Latest solar cell breakthrough a nark’s worst nightmare

nanowore design

Nanosilicon contacts like these can go underneath the solar cell instead of on top where they block some of the sunlight. Pic: Bandgap Engineering

It must be really depressing being a solar nark these days. With the increased popularity of solar power throughout Australia and the world, and regular announcements of improvements in technology, better storage capacity and cheaper prices, solar power is going through the roof (or on the roof). The more the narks whine about what they see as the limited capacity of solar, the more breakthroughs in technology occur to push back the possibilities of clean, solar, renewable energy future for our world. [Read more…]

Poly vs. Monocrystalline Solar Panels – Let’s put this argument to bed!

One steaming pile of Solar BS that you hear all the time from worst sales people in this industry – who will feed you any line to get a sale – is that polycrystalline panels are better than monocrystalline solar panels, or vice versa.

In this video I finally get off my chest why you should avoid anyone spouting such drivel:

Transcript follows if you don’t like listening to angry, sweary solar geeks, and I go into great detail about the two technologies over on the main site:

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Spinach-powered solar? Yet more benefits from eating your greens

Spinach doesn’t only make Popeye kick ass – it might help make dirt cheap solar panels too.

We cover quite a bit in this column in our quest to bring you (the reader) up to speed on the latest in solar policy, news and development. From solar cars, to government policy (or lack of) to the latest solar technology to hit our shores. But we’ve yet to talk vegetables, their obvious benefits and how this relates to solar power. This week we change all that. [Read more…]

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Ever wondered how solar panels actually work? We all know that they convert light into electricity – but have you ever stopped to wonder just how the heck that happens? Here I do my best to explain the inner functioning of a solar panel in plain English:

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UWS solar car takes up the challenge

UWS LogoHere at SolarQuotes HQ we like to keep you updated on solar power technology. From the latest in PV development, to who’s big in solar farms, to breakthroughs in solar panels, we try to keep you, the reader, right on the money in terms of the latest solar energy moving and shaking. In keeping with this tradition we thought we’d pop our head in to see how development on the University of Western Sydney’s solar car challenge was shaping up. [Read more…]

Solar Quote of the Week!

 

Solar Impulse and the future of air travel

The solar impulse plane flying

The future of the flying kangaroo?

Peak oil has either hit us, or is likely to arrive any time soon depending on the report or opinion you read. The scarcity of this resource (and the undoubted price gouges that will accompany its dive down the supply curve) will force policymakers to completely rethink the way our economy’s energy needs are structured as the resource that has driven our lives since the Industrial Revolution rapidly dries out. So, solar energy innovation anyone? [Read more…]

Solar Panel Orientation: Is West the new North?

The following is a very common question that comes in to SQ HQ.

“My roofline is North/South, so my largest roof areas face either East or West. I have been told that North Facing is ideal, but I  have a tiny North facing roof! Can I put some solar panels on the East or West Facing roof (or both) ?”

Short Answer: Stick some (perhaps all) on the West!

Longer Answer: In terms of the amount of power produced, facing your panels East will produce exactly the same amount of power as facing them West.  In either case you’ll generally take a 10-15% power hit compared to having them facing the ideal direction (North).

Compass

Is North always the best direction for solar panels?

So why do I say “probably West” as the short answer to the question?

Well, the reason I err on the West facing roof is because that part of your roof will get the sun later in the day. An East Facing solar array will generally produce its peak power at 10-11am. A West Facing array will produce its peak at closer to 2pm.

Most people use more energy later in the day. And most people want to use as much of their solar energy as possible, without exporting it. Why? Because at the time of writing most Feed In Tariffs give you less per kWh if you export the electricity than you pay for imported electricity. So most people will pay off their solar system quicker if they minimise exports.

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Solar panel energy payback: What’s the truth?

a loopOne of the myths that gets bandied about a lot is the idea that it takes more energy to create a solar panel:  through mining, transport, manufacturing and distribution, than will ever be generated by that solar panel over its lifetime.

20 years ago that was a valid argument against solar power. However in 2012 that myth is pure BS. Hopefully this post can set the record straight.

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Sydney University’s upconversion solar cell breakthrough

A turbo boost button (from KITT)

Turbo Boost for Solar?

Some major news on a local technological breakthrough for solar cells this week folks. This, as always, gives your columnist the  opportunity for some more shameless cheerleading on behalf of Australian solar watchers, in the increasing wasteland of government support for domestic solar systems.

(For help, see Finn’s latest article on how to future proof your PV system from perfidious state and federal governments.)

To begin with the Mexican wave (or Sydney University wave to be more precise) part of the article. An April 18 press release from the university has stated that Associate Professor Tim Schmidt, from the university’s School of Chemistry, has partnered with colleagues from the [Read more…]

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