Solar photovoltaic

Prof Tara P. Dhakal

Beyond Zero speaks to Professor Tara P. Dhakal of Binghamton University, State University of New York, about his research developing high efficiency solar cells. 

Advances in the manufacture of Solar Cells

Prof Tara Dhakal started off with study of Physics and Material Science, working in Kathmandu, Nepal and Japan and later joined the Uni. of Sth. Florida with the aim of making improved thin film solar. He is at present Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the State University of N.Y. and it seems he has always been interested in applied research.

Problems of course with solar is the need to access materials that are abundant, non toxic, reliable and not only cost efficient to manufacture but to install. Approximately 25% of silicon can be converted into electricity and it is fairly expensive to process into wafers.  The Professor discussed the possibility of transparent layers for windows and/or roll-out for roofs.

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 29/7/16)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Getting more energy from the sun: how to make better solar cells

Prof Andrew Blakers

From Stars to the Sun

Professor Andrew Blakers is a professor engineering at the Australian National University. He works in the area of photovoltaics. His original goal was to be an astronomer studying Maths and Physics but while bushwalking  he was struck by so many places under threat - and that was as far back as the 70s!

He believes Australia receives thousands of times more solar energy than all the fossil fuels combined so why not be involved in solar and wind? He is a member of ARENA but fears the organisation, with the present political situation may lose the capacity to award grants. 

An interesting account of Andrew's life and work can be accessed on the ABC's Conversation Hour (13/6) and more details on the usual BZE podcast which mentions sliver, PERC technologies and silicon with its non-toxic properties. 

He has no doubt that Australia could become 100% renewable before long - and that is not just "pie in the sky"!

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Wind and solar PV have won the race – it’s too late for other clean energy technologies

More articels at The Conversation

Chris Cooper

SunCrowd - the home battery movement from SunCrowd on Vimeo.

SunCrowd is Australia’s first bulk-buy for solar storage solutions. Let’s use our bulk purchasing power to make batteries affordable!  Join the movement at www.suncrowd.com.au

 

An entrepreneur in renewable energy

Chris Cooper is Chief Energy Officer and co-founder of SunCrowd, who are helping communities run local bulk-buy campaigns to make rooftop solar and storage easy and affordable. Chris Cooper became a keen clean energy student whilst at high school studying Economics and Geography and he was encouraged by gaining a Winston Churchill Fellowship scholarship which took him overseas to U.K., U.S. and Europe.  He favoured working for a practical change rather than joining academia and to concentrate in a local area.  To achieve this, he co-founded SunCrowd mainly situated in Shellharbour, Nowra and recently launched in SunCrowd Newcastle, NSW, although he has received calls from places as far afield as Alice Springs, Broken Hill and Melbourne. He finds people are keen for information on dispatch and storage of power.

Specialising on local communities seems to resonate with Germany where ownership of power has been returned to local communities. And of course in Australia with the development of rooftop solar despite the drop in feed-in tariffs. At the same time he has found problems in achieving grants and government funding and has found ARENA rather bureaucratic compared with the US which has provided millions in Government grants. ARENA seems to favour large organisations such as AGL.  Hopefully he says his submissions will change this but there is certainly room for that considering the present Prime Minister speaks regularly of "innovation"!

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Tim Forcey: 22 ways to cut your energy bills

How to save money on power bills

This is a headline which should be of interest to everyone!

Beyond Zero's Kay and Michael speaks to Tim Forcey, Energy Advisor, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne talks about 22 things you can do to improve your home’s energy performance. And how to reach the ultimate goal of a home heated and powered by 100% renewable electricity. 

My Efficient Electric Home fb group - join us!

Tim has ideas on 22 ways of cutting power bills  and 38% off electricity and gas.  He said there is no economic reason for connection to the gas grid as gas has increased in price 75% over the last  5 years!  To make the production and usage of hot water  go further it is preferable to consider heat pumps and those with smart meters would find it simpler to trace one's usage regularly. It is possible to do this on line for the clever ones (my expression!)

But first on the list is to install LED lights  and thereby  using less power without heating and these are of course now being offered free of  charge. Next it is also a good idea  to ring retailers  to request what discounts are available ot to  threaten to switch if dissatisfied!

But before getting too technical adequate insulation is important  particularly hot water pipes and pressure release valves and a commonsense approach e.g. checking for draughts from old fireplaces and vents and the installatiom of old fashioned drapes and pelmets

Michael raised the question of showerheads which Tim said need not be either giving a satisfying shower or be saving hot water but could be both and if not satisfied could be returned! And that green power is provided by most retailers not only Powershop.

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: 22 ways to cut your energy bills (before spending on solar panels)

Presentation: Tim Forcey: How to cheaply and comfortably heat your home with renewable energy

Clay Collier

Clay Collier is serial entrepenur and Co-Founder of Kisensum, a Californian start-up software company dedicated to enabling the integration of energy storage to the grid. Their project at Los Angeles Air Force Base uses software that enables them to integrate energy storage, both mobile (EV's) and stationary to support the grid. Managing the largest vehicle to grid fleet in the world has given Kisensum a unique insight into controlling mobile storage and working with many vendors to complete a complex storage integration project.

Glen Morris

Glen Morris talks about the recent Solar 2016 conference and release of the Battery installation guide by the Energy Storage Council.

Glen Morris is Vice President of Australian Solar Council and Energy Storage Council and well-known in the industry as an expert on solar systems and battery storage. Glen said he has been interested  in electronics and energy since aged 13, has been and still is a teacher of renewable energy courses throughout Australia. He mentioned that the Australian Solar Council is now unbelievably 55 years old and the oldest in the world. Listeners would be , as this writer was, amazed to hear this fact considering the state of play in this country for the last few decades. 

With the Energy Storage Council he said that because there are no installation standards for the large range of newer battery technologies (such as Lithium), there was a need for the Australian Battery Guide to fill in the gap. This battery guide is not only an installer guide, but also a consumer guide for householder (and they are seeking feedback on it). Of course with the cost of solar products falling and the subsequent rise in availability there is a need for prospective buyers to have information on risk factors and reliability available  - and naturally  concerning storage so that one does not have to find the time to wash the dishes and the washing at midday or, as the previous Prime Minister used to remind everyone that "the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow"!

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Check out Glen's other podcasts:

Glen Morris VP Australian Solar Council

Fire safety in solar PV installations

BZE radio is joined by Alessandra Chiaramonte (Alex), Austin Smith & Zachary Hood  - an university student research team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the US. They have recently completed a report on the effectiveness of DC isolators for fire safety in solar PV installations in Australia, in collaboration with The Alternative Technology Association (ATA).

Nigel Morris & Solar Supercharge

Beyond Zero talks to Nigel Morris, who is celebrating 23 years in solar energy, about the upcoming Solar Citizens Solar Supercharge conference. He is a wonderful advocate for the solar industry and consumer, has worked with Solar Citizens on a number of projects, also a prolific blogger.  He is currently CEO of retail solar company RoofJuice

Prof Martin Green UNSW

Prof Martin Green UNSW and Dr Scott Watkins talk record efficiency solar

Professor Martin Green, with Dr Mark Keevers, were finalists in the 2015 Eureka Awards for their world record breaking 40% efficiency solar photovoltaic cell. The efficiency was achieved splitting a single light beam to generate power from two different types of solar cell. Martin joins Dr Scott Watkins (formerly Stream Leader, Organic Photovoltaics, Materials Science and Engineering at CSIRO) to discuss the latest in silicon PV technology as well as some insights into the future and how the world's PV uptake has exceeded the IEA's forecasts. Don't miss this podcast!

Martin Green is currently a Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Director of the Australian National Energy Agency (ARENA) supported Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics. He was formerly a Director of CSG Solar, a company formed specifically to commercialise the University’s thin-film, polycrystalline-silicon-on-glass solar cell. His group's contributions to photovoltaics are well known including the development of the world’s highest efficiency silicon solar cells.

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