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Thread: Cheap solar on the way

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    Default Cheap solar on the way

    Cheap solar on the way

    * Laurie Nowell
    * From: Sunday Herald Sun
    * March 13, 2010 8:41PM



    MELBOURNE scientists have achieved a world-first breakthrough in solar power technology that promises to revolutionise renewable energy and put Melbourne at the heart of the $30 billion global industry.

    Former RMIT Professor Ian Bates and his team have developed solar panels four times more efficient and three times cheaper than available models.

    The technology could also ease the rising electricity costs Victorians face. The roll-out plan involves having power companies install the panels on customers' roofs under deals which would lock in fixed power costs for 15 years.

    Professor Bates and his team have created a Melbourne-based company called Technique Solar to commercially produce the technology, originally developed at RMIT.

    The firm is fielding inquiries from the burgeoning solar markets of India and China and is negotiating a deal to manufacture prototypes in the US with car parts giant Magna Cosma International.


    The new panels work by using special acrylic lenses to concentrate the sun's rays on photovoltaic cells while the panel moves to track the sun's movement across the sky.

    "What we've got here is a device which provides both electricity and heat energy. We've been able to cut back the number of photovoltaic cells (PVs) required by about 75 per cent," said Technique Solar director Dan Taylor.

    Mr Taylor said the panels could produce 1000 watts of power at "a-third-to-a-quarter" the cost of current technology.

    The company says the panels will deliver an energy output which has an average cost per kilowatt hour nominally competitive with 20 cents per kW-h for energy now delivered by the Australian electricity grid - and compares with the existing cost of energy from conventional panels, which is typically in the range of 70 to 100 cents per kW-h.

    It enables solar energy to be provided to the consumer using modules supplying heat load (hot water) and electrical energy at one quarter of the energy costs of conventional solar energy systems.

    The modules can be supplied and installed at a cost which does not require Government subsidies or rebates.

    Technique Solar is an unlisted public company with 100 shareholders described as "mums and dads and small corporates". Mr Taylor said the company planned to make Magna Cosma, which has 250 factories in 50 countries, the global manufacturer of the panels, under licence.

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    the sooner the better, hope they keep the profits coming here
    When I explained to the guy what avatar I wanted, that wasn't what I meant!

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    Sounds like they are concentrating the light onto a cell that probably isn't too different to whats already on the market already. Probably needs water cooling to maintain efficiency. So they reduce the number of PV cells but what of the overall efficiency of square meter to electricity output. I see some wordplay in this article not to mention the cost of the tracking system to probably maintain the correct focal point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogsbreath View Post
    Sounds like they are concentrating the light onto a cell that probably isn't too different to whats already on the market already. Probably needs water cooling to maintain efficiency. So they reduce the number of PV cells but what of the overall efficiency of square meter to electricity output. I see some wordplay in this article not to mention the cost of the tracking system to probably maintain the correct focal point.
    Exactly , this is what the inventors of Sunball and Solarcube claim to be able to do , problem being that there isn't any silicon modules available that have been able to withstand the concentrated sun / heat this process creates.
    Great theory , but as yet no one has got it right and why there is nothing like this on the market.

    It's a long way from discovery to real world usage , if we see Magna Cosma available on the market in the next 10 years it will be amazing but highly unlikely.

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    looks like dogsbreath is right if you want to have a look ??



    Tagg

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    Wasn't there some research and development done in Australia to make thinner wafers that would save a lot . ???

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    Quote Originally Posted by pieces View Post
    Wasn't there some research and development done in Australia to make thinner wafers that would save a lot . ???
    SLIVER technology. Developed in Queensland I think and now being developed for commercial sale by Origin Energy.
    They have updates on their website about it, but last I heard they were trialling it at several business sites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogsbreath View Post
    Sounds like they are concentrating the light onto a cell that probably isn't too different to whats already on the market already. Probably needs water cooling to maintain efficiency. So they reduce the number of PV cells but what of the overall efficiency of square meter to electricity output. I see some wordplay in this article not to mention the cost of the tracking system to probably maintain the correct focal point.
    There's company based in Melbourne in Richmond that does this by the way of a large reflective dish which concentrates the suns raya on a bank of small 80x80mm solar panels at the focal point, and yes they needed a manifold cooling system to cool the cells. They claimed that they could melt a hole in a 1/4 inch copper plate at the focal point in 6 seconds!

    Its a pity that the government removed there grants and subsidies to get this project off the ground...

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    well , water cooling really makes a measurable difference to standard roof mounted solar panels too, just using a small submersible 12volt 2 amp pump to push water up polypipe onto the roof and through sprayers onto hot panels makes about 20 percent more power depending on the heat, sun angle etc, the water droplets also form a lensing effect to get more power when the sun is off axis from the panels.
    The heated water then returns to the house water tanks via the guttering.
    If you have say a kilowatt of panels which have sagged in output due to heat of the day and the sun being off-axis the water sprays will really make a substantial difference, far outweighing the small 12v pump consumption
    cheers from the bush
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    well , water cooling really makes a measurable difference to standard roof mounted solar panels too, just using a small submersible 12volt 2 amp pump to push water up polypipe onto the roof and through sprayers onto hot panels makes about 20 percent more power depending on the heat, sun angle etc, the water droplets also form a lensing effect to get more power when the sun is off axis from the panels.
    The heated water then returns to the house water tanks via the guttering.
    If you have say a kilowatt of panels which have sagged in output due to heat of the day and the sun being off-axis the water sprays will really make a substantial difference, far outweighing the small 12v pump consumption
    cheers from the bush

    yep...20% losses on a 30 degree plus day. Proven to be a fact.
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    PV Temperature loses are one of the most commonly discussed problems especially in Australia , it is also universally accepted that water cooling is not the way to overcome the problem for any length of time.
    No PV manufacturer will honor the warranty on their panels if they are being actively water cooled , so if you want to void what is in most cases a 25 year warranty go ahead and setup a water cooling system.
    It's definitely works there is no doubt about that !

    The most common early failures of PV panels is caused by moisture ingress ,it's normally only in the form of vapor but once it starts it leads to hot spots , panel shorts , cracks or open circuits where the modules join.
    Keep in mind on a 30Deg day panel surface temperatures reach up to 70deg C ,the frames etc are at maximum expansion , rapid cooling at this stage causes negative air pressure ( a vacuum ) around the edges and junction box where even a pin hole is big enough to suck in moisture , you normally wont notice any of these effects instantly but you will eventually, not taking into account the mechanical stress this causes on each panel.

    There is the obvious problem of the glass or epoxy surface cracking if the the temperature is not uniform over the entire panel surface.
    This is not such a problem with rain because it doesn't normally rain when the sun is shining fully , Cloud cover before the rain is usually enough to bring surface temperature down before rain hits , in most cases the temperatures in rainy weather is lower anyway.
    But if you have caused any cracking or degradation of the seals that keep the panels water tight ( rapid heating and cooling ) even rain is going to cause issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    PV Temperature loses are one of the most commonly discussed problems especially in Australia , it is also universally accepted that water cooling is not the way to overcome the problem for any length of time.
    It's not an issue if you have an infinte supply of water.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    No PV manufacturer will honor the warranty on their panels if they are being actively water cooled , so if you want to void what is in most cases a 25 year warranty go ahead and setup a water cooling system.
    Warranty works fine, the manufacturer has no way of knowing.
    In any event, the idea is to cool the roof under/around the panels, not directly spray the panels.
    It's a pleasant change to be in a country that isn't ruled by its people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterRat View Post
    It's not an issue if you have an infinte supply of water.
    Exactly now who has that ? and before you say recycling the same water on a 30+ Deg day you will need about 2000L storage for a 1Kw system , highly impractical not to mentioned this has been tested to death by so many people who all come to the same conclusion , it's not worth the Sum of the energy consumed , the water wasted and maintenance.


    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterRat
    Warranty works fine, the manufacturer has no way of knowing.
    In any event, the idea is to cool the roof under/around the panels, not directly spray the panels.
    Ok lets assume you lie to the manufacturer , you are going to have to very carefully etch away the calcium deposits that form when running water over a hot surface , there is also staining of the aluminum frames that almost needs to be sanded off , but keep in mind you are contacting the manufacturer because the panel has failed they are going to notice straight away what you have done to cover the fact they have been actively water cooled , not that it will be possible anyway.

    Cooling the roof under and around PV panels makes virtually no difference unless you also force huge amounts of air between the space , the power required to force the amount of air needed is approximately 1.3 times the power you are producing after the gains have been taken into account.
    The maximum gains of under panel cooling I have seen to date using the above experiment are around 6% when the temp is 25Deg C.
    The main problem is cell temperature that can only effectively be reduced evenly if the Glass / Epoxy is bonded to the Cells otherwise you end up with super hot cells and an air gap and a cold outside surface.
    Try taking away the water at this stage and see what happens , you might get lucky a few times but they will shatter.

    All of this is only an observation of what has been known about PV since it was invented ,, as the temperature rises cell efficiency reduces , it's a no brainer that if you could effectively keep the cells below 25c they will produce maximum output , as yet there is no effective way to achieve this and is accepted as one of the many variables of owning PV.
    For this reason a lot of PV owners simply add another panel to compensate for the loses.

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    A lot of homes out bush have several 20,000 litre tanks hooked to the gutters, the water just flows back into them. if you keep the panels cool then the problems of shock going from hot to cooler shouldnt be a problem. calcium wont be a problem as its rainwater not borewater.
    Remember when a storm goes over on a summer day the panels get subjected to extreme heat , then a cold dunking within minutes sometimes including ice.
    you do have some interesting points there, but I was advised that water sprays were effective by a solar seller/installer and have used it on and off for a while.
    As you say at 25 degrees its not much on an improvement , but we are talking about a 40+ degree summer day not a day when its mild and the panels are working well.
    cheers
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedog View Post
    A lot of homes out bush have several 20,000 litre tanks hooked to the gutters, the water just flows back into them. if you keep the panels cool then the problems of shock going from hot to cooler shouldnt be a problem. calcium wont be a problem as its rainwater not borewater.
    Remember when a storm goes over on a summer day the panels get subjected to extreme heat , then a cold dunking within minutes sometimes including ice.
    you do have some interesting points there, but I was advised that water sprays were effective by a solar seller/installer and have used it on and off for a while.
    As you say at 25 degrees its not much on an improvement , but we are talking about a 40+ degree summer day not a day when its mild and the panels are working well.
    cheers
    All the advantages of living in the bush

    On 40+ days it would have an awesome effect as long as you started the cooling as the sun come up so there was no physical shock from sudden heating and cooling , pity none of this sort of thing is practical in suburbia or I am sure plenty would be doing it.

    I know what you are saying about summer storms , we had a flash shower in November that smashed one of my 200w Suntech panels , it was about 33Deg , the rain was about 40 seconds but wasn't heavy.
    It sounded like someone dropped a huge rock on the roof when the panel shattered ,I ran out to have a look they were all steaming the water off because everything was still hot , the damaged panel had shattered like a toughened windscreen into millions of little pieces , it all stayed withing the frame and the panel actually still worked , I called Suntech who told me to disconnect it real fast before it caught on fire.
    They replaced it under warranty and told me rain is pretty much the only thing not caused by malicious damage that smashed panels like this.

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    From what I read temperature plays quite a roll in these panels and I see temps in the 30/40 C range being quoted but in summer the metal can reach far higher than that.
    One day at work, the local track supervisor put a Temperature gauge on the rails and in a few minutes it registered 53 C !!
    The rail was in full sun and before NOON.
    It was mid summer time but not what I thought exceedingly hot, low to mid 30's in the Blue Mountains.
    In summer its very possible to get a sudden thunderstorm and have the temp drop by over half.
    Just think of the 'Fry the Egg on the car bonnet' to how hot that metal is compared to the ambient air temperature.

    In reverse, how do these panels handle either snow or heavy frosts with lows of Minus 10 C overnight for up to 6 hours before the Sunrise.
    Full sun on one side, icicles dangling off the other.
    Last edited by gordon_s1942; 07-04-10 at 10:32 AM.
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    They dont work with snow on them! hihi, my xyl had to scrape snow off some to get some power one morning a while back, in full sun , but the air temp was still below zero about 9am.
    too slippery to get up on the roof to scrape off the snow a long stick with a broom taped to it did the job.
    we regularly get morning frosts, 2 this week already, the panels are cold and when the sun hits them they work well. also i get up on the roof and wash them with a bucket and a soft kitchen broom to keep the dust and small orange blob things (some sort of fungus) off them.
    cheers
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    Bluedog, I see your a 'neighbor' (down Oberon way?) but your colder than I am as we have only just had a couple of finger tingling 10 minute frosts so far.
    Bugger that idea of scrapping the damn things and whats with the 'Orange fungus' ??
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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