science + technology news

Solar Industry: No Breakthroughs Needed

August 3, 2009

Incremental advances have made transformational technologies unnecessary, challenging the federal government’s new investments in research into “transformational” solar technologies that represent radical departures from existing crystalline-silicon or thin-film technologies, which will take decades to come to market, industry experts say.

Solar Map: More Than 30 Utility-Scale Solar Plants in the U.S.

August 29, 2008

A Google map shows more than 30 utility-scale solar power plants one megawatt or larger in various stages of development in the U.S.

Solar Market Reaches $100 Billion In 2013

October 2, 2008

Solar is poised for continued impressive growth, with new installations primed to increase nearly five-fold from 2008 to 2013. Starting in 2009, however, supply will exceed demand, leading to price decreases.

According to the new report from Lux Research entitled “Solar State of the Market Q3 2008: The Rocky Road to $100 Billion,” this change will transform the solar industry, creating a market where sales grow dramatically,… read more

Solar paint is inefficient but simple to make

January 4, 2012


Notre Dame researchers have developed a simple, cheap alternative to traditional solar cells: solar paint, IEEE Spectrum Energywise reports.

The paint, made with semiconducting nanoparticles, achieved a one percent conversion rate when tested using artificial sunlight. This is far behind other solar technologies — which fall in the 10 to 15 percent range, generally — but the ease of manufacturing and use are clear advantages.

Ref.:… read more

Solar Panel Drops to $1 per Watt: Is this a Milestone or the Bottom for Silicon-Based Panels?

March 2, 2009

A solar power milestone was reached last week when First Solar Inc brought its manufacturing costs for cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar panels down to $1 per watt, eclipsing silicon panels, which are still in the $3 range.

The company estimates that it needs to get manufacturing costs down to $0.65 to $0.70 per watt and other installation costs down to $1 a watt to reach grid parity — goals… read more

Solar plane takes off for 24-hour test flight

July 7, 2010


Solar Impulse, an experimental solar-powered plane whose Swiss makers hope to one day circle the globe using only energy collected from the sun took off for its first 24-hour test flight Wednesday. If successful, the next step will be an Atlantic crossing.

Pilot Andre Borschberg took the plane to an altitude of 27,900 feet (8,500 meters).

Photos:read more

Solar Power at Half the Cost

May 11, 2007

A new mechanism for focusing light on small areas of photovoltaic material could make solar power in residential and commercial applications cheaper than electricity from the grid in most markets in the next few years.

Solar power could provide 10% of US energy: report

March 11, 2010

The U.S. could source 10 percent of its electricity from solar power by 2030, up from just 0.1 percent in 2008, according to a report produced by the independent environmental group Environment America.

Solar power game-changer: ‘Near perfect’ absorption of sunlight, from all angles

November 4, 2008

A new nanoengineered anti-reflective coating developed by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers
boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels (from 67 to 96 percent) and allows them to absorb the entire spectrum of sunlight from any angle, regardless of the sun’s position in the sky.

It could help to overcome two major hurdles blocking the progress and wider use of solar power.

Solar power much cheaper to produce than most analysts realize, study finds

December 13, 2011

The public is being kept in the dark about the viability of solar photovoltaic energy, according to a study conducted at Queen’s University. The real cost in 2011 is under $1 per watt for solar panels purchased in bulk on the global market, he says.

“Many analysts project a higher cost for solar photovoltaic energy because they don’t consider recent technological advancements and price reductions,”… read more

Solar Power to Rule in 20 Years, Futurists Say

February 25, 2008

Speaking on behalf of a panel of experts convened by the National Association of Engineers to address the 14 “grand challenges of the 21st century,” Ray Kurzweil said solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth’s people in 20 years.

Members of the panel are “confident that we are not that far away from a tipping point where energy from solar will be [economically]… read more

Solar power without solar cells: A hidden magnetic effect of light could make it possible

April 15, 2011

A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by University of Michigan researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based solar cells.

The researchers found a way to make an “optical battery,” said Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics.

Light has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the… read more

Solar Roofing Materials

September 12, 2008

United Solar Ovonic of Auburn Hills, MI, has teamed with Centria, a major roofing company, to create a metal roof system that integrates easy-to-install, flexible thin-film amorphous-silicon photovoltaic modules.

The partnership offers seven different prefabricated systems, ranging in capacity from 3 to 120 kilowatts, and could pay for itself in less than 10 years, Centria says.

Solar sail unfurled in orbit

January 25, 2011

artist's concept of a solar sail in Earth orbit (NASA)

NASA’s NanoSail-D spacecraft has become unstuck and has unfurled a gleaming sheet of space-age fabric 650 km above Earth, becoming the first-ever solar sail to circle our planet.

NanoSail-D spent the previous month and a half stuck inside its mothership, the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology SATellite (FASTSAT). FASTSAT was launched in November 2010 with NanoSail-D and five other experiments onboard. High above Earth, a spring was… read more

Solar System’s ‘look-alike’ found

April 8, 2008

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own.

They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun and about 5,000 light-years away.

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