January 2009 solar news

solar-markus941Solar photovoltaïc (also known as PV or solar cells) is the subject of numerous researches around the world. Indeed, Earth receives so much energy from its star that the potential is simply tremendous.

Accounting for less than a percent of our energy consumption, scientists around the world want to make solar an affordable energy source that will bring cleaner electricity to the masses.

In today’s article we will have a look at the latest and most promising developments that may well end up one day on your own house’s roof.

The first news that caught my attention this month was a new mounting system that enables to install solar panels much cheaper and faster. Using brackets and various systems to makes it easier to install solar panels, this may well halve the installation front costs.

To Triple Pundit:

Solar Red wants to reinvent residential solar installation, and cut the cost in half with its proprietary, patent-pending technology. Solar Red’s core product is a plug-and-play solar panel mounting system featuring a bracket that interleaves with the shingles of a roof, which can be installed at the time of construction, or retrofitted into the roof.

The brackets are cheap to manufacture and install – it costs $825 in additional costs to make a new roof solar ready. Then special Solar Red compatible solar panels can simply be clicked into place on the roof, taking mere minutes to install.

If this sounds interesting to you, please refer to the original article for more. Via CleanTechnica.

A few days later, another American company claimed it could halve the costs of solar PV panels. This breakthrough concentrates this times on the panels themselves as they still are heavy and expensive.

The new material – the Alubond Solar Collector Panel  (SCP) – weighs no more than 4 kilograms per square meter (compared to 12.5 kg for glass mirrors). That’s three times lighter !

To Gulf Construction Online:

“Alubond SCP is a 3 mm composite weighing approximately 4 kg per sq m with a 92-per-cent reflectivity and offering a 20-year exterior performance warranty. The product’s ability to retain a parabolic shape to precise coordinates and its lightweight features and innovative rivetless joining process substantially reduces the substructure costs.”

The solar trough system is expected to lower current costs of solar generation (using photo voltaic technology) by more than 50 per cent, he claims.

Also via CleanTechnica.

Last but not least, German engineers from Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems claim they found a solution that doubles the yield of concentrating solar energy systems, thus reaching a 41 percent efficiency.

This technology main’s problem: it is much more expansive than traditional PV technologies, making it difficult to bring it yet to the mass market.

To GreenTech Media:

Scientists at Fraunhofer built the three-layer cell using gallium-indium-phosphide, gallium-indium-arsenide and germanium. The cell was able to convert 41.1 percent of the sunlight that hits it when researchers concentrate the sunlight 454 times, Fraunhofer said.

Using concentrated sunlight is key to make this project more than just a quest for high efficiencies. Gallium arsenide and other semiconductor compounds in the same family are expensive compared with silicon, which is less efficient but is much cheaper.

My conclusion: things are getting faster and faster in research and development of solar photovoltaïc and more and more people find real breakthroughs.

Solar panels becoming much cheaper they may end in every middle class households in Northern America, Western Europe and Japan. And with mass market, prices will keep falling until they are so cheap they could enable the 1.5 billion without electricity to afford them.

Be sure that I will keep you posted on the latest developments, so for this and for much more, stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe !

Image Credit :
via flickr on a Creative Commons license

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