Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

Posts tagged “solar efficiency”

By Robert Rapier on Aug 8, 2009 with no responses

Running the Electric Grid with eSolar

As I often do on a Saturday morning, I was up early reading through energy headlines. I happened across this story on eSolar: Bill Gross’s Solar Breakthrough “We are producing the lowest cost solar electrons in the history of the world,” Bill Gross is telling me. “Nobody’s ever done it. Nobody’s close.” “We have a cost-effective, no-subsidy solar power solution and it’s for sale, anywhere around the world,” he says. The article was intriguing, and inevitably led me back to eSolar’s website to get a better idea of whether the claims appear to have merit. There, I watched the slide show on the technology, and caught this bit: A single unit generates 46 MW of clean electricity on a footprint… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Feb 25, 2008 with 3 responses

Running the U.S. on Solar Power

How much land would it take for solar power to satisfy the electricity demands of the U.S.? I made some attempts to calculate this before, but a recent story may enable me to calculate some more reliable numbers if the solar is provided via solar thermal power: Solar Power Heats Up: Another Plant Planned for Southwest Two bits caught my eye: Abengoa Solar, a subsidiary of a similarly named technology company based in Seville, Spain, and Arizona Public Service on Thursday announced plans to build a 280-megawatt solar thermal power plant about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. So we know the planned capacity of the solar thermal plant. In case you are unfamiliar with solar thermal: Solano will use parabolic… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 22, 2007 with no responses

My Top 10 Energy Stories of 2007

First, thanks to all who contributed ideas. You may have an entirely different opinion on the most important energy stories. Feel free to share it. Many of these stories were contributed by various readers. Comments by readers are italicized. If you want to know who wrote what, you can see the entire comment thread here. Here are my Top 10 Energy Stories of 2007 1. Oil price soars as media becomes Peak Oil aware One reason I felt pretty safe in making the $1,000 bet on oil prices is that a move from $60 – the price in January – to $100 – the price at which I would lose the bet – would be unprecedented. Of course a worldwide… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 1, 2007 with no responses

University of Delaware Breaks Solar Efficiency Record

UD-led team sets solar cell record, joins DuPont on $100 million project Using a novel technology that adds multiple innovations to a very high-performance crystalline silicon solar cell platform, a consortium led by the University of Delaware has achieved a record-breaking combined solar cell efficiency of 42.8 percent from sunlight at standard terrestrial conditions. That number is a significant advance from the current record of 40.7 percent announced in December and demonstrates an important milestone on the path to the 50 percent efficiency goal set by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Go Delaware! For some reason I never envisioned Delaware on the cutting edge of solar technology.

By Robert Rapier on Jul 29, 2007 with no responses

Google Solar, Hydrogen, and Farm Bills

I wanted to briefly comment on several issues. Some of them deserve their own essays, but I am too pressed for time. Google Solar If you are into solar, Google’s Solar Panel Project is incredibly cool. They provide real time data on their solar energy production. One thing that I have noticed is that the assumption of peak power times 5 hours to get the overall daily solar production appears to be too conservative. For instance, according to the link above, yesterday power peaked at 877 KW at 1 p.m., but total energy production yesterday was 7021 KWh. I have to multiply by 8 hours to get that. In fact, that’s been a pretty consistent theme this month. It may… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 28, 2007 with no responses

A California Solar Dilemma

After grappling with the thought experiment of replacing all of our electricity consumption with solar panels, the problem came into focus. This problem seems simple, but it isn’t trivial. As I mentioned, I have seen people approach this problem in several different ways, and after tackling it myself I believe that all of those approaches are wrong. So, I decided to produce a graph to help illustrate exactly how I see the problem: Typical Solar Cell Power Curve vs. Actual California Demand Curve on July 12, 2003 The way I came up with this graph was by modeling the solar cell power curve based on Google’s Solar Panel Project, which they update daily for solar electricity produced. You can presume… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 27, 2007 with no responses

A Solar Thought Experiment

Note: This is a work in progress. I am modifying the calculations as I get constructive feedback. Credit goes to several people for that. I think I have figured out the best approach to solving this problem in my latest effort. A comment over at The Oil Drum got me to thinking about what it might take to replace all of our current electricity consumption with solar power. There was an error in that calculation, and some of the information was dated, so I decided to do the calculation myself. Here is the question. Considering only our electrical usage, how many square miles of solar panels would it take to supply that much demand? And how much would it cost?… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 24, 2007 with no responses

Solar Redux

The previous essay on solar energy got picked up and linked to from a number of places. Between those links and the original blog entry, some of the comments I read were largely in left field, and many of them didn’t come close to representing my actual position or arguments. Maybe that’s partially my fault for spending all of 20 minutes writing the post. Which brings up another point: It seems like the less time I spend on a post, the more comments and hits it gets. But I digress. So, let me clarify a few things. 1. I am not against biofuels. In certain situations, biofuels may be (and probably are) an appropriate solution to the problem. In fact,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 23, 2007 with no responses

The Future is Solar

I have done a lot of research lately into various alternative diesel technologies as I was working on my renewable diesel chapter. One thing that became very clear to me is that the world will not be able to displace more than a fraction of our petroleum usage with biofuels. I already knew that this was the case with ethanol, but now I believe that is true of all liquid fuels. Consider this sneak preview (still in draft form) from the book: There are approximately 4 billion arable acres in the world. There are many different feed stocks from which to make renewable diesel, but most biodiesel is made from rapeseed oil. Rapeseed is an oilseed crop that is widespread,… Continue»