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18 Jun 2011

Boeing-Spectrolab has developed a solar cell that can convert almost 41 percent of the sunlight that strikes it into electricity, the latest step in trying to drop the cost of solar power.

Potentially, the solar cell could bring the cost of solar power down to around $3 a watt, after installation costs and other expenses are factored in, over the life of the panel. The new cost information comes from Boeing, whose Spectrolab unit supplies searchlights and solar simulators, and the Department of Energy, which sponsored the project. Current silicon solar cells provide electricity at about $8 a watt, before government rebates. The goal is to bring it to $1 a watt without rebates or incentives.

Solar cell breaks efficiency record – [Link]

16 Jun 2011

Very cool project, Jeff writes – [via]

We met Chris Jefferies a few weeks back at Maker Faire. Turns out he is using our small solar panels to do something we’ve been interested in for a while. Chris is building wireless sensor networks using open source software and hardware that could be used in a variety of applications like air quality or home energy monitoring. It looks like he was inspired by Tweetawatt and is using xBee and ASUS wifi for communication in conjunction with Pachube for data display.

Solar Powered Wireless Sensor Networks – [Link]

16 Jun 2011

news.cnet.com writes:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have successfully coated paper with a solar cell, part of a suite of research projects aimed at energy breakthroughs.

Susan Hockfield, MIT’s president, and Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Italian oil company Eni, on Tuesday officially dedicated the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center. Eni invested $5 million into the center, which is also receiving a $2 million National Science Foundation grant, said Vladimir Bulovic, the center’s director.

The printed solar cells, which Bulovic showed at a press conference Tuesday, are still in the research phase and are years from being commercialized.

However, the technique, in which paper is coated with organic semiconductor material using a process similar to an inkjet printer, is a promising way to lower the weight of solar panels. “If you could use a staple gun to install a solar panel, there could be a lot of value,” Bulovic said.

MIT researchers print solar cell on paper – [Link]

15 Jun 2011

Building your own commercial-grade daisy chained solar array has never been easier. Check out this step-by-step video from our friends at Parallax and learn how you can build your own 30 watt solar power station with the Parallax 33000.

Build Your Own 30 Watt Solar Panel – [Link]

10 Jun 2011

Unitronic is planning to present a wireless solar-powered sensor module for the continuous monitoring of carbon monoxide (CO) concentration in buildings and in industrial applications at the upcoming SENSOR+TEST 2011 in Nuremberg, Germany.

The core of the Unitronic Solar CO Sensor Module (USCSM) is an innovative electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor with a standard AA battery form factor, developed by Figaro, which meets the specifications of EN 50291 and VDI 2053, and a STM 300 programmable, bidirectional wireless sensor module for 315/868 MHz from EnOcean. [via]

Wireless solar-powered sensor monitors carbon monoxide levels – [Link]

5 Jun 2011

Phil Gonski, Christine Placek writes:

We propose to build a solar battery charger that will charge a variety of batteries: NiMH, NiCd, Li-ion, lead acid. Although there are solar battery chargers on the market, most are only for one application: cell phone, NiMH batteries, etc. Our charger will have the user input the battery type, capacity, and voltage. It will display the charge status and incorporate various safety systems, including temperature monitoring and battery polarity checking.

Solar Powered Battery Charger – [Link]

5 Jun 2011

Kevin Kroeger, Zach Klein, Micah Sweeney writes:

The goal of this project is to use LEDs to produce a system capable of simulating solar conditions for the purpose of testing solar panels. Features of the system include adjustments in intensity and spectrum, simulation of spectral shifts that occur during sunrise and sunset, simulation of some weather conditions, the ability to adjust the angle of incidence of the light on the panel, and computer interface for quick, easy adjustments and control. A system to implement automatic time of day adjustments would bring all of the above together into one process.

Solar Simulator using LEDs – [Link]

19 May 2011

If living plants were pitted against man-made solar energy to determine which is more efficient at harvesting sunlight, which would you choose to come out on top: plant leaves or solar cells?

Scientists recently compared the efficiencies of real photosynthesis in plants to that of using man-made solar cells to harvest the energy of the sun. The results showed that even under ideal conditions, the difference was two to three times better for one over the other. Which would you bet on winning?

Which Is Smarter: Photosynthesis or Photovoltaics? – [Link]

16 May 2011

Lewis02 writes:

Hello there. You’ve probably found this Instructable to gather ideas about making a portable solar power supply yourself. I’ve always been interested in electronics with this project being my latest idea to come wandering out of my head, why not make a portable box on wheels, that I can plug basically anything into, thats powered by the sun? So therefore I thought I’d share this Instructable with the rest of the world.

Portable Solar Power Supply – [Link]

6 May 2011

Jordan McRae was interested in integrating solar energy into his projects and professional designs. After months of experimentation he came up with the design for B-Squares™. [via]

As he describes the project:
B-Squares is a 3D modular electronics system with an emphasis on (but not limited to) solar power and expandable energy storage. Each Square has a magnetic contact on each of the corners which allows the Squares to easily snap together without wires. The magnetic contacts are also used to transmit electric signals between the Squares. This design allows users to quickly assemble Squares into arrays, with power flowing through the array via the corner contact, without wiring or soldering. Also, due to the use of multiple magnetic contacts on each Square, the overall circuit of the array can quickly be changed simply by rotating one of the Squares – for instance, the color of the LED Square can change with a flip or a rotation.

To date, the project includes squares for a 0.25 W solar panel, a AAA battery power pack and multi-color LEDs. Other squares accommodate iPhone/iPod docking as well as an Arduino square and a proto-square.

B-Squares™: modular solar powered electrics – [Link]





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