Saturday, April 27, 2013

6 Emerging Solar Technologies

As I've mentioned before, there is this major energy and renewables revolution taking place right now, and it is moving so fast.  I've read literally hundreds of articles on solar energy innovations poised to lower the cost and increase the output of collectors, all the way back from nanotechnology solar paints - an innovation that seems to have started at the University of Toronto maybe 8, 9 years ago.  Sadly, I've not really been cataloguing these but I'm going to make a start on this now.  Here are just this morning's findings:
The Mother Nature News website is really interesting:

And a Sixth one is here; Rectennas, or Nantennas - Definitely appears to be one of the more important leaps forward:

I've been working on other peoples projects again recently and one of them involves solar thermal technology, mainly because solar thermal can collect up to 80% of the solar energy that strikes it, as opposed to solar PV, which, though cheaper, still takes a lot of area at 15 to 21% efficiencies.
But for all those installing solar thermal on their roofs on projects happening right now, I recommend you also install a conduit or wiring for future PV panels to replace the thermal panels.  Of course, I also recommend the roof structure be given some thought - don't just install the weakest cheapest roof to carry the snow and rain loads - make your roofs face the sun, and make them strong enough to carry solar panels, including hybrid panels, and energy storage panels!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

We are in an Energy Revolution!

Watch this video  It surprised even me - a person already enrolled in the revolution we are witnessing.  It expresses the coming changes in a way that tells everyone this is NOW, and this is huge.  Think of this:  Sunpower was a $10 million company in 2004, now it is worth over a billion dollars.

Recently I've been working with a number of other clients in developing model designs for various buildings, and I keep encountering the doubts that people have about high performance construction, especially regarding finding the sweet spot in terms of optimizing their project and the resulting costs.

I often find myself telling them that what they may not realize is that Passive House is just the beginning, and the 'sweet spot' has already, for the most part, been realized by the Passive House research which has shown again and again that the thing to do is to build to this standard.  This is just the beginning because net zero is next, and then net positive, and complete self-sufficiency.  Only three years ago, net zero was a highly expensive and ambitious endeavour.  Today, numerous governments are talking, even announcing, that their building codes will mandate net zero in a few short years (!).  We are in the midst of a pretty wild and disruptive energy and renewable energy revolution!

It turns out Passive House is, for the sake of simplicity, the proper tool for the creation and design of building envelopes that are the right foundation for this coming energy revolution.  So, all those out there who are feeling timid to go all the way and build to the Passive House Standard, I say, just  go all the way!  You won't regret it.

Look at this host of technologies:

Sunpower announces the X21 series of PV solar panels.  These are 21% efficient, - compare this to the standard PV panel efficiency of 15% - this is some 40% increase from before.....These are available NOW, but sadly, not in Canada.  Look here:

Check out this new wind generator - no turbine, no blades, no moving parts!
This same technology applied in reverse is being investigated for aircraft propulsion.

We are completely awash in technological innovations right now.