Printable Solar Panels on the Horizon

Posted on February 17th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.




A new innovation could make printing solar cells both simple and inexpensive, as University of Toronto engineers have cleared a critical hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices.

The alternative solar technology, known as perovskite solar cells, could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

“Economies of scale have greatly reduced the cost of silicon manufacturing,” professor Ted Sargent, an expert in solar technologies and the Canada Research chair in Nanotechnology, said in a statement. “Perovskite solar cells can enable us to use techniques already established in the printing industry to produce solar cells at very low cost.”

“Potentially, perovskites and silicon cells can be married to improve efficiency further but only with advances in low-temperature processes,” he added.

Currently most commercial solar cells are made from thin slices of crystalline silicon, which must be processed to a very high purity. The energy-intensive process requires temperatures higher than 1,000 degrees Celsius and large amounts of hazardous solvents.

However, perovskite solar cells depend on a layer of tiny crystals—each about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair—made of low-cost, light-sensitive materials.

The perovskite raw materials can be mixed into a liquid to form a kind of ‘solar ink,’ that could be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials using a simple inkjet printing process.

 Until now in order to generate electricity, electrons excited by solar energy must be extracted from the crystals so they can flow through a circuit. That extraction occurs in a special layer called the electron selection layer (ESL), which has been difficult to manufacture in the past.

“The most effective materials for making ESL’s start as a powder and have to be baked at high temperatures, above 500 degrees Celsius,” Hairen Tan, Ph.D., said in a statement. “You can't put that on top of a sheet of flexible plastic or on a fully fabricated silicon cell—it will just melt.”

The research team has developed a new chemical reaction that enables them to grown an ESL made of nanoparticles in solution, directly on top of the electrode. While heat is still required, the process stays below 150 degrees Celsius.

The new nanoparticles are coated with a layer of chlorine atoms, which helps them bind to the perovskite layer on top.

This strong binding allows for efficient extraction of electrons and the efficiency of solar cells are made using the new method at 20.1 percent, which is the best ever reported for low-temperature processing techniques.

The new process is also more stable than the previous methods. Many perovskite solar cells experience a severe drop in performance after only a few hours, but the new cells retained more than 90 percent of their efficiency even after 500 hours of use.

“I think our new technique paves the way toward solving this problem,” Tan said.

By lowering the temperature during the manufacturing process, perovskite solar cells can produce a number of applications, from smartphone covers that provide charging capabilities to solar-active tinted windows that offset building energy use.

In the near future the new technology could be used in tandem with conventional solar cells.

“With our low-temperature process, we could coat our perovskite cells directly on top of silicon without damaging the underlying material,” Tan said. “If a hybrid perovskite-silicon cell can push the efficiency up to 30 percent or higher, it makes solar power a much better economic proposition.”


The future of solar power technology is bright

Posted on February 16th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



While our recent look at residential solar may lead you to believe harnessing that power is a newer initiative, humans have been exploiting solar energy for thousands of years to heat their homes, cook, and produce hot water. Some of the earliest written references to technology consciously designed to capture the Sun’s rays come from ancient Greece. Socrates himself said, “in houses that look toward the south, the sun penetrates the portico in winter, while in summer the path of the sun is right over our heads and above the roof, so that there is shade.” He is describing how Greek architecture exploited the different paths of the Sun through the sky at different times of the year.

By the fifth century BCE, the Greeks were struggling with an energy crisis. Their predominant fuel, charcoal from trees, was scarce since they had stripped their forests in order to cook and heat their houses. Wood and charcoal were rationed, and olive groves needed protection from the citizenry. The Greeks addressed their energy shortage by carefully planning the layout of their cities to ensure that each house could take advantage of the sunshine in the way Socrates described. The combination of technology and enlightened government policy worked, and a crisis was avoided.


Technologies for harnessing the thermal energy in sunlight have only continued to grow over time. Colonists in New England borrowed the ancient Greek homebuilding techniques to keep warm in the harsh winters. Simple passive solar water heaters, little more than a black-painted barrel, were sold commercially in the United States in the late 19th century. And more elaborate solar heating systems were developed to pipe water through absorbing and/or focusing panels. The hot water is stored in an insulated tank until needed. In climates subject to freezing, a two-fluid system is used, where the Sun heats a water/antifreeze mixture that passes through coils embedded in the storage tank, which does double-duty as a heat exchanger.

These days, a variety of sophisticated commercial systems are available for water and space heating in the home. Solar thermal systems are deployed throughout the world, with the largest installed base per capita found in Austria, Cyprus, and Israel.

But modern solar truly starts in 1954 with the discovery of a practical way to make electricity from light: Bell Labs uncovered the fact that silicon could make a photovoltaic material. This finding created the foundation for today's solar cells (essentially the devices converting light energy into electricity) and ushered in a new era of solar power. Aided by intense research ever since, it's an era that continues today as solar appears poised to become the dominant source of power in the future.

What is a solar cell?

The most common type of solar cell is a semiconductor device made from silicon—a cousin of the solid-state diode. The familiar solar panels are made from a number of solar cells wired together to create the desired output voltage and current. Those cells are surrounded by a protective package and topped with a glass window.

Solar cells generate electrical power using the photovoltaic effect, a fact that didn't come from Bell Labs. Instead, this was first discovered in 1839 by French physicist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel (son of physicist Antoine Cesar Becquerel and father of physics Nobelist Henri Becquerel, the discoverer of radioactivity). A little more than a century later, Bell Labs had its solar cell breakthrough, providing the foundation of the most common solar cells.

In the language of solid state physics, a solar cell is formed from a p-n junction in a silicon crystal. The junction is made by “doping” different areas of the crystal with small amounts of different impurities; the interface between these regions is the junction. The n side is a conductor with electrons as the carriers of current, and the p side has “holes,” or areas with missing electrons that act as current carriers within the crystal. In the region near the interface, the diffusion of charges creates a local “built-in voltage” across the interface. When a photon enters the crystal, if it has enough energy, it may dislodge an electron from an atom, creating a new electron-hole pair.

The newly freed electrons are attracted to the holes on the other side of the junction, but they are prevented from crossing it due to the built-in voltage. However, if a pathway is provided through an external circuit, the electrons can travel through it and light our homes along the way. When they reach the other side, they recombine with the holes. This process can continue as long as the Sun continues to shine.


The energy required to transform a bound electron into a free one is called the “band gap.” It’s the key to understanding why photovoltaic (PV) cells have an intrinsic limit on efficiency. The band gap is a fixed property of the crystal material and its dopants. Those dopants are adjusted so that solar cells have a band gap close to the energy of a photon in the visible region of the spectrum. This is a practical choice, because visible light isn’t absorbed by the atmosphere (phrased differently, we humans have evolved to see in the most common wavelengths).

Photons come in fixed amounts of energy, which means their energy is quantized. That also means a photon with energy less than the band gap (say, one in the infrared part of the spectrum) won’t create a charge carrier. It will simply heat the panel. Two infrared photons together will do no better, even if their combined energy would be enough to bridge the gap. A photon with excess energy (an ultraviolet photon, for example) will knock an electron loose, but the excess energy will also be wasted.

Since efficiency is defined as the ratio of light energy striking the panel divided by electrical energy extracted—and since much of this light energy will necessarily be wasted—the efficiency can not be 100 percent.

The band gap of a silicon PV solar cell is 1.1 electron volts (eV). As can be seen from the diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum reproduced here, the visible spectrum lies just above this, so visible light of any color will produce electrical power. But this also means that for each photon absorbed, excess energy is wasted and converted into heat.

The upshot is that even if the PV panel is flawlessly manufactured and conditions are ideal, the theoretical maximum efficiency is about 33 percent. Commercially available solar panels typically achieve about 20 percent efficiency.


Most of the solar panels commercially deployed are made from the silicon cells described above. But research into other materials and strategies is underway in laboratories around the world.

Some of the most promising recent research for silicon alternatives has involved materials called perovskites. The mineral perovskite (CaTiO3) was named in 1839 in honor of Count Lev Aleksevich Perovski (1792-1856), a Russian mineralogist. It can be found on every continent and in the clouds of at least one exoplanet. The word “perovskite” is also used for synthetic compounds that have the same orthorhombic crystal structure as the naturally occurring mineral (or a closely related one) and share a structurally similar chemical formula.

Depending on which elements are used, perovskites can display a wide variety of useful properties, such as superconductivity, giant magnetoresistance, and photovoltaic activity. Their use in PV cells has generated a great deal of optimism, as they have shown an unprecedented increase in efficiency from 3.8 percent to 20.1 percent in the past seven years of laboratory research. This rapid rate of progress inspires confidence that further gains are likely, especially as the factors limiting efficiency are becoming clearer.

Recent experiments at Los Alamos showed that solar cells made from certain perovskites attained efficiencies similar to silicon’s, while potentially being cheaper and easier to work with. The secret to perovskite’s appeal is the ability to routinely grow defect-free crystals of millimeter-scale in a thin film. This is a huge size for a perfect crystal lattice, which allows the conduction electron to travel through the crystal without interference. This crystal quality partly compensates for the somewhat less-than-ideal band gap of about 1.4 eV, compared with silicon’s nearly optimal 1.1 eV.

Much of the research directed toward increasing the efficiency of perovskite cells involves searching for ways to eliminate as many crystal defects as possible. The ultimate goal is to manufacture an entire cell’s perovskite layer in the form of a perfect crystal lattice. Researchers at MIT have recently made significant progress on this. They have discovered how to “heal” the defects in a film made from particular perovskites by exposing it to intense light. The advantage over previously devised methods of defect removal, involving chemical baths or electrical current, is that no physical contact with the film is required.

Whether or not perovskites will lead to revolutions in solar panel cost or aggregate efficiency is still unknown. While they’re easy to make, so far most perovskites decompose rapidly, which sharply limits their utility.

Research is underway in many places to attack the decomposition problem. A collaboration between scientists in China and Switzerland invented a novel way to form perovskite cells that obviates the need for hole motion (see above). Since the layer devoted to hole conduction is susceptible to degradation, the material will be far more stable once that layer can be eliminated.

recent report from Berkeley Labs describes how perovskite solar cells might one day attain their theoretical maximum 31 percent efficiency while still being cheaper to manufacture than silicon cells. The Berkeley researchers measured the conversion efficiency of individual grain surfaces using photoconductive atomic force microscopy. They found, to their surprise, that different facets have markedly different efficiencies, with some exhibiting the maximum possible.

The researchers now believe that they can find a way to grow bulk films with only the most efficient facets interfacing with the electrodes. This could lead to the entire cell running at 31 percent. If this pans out, it would amount to a revolutionary advance in solar cell technology.

Other research directions

Research in photovoltaics is proceeding rapidly on many fronts. Some of these approaches are still in the early stages and far from being put into production, but they may become mainstream in the future.

Making a solar cell with several layers is possible since the band gap can be tuned by adjusting the doping. Each layer would have a band gap tuned to a particular wavelength of light. These “multi-junction” cells can attain 40 percent efficiency but remain expensive. As a result, they’re more likely to be found on NASA spacecraft right now than on a terrestrial roof.

The layering concept has been combined with perovskites in research performed by a collaboration between Oxford and the Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics in Berlin. While attacking the material deterioration problem that is a critical weak point of this class of materials, the team found that it had discovered a perovskite with a tunable band gap. The team was able to create a version with a 1.74 eV band gap, nearly ideal for layering with silicon. This might lead, after further development, to an inexpensive cell with 30 percent efficiency.

Groups at Notre Dame University and elsewhere have developed a photovoltaic paint made from semiconducting nanoparticles. The material is not yet efficient enough to replace conventional PV panels, but its manufacturing process is simpler. Among the advantages of semiconducting nanoparticles is how they can be applied by painting over a variety of surfaces. This makes installation potentially far easier than attaching rigid panels.

A few years ago, a team at MIT made significant progress in the search to develop a practical solar thermal fuel. This is a substance that can store solar energy internally and stably over a long period of time and release it as heat “on demand” when exposed to a catalyst or some triggering heat. Solar thermal fuel accomplishes this through non-reactive transformations of its molecules. In response to solar radiation, the molecules are transformed into photoisomers: the chemical formula is the same, but the shape is different. The light energy is stored as added energy of the intramolecular bonds in the isomer, which can be thought of as a higher energy state of the original molecule. When triggered, the molecules snap back to their original shape, transforming the stored bond energy into heat. The heat can be used directly or converted to electricity with a thermoelectric generator, or heat engine. This idea potentially eliminates the need for batteries, as energy storage is integral to the system. The fuel can be transported if desired, allowing the energy to be used elsewhere.

Since the work at MIT, which used fulvalene diruthenium, several laboratories are trying to solve problems with manufacturing and material costs in order to develop a system where the fuel is sufficiently stable in its energized state and can be “recharged” then used many times without deterioration. Just two years ago, the same scientists at MIT (along with others from that institution and from Harvard) created a solar thermal fuel that they demonstrated could be put through at least 2,000 cycles with no decrease in performance.

Their innovation was to attach the fuel (in this case, azobenzene) to carbon nanotubes. This caused its molecules to line up in an orderly array. The result is a solar thermal fuel with 14 percent efficiency and an energy density similar to a lead-acid battery.

More recent work has given birth to a solar thermal fuel in the form of a transparent film that can be applied to car windshields, where it can melt ice at night using energy absorbed during the day. The pace of progress in this area leaves little doubt that solar thermal fuels will soon make the leap from the laboratory to becoming a familiar technology.

Another way to create fuel directly from sunlight (an approach sometimes described as artificial photosynthesis) has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Their “artificial leaves” use sunlight to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into “syngas,” which is a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. Syngas can be burned directly or converted into more conventional fuels. The process has the added advantage of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

A team at Stanford has created a prototype PV cell using carbon nanotubes and fullerenes rather than silicon. Its efficiency is far below that of even ordinary, commercially available silicon solar cells, but it uses nothing but carbon as a raw material. The Stanford prototype contains none of the toxic materials that form part of the electrodes in conventional solar cells. It’s a more environmentally friendly alternative to silicon, but it still needs to see its efficiency rise before becoming economical.

Meanwhile, research into other materials and manufacturing techniques continues. One promising area of research involves monolayers, layers of materials one molecule thick (like graphene). These result in PV materials that, while only a few percent efficient in absolute terms, are thousands of times more efficient than conventional solar cells per unit mass.

Other researchers are attempting to develop practical “intermediate band” solar cell materials. The idea here is to use nanostructured materials or special alloys to create a lower energy level that can be used as a stepping stone for photons without enough energy to bridge the band gap. This makes it possible for two low-energy photons to kick an electron into the conduction zone, something that is impossible with standard solid-state devices. These cells are potentially more efficient, since they can convert a wider range of wavelengths into electrical power.

This variety of research in diverse approaches to photovoltaic cells and materials, and the rapid and steady progress since the invention of the silicon solar cell in 1954, inspires confidence that the enthusiastic adoption of solar electricity will not only continue but increase in the near future.

And such efforts won't come a minute too late. A recent meta-study concluded that PV power has exceeded the energy investment return of oil and gas: more energy is returned from solar power per unit of energy invested than for these fossil fuels—a dramatic turning point.

There is now little room for doubt that solar energy will eventually be a significant, if not the dominant, form of power both on an industrial and an individual scale. So for the scientifically minded, one can only hope that the consequent reduction in the need to burn fossil fuels happens before the global climate suffers irreversible changes.


Solar energy contract to save Attleboro schools $100,000 a year in electric costs

Posted on February 16th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Beginning as soon as April, Attleboro schools will be saving up to $100,000 a year in electricity costs thanks to the largest roof-top solar project in the state.

The solar panels are being erected on a large industrial building in West Bridgewater.

The city school system committed to get power from the project, which is being built by Green Street Solar Power of the Bronx, N.Y., and will get an annual credit of approximately $100,000 a year to reduce its electric bills.

Green Street estimates the savings for Attleboro schools could come to about $3.5 million over the next 25 years, but school officials think it could be closer to $2 million as prices change over the years.

Still, the school will be getting a $100,000 annual break in the immediate future.

"That's a pretty good sum," Superintendent David Sawyer said.

Years ago, the schools looked into having their own solar panels placed on schools, but the idea never came to fruition.

Sawyer said when Marc Furtado came back to the Attleboro schools after leaving for another job in Somerset, he made contact with a company he was familiar with which was looking for large entities to commit to solar power.

Reggie Dormeaus, marketing administrator for Green Street, said his firm is erecting 12,000 solar panels on the building in West Bridgewater, making it the largest project of its kind in the state.

The roof space is being leased from a firm called Ajax, which owns the building. Ajax is also involved with the New England Sports Village in Attleboro.

The panels are expected to generate 4.1 megawatts of power, saving money and making for a healthier environment, he said.

He said he expects the project to be completed and the panels to be producing power in April after several months of construction.


Medicine turns to solar energy

Posted on February 15th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Springfield Medical Care Systems is going solar.

The corporate parent of Springfield Hospital and the Springfield Health Center has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center at One Hundred River Street.

Larry Kraft, a hospital spokesman, said the hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year.

Kraft said Friday the two solar systems were different: One would produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger system at the hospital would produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage.

He said the original intent of the project was to install a system on the rooftop, but the center’s engineers determined the roof was not suitable.

But he said a portion of the building near the river is sheltered and receives what he called “excellent sunlight,” and the panels were installed there.

The four panels were installed before the onset of winter and have already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels, he said.

During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center. He said the total cost of the system was $30,000, and panels were installed by Springfield Heating and Ventilating Co. The system was paid for by donors, including a grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. Kraft said that while a rooftop installation was originally considered, it was determined that the system would produce more electricity from the ground. He said the solar installation would be built on “unbuildable ground” farther up Ridgewood Road and across the road from the hospital. He said the site is currently wooded.

“We will produce electricity,” he said, with a netmetering project, rather than hot water at the health center system.

Under a net-metering project, the hospital will receive credits for the electricity it generates, and those credits will be used to offset its electric bill.


Nigerian, American Firms to Power 25 Communities With Solar Energy

Posted on February 14th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.




Two firms have signed an agreement to provide power to 25 communities across Nigeria using solar energy.

The communities are in Bayelsa, Ondo, Ogun and Osun states.

A Nigerian firm, Community Energy Social Enterprises Limited, CESEL, and its American counterpart, Renewvia Energy Corporation, signed a $767,512 agreement to provide solar energy for the communities on 'pay-as- you-go' basis.

The CESEL Managing Director, Patrick Tolani, signed the agreement on behalf of his company while Clay Taber, Managing Director of Renewvia, signed for his firm, at the Power Africa office in Abuja.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Power Africa Coordinator, Andrew Herscowitz, and the United States Agency for International Development mission director in Nigeria, Michael Harvey.

Mr. Tolani said the benefitting communities were those that had no access to electricity for more than 10 years, including Brass in Bayelsa and Magboro in Ogun State.

Others, he said, include Ilajera and Gbokoda in Ondo State and a community which was completely cut off the grid because of isolation in Osun State.

Mr. Taber in his remarks said Renewvia would install and operate micro-grid systems with solar photo-voltaic generation capacity and battery storage in the 25 benefiting communities.

According to him, the design of the micro-grids for the project will include PV panels, string inverters, aluminium racking and energy storage backup power.

He said, "Renewvia and CESEL would sell micro-grid customers electricity by Kilowatts through a 'pay as you go' structure.

"The competitiveness of the system helps to ensure payment, as the project would provide consistent and reliable power at a less expensive price than current rural power generation by diesel."

He added that Renewvia and CESEL also planned to facilitate the transaction through mobile payments, noting that the project would employ local and remote resources to support the needs of the power plant for each micro-grid.

The project was supported by Power Africa, a U.S. energy project initiated in 2013 to assist African countries in accessing energy.

It is expected that the project would provide up to 10 megawatts and connect over 10, 000 households, according to a study by Renewvia.

The project is also expected to be completed in one year.

CESEL is a private Nigerian company that has led the community engagement for six operational micro-grid projects in Nigeria. These micro-grids received funding through the Nigeria Bank of Industry and United Nations Development Programme.

Renewvia is a private U.S renewable energy developer and solar power plant operator established in 2009. Renewvia specialises in providing mini-grid and solar energy solutions for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications.

Micro-grid is a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is usually attached to a centralised national grid but is able to function independently.


New Job Numbers Show Bright Future For Solar Energy

Posted on February 10th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Trump promised to create jobs and revive America’s struggling coal industry throughout his campaign. The decline in coal plants and the rise of natural gas and solar power makes that unlikely. New jobs data suggests that the real growth in energy jobs is coming from the sky, not the ground.

The solar power industry now employs twice as many people as coal does, according to the 2017 Employment and Energy report from the Department of Energy. A jobs census by the Solar Foundation calculated that the industry added 73,615 jobs in 2016 -- more jobs than oil, natural gas and coal combined. The foundation itself uses a stricter definition of solar jobs, according to which the industry added 51,000 roles. What's more, solar accounted for two percent of all new jobs created in 2016 and is hiring faster than its competitors.

Solar workers can make respectable wages, too. The median national hourly wage is $45 for sales jobs and $26 for installers, according to the Solar Foundation. Construction workers who pursue training in solar technology can expect to move on to jobs paying $20 or $22 an hour after a year, according to a 2015 report on Maryland solar jobs by the foundation.


UC Riverside Conference to Focus on Solar Energy

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



California leads the nation in solar energy, with more than 580,000 projects and 4,500 megawatts installed statewide. To achieve even higher penetration, researchers, the solar industry, and government leaders are turning their attention to new technologies that will improve the performance of solar energy projects and lower their costs.

The latest breakthroughs and how they can be leveraged in the Inland Empire will be discussed at UC Riverside’s third annual solar conference, “Solar Energy Directions for Inland Southern California: Where is it Going?,” which is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Bourns Technology Center, 1200 Columbia Ave., Riverside, 92507. The conference is designed for government leaders, planners, council members, businesses, utilities, and the general public. The cost is $85 for non-students, $40 for non-UCR students, and $25 for UCR students. Those planning to attend should complete the online registration form.

Andrew McAllister, commissioner of the California Energy Commission, and V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, will be among the speakers. Panel sessions throughout the day will explore challenges and opportunities for incorporating solar energy, including how the marketplace works, local policies, and the latest breakthroughs. This year, the conference will have a panel dedicated to solar-related research being done at the University of California. A full agenda is available online.

UCR’s Alfredo Martinez-Morales, managing director of the Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE) and one of the conference organizers, said the event will highlight some of the most successful initiatives already in place, with a look to further increasing solar energy generation across Southern California.

“As the interest in solar energy continues to grow, this conference is a resource that can help government agencies, utility companies, end-users, and the technology community make the right decisions about how to apply solar power economically and efficiently,” Martinez-Morales said.

This event is hosted by UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research & Technology(CE-CERT), the UCR School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, andSouthern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy, and co-sponsored by SolarMax Technology, Inc., SunPower, Riverside Public Utilities, Western Riverside Council of Governments, City of Corona, and First Solar.



Women’s mosque goes solar in India clean energy push

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Set up 20 years ago in a remote corner of Lucknow, Ambar Mosque is known for promoting women’s rights and putting up visitors to a nearby hospital.

Now the female-led faith centre – where women pray alongside men – is installing solar panels to set an example of clean energy in Uttar Pradesh, a state lagging behind its targets.

At 1kW, the system generates a fraction the electricity of the coal plants that dominate India’s power mix. But it is expected to meet three quarters of the mosque’s modest lighting and cooling needs – and its founder hopes to inspire others.

“Over the last few years, air quality in the city has become worse while rural areas of Uttar Pradesh have been suffering frequent power cuts,” said Shaista Ambar.

“We must all do our bit… If everyone starts using solar energy then Lucknow’s air quality will start to improve as well as reduce power cuts.”

Narendra Modi’s government aims to install 100GW of solar panels across India by 2022, to light up more homes and reduce reliance on polluting coal.

The technology can increasingly compete on cost with new coal plants, albeit on a smaller scale, where the policy, network and financing conditions are right.

But policy from Delhi is unevenly applied at state level, Arjun Srihari, head of marketing for solar company 8minutes told Climate Home: “Effective policy implementation is a major, major stumbling block.”

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is only 13% of the way to an interim goal of 1.8GW solar capacity by March 2017, according to analysis firm Equatorials.

Energy access tops the list of concerns for UP voters, with 38% experiencing daily power cuts, a poll this month by FourthLion shows. The same survey found 87% were willing to use energy from the sun if it would curb air pollution.

Lack of information is another barrier to take-up. 8minutes gifted the 79,000 rupees (US$1,200) solar package to Ambar Mosque in a bid to spread awareness.

“We are trying to incentivise people to switch to solar and we wanted to use this case as a model for the community,” said Srihari.


UPS to spend $18 million on solar panels

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Global parcel delivery giant UPS Inc. will spend $18 million on solar energy panels, allowing each building in the initiative to produce half of its daily energy requirement from the sun, the company said Tuesday.

Atlanta-based UPS currently collects power from panels mounted on its buildings in Palm Springs, Calif., and in Lakewood, Parsippany, and Secaucus, N.J. The company will now purchase more than 26,000 additional solar panels, leading to a nearly fivefold increase in the amount of power generated from solar at UPS facilities today.

The initiative will expand UPS' total solar power generating capacity by almost 10 megawatts—enough electricity to power 1,200 homes annually, and enough to offset 8,200 metric tons per year of carbon emissions produced through electricity generated at fossil fuel-powered plants.

The company also said it would roll out additional solar deployments over the next several years as it identifies the most efficient sites among the 2,580 facilities it operates worldwide.

"Solar technology is a proven way to effectively and efficiently provide long-term power to our facilities," Bill Moir, director of facilities procurement at UPS, said in a release. "We have a significant number of facilities that are well positioned to deploy solar at scale and increase our sustainable energy options for our buildings and electric vehicles."



Solar Panels to Help Cornell Achieve 2035 Carbon Neutrality Goal

Posted on February 7th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



 Solar energy now powers seven percent of Cornell’s energy consumption due to the addition of three new solar panel plants in December, according to Cornell’s Campus Sustainability Office.

Sarah Brylinsky, sustainability communications and integration manager at the Campus Sustainability Office, said that this solar energy change puts Cornell on track to achieve its carbon neutral campus initiative by 2035.

“Wind and solar power technology is currently available to meet the goal,” said Sarah Zemanick, director of the Campus Sustainability Office. “They are competitive financially with fossil fuel power sources, but upfront investments in both energy supply projects and grid modernization are required to create and move the new renewable energy needed.”

When asked what obstacles Sustainable Cornell might face, Zemanick said that progress could be impeded as the University transitions from old to new energy systems.

“Cornell University embraces the challenges of innovation,” she said. “There will be challenges with transitioning from our current energy systems to new ways of producing, operating and managing, but as a University we are uniquely positioned to use these challenges as educational and research opportunities, and share our progress and successes with the world.”

“Cornell Big Red Bikes will re-launch this spring, providing a bike sharing opportunity for students as well as faculty and staff,” she said.
Zemanick also expressed enthusiasm for a “Recyclemania” Steering Committee, which had its kickoff event at the Cornell basketball game against Yale Saturday.

“Last year, Cornell was the nationwide winner afor the Green Game competition, and we hope to beat rivals Princeton, Harvard and others in the total waste reduction this year,” she said.

In order to achieve a sustainable shift the University needs to foster support from the entire Cornell community, according to Brylinsky.

“Our bold ideas and willingness to embrace the challenge will bring us together as a community, and allow us to explore courageous ways of creating a future that is good for the planet, our long-term prosperity and all people,” she said. “Each small step — reducing paper use in one office, or introducing local foods at an event series — displays the power of a community to come together and create real change.”