30 April 2008

Solar Breakthroughs: Promises from the Sun God

Silicon Valley researchers have developed a promising new "Xtreme Concentrating Photovoltaics (XCPV) system that can generate electricity at 5 cents/KWH--as cheaply as coal!
Sunrgi, based in Hollywood with a research office in Silicon Valley, says it can produce devices that magnify sunlight and produce electricity at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour, or about the cost of coal-generated electricity.

At the National Energy Marketers Association conference in Washington, D.C., today, Sunrgi will make its presence known with an announcement that it plans to start selling its Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics, or XCPV, product in 2009. MercuryNews

Meanwhile at the University of Tel Aviv, researchers have announced a way to produce highly efficient solar cells at a cost only 1/100ths of current PV production costs!
The scientists applied genetic engineering and nanotechnology for the construction of a hybrid nano -- bio, solid state device. According to the researchers, although using photosynthesis for photovoltaic application is not new, their specific technique is the first to enable the production of useful photosynthesis-based photovoltaic cells.

...The researchers suggest existing silicon based photovoltaic cells offer low average energy conversion efficiency of 12-14 percent, while their system is capable of efficiencies of about 25 percent. They based their photovoltaic device on genetically engineered dry proteins photosystem I (PS I), encapsulated in solid state substrate bottom metal and a top transparent electrode.

...Larry Loev, director of business development for high technologies at Ramot told EETimes the low cost of the proposed device is based on the low cost of PS I in comparison to silicon. While one square meter of PS I should cost around $1, a similar area made of silicon should cost around $200. __More Details at CheckBiotech
The U. Tel Aviv approach incorporates a number of unique approaches to the light-to-electricity problem. Time will tell how well the approach will scale up, and hold up under harsh real world conditions.

Finally, far from the jealous eyes of the Sun God, deep within the bowels of the Earth, other scientists are devising ways of stealing more energy from heavy/solid oils, and from abandoned coal deposits. British and Canadian scientists are proposing to infuse heavy oil and coal deposits with an aqueous mix containing special microbes that over time will convert coal and heavy oil to methane--releasing the epochs-old energy as a free gas to be tapped nearer to the surface.

H/T NextEnergyNews
More at Al Fin Energy
More at NextBigFuture

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