Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

International Renewable Energy Agency To Be Headquarted in UAE

Posted: 16 Jan 2013 12:00 AM PST

During the first annual International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) assembly in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates announced it would host the headquarters for the international organization.

The UAE – where our friend and CleanTechnica Director Zachary Shahan is this week – was the interim IRENA headquarters.

New Member, New Milestone

China is now one of the 160 IRENA members, joining earlier this week. A major player in the renewable energy scene, China is looking to beef up its roughly 56,000 megawatts of wind power and 206,000 megawatts of hydro power capacity.

The addition of China to IRENA is a necessary step in reaching the “Remap 2030″ goal of doubling renewable energy generation by 2030. To meet the renewable energy goals set out by the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, generation rates will have to exceed more than 150 gigawatts per year.

Achieving 150 gigawatts of renewable energy is feasible, in light of new that technology costs continue to plummet.

International Renewable Energy Agency To Be Headquarted in UAE was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Developing Tidal Power: Normandy Port Authority Announces Expansion Plans

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 11:00 PM PST

The English Channel separating the UK and France is home to some of the strongest tidal currents in the world, and the Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA) and local government authorities, as well as French energy and engineering giants AlstomEDF Energies Nouvelles, and GDF Suez, want to tap into them.

PNA announced plans to invest €60 million (US$78 million) to expand and outfit the ports of Cherbourg and Caen-Ouistreham so as to facilitate development of marine tidal power generation systems and renewable marine energy industry facilities, according to a PNA press release.

Photo credit: Voith Hydro

Tapping into the Power of Tides

France ranks second in Europe, following the UK, in terms of assessed marine energy potential. Raz Blanchard and the Passage du Fromveur are the two areas of French marine territories with the greatest potential. Taken together they represent 80% of France’s total prospective tidal power generation capacity, with the Raz Blanchard in the English Channel alone accounting for half. Installing marine turbines in Raz Blanchard, along with grid interconnections, would also provide clean and renewable electricity to homes and businesses on the UK Channel Island of Alderney.

Photo credit: PNA

Recognizing the potential tidal and marine energy resources of Normandy and Brittany, PNA and local authorities of Basse-Normandie also see the potential to realize a healthy, sustainable future for the region’s residents and economy based on clean renewable marine energy; tidal power in particular.

"There is no doubt that the French government and the Alderney authorities face many challenges in the implementation of their plan to harness ocean currents in order to produce energy," PNA states in its press release.

"PNA, however, is confident that the port of Cherbourg can establish itself as a major hub in MRE (marine renewable energy), also in the wake of its recent successes in securing contracts regarding wind-power development. The diversification and growth of the local (and regional) economy in this field have started, and expansion plans currently pursued by PNA will underpin these developments in a positive manner well into 2013-2016."

Realizing this vision requires expanding the port of Cherbourg by 35 hectares (~86.5 acres) according to PNA, which is ready to invest €60 million to extend the port on reclaimed land into Cherbourg’s outer harbor. Project work is slated to occur between 2014 and 2016.

Looking to inform and gain the support of local residents in Basse-Normandie, PNA held public consultations between October 19 and November 19. The large majority of participants expressed support for PNA’s plan according to the port authority, particularly with regard to the employment and economic development that is envisaged.

PNA is incorporating public feedback into its harbor expansion and MRE plans with the intention of releasing an updated and improved version to the public this spring.

Tidal & Marine Energy: The Basis for Sustainable Socioeconomic Development?

The potential energy contained in Normandy and Brittany’s tidal currents and offshore winds have attracted the attention of France’s largest energy and engineering concerns.

GDF Suez last June announced that its subsidiary, Eole Generation, would conduct two tidal power project feasibility studies: one in lower Normandy’s Raz Blanchard and a second in the Passage du Fromveur off Brittany’s Finisterre coast.

Eole’s feasibility study at Raz Blanchard entails installing a pilot 3 to 12-megawatt (MW) tidal power plant consisting of 3 to 6 Voith Hydro HyTide tidal power turbines. If that proves successful, management will look to install as many as 100 marine turbines on site.

Eole has partnered with tidal power engineering specialist Sabella in order to carry out its feasibility study in the Passage du Fromveur. The agreement provides Eole with access to Sabella’s research on the site, as well as on its prototype D10 marine turbine.

GDF Suez management has made renewable energy a focal point of the company’s business strategy. GDF group companies own and operate nearly 10,000 MW of installed capacity in France. Nearly 50% of that comes from renewable energy sources, according to management.

There’s also enormous tidal and marine renewable energy potential across the Channel. In a recently released report the UK Crown Estate estimates that the island nation’s total tidal power capacity totals some 153GW.

“While the science of wave and tidal resource assessment is still emerging, and future work will clarify the resources that are practically available, it is clear that wave and tidal energy could contribute substantially to the UK’s electricity needs,” Rob Hastings, director of the Crown Estate’s energy and infrastructure portfolio commented.

Developing Tidal Power: Normandy Port Authority Announces Expansion Plans was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

GE Durathon Battery for Buses Unveiled

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 10:00 PM PST

I have been awaiting a powerful and energy-dense alternative to lithium-ion batteries primarily because it is important there are more energy storage options available, especially if they are built with cheaper and more abundant materials such as sodium, unlike li-ion batteries.

It looks like GE may have the answer.

GE Durathon-Powered Bus at GE Global Research Center.
Photo Credit: Gizmag

General Electric (GE) unveiled their Durathon battery system for electric buses, which consists of both sodium batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

The Durathon sodium batteries provide a high energy density and help to lower the cost of the bus, while the lithium-ion batteries provide the power.

People may misinterpret the scarcity of elemental lithium, but that is not where we get our lithium, it isn’t necessary. Lithium is obtained from much more abundant non-elemental lithium compounds such as lithium carbonate, lithium chloride, and there are other compounds as well.

Range is a concern for electric vehicles in general, but considering that bus routes are normally set in stone — with the majority of transit buses on American roads travelling less than 100 miles in a day — implementing alternative energy solutions is a natural extension.

GE says that thousands of its Durathon batteries will be shipped from its Schenectady, New York business this year to telecommunications businesses in South East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

In those areas many cell sites are powered by diesel-generators which are costly to operate due to the high cost of diesel fuel. Solar energy could also be used to charge the batteries.

Source: Gizmag

GE Durathon Battery for Buses Unveiled was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Middle East And North Africa To Reach 3.5GW Solar Power Capacity By 2015

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 09:00 PM PST

According to a recent report published by GTM Reserach the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be installing nearly 3.5 GW of solar capacity by 2015.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA). The study also forecasts that the solar market in the MENA region could represent 8% of total demand globally by 2015.

CleanTechnica Director Zachary Shahan at the Shams 1 CSP power plant in Abu Dhabi.
Photo Credit: Marika Krakowiak / CleanTechnica

The GTM Research report states that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are expected to have the highest demand, with 70% of the total MENA demand by 2015. Saudi Arabia is expected to be the region's first gigawatt-scale market by the end of 2015. The report forecasts Turkey to be the second strongest market in the region in 2015 and beyond, due to its favourable renewable energy policies, and its prior wind projects installation experience is expected to translate into greater solar demand.

The study predicts that the overall regional outlook calls for more than 10 GW of solar power demand through 2017, but the majority of this demand is expected to come by 2015.

“In terms of solar energy, it is clear that the MENA region is set to experience significant change over the next five years,” said Scott Burger, GTM Research analyst and the report’s author. “While Saudi Arabia will likely be the largest market in the long-term, there will be significant opportunities throughout the region. With strategic planning and a solid development of local partners and supply chains, savvy companies will be able to capitalize on all of the opportunities in the region.”

Drivers For Renewable Energy In MENA Region

For oil-producing nations in the MENA region, renewable energy can substitute domestically for subsidised oil-generated electricity and thus help in freeing oil for export at higher prices.

Renewable energy can play a significant role in the diversity of the energy supply backed up by the vast renewable energy sources in some countries. There is also a need for greater regional security of supply in terms of interconnection and utilisation of renewable electricity from strong resource areas across the region.

GTM Research states in its report that the MENA region is set to experience significant change over the next five years and attractive investment opportunities will arise in the region.

Renewable Energy Plans In MENA Region

Several countries have announced ambitious plans for deployment of renewable energy infrastructure in the MENA region.

Qatar has announced plans to install 1.8 GW of PV capacity by 2014 and Dubai aims to source 5% of its power supply from solar by 2030. Abu Dhabi will soon commission Shams-1, a 100MW concentrating solar power plant (our Site-Director took a tour of the Shams-1 which is also the world’s largest single-unit solar power plant).

Saudi Arabia has also announced a renewable energy strategy that will include 16 GW of solar power facilities and 25 GW of concentrating solar power facilities by 2030. Additionally, there is the massive DESERTEC project backed by EU being planned in the MENA region

The views presented in the above article are the author's personal views only

 

Middle East And North Africa To Reach 3.5GW Solar Power Capacity By 2015 was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Falling Renewable Energy Costs Should Force Policy Rethink

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 08:02 PM PST

A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency has found that renewable energy has entered what they are calling a “new virtuous cycle of falling costs, increasing deployment, and accelerated technological progress.” 

The report, ‘Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012: An Overview’, was launched during the recent International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) annual assembly and at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. It detailed a comprehensive analysis of the costs and performance of renewable power generation currently capable today.

One of the problems renewable energy is facing, according to the report, is what they describe as “outdated perception” of its ability to compete. This perception forms a “significant and unnecessary barrier to its deployment.”

One example to the contrary of this perception is the cost of solar energy. The cost of solar energy has dropped below the cost of diesel generation worldwide for communities living beyond access to the electrical grid.

The report’s analysis of 8000 medium- to large-scale renewable power generation projects shows that not only are renewable energy projects becoming one of the most competitive options in the field of new electricity grid supply, but they are already the default economic solution for off-the-grid power generation.

"The past two years have seen a remarkable increase in the competitiveness of renewable energy," says Adnan Amin, IRENA Director General. "2012 was the year when renewables came of age – able to compete with other power generation technologies, and increasingly without subsidies. It is time for the public debate to reflect this changing reality." 

Back at the beginning of December I reported on IRENA’s policy brief that looked at the fact that renewable energy is the easiest way to generate electricity for those not on the electric grid. Every renewable option is a likely option for millions of people around the world: whether it be biomass or hydropower, concentrated or PV solar, or offshore and onshore wind farms. These renewable options are not only feasible for the millions not on major electrical grids, they are cost-effective and energy-efficient.

One need only troll through the masses of clean power stories we have here at CT to see that renewable energy is becoming, more and more, the only smart option left to us.

Falling Renewable Energy Costs Should Force Policy Rethink was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Awesome German Wind Industry Videos

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 02:52 PM PST

I’ve been meaning to share these two videos with the Cleantechnica community for ages, so now I finally got around to doing so.

Both videos focus on the manufacturing processes of the wind industry. To be precise, they give a behind-the-scenes look at the production of turbines by the leading German wind turbine maker, Enercon.

The first section of the first video showcases different turbines produced by Enercon. At about 04:20, the music changes and the video takes a look at the production of Enercon wind turbines.

This second video showcases the heavy industry aspect of wind turbine manufacturing. It’s tuned to Mozart´s Don Giovanni.

Awesome German Wind Industry Videos was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Italian Solar Provides 5.6% Of Demand In 2012

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 02:20 PM PST

According to provisional data released by the Italian transmission grid operator TERNA, solar energy provided 5.6% of Italy's electricity demand in 2012. In relative terms, this makes Italy the most solar-powered industrialized nation of the world, even surpassing Germanys 4.8% share of solar in the electricity supply.

In absolute terms, Italian solar produced a total of 18.3 TWh of energy last year, an increase of an incredible 72% compared to 2011.

Though official numbers are not yet available, preliminary numbers suggest that the installed solar capacity in Italy rose to approximately 17 GW spread over roughly 470,000 systems in 2012.

This means that the share of solar in the electricity supply is already set to rise to 6-7% in 2013 due to the already installed capacity.

This development reinforces Italy's astonishing record of fast and meaningful deployment of photovoltaic systems using feed-in tariffs as a policy incentive.

Italian Solar Provides 5.6% Of Demand In 2012 was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Mahindra E20, Successor To The Reva EV, Near Release

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 06:33 AM PST

The India-based electric vehicle company Mahindra is finally planning on releasing its follow-up to the Reva EV, released all the way back in 1994. And from the looks of it, the company is expecting large sales. It just recently opened up a new factory in Bangalore that will be able to produce up to 30,000 cars a year.

Mahindra

Image Credits: Mahindra

The name of the new electric car is the E2O, quite a different ring to it than the Reva EV.

The E2O will be chargeable with a 15-amp plug and, according to Mahindra, has a range of around 62 miles on a full charge. The exact release date isn’t yet known, but it’s expected to be very soon.

“Mahindra is launching the electric vehicle as the Indian government pushes for more electric-drive vehicles as a way to reduce pollution,” Autoblog Green writes. ”The government has said it would like six million EVs to have been sold in India by 2020. For now, though, EV adoption there has been slow. Just 2,500 Reva EVs have sold since 1994, a rate that is well, well below Mahindra’s new factory capacity.”


 
Partly this is due to how unreliable much of India’s electrical grid is. Power outages are regular occurrences in many places, so those looking for something more reliable tend to go gas-powered. Just last July, “about 600 million people had to deal with two-day blackouts throughout the country.”

Of course there is an easy way around this, small-scale renewable energy development. One of the best qualities of renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind is that they can deployed on a very small-scale, making their users independent from the larger grid. And also contributing less to many of the worst effects of the power sources regularly used in the region, such as deforestation. The ease of deployment, when combined with the significant monetary savings, make small-scale renewable energy technologies a very smart choice in areas with undeveloped and unreliable grids. And also a natural fit and complement to electric vehicles.

Mahindra E20, Successor To The Reva EV, Near Release was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Triple-Junction Solar Cell Being Developed By US Navy Is To Break Through The 50% Conversion Efficiency Barrier

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 06:13 AM PST

Solar cells with a more than 50% conversion efficiency may be a reality in the near future, thanks to new research from the US Naval Research Laboratory’s Electronics Technology and Science Division.

triple junction solar cells record

Image Credits: US Naval Research Laboratory

The solution to the old efficiency barrier is a newly-designed, triple-junction solar cell that has the potential to greatly exceed 50% conversion efficiency.

“This research has produced a novel, realistically achievable, lattice-matched, multi-junction solar cell design with the potential to break the 50 percent power conversion efficiency mark under concentrated illumination,” said Robert Walters, Ph.D., Naval Research Laboratory research physicist. “At present, the world record triple-junction solar cell efficiency is 44 percent under concentration and it is generally accepted that a major technology breakthrough will be required for the efficiency of these cells to increase much further.”


 
A ‘multi-junction solar cell’, is essentially, a solar cell where each specialized ‘junction’ is designed to very efficiently absorb and use different wavelength bands in the solar spectrum. Theoretically, it’s possible to create an ‘infinite-junction’ solar cell that could reach conversion efficiencies as high as 87 percent. But to do that, it’s necessary to create a semiconductor material system that is able to “attain a wide range of bandgaps and be grown with high crystalline quality.”

The new breakthrough that the researchers have made, is the identification of “InAlAsSb” quaternary alloys, “a high band gap material layer that can be grown lattice-matched” to the already useful “InP.”

With the material, the researchers were able to create a new solar cell design that they think will lead to power conversion efficiencies over 50%.

While this sounds like a great breakthrough, there is still a lot to be done before this leads to actual improved efficiency solar cells.

Triple-Junction Solar Cell Being Developed By US Navy Is To Break Through The 50% Conversion Efficiency Barrier was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Ontario Will Be First North American Jurisdiction To Eliminate Coal Power

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 06:07 AM PST

Looks like a northern front has been opened up in the so-called "War on Coal."

Canada's Ontario province will burn virtually zero coal by the end of 2013, marking the first time a North American government has shut down an entire coal fleet, and proving a powerful point that ending coal use can save money and lives.

The provincial government announced last week that it would close its final two baseload coal-fired power plants a year ahead of schedule, leaving just 1% of total electrical capacity to be generated by coal. The province's last remaining coal generator, a small backup unit, will be closed in 2014. "Today, all Ontarians can breathe a little easier," said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Massive Health And Environmental Benefits

Ontario's early coal closures are expected to reduce emissions equivalent to taking seven million cars off the road and save approximately $4.4 billion in annual health and environmental external costs, according to Ontario's Energy Minister. "Very soon, coal will disappear from our energy mix and we're not going to miss it," said Chris Bentley. 

The final coal plant closures are the last step in Ontario's Green Energy Act, announced in 2003. That year coal represented 25% of all electricity generation across 19 power plants and Nanticoke Generating Station, one of the two now-closed power plants, was running at a peak capacity of 4,000MW – making it one of the largest coal plants in the world. Already, sulphur dioxide emissions are 93% lower and nitrogen oxide emissions are 85% lower than they were in 2003. 

Renewables + Energy Efficiency = No Need For Coal

Several dynamics like increased natural gas generation and Ontario owning its coal plants have helped the initiative, but an aggressive 2009 renewables and energy efficiency law made it possible. 

A feed-in tariff has helped boost wind from 400 megawatts (MW) in 2007 to 2,000MW today, and wind is growing across the country, expected to generate 10% of all provincial electricity supply by 2030. 

Ontario clean energy mix

Ontario electricity generation mix image via Ontario Ministry of Energy

In addition, energy efficiency efforts have created 1,900MW of consumer energy savings since 2005, equivalent to taking 600,000 average homes off the grid.

And Don’t Forget A Stronger Economy

While the environmental benefits are clear, ending coal-fired electricity has created benefits across Ontario’s entire economy.This overall shift toward clean energy has become an economic engine, creating 28,000 green jobs since 2009 – a number expected to eventually hit 50,000 total jobs.

Early closures of the final two coal power plants will save the province's utility ratepayers $95 million in costs, and 4.7 million smart meters have been installed as part of the efficiency effort, creating access to time-of-use electricity pricing and allowing consumers to shift their energy demand to take advantage of off-peak power prices.  

A Model For Canada And The World

Ontario is Canada's most populous province, the center of the country's national economy, and proof an economy can reliably grow without coal. Since the coal-free initiative began, Ontario has increased its electricity capacity 20% with 8,000MW of new clean energy supply, while reducing electricity bills 10% 

Going coal free sets an example for other governments to follow in their drive to improve the environment and economy. Indeed, "Ontario is showing the country – and the world – what a genuine commitment to cleaner energy can accomplish," said Tim Weis of the Pembina Institute.

Ontario Will Be First North American Jurisdiction To Eliminate Coal Power was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

The Most Amazing, Interactive US Solar Grid Parity Map

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 06:07 AM PST

Within a decade, 300,000 megawatts of unsubsidized local solar power could compete with utility electricity prices in almost every state, enough clean energy to produce 10% of U.S. electricity.  Grid parity is building like a relentless wave, but how much solar is at parity today?  In 2016?  In 2020?  On homes or businesses?  With incentives or without?

Answer all of these questions with the Greatest, Most Interactive U.S. Solar Grid Parity Map from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  Click the link or the map image below to interact.

For more on the data behind the map, see ILSR's Rooftop Revolution resources.

This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.

The Most Amazing, Interactive US Solar Grid Parity Map was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Blue-Green Algae Biofuel Research Continues

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 06:06 AM PST

Researchers at UC-Davis and one at Sandia National Labs are exploring the use of cyanobacteria for making biofuels. At UC-Davis their cyanobacteria produced 2.4 grams of 2.3 butanediol for each liter of material used. This rate was the highest reported so far for such chemicals intended for commercial development. 2,3 butanediol is an alcohol which is suitable for use as a biofuel, like ethanol. The advantage of producing it instead of ethanol is that it can be converted into jet fuel, as well as used in an internal combustion engine. (Burning this form of buatendiol generates less CO2 and therefore contributes less to climate change.)

Cyanobacteria are also powered by sunlight, so the energy source already exists in ample supply (during daylight hours of course). This research is taking place in the lab headed by Shota Atsumi.

At Sandia, Anne Ruffing has genetically engineered cyanobacteria to make free fatty acids. These chemicals can be made into liquid biofuels. Her work is focused on cyanobacteria because they are easier to genetically manipulate than eukaryotic algae. They also can be altered to create a number of different fuels.

Additionally, they produce the material used to make fuel outside the cell, so it can be collected without damaging the cell. Whereas with eukaryotic algae the pre-fuel material must be extracted from cells, which destroys them so they can’t continue making it. As a result, a new generation of algae must be grown. Cyanobacteria can be used over and over again. However, current yields are not large enough to be commercially viable, which is why Ruffing is experimenting with ways of increasing them.

“So I’m engineering the cell, then I’m trying to learn from the cell how to work with the cell to produce the fuel instead of trying to force it to produce  something it doesn’t want to produce,” she explained.

Blue-Green Algae Biofuel Research Continues was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Billions Of Dollars Could Be Saved By NREL Solar Wafer Device

Posted: 15 Jan 2013 06:04 AM PST

About 5–10% of silicon wafers used to make photovoltaic solar cells are damaged as they go through the industrial material production process. These wafers are expensive enough that what might sound like an acceptable amount of damage actually translates into billions of dollars lost each year by the solar industry.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers set about trying to create a detector to identify damaged wafers before they are installed in solar cells in order to stop the manufacturing of defective ones. What they came up with is called the Silicon Photovoltaic Wafer Screening System. It is actually a small furnace which can be integrated into a wafer assembly line and functions by exposing wafers to high temperatures. When they are subjected to this thermal stress test the weak or defective wafers can be identified and pulled from solar cell production.

Cutting production losses can make solar cells more cost-competitive and therefore more marketable. (Consumers typically cite cost as the main barrier to purchasing residential or commercial solar PV systems). NREL’s wafer stress tester could help manufacturers improve their quality control and consumers by reducing costs.  Presumably reducing the number of defective solar cells would also decrease consumer frustration for obvious reasons.

Another benefit to using the NREL device is that as solar wafers become thinner, they will likely be more prone to breakage.  So such a detector will become even more valuable.

A manual version of the NREL instrument costs $60,000 and can test about 1,200 wafers per hour. An automated version can also remove the defective wafers it detects and place them in a  container for melting and re-cycling back into material for making effective wafers. The device is very energy-efficient and the testing of a single wafer only costs a fraction of one penny.

NREL is exclusively dedicated to developing new renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. By its own estimate the grants it provides to start-ups and other companies generate tens of thousands of jobs.

 

Billions Of Dollars Could Be Saved By NREL Solar Wafer Device was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

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