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Old 2nd January 2008, 09:12 AM   #1
Matt the Poet
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Nanosolar - low cost solar energy. Or not?

Just wondered if anyone here knew anything about this.

The Guardian published a piece on the front page of Saturday’s edition trumpeting some sort of breakthrough in solar panel technology that’s going to make it as cheap to produce electricity from the sun as it is to produce from oil. Which is very exciting, and allows the breathing of maybe a tiny sigh of relief over the whole global warming issue.

The BBC website, however, seems to have bypassed the issue, and I haven’t seen or heard it reported anywhere else.

Checked the relevant company’s website (Nanosolar), and they haven’t announced anything – the last thing of interest that happened was some sort of buyout/top personnel change issue.

So – is this company marketing sneaking into the broadsheets on a slow news day? Lazy science journalists picking up on an elderly story? Or has anyone heard anything elsewhere about it?
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Old 2nd January 2008, 09:35 AM   #2
Cuddles
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...233074,00.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...enewableenergy
http://www.nanosolar.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanosolar

Sounds interesting, and is certainly possible. However, quotes like this one, from the second link:
Quote:
However, the company, which claims to lead the "third wave" of solar electricity, is notoriously secretive and has not answered questions about its panels' efficiency or their durability.
make me a little suspicious.

Even if completely true, it seems to be only a new manufacturing technique and nothing more. Solar power will still suffer from the same problems of low efficiency, unreliability, unsuitability in many places and so on. I suspect that in reality it won't save anywhere near as much as they claim, and until solar cells are cheaper than established sources of power, not just comparable in ideal conditions, nothing much is likely to change.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 10:33 AM   #3
Matt the Poet
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Yes, I thought it all sounded a bit too easy. Careful re-reading of the article suggests that nothing much new is happening, which leaves only the question as to how the Guardian was convinced to run several hundred words of advertising on its front and first inside page, let alone decide that it was worthy of leader comment...
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Old 2nd January 2008, 05:31 PM   #4
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AFAIK, the should have their fab online this year.
I am also curious. Let`s see.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 05:37 PM   #5
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I read about in in Popular Science. They listed it as one of the best new technologies. I posted about it before, let me check...

Here we go.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 05:56 PM   #6
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It is not the only company trying to use this "thin film" (however it is called) tech.
Others are Konarka and Miasole..
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Old 2nd January 2008, 05:57 PM   #7
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"Nothing new is happening" != printing solar cells on rolls like newspaper

We'll see how the 1.4MW system in Europe works out; I'm in the market for some solar myself. I'd love to be selling power back to the power company.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 06:04 PM   #8
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This really sounds like Ovonics (Ovshinsky) all over again, not that I don't like solar powered calculators. Amorphous solar cells are well understood and just not efficient enough. Why don't they just tell us what their efficiencies are? I would be very cautious about this. Does NASA use it?

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Old 2nd January 2008, 06:05 PM   #9
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The point isn't high efficiency; the point is, it's CHEAP.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 07:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Schneibster View Post
The point isn't high efficiency; the point is, it's CHEAP.
Well, I think that at some point efficiency is precisely the point. Solar gives us about 1000 watts/square meter...maximum. That's the bottom line for 100% efficiency. Don't even think about a solar family car...well ok, those test cars that you have to lie down in to drive across the desert, fine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation

Approx. numbers:
If you only have 100 square meters on your roof, (10 x 10 meter roof), the maximum the sun can give you is about 100 kw. Not a lot! Cell efficiency of 50% (silicon crystalline) 50 kw, then conversion to AC 60 Hz, storage losses, maybe 30%, etc, etc. (Some of the best cells are 70%)

Solar quickly appears to me to be just a novelty for generating electricity at 10% efficiency and less.

http://www.ovonic.com/eb_so_solar_ae..._solutions.cfm

Amorphous cells just can't hack it, unless you have several acres. In which case, I think using focused mirrors onto a boiler in the desert is superior, for a neighborhood. Or solar water heating on the roof seems to work for many homes.

I really hope this outfit is onto something, but it reminds me of the claims of Steorm. The website just makes me nervous.

By the way, I just saw on "How it's made" tonight, the making of silicon solar cell arrays. This one company makes 6 per day, by hand! The question is why this process cannot be greatly automated.
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Old 2nd January 2008, 10:53 PM   #11
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OK, here's the deal: I have a 100A breaker on my service connection, and that means that at maximum draw, I can use 12kW per leg. That's 24kW maximum total usage. Generally my usage is well below that. If I can make enough extra during the day to sell to the power company that it pays for my usage at night, then I'm a net zero power consumer.

My house has a two-slope roof, plus an addition. I figure I can generate about 50kW at the service connection. The way I figure it, all I have to do is amortize the investment in solar panels by the money I save on my electric bill; if I'm a net zero power consumer, then I can amortize about $3,500/yr. If the solar cells cost $10,000 installed then it will take me three years to amortize the investment. Everything after that is pure profit to me. If they last 5 years, then I'll use them 5 years and buy another set, and still be ahead. On the other hand, if they cost $20,000, it will take six years to amortize, and if they only last 5 years then I'm out $3,500, so I won't.

Cheap solar power cells are more important to me than high efficiency solar power cells. Do you see why?
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Old 3rd January 2008, 06:06 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Schneibster View Post
Cheap solar power cells are more important to me than high efficiency solar power cells. Do you see why?
No. Cheapness and efficiency are pretty much interchangeable. It's no good having cells five times cheaper if they're five times less efficient. In fact, for a given product of cost and efficiency, expensive but efficient cells will be better since available space will be less of a factor.

Of course, the actual winner depends on the details, and it is hard to see in this case due to the reluctance to by Nanosolar to actually say anything in public (which in itself suggests they are not as good as they are made out to be). However, the figure given in the Wiki article is for efficiency of 14%, with a maximum of 20% for this kind of cell. They say they hope to sell them for $1 per Watt eventually, which means they are currently more expensive. This means that the figures of 5 times less efficient and 5 times cheaper are likely close to reality, and so these cells are no improvement at all over existing cells, except that they will take up more space, are largely untested and of unknown durability.
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Old 3rd January 2008, 06:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Schneibster View Post
OK, here's the deal: I have a 100A breaker on my service connection, and that means that at maximum draw, I can use 12kW per leg. That's 24kW maximum total usage. Generally my usage is well below that. If I can make enough extra during the day to sell to the power company that it pays for my usage at night, then I'm a net zero power consumer.

My house has a two-slope roof, plus an addition. I figure I can generate about 50kW at the service connection. The way I figure it, all I have to do is amortize the investment in solar panels by the money I save on my electric bill; if I'm a net zero power consumer, then I can amortize about $3,500/yr. If the solar cells cost $10,000 installed then it will take me three years to amortize the investment. Everything after that is pure profit to me. If they last 5 years, then I'll use them 5 years and buy another set, and still be ahead. On the other hand, if they cost $20,000, it will take six years to amortize, and if they only last 5 years then I'm out $3,500, so I won't.

Cheap solar power cells are more important to me than high efficiency solar power cells. Do you see why?
What if the $20k ones are three times more efficient, meaning that you can sell back $7k per annum of power to the power company? Now you amortise your cost over less than two years ($3.5k reduced costs and $7k income per annum) and everything after that is pure profit.

Surely it has to be a combination of price and efficiency not one or the other in isolation?
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Old 3rd January 2008, 01:56 PM   #14
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I am convinced that the only really cheap way to make solar electricity on a huge scale is thermal steam plants. This is a well-proven technology. If you overbuild your collectors, you can actually bank superheated water in a cistern and use it to generate through the night.
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Old 3rd January 2008, 04:52 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
This is a well-proven technology. If you overbuild your collectors, you can actually bank superheated water in a cistern and use it to generate through the night.
When you do that you can also use a smaller generator and turbine and put a lower peak load on the electricity distribution system. (the hot reservoir is usually a liquid salt, not water)
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Old 3rd January 2008, 05:09 PM   #16
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OK, there're some more considerations here as well.

For example, cheap power cells makes the cost of entry lower- that means more people can afford it. Even if it's not very efficient, as long as it saves money, it can be justified, and every bit counts if we want to lower CO2 emissions. I don't say efficient isn't better- it is. But the thing is, you need good market penetration to get major CO2 effects more than you need highly efficient solar cells that only a few people can afford.

For another example, you need to compete economically with coal if you're going to replace it. That doesn't mean you're going to replace base load- but if you can replace some peak load, you're going to reduce the amount of coal you need to burn, and even reduce the number of plants you need to build. All of that is savings. Efficiency only gets you so far in that competition; at bottom, you've got a limitation on insolation. Cheaper solar cells get you closer to coal faster than more efficient ones do.

And for yet another example, if I can outfit my home with cheap solar cells, I take less risk of capitalization supposing that they are damaged or destroyed by something, or have some flaw or other; this reduces my insurance costs. And then there's future-proofing; if they're cheap, then I can upgrade when the upgrade comes along without losing too much of my capital investment.

So there are three or four good arguments why cheap solar cells are more important than high-efficiency solar cells. Again, I don't say high efficiency is something to ignore; for a power plant, where the initial capital outlay is already so high that using more expensive, high-efficiency cells is a minor consideration in terms of the total investment, they make a lot of sense. But for mass deployment, cheap wins every time. And we need mass deployment. It's the same argument as for batteries; for fixed installations, cheap batteries that last a long time are more important than high-capacity batteries, whereas for mobile applications, the size may be the overriding factor.
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Old 3rd January 2008, 05:38 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by soylent View Post
When you do that you can also use a smaller generator and turbine and put a lower peak load on the electricity distribution system. (the hot reservoir is usually a liquid salt, not water)
I can see where that would be a LOT cheaper and much safer! My experience with stored-heat thermal systems is all from locomotives, specifically the fireless engines that used to be run in power plants. Of course there were ample resources at as power plant to get steam for it. (When the plant was cold, there was an auxillary boiler for this use and for emergency generation for the plant.)
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Old 13th January 2008, 02:50 PM   #18
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Today (Sunday the 13th) the Science Channel show Eco-Tech did a segment on the Konarka Power Plastic solar cells. They never did mention the efficiency. But IIRC they said that traditional cells cost about $2 per watt, while Konarka's cells are currently at $1 per watt, and they claim that as they scale up they'll be able to lower that to about 10 to 20 cents per watt.

The episode was called Powering Up and will air again Feb. 2nd at 9:00 p.m.

They also showed a guy who invented a helical wind turbine that is better at handling turbulent air than the traditional 3-blade types. They're ideal for putting on the roofs of office buildings in urban areas. I don't recall the guys name, though.

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Old 13th January 2008, 03:23 PM   #19
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Cuddles, after skimming through the posts I didn't see a response to one of your points, but cost per watt is the economic stumbling block for most applications, not efficiency.

If you are in space, opr another application where mass is at a premium (solar-powered UAVs, for example) then efficiency is important, but if not, then cost is more important, becuase if you had a 100% effficient solear cell that cost $10k/watt, it would be great in the above applications, but in generating electricity where you just need to cover a larger area of desert, there would not be any economic justification for such a system, and ten times the area at 10% efficiency and $1 per watt would win out.

Assuming that 10% efficiency is a realistic benchmark, then a house with a sloping roof of area 5mx3m could have (roughly )10% of 15kW (1.5kW) generated during the daytime, this would definitely be a useful amount, unlike the situation if the efficiency was 1%.

Given the current cosp and efficiencies, cost per watt is probably the important factor (efficiency is obviously going to be an important factor in this cost, of course, as less silicon is good).


Slight derail:

Here are some vaguely interesting articles:


The optimistsic (price parity oper watt with copal-fired in 2010):


From Semiconductor International newsletter:
Quote:

Report from Asian News International brought to you by HT Syndication. -- Hindustan Times, January 1, 2008 Tuesday 11:58 AM EST


The report also states that the growth in installations in the United States increased from 20 percent in 2005 to 31 percent in 2006, primarily driven by California and New Jersey. Initial estimates for the United States as a whole indicate that PV incentives helped to achieve an incredible 83-percent growth in installations in 2007.

The average price for a PV module, excluding installation and other system costs, has dropped from almost $100 per watt in 1975 to less than $4 per watt at the end of 2006. With expanding polysilicon supplies, average PV prices are projected to drop to $2 per watt in 2010.

For thin-film PV, production costs are expected to reach $1 per watt in 2010, at which point solar PV will become competitive with coal-fired electricity.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Asian News International.
The more pessimistic view, again form one of my email alerts (powermanagment by darnell IIRC)

About 50% oversupply in 2008, so typical semiconductor market fluctuations, just as the rest of the semiconductor market becomes mature, and less oscillatory...

Quote:

Supply and Demand

Bottom line: by the end of this year, 2008, cell producers will have installed capacity of 12.2 GW annual production according to present manufacturer plans. When you add in solar thermal capacity (Ausra, Schott) that number grows to 12.9 GW. Looking ahead, the 2009 end-year production capacity is simply enormous, at 17.2 GW. Is this a problem? Oh, yes, when you look at the demand estimates. Match the year-end 2008 capacity of 12.2GW with 2009 demand: the EPIA optimistic (”policy-driven”) estimate of 2009 world-wide demand is 4.3GW. Lehman calls it 4.8GW. Merrill Lynch has 5.2GW. A Q-cells presentation referred to a UBS number of 8GW. Even if you de-rate the 12.2GW number to account for “actual” vs. “nameplate” capacity; even if you attempt to adjust for “press-release” vs. “actually built” capacity, the numbers are still very out of balance. Even the most optimistic 2009 demand guesses fall far short of what the industry intends to produce.
Jim

ETA:

Actually Schneibester has answered the question, but hey...

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Old 13th January 2008, 03:31 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by steve s View Post
They also showed a guy who invented a helical wind turbine that is better at handling turbulent air than the traditional 3-blade types. They're ideal for putting on the roofs of office buildings in urban areas. I don't recall the guys name, though.
.
Was it these people?

From this article in the engineer:

Quote:
In the city, the wind is fickle and variable, changes direction suddenly and often, and builds up and dies down again equally quickly. A horizontal axis turbine, which works at optimum level when facing into the wind, cannot track the direction of air flow fast enough.

Vertical-axis turbines are proving a better option. The orientation of their blades means they will spin in the same direction regardless of where the wind is coming from although they do not suit gusty wind. Holger Babinsky, an aerodynamicist at Cambridge University's engineering department, has been working on these problems and believes he has found a way to overcome them.

Babinsky is working with the urban wind turbine specialist Quietrevolution, whose turbines have been mooted for an ambitious project to install generation units across London (see The Engineer, 21 May).
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Old 13th January 2008, 10:37 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Was it these people?
It wasn't that particular one, but it was similar. The main difference was that this guy's blades extended all the way to the central axis. Also, I think he was from Chicago, because that's where he's been pushing his turbines. I couldn't find anything about him at the Science Channel site.

Also, his could operate with the axis verical or horizontal. They showed one rooftop where they had some laid out horizontally.

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Old 14th January 2008, 09:15 AM   #22
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not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but
In the late 70's/early 80's, there were frequent rumours about the cost of photo-voltaic power going down. Some of the estimates were so optomistic as to be woo.

Unfortunately, the news of the inevitable break-throughs, however fanciful , kept people from buying solar panels. Shortly after, most of the smallish companies making p-v panels were bought up by big oil.
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Old 16th January 2008, 05:35 AM   #23
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Just read in the net:
The NYT quotes Nansolar's founder and CEO Martin Roscheisen saying, "With a $1-per-watt panel, it is possible to build $2-per-watt systems."
http://weblog.infoworld.com/sustaina...google_gr.html

With an expense of USD20000, you can have a 10KW system, which can power your electric car
http://www.carbodydesign.com/archive...-volt-concept/
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Old 16th January 2008, 08:47 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Given the current cosp and efficiencies, cost per watt is probably the important factor (efficiency is obviously going to be an important factor in this cost, of course, as less silicon is good).
Yeah, I have to concede that you're probably both right. Efficiency is important if you're planning to use solely solar power, but if it's a choice between getting a small amount of power from your roof with inefficient panels or having nothing at all because you can't afford it, the cheaper ones certainly win.

However, this has gone off at a bit of a tangent from the OP. Regardless of what would be best in terms of solar cells, what is actually important is if they can do what they claim. There are an awful lot of claims about what the cost could be once they're available for general consumption, but not much about what they actually are now, and nothing whatsoever about the actual efficiency or reliability.

Also, as the article you quote points out, prices of existing solar cells have been plumetting for years, and are still going down. Even assuming these new ones are everything they claim, by the time they are actually available they may not have any advantage over existing ones.
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Old 16th January 2008, 05:03 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
Yeah, I have to concede that you're probably both right. Efficiency is important if you're planning to use solely solar power, but if it's a choice between getting a small amount of power from your roof with inefficient panels or having nothing at all because you can't afford it, the cheaper ones certainly win.

However, this has gone off at a bit of a tangent from the OP.
It's an important criterion.

Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
Regardless of what would be best in terms of solar cells, what is actually important is if they can do what they claim.
They are shipping them, and have received first revenue. Either they're going to make a load of money or they're going to get sued out of existence. They announced the beginning of their first production run on the 18th of December. They've donated their third panel to the San Jose tech museum. It's not really a question any more, unless you think they're shipping fake product.

Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
There are an awful lot of claims about what the cost could be once they're available for general consumption, but not much about what they actually are now,
You're right; this is a startup. I'm not surprised. It's low enough that a power company in East Germany has bought all their production for the next year.

Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
and nothing whatsoever about the actual efficiency or reliability.
It's a new product. But it IS a product. If what they're claiming is even 75% true, I expect I'll be buying it within the year (if I can get my hands on it). I'll let you know (if I don't have to sign an NDA).

I strongly suggest surfing their web site a while longer. You might also want to note that they are in a 140,000 sqft facility in Silicon Valley, and a 500,000 sqft facility in Germany, and they're doing the manufacturing in those facilities. In addition, they're capitalized US$100 million which ain't chump change. They also have announced a $20 million contract with the US DOE.

This ain't somebody's backyard scam, it's an INDUSTRY. And right now, these guys own it.

Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
Also, as the article you quote points out, prices of existing solar cells have been plumetting for years, and are still going down. Even assuming these new ones are everything they claim, by the time they are actually available they may not have any advantage over existing ones.
I think you'll find that they have considerable advantages, from what I'm reading on their web site. I'd really go check it out.

ETA: Worth mentioning I suppose that I drive by their factory in Silicon Valley on the way to work. It has a tendency to make it all a bit more real, if you know what I mean.

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Old 16th January 2008, 07:38 PM   #26
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Just sent them an email (mailto:info@nanosolar.com) asking for technical information on their product. I'll pass along anything I get.

Not sure what they mean by this in their "contact us" section:

Quote:
Note: Please do not inquire via phone; use email. We read every email we receive and follow up promptly if there is a match. Due to the quantity of inquiries we receive, we're afraid we cannot answer emails for which there is no match.
I have not run across very many $100,000,000 companies in my experience who don't want phone calls from prospective customers. Well, actually I can't think of one... What does "no match" mean?

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Old 16th January 2008, 07:52 PM   #27
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Means everybody and their friggin' uncle George wants to talk to these people, not to mention probably a pretty notable collection of nutjobs, and they got business to do and more customers than they can handle already. Want some, get in line.

There's an opportunity there, and I bet someone with the bucks and the facilities jumps into the gap. Hope these guys don't lose their shirts because they got bidded out of the game by someone with better capitalization, because it wouldn't be the first time.
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Old 16th January 2008, 07:54 PM   #28
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Let's put it this way: what's market saturation for solar panels when the next President is probably going to have a friendly Congress that's going to implement emission caps?



ETA: Ever see water on a duck's ***?

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Old 18th January 2008, 08:19 PM   #29
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No response yet to my email to Nanosolar. Hmm.
I found this on Wiki concerning the claimed efficiency of the panels:

The company uses copper indium gallium diselenide—which can achieve up to 19.5% efficiency—to build their thin film solar cells. Nanosolar's solar cells are thought to have an efficiency of 13.95%.WP (Bolded mine)

Xantrex makes some real killer DC to 220 VAC inverters, real sine wave at 60 Hz, with >90% efficiency, so that is very good.

One has to remember that the 100 watts/meter^2 is the max available, and hours of really good sunlight in most areas are not that many. The desert would be good.
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Old 19th January 2008, 03:21 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Olowkow View Post
Well, I think that at some point efficiency is precisely the point. Solar gives us about 1000 watts/square meter...maximum. That's the bottom line for 100% efficiency. Don't even think about a solar family car...well ok, those test cars that you have to lie down in to drive across the desert, fine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation

Approx. numbers:
If you only have 100 square meters on your roof, (10 x 10 meter roof), the maximum the sun can give you is about 100 kw. Not a lot! Cell efficiency of 50% (silicon crystalline) 50 kw, then conversion to AC 60 Hz, storage losses, maybe 30%, etc, etc. (Some of the best cells are 70%)

Solar quickly appears to me to be just a novelty for generating electricity at 10% efficiency and less.
Err. Why are you using more than a few hundred watts on a continual basis? Do you spend your spare time arc-welding or something? EV?

Last edited by soylent; 19th January 2008 at 03:22 AM.
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Old 19th January 2008, 12:26 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by soylent View Post
Err. Why are you using more than a few hundred watts on a continual basis? Do you spend your spare time arc-welding or something? EV?
Not really. A "few hundred" watts/hour doesn't get you very far unless you live pretty austerely. My last bill was around 500 kw/hrs for a month, non summer usage, and we really conserve, in my opinion. A month has 720 hours so figure around 1.5 kw per hour average roughly. More in summer. Plus, I would really want to heat and cook with electricity, not gas, if I went to the trouble of doing the solar project.

No, I don't need 100 kw, this was just to show what the limits are from a perfect system. One has to account for cloudy days, nighttime, lattitude, efficiency of the cells (Nanosolar is 14%), conversion (~90%), storage losses, etc.

There is no question it can be done. I just don't know how much area it would realistically take, given all the variables, to get enough to use, plus "selling back" to the power company to make it cost effective. Still figuring this out.
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Old 19th January 2008, 08:16 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Olowkow View Post
Not really. A "few hundred" watts/hour doesn't get you very far unless you live pretty austerely. My last bill was around 500 kw/hrs for a month, non summer usage, and we really conserve, in my opinion. A month has 720 hours so figure around 1.5 kw per hour average roughly. More in summer. Plus, I would really want to heat and cook with electricity, not gas, if I went to the trouble of doing the solar project.
1 W*hr = 3600 J is a unit for energy and 1 W = 1 J/s a unit for power(rate of energy consumption).

1 kW/hour = 1 kJ/(Second*Hour) = 3600 kJ/(Hour^2) looks like some kind of "energy-acceleration".

Originally Posted by Olowkow View Post
No, I don't need 100 kw, this was just to show what the limits are from a perfect system. One has to account for cloudy days, nighttime, lattitude, efficiency of the cells (Nanosolar is 14%), conversion (~90%), storage losses, etc.
The 500 kWh per month you are using is only ~700 W. If that's for 2 or more people you are using only a few hundred watts per person. If you assume the solar cells are operating at peak efficiency only 1/6th of the time and only 14% efficient, a hundred square meters gives you an average of 2.3 kW. Cheap enough to be cost effective is the big obstacle; the amount of space required is secondary. If you could print 2% efficient plastic film from reel to reel at 1$/m^2 I'd bet you everyone and their dog would shingle their roof with the stuff, building laws permitting.

(Two common culprits for excessive electricity consumption that are fairly cheap to fix: Are you using flourescent lighting for the fixtures that remain lit for long periods of time? Is your fridge/freezer distanced from the wall so that there is proper air circulation and it's radiator dusted off every once in a while(the hot reservoir should be as cold as possible for efficiency)? Is the fridge/freezer from the 90's or later(factor 2-3x improvements in efficiency since the 80's)?)

Last edited by soylent; 19th January 2008 at 08:47 PM. Reason: eta
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Old 19th January 2008, 08:44 PM   #33
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Here is an interesting site with a calculator for determining all the parameters.

http://findsolar.com/index.php?page=rightforme
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Old 19th January 2008, 10:33 PM   #34
Matteo Martini
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Originally Posted by soylent View Post
1 W*hr = 3600 J is a unit for energy and 1 W = 1 J/s a unit for power(rate of energy consumption).

1 kW/hour = 1 kJ/(Second*Hour) = 3600 kJ/(Hour^2) looks like some kind of "energy-acceleration".
[..]
What about using nanosolar solar panels to power an electric car.

They claim that the cost/W will be down to less than 2USD.
A 10000W system will cost less than 20000USD.
You can recharge the battey of a Volt in 2 hours, apparently
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Old 20th January 2008, 07:30 AM   #35
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When you are talking about solar-powered cars, the cost per watt, whilst still important is going to be less important than the actual efficiencies.

Assume you have a petrol-powered car that can travel 50mpg at 50mph. The engine is thus using one gallon/hour

According to wikipedia the energy density in petrol is 34.8MJ/litre. There are 4.5 litres/gallon, so the car is using 4.5litres/hour.

This equates to 34.8x4.5=156.6MJ/hour. divide by 3600, and the car's power usage is 0.0435MW or 43.5kW.

Assuming that you would need similar levels of power for a solar-powered vehicle, and 20% efficient cell (higher than current efficency), then for every hour of driving, you would need 215sq metres of cell to be charged for an hour. (This area could be halved if you accept that every hour of driving requires two hours of charging).

Maybe such a scheme could work for commuting with a 2hr total commute and 8hr charging, you could recover a significant proportion of the energy whilst at work, in a sunny period....)

Caveat:

I have not looked at actual power requirements of electric cars, I have just been thinking these numbers through whilst I type, so electric-cars might have completely different requirements, but I doubt they would be too different for that level of accuracy.
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Old 20th January 2008, 07:33 AM   #36
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Matteo, looking at your 10,000W system, costing 20,000 USD, and assuming the efficiencies suggested above, that could have a driving:charging ratio of about 1:4, and use a significant area.

ETA, what would be required for the 2hr commute, and 8hr work scheme I suggested above

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Old 20th January 2008, 06:04 PM   #37
Matteo Martini
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Matteo, looking at your 10,000W system, costing 20,000 USD, and assuming the efficiencies suggested above, that could have a driving:charging ratio of about 1:4, and use a significant area.

ETA, what would be required for the 2hr commute, and 8hr work scheme I suggested above
I think the problem is in the caveat you were talking about.
First we have to define what you mean by 20% efficiency, as they (Nanosolar) can have panels at 99 cents [50p] a watt, and I assume that meeans at net of efficiency, that is, that watt would be a usable one.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...enewableenergy
About the electric car, the Volt has a 16 kWh (58 MJ) lithium-ion battery plug-in system (link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrol...lex_drivetrain).
To recharge a 16KWh battery with a 10KW system, it takes less than two hours.
About the size of the panels, and the area they need, I beg to notice that you can attach them almost everywhere, on the roof of your garden, over the external walls of your house, ..
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Old 24th January 2008, 02:34 PM   #38
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Of course it isn't just solar power:

Quote:
7. Installed U.S. Wind Power Capacity Surged 45% In 2007
According To AWEA


The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced that
the U.S. wind energy industry installed a record 5,244MW in
2007, expanding the nation’s total wind power
generating capacity by 45% in a single calendar year and
injecting an investment of over $9 billion into the
economy,. The new wind projects account for about 30% of the
entire new power-producing capacity added nationally in 2007
and will power the equivalent of 1.5 million American
households annually while strengthening the U.S. energy
supply.
And here is a (tech-heavy) article about improving thin-film polysilicon PV cells:

Quote:
The Potential of Thin-Film Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells
If the efficiency and cost targets can be met, thin-film crystalline silicon solar cells have the potential to become a solid alternative to the bulk multicrystalline silicon solar cells that currently dominate the photovoltaics market.
(tech heavy)...
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Old 24th January 2008, 02:46 PM   #39
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Matteo, as you say, if you could find enough area, it might be economic for cars (1kw/m2, incident light, => 200W/m2 power Therefore for a 8on-2off (1:4) 16kWh charging regime, you could use a quarter of the area needed for 16kW. This would equate to 4kW. This would be 20 sq metres. So a house-roof system could probably supply a single car for a typical commute. At the petrol prices in the UK that could be attractive.
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Old 24th January 2008, 09:57 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Matteo, as you say, if you could find enough area, it might be economic for cars (1kw/m2, incident light, => 200W/m2 power Therefore for a 8on-2off (1:4) 16kWh charging regime, you could use a quarter of the area needed for 16kW. This would equate to 4kW. This would be 20 sq metres. So a house-roof system could probably supply a single car for a typical commute. At the petrol prices in the UK that could be attractive.
May I ask you where did you take the data about how many square metrs of Nanosolar cells are required per kw?
That info is not written in their web site
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