Duke Targets Landfill Site For Solar Farm | Tbo.com, The Tampa Tribune And The Tampa Times

PETERSBURG Duke Energys search for land to build a possible solar energy farm in Pinellas County has raised curiosity and questions among local advocates for renewable power. The utility earlier this summer contacted county officials about finding a 20-acre site to build a solar facility for subscribers in the community, company spokesman Sterling Ivey said. The county offered an old landfill site between Ulmerton Road and 119th Street that abuts the Pinellas County Heritage Village in Largo. Duke also is considering other locations in its Orlando and north Florida service areas, but the company has given few details about the power capacity of these prospective solar farms or the cost to customers who would have the option to use solar energy. For us, we hear that our customers want more solar and we want to look at how we can offer a solar product that benefits all of our customers, not just our customers who can afford to put a solar panel on their roof, Ivey said. Dukes community solar program is part of a proposal being considered by the Florida Public Service Commission that also would significantly cut rebates and other incentives for customers who make energy efficiency improvements, such as installing a new water heater. Plans for a solar farm will depend on that proposal being approved by the commission, Ivey said. Duke and other major utilities such as Florida Power & Light have proposed slashing efficiency goals in these programs, making critics skeptical about their motivations in promoting solar power. The PSC earlier this month approved a program by Florida Power & Light to build a limited solar power program based off of customer donations. This program offers no direct savings or economic benefit to customers, says Susan Glickman of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. We would look forward to seeing Dukes proposal and if it is a solar project that does not provide direct economic benefits to the consumers who invest in it, it is in no way meaningful, Glickman said. Dukes program might offer subscribers the opportunity to use power generated by solar panels at an additional cost, but it likely would not reduce power bills or help meet energy production needs, Ivey said. Duke officials are in Tallahassee this week arguing before the PSC about the need to build additional natural gas capacity. The utility maintains that Floridas intermittent clouds and the difficulty of storing and delivering solar energy, especially during peak usage times like early mornings and evenings, makes the technology inefficient in meeting overall energy needs. Duke is assessing sites for its solar program that could connect easily to existing transmission facilities, Ivey said. Originally, the utility had shown interest in the former landfill site known as Toytown on Interstate 275, according to a memo from County Administrator Mark Woodard, but the county has flagged that massive parcel for economic development.
Original article http://tbo.com/pinellas-county/duke-targets-landfill-site-for-solar-farm-20140827/

Could we turn windows into solar panels?

solar-glassResearchers at Michigan State University developed the ‘transparent luminescent solar concentrator’ which they say could be used on buildings, mobiles and ‘any other device that has a clear surface’.

For years scientists have tried to produce energy harvested from solar cells made from luminescent plastic-like materials, but the technologies have performed poorly. The energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly coloured.

His solar harvesting material does this by using specially-developed organic molecules to absorb certain invisible wavelengths of sunlight.

‘We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then “glow” at another wavelength in the infrared,’ he said.

The glowing infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.

Professor Lunt explained: ‘Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye.’

He believes that the technology has the potential to be scaled so it could be used cheaply in the next generation of commercial products as well as in industries.

‘It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,’ he said

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ANU receives $9 million for solar energy research

solar-projectFive major solar energy research and development projects being undertaken by researchers at the Australian National University received more than $9.1 million in new funding on Tuesday.

The grants came from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), an independent agency established by the government in 2012, as part of its strategy to increase the use of renewable energy technologies in Australia by making them competitive with conventional energy sources.

In the first stage, ARENA is making a $21.5 million investment in 12 cutting edge solar projects, with the funds being matched by over 6.5 times worth of contributions from other partners.

The projects led by ANU scientists include research to make it easier to manufacture solar cells, research into making silicon solar cells and solar modules more efficient and affordable, and two projects to facilitate the commercialisation of high-temperature solar thermal technology.

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Of four institutions to receive grants, the ANU had the most projects funded by the scheme, and the project to receive the bulk of the money is to improve the surface of silicon solar cells to maximise cell efficiency with an easily-manufactured design.

Titled “advanced surface and contact technologies improving solar cells”, the $15.8 million project received $4.1 million from ARENA.

It’s being conducted by researchers in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science in partnership with the University of New South Wales, TRINA Solar, the largest supplier of solar cells to the Australian market, and Dutch company Tempress.

ANU Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young, said the grants proved the benefits of the University’s research and its close collaboration with industry.

“These high-technology projects are developing the industries of the future and will help Australia become a world leader in clean energy,” Professor Young said.

“These research projects are a prime example of how universities and industry can work together to solve problems and address the world’s future energy needs.”

The CSIRO also received grants for three projects, ranging from $2.75 million to $850,000, and a project led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in which the ANU is a collaborating partner, also won an ARENA grant to help develop highly efficient tandem solar cells.