Posts Tagged ‘solar technology’

16 April

1366 Technologies May Truly Be A Solar Constant ?!

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

 (Please click on red links & note magenta)

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 constantrepresenting 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 silicon wafers 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)

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)

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 Korean Hanwha 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.

 

~have a bright and sunny day~
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Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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9 July

Solar Power Evolution

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Dear Readers and Friends,

If you are in favor of renewable/CLEAN energy, please sign the petition page showing support for FIT/CLEAN Program at http://sunisthefuture.net/?page_id=1065 Thank you.

I came across an interesting graph on the evolution of solar power/technology today in an article by Sebastian Anthony in ExtremeTech,

History of Solar Power/Technology

started from the lucky finding by Alexandre Becquerel in 1839,  a current was generated when an electrode in a conductive solution was hit by sunlight . Then came the first solar cell, at 1% efficiency, produced by Charles Fritts in 1883.  It was in 1904, Albert Einstein published a paper on the discovery of the photoelectric effect, followed by a flurry of photoelectirc advances until AT & T Bell Lab created the first modern silicon solar cell in 1954.  Between 1950s and 70s cost (about $250 per watt) and efficiency (10%) were two important factors preventing solar power to be the major power player.  But today, the solar power industry has brought the cost/price per watt down to around $3 and at-home installations are becoming more common.   In 2010, even President Obama ordered the installation of solar panels and a solar hot water heater at the White House. It will simply be a matter of few years when solar power will overtake coal in terms of cost and efficiency. As  storage battery technology advances and the fact that solar power is the much cleaner technology (therefore, at a much lower environmental cost) and the technology least likely to generate warfare among nations, solar power/technology does appear to be the best choice for the future of planet earth.

Posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker, sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Homepage:  http://sunisthefuture.net http://sunisthefuture.org

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

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