The Chilean government recently gave the go-ahead on a massive solar thermal plant that is expected to produce electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week—a considerable feat for a plant that depends solely on solar energy. The plant, proposed for a site in Chile’s Tamarugal province, would consist of three 150 megawatt solar thermal towers, which become heated as mirrors placed around each tower reflect sunlight onto it.
That heat is transferred to molten salt, which circulates through the plant during the day and is stored in tanks at night. The salt, a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate that’s kept at a balmy 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit (566 degrees Celsius), is used as a “heat transfer fluid.” As energy is needed, the salt can be dispatched to a heat exchanger, where it will lend its heat to water to create a super-heated steam. That steam is used to move a traditional steam turbine to create electricity.
The molten salt generates high quality super-heated steam to drive a standard steam turbine at maximum efficiency and generate reliable non-intermittent electricity during peak demand hours.
SolarReserve, the US-based company that proposed this project, has also proposed two others—a 260 MW, 24-hour plant near the city of Copiapó in the Atacama Region of Chile, as well as a 390 MW, 24-hour plant in the Antofagasta Region. Mary Grikas, a SolarReserve spokesperson, told Ars via e-mail that Copiapó is shovel-ready, and now Tamarugal is, too, with the Chilean government’s recent approval, which assessed the site for environmental impact. The plant in Antofagasta is still waiting on permitting approval.
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We can now fold up solar panels that are nearly unbreakable and take them with us anywhere.
Instead of one solid sheet, these highly portable panels are made from a pliable network of glitter-sized solar cells.
A typical solar panel—more than five feet long and encased in glass—isn’t exactly portable. But a new type of solar technology, miniaturized so that each cell is the size of a piece of glitter, could be used anywhere.
The tiny cells are made from high-efficiency silicon, like standard solar panels. But the new form means that they’re not only small but flexible, and can be folded up for transportation, incorporated into clothing, or easily used in electronics.
Conventional solar panels “are brittle because they’re crystalline,” Murat Okandan, CEO of mPower Technology, the startup making the new technology, tells Co.Exist. “If you bend or flex them, at some point they’ll just break and shatter. By making our cells small and then interconnecting them we’re able to make them almost unbreakable.”
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In a small northern town in France a road has opened which is paved with solar cells. The goal is to see if the highway can power the town, which has 3,400 residents. On the other hand, it still wasn’t cheap for them to build it. In order to fashion a single 1 kilometer lane it cost around 5 million euro. It is also not the most energy efficient way to harness solar energy because the panels are flat on the ground and not optimally oriented towards the sun throughout the day. Nevertheless, it is a way to generate clean energy from existing infrastructure. Its been said that the government hopes to expand the project to other roadways as well.
With advent of more effective solar cells we may see the price drop per kilometer of pavement bit by bit!
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A team of students and faculty from the University of Virginia School of Engineering created a prototype design of a solar powered wheelchair with retractable panels inspired by the idea from a man with cerebral palsy from Turkey. Their goal was to create a prototype of a solar powered wheelchair with retractable panels for individuals with lower extremity or mobility disabilities, spinal cord injury, or cerebral palsy. The Solar Powered Team (SPT) created the prototype using a Shoprider 6Runner wheelchair. They built a structured frame around the base of the wheelchair to hold the solar panels. Three solar panels were attached to a convertible-like structure which rotates back behind the wheelchair.
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Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed solar cells that are lighter than ever before, modeled after “kirigami,” the ancient Japanese art of paper cutting.
A team of engineers and an artist developed an array of small solar cells that can tilt within a larger panel, keeping their surfaces more perpendicular to the sun’s rays.
“The beauty of our design is, from the standpoint of the person who’s putting this panel up, nothing would really change,” said Max Shtein, associate professor of materials science and engineering. “But inside, it would be doing something remarkable on a tiny scale: the solar cell would split into tiny segments that would follow the position of the sun in unison.”
(Source link: University of Michigan)
(Image Source: alternative-energy-news.info )
German Architect Andre Broessel believes he has a solution that can “squeeze more juice out of the sun”, even during the night hours and in low-light regions. His company Rawlemon has created a spherical sun power generator prototype called the beta.ray. His technology will combine spherical geometry principles with a dual axis tracking system, allowing twice the yield of a conventional solar panel in a much smaller surface area. The futuristic design is fully rotational and is suitable for inclined surfaces, walls of buildings, and anywhere with access to the sky. It can even be used as an electric car charging station.
“The beta.ray comes with a hybrid collector to convert daily electricity and thermal energy at the same time. While reducing the silicon cell area to 25% with the equivalent power output by using an ultra transmission Ball Lens point focusing concentrator, it operates at efficiency levels of nearly 57% in hybrid mode. At nighttime the Ball Lens can transform into a high-power lamp to illuminate your location, simply by using a few LED’s. The station is designed for off grid conditions as well as to supplement buildings’ consumption of electricity and thermal circuits like hot water.”
(Visit the source for more information and videos: alternative-energy-news.info )
“To change things, don’t try and fight the existing reality, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
Now that solar energy has become comparable if not cheaper than other natural resources we are seeing the emergence of new disruptive and decentralizing organizations such as Powur.
Powur, founded by Jonathan Budd, is a company that offers the opportunity to help accelerate the adoption of solar energy worldwide and build a life-changing part or full time income.
In the last 5 years, solar costs have plummeted over 80 percent. Charles Thompson (Powur Executive Advisor) states that there is now real competition in the monopoly utilities model. Powur is now able to sell clean energy to homeowners that is cheaper than their utilities and is also something they own and control from their own home.
If over a million homeowners in the United States have switched to solar already and the cost is continuing to drop for production and installation, just imagine how many homes will have switched to solar in the next 5 years.
For more information and a video on Powur visit their page here.
A thanks to Ishmael Brassard as well for coffee! You can contact him with questions as well.
According to the World Economic Form (WEF) report, the 2016 calendar year marks a new era for solar energy as a fuel source having trounced fossil fuels. Both solar and wind is now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries. This means that people will begin to safely invest in new sustainable energy resources like never before.
Although this is encouraging, there are also hurdles needing to be crossed often political and rather than economic. The $1 trillion goal set at the Paris climate change accord is currently at around 25% of that goal ($286 billion) for global renewable investment.
It is likely that sooner than later the prices will drop low enough for solar and wind that they will win over despite the current trouble of integration to our current infrastructure due to contract standardization, regulations among some of the impending factors. As is looks, the tipping point isn’t far away. 2017 is looking bright!
(Source link on qz.com)
Japan’s newest power source is giant floating solar power stations!
A single one of these floating solar systems, manufactured by Kyocera, is able to generate around 1650 megawatt hours annually. Two of them would provide enough electricity for around 920 households. The next solar farm planned to be just east of Tokyo set to go live next March would be able to power 5,000 households.
These new floating solar “mega-plants” generate power more efficiently due to the cooling effect of the oceanic water underneath the station. The shade that is created from the stations is said to also reduced water from evaporating as quickly as well as the growth of algae.
Could you imagine if they make islands like this around major cities? For the hot summers in Japan it would be nice to know that your AC works. Oh, and that you are using a sustainable energy source, that too!