Sunday, September 23, 2007

While we wait...

After two and a half months of silence in the forums, Steorn finally returns with this comment on the Orbo Irish Folk Songs thread:

Brilliant! :bigsmile:
To pass the time while we all wait to see what happens next with Steorn, I thought I'd share with you this piece of news I came across on Slashdot today. Supposedly a new method for producing solar cells developed at Colorado State University is about to go into production, reducing solar panel production costs down to $1 per watt from the current minimum $3 per watt. The company AVA Solar Inc will start production by the end of next year, no Jury validation required. Now that's getting pretty close to free energy!


Anonymous said...

wow...this is huge. New homes equiped with solar energry production capabilities. Tied to the grid most states will allow you to sell back or bank electricity for those times when the sun doesn't shine. in the Southern half of the US especially the west this is huge. Now all we need is for battery prices to continue to decline and you can heat, cool, and drive to work all powered from the Sun. Already today there are kits to convert the Toyota Prius to run the first 50 miles per day off about 25 cents worth of electricity before the "hybrid" gas engine kicks in. That would handle a lot of peoples daily transportation needs...all with fossil fuel. Wow...the next 10 years are going to be exciting. We just might get the oil monkey off our backs sooner then we originaly thought. The next step would be to produce Hyrdorgen from solar cells and bam...oil free economy...except for some chemicals, and plastics...the future looks birght!

All done without magic magnet machines...

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, but the production cost has nothing to do with the price in the shop....
Low production cost mean only that someone is going to make a lot of money.

Anonymous said...

Power : 65 W
Voltage : 65V
Short circiut current : 1 A

65V/1A=65ohm short circuit resistance.

Maximum output ?:
Imagine that you connect a load of 65 ohm then you will get 0,5A and 32,5V, that is 16,25Watts. 48,75W is lost in heat?
How do you get 65W from of the unit ?

Why would anyone reveal their production costs ?

11,5% efficiency is very low.

Cadmium telluride is toxic.
The toxicity is not just because of the cadmium. Cadmium telluride triggers extensive reactive oxygen damage to the cell membrane, mitochondria, and cell nucleus.

Thicket said...

I've seen too many claims of high efficiency solar, wind, fuel cell, what-have-you technology to get over-excited about another claim.

The point about cadmium telluride is right on. It's toxic and dangerous.

11 - 13% efficiency is quite good for solar cells, but can't compete with other renewable technologies such as wind power.

It's great that research continues on all sorts of new technology. While we can all wish for a major breakthrough, I expect that we will likely see smaller incremental improvements.

The article has a lot of media-spin. I suspect the reporter has puffed up the article with selective reporting, but that's a common media ploy.

15-India-Street said...

"Maximum output ?:
Imagine that you connect a load of 65 ohm then you will get 0,5A and 32,5V, that is 16,25Watts. 48,75W is lost in heat?"

A good solarcell has an almost constant voltage output for the whole power-output range (as long as the sun is shining!).

Therefore a maximum power-point (MPP) of 65 Watt, at 65 Volt and almost 1 Amp is possible, as long as the the current is just under the short-circuit current (like 0,99 Ampere). A modern electronic solar battery charger, or solar power coverter has automatic maximum power-point tracking.

NB: the only large scale commercially attractive alternative right now is windpower. Production peak of windpower production in Europe is over 25.000 MW (2006 measurement, not theoretical).

Vardan1899 said...

I live in Fort Collins and I am an EE from CSU. I have never heard of them before but they apparently have $3M in capital and an office. No manufacturing or any real products yet.

14V open, 0.86A short with 12W nominal power...

65V open, 1A short with 65W nominal power...

That's almost a Steorn like miracle :D

The "literature" sounds like it was written by the "sales" guy instead of anyone that really knows what they are doing... I expect the numbers and claims to get a major "clean up" soon.

If they build their imagined "ISO 9000, six sigma, lean manufacturing" facility here with local construction/labor costs it will be fun to see how "cheap" it is :) I really do know what all that means and they are going to need more than $3M if all they were going to make was snow :D I was in local electronics manufacturing here for 20 years and still am in my own "little" business... I have heard all the "dreams", and then I have seen all the "reality" :D

All companies start somewhere, and I guess they are off and running... Nothing too exciting all all yet though...


Anonymous said...

"Therefore a maximum power-point (MPP) of 65 Watt, at 65 Volt and almost 1 Amp is possible, as long as the the current is just under the short-circuit current (like 0,99 Ampere). A modern electronic solar battery charger, or solar power coverter has automatic maximum power-point tracking."

My point was that the maximum useful output from the panel should be less than the short circuit current mulitplied by the open circuit voltage. This 65W panel is propably just a 50-55W panel.

If you check out this Chinese solar panel you will see that they calculate the power at maximum load and they also states the short circuit current and open circuit voltage.

Specification: 80w
Vm: 18.20V
Im: 4.40A
Voc: 22.10V
Isc: 4.87A
Power tolerance: +/-5%


maryyugo said...

Most electronic equipment specifications are calculated for laboratory conditions including constant ideal temperature, minimum circuit stress, perfect loading, and the lark being on the wing. They are completely unreliable and deliberately misleading. In my youth, I burned more than one very expensive transistor or IC every day because I believed the spec sheets and suggested circuit diagrams from the manufacurers.

Solar power is lovely and very necessary but the proper loading and control of the output is essential, costs money and wastes some energy. The equipment takes a lot of room and has a limited life time and a high replacement cost, both in money and in energy use. Finally, the sun doesn't shine a lot of the time in most places and solar energy deposition in most places is at a low rate per amount of area.

Solar power is nice-- but it's no panacea nor is it ever likely to supply the majority of the world's energy needs.

vardan1899 said...

Here is a normal spec sheet for a solar panel.

You can see the power curves at the bottom left. 13.1% efficiency too :)

But this is all about making the panels themselves "cheaper". This one cost $800 or $4.70/watt in single unit quantity. The idea is to make them cost closer to $350.

Anonymous said...

Getting close.

Let's assume we can buy panels at $1.00 per watt.

That means a 1kw panel = $1000.00 For simplicity let's assume the panel can product 1kwh of electricity every hour of operation (very-optimistic)

In Canada we pay 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

This means, the pay back period on the panel is 14,285 "active hrs". If we assume an day products 12 active hours (optimistic again), the panel would be paid off in 3.2 years.

Lets assume that is 3 times too optimistic. It would still mean that it would pay itself off in 10 years.

What is the life expectency of a panel?

Vardan1899 said...


Most panels have been lasting about 15 to 20 years. Payback is from 2 to 8 years depending on "many" things.

You probably need insurance too since wind, hail, kids, large animals, etc. have a habit of killing them. You also might need a professional electrician and such which will not be cheap either. Then you have those *&#%&^%$ batteries to worry about and the controllers...

A lot of the cost is not in the cells but the frame, manufacturing, shipping, overhead, etc. too... In many cases there are tax breaks (US) that "really" pay for them. One must wonder if the cells themselves were "free" how much the panel would still end up costing.

The biggest deal in solar power are the controllers that electronically regulate the load to the most efficient load point for the panels and then invert the power to perfectly match the battery charging or load to the home. They can charge the batteries in "moon" light... These fancy controllers are worth far more than any solar cell stuff these days.

Making solar cells cheaper is always cool, but I don't think it is going to be a giant impact anymore no matter what they do until they reach 120% efficiency :D

I see a lot of solar, especially in the mountains here (no other power), and the biggest problem seems to be keeping them from getting covered with dirt!! Wind power seems to be getting much bigger now with smaller wind generators for mountain homes. They seem to work very well and only fall down occasionally :D