legislative process.  Even though it is  a very slow process that is often more reactionary rather than precautionary,  we are provided with many more contact names and information that will hopefully help to reach our cause of seeing more effective renewable/solar energy policies implemented in our beautiful Sunshine State of Florida. Hopefully, more effective solar/renewable energy policy’s implementation will occur soon enough for the officer standing next to the Great Seal of The State of Florida, right below (yes, we found out that he wants to build a solar home/house in the near future too! ).

Senator Geraldine Thompson (L), Susan Sun Nunamaker (middle), Michael Nunamaker (R), photographed by Roosevelt Holmes III

Officer standing next to The Great Seal of The State of Florida wants to build a solar home/house too ! Photographed by Susan Sun Nunamaker










~have a bright and sunny day~

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

any of your comments or suggested will be welcomed at

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9 March

Let’s Take A Look At Solar Feed-In-Tariff WorldWide


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Reader,

(Please click on red links below)

I’ve been quite busy this past week setting up Sun Is The Future Online Stores, which may also be found in the right hand margin under Information (below the search box). There has been so much news and activities in the solar world that I shall be posting frequently in the coming week. For those of you who have been with Sun Is The Future for over two years, you probably realize that I am a strong  proponent/ supporter for Solar/Renewable Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) policy.  To refresh our memory of some of our past posts:

Why FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) ?

Periodically, I still receive emails from viewers/visitors asking “what is feed-in-tariff?” Below is a clip of explanation of what FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) incentive policy is in its simplest form, by R. James Woolsey, on July 15, 2011.

Who Supports FITs (Feed-In-Tariff) ?

In addition to my collection of posts at , I would like to share with you some valuable links/articles sent by my renewable/wind energy friend, Paul Gipe, below:

Finally, a wonderful resource from NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory): A Policymaker’s Guide To Feed-In-Tariff Policy Design and the latest addition to my treasure chest for Feed-In-Tariff, a web site that contains worldwide updates on Solar Feed-In-Tariffs (below, its screenshot):

With the dramatic decrease in cost of solar modules/panels and various natural disasters in recent years, even without any subsidies, there are plenty of reasons to utilize solar energy. But if FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) were implemented, this policy would provide greater incentive for people, in general, to remain connected to the grid and increase the chance of greater economic stability for our society. Since there are varied circumstances from state to state, I would like to implore all state legislative bodies to seriously consider FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) for Renewable Energies within his/her particular state.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your questions/comments/suggestions are welcomed at


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22 February

We’re Going Further Than Reaching the Moon, We’re Reaching For The Sun


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

People! People! My belief/suspicion has been confirmed !  Solar Industry is going to be BIG! Huge! In time, solar energy will no longer represent less than one percent of our energy portfolio.  If I were to wager on the matter, I’d bet that  solar energy will  eventually take care of more than 50% of our energy needs…just wait…in 10-20 years….

I’d like to invite you to a live discussion with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at 2:00 pm EST, that was later streamed on Google +, Youtube, and on the progress of  SunShot Initiative and the role solar power is playing in our growing clean energy economy.  Questions were taken in advance and during the Hangout: via emailing, posting comments on the Energy Department’s Facebook page,  Google+ event, or tweeting @ENERGY using #askEnergy. In addition to Secretary Chu, various representatives from across the U.S. solar energy industry were also on the panel of discussion: Jeffery Halsey from Broward County (Broward County of Florida’s Director of Pollution Prevention, Remediation, and Air Quality division), Jeff Allen of Solar Junction‘s Vice President of Business Development, and Joe Desmond, Senior Vice President at Bright Source Energy. Video below:

Jeffery Halsy shared that homeowners from his community, due to their participation in the SunShot Initiataive’s Rooftop Solar Challenge,  were able to save time and money on installations by addressing the soft costs (including permitting, interconnection, and inspection requirements accounting for as much as 40% of the total cost of a single solar installation).  With preapproved design plans,Broward County residents are now able to get a solar energy system permit online in just half an hour, saving both time and money. Jeff Allen shared insight on how Solar Junction shattered an existing technical barrier with its commericia-ready SJ3 multijunction solar cell this year. Below, on the left, a graph of Bandgap vs. Max. Efficiency shows the Shockley-Queisser limit for efficiency of a single junction solar cell. It is essentially impossible for single-junction solar cell, under unconcentrated sunlight, to have more than 34% efficiency. Multijunction cell, however, can exceed that limit. The chart on the right below indicates various solar cell efficiencies researched and presented by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory). The SJ3 multijunction solar cell, with its concentrating PV cell, using a focused lens to magnify light to 418 times the intensity of the sun, was able to set a new world record of 43.5% for solar cell conversion efficiency.

NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)’s Best Research-Cell Efficiencies

Shockley-Queisser limit for the efficiency of a single junction solar cell. It is essentially impossible for a single-junction solar cell, under unconcentrated sunlight, to have more than ~34% efficiency. A multijunction cell, however, can exceed that limit.

Joe Demond talked about Ivanpah Solar Generating  Complex in California’s Mojave Desert;this utility-scale solar installation is the world’s largest solar thermal power plant under construction. Supported by an Energy Department loan guarantee, this project using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers (through high temperature high pressure steam to turn the turbines) and is expected to generate enough electricity to power about 140,000 homes annually.  Bright Source hired over 2,300 workers to complete this project’s construction and installation phase. Furthermore, majority of this project’s supply chain comes from more than 17 states (such as Michigan-based Guardian Industries that supplied 160,000 of its EcoGuard Solar Boost mirrors).

View of Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System from Yates Well Road, The Clark Mountain Range can be seen in the distance.

Evidently, SunShot Initiative has already accomplished a great deal in reducing the soft costs, in developing new approach in technological advancement, and improvement of old way of doing things to utility-scale. It will continue its aim in reducing the cost of solar energy to be competitive with any other form of energy, without the need of subsidy. The future looks bright for solar industry. The potential of reaching below $1/watt is within reach;cost of solar will be comparable to the new cost estimate of energy from natural gas within 10 years, without any need of subsidy.  As Secretary Chu indicated, “Without any subsidy, solar energy will be able to hold its own with any other form of energy. This is our SunShot! We’re going further than reaching the moon. We’re reaching for the Sun!”This is very exciting! It is so palpable that all solar enthusiasts can feel the energy soaring…now we need to spread this good news so to speed up the process of reaching that clean, healthy and war-free Clean Energy World.  Earthlings, get ready to learn more about Solar Energy so we can all apply ourselves in this Solar Future! Thank you, Secretary Chu, for making SunShot Initiative a reality!

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments/suggestions/questions will be welcomed at


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