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Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution
May05

Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution

What do an American worker, a Tea Party activist and a Chinese entrepreneur have in common? They’re all are racing to lead the global future of clean energy and their journeys are featured in Catching the Sun, a new documentary that showcases how doing good by the environment has created a boom in the renewable energy job sector.   “I was fascinated by the idea that solar power could democratize and decentralize energy in a way that creates economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs,” said Director Shalini Kantayya.   Kantayya’s film jumps between countries around the world that are fast-tracking solar production and follows some of the stories that have unfolded in its wake.   Among these stories are  Zhongwei Jiang’s , an entrepreneur in Wuxi, China, who grew up without electricity until he was 7. In 2003 Jiang took out a small interest loan from the Chinese government to start a solar company WesTech, which has grown by 50% every year and has expanded to Germany.   Other stories include those of solar installers in America who’ve found job opportunities in the burgeoning industry and a mayor who has fought tooth and nail against an oil corporation’s interests after a spill devastated her town.   The movie shows how one out of 83 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2014 was in the solar industry as a result from nearly 784,000 homes and businesses in the country embracing solar to save money and elevate property values.   Catching the Sun can be viewed on Netflix, downloaded on Vimeo or seen at select screenings taking place around the country....

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breaking world records for thin film solar cells

Ascent Solar, a company which focuses on developing cutting edge thin film technology recently announced they have successfully developed a thin film solar cell made of CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide) that reached efficiencies of greater then 9.5%. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) independently verified that the solar panels made by Ascent Solar measured as high as 9.64% conversion efficiency. CIGS solar cells are made of a plastic substrate compared to silicon which is the material traditional solar cells are composed of. CIGS solar panels are flexible and can be delivered at a lower cost compared to silicon base solar cells. With efficiencies of thin film solar cells now reaching close to 10%, thin film is becoming a more viable solution for residential installations. Moving forward I think thin film solar cells are going to get much better replacing silicon based solar cells all together, wouldn’t you think so? The advantages of thin film solar cells is that they can be integrated into items such as roofing shingles, sides of buildings..etc…what would be other places we could integrate thin film solar cells into? Ascent Solar has not commercialized this technology yet, although according to the company they are working towards more highly efficient and even lower cost solar panels that will be commercialized sooner than later. Do you think the company will be able to...

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Trina Solar announces new Solar Panel development

Trina Solar, a vertically integrated manufacturer of mono & multi crystalline solar photovoltaic panels made an announcement that they are developing a new solar panel using Upgraded Metallurgical Grade (UMG) silicon material. UMG is a mixture of various solar grade silicon although is capable of efficiencies similar to higher grade silicon. What this means to consumers is that you will see a lower price per watt for solar panels because manufactures are figuring out how get more juice out of silicon that was typically considered “lower grade”. Trina Solar will be selling these panels under a different brand name and the panels will come with a 20 year warranty. Trina Solar claims that even though they are using lower grade silicon for these solar panels they are claiming these solar panels will achieve a 14% conversion...

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Solar panel nanocoating increases efficiency by 30 percent.

Typical silicon solar panels you see on the market today soak up two thirds of the sunlight that hits the solar panel. Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a coating that can help solar panels soak up more then 96% of the sunlight that hits the panel. Traditionally solar panels perform the best when the sunlight is directly shining on them, although with the development of the coating, it allows a solar panel to collect energy from all angels, thus improving the efficiency significantly. The nanocoating pictured above overcomes two major obstacles blocking the progress and wider use of solar power. One, the coating increases the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and two, allows those panel with the special coating to absorb the entire spectrum of sunlight from any angle, regardless of the sun’s position. The key aspect of the nanocoating is that it creates an anti reflective effective that helps solar panels soak up more sun. The amazing aspect of this research is that since the nanocoating can help solar panels collect energy from any angles, this breakthrough has the potential to eliminate solar trackers which main purpose is to keep the solar panel pitch in line with the path of the sun. The nanocoating is still in the research & development stage, at this time there is no road maps for commercial development of this technology, so don’t expect this new coating on the solar panels on the market soon. Although we are glad to see these types of game changing technologies being funded and tested to hit the market in the near...

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Suniva’s 20% Efficent Solar Cell

Suniva, a newer entrant in the photovoltaic solar cell market claims its Research & Development team has created a solar cell that is capable of 20% efficiency using a simple cell design and screen printing technologies. The company backs up their claim by having their technology verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). According to Suniva’s Founder & CTO, the company increase conversion efficiency while reducing processing time and achieving low costs. Suniva, manufacturers and markets its high efficiency solar cells under the ARTisun brand name which focuses on an intersection between high effiecncey and low cost. What does this mean to you? The purpose of this blog is to first understand how important solar cell technology is the overall adoption rate of solar photovoltaic technology, as the efficiencies increase and costs decrease, that means more affordable solar panels that break even quicker, this trend in technology will eventually be responsible for mass adoption of solar panels. Typically a group of solar cells make up a solar panel (module), check out my previous post titled, “Solar Arrays Explained” to understand how individual solars cells become a solar...

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