Articles tagged with: Germany
Energy Efficiency, Solar Power, SURE Energy »
There are two ways to lower the cost of producing energy through photovoltaics – more efficient solar cells (more power per square foot) and lower production costs (lower cost per square foot). The ETAlab of the Fraunhofer ISE has devised a way to do both simultaneously. The research team in the laboratory for new solar cell structures and processing steps has not only made the solar cell contacts out of 100% cost-effective materials (replacing expensive silver with cheaper copper and nickel), but the process also increases the efficiency of the solar cell to a very respectable 21.4%.
In order to achieve a high level of efficiency, the front contacts in the solar cell not only have to exhibit a low level of loss with light-generated current but also cover the least amount of the cell surface possible. Technologically speaking, materials ...
Bio Fuels, Energy Storage, Government Policy, Solar Power, SURE Energy, Water/Hydro, Wind Energy »
Finance, Solar Power, SURE Energy »
The price of solar is dropping fast, opening new opportunities for community-scale renewable energy across the country. But despite the improving economics and tremendously sunnier skies, the United States lags far behind Germany in installing new solar power.
The biggest difference is policy. The U.S. has two major federal incentives (a 30% tax credit and accelerated depreciation) for solar power, and a few state programs for solar power. Germany and most other developed countries use a feed-in tariff for renewable energy, a policy responsible for three-quarters of the world’s solar power capacity.
What might happen if the U.S. adopted Germany’s flagship “feed-in tariff” policy, responsible for 10 gigawatts of solar in just two years? Let’s take a look at how such a program would be priced.
First, we’re marketing-conscious in America, so we’ll call it something better, like a CLEAN contract, for Clean Local Energy Accessible Now.
Then we’ll need to adjust the ...
Energy Efficiency, Solar Power, SURE Energy »
SCHOTT Solar announced the world’s first monocrystalline screen-printed solar cell on Wednesday — with conversion efficiency of 20.2%. The Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, another research institute, confirmed the results of SCHOTT Solar’s tests with an independent measurement.
The previous record – 17.6% – was achieved through use of multicrystalline solar cells, one of several methods of making a solar cell go. SCHOTT Solar’s Dr. Axel Metz, head of solar cell research and development at SCHOTT Solar, acknowledges the multicrystalline concept as the greatest contributing factor to his team’s outstanding results. “We’ve been concentrating on the development of monocrystalline cells since the start of 2011,” he said. “We had three years of experience with the multicrystalline cells to carry over to the monocrystalline concept.”
The initial attempts produced cell efficiency of well above 19%, but that wasn’t quite good enough. ...
Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Government Policy, Smart Grid, Solar Power, SURE Energy, Wind Energy »
A serialized version of ILSR‘s new report, Democratizing the Electricity System, Part 1 of 5.
The 20th century of electricity generation was characterized by ever larger and more distant central power plants. But a 21st century technological dynamic offers the possibility of a dramatically different electricity future: millions of widely dispersed renewable energy plants and storage systems tied into a smart grid. It’s a more democratic and participatory paradigm, with homes and businesses and communities becoming energy producers as well as consumers actively involved in designing the rules for the new electricity system.
Several decades ago, several people – Amory Lovins in Brittle Power, David Morris in Self-Reliant Cities – explored the implications of this decentralized vision. Most importantly, this vision represents a transformation in the ownership and control of the electricity system. Instead of ...
Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Finance, Government Policy, Green Buildings, Smart Grid, Solar Power, SURE Energy, Wind Energy »
Government Policy »
Energy Storage, SURE Energy, Wind Energy »
In an interesting marriage of clean and dirty tech, Deutsche Welle is reporting that the state government of Lower Saxony in Germany is looking into repurposing old abandoned coal mines inside the Harz mountains as pumped storage for wind power.
The idea has attracted approval not only from environmentalists in the region, who like the invisibility of the storage, but also from former coal miners, who like the idea of the disused coal mines being put to good use as a kind of “green battery” for wind power.
“The tradition of mining is so great in the Harz region, that they want to see the mines back in use again, so there are practically no critics of the project,” noted Marko Schmidt, an engineer for Lower Saxony’s Energy Research Center, who came up with the concept.
This acceptance is surprising to ...