Future energy
Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency

Ken Novak's Weblog

daily link  Thursday, May 26, 2005

R&T Efficiency Comparisons:  Interesting chart on this page compares today's cars, hybrids, and fuel cell cars, in terms of "well to tank" and "tank to wheel" efficiencies.  Combined into "well to wheel" figures, today's cars get 11% of well energy to the wheel, versus 15% for today's diesel, and 26% for diesel hybrids.  Fuel cells are predited to run 30% (which depends of course on the source of the hydrogen).    3:39:14 AM  permalink  

World Solar Industry Growth Jumped 70 Pct In 2004: " Last year, world solar cell production reached 1,256 megawatts (MW) .. That was a 67 percent increase over the 750 MW produced in 2003, according to PHOTON International, a German magazine.  "In Japan they're making solar cells because of high electricity prices," said Colin Murchie, director of legislative affairs at Solar Energy Industries Association. "Germany is boosting output because they want to meet Kyoto Protocol goals" .. In 2002 the world solar market increased 40 percent. "  3:20:38 AM  permalink  

Nanotechnology for Clean Energy and Resources: Good short summary of the ways nanotech makes more efficient use of resources.  3:16:19 AM  permalink  

Impacts of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on Natural Gas Markets: Studies in 2003 and 2005 show how investments in electric efficiency cut natural gas demand and reduce natural gas prices, leading to major additional savings.  In the longer term, development of renewable energy sources lead to additional natural gas cost savings. 

From April 2005 full report:  "Our December 2003 report showed that, if policy initiatives to increase investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy were implemented, gas prices would fall by about 20% within five years, saving over $100 billion. Our findings were in-line with the recommendations of the National Petroleum Council’s major report on the future of natural gas in the United States and the Secretary of Energy’s call for increased focus on energy efficiency. However, no significant policy action has been taken to date.

Compared with our 2003 study, this updated analysis reflects a further tightening in natural gas markets. As a result, the price response to changes in natural gas demand from energy efficiency and renewable energy investments is greater than in the previous analysis ..

The energy efficiency measures proposed in this analysis are cost-effective based on reduced consumption alone, without the added benefits of reduced prices. It is important to note that while the direct benefits of energy efficiency investment flow to participating customers, the benefits of falling prices accrue to all customers. The national energy efficiency scenario will cost consumers $11 billion annually in 2010 and result in over $32 billion in consumer savings.. In the initial five years, energy efficiency produces most of the benefits. However, as we move into the second five years, the importance of renewable energy increases, with renewables becoming the dominant incremental effect in the final [five] years of the study..."

From a January 2005 summary:

  • Natural gas prices have risen by 42% since 1999.
  • Cutting electric use by 4.7% and gas by 4.1% results in a 25% reduction in natural gas prices.
  • There are price benefits nationwide even if efficiency is only pursued in one state or region.
  • Total investments of $22B in the first five years yield $142B in those years, and more later.  Most of the investment is in electric efficiency, most of the benefit comes through reduced gas prices.  The electric savings alone pay for the investments, with the gas price cuts additional.
  • Specific policy changes are itemized.
  2:50:44 AM  permalink  

Residential & Commercial Rooftops Make a Large U.S. Market for Solar Power: "A new study released by the Energy Foundation, and undertaken by Navigant Consulting, Inc. describes the vast market potential for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems (PV) in the United States. The study, "PV Grid Connected Market Potential in 2010 Under a Cost Breakthrough Scenario," provides an estimate of the market .. The state-by-state analysis [is] the first of its kind..

At a "breakthrough" price of $2.00-$2.50 per installed watt .. the annual market potential for grid-connected residential and commercial building PV applications is estimated at 2,900 MW, representing an annual market of about $6.6 billion (equipment and installations). .. California alone has the potential for about 40% of the total building rooftop market potential--through a combination of favorable sunlight levels and high retail energy prices. .. [The top 10 states account for 74%]

Rooftop space is not a constraining factor for solar development. Residential and commercial rooftop space in the U.S. could accommodate up to 710,000 MW of solar electric power (if all rooftops were fully utilized, taking into account proper orientation of buildings, shading from trees, HVAC equipment, and other solar access factors). For comparison, total electricity-generating capacity in the U.S. today is about 950,000 MW. .. Other distributed forms of PV electric generation, including ground-mounted PV, car ports, curtain walls (a type of commercial building window), and awnings could further add to the potential."  Assumptions made in the study: 

  • Today's installed costs are about $6/w residential and $4.60/w utility scale.  Business-as-usual would result in drops of 3% per year; their breakthrough scenario is an additional 50% drop to $2.50 or $2 per installed watt. 
  • Business-as-usual in 2010 offers average payback periods of 13-19 years.  Breakthrough prices offer 9-12 years.  If prices fell to $1.25 per installed watt, payback would be 7 years (some states under 5).
  • Alternate models of technology adoption were averaged to estimate gradual market growth. 
  • No new renewable portfolio standards, incentives, or time-of-day pricing was assumed.  No ongoing increase in natural gas prices was assumed. Any of these would accelerate adoption.
  • High upfront PV costs with long service life is assumed.  (Some new technologies may have shorter life with much lower upfront costs.)
  1:54:09 AM  permalink  

Nanotechnologists' new plastic can see in the dark (Jan 10/05): U of Toronto Professor Ted Sargent and his team used quantum dots trapped in lead and sulfur.  "“We made particles from semiconductor crystals which were exactly two, three or four nanometres in size. The nanoparticles were so small they remained dispersed in everyday solvents just like the particles in paint,” explains Sargent. Then, they tuned the tiny nanocrystals to catch light at very long wavelengths. The result – a sprayable infrared detector. ..

The discovery may also help in the quest for renewable energy sources. Flexible, roller-processed solar cells have the potential to harness the sun’s power, but efficiency, flexibility and cost are going to determine how that potential becomes practice, says Josh Wolfe [of Lux Capital]. “These flexible photovoltaics could harness half of the sun’s spectrum not previously accessed.” .. Professor Peter Peumans of Stanford University, reviewed the U of T team’s research.. “Our calculations show that, with further improvements in efficiency, combining infrared and visible photovoltaics could allow up to 30 per cent of the sun’s radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to six per cent in today’s best plastic solar cells.”

U of T graduate student Steve MacDonald carried out many of the experiments .. “The key was finding the right molecules to wrap around our nanoparticles,” he explains. “Too long and the particles couldn’t deliver their electrical energy to our circuit; too short, and they clumped up, losing their nanoscale properties. It turned out that one nanometer – eight carbon atoms strung together in a chain – was ‘just right’.”

  12:14:10 AM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, May 23, 2005

SEFI: UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative: "SEFI is the UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative - a platform providing financiers with the tools, support, and global network needed to conceive and manage investments in the complex and rapidly changing marketplace for clean energy technologies.  SEFI's goal is to foster investment in sustainable energy projects by providing up-to-date investor information, facilitating deal origination, developing partnerships, and creating the momentum needed to shift sustainable energy from the margins of energy supply to the mainstream. "  Includes a Sustainable Energy Finance Directory of over 200 organizations. 

Related:  BASE: Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy: "BASE helps to build strategic partnerships between entrepreneurs and financiers to mobilize capital for sustainable energy in both developing and industrialized countries. BASE is a non-profit foundation and UNEP Collaborating Centre."  Offers links to related financing efforts.

  12:08:49 PM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Nanosolar - Products: New pictures of their modules; solid black, light weight, large size.  "Nanosolar's flagship product, Nanosolar SolarPly, is a 14 feet x 10 feet solar electricity module..."  Also spec'd in 4-inch strips for OEM use in roofing products.  Availability end-2005 or 2006.  No details on price or performance so far.  They're adding more execs in production and operations to ramp up.

Coincidentally, on an airplane today, I met an exec who left Cypress Semi to join their PV subsidiary SunPower.  They are building plants for silicon PV in SouthEast Asia, for sales of units to Japan and Europe, where sales are booming.  (Spain has recently accelerated solar PV adoption, joining Germany as a large growth market.)  This exec said he's confident they'll compete with grid power with silicon PVs within 5 years.

  11:26:18 PM  permalink  

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Last update: 11/24/2005; 11:23:16 PM.
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