Posts Tagged solar

Solyndra, the Solar Generator Manufacturer

Posted by on Tuesday, 25 May, 2010

Solyndra is a Bay Area company that is in the news for manufacturing solar power modules. The Department of Energyis guaranteeing a $535 million loan to support its solar power technology. According to the Department of Energy, this is the first project that the federal government is backing under the Department of Energy loan guarantee program. As with the other projects, this requires an equity investment from the company itself. The federal government is providing 73% of the funds so the company has to provide the other 27%, which means that Solyndra has to put up $198 million, a much larger initial investment than most of the renewable energy projects that the government supports. According to the Department of Energy, the next two companies receiving loans under the loan guarantee program are Beacon and Nordic.

This large project is receiving great amounts of government attention. Senator Boxer supports this project since it will bring jobs to Fremont as well as potentially providing a great deal of power from the solar panels the plant manufactures over its lifetime. Senator Boxer has toured the plant and photos are available on her website.
Senator Boxer’s website states that the plant may provide up to 15 GW of power during its lifetime and the White House blog claims up to 7 GW during the first phase of construction, which is what the loan is designed to finance. Later phases of construction will be supported by the sales of the solar panels. President Obama scheduled a May 26 visit to tour the Solyndra facility in Fremont.

Solyndra also has operations in Italy and is installing solar panels throughout Europe. Solyndra and the Italian company Enerqos are setting up solar panels on houses in Italy and have installed these generators as part of a project in Villa Dossola. The major technological advantage of Solyndra’s photovoltaic cells is that their cylindrical design allows them to capture solar energy from any angle, allowing efficiency improvements. The solar cell design provides easy installation, and according to Enerqos in the press release, better resistance to wind damage and low weight. The company is installing these solar cells on roofs so these traits are important.

Space Solar Power

Posted by on Sunday, 2 May, 2010

Solar power is a renewable source of energy that provides great potential returns. Nonrenewable energy sources such as oil and coal provide power stored by plants that originally gained their energy from the sun. These sources may be running out, but the sun itself will continue burning for a long time.

One of the main drawbacks of solar power is the space that the power plants require. Along with other forms of renewable energy generation, solar panels take up much more land area than the coal, natural gas, and oil plants that produce similar amounts of power. Solving this problem requires the solar collector to be located in an area that isn’t limited by land area restrictions, outer space. A machine orbiting the earth can store up energy directly from the sun, which is much more efficient since nothing interferes with the transmission of energy before it reaches the collector. The collector can beam down the energy concentrated as a laser, directly targeting a system on the ground which stores the power. Since the laser has a narrow focus, the ground collection system does not require much space to set up.

The US government favors solar space power generation systems for several other reasons. One of the main reasons is national security. Unlike ground based systems, terrorists cannot easily attack the satellite and destroy it. The satellite technology can be shared with other countries, unlike nuclear power plant technology which may be harnessed to create ICBMs and other weapons. Since the satellites are in space, they continuously store power even when it is night on earth, and many of these satellites can be constructed. The main problem is launching the satellites, since launching any machines into outer space is expensive.

A company known as Spectrolab is receiving government funding under the Recovery Act to research space solar energy. Spectrolab designed solar panels that are specially designed to function in outer space. These panels differ from earth based power plants in their additional shielding. Since these panels are installed on satellites and extraterrestrial generators, the earth’s atmosphere doesn’t incinerate small rocks and pebbles that can damage satellites, so these solar panels include extra glass shields. The solar space panels are also designed to resist cosmic radiation according to Spectrolab, blocking interference with the electronic systems on the satellites.