Best of Both Worlds: Solar Hydrogen Production Breakthrough

Using a simple solar cell and a photo anode made of a metal oxide, HZB and TU Delft scientists have successfully stored nearly five percent of solar energy chemically in the form of hydrogen. This is a major feat as the design of the solar cell is much simpler than that of the high-efficiency triple-junction cells based on amorphous silicon or expensive III-V semiconductors that are traditionally used for this purpose. The photo anode, which is made from the metal oxide bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) to which a small amount of tungsten atoms was added, was sprayed onto a piece of conducting glass and coated with an inexpensive cobalt phosphate catalyst.

“Basically, we combined the best of both worlds,” explains Prof. Dr. Roel van de Krol, head of the HZB Institute for Solar Fuels: “We start with a chemically stable, low cost metal oxide, add a really good but simple silicon-based thin film solar cell, and — voilà — we’ve just created a cost-effective, highly stable, and highly efficient solar fuel device.”

Thus the experts were able to develop a rather elegant and simple system for using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process, called artificial photosynthesis, allows solar energy to be stored in the form of hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used as a fuel either directly or in the form of methane, or it can generate electricity in a fuel cell. One rough estimate shows the potential inherent in this technology: At a solar performance in Germany of roughly 600 Watts per square meter, 100 square meters of this type of system is theoretically capable of storing 3 kilowatt hours of energy in the form of hydrogen in just one single hour of sunshine. This energy could then be available at night or on cloudy days.

Written by Science Daily. To read the full article, click here.

Solar power is part of the energy solution

As a homeowner with solar panels who has used zero kilowatts off the grid during the last two months, I found the June 10 news article “When the sun doesn’t shine, who pays?” very interesting. If I understand correctly, the power industry says I should pay an additional fee because I need the industry less than others do.

Such logic raises questions as to how far the industry might go. If I make energy-efficiency decisions that my neighbor does not make, I pay less. If I choose to sit in the dark at night, I pay less. So should my utility then be allowed to charge me additional fees for those decisions, too?

Perhaps, instead, the industry should invest in renewable energy and smart-grid technologies, reward energy efficiencies and promote rate decoupling. That would provide a long-term equitable solution for all their customers.

Written by Robert Keller. To read the full article, click here

Thoughts About Utility-Scale Solar Energy

This paper discusses issues with regard to solar energy installations in Georgia and the controversy of the Georgia Public Service Commission mandating a 500 Megawatt utility-size solar plant be built. These issues apply to all states in their considerations of renewable energy portfolios.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is scheduled to vote on allowing utility-scale solar plants July 11, 2013. The Commissioners state they don’t want any subsidies for the plants or upward pressure on utility rates. I can not vision any way utility-sized solar systems would not require subsidies or increased utility rates.

I am a landlord whose business allows me to take advantage of tax deductions and possible tax credits not available to the average homeowner. I considered installing solar panels on the roof of my property back in 2008 or 2009. The benefits are described by the following:

Written by The Heartland Institute. To read the full article, click here

Solar Panel Costs Drop, Fueling Rise In Renewable Energy

BERLIN — A dramatic drop in the price of solar power technology last year helped the continued growth of renewable energy, according to a U.N.-backed report published Wednesday.

Global energy-generating capacity from renewable sources rose by 115 gigawatts in 2012, compared with 105 gigawatts the previous year, the report by the Paris-based think tank REN21 showed.

Installed renewable energy capacity rose to over 1,470 gigawatts, equivalent to about 1,500 nuclear reactors. Two thirds of all renewable capacity still comes from hydropower, but wind and solar have been gaining. The worldwide capacity of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunshine into electricity, reached 100 gigawatts last year, the report said.

Written by Huffington Post. To read the full article, click here

Japan: The world’s new star in solar power

FORTUNE — Until recently less than 1% of Japan’s electrical power output came from renewables. But following the catastrophe of Fukushima and the power blackouts that followed, Japan has seen an explosion in investment in alternatives. Solar, in particular, in this averagely photon-blessed country, has seen a seismic rise of late and is this year poised to become the world’s largest solar market in volume after China.
According to a report by energy analyst IHS on Japan’s energy mix, Japan’s solar installations jumped by “a stunning 270% (in gigawatts) in the first quarter of 2013.” That means by the end of 2013 there will be enough new solar panels equal to the capacity of seven nuclear reactors. Such massive growth will allow Japan to surpass Germany and become the world’s largest photovoltaics (PV) market in terms of revenue this year.

Written by Michael Fitzpatrick. To read the full article, click here

Wind to Double and Solar to Triple in 6 Years, Says IEA

For Greentech Media this week, I reviewed the new Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013 from the International Energy Agency (IEA), and found a surprisingly bullish forecast for renewables, especially wind and solar. Most interesting are the phenomenal growth rates they project for the developing world.
And a lot of it will be deployed in developing countries.
The headline summary of the new Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been well reported: Renewables will surpass natural gas for electricity generation globally by 2016, doubling nuclear output and coming in second only to coal in power generation.
Total renewable capacity is expected to grow from 1,580 gigawatts in 2012 to 2,350 GW in 2018, while renewable electricity generation grows from 4,860 terawatt-hours to 6,850 terawatt-hours. Renewable generation will be 50 percent greater over the six-year forecast period than it was over the six years from 2006 to 2012.

Written by Chris Nelder. To read the full article, click here

DWP will buy excess solar energy

“Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers for the first time will be able to sell back excess solar energy created on rooftops and parking lots under a new program approved Friday by the city utility’s board of commissioners.

Described as the largest urban rooftop solar program of its kind in the nation, the so-called feed-in-tariff program would pay customers 17 cents per kilowatt hour for energy produced on their own equipment. The DWP has already accepted more than a dozen applicants and will be taking dozens more as it accepts contracts for up to 100 megawatts of solar power through 2016.”

Written By: Catherine Saillant To read full article click here