Renewable Energy » Solar Energy Renewable Energy Blog for news, views and opinions on Alternative Energy Sources. Mon, 30 Jul 2012 12:00:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pros and Cons of Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells Mon, 30 Jul 2012 12:00:39 +0000 Q.AB Gallium arsenide solar cells are marked by high efficiency and high price. Due to these reasons, they have found most of their applications where such a high efficiency is required and the budget of the project allows their use.

Aerospace industry is the most important industry where these cells are being used extensively.

Efficiency of Gallium Arsenide Solar cells

These cells have efficiency as high as 29% during laboratory testing. But, since the conditions are different in real world, their efficiency drops somewhat but they can still show an efficiency of 20%. The greater efficiency in laboratory is mainly because a concentrated light source is used to calculate the efficiency there.

However, the reduction in performance in real world is also owing to a great many other factors. Multi junction or tandem gallium arsenide solar cells have the world record of 40.7% efficiency.

Advantages of Gallium Arsenide Solar cells

These cells are a great contender in solar cells industry especially where high efficiency is the preference. Following are the advantages which make these cells so popular

  • The band width of Gallium Arsenide makes it perfectly suitable for single junction solar cells.
  • It is much more effective than silicon solar cells. A few microns thickness will suffice for the purpose where hundreds of microns of silicon solar cells are used.
  • Its absorption rate is very high.
  • Its efficiency does not drop in high temperature zones.
  • Gallium Arsenide solar cells are also considered suitable for outer space application because ultra violet and other kinds of radiations present beyond the earth cannot damage these cells.

Types of Gallium Arsenide Solar cells

These cells are classified as

  • Single junction Gallium Arsenide Solar cells
  • Multi junction Gallium Arsenide Solar cells

Formation of single junction Gallium Arsenide Solar cells

Gallium arsenide cells are formed by thin layers of single crystal material. These layers are deposited in series. Each layer is doped opposite to the layer next to it. Doping means addition of impurities to Gallium Arsenide to make it electrically conductive. If one layer is doped with positive particles the next will be doped with negative and so on.

Cost of Gallium Arsenide Solar cells

Gallium arsenide is quite expensive. An estimate shows that it costs about $10,000 per square meter. The substrate and GaAs should have very similar crystalline structure. But it is very costly to make substrate of GaAs. Efforts are being done to make reusable substrates.

Multi junction or tandem GaAs

These are the most modern and advanced solar cells. They have the world record of very high conversion efficiency. Actually, they are not made of just Gallium arsenide. They have many other compounds embedded in them like Germanium and Gallium Indium Phosphide. Research institutions, companies and universities are working to reduce the price of these cells. This combination is very useful since it absorbs a wide spectrum of sunlight and has very high conversion efficiency. These cells have been used in Mars Rover mission.

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Advantages of Poly Crystalline Solar Cells Fri, 27 Jul 2012 12:00:34 +0000 Q.AB Polycrystalline solar cells are a cheaper alternative to mono crystalline solar cells. Although, they are less efficient but their cost can counterbalance this loss in efficiency. Mono crystalline solar cells are expensive due to the costly processes involved in obtaining single crystal silicon.

Poly crystalline versus thin film solar cells

Polycrystalline solar cells are first generation silicon based solar cells. The thin film solar cells, previously used, are second generation solar cells. They are more expensive and more efficient than second generation thin film cells.

Polycrystalline versus mono crystalline solar cells

Cylindrical ingots of silicon are used in the formation of mono crystalline process. But a large number of processes are involved in converting it into the final desired form. In polycrystalline solar cells large square blocks of silicon are used.

Square shape has the advantage that it does not let the material waste. This shape allows the material to fill the entire shape of the standard solar cell.

  • These blocks are first converted in to molten form.
  • Then this molten liquid is cooled until it solidifies.
  • Thin wafers are then cut out of this solidified silicon.
  • Finally, the most important process that is doping is done. Doping is the process of adding additional impurities to pure silicon to make it electrically conductive. Doping produces free electrons and holes that move freely in order to conduct electricity.

Why are thin film solar cells more trending?

Thin film solar cells are cheaper. Both consumers and producers need a reduction in cost. There are different categories of consumers. Some of them demand the best efficiency and do not compromise over the efficiency even if it is expensive. These consumers are usually from industries, factories etc. on the other side, there are consumers who want to use the technology at a cheaper rate. If the producers only provide high efficiency expensive solar cells, the technology will become out of the access of many people and they will lose a number of their potential customers.

That is why they seek refuge in providing them with thin film solar cells which are less efficient but are available at a cheaper cost.

World record of Mitsubishi Electric  Corporation 2009

In February of 2009, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation exclaimed to have achieved a world record by achieving an efficiency of 18.9% efficiency. The 150x150mm square converted 18.9% of the sunlight striking on it into electricity. This is a big achievement as compared to thin film solar cells. A rough estimate is that they convert around 11% of the sunlight into electric energy.

Warranty of polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are expensive but have a much longer life. Most of the manufacturers provide the warranty of 25 years. They work precisely like the best attainable efficiency conditions for these 25 years. But it does not mean that they will become completely useless after this time. They will still be able to provide 80% of the initial efficiency.

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Quantum Dot or Nano Crystalline Solar Cells Mon, 23 Jul 2012 12:00:46 +0000 Q.AB Quantum dot solar cells are basically nano crystalline cells. These cells used a thin layer of nano materials over the substrate. The substrate is usually made of silicon.

Efficiency of Quantum dot Solar cells

These cells are much more efficient than any other kind of cells. They can produce enormous energy from just a single photon of light. Photons are the packets of light. They can be considered as building blocks just like atom is the building block of matter.

Prediction of National Renewable energy laboratory 2005

In 2005 researchers and scientists predicted about the extra ordinary capabilities of this emerging technology. They also claimed to be able to achieve an efficiency of 65% with quantum dot or nano crystalline solar cells.

Formation of Nano crystalline or Quantum dot Solar cells

The formation of these solar cells includes following steps.

  • A silicon substrate is required first of all.
  • The silicon substrate can be obtained in any way through ingots or something else.
  • The cells are not totally made of nano material.
  • A thin coating of nano material has to be done over the substrate.

Spin coating

Recently, new and more advanced methods of developing nano crystalline or quantum dot solar cells have been established. Spin coating is the most important among these.

This name has been given to this process due to the involvement of spinning process in the formation of solar cells.

Steps involved in spin coating

 This process involves following steps.

  • First of all a silicon substrate is required just like in any other process.
  • Nano crystalline material is obtained in solution form.
  • The solution form is then placed in a small quantity on the silicon substrate.
  • The substrate is spun and rotated at very high speeds.
  • This rotation and spinning effect forms a smooth and uniform layer of nano material over the silicon substrate.
  • Consequently, a very good and even coating is established which is our objective during the formation of nano crystalline or quantum dot solar cells.

Carrier multiplication

This is the reason behind all this improvement in efficiency with these solar cells. Conventional solar cells can excite just one electron per incident photon. But quantum dot or nano crystalline solar cells excite several electrons with each photon and thus create enormous amount of electrical energy.

Materials used in Quantum dot solar cells

The most common materials used in these cells are

  • lead selenide (PbSe),
  •  cadmium telluride (CdTe),
  •  titanium dioxide (TiO₂)
  •  lead sulfide (PbS)

In addition to these, polymer solar cells can incorporate quantum dot technology to create a hybrid kind of cell that is much more efficient and flexible than each of its constituents.

Future Horizons

In spite of all these advantages, the research in quantum dot technology is still in its early stages. There is a long way to go from laboratory to roof tops. But with the genius efforts of our scientists this gap will soon be overcome.

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Thermosiphon Solar Water Heating System Fri, 20 Jul 2012 12:47:51 +0000 Q.AB Thermosiphon systems work on convective mode of heat transfer. The heating of water on large scale is the need of domestic as well as many industrial users. Different kinds of geyser and other devices are available in the market to accomplish this purpose. They use different kinds of energies like electrical, mechanical, chemical etc. and convert it in to thermal energy.

With the evolution of the concept of renewable energy and the development in solar technology, thermosiphon solar geysers are becoming common.

Modes of heat transfer

Generally, there are three modes of heat transfer.

  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Radiation

 Conduction takes place in metals and convection is the phenomenon occurring in fluids. Radiation has something to do with heat transfer through waves. This is the way through which heat of the sun reaches the earth.

Convection in thermosiphon systems

The main working principle of a thermosiphon water heating system is convection. Convection is responsible for uniformly heating any liquid. Here the fluid of our interest is water.

 As you know, fluid when heated rises up. The same thing happens in thermosiphon water heating systems. Hot water rises up and the cold water comes down. In this way the whole water is heated uniformly.

The top layers of hot water are then passed to the places where they are desired to be used. The lower colder layers are further heated.

Gravity in thermosiphon systems

Gravity is the second most important factor that plays a vital role in the functioning of a thermosiphon solar water heating system.

These systems generally consist of vertical closed loops through which water circulate. Gravity pulls cold water down. Thus, it forces the hot water up.

Location of storage tank

Another important thing to consider during the construction of a thermosiphon solar water heating system is the location of the storage tank. The hot water storage reservoir should be at the top of the system since the heated water goes up.

Methods of heating in thermosiphon system

Generally, there are two methods for heating water in a thermosiphon solar water heating system.

  • Direct heating
  • Indirect heating

Direct heating

In this type of heating water passes directly through the collector. There is no heat transfer medium between the collector which is absorbing solar energy and the water which needs to be heated.

Indirect heating

In this mode of heating a heat transfer medium is used for the transfer of heat between the collector and the water. The medium can be an antifreeze or any other substance that can suffice for the purpose.

Pumping mechanism

There is no separate or external pumping mechanism needed in thermosiphon systems. The passage of water in closed vertical loops creates natural pumping system. Moreover the convection and gravity constantly exchange heat and energy and a continuous pumping mechanism is obtained.

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Mono Crystalline Solar Cells Wed, 18 Jul 2012 12:46:56 +0000 Q.AB Mono crystalline solar cells are the earliest form of solar cells. With the growing demand of energy in the world, the concept of renewable energy has attracted the attention of not only the scientists and researchers but also the consumers and common people.

How are mono crystalline solar cells formed?

There are several steps involved in their production and formation. But the basic outline of the procedure involves the following steps.

  • Cylindrical ingots of silicon are used for the preparation of these solar cells.
  • Ingots are long rectangular or oblong blocks of silicon.
  • Thin wafers are cut out of these oblong blocks of silicon.
  • The process of sawing is used the most frequently for cutting of the wafers.
  • Great care has to be taken since the wafers are extremely thin and the dimensions have to be very accurate.
  • Another important thing which is required is a rigid glass substrate.
  • The wafers of silicon are then deposited on the glass substrate.

Appearance of Mono crystalline Solar cells

These cells appear to be polka dotted. They have gaps at all corners of the cell this shape gives them a unique appearance. Among all kinds of solar cells, these cells are the most easy to recognize.

This shape is owing to the fact that oblong blocks are used in making c-Si solar cells. Due to this shape, square solar cells are not completely filled and the corners remain empty giving them this certain look.

Wastage of material and space in Mono crystalline Solar cells

These cells have a great disadvantage that they are wasteful of material. This defect is inherent in their production and is very difficult to minimize. The manufacturers have to compromise between the wastage of material or the wastage of the space.

Cost of Mono crystalline Solar cells

Another disadvantage is the cost of these cells. These cells are rather expensive. Their price, sometimes makes them out of the access of a common consumer.

Efficiency of Mono crystalline Solar cells

These cells are expensive but have very good conversion efficiency. That is why they are perfectly suitable for commercial usage. Conversion efficiency means how much of the solar energy captured by the cells is converted into electrical energy. It also measures the amount and rate of absorption of solar spectrum. Mono crystalline solar cells can show about 20% efficiency.

Contenders of Mono crystalline Solar cells

With new and emerging technologies, we see new things every other day in the market, which are of course much better than the existing ones. Mono crystalline silicon solar cells have some very big disadvantages like wastefulness and the high cost. Several other technologies are taking their place in the market.

Polycrystalline solar cells are the most important ones which are free of all these defects. They are less efficient but the reduced price makes them attractive for both the manufacturers and consumers.

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Gas Hybrid Cars: Relief To Your Pocket And Environment Mon, 16 Jul 2012 12:45:10 +0000 Q.AB Hybrid gas cars are combo of two great sources of power ‘electric motor’ and ‘gasoline combustion engine’ – although working of this combo varies. As people are diverting towards greener vehicles, Hybrid Gas cars are becoming more and more popular as an alternative to general cars and vehicles.

Hybrid cars are a good choice but before you go and buy yourself a hybrid car, you should ask yourself a question

“Exactly What Do I Want From A Hybrid Gas Car?”

No! it’s not like they are not good or whatever but the matter is you certainly want a car that suits your lifestyle! Hybrid Gas cars are competent with general cars when it comes to performance handling and acceleration – which is a good-to-know thing(provided you don’t have to compare it with a Lamborghini Gallardo).

If you really don’t care how much you pay to gas station and want a thrilling-sports car to pollute the environment then this may not be the right choice.

Don’t You Feel You Must Pay Less To Those Gas Stations?

Fuel performance is certainly a field where Hybrid Gas cars are renowned because they excel here – you can expect them to out-class even the most economical conventional cars. Moreover economy is not the only thing you should expect from a Hybrid Gas car, every luxury and feature you expect from conventional cars will certainly be featured in Gas Hybrids too. Moreover, you don’t really have to face any difficulty in fuel recharging! That can easily be done at conventional Gas Stations.

Effects Of Hybrid Gas Cars On Your Pocket!

Gas Hybrid Cars are new face of technology, they must cost you a lot so don’t even think of buying because they are this n that…. Hold it! That is absolutely not the case! You can heave a sigh of relief because Hybrid Gas Cars will not cost you much higher than the conventional cars.

To be honest when it comes to repair and maintenance, you may feel you are spending because they may involve some brand new technology things – understood that is not happy feeling. Hopefully you can work around on that either by taking great care of your car or just keep spreading pollution through your conventional car’s exhaust. Hold it right there because there is one more thing which can keep you from that spending mood, some companies offer lucrative warranties up to 100,000 miles – how does that sound?

Government of United states certainly appreciates consumers transfer to green Hybrid cars. Often government grants tax breaks on hybrid cars.

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Solar Powered Jacket: Charging Gadgets On The Move Wed, 11 Jul 2012 12:45:56 +0000 Q.AB Sun is the biggest Source of energy for our little(not so much) world. If we divide that energy by the time we consume that energy the result is known as Power. This is how the idea of getting electric power from sun cherished.

You can use Solar panels to make green electricity for your home and you use that electricity in daily life to do many things. For instance your computer uses electricity, you can use that even to charge your green car and you can use it to charge your gadgets. Did I just say charge gadgets! Ever got into a situation where your cell phone is dead and you had to make a business call! Almost every body gets into a situation like that. So how about charging your gadgets on move via your Jacket?

Solar Power Right In Your Jacket

If the idea seems great to you, surely it will if you are kind of always-on-move person, then you should have a look at these solar panels for jackets by PowerFLEX™. These Solar panels are specially built to fit in Scottevest SeV jackets. Jacket will conceal all the wires either connecting with ear buds or charger.

Tech’s And Specs Of Solar Panels

PowerFLEX panels used on the jackets are made from thin photovoltaic material. This thin material is basically copper indium gallium diselenide(CIGS) on a thin stainless-steel substrate.

These solar Panels measures 16″ x 14″ and only weighs about 3 oz – you can always remove those Solar panels when you don’t need them. To support those Solar panels a battery is attached, always hidden in a pocket inside SeV jacket. Battery is also light weight around 5 oz but powerful enough to charge all your gadgets supporting USB chargers.

Important thing is these PowerFLEX Solar panels can be used even without jackets to produce Solar energy.

Don’t Go On Small Size Of Battery

Small and light weight battery connected with Solar panels in jacket is powerful enough to charge your phone or PDA in 2 – 4 hours. Moreover this powerful battery will start charging your gadgets as soon as first beam of solar energy shines on its panels.

One can charge the jacket battery, remove the panels and still charge the gadgets by the stored-energy – this is quite handy because sometimes you really don’t want to show those panels! Battery itself only takes 2 – 3 hours of direct sunlight to make it fully charged but direct sunlight is not a requirement. Moreover charge time in indirect sunlight really depends upon intensity of the light.

Well this is a must-to-have gadget for all travelers and people who are always on move due to the nature of their work. You can explore the options and order your Solar powered jacket right here(embed link

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Interesting Facts About Solar Power Mon, 09 Jul 2012 13:27:57 +0000 Q.AB When it comes to buy a thing, you can try it after buying it and even post a review about it on internet for others. However, when it comes to transferring to Renewable power sources, most probably Solar power, one simply cannot go and try after buying it. It’s understood that transfer to renewable energy requires a lot of investment.


Probably you already have read enough advantages of Renewable energies as well as how you can get your money back on investment. So, lets just keep this thing to some interesting facts about Solar Power because understanding some facts about Solar power will certainly help you in deciding whether to make that huge investment on Solar power or not.

Demand Of Solar Power Is Increasing By 25% Every Year!

No wonders Solar Power demand is increasing at this rate since it is the ecological renewable source of energy.

Moreover, it is a consistent source of energy. Although our energy resource Sun is restricted in appearance(hence the amount of energy you are getting) but gives us energy at a fixed pattern – day and night!.

Solar Power Is Certainly An Old Pal

Solar cells were first invented in 1876 – certainly old enough. A question may come in your mind that, why it took so long for Solar Power to be adopted? Even today a transfer to Solar energy requires huge investment similarly same was the case then. However much more investment was needed then as compared with today. Technology was also new at that time – you know how it works! Another reason was, at that time output of Solar panels wasn’t remarkable hence increasing the efficiency took time as well.

Output And Efficiency Of Solar Panels

Output and efficiency of Solar cells depends on where you are located – obviously in Arizona your cells will be delivering you best but what would you expect in Pacific Northwest? Moreover, you also need to set Solar panels on a big space to get the best out of them. If, at some point later you need more energy you can always add more panels to the existing ones.

Moreover with arrangement of batteries one can easily store enough energy to be used at night hence you can completely cut-off power connections from the money-hungry companies. If you choose not to do that and your panels are producing more energy than you use then, due to net metering, they will pay you for that extra power– how does that sound?

Government Incentives For Solar Power Users

Now, unlike before, United States government has also realized importance of renewable energy. US government is appreciating the use of renewable energy by providing rebates, tax deductions and financial incentives to Solar power users.

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Benefits Of Trombe Walls Fri, 15 Jun 2012 12:00:19 +0000 Q.AB A slight modification in the building structure, like a trombe wall, can help you in keeping your room warm. People living in cold climate are very well aware of the problems faced in heating of rooms. By using a trombe wall, you no longer have to worry about the growing fuel prices.

These modifications are inexpensive and do not require any expenditure for the heating of rooms. These are based on the principal of using solar energy to warm the rooms.

Trombe Wall

The trombe wall is an ingenious design modification of the ordinary brick walls. These contain a space between the two lines of bricks and this air space acts as insulation between the outer and inner part of the wall. The walls also contain a glass sheet, gauze and a material to store the heat absorbed from the son.

Construction Of The Trombe Wall

The trombe walls are very easy to construct and any construction worker knowing a little about the solar energy can build these. The walls vary in width from 8 inches to 16 inches. It typically consists of two columns of bricks with the air in between them. The wall also has a sheet of glass installed at its outer portion.

This glass is meant to allow the passage of heat inside the wall but subsequently prevent its escape to the outside environment. The walls may also be provided with a water channel to act as a heat reservoir.

Principle Of Operation Of Trombe Wall

During the morning hours, the trombe wall keeps on transmitting heat from the outside to the inside of room. This air is absorbed by the walls and any heat absorber like a water channel. Once the evening comes, the heat absorbed inside the room is automatically released basing on laws of heat exchange. This heat then warms up the room.

Advantages Of Trombe Walls

The trombe walls are a blessing for the cold climate because they allow the occupants of the house to save on energy costs. A few of the salient advantages are listed below:-

1. The trombe walls are simple and inexpensive to build.

2. The material to construct these is easily available.

3. The room is heated by the solar energy and it is much more comfortable as compared to the ones heated by using fire etc.

4. The room is heated at virtually no cost. So it helps in reducing the amount spent on the energy bills.

The trombe walls help you keep warm in cold weather without any additional expenses.

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Benefits Of A Solar Fountain Mon, 11 Jun 2012 12:00:08 +0000 Q.AB Solar fountains are becoming popular nowadays. A garden or a park may look incomplete without a fountain. The fountains are also used in hotels and building fronts to improve the view.The conventional fountains are powered by using electricity form the national power grid or utilizing generators.

But both of these are expensive because of the growing costs of fuel and electricity. Using a solar fountain helps you in improving the view without paying any electricity bill.

Solar Fountains

These are identical to the ordinary fountains available in the market. The only difference is that they have an additional component to power it up. These solar fountains are equipped with solar panels and may also include battery as a back up. These solar panels provide current to the pump that operates the fountain.

Principle Of Operation Of Solar Fountain

A solar fountain operates on the principle of conversion of solar energy into the electrical current. The solar panels are composed of silicon based photovoltaic cells.

When the light of the sun falls on these cells, it frees the electron. These electrons become the electric current that is used to power the pump.

Components Of Solar Fountain

A solar fountain consists of the following components.

1. Fountain

2. Pump to power the fountain

3. Solar panels that are used to convert sunlight into current.

4. A battery that is charged by the solar panels and act as a back up for night hours.

5. A wiring system that connects the solar panels to battery or the pump of the fountain.

Installation Of Solar Fountain

The installation of a solar fountain does not differ form the ordinary fountains. Only the wire that had to be connected to the power grid is instead connected to battery or solar panels. These solar panels are required to be placed in such a way that they receive the most intense sunlight. They can be placed adjacent to the fountain or may be installed at a cabin roof or specially designed beams.

Advantages Of Solar Fountain

A solar fountain provides following benefits to the users:-

1. It is cost effective and saves energy. It does not require any maintenance.

2. The system can be installed anywhere as it produces its own power. This flexibility makes it a good choice for bigger parks.

3. The solar fountains are available in all shapes and sizes and one can select the one as per his choice.

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