Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off. But with do-it-yourself kits and other innovative installation approaches now on the market, residential solar is having modest growth.
In discussions on the merits of distributed solar power too little focus has been given to the many important benefits that result from increasing the use of distributed solar power. These benefits accrue to both the utilities and presumably their rate payers as well and to society (and the tax payers) at large. This post summarizes a recent paper “Solar Power Generation in the US: Too expensive, or a bargain?” that attempts to give these benefits a tangible quantified value in order that the debate on the merits of solar power also begin to include this side of the cost / benefit analysis. A side that is all too often glossed over and largely overlooked.
This post asks the provocative question whether solar PV is really market ready yet. It goes on to suggest that it might be counter-productive for the long term growth of the sector to push solar photovoltaic adoption rates through the use of government subsidies, making the point that this may in fact be slowing down the adoption of needed innovation and process improvement that should ultimately make renewable energy more affordable.
Describes a new efficiency milestone that has been achieved by quantum dot solar cells, a kind of solar PV that uses the unique properties of quantum dots to capture photons and convert their energy into an electric current. This form of solar PV has languished for some time due to the low efficiencies that have been so far achieved. By finding a way to produce a double layer cell the research team at the University of Toronto has been able to achieve significantly higher overall efficiencies than has previously been possible using quantum dot technology. Quantum dot technology holds the promise of being able to ultimately produce very inexpensive solar cells, if the low efficiency problem can be overcome.
Solar power continues along its firmly established downward cost curve and edges ever closer to achieving the historic milestone of grid parity. Today it just got a huge boost that will help it scale out in this country and will go a long way towards tipping the long term balance in favor of solar. In fact as the industry achieves scale it is cutting per unit costs down. This post outlines the announcement of a large DOE initiative to promote rooftop direct grid connected solar power in the US.
The solar sector is among the most hated on Wall Street. Many names in the solar sector that are heavily shorted, in spite of it being the fastest growing energy sector in the U.S. Meanwhile, the world is using oil faster than it’s being pumped, which is economically dangerous, because oil price spikes have preceded all recessions since 1970. More renewables could serve to lessen our ridiculous economic vulnerability to oil prices.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing continues along a trajectory of decreasing costs that will very soon cause it to reach grid parity. This post looks at an innovative Massachusetts based startup, 1366 Technologies that is poised to begin commercializing an important new cost cutting (and energy saving) manufacturing technology that will significantly reduce the cost of Silicon solar cell fabrication.
This post reports on the newly announced loan guarantees for the concentrated solar power (CSP) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project that is to be built in Nevada. This kind of solar power, because it is paired with a molten salt thermal energy storage capacity has the ability to be a load following generation source that is somewhat insulated from intermittency issues as well. For large concentrated solar thermal energy this decoupling of the energy collection from electricity generation makes a lot of sense, because the molten salt is already being used as the working fluid that captures the sun’s heat.
Concentrated solar photovoltaic energy or CPV is a relative newcomer to the solar power arena and is showing signs of entering into a phase of very rapid growth. It works by concentrating the sun onto a small area of active PV, which operates at around twice the efficiency of normal PV, and promises savings because it requires only a fraction of the photovoltaic material that normal systems require. The DOE has announced a $90 million loan guarantee to support a planned 30-megawatt facility near Alamosa, Colorado.