TECHNOLOGICAL ENERGY REVOLUTION 28 NOV 2015
Solar generated electricity is now available at 5 cents/KWH. This post is announcing how almost-free solar power will take over as the predominate global power source. The new technology is here, & is being introduced. How soon will this takeover take? Good question, PG&E has already unsuccessfully tried to get Congress to stop it. But many large corporations and nations are already investing in today’s new technology, which is actually a number of significant breakthroughs coming about the same time. The new technology will certainly make some people very rich. One company alone has 75 key patents.
NEW SILICON REFINING PROCESS. One of the new discoveries is how to cheaply make monocrystalline silicon (used to make photovoltaic light absorbing wafers) using the Czochralski process. (Both monocrys. Silicon & the Czo. Process have their own Wikipedia articles.) Silicon (Si) is found in sand, and is the 8th most common element in the universe. It is an element (a tetravalent metalloid element) with 14 electrons. To function for photovoltaics, the silicon has to pure. Pure silicon is created by a small seed particle of Si being suspended in a cloud of gas and other molecules of pure Si attaching themselves until a bead of pure Si is created. Highly efficient crystalline wafers are now available to trap solar energy.
NEW METHOD TO STORE ENERGY. Efficient storage batteries can now store up to 10,000 watt-hours of electricity. One of the problems w/ solar energy has been how to store the solar electricity. Daniel Nocera of MIT has found how to use sunlight to make cheap hydrogen. Excess sun energy can be stored as hydrogen, which can be burned directly or used to power a generator. A new artificial photosynthesis is available to capture the sun’s energy. For those who like Science…if I were to directly quote him showing off his new method, here is how it reads, “In his experimental system, Nocera immerses an indium tin oxide electrode in water mixed with cobalt & potassium phosphate. He applies a voltage to the electrode, and cobalt, potassium, and phosphate accumulate on the electrode, forming the catalyst. The catalyst oxidizes the water to form oxygen gas & free hydrogen ions. At another electrode, this one coated with a platinum catalyst, hydrogen ions form hydrogen gas. As it works, the cobalt-based catalyst breaks down, but cobalt & potassium phosphate in the solution soon re-form on the electrode, repairing the catalyst.” The pt. is that hydrogen can be cheaply created from sunlight.
OTHER BREAKTHROUGHS. Solar energy panels can be used during the night, and the reverse solar energy (which is reflected from surfaces) can also be utilized. Harvard has developed a process where solar electricity can be converted into a liquid fuel. The impact of these technological breakthroughs, which give the solar power technology both the ability to make cheap electricity & to store it, will make the older forms of energy: coal, natural gas, oil, & nuclear power obsolete. Various agencies who watch such things (such as the IEA) are convinced that solar energy is the energy source of the future.
MUCH OF THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY IS STILL CONFINED TO RESEARCHERS & NEW PATENTS. We have not heard the full story of what is happening from the mainstream media. The major countries, even Saudi Arabia, are investing & spending large sums on new solar energy technology. The specific technical details are still locked up with specialists like this example of a research paper at an international research conference:
S. De Wolf, Y. Andrault, L. Barraud, R. Bartlome, D. Bätzner, P. Bôle, G. Choong,B. Demaurex, A. Descoeudres, C. Guérin, N. Holm, M. Kobas, D. Lachenal, B. Mendes, B. Strahm, M. Tesfai, G. Wahli, F. Wuensch, F. Zicarelli, A. Buechel and C. Ballif, High-efficiency silicon heterojunction solar cells: From physics to production lines, Solid-State and Integrated Circuit Technology (ICSICT), 2010 10th IEEE International Conference, Shanghai, November 2010, pp. 1986 – 1989 , 10.1109/ICSICT.2010.5667849
But the bottom line is that: a revolution in how everything is powered is coming!!
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