Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Will solar speed up emerging cellphone revolution?

Nice news item today...one small step for PV, one giant step for....

Watching his sons kick around a makeshift ball made from tightly bound plastic bags, Ugandan handyman Jackson Mawa marvels at the way business has improved since he bought a solar-powered mobile phone.
"I am self-employed. Sometimes people call me and they find my (cell) phone is off. I have been having that problem a lot due to battery charging. So when (Uganda Telecom) brought out the solar phones, since I got it, that very day, I have never had any problem with my phone," said Mawa, clutching the device.
It might not sound like much but for Mawa and millions of people in Africa and Asia, with no connection to electricity grids or unreliable and expensive power access, these little solar-powered gadgets are proving to be revolutionary...  Read the full article

Monday, October 12, 2009

Solar Shingles, At Long Last

Not Dow's PV shingles, but you get the idea!

Dow chemical has announced that, starting in 2010, they will begin to market POWERHOUSE solar shingles with photovoltaics built right in.

The shingles will function just like any roofing shingle, to keep out the elements and provide a home with an attractive roof.  But they have the added benefit -- of course -- of generating electricity from a thin layer of PV material that is incorporated directly into the shingle.

To my mind, the more these types of products are created -- products that have solar energy technology built right in, rather than as an add-on technology -- the faster we'll see solar power become a mainstream technology for generating electricity that can be used on-site and also fed back into the power grid for more general consumption.

While solar shingles have been around for a while, Dow's announcement puts them into the mainstream of the housing technology market, and opens up a lot of possibilities.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting Juiced While the Sun Shines

They say you can find just about anything on the internet, including, as it turns out, an aerial view of the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on the roof of my house.

It's not a great photo, I'll admit.  But still, it's cool and only slightly eerie that it's out there, and so easy to find (another photo showed my car parked out in front!).

You can see the seven PV panels quite clearly, though, facing due south, soaking up the sun, and making electricity.  Solar power on a household scale!  Not a huge amount...about enough on a sunny day to run the fridge, my computers, a few light bulbs.   Any more than that, though, and we start needing the electric company to help out.

Speaking of the electric company (Pepco, in my neck of the woods), we actually provide them with a bit of electricity now and then, when we make more electricity than we're using.  Gets us a bit of a credit on the electric bill.

This blog is about photovoltaics, that is, making electricity directly from the sun.  I suppose I'll have a bit now and then about our own solar system (ha!).  I hope to talk about funding, too, since about half the cost of our solar panels were paid for by alternative energy grants and tax breaks.

But mostly, it will be whatever comes to mind, and whatever sort of interesting stuff is going on in the world of solar power.

Stay tuned....