Originally published on Climate Progress.By Kiley Kroh On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Freshkills Park on Staten Island, once the world’s largest landfill, will soon be converted into the city’s largest solar energy…
Okay, so we know the Japanese have some pretty epic ideas, but this one might just take the delicious steamed cake. Architectural/engineering firm Shimizu has proposed a Moon-based solar power plant to solve our energy and climate crisis here on Earth. No word yet on whether or not it will be powered by Queen Serenity’s Silver Crystal.
Shimizu wants to build a giant strip of solar panels 249 miles wide all the way around the Moon’s equator. Then, they’d send the energy back to Earth in the form of microwaves, which we’d convert into carbon-free energy at stations on the ground. Proposed for operation as early as 2035, there’s just the tiny issue of, you know, how we build all that business on the moon.
Their solution? “Robots will perform various tasks on the lunar surface, including ground leveling and excavation of hard bottom strata,” says Shimizu, who have apparently never read The Time Machine.
Though it sounds like an excellent, if sort of nuts, plan, we have to remember that Shimizu have also proposed pyramid cities and a space hotel, so the Luna Ring might not be the wildest thing in their minds. Given that California has already signed a contract to buy electricity from Solaren’s Earth-orbiting power plant, a Moon unit can’t be that far behind.
MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — As Connecticut pushes aggressively to expand solar energy to homes across the state, few supporters are more enthusiastic than Eugene DeJoannis.
The retired mechanical engineer from Manchester has long been a booster of green energy and boasts a keen interest in home energy issues. He’s now serving as a volunteer solar ambassador promoting a state program that subsidizes home solar projects and urges homeowners to participate.
“I have a personal fascination with the residential energy picture,” DeJoannis said. “Whenever we go to church, I invariably take out my literature and display it there.”
Backed by a $27 million fund supplied by utility ratepayers, a campaign known as Solarize Connecticut joins as many homeowners as possible to lower the cost of residential solar installation. It annually earmarks $9 million of the available funding to finance residential installation by solar panel businesses competitively picked.
The intent is to boost nonpolluting energy, reduce demand on the electric grid relied upon by utilities and cut dependence on overseas sources of power such as oil.
Bob Wall, director of marketing and outreach at Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, said the agency is running solar panel installation campaigns in 22 of the state’s 169 towns and cities and has completed solar energy installation campaigns in nine towns.
In the past 22 months, 2,160 residential solar systems contracts have been approved.
Gary and Debbie Sweet, looking for information about putting solar panels on their house, attended a recent meeting in Manchester organized by state energy officials, bankers and solar installers. Sweet, an architect, said solar panels could slash his electricity costs.
“It doesn’t cost me anything. Why not?” he said.
The cost to homeowners is significantly reduced, and although it’s touted by Connecticut as a “once in a lifetime bargain,” it’s not free. Glenn Cucinell, solar division manager at Encon Solar Energy Division, which won the contract to install solar panels on homes in Manchester, said a typical system in Connecticut would cost about $24,000.
After a state rebate of about $8,000 and a 30 percent federal tax credit available for the remaining $16,000, a homeowner’s cost for a residential solar system would be cut by more than half, to $8,000 to $12,000, which can be paid for in long-term financing.
Connecticut’s subsidy is not unusual. Virtually every state offers loans, grants, rebates and other incentives to support broader use of residential solar panels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “It’s an incentive driven industry at this point,” Cucinell said.
In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, solar energy received $1.13 billion in federal subsidies in the form of direct spending, research, tax benefits and loans, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In contrast, wind power received nearly $5 billion in subsidies, and coal was the beneficiary of $1.36 billion in subsidies.
Andy Pusateri, a utilities analyst at Edward Jones, said solar power will not be weaned off federal and state subsidies anytime soon. Wind power is the fastest growing alternative source of power, but solar energy has a greater growth potential, he said.
“We’re still a ways off from a competitive generation source without subsidies,” he said.
Pusateri said politics is a factor behind the push for public subsidies of solar energy.
“Democrats tend to favor renewable energy,” he said. “I think that’s driving that.”
The solar campaign is part of a broader effort by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to rework Connecticut’s energy policy. It includes a greater reliance on hydropower from Canada, an increase in natural gas connections to homes and businesses and a push for renewable power such as solar.
DeJoannis promises to keep at it with his campaign for home solar projects.
When the sun goes down on developing worlds, many of their people depend on kerosene lamps to see. Now a multi-national corporation is reducing pollution, energy costs, petrochemical use, and making millions of people safer… in a single stroke!
The majority of silicon solar photovoltaics use silver to conduct electricity but thanks in part to help from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, TetraSun is using copper as a conductor instead of silver.
The approach, along with the results and the cost-savings have helped TetraSun and NREL win a 2013 R&D top 100 award fromR&D Magazine and stoked enough interest in TetraSun that First Solar bought the company in April, allowing one of the world’s leading thin-film PV manufacturers to get into the silicon PV market.
The company is making the waves primarily because it’s looking at doing silicon PV in a way that significantly reduces the cost of PV solar power by using simplified manufacturing techniques and cheaper materials—namely copper instead of silver—to harvest electrons produced by the cell. While copper is a good conductor of electricity, it has been hard to apply it in a way that produces the wanted results in a silicon PV cell because the copper doesn’t want to stay in that form. And the copper ribbons on the cells are about 50 microns wide—about one-twenty-fifth the width of a human hair, according to NREL.
“As the margins go down with silicon, the cost of every component becomes significant, especially when you’re talking about square miles of this material,” said NREL Principal Scientist Mowafak Al-Jassim. “We’re trying to make enough of these solar panels to generate gigawatts of power. That’s a lot of silver. We needed to replace silver with an equally good conductor, but one that was much cheaper.”
“It’s a potentially disruptive technology, and that’s why we decided to work with TetraSun,” said NREL’s Martha Symko-Davies. She headed the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative PV Incubator program, which awarded TetraSun a grant in 2010. The technology already is capable of producing silicon PV cells that are about 21 percent efficient—rivaling the performance of many current silicon PV cells that are about 22 percent efficient, according to NREL.
The team was able to produce the 21 percent efficient cells just 18 months after starting up, which Harin Ullal with NREL said is unusual. “That compares to 17 percent to 19 percent efficiency for screen-printed silicon cells,” he said. Ullal managed the research for NREL. “By 2020, this technology could potentially reach the Energy Department’s SunShot target of one dollar per watt for PV systems and about 6 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity generation,” Ullal said.