RayGen combines solar technologies for bush solar revolution

raygen system

The RayGen System focuses solar onto a novel concentrator. Image (c) Raygen

You get the best renewable energy stories tucked away in the rural press. Proof that solar power innovation in the bush is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. This despite the often backwards policy of our elected representatives.

So it was this week when a bit of digging unearthed the unveiling of a $3.6 million solar power facility in Newbridge in Central Victoria. The plant, developed by renewable research and development company RayGen Resources, combines PV cells with concentrating solar technology. [Read more…]

Researchers use photosynthesis to directly create liquid fuel from solar

leaf and solar panel

Harvard scientists are mimicking photosynthesis by converting solar electricity directly into a liquid fuel.

Solar power using photosynthesis is the most ancient — and successful — form of energy production. Plants have used this method for over a billion years, harvesting sunlight, combining it with water and turning this abundant solar energy into food. Now researchers at Harvard University are looking to use the process in a really novel way. [Read more…]

ARENA: the government renewable energy agency that refuses to go away

ARENA - the gift that keeps on giving.

ARENA – the gift that keeps on giving.

Remember ARENA? The plucky Australian Renewable Energy Agency that has helped many renewable energy ventures and research with seed funding and other support? The ongoing benefits of ARENA include not only financial support but also because their involvement has helped pave the way for research and development in partnership with the private sector.

Wait. Ongoing? Didn’t ARENA get axed by the feds in their anti-renewables Budget cuts zeal a while back?

Well no. At least not yet. For ARENA, to quote an oft-used phrase, is the gift that keeps on giving.

Though the agency has, as you’ve probably heard, been axed by the federal government as part of its thinly-disguised ideological campaign against renewables, it still refuses to roll over and die. [Read more…]

Does Sunpower + Solarbridge Microinverters = World’s Best Performing Solar System?

sunpower and solarbridge logos

Sunpower & Solarbridge sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G

A lot of Aussie solar installers really dislike microinverters. In fact many refuse to install them.

The main reason is a fear of inverter failure. The reasoning goes something like this: [Read more…]

Genius Or Bonkers? US solar company glueing solar to roofs to reduce installation costs.

Innovation in solar never ceases to amaze me. But I can’t decide if this particular innovation is genius or totally nuts.

US solar panel manufacturer Lumeta Solar have announced a new 175W solar panel design that is super thin, with no frame, a junction box on top instead of underneath, and get this: double sided sticky tape on the back.  The idea is that you simply peel the backing off the tape and stick the panel to the roof.

lumeta solar panels

Lumeta Solar Panels stick on to the roof with adhesive. (Pic: Lumeta Solar)

[Read more…]

Can the world produce enough raw materials to feed the solar panel boom?

solar panel factory

Can the word produce solar panel materials fast enough to keep up with demand?

It’s now almost a given that solar energy is the answer for the world’s energy problems. As experts have noted, it is entirely conceivable (perhaps inevitable) that solar will be the world’s first choice for energy by mid-century. With regular improvements in PV technology driving cost and efficiency breakthroughs, the predictions of the amount of total energy solar will make up is constantly being revised upwards.

Even those countries with a somewhat less than supportive legislative framework for renewables (any guesses?) are seeing solar growth cycles. As discussed last week, in these cases its a matter of the politicians lagging well behind the people on this vital issue of our times.

[Read more…]

Solar will be the world’s most popular power source by 2050

big red hand pointing down

Down, down, solar panel prices are going down!

When someone of the stature of Martin Green says the cost of solar PV technology will halve again by the next decade, you sit up and take notice. Even more so when he says solar will be the world’s most popular energy source by 2050.

For the University of New South Wales’ Prof. Martin Green is considered one of the world’s leading PV researchers. His department’s technological breakthroughs in silicon cell efficiency have not only given us the solar panels we know today but also put Australian PV research at the centre of world PV technology.

“The costs of solar will halve again by 2025 is my prediction,” he told a conference in Sydney on Wednesday. “We are at 60 cents per watt manufacturing now but we will get down to 30 cents per watt some time before 2025.”

[Read more…]

Will Enphase Revolutionise Solar Power Storage?

Yesterday, Enphase revealed the Enphase Energy Management System that they claim could revolutionize solar power and its integration into the grid. The new Gen 5 “S Series” micro-inverter is bi-directional, allowing for more energy to be stored, managed, and controlled. The system’s AC Battery is a modular, plug and play battery. This will allow you to simply add storage as you go (and as your funds allow) instead of ponying up for a massive battery storage system all at once. Thirdly there’s an app (gotta have an app!) that allows users to match loads to energy generation, store energy when it is most profitable to do so, and other controls. Read more about it here.

Commercial Solar Storage Developed By Stem/Kyocera Team-Up

Stem Inc. and Kyocera Inc. have collaborated to develop a more cost effective and efficient way to store solar electricity for commercial users. Using Stem’s behind-the-meter storage and analytics in conjunction with Kyocera’s solar panels, many commercial customers should be able to massively reduce their imports from the grid. This also includes the ability to inject additional power during peak demand, potentially reducing peak usage charges.

Stem believes it can predict power usages up to 30 days in advance in order to properly prepare.  Pretty cool. For more on this story, click here.

Focus on solar microgrids as fossil fuel wavers

microgrid with solar and PV

Taking whole streets (or villages) off the grid is likely to become more common.

What role will community-based solar microgrids play as Aussies look for environmental and affordable energy alternatives?

First, I should explain what a microgrid actually is. It is simply a cluster of buildings, all connected together electrically, but not connected to the wider electric grid. An example would be taking your whole street off the grid instead of simply your own home. If you do this, you can share solar generation and battery storage among other things. As feed in tariffs get lower, this becomes more attractive. Wouldn’t you rather your sell excess solar energy to your neighbour for a fair price than be forced to sell it to someone like Energex for a miserly 6c per kWh?

According to analysts Frost and Sullivan’s report “Analysis of the Asia-Pacific Microgrid Market” the microgrid electrification (including solar programs) is expected to reach a sales figure of $813 million by 2020, growing at an expected astonishing rise of 38.3 percent over that of 2013. Countries surveyed by Frost and Sullivan include Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and (yes!) Australia. [Read more…]

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