We have a solar-based economy, whether or not we realize it. Ninety-four percent of the world’s energy comes from the sun, even energy that doesn’t at first glance seem solar. Coal, oil and natural gas are mostly the products of ancient plants that grew with the sun’s help. The sun drives hydroelectric power by evaporating low-lying water, then dumping it at higher altitudes. Windmills turn because the sun warms the planet’s air unevenly.
Kind of annoying this WashPost piece totally ignores Concentrated solar thermal power Solar Baseload “” a core climate solution, but it is an okay intro to PV:
Fortunately, there’s plenty of sun to go around. Our local star is continuously transmitting 180 quadrillion watts of energy to the Earth, 14,000 times our requirements for generating power. So the question isn’t where to get our energy, but how to capture it.
Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, are our most identifiable effort to convert the sun’s energy into electricity. They depend on a phenomenon known as the photovoltaic effect, discovered in 1839 by a French teenager. Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, then 19, placed two metal plates in a salt solution and generated an electric current by simply placing his rig in the sun.
Sixty-six years later, Albert Einstein demonstrated the physics behind Becquerel’s electric soup, that it worked because sunlight provided enough energy to move some electrons through the solution, creating a current. Einstein won the 1921 Nobel Prize for that explanation.
Ever since, engineers have been working to make the conversion of sunlight to usable energy more efficient.
Today’s commercial solar cells consist of a layer of silicon mixed with boron, which faces the sun, stacked on top of a layer of silicon mixed with phosphorous. The silicon-phosphorous layer is known as the negative, or n-type layer, because it has lots of spare electrons. The silicon-boron molecules, in contrast, have a gaping hole in their electron layer, yearning to be filled.
The 400 megawatt (MW) Anholt Offshore Wind Farm will feature a capacity almost twice that of Horns Rev 2, currently the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation at 209 MW. -When fully operational, the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm project will provide clean energy for approximately 400,000 households. This equals approximately 4 percent of Denmark’s total power consumption.
Affirming its position as a new-generation car company, Tesla Motors’ Vice President of Manufacturing Gilbert Passin lays out in detail how the upcoming Model S will be produced on the company’s blog. Although other manufacturers use similar production techniques, it is an interesting post for information on the process.
Unlike the current Tesla Roadster, which gets delivered to Tesla as a preassembled body and frame, the company will build the Model S from the ground up, including stamping sheets of aluminum into body panels. Assembly will take place at Tesla’s new plant in Fremont, California, a joint facility with Toyota announced last May.
Scientists at MIT have developed a positive electrode made of carbon nanotubes that significantly boosts lithium ion battery performance and could lead to much greater range in electric vehicles and longer battery lives for gadgets.
The carbon nanotube electrodes enable lithium ion batteries to deliver ten times more power than a conventional battery and store five times more energy than a conventional ultracapacitor. The nanotubes accomplish this because they have a very high surface area for storing and reacting with lithium, which increases the battery’s storage capacity and the speed at which it can charge and discharge.
The MIT scientists have already licensed the technology to a battery company (as yet, unnamed) and are perfecting quick methods of making the electrodes, like spraying the nanotubes on a substrate, to facilitate mass production.
Ahead of their summit in Canada, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked the leaders of the G20 countries to invest in a green economic recovery for sustainable development.
“Such an approach can help address food security and climate change, while ensuring job creation,” he said.
“Economic recovery will be more sustainable if it is embedded in a global green new deal,” the UN chief asked world leaders to undertake international initiatives that supported national investment plans, women’s economic empowerment and measures to expand access to credit and savings for the poor.
“We must also build further momentum on education for all with a special focus on girls’ education,” he said, while also underlining the need to conclude an international trade deal that “takes into account the needs of the poorest nations by enhancing their market access.”
Ban Ki-moon also asked investments in global health and health systems, such as the Joint Action Plan for Women’s and Children’s Health, and fully funding programmes like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Sanitation and Water for All Initiative.
China’s coal mining industry saw another disaster today when an mine explosion in the central province of Henan killed 46 miners on the spot. The mine, located in one of China’s biggest coal producing regions, was allegedly operating illegally, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency. Though the cause of the blast is still not known, 72 miners were trapped after explosives blew up in the mine. Twenty-six escaped.
The event brings to mind, strangely enough, a better moment for the Chinese coal industry, when 115 miners were dragged alive out from a flooded mine in Shanxi province in April after spending over a week underground. The global media was captivated by the scenes of that rescue, as my colleague Austin Ramzy in Beijing wrote about, especially as it coincided with the worst U.S. mining disaster in decades. As Austin points out, the events in the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia this year were traumatic not only because of the loss of 29 lives, but the U.S. coal mine safety record has long been one of the best in the world.
The Australian government will keep a target of generating 20 percent of the nation’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 while amending planned legislation, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said.
“The amendments will ensure the long-term, sustainable growth of both the small-scale and large-scale renewable energy sector and will support new jobs and investment,” Wong said in an e-mailed statement today after putting the amendments to the upper house Senate
The legislation, aimed at supporting large-scale projects and the supply of clean energy to homes, has two parts. The first supports households using solar panels and solar hot water systems, while the development of wind farms, commercial solar and geothermal projects will deliver the majority of the 2020 target, according to the government.
The amendments include temporarily increasing the target in 2012 and 2013 and adjusting it in later years, regulatory powers to adjust credits for solar panels and reviewing the price of so-called renewable energy certificates.