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Thread: Photo-Voltaic Solar * Here Comes the Sun

  1. #1
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Photo-Voltaic Solar * Here Comes the Sun

    I have been for some time now very hopeful about the outlook for Photovoltaic (Solar-cells/panels) energy becoming the backbone of the global economic engine. PV technology is the kissing cousin of our beloved consumer electronics and has enjoyed a very similar curve of bangs for the bucks as the latter.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ficiencies.png

    With the cost of our traditional sources of energy being fairly stagnant, the cost per Kilowatt of PV will soon plunge through the barrier of impractical to economically desirable. This offers us the opportunity to reshape civilization using the carrot that everyone want$

    **
    *================================================= =
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/
    Key Findings
    Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.
    Increased electric system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply and demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.
    The abundance and diversity of U.S. renewable energy resources can support multiple combinations of renewable technologies that result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
    The direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost.
    ================================================== ==*
    Wind power appears to offer significant economic advantages in certain locations, but you won’t be able to get tree-huggers like myself on-board as long as you are decimating Avian Apex Predators. If you agree that global warming represents a clear & present danger to humanity then thrashing a Woodstock Woody around over a few eagles probably sounds anal. However, human survival is just a dependent on our balanced relationship with the other inhabitants of this planet. Consider that birds of prey counter the massive reproductive potential of rodents, and then look at the list below in following post.

    PV and Thermal or Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) have environmental footprints as well, but I would argue that, PV in particular, treads lightly. All things considered.
    *--------------------------------------------------------------------------
    http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/o...lar-power.html

    Land Use

    Estimates for utility-scale PV systems range from 3.5 to 10 acres per megawatt, while estimates for CSP facilities are between 4 and 16.5 acres per megawatt.
    Unlike wind facilities, there is less opportunity for solar projects to share land with agricultural uses. However, land impacts from utility-scale solar systems can be minimized by siting them at lower-quality locations such as brownfields, abandoned mining land, or existing transportation and transmission corridors [1, 2]. Smaller scale solar PV arrays, which can be built on homes or commercial buildings, also have minimal land use impact.

    Hazardous Materials

    The PV cell manufacturing process includes a number of hazardous materials, most of which are used to clean and purify the semiconductor surface. These chemicals, similar to those used in the general semiconductor industry, include hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and acetone. The amount and type of chemicals used depends on the type of cell, the amount of cleaning that is needed, and the size of silicon wafer [4]. Workers also face risks associated with inhaling silicon dust. Thus, PV manufactures must follow U.S. laws to ensure that workers are not harmed by exposure to these chemicals and that manufacturing waste products are disposed of properly.
    Thin-film PV cells contain a number of more toxic materials than those used in traditional silicon photovoltaic cells, including gallium arsenide, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride[5]. If not handled and disposed of properly, these materials could pose serious environmental or public health threats. However, manufacturers have a strong financial incentive to ensure that these highly valuable and often rare materials are recycled rather than thrown away.

    Life-Cycle Global Warming Emissions

    While there are no global warming emissions associated with generating electricity from solar energy, there are emissions associated with other stages of the solar life-cycle, including manufacturing, materials transportation, installation, maintenance, and decommissioning and dismantlement. Most estimates of life-cycle emissions for photovoltaic systems are between 0.07 and 0.18 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour.
    Most estimates for concentrating solar power range from 0.08 to 0.2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour. In both cases, this is far less than the lifecycle emission rates for natural gas (0.6-2 lbs of CO2E/kWh) and coal (1.4-3.6 lbs of CO2E/kWh)
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    Having said as much, the issues with Rare-Earths needs to be explored further. More so than I personally have done thus far.

    One of the major concerns with PV is the need to store energy during times of surplus to be used at times of demand and no sun. Innovations of industrial-scale electric storage are now being researched and it can be something as simple as pumping water up a dam during the day to be released to spin generators at night. Or something as high-tech as a molten metal battery.

    Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy (15:15) TED
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sddb0Khx0yA

    Of course in any storage method is going to incur loss of energy, but the ultimate source is going to be a rock-steady supply for billions of years.

    An Idea I have is to see PV happen at the grassroots. A government backed initiative that fully exploits human nature instead of creating new problems by ignoring it in the equation.

    I would like the see government offer zero interest loans to homeowners in order that they might install PV units on their roof-tops and have them plugged into grid allowing the homeowner to sale surplus back to the utility. The installation cost and size of array should be calculated to (at the very least) to return the cost of the loan in energy savings.
    The loan payments would be factored into the owner’s or renter’s utility bill.
    Every room in the house should be supplied with a digital display read-out of the current cost or earnings (by selling back to the grid) of electricity.

    I think having this constantly in the mind, and the potential to actually receive a small check from the utility company at the end of the month, would induce a CouponZilla Effect where folks will go out of their way to be conservationist.

    This is just an idea I pulled out of my ass, but the future looks bright for solar and I think it is time we started seriously looking at PV being a part of our future in a big way.

    What sorts of ideas would you like see explored?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *================================================= =
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/
    Key Findings
    Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.
    Increased electric system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply and demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.
    The abundance and diversity of U.S. renewable energy resources can support multiple combinations of renewable technologies that result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
    The direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost.
    ================================================== ==*
    Wall Street Journal
    Utilities Facing a 'Mortal Threat' From Solar
    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...81820753301976

    Solar Power--Revolution Backlight Documentary 2013 (48:20)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu1V2IUALJc

  2. #2
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/diseases/direct.html

    Diseases directly transmitted by rodents

    Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
    Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
    Lassa Fever
    Leptospirosis
    Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
    Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
    Plague
    Rat-Bite Fever
    Salmonellosis
    South American Arenaviruses
    Tularemia


    Diseases indirectly transmitted by rodents

    Babesiosis
    California Serogroup Viruses
    Colorado Tick Fever
    Cutaneous Leishmaniasis
    Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis
    Lyme Disease
    Murine Typhus
    Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
    Powassan Encephalitis
    Scrub Typhus
    Rickettsialpox
    Relapsing Fever
    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
    Sylvatic Typhus
    Western Equine Encephalitis

  3. #3
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Recycling old batteries into solar cells
    http://phys.org/news/2014-08-recycli...lar-cells.html

    This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at MIT recycles materials from discarded car batteries—a potential source of lead pollution—into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.
    ...
    "It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years," says Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.
    ...
    Amazingly, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team's analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

    As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. "It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced" compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher says.

    Those factors will help to make it "easy to get to large scale cheaply," Chen adds.
    ...
    One motivation for using the lead in old car batteries is that battery technology is undergoing rapid change, with new, more efficient types, such as lithium-ion batteries, swiftly taking over the market. "Once the battery technology evolves, over 200 million lead-acid batteries will potentially be retired in the United States, and that could cause a lot of environmental issues," Belcher says.

    Today, she says, 90 percent of the lead recovered from the recycling of old batteries is used to produce new batteries, but over time the market for new lead-acid batteries is likely to decline, potentially leaving a large stockpile of lead with no obvious application.

    In a finished solar panel, the lead-containing layer would be fully encapsulated by other materials, as many solar panels are today, limiting the risk of lead contamination of the environment. When the panels are eventually retired, the lead can simply be recycled into new solar panels.

    "The process to encapsulate them will be the same as for polymer cells today," Chen says. "That technology can be easily translated."

    "It is important that we consider the life cycles of the materials in large-scale energy systems," Hammond says. "And here we believe the sheer simplicity of the approach bodes well for its commercial implementation."
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    singularity precursor Limes's Avatar
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    I once worked onsite at a photovoltaic plant that produced panels.
    I had to attend safety training just to work onsite.

    I vaguely remember that there were three alarm situations, each more horrible than the last.

    One was, hide under a table until you're evacuated, another was RUN, run like the wind! - she's gonna blow! and a third was RUN!+climb, climb out of the way of the heavier than air mist that descends and will burn your skin off and strip the lining of your lungs. Definitely sounds like something that should be done in China.

    Apparently, one of the main constituent gases is pyrophoric, meaning it will ignite when it comes into contact with air...fucking air!

    Anyway, I've been wanting at least a 4kW system for a while now. The last time I checked it was $18,000 and NC would only pony up a max of 25%
    I figure I'd install it on my next house, where I planned to stay for at least a decade to try to recoup some of the investment. I think it was 18 years to break even, so hopefully this drop in price has brought that right down. Not even sure if my HOA would allow it right now.

    Edit: that's the stuff, Silane: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...photovoltaics/

  5. #5
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I find this funny. I'm betting the number of bird deaths is still less than cat ownership. And certainly less overall environmental harm than burning coal.

    It is a bit surprising though as I would have thought the focus (snicker) would have been in making more efficient panels, not in getting a more intense ray of sunshine.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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