Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Quest for the $1 Watt

  1. #1
    Funding Member
    „Friend of Germanics”
    Funding Membership Inactive
    The Horned God's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Last Online
    Friday, June 30th, 2017 @ 08:09 PM
    Ethnicity
    Irish
    Subrace
    Atlantid
    Country
    Other Other
    Location
    Ireland
    Gender
    Age
    43
    Family
    Single adult
    Posts
    2,243
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    21
    Thanked in
    21 Posts

    Quest for the $1 Watt

    July 23, 2008

    Photovoltaic cells, once so costly they could be used only to power million-dollar satellites, are today turning up even on humble parking meters. Now a brash Tempe, Ariz., company called First Solar plans to take the technology to the next level by making it cost-effective enough to compete with coal-fired generation.


    Achieving grid parity--selling power to the nation's electric grid at a competitive price--has long been a holy grail of the photovoltaic industry and other suppliers of alternative energy. Yet despite the company's soaring price share and its multimilliion-dollar order book, First Solar declines to speak to journalists.

    In the August issue of IEEE Spectrum, British writer Richard Stevenson combines a journalist's knack for investigation with the expertise of a solid-state physicist to piece together how First Solar has cracked the problem. He concludes that the secret involves not the photovoltaic cell itself but the way in which it is manufactured. Instead of the familiar silicon, the design uses a compound of cadmium and tellurium.

    Not long ago it was little more than a laboratory curiosity, largely because nobody had found a practical way to make the cells much larger than a postage stamp. First Solar has now refined the manufacturing procedure to blow up the cells to poster size.

    Already the firm has been able to make a profit selling the panels to utilities in a number of countries--particularly Germany--that subsidize alternative energy sources for environmental reasons. Available figures suggest that the manufacturing cost per watt delivered is still too high to compete with that of power delivered on the grid, but First Solar has told investors that it expects to be able to lower the cost substantially.

    It seems likely that such improvements, together with the rising price of fossil fuels generally, will enable the company to reach grid parity within just a few years. Indeed, the technology is so promising that it puts into question whether there will be enough tellurium available to make all the solar panels the world is likely to demand. Stevenson's conclusion is that the answer is yes, because increased demand for the panels will stimulate the search for new supplies of the scarce element.

    Meanwhile, other photovoltaic technologies continue to advance, not the least of which is silicon. If, as expected, the current shortage of silicon should abate in the coming years, then First Solar's clear lead on the industry may narrow. In any case, photovoltaic cells seem poised to advance from their current role in niche applications to become one of the more important sources of electricity in the world.

    Source.

  2. #2
    Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Last Online
    Sunday, January 4th, 2009 @ 05:48 PM
    Ethnicity
    English
    Gender
    Age
    32
    Posts
    20
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    0
    Thanked in
    0 Posts
    What is the duration of the lifespan of these photovoltaic cells? Assuming they won't last forever, we'd be in a mess after they start to malfunction. Also, if we run out of tellurium - unless it's recyclable - we'll have to look for alternative sources. Kind of reminds me of the situation we're in now.

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Last Online
    Friday, April 3rd, 2009 @ 09:10 PM
    Status
    Available
    Ethnicity
    Norwegian
    Ancestry
    Maternal: Norway, Paternal: Massachusetts
    Subrace
    I don't know Lundman's taxonomy.
    Country
    United States United States
    State
    Connecticut Connecticut
    Location
    South Glastonbury, Connecticut
    Gender
    Age
    90
    Family
    Single, not looking
    Occupation
    Nothing (retired)
    Politics
    monarchist
    Religion
    agnostic
    Posts
    1,698
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    31
    Thanked in
    31 Posts

    silicon shortage ?

    There is a SHORTAGE of silicon ? It's the second most abundant chemical element on (and in) this planet. The first is oxygen. Almost all of the sand in the world is SiO2, silicon dioxide.

    I guess that the shortage refers to pure elemental silicon. This just means that we aren't extracting and refining silicon fast enough to meet the demand.

  4. #4
    Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Last Online
    Sunday, January 4th, 2009 @ 05:48 PM
    Ethnicity
    English
    Gender
    Age
    32
    Posts
    20
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    0
    Thanked in
    0 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Gorm the Old View Post
    There is a SHORTAGE of silicon ? It's the second most abundant chemical element on (and in) this planet. The first is oxygen. Almost all of the sand in the world is SiO2, silicon dioxide.

    I guess that the shortage refers to pure elemental silicon. This just means that we aren't extracting and refining silicon fast enough to meet the demand.
    That's what I was thinking.

    Having done a quick Google search I have found something relevant to this discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chemie.de
    Electrochemical extraction of silicon: new approach for a more environmentally friendly large-scale process?
    Environmentally Friendly Silicon Production
    30 Jan 2004 - Silicon plays an essential role in electronic components such as solar cells and semiconductor chips, as well as in the production of silicones. The semimetal is also an important constituent of alloys. Today, industrial processes for the production of elemental silicon are generally based on the reduction of silicon dioxide (SiO2, quartz) by carbon at 1700 °C. In this reaction, the carbon reacts with the oxygen in the quartz to form carbon dioxide (CO2). In 2002, about 4.1 million tonnes of silicon was produced world-wide, with a corresponding release of 6.5 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere. This undesired release could be avoided with a new electrochemical process for the extraction of silicon, which would also require less energy than the classical carbothermal process. The new technique, developed by chemists at Wuhan University in China, could form the basis for large-scale production of silicon.

    .........
    http://www.chemie.de/news/e/34607/

Similar Threads

  1. The Quest to Discover New Technology
    By Hersir in forum Internet, Security, & Privacy
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Monday, February 21st, 2011, 06:01 PM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last Post: Sunday, June 19th, 2005, 06:35 AM
  3. Contradiction's Quest
    By Moody in forum Logic
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004, 06:38 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •