ScienceDaily (Feb. 2, 2012) — Barry D. Bruce, professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is turning the term "power plant" on its head. The biochemist and a team of researchers has developed a system that taps into photosynthetic processes to produce efficient and inexpensive energy.
To produce the energy, the scientists harnessed the power of a key component of photosynthesis known as photosystem-I (PSI) from blue-green algae. This complex was then bioengineered to specifically interact with a semi-conductor so that, when illuminated, the process of photosynthesis produced electricity
Originally posted by alomaha
reply to post by Arbitrageur
I agree that there is lot of room for improvement of PV panels, so why don't they do it? What are they waiting for? How much has the technology changed from the time when Jimmy Carter was putting those panels on the roof of White House? I think very little if anything. I don't think that science is so slow, it must be something else...
edit on 20-9-2012 by alomaha because: (no reason given)
Despite these advances in PV technology, there are relatively few examples of PV installations as a major form of energy production. This is likely a consequence of the high cost of PV technology compared to other energy sources. In the UK for example, solar power currently provides less than one hundredth of one percent of home energy needs. Overall, PV energy production represents an extremely small fraction of energy production worldwide. The total annual energy produced by PV installations in the world, 2,204 megawatts (10), represents approximately one-tenth of a percent of the total energy use of the United States, which had an annual energy consumption of 3.3 trillion watts in 2006.
This confirms my earlier suggestion that perhaps you have some delusions. Despite the fact there is still room for more improvement, there have been advances:
Originally posted by alomaha
How much has the technology changed from the time when Jimmy Carter was putting those panels on the roof of White House? I think very little if anything. I don't think that science is so slow, it must be something else...
A five-fold improvement in four years was great, but the lowest hanging fruit is always the easiest to get. But there have been improvements since 1973:
In 1969, Berman joined the Linden, New Jersey Exxon lab, Solar Power Corporation (SPC).
His first major effort was to canvass the potential market to see what possible uses for a new product were, and they quickly found that if the price per watt were reduced from then-current $100/watt to about $20/watt there would be significant demand. Knowing that his ribbon concept would take years to develop, the team started looking for ways to hit the $20 price point using existing materials.
So that's another ten-fold improvement since 1973.
By using the largest wafers available, thereby reducing the amount of wiring for a given panel area, and packaging them into panels using their new methods, by 1973 SPC was producing panels at $10 per watt and selling them at $20 per watt, a fivefold decrease in prices in two years....
In the time since Berman's work, improvements have brought production costs down under $1 a watt, with wholesale costs well under $2. "Balance of system" costs are now more than the panels themselves. Large commercial arrays can be built at below $3.40 a watt, fully commissioned.
There were some supply and demand issues related to the materials used in the silicon technology so when those were sorted out, First Solar lost their dominance, but we know what the reason is, and it wasn't some mysterious suppression by vested interests.
First Solar was briefly the largest panel manufacturer in 2009, in terms of yearly power produced, using a thin-film cell sandwiched between two layers of glass. Since then silicon panels reasserted their dominant position both in terms of lower prices and the rapid rise of Chinese manufacturing, resulting in the top producers being Chinese.
Regarding the tech in the OP article, that's still in the research phase and as far as I can tell from the article, not a useful technology yet, so that's why nobody is trying to commercialize it. From the OP story:
A more modern process, mono-like-multi, aims to offer the performance of mono at the cost of poly, and is in the process of being introduced in 2012.
Well if it's not useful yet, don't you think that's a logical reason to not use it?
The mechanism is orders of magnitude more efficient than Bruce's earlier work for producing bio-electricity thanks to the interfacing of PS-I with the large surface provided by the nanostructured conductive zinc oxide; however it still needs to improve manifold to become useful.
Originally posted by TrueBrit
The thing that really makes me angry about renewable energy, is that there are locations which are ripe for being turned into solar farms (that is huge arrays of panels, or alternatively, massive arrays of mirrors which focus sunlight on a tower full of water, heating the water, which creates steam, which turns a turbine with predictable results I need not go into).
Australia for instance has massive tracts of un-inhabitable dust land, which would be PERFECT for this format of massive complex, and yet little, if anything, is being done by Australian government departments to ensure that this natural resource of square footage is not left un tapped.
Furthermore, the reason that solar does not take more of the market is because people are being priced out of the market due to thier cost. Solar panels would be a GREAT deal more widespread, if they didnt cost so damned much, and the expense IS a pure product of capitalism, and has nothing to do with the "expertise" used to build them (assembly is a task best suited to those who require no challenge or particular intellect, just some level of attention paid and an instruction pamphlet) and little to do with the material cost of the items, since they wiegh precisely bugger all, and are not comprised of unobtainium or anything remotely exotic. Installation also is a doddle, made over complicated by morons in the industry (trust me, even pro fitters will tell you over a pint that you could do this while in a vegetative coma).
By Evan Halper, Ralph Vartabedian and Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times
September 20, 2012, 5:08 p.m.
Driven by the Obama administration's vision of clean power and energy independence, the rush to build large-scale solar plants across the Southwest has created an investors' dream in the desert.
Taxpayers have poured tens of billions of dollars into solar projects — some of which will have all their construction and development costs financed by the government by the time they start producing power.
Banks, insurers and utility companies have jumped in, taking advantage of complex state and federal tax incentives to reap outsized returns. Among the solar prospectors in the Mojave are investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., General Electric, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and technology giant Google Inc.
The cost for decades to come will also be borne by ratepayers. Confidential agreements between solar developers and utilities lock in power prices two to four times the cost of conventional electricity. The power generated by the mega-plants will be among the most expensive renewable energy in the country.
That high-priced power will compose an increasing share of California's electricity following Gov. Jerry Brown's signing last year of legislation requiring that renewable sources provide 33% of the state's power by 2020.
Stanford University economist Frank Wolak, an expert in the California electricity market, said the state's renewable energy strategy could boost electricity rates 10% to 20%, depending on a number of factors. Potentially, consumers' bills could go up by 50%.xt