Showing posts with label solar power. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solar power. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

5 Partially Solar-Powered Cars You Can Buy

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                        Video Credit: DPC cars & Youtube.com

The creation of a solar-powered car is an ambitious project that many enthusiasts were trying to bring to reality. Unfortunately, so far are created only partially solar-powered cars, and in this post, I’m going to describe 5 of them you can buy.

1. Lightyear One is a long-rage, solar-powered electric car that has five square meters of small solar tiles, which cover the whole futuristic vehicle, from front to back, across a curved roof. The solar car has a 60kWh battery and charges at a rate of 12 km (7.5 miles) per hour while driving. It can also use electric vehicle charging stations, which provide up to 725 km (450 miles) of range on a single charge. The solar cells are 20 percent more efficient than traditional models and can add 50 - 65 km (30 - 40 miles) of range per day. The solar cells are encased in safety glass to protect them from damage. The company says that the Lightyear One is the most aerodynamic car in the world, with a drag coefficient below 0.20, although it is still in the prototype stage. 

Lightyear is the Dutch car company founded in 2016 by ex-members of Solar Team Eindhoven (STE), a team of engineering students who won the solar-powered World Solar Challenge race in 2013, 2015, and 2017. The Lightyear One car is expected to cost about €150,000 when it goes on sale in 2021.

2. A German full electric car Sono Sion developed by Sono Motors is another example of a partially solar-powered car. Thanks to its battery charge it can run 155 miles (250km). The car also has 248 solar cells spread across its body, which provide it an additional 21 miles (34km) of solar range. With a completely new manufacturing process, the solar modules are perfectly adapted to the shape of the vehicle. You can find it on the market at 25,500 EUR. The Sono Sion uses a bidirectional onboard-charger to share its power to recharge other electric vehicles.

3. The Korean car manufacture Hyundai also created a partially solar-powered car. A new version of its hybrid car Sonata (gas-electric sedan) offers built-in solar panels on its roof. The solar roof gives the car an extra 2 miles (about 3.5 km) of driving range per day, charging a car’s battery for 6 hours - both while driving and when parked in the sun. They say that between 30 and 60 percent of the car’s battery can be recharged by its solar panels. Hyundai underlines that its solar roof has a “supporting role" to its hybrid engine but for a year, it can add up to around 700 miles (1,300 km) of driving range from solar power.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited is the first of its kind available in the United States. The Toyota Prius Prime has a solar roof available in some overseas markets, but not in the U.S. The as-tested price of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited comes to $36,430, which includes Hyundai’s 10-year warranty.

4. Toyota was the first major car manufacturer to offer the option with a solar roof incorporated in its Prius hybrid plug-in model in 2010. It generates about 50 watts of power, which is enough to provide energy to a fan which cools the cabin of the Prius when the engine is off. Later, in 2017 Panasonic has developed a solar photovoltaic car roof for the Prius PHEV, upping the wattage from 50 W to 180 W. 

Now Toyota developed their latest model Prius with solar panels, in cooperation with Sharp and NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan). It uses such technology that lets the car’s battery charged while in the motion, not just when it is parked in a sunny place. The companies are working on attaching to the car's surface 0.03 mm thick solar cells. They can be attached to curved areas on cars like the roof, the hood, or the hatchback. 

The new model is still in the testing period, but it promises 860W at 34 percent efficiency, 44.5km on a full charge, and 56.3km if it's recharging while driving. The companies are hoping that by using the best solar panels and the most efficient batteries available on the market, besides experience with car-manufacturing, they can create a vehicle that might run forever. "The solar car's advantage is that, while it can't drive for a long-range, it's independent of charging facilities," said project manager at Toyota, Koji Makino.

5. California’s company Aptera Motors developed the first solar-powered electric (3-wheel, 2-passenger) vehicle that will never require charging. Besides, the car has an option to drive autonomous. The solar panels integrated into the car’s body harness the sun’s rays and provide owners with a substantial amount of free solar power. You can drive 43 miles of range per day of free solar power with a total 700W: 3 square meter/180 solar cell array. This is in addition to a 1,000-mile range battery pack, which you can charge at any time. And if there is excess power you can run electrical appliances in your home. Another option that Aptera includes is to upgrade and replace the existing solar panels on the vehicle.

The Aptera solar-powered car will cost roughly between $34,000-$59,000. The Aptera is still in the prototype stage but the company claims 10,000 vehicles will be made by 2022, and they will soon be open to taking pre-orders.

Finally, out of the list, because it is not for sale, I’m going to present an impressive model of a partially solar-powered car - Stella Era.

The Stella Era is a solar-powered, autonomous 5-person family car, developed by the Solar Team Eindhoven (STE), a multidisciplinary group of students from the Technical University Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The Stella Era has a range of 1200 km (including 300 km solar) and the ability to autonomously drive to a sunny parking spot when it is parked in the parking lot. The team also says that the Stella Era isn't just a solar-powered car, it is "a charging station on wheels”. Thankfully the innovations in charging (specifically bidirectional charging), the car can store energy and transfer it to other cars, to the grid, and into battery packs in self-sustainable homes.

So, although there is no entirely solar-powered car yet, the partially solar-powered, eco-friendly models above show that the key steps have been made and the sunny futuristic future is already here :)

whatsorb.com (Toyota), whatsorb.com (Aptera)



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Foldable Solar Roof For Parking Lots

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A foldable solar roof for parking lots is something new in solar technologies.

Today, solar energy is used all over the world. There are many improvements in already existing solar technologies. Entirely new technologies and innovative solar devices are emerging. More and more people have solar-powered homes. Back in 1956, the cost of solar used to cost around $300 per watt. Now, in the US, you can get rooftop solar for $1.49/watt from Tesla and a similar price from others.

According to the latest news, a company in Switzerland and its partner, Kronberg and St. Gallish-Appenzellische Kraftwerke (SAK), have created something unique in the field of the solar technologies - a foldable solar roof, that comes out only when the sun is shining. It is not a typical roof designed for residential use. This solar roof is meant for parking lots and generates power for on-site consumption, including for electric vehicles charging (there are two charging stations). It also provides shadow to keep vehicles cooled when the weather is hot.
         
foldable solar roof for parking lots
                            Image credit: cleantechnica.com

The companies started this project back in the spring of 2020 when they built the foldable photovoltaic system on the Kronbergbahn’s parking lot. When the sun rises, the solar roof unfolds and soaks up the rays to generate solar power, then when it’s cloudy, raining, or during night time, it folds up. The foldable photovoltaic roof is named Horizon, its size is 43,056 ft2 (4,000 square meters), has a 420 kW generation capacity, and it covers the parking lot for 152 cars. The cost of the entire project is about 1.5 million Swiss francs.   

The foldable solar roof  was manufactured at DHP Technology headquarters in Zizers. It uses mono and polycrystalline solar cells and glass-free laminate tech. “The folding sunroof is lightweight because we use glass-free solar module technology,” said the DHP representative. “The installation is simple and is based on the plug-and-play approach.”

The parking lot has 1,320 solar panels and produces 350,000 kWh per year. Right now, the companies are looking for investors who are interested in sponsoring a system. There are 660 panels available and expected to be licensed soon to interested clients. The license agreement is for 15 years. 330 panels are already used by SAK and Kronbergbahn AG.

Investors will receive five different experience vouchers during their 15-year right of use - the vouchers vary depending on the investment. If you are interested in investing in a panel, you have two options. You can invest in a whole panel or by the quarter:
  1. Entire Panel CHF 800 ($852)
  2. Quarter Panel CHF 200 ($213)
The sources of this news are cleantechnica.com (you can see a video on their website), pv-magazine.com, and interestingengineering.com

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gel Makes Solar Panels “Sweat” to Cool Themselves

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Image credit: pixabay.com

Last month I read something interesting in the news concerning solar panels and I decided to write a post about it in my blog. It is something new in solar power technology - gel-like material makes standard solar panels “sweet” to cool themselves. Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park says: “it’s a simple, elegant, and effective way to retrofit existing solar cell panels for an instant efficiency boost.”

Typical silicon solar panels convert approximately 20% of the sun’s light into electricity. Much of the rest turns into heat, which can warm the solar panels by as much as 40°C/104°F. As we know, the heating of the panels is one of the most serious problems - solar panels are much less efficient when overheated. In fact, with every degree of temperature above 25°C/77°F, the efficiency of the solar panel drops. 

In recent years, researchers have devised materials that can suck water vapor from the air and condense it into liquid water for drinking. Among them are researchers at the University of Texas who have created a new gel-like material. Initially, the gel was created to produce clean drinking water. It proves its effectiveness and has the potential to provide a clean, sustainable water source for millions.

The gel-like material is a mix of carbon nanotubes in polymers with a water-attracting calcium chloride salt. This substance absorbs water vapor at night when the air is cold, and humidity is high. Then it causes the water vapor to condense into droplets that the gel holds. When the heat rises during the day, the gel releases water vapor. If covered by clear plastic, the released vapor is trapped, condenses back into liquid water, and flows into a storage container.

Peng Wang, an environmental engineer at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and his colleagues figure out another use for the condensed water: coolant for solar panels. So, the researchers applied a 1-centimeter thick sheet of the gel against the underside of a standard silicon solar panel. Their idea was that during the day, the gel would pull the heat from the solar panel. It initiates an evaporation process for the water it pulled out of the air the previous night, releasing it through the bottom of the gel layer. Thus the gel-like material can make solar panels “sweat" and cool - just like sweating cools the human body. The amount of gel needed per panel depends on its size and the temperature and humidity in your location. In a desert environment with 35% humidity, a 1-square-meter solar panel required 1 kilogram of gel to cool it. In a muggy area with 80% humidity, only 0.3 kg of the gel is needed per square meter solar panel.

The temperature of these solar panels can drop to 10°C/50°F, and the electricity output of the panels can increase by 15% to 19%. In the area of solar technology, this is considerable. “In a field where engineers struggle for every 0.1% boost in power conversion efficiency, even a 1% gain would be an economic boom,” says Jun Zhou, a materials scientist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

One disadvantage of this solution is that rain could dissolve the calcium chloride salt in the gel, sapping its water-attracting performance. Peng Wang acknowledged this as a possible problem, despite the hydrogel sitting beneath the solar panel, and being somewhat shielded from the rain. He said he and his colleagues were working on a second-generation gel that would not degrade, even when wet.

The team is also looking at another design option that could trap and re-condense water after it had evaporated from the gel - and potentially using the collected water to clean solar panels from the dust.

Currently, over 600 gigawatts of solar power exist worldwide, providing 3% of global electricity demand. This number may increase by about five times over the next decade.

Source: sciencemag.org



Monday, January 13, 2020

How to Harvest Solar Energy on Cloudy Days

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Image credit: SunModo

Talking about solar energy without sunlight, it is interesting to see how solar energy can be harvest on cloudy days. 

Even on cloudy days, there’s still solar energy send down to earth from the sun. And although solar panels don’t produce as much electricity as they do on sunny days, they have been shown to produce 25% of what they produce on a sunny day, or 10% when it’s very cloudy. The exact amount will vary depending on the density of the clouds, and may also vary by the type of solar panel - some kinds of panels are better at receiving diffuse light. SunPower solar cells, for example, have been designed to capture a broader range of the solar spectrum. By capturing more red and blue wavelengths, their solar panels can generate more electricity even when it’s overcast.

We may assume that solar panels thrive in hot, sunny weather, but too much heat can also reduce solar panel output 10-15%. The very hot climate isn't the best condition for them. Most solar panels' power outputs start to degrade if the temperature of the panel goes over about 25°C. 

Solar power can work well in areas known for cloudy, cold weather. For example, New York, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Boston, and Seattle. These cites often have bad weather, from blizzards to rain and fog. However, each of these cities tops the list of those that see major savings due to solar power installations. And rain helps to keep the panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust, pollen, and dirt. Clean panels turn out the most electricity.

San Francisco is well known for its foggy days with cool weather but rooftop solar power systems in San Francisco do function well. The amount of direct sunlight is reduced by fog and clouds, but as already was said, solar panels function better at cooler temperatures, so the electricity output in San Francisco is still significant. Using a home solar power system there can save approximately $1,500 per year on utility bills.

Germany is the fourth-largest PV market in the world that's famous for its lack of sunlight. Germany accounts for about 25 percent of the world's solar power output and achieved its strongest growth in half a decade during 2018, according to a recent Greentech Media article

Going solar is about saving on your energy costs as well as helping our planet and the weather can’t be an obstacle.

And if we choose to rely on solar panels for our home electricity use, we can also use a solar battery system to save money by storing free energy for use when it’s cloudy or for night use. Solar batteries have been around for a while, but up until recently, the costs were very high, the equipment was bulky and they were difficult to use. Except for people who lived off the grid, they weren’t so good investment. But that has changed in recent years. The price of solar batteries has dropped and in many cases, they are now an excellent investment for homeowners in cloudy regions who want to reduce their electricity bills.

Sources: Cleantechnika & Powerhome
                     

Friday, June 4, 2010

Solé Power Tile – Integrated Solar Panel Roofing

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Philadelphia-based company SRS Energy is a leading developer of sustainable solar roofing systems. The Solé Power Tile created by SRS Energy is the first curved building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing product, designed in collaboration with US Tile. The eco-friendly blue barrel-style tiles can be seamlessly integrated with US Tile’s traditional clay tiles. 


The product employs thin-film solar technology that incorporates triple-junction amorphous solar cells made by UNI-SOLAR. The tiles are rated at 860 kilowatt hours per square (or per 100 square feet) annually in an area with "5.8 peak sun hours" per day. The Solé tiles are also lightweight, unbreakable and fully-recyclable. Their shape allows air to flow underneath, reducing a building’s cooling needs.

The Solé Power Tile has just passed a key milestone. SRS Energy has obtained an ETL listing report certifying the Solé Power Tile has passed the testing associated with the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) UL 1703 standard. Passing this is the prerequisite for any solar photovoltaics to be approved by the State of California as eligible for CSI rebates from utilities. In June, the factory will be inspected, and then the Solé Power Tile will likely be included on the CEC approved module listing on July 1st.

SRS Energy’s Solé Power Tile system won the Gold prize in the Industrial Design category of the 2010 Edison Best New Product Awards.

More information you can find here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Power Your Home with Solar Roof Tiles

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Today the main way for homes to harness solar power is still through bulky rigid panels added to the rooftop or mounted on the ground. But inte recent years there are some innovations within the solar PV industry such as solar roof tiles. Solar roof tiles refer to Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) systems. They blend in better and help deliver clean, green solar power, without the need to sacrifice the aesthetic look and beauty of your home.

Solar roof tiles are made with built-in photovoltaic cells and the color of the solar tiles range from blue to violet to gray and blends well with most colors. Solar roof tiles are connected to each other via MC or other suitable connector type used inphotovoltaics and they work like conventional solar panels. One tile produces about 60 - 180 watts of electricity, and an entire roof could definitely power your entire house. A real hot sunny day could even mean profit for you, excess energy can be sold at a nearby company.

Solar roof tiles are more expensive than solar panels but in terms of the advantages it gives to a local user, it should outweigh the cons. Also, the government offers considerate breaks in taxes for homes that use solar power electricity.

Some of the companies currently producing solar roof tiles are General Electric, PowerLight, Sharp Electronics, and SunPower Corp.

Solé Power Tile, created by SRS Energy, is the industry’s first building-integrated photovoltaic product designed specifically for curved-roof systems and in my next post I'm going to write about it.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Solarpro’s Yankovo PV Power Plant Put into Operation

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Yankovo Nort-East1 PV Power Plant
On 24 August the first stage of the photovoltaic plant of Solarpro in the village of Yankovo, northeastern Bulgaria, has been officially put into operation. The first phase of the project "North-East 1" features installed capacity of 338kWp . The plant had been successfully acceded to the power grid of E. ON and delivers electricity to the electricity distribution company. The project is scheduled to reach full capacity by the end of the year. The whole plant "North-East 1" has nominal power of 2404kWp will be the largest photovoltaic park in the country.

Solarpro, 80% owned by Bulgarian miner Kaolin, has launched production of photovoltaic (thin-film amorphous-silicon PV module) solar panels at its factory in Silistra, on the Danube. At the end of March the first panels of the first production line of the photovoltaic plant in Silistra were produced.

The "North-East 1" PV power plant is constructed with 8064 thin-film photovoltaic panels, manufactured by Solarpro, in its Silistra-based factory. It is the only company in Bulgaria, which concludes the entire PV module manufacturing – power plant integration chain. The components of the power plant are mainly made in Bulgaria, and all subcontractors are local companies.

Solarpro is the first and only manufacturer of solar panels in Bulgaria. Solarpro is the biggest solar panels manufacturer on the Balkans, with planned capacity of 18 MW annually, organized in three production lines, one of which currently operational. The company came into being in end-2007 in line with a strategy of its owner to bolster energy efficiency and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Sources: solarpro.bg & alfafinance.bg

Monday, July 20, 2009

Orange Solar Concept Tent for Campers

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Orange Solar Tent

The United Kingdom mobile company Orange recently unveiled their concept for the "tent of the future", called Glastonbury. This tent will allow avid campers to keep in touch and power their essential gadgets such as GPS or mobile phones. 

The Orange Solar Concept Tent was designed with help from the American product design firm Kaleidoscope and it harnesses solar energy to charge the gadgetry through a wireless charging pouch (no plug in!).

The solar-powered futuristic tent captures the rays of the sun via “photovoltaic fabric" - specially coated solar threads woven into conventional fabric. The Solar Concept Tent uses this revolutionary new technology to full effect with three adjustable glides, which can be rotated throughout the day to follow the sun and capture the most sunlight. Not only that, the tent has a wireless control hub to provide WiFi, wireless charging, and a touchscreen LCD display that keeps track of the energy generated and consumed.

Another advancement is a cool feature called "glo-cation technology". This enables campers to find their tent using an SMS message or automatic active RFID tech. So if you’re having trouble finding your tent, sent a text, and the Glastonbury will glow gently for you, guiding you back to your sleeping bag.

There is also a feature known as groundsheet heat. This is an internal heating element controlled by the central hub and it is embedded within the tent’s groundsheet. The underfloor heater will automatically come once the interior temperature drops below a certain level.

Well, let's hope that the Orange Solar Concept Tent could soon become a reality.

Source: Orange Unveils Solar Powered Tent for Staying Connected While Camping in Luxury


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Solar-Powered Electrical Plug-in Station Unveiled in Chicago

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Last month Carbon Day Automotive announced the unveiling of the first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station in Chicago. Located and operational at the City of Chicago Department of Fleet Maintenance, it will be used on a daily basis to fuel the city’s electric vehicles with clean and renewable power from the sun.


Carbon Day Automotive’s Solar Plug-In Station(TM), built by Carbon Day Construction, was designed by the world renowned firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Wanxiang America Corporation manufactured the solar panels that form a tree-like canopy built by Residential Steel.

Carbon Day Automotive envisions thousands of charging stations in key locations throughout Chicago and tens of thousands nationally by the year 2011. The construction of this infrastructure is one more step to reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.

“Without these stations, it would be like driving around in traditional cars without the availability of gas stations,” said Scott Emalfarb, CEO of Carbon Day. “The day of true plug-in electric vehicles will be here sooner than most people realize and the world needs to be ready to accommodate them. Carbon Day will build them and they will come.”

Carbon Day Automotive is a division of Carbon Day, an energy solutions organization dedicated to increasing environmental awareness. For more information you can visit the Carbon Day website, www.carbonday.com.

Sources: Gas2.orgJetson Green


Friday, March 27, 2009

Solar-Powered Movie Premiere in London

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The world’s first entirely eco-friendly film premiere was screened in March 15, 2009 in London, England. "The Age of Stupid" is a new film warning about the negative effects of climate change. It was shown in a solar-powered cinema tent in the middle of Leicester Square and broadcast live in more than 60 cinemas all over the UK by satellite.

Every part of the event – from power sources, to transport, food, and clothing was green. Firefly Solar provided renewable power at the screening of movie.

An independent audit was carried out to monitor all CO2 emissions caused by the flagship premier and it resulted in just 1% of the usual carbon emissions seen at an average Hollywood premier.

"Obviously solar power was the main feature," said Firefly's MD Andy Mead. "We also used other methods to ensure the event had the lowest carbon footprint possible. The outside broadcast unit used for the satellite link-up was powered by bio-diesel, and all lighting on-site was the very latest in LED technology."

The 15000 lumin HD projector, all the house lighting and PA in the cinema were run entirely on solar power.

The stars arrived by solar car, bike, or rickshaw. Oscar-nominated British actor Pete Postlethwaite arrived at the premiere in a solar-powered car before posing for the paparazzi on the green carpet. In the film, Postlethwaite plays the last man alive on Earth in a devastated 2055. He looks back on archive footage of 2008 and asks why no-one acted to stop climate change.

American actor Gillian Anderson and designer Vivienne Westwood both turned up on bicycles. Britain's Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband also attended the event.

"The Age Of Stupid" took three-and-a-half years to make and had a budget of just $957,000 provided by 228 investors.

All profits from the premiere ticket sales go to the Not Stupid climate campaign, which is an initiative by environmental groups to recruit new activists to make their views felt at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009 this year.


Friday, February 6, 2009

World's Leading Photovoltaic Companies

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PV Solar Panel
Sharp Solar is the world's largest photovoltaic module and cell manufacturer, with an overall capacity of 600 megawatts. It manufactures in Japan, in the UK - near Wrexham, and recently opened a large manufacturing facility in Memphis. Sharp Solar produces both single and multi-crystalline solar cells which are used for many applications. Sharp began its development of solar cells in 1959, with mass production first beginning in 1963. In 1980, it was one of the first companies to introduce calculators powered by solar cells.

Established in 1999, Q-Cells is the world's second largest cell manufacturer, based in Thalheim, Germany (Q-Cells AG was the single largest producer of solar cells in 2007 according to industry data). Its core business is the development, production and marketing of high-quality (mono- and multi-) crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.

Based in Wuxi, China, Suntech Power is the world's third largest producer of photovoltaics in 2007. Suntech Power manufactures solar cells and modules and it is a global leader in solar energy as measured by both its production output and the capacity of its solar cells and modules.

Headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, the Kyocera Corporation is a pioneer in the solar energy market and began to develop solar cells in 1975. Today Kyocera is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solar cells and modules, with a highly controlled mastery of all the production steps from wafer and cell fabrication to module assembly.

The Phoenix, Ariz.-based First Solar is a leader in the development and manufacture of high quality thin film solar modules. They manufacture photovoltaic solar modules developing advanced, thin film semiconductor deposition and high volume manufacturing processes, based on Cadmium Telluride (CdTe).

Motech is the largest manufacturer of photovoltaic cells in Taiwan. For over 25 years, Motech Industries, Inc. (Motech) has been creating high quality products, from testing and measuring instruments to solar cells. Motech has now become one of the top 10 producers of solar cells and the 6th largest crystalline solar cell manufacturer in the world (2007).

SolarWorld is headquartered in Bonn, Germany, and purchased Shell Solar's crystalline silicon activities in 2006. SolarWorld is one of the three largest solar energy groups in the world. The SolarWorld Group of companies is involved in every step of the solar value chain from raw silicon to turn-key solar power systems and is active in growing solar markets around the world.

Japanese company Sanyo Electric has been manufacturing solar cells and panels since 1970s. In 1992, Sanyo Electric started the practical application of installing the first PV generation systems on individual houses in Japan. SANYO HIT (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer) solar panels are a leader in cell and module efficiency with models up to 16.2 Watts per sq. foot (17.4% module efficiency). On July 29, 2008 the company announced, that it achieved a cell conversion efficiency of 22.3% at the research level.

China-based Yingli Green Energy is one of the world's leading vertically integrated PV product manufacturers. Yingli Green Energy sells PV modules under its own brand name, Yingli Solar, to PV distributors located in various markets around the world, including Germany, Spain, China and the United States.

SunPower Corporation is a Silicon Valley based solar company, and is one of the largest in existence.The company designs and manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar cells and solar panels based on an all-back-contact "All-Black" design. They install them through their subsidiary PowerLight. Their Nellis Solar Power Plant is currently the largest PV installation in North America

Schott Solar Germany is among the world's leading fully integrated manufacturers of PV wafers, cells and modules. The company has more than 40 years of experience and offers reliable PV solar electricity modules for almost any kind of application. Schott Solar is also one of the leading companies in thin film technologies.

Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) is based in Norway, and was established in 1996. Over a relatively short period, REC has become the world's largest producer of poly silicon and wafers for PV applications. The company has seven production plants in three different countries and customers all over the world.

Mitsubishi Electric is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and providers of solar power technology, including PV cells, modules and inverters. The company’s eco-friendly photovoltaic systems are used throughout the world to bring clean, reliable energy to residences, business, power generation plants, schools, and factories.

BP has been involved in solar power since 1973 and its subsidiary, BP Solar, is now a major worldwide manufacturer and installer of PV solar cells, with production facilities in the United States, Spain, India and Australia. Headquarters for BP Solar are located in Frederick - a city in west-central Maryland, United States.

Isofoton is a Spanish company, the biggest solar panel manufacturer in Europe. The company designs and manufactures high-efficiency mono crystalline silicon cells (also the most expensive), and it is currently the largest mono crystalline producer worldwide.

Nanosolar
was started in 2002 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Nanosolar is a maker of thin-film solar panels and is a global leader in solar power innovation. Nanosolar Powersheet, a very thin film solar panel has won the Popular Science Innovation of the Year award. The company manufactures Powersheet by printing a solar absorbing “ink” onto a thin rolled metal sheet in a low-cost, fast, continuous process. The company has manufacturing operations in Silicon Valley, California, and the Berlin capital region, Germany.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Solar PV Power in Cold Climate

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Many people interested in generating solar PV power for their household power needs are also interested to know how PV solar panels operate at colder temperatures or in cloudy conditions. Actually, PV solar panels work better at colder temperatures - some of the best efficiencies ever recorded were at the South Pole! This is because the solar cells in the panels are electronic devices that generate electricity depending on the amount of sunlight they receive, not heat. In cold climates, PV panels will generate less energy in the winter than in the summer, but this is due to the shorter days and less sunlight, not the colder temperatures.

Photo credit: altenergy.blog-city.com
PV solar panels continue to work even in cloudy conditions, although they do produce less electricity. On days with cloud cover or windblown snow, the PV panels' output power is reduced significantly. With sun angles approaching the highest limits and visibility being high, the PV panels reach their rated output power.


Many countries in the northwestern region of Europe, including Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, make extensive use of solar power. Germany is the world's leading installer of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, although its climate is mostly temperate. Japan is also a major installer of solar PV panels, and their climate is temperate.

An example of integrating PV technology in the daily life are solar powered parking meters which are fairly common in Germany and the Netherlands. The electricity which runs them is supplied by small solar panels on top of the parking meters, right there in the streets.

Canada is another cold-weather country where PV technology is quickly gaining ground. PV cells have been used in Canada over the last 20 years or more for many applications. Photovoltaic modules were used as standalone units, mainly as off-grid distributed electricity generation to power remote homes, telecommunications equipment, oil and pipeline monitoring stations and navigational applications. Over the last few years PV technology has also started to be introduced into urban areas, incorporated into the roofs and facades of homes, offices and factories. And the largest solar PV energy park in North America will be located on approximately 300 acres of land in the Township of Stone Mills, Lennox & Addington County, Ontario. The 19-megawatt project, known as First Light, is being built by SkyPower Corp and SunEdison Canada. The construction is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2009 and local communities will benefit from clean renewable energy sufficient to power more than 2,000 homes annually.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Estimate Your Roof's Solar Potential with RoofRay

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Speaking of useful online tools, I should mention also a solar array modelling service, provided by RoofRay on their homepage. They use Google Maps and various other information to help you estimate the solar potential of your home or business before taking the financial plunge to invest in solar energy.


Using the site's modelling tools, you can evaluate how much solar energy your home could capture and how that would affect your monthly bills based on past weather conditions, current electricity bills, the slope of your house, as well as how many panels your roof can hold.

With Google Maps you can calculate the square footage of your roof and build virtual panels. Then RoofRay estimates the output potential of the roof, costs of installation, and ROI. Another section shows existing installations that have already been completed by other people, including specifics of the roof used and total peak power.

Of course, RoofRay does not replace solar experts, but undoubtedly could answer some of your basic questions, and generally it is a quite interesting online service that deserves our attention.

Website: www.roofray.com

Updated 2021: Seems like this site is not working anymore, so you can try:      Solar Calculator (solarreviews.com),  SUNSEI Solar Design Tool & Google Project Sunroof

Monday, December 15, 2008

Solar Power Calculating Tools Online

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There are a lot of online solar power calculating tools that can help you size your solar power installation. These tools are great in order to determinate how much solar power you'll need to run your home appliances.

NREL's PVWatts® Calculator
 - Estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations.

Off-Grid Solar System Calculator
- Wholesale Solar custom designs Off-Grid Solar Home Power Systems. Calculate your appliance needs, get an approximate system size, learn what Off-Grid system is best for you!

CalculationSolar.com
 - free online platform, which perform calculation of photovoltaic solar installations anywhere in the world.

Solar Calculator (EnergySage) - Use this solar panel calculator to quickly estimate your solar potential and savings by address. Estimates are based on your roof, electricity bill, and actual offers in your area.

Solar Calculators (altE) - 
a number of useful tools to help estimate your electricity usage, sizing for your grid-tie or off-grid solar power system and more.

Solar Panel (Power) Calculator
 - online tool used in electrical engineering to estimate the total power output, solar system output voltage and current when the number of solar panel units connected in series or parallel, panel efficiency, total area and total width.

Photovoltaic power calculator - 
quick online calculation of solar photovoltaic power and energy (PV panels or systems).

Solar Power Calculator - this tool will help you determine the yearly savings you will earn when installing  a PV solar system for your home.

PV Calculator | PVshop.eu - P
hotoVoltaic calculator for grid connected and PV off-grid systems in PVshop.eu. (EU)

Solar Energy Calculator | Energy Saving Trust - use the Solar Energy Calculator for an idea as to the benefits you may see from installing a solar PV system. This tool gives estimates based on information you provide, and a number of assumptions to indicate potential benefits. This is to help you decide whether a PV system is for you. (UK)

Solar Power Calculator   - 
an independent resource for calculating your solar power requirements and potential monetary savings. Find out if solar is right for you. (AU)

Amp & Watt Hour Calculator & Solar System design Tool - This Amp &Watt Hour Calculator is provided to help you make some basic electrical calculations and design your own solar power system. (AU)

Keep in mind that the above calculators are useful as a general guide for sizing your solar electricity system and you probably will also need advices and help from professionals.





Thursday, December 11, 2008

Calculating Your Solar Power Requirements

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Solar Power System

One of the most important thing you have to figure out when planning a solar power installation is the size of the solar system you’ll need.

First of all you need to calculate how much power you use on a daily basis. Your electric bill will be of help for this or you can make your own calculation. The power consumption of appliances is given in Watts (eg 21" fluorescent light, 13W). To calculate the energy you will use over time, you have to multiply the power consumption by the hours of use.

The 13W light fitting, on for 2 hours, will take 13 x 2 = 26WH.

Repeat this for all the appliances you wish to use, then add the results to obtain your daily power consumption.

You have to determinate also how much energy your battery can store. Battery capacity is measured in Ampere Hours (Ah). Convert this to Watt Hours by multiplying the Ah figure by the battery voltage: for a 20Ah, 12V battery the Watt Hours figure is 20 x 12 = 240WH.

The more energy you take, the faster the battery discharges. Keep in mind, however, that deep cycle batteries which are usually used in solar power systems, should not be discharged beyond 50% of their capacity. i.e. 50 % capacity remaining. Discharging beyond this level will significantly reduce the life of the batteries.

To calculate the energy your solar panel can supply to the battery, multiply Watts by the hours exposed to sunshine, then multiply the result by 0.85 (factor to allow for normal system losses).

For example, the Solar 40W panel in 4 hours of sunshine, 40 x 4 x 0.85= 136WH. This is the amount of energy the Solar panel can supply to the battery.

On the basis of all these calculations you'll determinate the size and number of solar panels you'll need, the number of batteries, power inverter size, etc.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Solar Energy and Solar Power

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Solar energy and solar power are two terms that are often used interchangeably but actually they are not the same thing. They both mean to receive and use solar rays, but more specifically solar power refers to electricity generated from the sun's light.

Solar PV PanelSolar energy is a more generic term and it describes all the uses of the light and heat from the sun. That includes solar power generation, but also solar thermal for water heating, space heating and cooling, and heat for industrial processes. Solar energy includes also passive solar energy that uses building orientation, design and materials to heat and cool buildings. 

Solar power is generated directly using photovoltaic (PV) technology. Solar PV panels (made from a semiconductor material) harness sunlight to create electricity to run appliances and lighting in your home. The electricity created by the solar system is direct current (DC), and the electricity we use in our homes is alternating currents (AC). Thus solar systems need an inverter which changes the DC current into useable AC current.

There are also concentrating solar power systems. They concentrate the sunlight using mirrors or lenses onto a receiver to produce heat. Then the heat can be used to generate electricity through steam turbines.

Solar energy is clean, environment-friendly, and most abundant renewable energy source we can use. In my next few posts, I will write about producing your own solar electricity by installing solar PV panels on the rooftop of your house, and what basic information householders need to know at the beginning.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cellular Base Stations Powered by the Sun

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It seems that the mobile industry is another technology field where solar power soon can play an important role in reducing costs and ensuring a reliable power supply.

In a new study ABI Research analysts predict that the future mobile phone base stations will be sun powered. They say that over 335,000 base stations worldwide will be using solar power by the end of 2013, with around 40,000 of those being completely autonomous and off-grid. The research firm explained that improvements in photovoltaic cells have meant that solar energy is now a viable option for supplying power to charging stations.

"The market for autonomous solar powered cell sites looks set to grow from extremely modest levels today to over 40,000 renewable energy sites by the end of 2013. A further 295,000 base stations are expected to supplement on-grid power usage with solar," said Stuart Carlaw, vice-president of ABI Research.

Still, the majority of these cellular base stations will use diesel or mains electricity to supplement their solar panels, especially in areas where population density and less solar energy require it.

Probably the developing countries will be the biggest winners as remote communities will receive phone coverage and Internet connections for the first time. According to some UN figures half of the world is still not able to make a phone call.

Other alternatives to normal electricity for base stations being considered are wind power, fuel cells and even compressed air.

Source: Market Watch


Monday, July 14, 2008

Rotating Skyscraper Powered by Wind and Sun in Dubai

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Rotating Skyscraper Dubai

The Italian architect David Fisher said he is ready to start construction on a  futuristic rotating skyscraper in Dubai that will be "the world's first building in motion". The modern "Dynamic Tower" construction, which would be energy self sufficient and cost about 700 million dollars to build, will represent an 80-storey tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape. 

The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile central column, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the city's skyline and the Persian Gulf. Each floor will rotate independently at different speeds. It will take between one and three hours for the floors to make a complete rotation.

Rotating floors are just one of several futuristic features in the building. Using wind and solar power, it will generate more electricity than it uses. Horizontally mounted giant wind turbines fitted between each rotating floor will generate enough energy to power the tower and nearby buildings. 20% of each roof will be exposed to the sun and photovoltaic cells placed on the roof of each rotating floor will produce solar energy. For the interior of the luxury apartments will be used only natural and recyclable materials, including stone, marble, glass and wood.

The dwellings will be assembled in a factory outside Bari in southern Italy, equipped with plumbing and electricity systems, kitchens, bathrooms and ceilings. They will arrive also painted, decorated and, in some cases, with walls hung with artwork. An apartment will cost between $3.7 million to $36 million dollars. Lifts will allow penthouse residents to park their cars right at their apartments.

The plan was revealed by Mr Fisher in a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York on June 24. "Today's life is dynamic, so the space we are living in should be dynamic as well," he said. "Buildings will follow rhythms of nature. They will change direction and shape from spring to summer, from sunrise to sunset, and adjust themselves to the weather. In other words, buildings will be alive."

Construction of the rotating skyscraper is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

Update 2020: The project has not been completed yet.