Solar storage breakthrough spoils nark’s party

solar power station and solar nark

Solar has gone 24/7 – and on a massive scale.

When it comes to policy backflips on alternative energy sources it’s been a nark’s world here in Australia. It would be incorrect to generalise, but I’m going to anyway; there is now a preponderance of knuckle-dragging, climate deniers in office in state and federal governments. Many of whom are looking to increase subsidies to their favourite fossil fuel energy source of choice and winding back any previous legislation that could be called remotely progressive. [Read more…]

Does Mildura CPV solar farm offer a glimpse of the future?


cpv dishes

Pretty dishy solar farm technology! Pic: Solar Systems P/L

Always great to bring our readers news of an Aussie breakthrough. However this week’s opening of Silex Systems’ massive CPV solar farm in Mildura, Victoria may prove to be more than just a cheery news item. Indeed it may offer a look at solar power’s future in the country.

CPV is of course Concentrating Photovoltaics. which in Mildura is getting solar cell efficiencies over 40%. No that was not a misprint. Forty Percent. Four Zero. Wowzers! Read that Wikipedia link to find out how they do it…

Here at SQHQ we’ve issued a number of rants (er discussion documents that is) on CPV and Mildura. These can be downloaded from the dank and dusty SQHQ archives shed here (second left past the outside dunny): [Read more…]

Can Cheap Solar Panels Get Any Cheaper? Hell Yeah!

a solar panel

Panel prices have dropped 80% in 4 years – can they get any cheaper?

If you want to buy some absolute junk you can currently buy bottom end, ultra cheap solar panels for $0.50 per Watt. But I wouldn’t recommend it.  Unless you want to risk your roof turning into a giant barbecue.

Most solar panel factories have been losing money hand over fist for at least the last couple of years. Many of the largest companies have lost many hundreds of millions. This has led many observers to believe that solar panel manufacturers will have to start raising prices in order to survive. In fact there is evidence of this starting to happen with panel prices rising slightly in the first 2 months of 2013.

So is this the end of dirt cheap solar panels? [Read more…]

Skyscraper solar glass the key to cities’ sustainability?

Dye Sensitised Solar Cells

Is this what the windows of the future will look like? Picture: OxfordPV

Imagine, in a time in the not-too-distant future, when tall office buildings will have their photovoltaics built into their structure. Tall skyscrapers for example will provide their own energy needs through their glass windows and frontage. More than that, the buildings will be pumping clean alternative energy back into the power grid.

A bit far fetched I hear you say, perhaps your correspondent needs a Bex and a good lie down? [Read more…]

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:

[Read more…]

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:

[Read more…]

Solar Quote of the Week!


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…]