Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Solar cell breaks efficiency record

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Environment/Energy Donate to DU
 
kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:02 PM
Original message
Solar cell breaks efficiency record
Source: C-NET


December 6, 2006 1:18 PM PST
Solar cell breaks efficiency record

By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET News

Boeing-Spectrolab has developed a solar cell that can convert almost 41 percent of the sunlight that strikes it into electricity, the latest step in trying to drop the cost of solar power.

Potentially, the solar cell could bring the cost of solar power down to around $3 a watt, after installation costs and other expenses are factored in, over the life of the panel. The new cost information comes from Boeing, whose Spectrolab unit supplies searchlights and solar simulators, and the Department of Energy, which sponsored the project. Current silicon solar cells provide electricity at about $8 a watt, before government rebates. The goal is to bring it to $1 a watt without rebates or incentives.

The cell achieves 40.7 percent efficiency. The Department of Energy has been sponsoring research to find ways to get solar cells past the so-called 40 percent barrier.

Earlier this year, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories reported that cells made of a new type of semiconductor, zinc-manganese-tellurium, combined with a few atoms of oxygen, could convert around 45 percent of sunlight into electricity. That technology, also partly sponsored by the Department of Energy, has been licensed to RoseStreet Labs in Arizona. It remains to be seen whether this material can be made into solar cells economically.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/Solar-cell-breaks-efficiency-recor...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
JonQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. Cool
I'd be very interested in seeing how this compares with expense and lifespan to previous solar cells.

But definitely a step in the right direction. I wish we'd put more of that stimulus money in to research. It may take longer to pay off but it will be a net winner for the country.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #1
20. Solar is ready for market - new companies are sold out years in advance.
This article is poorly researched. It talks about a milestone in conversion efficiency, but it misrepresents the significance of this aspect of producing affordable solar PV

Thin film solar technology has a much lower efficiency, but it is also much, much cheaper to produce AND install than higher efficiency methods of production.

For examples of what is leading the real market look at the technologies behind Nanosolar http://www.nanosolar.com /

and Solyndra http://www.solyndra.com/Products/Optimized-PV

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
JonQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 11:06 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Thanks for the links
I'll check those out.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
existentialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. A few months ago I read of an improvement in technology
that would allow conversion of more than 40% of the energy of sunlight to be converted to electricity through photo voltaic chips.

One major problem: the chips cost about $10,000 per square centimeter. Has there been significant improvement with regard to cost.

I have also read about one other significant problem with photolytic, namely the nitrogen triflouride that is used in their production. It seems that the nitrogen trifluoride is a very significant greenhouse gas that breaks down very slowly in the atmosphere. What I read about it however hinted at a solution, because the nitrogen trifluoride, as I understood it, was escaping in the process rather than being necessarily released. This being so a solution is implied by simply tightening up the seals and improving the recovery systems?

What do you know about these issues?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. All new technology is expensive at first
Production and refinement will bring the cost down as it has with most emerging technologies.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
d3m0l1sh3r Donating Member (26 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:32 PM
Response to Original message
4. PRICE SHOULD NOT BE AN ISSUE
Just because it's expensive doesn't mean we shouldn't go out and start implementing these everywhere we can in place of the current systems.
There needs to be change, some currency that isn't worth anything anyway, shouldn't stop it. EVER
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
tomm2thumbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. my guess is if we spent as much on the war as solar, we'd need few wars

seems like money well spent
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
5. good news
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Syntheto Donating Member (283 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 06:00 PM
Response to Original message
6. Christ!
Please don't let this be some sort of bullshit employing labyrinthine statistics and methods for determining energy output that are unrealistically optimistic, just like the current debate over the effect manmade activity has changed the climate. On that note, why aren't we bitching about the POLLUTION and the degradation of world AIR QUALITY that's definitely-no doubt about it- caused by human activity? Jesus, it sickens me that such an opportunity has been lost (and that's saying a lot, as I'm an uberathesist) and if I was the conspiratorially-minded person (meaning, I could be) then I might wonder if the current climate debate is more a method of diverting the topic away from the real threat, namely AIR POLLUTION. Supposedly, there's a dark cloud of smog that hangs over Asia. Remember the Olympics in Bejing, and how they had to shut shit down for awhile to clear the air; how some athletes were afraid to compete because of air quality. This is the real issue and should be addressed, but no one will. Sure, I'm right of most people here, but I will grant that because of our native ecological movement, our industries have scrubbed themselves pretty clean overall, ie, smokestack protection, ect. There are plenty of violations every year, but with the EPA, at least we have a structure in place. I've read that there are places in Czechoslovakia that are still environmentally dead from processes and industry conducted during the Soviet era. The Koreas and China are in this phase now, but who can really blame them? Look at the ease of life most Americans really have, even at the 'working poor' level, as compared to some of the regions of the world. Our real, truly underlying problem is the entertainment/advertisement/propaganda industry that we're all subjected to. Who needs a freaking car that can park itself? Who the hell are you talking to on that cell phone? Why do you need that pair of jeans? Why do we have kids humping the hills of Afghanistan, wearing sunglasses and carrying M-16s? In my heart, I curse Edward Bernays. Let the Antisemitism accusations begin.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
TrollBuster9090 Donating Member (569 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #6
17. Pollution and negative externalities
In fact, the only reason coal and other fossil fuel burning energy sources can claim such a "low" cost per Watt is because they DO NOT take into account the actual NEGATIVE EXTERNALITIES associated with their products. Coal costs a certain amount per ton to mine and burn, ditto for pumping oil out of the ground, and that's all they ever use to calculate the costs of those energy sources. They do NOT factor in the costs (which are difficult to calculate) of cleaning up the mess those energy sources create, the health problems associated with them, etc. That particularly irks me in the case of oil. The price of a barrel of oil is actually much higher than it appears if you factor in all the money the United States spends on military force in the Persian Gulf to maintain the foreign oil supply. But it's usually the big, bad old gubmint that gets blamed for 'wasteful spending' when it comes to that, rather than the oil industry where the blame should really go.

Even loonie libertarian economists like Milton Freidman believe that PIGOVIAN TAXES should be levied against fossil fuel companies, since many of the TRUE costs of their product (called Negative Externalities) are dumped onto the commons, while they only see the profits.

Definition of a Pigovian Tax.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigovian_tax
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 11:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
25. Huh? Do you not believe in or understand climate change, or both?? n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 06:23 PM
Response to Original message
8. So, will they sell the whole kit & cabootle to China?
Or will they allow Saudi Arabia to submit bids, too?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Stumbler Donating Member (599 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
9. Anyone else notice this 'news' is from 3 years ago?
One would think we should have achieved even more efficiency in that span of time. And to echo a previous poster, price should really not be a problem in the first place. Billions to banksters and war contractors seem to be a-okay, but heaven-forbid we have to pay a little more for clean air and reduced mercury in our fish.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
d3m0l1sh3r Donating Member (26 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Don't forget insurance people
Don't forget about the heads of the private insurance industry, too ;)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
grahampuba Donating Member (72 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. had to wipe a little dust of that one eh?
3 years ago is right,

from last year,
http://www.tgdaily.com/trendwatch-features/39807-new-so...

granted this one is probably more cost prohibitive considering its components, cost shouldnt be an option agreed, but exotic materials are inherently expensive.

its great that these companies like BP, GE and others are making solar cells for a consumer market, but i cant help think about what happened when Firestone, GM, Standard Oil and others bought up the trolley systems in a handful of cites and pulled them all up.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Stumbler Donating Member (599 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-07-09 04:26 AM
Response to Reply #11
28. Right? Solar power's been commercially available since the 70's or 80's...
But it's only now that's it's finally becoming "efficient"?? And in this case, "now" = 3 years ago... Anyone who values an actual free market can't expect oil-dependent companies like BP or GE to switch to renewable, decentralized power sources over the veritable monopoly they already control. If anyone need an example from history's past, the destruction of trolley systems across the US should be key.

How the f*** is it that we can hear debates about using 'carbon capturing systems,' a technology that won't be commercially viable for 20 years at many best estimates, while decrying solar and wind energies as lacking technological viability? Bulls*** hypocrisy is all I hear....
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
More_liberal_than_mo Donating Member (192 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 07:20 PM
Response to Original message
12. It's still way too expensive
for the average income family. You have to install enough solar cells to give enough power for the peak demand at any one time during the day. A typical home in the Southeast or Southwest of the USA needs about 3,000 watts during peak hours just to run the air conditioning and about 2,000 more to run all the rest of the high power demand devices in the home that might be on at any given moment (refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, oven, computer, lights). Since you can't depend on it being sunny when you need the power, you have to have a way to store the power generated until you need it. Storing electrical energy at your home is very expensive as you must have large rechargeable batteries and converters to change dc power in the batteries to ac power used in the home. At $3 a watt the solar cells will set you back $15,000 for 5,000 watts of peak power. The batteries and converters will set you back another $15,000 and unfortunately the batteries wear out after a few years and need to be replaced. Installation is extra. This puts the costs of solar out of reach for most homeowners right now. Hopefully the price per watt will continue to fall and battery technology will improve as well to give us longer lasting cheaper batteries.
Remember it was only 20 years ago that personal computers were too expensive for the average family but now nearly every family has at least 1 computer in the home.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hulk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
13. Aw hell, we can burn tires and warm our houses....
In our culture, it doesn't matter what the pollution factor might be. It's always the same story...cost and profit.

If solar cells can't make a bigger profit than coal burning plants, we'll just keep burning that old coal. Hell....there's no climate warming, remember? They said so on vannity and limpballs.

Land of morons....led by the biggest morons.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bamacrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
14. How fast will one of the Big oil companies buy this and kill it?
Ah Ev1 how we miss you.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
begin_within Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. You would think that oil and energy companies would actually invest in this technology
because in the long run, it's probably much more profitable than fossil fuels.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
GreenTea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 08:31 PM
Response to Original message
15. Good news, but, let me know when it cost less than a buck a watt.
Then we won't need anything but the sun or wind or water for power....

I wouldn't even be surprised at sabotage over the years from the polluting and colluding oil and coal industries.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
wial Donating Member (362 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 08:59 PM
Response to Original message
18. What about LED solar?
I heard from a good authority LED is 80% efficient converting electrons to photons, but ALSO 70% efficient the other way, converting photons to electrons. In other words, LED solar is already vastly better than this breakthrough. Cheap too with new materials technologies. No idea why it isn't being marketed more aggressively.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #18
26. LEDs and Photovoltaic cells are both semiconductors with p/n layers, same basic things.
In fact, if you face a so-called grain of wheat led toward light you'll get a little current.

I'm not sure what you're talking about, if there's an LED (light emitting diode) dedicated to converting light into electricity?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
19. .
This article is poorly researched. It talks about a milestone in conversion efficiency, but it misrepresents the significance of this aspect of producing affordable solar PV

Thin film solar technology has a much lower efficiency, but it is also much, much cheaper to produce AND install than higher efficiency methods of production.

For examples of what is leading the real market look at the technologies behind Nanosolar http://www.nanosolar.com /

and Solyndra http://www.solyndra.com/Products/Optimized-PV

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DemoTex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 09:17 PM
Response to Original message
21. My DU posts from the Oregon wilderness (5 months) were 95% solar powered.
I had a 30-watt solar panel and an AGM (absorbent-gas-mat) battery system (six 12v-12a batteries in parallel = 12v-72a for the consumer .. me!). Additionally, I had the US Forest Service solar collection and battery storage systems that powered the fire lookout tower's essential systems (USFS radio/repeater and cell phone, and low-voltage lights).

I seldom used the 2KW gasoline-powered gen-set that I brought to the lookout. But when I needed it, it was indispensable.

So, sometimes efficiency is not the only criteria. Need, in the wilderness, trumps!



Iced-over solar panels during the October 3-4 (2009) blizzard.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
pleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 09:57 PM
Response to Original message
22. Very cool!
K&R
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
unkachuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 09:57 PM
Response to Original message
23. call me....
....when they achieve 80% conversion, at a penny a watt with a minimum of 20 years life expectancy....if corporate America won't do it, the Chinese will....
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
D23MIURG23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 11:24 PM
Response to Original message
27. Unrec - this is old news - - December 6, 2006 1:18 PM PST
I'm the last person who would ever unrec a post about solar cells on substance, being a chemistry student with interests in related venues - but you've got to check the date on your news - this is expired.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Mon Oct 23rd 2017, 07:41 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Environment/Energy Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC