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]
National Semiconductor Corp. has launched the SolarMagic arc detection reference design, consisting of analogue front end ICs and multi-band dynamic filtering (MBDF) firmware, which the company claims is the first commercially available solution for detecting arcs in solar power systems.
Intermittent connections or insulation faults in solar power systems can cause arcing in high-power DC circuits. With temperatures of 3,000 °C or more, these arcs pose safety risks to surrounding infrastructure and personnel. The U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC) 690.11 requires all new solar power installations to include an arc-fault detection and protection system. National Semiconductor’s new SolarMagic arc detection reference design detects arc fault conditions and provides an alert to allow the system to be shut down in order to quench the arc. [via]
Chipset and firmware detect arcs in solar power systems - [Link]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
For the past few years, researchers have been using quantum dots to increase the light absorption and overall efficiency of solar cells. Now, researchers have taken a step further, demonstrating that quantum dots with a built-in electric charge can increase the efficiency of InAs/GaAs quantum dot solar cells by 50% or more.
Quantum dots with built-in charge boost solar cell efficiency by 50% – [Link]