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Basic principles behind solar energy usage

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  • Thu, Apr 22, 2010 - 12:48pm

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: leasing your rooftop

Whether you go “OFF-grid” or stay connected should in part, depend on where you are. North? South? City? Rural?

If you go off-grid it will be more likely because you are miles from a town which (IMHO) will shut off power going out of the town in emergencies, or at the least, be the last place to get reconnected if a seriouos disruption in power occured. In-town homes would be more apt to stay on-line since the battery bank can be toxic as well as take up a lot of space.

The further rural you are – the more likely you are to think about batteries to supply evening and cloudy day needs. Also, the more rural you are, the more you might have options for other fuels (like home-made fuels) and the land for feed stock production, which then becomes your stored energy.  To add to the “locality” nature of “What source to choose”, living up north has a big influence over the choices from living in the south. So though they are very important, battery systems can be the major obsticle in any solar or wind system and are often more costly than the actual solar or wind system. In any event, get to know how to manage battery systems before you get one and seriously consider your own situation, needs and location before making any commitment.

We tested units (solar, wind & a small battery bank for 10 yrs and they all still run) and we looked into methane gas production, bio-fuel and ethanol before we decided that since we are rural, we would do our own ethanol production (See permaculture.com for more info and our journey to production on MyBackAchers.com) as our main source of energy (but need to keep the solar & wind units as well). We’re now (after 10 yrs of researching) ready to make our choice to jump into a system =) that we’re sure will work for us, but everyone needs to do what will work for them and fill their energy need now and in the future.

Happy Earth Day!

  • Mon, Jun 21, 2010 - 12:59pm

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Breaking news: large spill at wind farm. No threats reported.

Obviously, my opinion here is biased, because I am now part of the industry (more on this later), but to say that “solar is not cost effective”  does not take into account the subsidies that other energy industries have been receiving, and the fact that it is such a young technology, and does not take into account the externalities (like pollution, oil spills, coal mine collapses).  Yes it is expensive right now, but give it time, please.   Sorry, I don’t know how to reduce the font without breaking the link.  And yes, I know the caption is about wind, not solar, but I don’t think I need to explain the joke….

BREAKING: Large Air Spill At Wind Farm. No Threats Reported. Some Claim To Enjoy The Breeze. (PICTURE)

  • Fri, Jun 25, 2010 - 06:17pm

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Basic principles behind solar energy usage

Obsolite? That’s true but they will probably be still be putting near spec energy for free. I have some that were 20 years old when I got them in 1983. Still making the power that runs or off grid home. We do add new ones from time to time. Better charge controlers are a big boost. Nearly 30% more power from the same array.


  • Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - 10:03pm



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    Thin film PV breakthrough?

Monday, August 1, 2011

New record 17.3 percent of CdTe solar cell achieved by First Solar


The new achievement of efficiency record of thin film which use cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cell has been noted by the U.S. NREL with the latest efficiency of 17.3 percent by a company based in Arizona, First Solar. The company of second-largest manufacturer of Photovoltaic modules has surpassed the previous record of 16.7 percent efficiency of CdTe solar cell.

As a cheaper of production cost as much as 30 percent than CIGS solar cell,CdTe thin film technology is a solar panel semiconductor which used in film vapor deposition process and its specific chemical-combination considered as most cost effective. But besides a low price, CdTe has a disadvantages in efficiency when compared with the modules from crystalline silicon.

In fact, the lab efficiencies will not be the same after the process to make a solar module. Efforts to improve the efficiency of thin-film solar cells can be done by increasing the surface area of solar cell although the result is less efficient for installation in narrow spaces.

The first green wise step is also performed by First Solar to provide recycling programs as well as prefunded solar module collection. Solar modules which discarded by the consumer will be recycled up to 90 percent for their new products. Customers do not need to pay a bit for collection at any time.

High Performance. High Volume.

First Solar PV modules are the first thin film PV modules to reach 2GW of modules in installations. To support the growing demand, First Solar continues to push the limits on volume manufacturing. Integrating each production step, First Solar manufactures the modules on high throughput, automated lines from semiconductor deposition to final assembly and test – all in one continuous process. The whole flow, from a piece of glass to a completed solar module, takes less than 2.5 hours.

Multiple years of high volume production have given way to First Solar’s efficiencies, high energy yields, low production costs and excellent system performance ratios. Using a unique proprietary replication process called Copy Smartâ„¢, First Solar can ensure that each manufacturing facility mirrors the others in product efficiency, reliability, and safety.

first solar   first solar   first solar

More Electricity Under Real World Conditions

With less than 2% of the equivalent semiconductor content found in crystalline silicon PV modules, First Solar modules are engineered to deliver high energy yields. Using cadmium telluride (CdTe) as the semiconductor material, First Solar makes it affordable to convert solar energy into the type of electricity we use everyday.

In general, solar cells become less efficient at converting solar energy into electricity as their cell temperatures increase. At First Solar, however, the efficiency of CdTe, the semiconductor used, is less susceptible to cell temperature variations than traditional semiconductors. — CdTe also converts low and diffuse light to electricity more efficiently than conventional cells. Together, this means First Solar modules produce more electricity on hot days, under cloudy weather and across a larger percent of normal daylight.


First Solar modules use the stable compound cadmium telluride (CdTe) as the semiconductor. This safe and advanced semiconductor technology contributes to First Solar’s ability to provide clean, affordable, and sustainable energy solutions.
first solar   first solar   first solar


All photovoltaic (PV) technologies have significant environmental benefits compared to traditional fossil-fuel electricity generating technologies. First Solar’s cadmium telluride (CdTe) offers the following benefits.
First Solar offers the solar industry’s first comprehensive prefunded module collection and recycling program, ensuring that the solutions to climate change and energy independence today don’t become a waste management challenge for future generations.
CdTe PV technology has the smallest carbon footprint and fastest energy payback time of current PV technologies when measured on a life cycle basis.
When in operation, First Solar modules generate electricity with no air emissions, no waste production, and no water use.
On a life cycle basis, at least 89% of the air emissions associated with electricity generation could be prevented if electricity from First Solar’s CdTe modules displaced electricity from the grid.
Using CdTe in PV modules converts cadmium, a waste byproduct of zinc refining, into the stable compound of CdTe where it is safely sequestered for the 25+ year lifetime of the module.


First Solar’s CdTe technology is uniquely capable of producing high-volume, low-cost solar modules, driving solar to be an economically viable solution to climate change and energy independence.
A low-temperature coefficient that results in better performance compared to traditional silicon modules at higher temperatures.
Enhanced suitability for high-volume, low-cost module production.

Independent Studies

First Solar’s CdTe PV technology enables clean, affordable, sustainable electricity generation. CdTe’s physical properties, including its extremely low vapor pressure, high boiling and melting points, and its insolubility in water, limit its mobility in the environment.
In 2009, an in-depth assessment of the environmental, health and safety aspects of First Solar’s CdTe PV systems and manufacturing operations was carried out under the authority of the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea. It concluded that, "During standard operation of CdTe PV systems, there are no cadmium emissions – to air, to water, or to soil. In the exceptional case of accidental fires or broken panels, scientific studies show that cadmium emissions remain negligible. Accordingly, large-scale deployment of CdTe PV can be considered safe to human health and the environment."
A peer review of major studies on the environmental profile of CdTe PV organized by the European Commission, Joint Research Center and moderated by the German Environment Ministry concluded, "…CdTe used in PV is in an environmental stable form that does not leak into the environment during normal use or foreseeable accidents…."
Independent analysis indicates that CdTe modules do not pose a risk during fires. CdTe has an extremely low vapor pressure, high boiling and melting points and is almost completely encapsulated by molten glass when exposed to fire. Exposure of pieces of CdTe PV modules to flame temperatures from 760 to 1100°C illustrated that CdTe diffuses into glass, rather than being released into the atmosphere. Higher temperatures produce further CdTe diffusion into the glass.
Through outdoor leaching experiments with small fragments of CdTe modules, an independent study estimated that in a worst-case scenario materials leached from the modules into water or soil was no higher than the German drinking water concentration limit.
First Solar’s CdTe PV modules have been tested in accordance with applicable waste characterization protocols and at end-of-life can be classified as ‘non hazardous waste for recovery’ in Europe and as a federal non-hazardous waste in the US.
  • Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - 11:55pm


    Johnny Oxygen

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    Graphene electrodes for

Graphene electrodes for organic solar cells



While the specific characteristics of the graphene electrode differ from those of the ITO it would replace, its overall performance in a solar cell is very similar, Kong says. And the flexibility and light weight of organic solar cells with graphene electrodes could open up a variety of different applications that would not be possible with today’s conventional silicon-based solar panels, she says. For example, because of their transparency they could be applied directly to windows without blocking the view, and they could be applied to irregular wall or rooftop surfaces. In addition, they could be stacked on top of other solar panels, increasing the amount of power generated from a given area. And they could even be folded or rolled up for easy transportation.

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