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Solar & renewables - Dec 9

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Emerging Energy Technologies Summit in Santa Barbara February 9-10

Technology Management Program, University of California at Santa Barbara
This year’s Summit will take an unbiased look at how our nation makes the transition from dependency on carbon-based fuels to a sustainable, alternative fuels-based future. Experts from around the globe will come together over a two-day period to present possible alternative energy solutions, examine the trade-offs and barriers associated with bringing these solutions to market, and work to develop ways of overcoming these barriers.

The Summit, a sold-out event in its 2006 inaugural year, allows participants to join with financiers, business leaders, policy makers, scholars, and engineers to discuss the development and creation of profitable and practical alternative energy technology solutions that meet the nation’s increasing energy demands.
(Dec 2006)
Plenary speaker is Paul Roberts, author of "The End of Oil." -BA

China's Sunshine Boys

Thomas Friedman, New York Times via Times Herald Record
So here's a little news quiz: Guess who's the seventh-richest man in China today, with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.43 billion?

Answer: Shi Zhengrong. Now guess what he does. Real estate? No. Banking? No. Manufacturing for Wal-Mart? No. Construction? No.

Shi is China's leading maker of silicon photovoltaic solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. Yes, the seventh-richest man in China is a green entrepreneur! It should only happen in America.

Shi thinks, as I do, that renewable clean power — wind, solar, biofuels — is going to be the growth industry of the 21st century, and he wants to make sure that China and his company, Suntech Power Holdings, are the leaders. Only 43 years old and full of energy himself, Shi hopes to do for solar energy what China did for tennis shoes: drive down the cost so that millions of people who could not afford solar photovoltaic panels will be able to do so.

As an environmentalist, I wish him well. As an American, I worry that if we don't start doing everything we can to develop our own clean power, we're going to miss out on the green industrial revolution.
(6 Dec 2006)

New World Record Achieved in Solar Cell Technology

New Solar Cell Breaks the “40 Percent Efficient” Sunlight-to-Electricity Barrier
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner today announced that with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance. This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.

...Attaining a 40 percent efficient concentrating solar cell means having another technology pathway for producing cost-effective solar electricity. Almost all of today’s solar cell modules do not concentrate sunlight but use only what the sun produces naturally, what researchers call “one sun insolation,” which achieves an efficiency of 12 to 18 percent. However, by using an optical concentrator, sunlight intensity can be increased, squeezing more electricity out of a single solar cell.

The 40.7 percent cell was developed using a unique structure called a multi-junction solar cell. This type of cell achieves a higher efficiency by capturing more of the solar spectrum. In a multi-junction cell, individual cells are made of layers, where each layer captures part of the sunlight passing through the cell. This allows the cell to get more energy from the sun’s light.
(5 Dec 2006)

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