solar power

The World of Tomorrow - Today! Technological Innovations In Green Design

Talk about the "world of tomorrow, today" - take a look at some of the technology that is up-and-coming as part of the green tech revolution:1

  • Samsung Unveils Solar-Powered Zero Energy Transparent TV, by Lea Bogdan, 03/08/11

  • Super Batteries Made From 'Frozen Smoke' May be Here Soon, by Timon Singh, 03/02/11
    More information about aerogels, taken from one of the articles linked in the blurb (from the Times Online):
    In 2002 Aspen Aerogel, a company created by Nasa, produced a stronger and more flexible version of the gel. It is now being used to develop an insulated lining in space suits for the first manned mission to Mars, scheduled for 2018.

    Mark Krajewski, a senior scientist at the company, believes that an 18mm layer of aerogel will be sufficient to protect astronauts from temperatures as low as -130C. “It is the greatest insulator we’ve ever seen,” he said.

    Aerogel is also being tested for future bombproof housing and armour for military vehicles. In the laboratory, a metal plate coated in 6mm of aerogel was left almost unscathed by a direct dynamite blast.

    It also has green credentials. Aerogel is described by scientists as the “ultimate sponge”, with millions of tiny pores on its surface making it ideal for absorbing pollutants in water.

    Kanatzidis has created a new version of aerogel designed to mop up lead and mercury from water. Other versions are designed to absorb oil spills.

If you think that's fascinating, get a look at some of the other articles linked to when you pull up the 'Frozen Smoke' piece about aerogels:

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Seriously fascinating stuff, with a lot of potential ranging from robots to medicine, to areas I haven't even begun to think of.

And, of course, variants of such tech could be perfect for a couple of sci-fi works I've got in process, a few of which I'm doing with friends.

What do you think? Does the promise of the new technology sound too good to be true? Do you think you could come up with some applications for some of the technology?

Let's discuss in comments below...





1 Due to the extremely short piece, I won't quote excerpts. I can, however, include YouTube videos where appropriate.

Moore's Law for Solar - 30c watt in years to come

"We have an economy where we steal the future, sell it in the present and call it GDP (Gross Domestic Product)" Paul Hawken

The United States as of 2007, had approximately 1,087 Gigawatts of electricity generating capacity.

China had around 624 Gigawatts of Electricity Generation capacity.

Australia has approximately 48 Gigawatts of generating capacity.

India has 147 Gigawatts of electricity generation capacity.

Cheating a little here, but Stranded Wind describes three kinds of electricity Generation better than I could, they are:

Baseload is a word that is used to describe both the minimum level of power required to keep a system going and the type of generation that provides it. Coal and nuclear are the classic examples here – they're slow to warm up but once they're moving they're kept at a certain operating range for months on end. You may also hear 'spinning reserves' – this is a baseload type generating facility that is 'spun up' but unloaded, running in reserve for demand peaks. Hydroelectric can also be considered baseload generating capacity if it's got a steady flow of water behind it.

Dispatchable is a word used to describe generating sources that are quick to react to new requirements. Natural gas generating using 'peaker' plants is the classic example. These systems maybe only run for a week total out of ever year but electric rates are such that they're profitable when servicing demand spikes. Hydroelectric power is also counted as dispatchable – simply open the gate, the turbine spins up, and power begins to flow.

Intermittent sources produce irregularly (wind) or periodically (solar). Natural gas or hydroelectric dispatchable power coupled with these renewables can make for a smooth, trustworthy flow of power.

The need for electricity is not static as you would imagine. When there are more air conditioners turned on, more factories operating, power demand is higher, when people are sleeping, power demand drops right off.

Possible Breakthrough Solar Energy Collector

Promoted. This isn't a hoax; meta-materials are an exciting new field. Whether or not this will translate to an affordable and applicable means of light collection remains to be seen, of course. Originally posted 2009-10-17 11:32:55 -0400. -- GH

I can't judge if this is "for real" or not -- I don't mean it's a hoax -- i.e. a feasible technology but this sounds pretty exciting.  This report appeared in the New Scientist:. First Black Hole for Light Created on Earth.

An electromagnetic "black hole" that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time.

The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity.

A theoretical design for a table-top black hole to trap light was proposed in a paper published earlier this year by Evgenii Narimanov and Alexander Kildishev of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Their idea was to mimic the properties of a cosmological black hole, whose intense gravity bends the surrounding space-time, causing any nearby matter or radiation to follow the warped space-time and spiral inwards.

Narimanov and Kildishev reasoned that it should be possible to build a device that makes light curve inwards towards its centre in a similar way. They calculated that this could be done by a cylindrical structure consisting of a central core surrounded by a shell of concentric rings.

... snip ...

Such a device could be used to harvest solar energy in places where the light is too diffuse for mirrors to concentrate it onto a solar cell. An optical black hole would suck it all in and direct it at a solar cell sitting at the core. "If that works, you will no longer require these huge parabolic mirrors to collect light," says Narimanov.

HVDC: Piping in the Sun, to a City near you?

If only we could take all that Solar Energy baking the World's Deserts,

Bottle it up, (using modern technology),

and send it to the Metropolitan areas, that run on Energy.

All the Sun That's Fit to Print

Kevin Bullis/TechReview: Efficient, Cheap Solar Cells:

A cheap new way to attach mirrors to silicon yields very efficient solar cells that don't cost much to manufacture. The technique could lead to solar panels that produce electricity for the average price of electricity in the United States.

Tuesday: Burned

Michael Kanellos/CNET: Will taxes halt Calif.'s solar thermal ambitions?
The House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $21 billion in tax credits to the renewable industry and require utilities to increase their renewable portfolios to 15 percent. The Senate, however, rejected it, putting the credits in limbo.
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Interest rate 'freeze' - the real story is fraud [h/t to susie dow]
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Hoover's Horrors in the Senate present themselves as standing on a particular set of values. Kinda hard to do when those "values" are shadows on quicksand.