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suntech increases solar cell efficiency

Today, Suntech a Chinese solar panel manufacturer released news about their next generation solar cell technology called Pluto which has efficiencies of 19% (monocrystalline) and 17% (polycrystalline). Suntech sent the Pluto based solar cells to Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, which independently tested the the solar cells and verified the efficiency ratings. Currently, suntech solar panels out on the market have solar cells that have efficiencies of 16.5% and 15.5% respectively. It seems like Suntech is trying to catch up with the higher efficiency solar panels such as the Sanyo and SunPower solar panels. Although you have to take into consideration that solar cell efficiency is not the same as solar panel efficiency. Since a group of solar cells make up a solar panel, when solar cells are wired together, they lose efficiency. Currently Sanyo 200w solar panels are 17% efficient at the solar panel level. Also the temperature coefficient (how well the solar panel perform in hot temperatures) determine how many kWh (kilowatt-hours) you will produce per year. Even though Suntech Pluto solar cell technology is getting better, it’s far from being the best on the market. Currently, I would say Sanyo solar panels are the best on the market, since of their high efficiencies at the solar panel level and their better performance in hot weather, they peform very well in real world conditions. These efficiency tests Suntech did in the lab are not going to be as good in the real world. What do you think about Suntech solar...

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3D solar photovoltaic cells

The problem with solar cells on the market today is that they are only 2D, meaning they produce the most power when they have direct sun exposure. Although scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology have developed 3D solar cells that have a surface that looks like tiny pyramids that have the ability to capture more diffused light than traditional 2D solar cells. Not only do the 3D solar cells capture more diffused light and turn it into electricity but they are more resilient to dust build up since when water hits the solar panel it beads off the 3D structure and takes the dust with it, you can call them self cleaning solar panels. According to the simulations conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology, they claim the 3D solar cell surface can increase solar cell efficiency by up to 2%. I think solar cells will need to become 3D to maximize energy harvest, I wonder how long this technology will take to develop before we see 3D solar panels on the market. What do you think about 3D solar cells, do you think they will make a big difference in performance gains over traditional 2D solar...

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building integrated wind energy

Architectural Wind is a new term we came across at renewable energy world 2009. AeroVironment has developed a rooftop wind turbine called the AVX1000 which is designed for quick and easy installation on top of concrete tilt up wind turbines. The wind turbines bolt right onto the parapet wall of the building. The advantages of using this type of mounting is that it avoids not only costly towers associated with traditional wind turbines but also eliminates the need for roof penetrations. Each AVX1000 building integrated wind turbine weighs approximately 130 pounds and at an average wind speed of 30 MPH the AVX1000 can produce up to 1,000 watts of power. The picture above shows an array of AXV1000 building integrated wind turbines on the Logan International Airport in Boston. These wind energy systems are completely scalable, meaning you can continue to add capacity to the system in the future. What do you think about wind energy systems that can be easily integrated into...

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supersized thin film solar panels

ENN solar, a Chinese thin film solar panel manufacturer has released their supersized solar panel EST series which has a STC (standard test condition) output up to 458 watts! That’s the largest power output from a single solar panel that I’ve ever seen. I wonder what the efficiency of the EST series are? According to the company large solar panels reduce installation costs, would you agree? Since the ENN solar panels are thin film they perform well in low, diffused light and high temperatures compared to standard crystalline solar panels. Thin film solar panels are also flexible so they can be applied in places traditional crystalline solar panels cannot be mounted onto. To understand the size of the EST series, they are 5.7 square meters which is more than four times larger than traditional solar panels. The company says that the larger solar panel footprint and high efficiencies will able them to deliver a lower cost per watt. What do you...

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mounting solar panels hasn’t been this easy

Veranda Solar, a start up company is developing a plug and play solar panel system that can be easily clipped to gutters and balconies or may be hung from your window. The unique looking solar panels can snap together and is similar to a solar power appliance which can be installed in a couple hours. The company was founded by two students at Stanford University in spring 2008 who developed their unique solar panel design as a product design thesis, according to their website they expect to have their system on the market by the end of 2009. This concept looks really good, but I think they will have challenges with making sure the solar panels can resist high wind loads and also connecting the solar panels to the grid, how will they interconnect? Will they use a plug n play grid tie inverter? The current grid tie inverters on the market that can be plugged directly into an A/C outlet are not UL listed. I wonder how efficient the solar cells are? Will the mounts be able to tilt the solar panels in the optimal degree to maximize power generation? There are just so many unanswered questions today with this product but I think this company is on the right track by developing products that make solar panels more “plug and play”. What do you think about this unique small scale solar power...

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PVPowered gird tie inverter enhancements

We visited the PVPowered booth last week at Renewable Energy World 2009 (rew 2009) in Las Vegas, according to the company’s representatives the PVPowered residential grid tie inverters have made some improvements to simplify the installation. PVPowered has included a single knob AC/DC disconnect with a wire raceway. Integrated disconnects is a trend we’re seeing with grid tie inverters, seems like now this is becoming a standard feature on new models from various manufacturers. The picture of the PVP3000 was taken at PVPowered’s booth at rew 2009, PVPowered offers 9 different residential string grid tie inverters in their product family including models ranging from 1.1 kW to 5.2 kW. The company says the benefits of the integrated disconnects eliminates the need for unnecessary conduit which saves money on installation materials and shortens the time to install their grid tie inverter. Check out the specifications sheet below, what do you think about PVPowered residental string grid tie inverters? What do you think their unique features are over SMA, Fronius or...

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