August 27, 2012 – Vol.17 No. 24
SEVEN DAYS OF SOLAR 8-19-12
A breakthrough for solar energy from your kitchen?
The following is a press release from Oregon State University.
Microwave ovens may help produce lower cost solar energy technology
The same type of microwave oven technology that most people use to heat up leftover food has found an important application in the solar energy industry, providing a new way to make thin-film photovoltaic products with less energy, expense and environmental concerns.
Engineers at Oregon State University have for the first time developed a way to use microwave heating in the synthesis of copper zinc tin sulfide, a promising solar cell compound that is less costly and toxic than some solar energy alternatives.
The findings were published in Physica Status Solidi A, a professional journal.
“All of the elements used in this new compound are benign and inexpensive, and should have good solar cell performance,” said Greg Herman, an associate professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at OSU.
“Several companies are already moving in this direction as prices continue to rise for some alternative compounds that contain more expensive elements like indium,” he said. “With some improvements in its solar efficiency this new compound should become very commercially attractive.”
These thin-film photovoltaic technologies offer a low cost, high volume approach to manufacturing solar cells. A new approach is to create them as an ink composed of nanoparticles, which could be rolled or sprayed – by approaches such as old-fashioned inkjet printing – to create solar cells.
To further streamline that process, researchers have now succeeded in using microwave heating, instead of conventional heating, to reduce reaction times to minutes or seconds, and allow for great control over the production process. This “one-pot” synthesis is fast, cheap and uses less energy, researchers say, and has been utilized to successfully create nanoparticle inks that were used to fabricate a photovoltaic device.
“This approach should save money, work well and be easier to scale up at commercial levels, compared to traditional synthetic methods,” Herman said. “Microwave technology offers more precise control over heat and energy to achieve the desired reactions.”
Funding and support for this research was provided by Sharp Laboratories of America, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, and the Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing, an Oregon BEST signature research facility.
During the week beginning August 19, 2012, this publication received news announcements regarding more than 4.8 megawatts (MW) of solar projects completed, 370 megawatts and more than 100 kW in the development pipeline.
--- Circular Energy has completed the installation of an aggregate 426 kW of solar energy system spanning five apartment complexes in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.
The projects were funded in part by ONCOR’s 2011 solar PV rebate program, made available to both homeowners and businesses, as well as the Federal 1603 Grant offered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The 1603 Grant, which ended in December 2011, was a cash grant provided in lieu of the 30 percent tax credit still available for commercial and residential solar projects.
--- Motech Americas has completed a large solar PV project by Pacific Power Renewables that is now providing all the energy needs for the Aerospace Museum of California in McClellan, California just north of Sacramento. The museum is also playing a significant role in educating visitors and children with a new kiosk that explains solar energy in a fun, easy-to-understand format.
The 177.7 kW installation consists of 756, roof-mounted Motech 235 watt modules. Recent testing by the solar installer, Pacific Power Renewables revealed that this solar installation was producing electricity at 111 percent of expected kilowatt hours.
--- Nautilus Solar Energy has started commercial operation of its 1.9 MW roof mounted, solar photovoltaic project located in Chino, California. Power generated from the project is being sold to Southern California Edison under a 20 year power purchase agreement.
--- Broadway Renewable Strategies, a full service electrical construction company, along with the City of Boston and Cargo Ventures/ Millennium Partners, has hosted a ceremony on Drydock Avenue to commemorate the completion of one of the City of Boston’s largest rooftop Solar PV projects to date. The 568.7 kW system was installed on the City’s biggest building by volume, located at 21, 23 and 25 Drydock Avenue in the Innovation District.
The project, which was installed under a power purchase agreement (PPA) between Broadway Renewable Strategies and Cargo Ventures, received the Commonwealth Solar Stimulus Award in the amount of $471,780 from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, with no upfront capital investment required.
--- One year after breaking ground, the nation’s largest solar highway project — a partnership between Portland General Electric and the Oregon Department of Transportation — is now open to visitors stopping to take respite from their travels along Interstate 5 in Oregon.
Growing clean, renewable energy amongst farm fields of corn and cabbage, the Baldock Solar Station is a 1.75 MW solar array boasting nearly 7,000 solar panels across seven acres of the Baldock Safety Rest Area, located on Interstate 5 northbound near Wilsonville. Visitors to the station can learn about solar power and Oregon’s solar highway installations through a variety of interpretive displays and walk along a sustainable community garden bordering the site created by Oregon State University Master Gardeners.
Built and operated by PGE on land owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the $10 million solar array went online in January and is expected to produce 1.97 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year — equivalent to 11 percent of ODOT’s need in PGE’s service territory.
The station is the second joint highway solar project between PGE and ODOT and will help PGE meet the state’s Renewable Energy Standard of providing 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2025. To date, PGE has a combined 37.7 megawatts of solar power online by utility and customer resources in Oregon. Nearly 3,000 PGE customers have solar electric systems installed on their homes and businesses.
In the development pipeline.
--- Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, has selected 10 public schools serving as emergency shelters to receive no-cost solar installations and battery backup systems through the utility’s SunSense Schools program.
The effort is part of the utility’s expanded SunSense (r) Schools solar energy program, which provides no-cost solar installations for up to 10 public schools and one post-secondary institution in Progress Energy Florida’s service territory per year through 2014. Each participating school will receive a 10 kW solar installation with battery backup.
The selected schools applied to participate in the utility’s program earlier this year. Participants were chosen based on key categories such as their commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy education, a location that maximizes geographic distribution throughout Progress Energy’s service territory, the number of students and the school’s shelter capacity.
The 2012 SunSense Schools program participants are:
- Branford Elementary School, Branford, Suwannee County
- Chasco Elementary School, Port Richey, Pasco County
- Citrus high School, Inverness, Citrus County
- Citrus Springs Middle School, Citrus Springs, Citrus County
- Davenport School of the Arts, Davenport, Polk County
- DeBary Elementary School, DeBary, Volusia County
- High Springs Community School, High Springs, Alachua County
- Palm Harbor Middle School, Palm Harbor, Pinellas County
- Sanderlin Middle School, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County
- River Springs Middle School, Orange City, Volusia County
To date, Progress Energy has installed solar arrays on and provided associated educational materials to 28 Florida schools through SunSense Schools and its predecessor programs.
Green Energy News is not responsible for content on external websites.