Why and how to joyfully move our butts around town, without mucking the place up.

Tag Index

Pages with tag Solar Power

  • Chilicon/Intertek Certifies the CP-250E Micro-Inverter as UL 1741 SA Smart Inverter:

    California Rule 21 phase 1 requirements took effect in September 2017, meaning that solar inverter makers are required to achieve UL1741SA certification to continue selling inverters in California. The phase 1 requirements, a.k.a. the autonomous functions, mean that the inverter can automatically, without any intervention by a human, take actions to support the grid in case local grid conditions go wrong. Those functions are as described by Chilicon in the press release below. What's interesting is they could implement the update without changing the control board -- it's just a software change.

    Over the next year or two further requirements, phases 2 and 3, will kick in requiring communication across the Internet with cloud systems for command/control of inverter capabilities. The goal is even more support of electricity grid reliability as well as orchestrating energy production and energy storage systems to time-shift electricity produced from renewable resources to other times of the day.

  • Denmark aiming to get 100% of its energy from wind and solar power: Samso Denmark was the first island powered 100% on renewable energy. They started with wind turbines, lots of them, and produce an excess of wind energy all year long, bringing money to the island. For heating they grow straw, that's burned in centralized boiler plants to send hot water around the island. Denmark as a whole is building massive offshore wind parks. A third of commutes are by bicycle, and there is a tax credit for electric vehicles.
  • Dept of Energy posts videos pushing Solar Energy -- wasn't Trump Admin going to kill Solar?: Most of the Trump Administration appointees are people who seem tasked with killing the departments they're overseeing. The US Department of Energy is headed by Rick Perry, who in the 2012 race had promised to kill that department. We've been worried the DoE programs on solar energy and other clean energy technologies would vaporize, and we'll all fry in a few years because climate change will be running rampant. These are very real concerns, but it's useful to check whether the reality measures up to that fear. These video releases are perhaps a sign that the Dept of Energy will continue promoting solar power.
  • Energy 101: Concentrating Solar Power: From towers to dishes to linear mirrors to troughs, concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies reflect and collect solar heat to generate electricity. A single CSP plant can generate enough power for about 90,000 homes. This video explains what CSP is, how it works, and how systems like parabolic troughs produce renewable power.
  • Energy Department Announces Projects to Advance Cost-Effective Concentrating Solar Power Systems and 2014 CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER REPORT: Concentrating solar power (CSP) is a technology that harnesses the sun’s energy potential and has the capacity to provide renewable energy to hundreds of thousands of customers in the United States. This report discusses how 2014 marks a significant milestone in the history of American solar energy—with five U.S. Department of Energy-funded CSP plants expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.
  • Entire Ginlong Solis 4G Inverter Line Now Available with the UL 1741 SA Certification:

    California's plan to reshape the electricity grid is taking a big step forward as solar inverter makers, like Ginlong Technologies, adopt UL1741SA. The plan hinges on smart inverters, with the UL 1741SA standard being the first concrete step. Previous inverters would, if grid conditions go wonky, disconnect from the grid. Power systems engineers thinking about the problem recognized that inverters could help prop up the grid, to remedy certain wonky grid conditions.

    The increasing rate of installing solar inverters gave California an opportunity to field a different kind of solar inverter. California Rule 21 governs the methods of interconnecting solar power systems to the electricity grid. Over the last 3-4 years, the Smart Inverter Working Group convened by the California Public Utilities Commission worked on redesigning solar inverters to provide grid support functions. The content of UL1741SA, which was ratified in September 2016, is the first concrete result and describes the sort of grid support functions required of solar inverters.

    UL1741SA contains what is called the "Rule 21 Phase 1 autonomous functions", meaning these functions automatically kick in whenever the electricity grid frequency, voltage, power factor and similar measures are out of line with grid stability requirements. If the grid strays beyond certain parameters, the inverter will still disconnect itself from the grid, but so long as the grid stays within those parameters the inverter will assist with keeping the grid stable. This may seem like a small thing, but it is the first step of a cooperatively managed electricity grid.

    Over time Rule 21 Phases 2 and 3 will be standardized and be required features of future inverters. Those phases add communications ability so that smart inverters can be proactively managed from a central cloud-based service. It's thought that over time the electricity grid will morph from a system of large centralized electricity generation resources, to a distributed set of electrical grid resources of many types and sizes. A distributed management system will orchestrate electricity inflows and outflows to balance electricity demand throughout the day, and also take care of the intermittency issue.

  • Morocco betting big on concentrating solar power, hopes to get half its power from renewables by 2040: Morocco has no fossil fuels, making renewable energy an attractive alternative to importing fossil fuels. Morocco has over 3000 hours of sunlight every year. The goal is for the country to get half of its power from renewables by 2040. This plant is just the beginning, yet it is already the largest solar project in the world. Coming soon is phase 3, involving a tower surrounded by mirrors that in turn heats a pool of molten salt that supports generating electricity for 7 hours beyond sunset.
  • NREL Inks Technology Agreement for High Efficiency Multijunction Solar Cells:

    NREL's patented inverted metamorphic (IMM) multijunction solar cells are coming down to earth thanks to a licensing agreement with MicroLink Devices. The IMM technique enables multijunction III-V solar cells to be grown with both higher efficiencies and lower costs than traditional multijunction solar cells. It gives two advantages, the first being greater power extraction from the higher-bandgap sub-cells, and the second being more efficient low-bandgap sub-cell materials such as Indium Gallium Arsenide. Further, manufacturing improvements act to lower device costs, while also reducing the weight allowing these cells to be used on solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. Drones). The NREL technology adds to MicroLink's existing expertise in producing lighter-weight solar cells.

  • NREL Research Determines Integration of Plug-in Electric Vehicles Should Play a Big Role in Future Electric System Planning
  • NREL Research Yields Significant Thermoelectric Performance:

    Carbon nanotube fabrics could be used to convert waste heat into electricity or serve as a small power source. This is the result of research by NREL scientists announced today. The research concerns using semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) as the primary material for efficient thermoelectric generators. That's opposed to the current practice of using that material as a composite, e.g. carbon nanotubes and a polymer. The research revealed that removing polymers from all SWCNT starting materials served to boost the thermoelectric performance and lead to improvements in how charge carriers move through the semiconductor.

  • NREL, University of Texas Scientists Determine Critical Factor for Improving Performance and Durability of Perovskite Solar Cells
  • Newest Products from Enphase Energy Meet the Needs of the California and Hawaii Markets :

    In California and Hawaii, policy changes are underway requiring "smart inverters" for solar power systems. Requirements going into effect in September call for what's called "Phase 1" functions, comprising a set of "autonomous" actions providing "grid support" functions like voltage or frequency support. That is, these functions happen automatically without any explicit control, and act in reaction to grid conditions. For example the voltage or frequency might go out of bounds, and rather than disconnect from the grid the inverter instead shifts into a mode of helping to correct the problem.

    The industry developed a supplemental standard, UL1741SA (Supplement A), defining those autonomous functions. Shortly Enphase, and the other solar inverter manufacturers, will be unable to sell inverters in California that lack this feature.

  • Researchers Improve Safety of Lead-Based Perovskite Solar Cells: Solar panel technology could receive a boost as researchers found a way to mitigate one of the issues with Perovskite Solar Cells. The presence of lead in such panels should cause worries to people because of lead contamination from other items like paint. In this application, scientists have found a way to contain the lead so it is safer.
  • Single-axis tracker manufacturer Soltec Doubles Turnover in 2017:

    "Turnover" means that Soltec has essentially doubled their sales, with over 200 percent revenue growth in 2017. The company supplies solar tracker systems across three continents. It's likely the company will rise to 3rd place in global PV Tracker supply market in 2017. Whatever good that means for Soltec as a company, it is an early indicator of continued strong growth in solar for renewable electricity production.

  • Solar-Electric VW Bus conversion: Generally speaking solar powered electric vehicles aren't feasible because the weight and aerodynamics of the solar array offset any gain the solar panels might give. It's a dream many have, solar powered vehicles, but in reality-land it doesn't work too well. Unless your vehicle already has the aerodynamics of a brick, such as the old-school VW Bus. This nice video shows an excellently thought-out VW Bus EV conversion that has an excellently thought-out solar array attached to the roof. The installation covered the struts holding the array in place, for example, to minimize aerodynamics problems. Going by what's said in the video, the system offers 40-50 miles of EV range (using a lead-acid battery pack, the next phase is a Lithium-ION pack giving a couple hundred miles rage) but a fairly lengthy recharge time because the system produces 12 amps peak. That last bit confirms the problem with solar powered EV's -- it's difficult to carry enough panels to recharge the vehicle in a reasonable amount of time. Also notice that the VW Bus is parked at an odd angle in the parking lot, because it has to be oriented optimally to the sun.
  • Toshiba Achieves World's Highest Conversion Efficiency in 5 cm X 5 cm Film-based Perovskite Solar Cell Mini-modules: The battery-breakthrough-of-the-week comes from Toshiba. They're announcing an update to the SCiB battery using a new battery anode doubling the storage capacity of the batteries. Energy stored (kiloWatt-hours) per unit of volume is double that of the previous generation SCiB, and the maximum recharge rate is high enough to support a 6-minute recharge time. They claim the battery can withstand 5000+ discharge/recharge cycles while retaining 90% of its original capacity, and that it works well in cold weather. If all this pans out it can be a real game changer in the electric vehicle industry, as energy storage capacity and recharge time are key concerns. On the other hand a 6 minute recharge time is unlikely to be implemented for the general public because it requires a 500 kiloWatt or more charging station.