Here's an encouraging article on solar collector projet at an Israeli Kibbutz to send best wishes to our Jewish readers who are celebrating Yom Kipper, tonight, - the Day of Atonement. What more appropriate day to read about Physicist David Faimain, who wishes to help Israel overcome dependence on Arab oil, and CO2 emission by accelerating the conversion to renewable solar energy -- reaching a goal of generating 10% of Israel's electrical needs with Solar by 2020.
David Sheen, of Haaretz, tells us the story of David Faiman, a professor of physics at Ben-Gurion University's Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and chair of the Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics, who is a 'Born-again Zionist' revolutionizing solar energy field, by using mirrors arranged in a parabolic curve to concentrate the sun rays on a much smaller solar photovoltaic collector, thereby minimizing "the economic and environmental cost of producing solar power, one of the biggest barriers to the field's development."
Recently, Kvutzat Yavneh, a kibbutz east of Ashdod, adopted a new solar technology inspired by Faiman's ideas. ... Today, Faiman is at the forefront of developing the next generation of renewable energy systems, certain that Israel must turn to solar solutions. "I like to think that our grandchildren will find it hard to believe that we lived in a world in which electricity was not generated mainly from solar energy," says Faiman.
Israel now consumes 60 billion kiloWatt hour per year of electricity, and Faiman expects this to rise to 80 billion kiloWatt hours per year by 2020. The rate of solar installation will need to increase dramatically to meet this goal.
Faiman calls this curved mirror approach 'combined heat and power,' or CHP. He prevents the collector wafer from burning by running water over it which supplies all the hot water for the kibbutz, and enables the collector to operate at 70% efficiency, rather than the average of 10 to 15 per cent for traditional PV panels. My presumption is that this 70% number is achieved by counting the generation per square inch of just the collector, not the whole mirror array.
Although collection surfaces must be large, in order to catch as many solar rays as possible, Faiman realized that the "wafers" which convert these solar rays into electricity needn't be. By bending the panel into a parabolic dish and re-focusing all the sun's rays onto a small receiver only one-thousandth the size of the dish, Faiman's model minimizes the size of the most economically and ecologically expensive component of the panel.
Ordinarily, focusing so much solar energy onto a such a small area would burn the solar converter, rendering it useless. But Faiman hit upon another idea to turn that liability into an advantage. By running water or some other liquid over the solar converter, the radiated surfaces are cooled down to manageable levels. The heat energy absorbed by that liquid is then transferred to water stored in large tanks, making it unnecessary to use electricity or burn fossil fuels to heat running water.
Most importantly for most people, the CHP panels will soon be able to produce energy at parity with conventional energy sources, say Segev (Faiman's partner) "If we get these machines at mass production - not millions of machines, but rather at a rate of 500 to 1000 units a month - they would generate energy at less than 10 cents U.S. per kiloWatt hour."
Now if we can get the whole world to atone for our dependence on fossil fuels which dumps an enormous amount of pollution into our atmosphere, including CO2, which causes global warming, the world will be a much better place for our children and grandchildren.
Let's not keep repeating the mistakes of our past.
And, for our Jewish readers, G'mar Hatimah Tovah
6:06 PM PT: Joe Buck tells me that this parabollic mirror approach has been used before, so the word "breakthrough" may be a bit over the tip. I had already modified this from "revolutionize" in the Haaretz article. Sorry. I will try to a more careful writer in this next year. This last year I've been working on spell checking, which you have to admit I've made progress on, at least in post, if not comments. Cheers.
9:17 PM PT: I had multiple windows of this article open in my new FireFox browser so when I made a recent spelling correction the update reintroduced the errors I had corrected in the first version. Sorry.