I went to the Google News page this morning, to survey for a notable topic to write about, as is my normal routine. And to my surprise, Google News had a new 'side panel' category, that I had not seen before:
So I clicked it. There must be something in the 2012 air, because there was a pageful of hopefully Solar Energy News, just waiting to be explored.
Here are some of the more notable highlights, for your pre-New Year consumption ...
One Photon in ==>> Two Electrons out.
How'd they do that?
Two for one: Quantum dot solar cells boost power
by Martin LaMonica, CNet.com -- Dec 17, 2011
Scientists designing the next generation of solar cells are trying to do away with waste heat.
Two research groups this week reported advances in a technique to capture a portion of the sunlight's energy that's normally lost as heat. The advances are aiming toward a breakthrough in how much light can be converted to electricity on a solar cell.
In a paper published in Science, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported developing tiny crystals a few nanometers in size, called quantum dots, that are able to capture high-energy photons that today's solar cells don't.
Separately, a team from the University of Texas in Austin developed a plastic semiconductor material that was able to double the number of electrons produced from a photon on light. Capturing "hot electrons" normally lost as waste heat promises solar cells that work at 44 percent efficiency, far beyond today's theoretical limit of 31 percent, according to chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin.
Huh? ... with all the recent breakthroughs, the Cost of Solar Energy, will end up being much cheaper, than previous studies have shown.
Breakthrough could double solar energy output
by Dean Kuipers, LATimes -- Dec 16, 2011
Breakthroughs in the solar industry seem to be coming fast of late. Just two weeks ago we heard about researcher Douglas Keszlar at Oregon State University in Corvallis, who is studying the photovoltaic potential of fool’s gold -- pyrite -- and discovered instead that some more ordinary materials could make improved photovoltaics, especially iron silicon sulfide. Once again, the advantage would be that it’s hyperefficient and cheap.
All of this goes to reinforce a recent study by Joshua Pearce at Queen’s University in Toronto, who found that cost estimates for solar technology used by energy analysts are greatly inflated. The technology is changing so fast that many studies don’t reflect the newest realities. For instance, the cost of solar panels has dropped 70% since 2009, and their productivity only declines 0.1% to 0.2% per year, rather than the 1% per year that was the norm.
The bottom line? Commonly used studies have listed dollars-per-watt of electricity as high as $7.61. According to Dr. Pearce, the real cost in 2011 is under $1 per watt.
There were 5 other notable breakthroughs in Solar Tech in 2011.
If you want the Techie details, just follow the link.
Best of 2011 : Advances in solar panel technology
by Balakrishnan Ramachandran, Power Engineering -- Dec 18, 2011
1. 3D Solar Cells
2. Virus improves solar cell efficiency
3. Printable solar cells
4. Multicolored solar panels for power generating windows
5. Organic coating turns window panes into solar panels
Well this next one is something. When the 'Oracle of Omaha' puts his money on the table, the rest of the investing world generally takes notices ... and generally follows suit too.
Warren Watch: Solar deals
by Steve Jordon, Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer -- Dec 18, 2011
"The bottom line is that Buffett knows how to identify a good deal. Here it happened to be a solar energy deal," Godelnik wrote. "This is why you won't see Buffett buying more solar plants unless he's got similar terms."
Lo and behold, the second deal, announced a few days later by MidAmerican and NRG Energy, has some "similar terms." Pacific Gas and Electric has a long-term contract to buy all of the plant's electricity, too, plus a $967 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Berkshire's investments provide "a desperately needed ray of financial sunshine to the long-suffering U.S. solar energy industry," according to the News Consortium's story on Catholic Online. The industry has been hurt by setbacks, including the failure of California-based solar company Solyndra and the resulting political fallout from its $535 million federal loan guarantee.
"In a lot of ways, this is classic Warren Buffett," said Bruce Bullock, executive director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University. "He comes into an industry that is starving for capital investment. At the same time, this is something that also tells people it's time to take solar power seriously."
There must be something in the 2012 air, could it be the realization, that it is totally backwards, NOT to be investing seriously, in the the Renewable Energy opportunities of the Future.
A Carbon-clogged world, can only hope.
Afterall, '2 for 1' is quite the deal, in most economic circles.
The Sun is one natural resource, that is still just there for the taking ... a limitless resource just waiting to be tapped ...
you could call it, the New Frontier ... the New Gold Rush of the 21st Century.