Highly Concentrated Solar Mirrors at University of Arizona

Posted by 12 July, 2012 (0) Comment

Blake Coughenour, a graduate research associate in the UA College of Optical Sciences, is among the graduate students working to optimize a new concept in solar energy production. Led by Roger Angel, director for the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, the project carries the promise of providing a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

See Making Mirrors for the Sun for complete coverage of this ambitious project.

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University of Maryland Wins Architecture Contest at U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011

Posted by 28 September, 2011 (0) Comment
Solar Decathlon 2011

(Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy)

Washinton, DC (9/28/11) – Announced today before an enthusiastic crowd at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, the University of Maryland took first place in the highly competitive Architecture Contest of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. For the Architecture Contest, collegiate students from around the world are judged on the design and construction of attractive, high-performance houses that integrate renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies. Dennis Andrejko, representing the American Institute of Architects, presented the award in front of an audience that included government leaders and Solar Decathlon student team members.

“We are thrilled to announce this prestigious award during a special ceremony on Capitol Hill,” said Richard King, director of Solar Decathlon for the U.S. Department of Energy. “The Solar Decathlon lets today’s leaders see firsthand the innovative spirit of tomorrow’s clean energy workforce.”

Maryland earned a score of 96 out of a possible 100 points. Architectural juror Michelle Kaufmann, who has been called “the Henry Ford of green homes” by the Sierra Club and is a former Associate with the office of Frank O. Gehry, said, “The Maryland home achieves an elegant mix of inspiration, function and simplicity. It takes our current greatest challenges in the built environment – energy and water – and transforms them into opportunities for spatial beauty and poetry while maintaining livability in every square inch. This is what the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is all about.”

New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) claimed second place with 95 points, and Appalachian State University took third place with 94 points. Full details on the Architecture Contest results are available at www.SolarDecathlon.gov.

The Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams from around the world to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, highly energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in. The competition involves 10 contests that gauge each house’s performance, livability and affordability, and provides unique training that has prepared approximately 15,000 students to become the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in clean energy technology and efficient building design.

The teams currently in the overall lead for Solar Decathlon 2011 are Maryland, Ohio State and Purdue, respectively.

For the Architecture Contest, the jury evaluated the houses on the following criteria:

· Architectural elements – including the scale and proportion of room and facade features, indoor/outdoor connections, composition, and linking of various house elements.

· Holistic design – an architectural design that will be comfortable for occupants and compatible with the surrounding environment.

· Lighting – the integration and energy efficiency of electrical and natural light.

· Inspiration – a design that inspires and delights Solar Decathlon visitors.

· Documentation – including drawings, a project manual, and an audiovisual architecture presentation that accurately reflect the constructed project on the competition site.

Results from the Engineering Contest, also worth 100 points, will be announced on Thursday, September 29, at 2:30 pm in the solar village on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park. The Solar Decathlon’s overall winner will be announced on Saturday, October 1, at 2:30 pm.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is open to the public through Sunday, October 2. The houses are open for free tours each weekday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and on weekends from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

For full event information, current standings, high-resolution photos, videos, an event schedule and daily results, visit www.solardecathlon.gov. You can also follow the competition in real time on Facebook at Facebook.com/DOESolarDecathlon and Twitter at @Solar_Decathlon.

More about the Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate students from around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, highly energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in. The competition shows consumers how to save money and energy with affordable clean energy products that are available today. The nearly two-year projects culminate in an unprecedented display of affordable green living and design on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park from September 23 – October 2, 2011. The Solar Decathlon also provides participating students with hands-on experience and unique training that prepares them to enter our nation’s clean energy workforce, supporting the Obama Administration’s goal of transitioning to a clean energy economy while saving families and businesses money.

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Dept of Energy Investing $50 Million to Advance Domestic Solar Manufacturing Market

Posted by 3 August, 2011 (0) Comment

DOE announced on August 2 its $50 million investment over two years for the SUNPATH program. The program is designed to help the United States reclaim its competitive edge in solar energy manufacturing. SUNPATH, which stands for Scaling Up Nascent PV AT Home, is the second Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative supporting DOE’s SunShot Initiative.

SUNPATH seeks to increase domestic manufacturing through investments that have sustainable, competitive cost and performance advantages. It will help companies with pilot-scale commercial production scale up their manufacturing capabilities, enabling them to overcome a funding gap that often curtails domestic business at a critical stage. By bridging this gap, SUNPATH will help ensure that innovative, low-cost solar technologies are manufactured in the United States.

The United States maintained a dominant share of the global solar market in 1995, manufacturing 43% of the world’s PV panels. It has declined steadily to just 7% by 2010. DOE is seeking applicants with industrial-scale demonstrations of PV modules, cells, or substrates that offer lower-cost solutions in line with the SunShot goal. Applications are due by October 28, 2011. See the DOE press release, the application requirements at the Funding Opportunity Exchange, and the DOE SunShot Initiative.

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SoloPower Receives Offer Of Conditional Commitment for a $197 Million Loan Guarantee from U.S. DOE to Build Thin Film Photovoltaic Module Factory

Posted by 21 February, 2011 (0) Comment

SAN JOSE, Calif., February 17, 2011 – SoloPower, a San Jose, California-based manufacturer of flexible thin film solar cells and modules, announced today that it has received a conditional commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Programs Office for a $197 million loan guarantee.  The funds will support construction of a facility that, when completed and at full capacity, is expected to produce approximately 400MW of thin film Photovoltaic (PV) modules annually.

“This announcement is the latest confirmation that when it comes to energy policy, Oregon is on the right side of history,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.  “The project in Wilsonville will hire hundreds of highly skilled, highly paid Oregonians to manufacture the latest in renewable energy technology.  Oregon is already an epicenter for renewable energy projects.  A loan guarantee to help companies such as SoloPower get important projects off the ground is the right approach that will keep Oregon where it belongs – at the forefront of technology.  I look forward to working with the folks at SoloPower in putting Oregonians to work creating the products that represent the future of renewable energy.”

SoloPower CEO Tim Harris added, “We appreciate and commend the DOE’s emphasis on supporting innovative, clean-tech companies as a way to further the goal of energy independence while stimulating employment and helping secure our nation’s manufacturing base in this important emerging industry.”  Mr. Harris stated:  “This backing allows us to rapidly ramp up our production and to promote the spread of clean, distributed solar power to the rooftops and on the ground, while providing hundreds of quality manufacturing jobs using some of the most advanced technology in the world.”

SoloPower announced earlier this year that it had come to an agreement to construct its first large-scale high volume manufacturing plant in Wilsonville, Oregon.  Retrofit of the existing building is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2011.  The factory is expected to provide direct employment to approximately 500 people once it is running at full capacity.  About 270 construction jobs will be created to build the plant, and additional jobs are also likely to be generated in the local supply chain.

SoloPower’s family of lightweight flexible modules are certified to both UL and IEC standards with up to 260 Wp/panel, and are being sold in small volumes to leading customers in five countries.

For more information on SoloPower, please visit www.solopower.com

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DOE Pursues SunShot Initiative to Achieve Cost Competitive Solar Energy by 2020

Posted by 4 February, 2011 (0) Comment

Announces $27 Million in Projects to Advance Solar Development and Manufacturing

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced additional details of the Department of Energy’s “SunShot” initiative to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent so that they are cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies before the end of the decade.  By reducing the cost for utility scale installations by about 75 percent to roughly $1 a watt – which would correspond to roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour – solar energy systems could be broadly deployed across the country.

This will increase American economic competitiveness and help the U.S. regain leadership in the global market for solar photovoltaics.  As part of the SunShot initiative, Secretary Chu announced today that the Department of Energy is awarding $27 million in projects to support the development, commercialization, and manufacturing of advanced solar energy technologies.

“America is in a world race to produce cost-effective, quality photovoltaics.  The SunShot initiative will spur American innovations to reduce the costs of solar energy and re-establish U.S. global leadership in this growing industry,” said Secretary Chu. “These efforts will boost our economic competitiveness, rebuild our manufacturing industry and help reach the President’s goal of doubling our clean energy in the next 25 years.”

The SunShot program builds on the legacy of President Kennedy’s 1960s “moon shot” goal, which laid out a plan to regain the country’s lead in the space race and land a man on the moon.  The program will aggressively drive innovations in the ways that solar systems are conceived, designed, manufactured and installed.

In addition to investing in improvements in cell technologies and manufacturing, the SunShot initiative will also focus on steps to streamline and digitize local permitting processes that will reduce installation and permitting costs.  To achieve the SunShot goal of reducing the total installed cost of large scale solar electricity by about 75 percent, DOE will be working closely with partners in government, industry, research laboratories and academic institutions across the country.

SunShot will work to bring down the full cost of solar – including the costs of the solar cells and installation – by focusing on four main pillars:

* Technologies for solar cells and arrays that convert sunlight to energy;
* Electronics that optimize the performance of the installation;
* Improvements in the efficiency of solar manufacturing processes;
* Installation, design and permitting for solar energy systems.

For more information and to follow the initiative’s progress, visit: www.energy.gov/sunshot

As part of the launch of the SunShot initiative, DOE is also announcing $27 million in awards to nine new projects.  This funding includes support for five projects that are receiving $20 million to further develop U.S. supply chains for PV manufacturing. This includes support for companies across the solar energy supply chain, including U.S. material and tool suppliers and companies that are developing technologies that can be adopted directly into current manufacturing processes.  More information and a list of awardees is available HERE.

Additionally, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is investing $7 million to fund the latest round of the successful PV Incubator program, which helps to shorten the commercialization timeline for promising emerging solar technologies.  The companies work closely with DOE national laboratories to scale their technologies and manufacturing processes and move the products from pre-commercial and prototype stage to pilot and full-scale manufacturing operations.  More information and a list of awardees is available HERE.

The SunShot initiative builds on the Department’s significant research and development (R&D) efforts in solar energy over the past decade, conducted in partnership with American universities, national laboratories and the private sector.  In the last ten years, DOE has invested more than $1 billion in solar energy research that has been leveraged with significant private industry funding to support more than $2 billion in total solar R&D projects. This includes investments by DOE’s Office of Science, Solar Energy Technologies Program, and ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.  Innovations in both science and technology have driven the cost of solar down 60 percent since 1995, and have yielded a number of critical breakthroughs in solar PV performance and cost. A fact sheet detailing some of the Department’s past and current work in solar energy is available HERE.

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Minnesota Students Building House Powered Entirely by Sun

Posted by 11 May, 2009 (0) Comment

From foxnews.com

After 15 months of planning, University of Minnesota students are finally getting to fire up their drills and saws to begin construction on a fully functioning house powered exclusively by the sun.

The students are members of the University’s solar decathlon team, which will be taking its completed house to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October to compete against 19 other schools in a biennial national competition.

The Solar Decathlon competition, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, will last three weeks and will judge teams based on all aspects of their house, from energy efficiency to interior design.

The University’s solar decathlon team started preparing its proposal for the competition in the fall of 2007, Ann Johnson, project manager and director of the construction management program, said.

Click link above for complete article.

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