Top Story: October 1, 2010

Alternative Energy News

solar_power_tower

There was much in the news this week about alternative energy—here are just a few of the highlights…

The technology to capture solar power is becoming much more sophisticated. New Scientist has an article today called “Work light twice as hard to make cheap solar cells,” that mentions how far solar has come:

In 1961, semiconductor pioneers William Shockley and Hans Queisser  showed that [several] factors limited single solar cells to converting no more than 31 per cent of incident solar energy to electrical energy. But around a decade ago Martin Green of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, challenged that orthodoxy. He suggested the third generation of solar cells could break the 31 per cent barrier.

Stanford engineers published one of those new technologies this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—solar cells thinner than wavelengths of light. From the Stanford Report:

Their research shows that light ricocheting around inside the polymer film of a solar cell behaves differently when the film is ultra thin. A film that's nanoscale-thin and has been roughed up a bit can absorb more than 10 times the energy predicted by conventional theory.

Another new solar technology published this week—buckyballs. From the press release:

One approach uses a light-absorbing polymer along with a derivative of a sixty-carbon fullerene molecule, commonly known as a buckyball. For maximum efficiency, the two materials must be present in thin layers near opposite electrodes but most analytical methods cannot distinguish between polymer and the buckyball well enough to characterize the plastic solar cell film.

And existing solar cell technology is getting smarter. One of the problems with solar power is that cloud cover can make the intake inconsistent. But new technology will allow solar panels to track cloud movement. Researchers at UC Merced received a grant to make this technology a reality. From the New York Times:

The grant, announced earlier this year, will be used to develop a network of sensors to collect data on solar irradiance and to track cloud cover, water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, all of which can affect the amount of sunlight reaching solar cells.

Even small scale wind power made the news this week. A small, ancient town in Italy has four wind turbines—enough to power their village and sell off the surplus to fund community rebuilding projects.

From the small to the huge: a space-based solar sail, that combines wind and solar, from Discovery News:

Using a massive 8,400-kilometer-wide (5,220-mile-wide) solar sail to harvest the power in solar wind, the team hopes their concept could generate 1 billion billion gigawatts of power, far more power than humanity needs -- if they can get that power back to Earth.

Wow! The possibilities are endless…

Image by alforesm

comments

  • Bobnikon1

    Wow! The possibilities are endless..? You used the right word “possibilities” because you are counting on the uncontrollable factors which would determine when and where we should have energy we need. Please stop wasting your energy and time talking about these things. They have been in a stalemate for decades. The crux of the matter is, I don’t care how advanced in technology you have developed when the sources of energy are not available from time to time. You are doomed. Finally, you have to hang on to the carbon footprint. It’s time folks to look at something else as it emerges on horizon, a brand new idea….read this article…follow my articles that I will keep posting that will lead you all to a brand new life with out carbon footprint:-
    In my previous article I described how important the energy was to our preferred lifestyle. In this article I will lead you to delve down into the sources of energy. The energy that now becomes inseparable part of our lives and how we obtain it has been impacting our way of live.
    There are three major formations of fossil deposits that we obtain from mother nature: Natural gas, Coal and Crude Oil.
    Natural gas is a product of fossil deposits produced by nature which certainly takes a very long time. It is a type of carbon composition being trapped deeply underground. We use natural gas in limited ways comparing with electricity, in fact all functions that are fueled by natural gas can be replaced by electricity.
    Coal is another type of fossil deposits being produced by natural process underground. It is used as a fuel to generate electricity. Electricity is widely used in our way of live. Anything we want to nourish our preferred lifestyle, electricity can make it all happen. Electricity is a man-made product that can be obtained by consuming the fossil deposits such as coal, shale, woods and crude oil. Coal is the most efficient one. We burn these fossil deposits in order to obtain energy in the form of electricity and deliver through the grid. That is how energy will be available wherever it is needed.
    Crude oil is another type of the fossil deposits. It is a carbon composition preserved underground in the form of liquid. It has to be refined so that the machinery can consume. We use crude oil for all types of machinery. It has become the important fuel for our transportation needs.
    Over a century ago we lived on the oil from whales as our energy. At some point of time we came to realize that if we kept killing them for oil. Sooner or later there would be no whales left for the new generations to come. At the mean time we discovered these fossil deposits to replace the oil from whales. They were plentiful and effective but wouldn’t it end up with the same problem? Eventually, there will be nothing left. We have plenty of these fossil deposits in some different forms at the present time, plentiful supply that we can use until some of us may feel not to worry about. But with increasing numbers of population due to:-
    -the multiplication of reproduction on every new generation. Most of us are prone to do so. Reproduction is the most tenacious instinct in all creatures.
    -the advanced technologies in medical science that help fighting against any influenza epidemic that frequently attacks and kills people in large numbers.
    -the new nutritional researches that make people live longer and healthier.
    -the great efforts to study on big accidents like aviation related accidents that kill people in large numbers all at once, in order to prevent them from happening again.
    -the great wars like WW I & II are less likely to break out any more. The new generations start to realize more value of being born as human being. They are prone to settle down calmly over the conflicts that could lead to wars.
    All these factors point to the only one thing which is more population as the time goes by and everyone of us needs energy to live on. It will be a huge mistake if we continue living on our lives not to prepare for this situation. The depletion of fossil deposits may not occur in our generation or a few generations ahead. But it certainly will occur because the rate of replenishment by nature of these resources can not catch up with the rate of our energy consumption due to progressive rate of population growth. There are no arguments against this term. We are living on borrowed time and the clock is ticking. Eventually, we all will have to pay back and it will be painful and expensive. Not to mention about the inauspicious circumstances that are created day by day to augment the effects of global worming on our natural surroundings.
    It has been a very long time since we have learned how energy can enrich our lives and we have striven to obtain the energy from different sources. The sources have been changed from time to time to be benign for environment and more reliable. Despite all the efforts, we have gone on the wrong track time after time. We live on with no plans at all when it comes to energy. It’s time to make a change now folks, once and for all. Because a right choice is now at our disposal. Join me on this fight, it will be a fight to draw solid plans for our certain future and a clean planet to live. Finally, we can have solid plans for all. Go to http://hydro-electrenergy.com and participate in. Watch for my next article about free energy for eternity. I have a solid plan to reveal. We can eventually extricate ourselves completely from carbon footprint.

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