Solar Energy Gaining Ground

Many green thinkers view solar power as being a primary solution to world energy problems. Google is installing a fairly large1.6 Mega Watt (MW) solar power generation plant on the roof of their headquarters. Walmart is seeking proposals for a much larger 100 MW system. Lanner Corporation is planning to use Sun Power Corporation solar panels in a California subdivision. These projects are being considered in part by federal alternate energy tax credits.
Large-scale solar generation systems are an iffy financial investment. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are still developing. PV cells directly convert solar energy to electrical energy. The manufacture of the PV panel is analogous to the manufacture of computer memory chips. Using that analogy, the cost of these PV cells will decrease greatly in time and the efficiency will increase. Pilot facilities to test large-scale PV generation plants should limited to wealthy corporations. Image enhancement and tax credits being the primary motivation.

PV solar cell technology is much closer to becoming a cost effective power generation alternative that I would recommend. Spectro Labs, a subsidiary of Boeing, is currently manufacturing triple junction PV panels with over 28% efficiency. The increased efficiency is due to the three-junction design expanding the useful light spectrum for photovoltaic conversion. Based on that design, Spectro Labs recently set a new world record with a 40.3 percent efficiency PV solar cell.

This efficiency is approaching maximum efficiency. Meaning the probability of another huge leap in PV solar cell efficiency is less likely. The cost of the triple junction devices is very high at this time. The devices are based on pure Germanium crystal substrates. If the triple junction technology can be adapted to polycrystalline substrates, the cost will drop dramatically.

The polycrystalline based triple junction devices will have a lower efficiency than the pure crystal design. That reduction in efficiency will be completely offset by the dramatic cost reduction. The average efficiency of a polycrystalline triple junction PV solar cell should be in the order of 30 percent, well above Sun Power Corporation’s model A315’s 21% efficiency.

The corporate solar energy ventures will help spur a demand for increase solar panel manufacture. If enough demand can be created through tax credits, cost of the panels can reduce making solar energy options much more appealing for the general public.

Solar energy as an affordable alternative is rapidly approaching a reality. The next generation of affordable triple junction solar cells should be the key to igniting an explosion in worldwide solar power plant construction.


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Nanosolar Announces First Shipment

Nanosolar announces the shipping of their first solar panels. Martin Roscheisen, CEO of Nanosolar issued a press release on December 18th announcing the first shipment of the company’s innovative thin film solar panels
Five years have elapsed from the start of Nanosolar to its first shipment. The innovative printing press manufacturing style pioneered by the company promises to set the standard for affordable photovoltaic solar energy. Roscheisen estimates prices as low as $0.99 per watt for its product.

This is a big day for solar power fans. The long awaited word from Nanosolar, Inc. signals the true start of affordable solar power production. With a 25 year warrantee, the cost of the electricity produced could be on a par with current utility cost per kilowatt hour. A remarkable achievement for Nanosolar.

Mr. Roscheisen, also announced his plans for the first three commercially produced panels. The first will be displayed at the company’s California headquarters. The second is being auctioned on eBay with proceeds going to charity. The third will be donated to the Tech Museum in San Jose, California.

The first shipment of Nanosolar Utility Panels™ will be used for a one Megawatt municipal power project in Eastern Germany.

“This is the first time that a solar electricity cell and panel has been designed entirely and specifically for utility-scale power generation,” said Martin Roscheisen, CEO of Nanosolar. “It will set the standard for green power generation at utility scale.” See full press release

SolarPly™, flexible thin film panels are also now available. The light weight SolarPly™panels are stated to have solderless power connections. These panels can be trimmed to any size greatly increasing potential applications.

Nanosolar, Inc. is privately held with manufacturing facilities in San Jose, California and near Berlin, Germany. Product technical information is limited to qualified volume customers. Products currently available are the Nanosaolar Utility Panel™ and SolarPly™. Visit Nanosolar’s website for more information.

This article was submitted for non-payment. Associated Content has not reviewed and does not endorse the views of this author.

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Coal-Burning Power Plants Dangerous for Your Health

Besides having a big carbon footprint, power plants that burn fossil fuels such as coal, release a large amount of cancer causing pollutants into the year annually. This is why the environmental protection agency has decided to issue new guidelines regulating the amount and types of pollutants released into the air by fossil fuel burning power plants by November 2011. This action however, was not initiated by the EPA, but rather in response to lawsuits filed by organizations concerned with the public health hazard posed, which stated that the EPA was not updating their pollution laws in accordance with the Clean Air Act.
Owners and operators of coal and oil power plants are obviously concerned that they will be unable to afford the expensive changes needed. However, increased rates of lung cancer and other types of cancer are an unacceptable result to accept just to run a profitable power plant. If it becomes too expensive for owners of coal burning power plants to continue production of electricity, this could make other types of electric energy production such as geothermal and solar energy much less expensive.

In fact, President Obama recently stated that the nation that develops green technology first, will become a global economic leader. The true cost of coal and oil burning power plants may be much more than just an increased carbon footprint and global warming, but maybe harming the health of the average American. While secondhand smoke has recently been proved to dramatically increase the rates of heart attacks, and other medical conditions due to smoking, it is likely that the pollutants release by coal and oil burning power plants causes a certain amount of disease, and even deaths, each year in the United States.

In fact, one study suggest that the pollution from coal power plants kills approximately 30,000 Americans a year. Death rates are much higher in areas that haven’t higher than average concentration of coal burning power plants, when compared to areas that have few or no coal burning power plants. Besides cancer, the fine particles release by coal burning power plants also aggravates asthma, and asthma is a growing problem in major metropolitan areas with high levels of pollution.

For reasons related to both global warming, as well as for improved public health, coal burning power plants may one day become a thing of the past.


Power plants face potentially costly New Air Pollution

Study Says Coal Plant Pollution Kills 30,000 A Year

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Wind Generators and Solar Power

Nic and I have talked about living “off the grid” a couple of times. I don’t think we would ever be TOTALLY self sufficient, but I think it would be a way to save money and not rely on the government or private utilities. Don’t get the idea that we are anti government. I know when I was younger, that was the idea I got when I heard of families and groups of people that decided to live like this.
In our situation I think it would be a good idea to stay connected to the power grid. the reasons for this are; if we don’t succeed the first try we wont be left in the dark, and if we do have success, the power we produce in excess of what we use could be credited to our account. Then in times of no sun or wind the credits would be used from the power company and we would still have lights.

I’ve only read a little about what is needed for wind generators. It seems simple enough to give it a shot first, when the time comes. For solar power the price seems to be the inhibitor for most of what I’ve read. Not only the initial price of the solar panels, but the replacement of them also. A good hailstorm comes along and there goes a good bit of money.

If anyone reading has tried or knows someone that has tried this (success or not) please let us know. It will be a few years down the road before we can do this but any information we get is appreciated.

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Green Gift Ideas: Solar Power

When the ordinary person thinks of solar panels, they typically picture this huge setup and installation processes, involving costly professional services, hours of labor and thousands of feet of wires and cables. However, with technology advancing at the ever-increasing pace that it is, solar panels have become much more efficient in recent years, and much more compact and smaller in size when compared to their older generation counterparts.
Because solar panels are increasing in storage capacity but decreasing in physical size and proportions, solar panels and other solar-powered objects have now become excellent, affordable gift ideas. Why give your beloved friend or family member a gift that requires batteries (which they will have to purchase in the future to continue using your gift) when you can give them a solar-powered item that never needs batteries?

Solar panels and other solar powered objects can truly be considered the gift that keeps on giving. Because there are no batteries are electricity used, you will actually be saving the gift recipient money over time – something anybody can appreciate in these difficult financial times. And don’t forget the fact that you’ll be helping to do your part in preserving our environment, too – another important issue which is on the mind of many Americans today.

While solar panels have become more affordable in the recent months and years, full solar systems are still a little bit on the pricey side to be considered a viable gift option for many. However, there are smaller sized, individual panels that can be purchased at relatively low costs. These can also be installed rather quickly and easily, and some may provide enough power to run an entire living room, home office or garage, for example.

Outdoor, solar-powered lights make great gift ideas that are also inexpensive, too. Lights are available in a variety of colors and styles, and are designed for many different purposes. Solar powered lights can be used to light up dark walkways and paths at night, or to add some vibrant color to a garden or a flowerbed in the dark. Solar powered motion lights are also a great idea. These can be installed right on the side of the house, and provide security without having to worry about changing costly batteries or running up your electric bill.

And because solar panels have become compact and so versatile lately, newly updated designs are being released often, and many new items on the market are solar powered. Solar really is the way of the future – help spread the technology by giving a solar powered gift to someone you love today.

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Must Know Tips to Save on Your Electric Bill

In these tough economic times we’re always looking for ways to save money. One place that people can save a lot of money is with their electric bill. Electricity is calculated in watt-hours, or how many watts you use over a given time. The electric company bills you a fixed rate for the use of the electricity. There are couple big ways to save a lot of money each month on electricity. We’ll look at cost saving ideas and a very recent energy development, home solar panels. Through reading this article, I hope to enlighten you and help you save some money.
Most people will tell you they prefer their house to be a mean (average) temperature of around 72°-75° F year round. Some seasons make this job easier. For instance, fall and spring in Michigan average around 75° each season. When the seasons get to their extremes, that is summer and winter, and then it’s the job of the home heating or air conditioning to take off or add to the difference. But, did you know that the average home heating bill is between $100 and $300! The average cooling bill is a little more than that ($125 – gt; $325). Turning your thermostat up or down to make your house warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter will save you around $50 a season. There are of course a couple factors; for instance, homes with a lot of windows will have heating and cooling bills which are astronomically higher than homes with only a few windows. You can also save money with new windows and doors. As I just pointed out, homes with a lot of windows tend to heat up (due to the Greenhouse effect) and cool off quicker than those without, the reason for this is because glass doesn’t facilitate a very good heat barrier to hold heat in. Even simple treatments like window tint can lower your cooling bills.

For those who are able to make an initial investment to save in the long run, you’ll be able to farm your own energy. The price in solar panels has more or less plummeted in recent years due to the economy and more competition. Installing solar panels does require a large amount of batteries for redundancy when the sun is behind clouds or when its night time, but the benefits are awesome! If your solar panel array can produce a surplus of energy, the electric company will pay you for it (in watt-hours), so you can make money and save money at the same time. It’s a double bonus!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this rather interesting article on home energy. Replacing old windows and making adjustments to home temperature can lead to big cost savings. Coupling those with solar panels can lead to net profit over the long term. I urge everyone to look into alternative energy solutions for your home and wallet!

Article Resource: Benjamin Cance

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Eliminate Your Electric Bill by Living Off the Grid

With many of us aware of the existence of global warming combined with the endless consumption of non-renewable resources, some people prone to speculation about the future or the future of their children may grow anxious not knowing of a solution to the problem, or knowing that that there are solutions but greedy corporations and politics prevent them from being implemented. Well, there, is a solution for each and every one of us: it’s the option of detaching ourselves from our dependence on the grid, or the global elite corporate energy system that has enslaved us by making us dependent on being provided with electricity through energy companies and the government and forcing us to fund their bureaucracies and buy the products powered by the grid.
What if we could live off the grid? Empowering ourselves with self sufficiency, true independence and feeling good about not contributing to the pollution of the earth for our personal convenience. At the same time, we can save a great deal of money and maybe completely eliminate bills.

For my new cabin that I’m building in the Olympic peninsula, I am going to try and power it through a combination of wind and solar energy. I was inspired to do those by listening to an interview with former Governor Jesse Ventura who was boasting of his libertarian paradise in Mexico where he was able to power all his electricity, including his swimming pool with wind and solar power and how he hung out with surfers. It didn’t bother him that he felt the Mexican government was corrupt – he was off the grid in his own world, independent and not tethered to Big Brother.

Even if you don’t fancy being a libertarian or rugged individualist, or you think that global warming is a hoax, consider the following advantages of divorcing yourself from the grid:

No more dealing with public utility bureaucrats. How many times have you being frustrated by public utilities during a power outage and you’re at the mercy of linesman who have to prioritize which neighborhoods need servicing first. Why not empower yourself with powering your home. Have it in your hands so you can be on Associated Content while the rest of the neighborhood is blacked out.

Imagine not having to pay for the power you use. Rather than give your money to a company like Enron or a dysfunctional public utilities branch, wouldn’t it be wonderful to use as much electricity as you want and utilize the power of nature. The sun and the wind are always there, and you can stop worrying about your electricity meter.

Add up the money you spend on your electricity bills. Imagine placing that in your pocket, or in an investment fund.

Don’t forget being able to sleep better at night. You cannot control what the masses do, but you can control what you do. Do your part by helping to ensure a better future for future generations be helping to ensure a healthier world. Your lack of using non-renewable resources and supporting the grid which is sucking all the earth’s resources means you are doing your part.

If you think you don’t have the technical know how to become self sufficient, you may want to do some research and retest that theory. I found a manual by doing some research online it’s going to show me how to build a windmill and solar power system to power my home.

Sources –

Log Homes Illustrated 2007 Issues CD

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Build Your Own Solar Power System

Have you ever considered building your own solar power system? I’ve toyed with the idea in the back of my mind for years, ever since my son came home from school and announced that he was going to build a solar power system for his Science Fair project. “You’re going to build WHAT?” I screeched in shock and horror. And he proceeded to go to work, doing it all by himself, using scrap and junk he found around the farm.
By the end of the allotted time period, he had built a tiny but working solar power system that could heat water in a small canister. Now, my son is a very bright guy but he’s no genius, so if a kid can do it, a reasonably intelligent adult can, also.

Building your own solar power system can be as simple as laying a coil of black plastic pipe on the ground, in a sunny spot near your swimming pool. You hook one end to the discharge outlet of your pump and the other end to the matching port on your pool. The pump pushes cold pool water into the coil of black plastic pipe on the ground, it circulates through the pipe and is heated by the sun. Warmer water is pumped into the pool, raising the pool temperature by a few degrees. It’s not a beautiful sight, but it is actually a functional solar power system.

Purchasing a commercial solar power system is expensive. Building your own solar power system is not. We’re not talking about converting your entire home to solar power here… we’re looking at heating an outdoor pool or providing hot water to the house. Even if you only pre-heat the water going to your water heater, your solar power system can save you money in the long run. And we all know that a heated swimming pool is just so much nicer than swimming in cold water. Why not make use of an eternally renewable energy source, the sun, and build your own solar power system to heat that pool.

The popular back-to-the-land magazine, Mother Earth News, has published numerous articles on building your own solar power system and solar heat collectors. Some of the projects they offer are quite simple and inexpensive ways to heat a room in your house or heat water.

Remember that building your own solar power system doesn’t have to mean converting your entire house to solar power. Every little bit of the sun’s free energy that you harness will help you save money on your electric bill. And in these days of skyrocketing prices, every penny saved is truly a penny earned. If you can build your own solar power system and save a few bucks on your electric bill, you’re ahead of the game. The fact that you are also easing the strain on our environment is a definite bonus.

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Solar Power: The Obstacles and Benefits

Solar power is a promising field in alternative energy. According to Ted Sargent of the University of Toronto, the sun delivers 10,000 times more energy to the surface of the earth than the world currently consumes. This means that if a mere tenth of a percent of the earth’s surface (an area about three-quarters the size of Texas) was covered in solar cells, then humans would not need to worry about using oil or coal ever again. Or would they?
Before we go further, it is important to know how solar power is generated. The study of converting solar energy to usable energy is called photovoltaics. In most cases, solar energy is collected in bundles of absorption units called solar cells, usually constructed of silicon. These cells collect light from the visible spectrum and convert that energy directly into electricity. Solar panels can be placed anywhere, but certain areas are more effective than others at producing energy of this kind. Areas near the equator that see the most plentiful sunlight are ideal, and areas to the far north or south have limited potential at producing enough energy to be cost-effective.

Solar power has a number of hurdles to jump over before the world can expect to see widespread usage of solar energy over energy derived from fossil fuels. The first barrier that needs to be overcome is cost. Although not a new technology, solar cells are still relatively expensive to manufacture and difficult to install. This means that the average consumer will have difficulty obtaining solar cells to help generate power for their homes. Furthermore, the majority of solar cells use the element silicon, which is used extensively in microprocessors and other applications that utilize superconductivity. That means that solar cells can only be produced so long as silicon is available in plentiful quantities. Shortages can cause the price of cells to increase, which is what happened in 2005 after a long decrease in the overall price of cells. In order for companies and consumers to choose solar energy over energy derived from coal or oil, there is going to have to be a cost incentive. If the public shows interest and can put up the money for the technology, then corporations will follow suit.

The next hurdle is the nature of the cells. From the 1970s until the 2000s, solar cells came bundled in ungainly and rigid panels. This meant that a flat surface was needed and that the cells themselves were more fragile and difficult to ship and install. However, several new developments have offered hope in allowing solar cells to be more versatile. Some panels can be manufactured so that they are flexible and can roll up like a sleeping bag. This would allow the cells to occupy less space, be easier to transport and install, and be more durable under adverse conditions. The most exciting breakthrough involves a new kind of solar energy-collecting material that can be sprayed on to surfaces. Although the technology is still in preliminary phases, in one to two decades, this new type of paneling could offer worlds of possibilities. The spray-on material could coat everything from cars to personal attire and could be rigged to charge batteries and Ipods, cars and utilities. In addition, new advances allow certain cells to absorb invisible infrared light from the sun. This means that these new cells can continue to collect energy and generate power even if the sun is obscured by clouds.

A third obstacle to overcome is placement. If solar cells are to compensate for much of the output of current power plants, then large areas of concentrated cells will need to be rigged. The question of where to put these giant collections of cells arises. Should they be placed in residential areas where citizens might complain of their unsightliness, or in remote areas that could potentially harm wildlife? These are questions that need to be addressed before large-scale proliferation of solar technology takes place.

What’s to be done in the meantime? Well, the first and most important step is for politicians to put their money where their mouths are and push for improved funding of solar projects. When an infinite energy source like the sun is so omnipresent, then it would be folly to turn a blind eye to it. Most of the work on solar energy is conducted by private companies, which is a difficult gamble. Many large corporations have and will continue to buy up and render inert certain technologies that could threaten their profit interests. Therefore, more government grants need to go toward academic and university research into solar technologies in order to protect the projects’ integrity before going public. If we are to cut our dependence on fossil fuels through solar energy, then we as a nation need to be committed to seeing that through to completion. That means activism and letting politicians know that their constituents are interested in turning away from dangerous and finite fuel sources.

In all actuality, solar energy won’t completely remove our dependence on fossil fuel. But it can surely take a bite out of that dependence if given the right amount of support.

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How to Use Solar Power when Enjoying the Stealth, Van-Dwelling Lifestyle

While you’re living as a stealth, van dweller, at least to some degree you will need electricity. Lighting, entertainment and even making your daily blog entry will require electrical power to some extent. As you hope to remain hidden in plain view, you will find a generator is an unlikely candidate to satisfy your electrical needs.
Noise, or anything that will draw attention to you, will quickly spell the end to your stealthiness. Rapidly bringing the locals or law enforcement knocking on your door.

Solar power can easily meet your demands and allow you the luxury of using many of today’s electronic conveniences. A couple solar panels on the roof, hooked to two or more deep cycle batteries can power most modern electronics for quite a while. An electric roof mounted ventilation fan will keep condensation under control. No one can do without a TV, or at least a radio to keep from going crazy. Microwaving water for your morning coffee, all can be accommodated with a Power inverter that will convert the 12v DC power provided by the batteries and solar panels into 110v AC electricity.

There are many sources for the components necessary to build your electrical system in your Van. One source that can supply everything you’ll need is Northern Tool is the ideal mail order or retail outlet for the Do-It-Yourself Stealth Van Builder.

When you install your electrical system be sure to have it separated from the existing vehicle electrical system by a battery isolator or relay so that if you draw down the deep cycle house batteries you won’t be draining the battery that starts your vehicle.

You may want to consider a small ultra quiet portable electric generator as a emergency backup in the event your starting battery comes up dead for any reason, or you are experiencing too many days of poor sunlight. The Honda EU series are excellent examples, also available at Northern Tool.

Setting up your electrical system will be the most expensive part of preparing your van for full time living. Take the time to lay it out well, outlets readily accessible, batteries vented to the outside. Use proper wiring techniques and always remember that a little knowledge can be dangerous where electricity is concerned. If you don’t know what your doing, find someone that does.

One thing to consider, solar panel systems only create so much power. Using an electric portable heater for heat will drain your batteries very quickly. A hot plate would be in the same category. Anything with a heating element will become impractical to use if solar panels are your source of electricity.

The main benefits of Solar Energy of course are they make SILENT, and FREE electricity. A pretty good trade off when compared to noisy gas sucking generators.

To follow along as an RV has a solar power system installed go to; Installation of a Solar Panel System When your done you can continue on your journey toward freedom by go to Stealth,Van Dweller for more information about the Gypsy lifestyle of a stealth, van dweller.

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