NYT | power by the hour, Light by the cent

The Next Wireless Revolution, in Electricity : By TINA ROSENBERG : September 11, 2013
Great synopsis piece on how the spin offs of our mobile life is creating an underpinning for a financially, socially and ecologically sound human social revolution. Or at least that’s what we can hope for.


Wind vs. Solar … Advantage … Solar

To me it looks like wind power is a long term loser, I think the capital intensive and land intensive technology may be overtaken by solar…partly because solar seems much more amenable to new nanotechnology ‘helpers’ in comparison to the relatively old school large scale engineering materials tech that dominate wind … And it seems like their are many more complex scaling issues with wind in comparison to solar.20130420-131727.jpg

Screenshot … showing the power output vs. wind speed signals for a wind turbine. Credit: Patrick Milan, et al. ©2013 American Physical Society


Shifting winds: A simulation shows the effects of turbulent wakes on downstream wind turbines. The turbulence affects air as high as a kilometer above the ground.


University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis. The compound may enable fundamentally new routes to creative solar light harvesting technologies. Credit: Graham Griffin


In a standard photovoltaic (PV) cell, each photon knocks loose exactly one electron inside the PV material. That loose electron then can be harnessed through wires to provide an electrical current. But in the new technique, each photon can instead knock two electrons loose. This makes the process much more efficient: In a standard cell, any excess energy carried by a photon is wasted as heat, whereas in the new system the extra energy goes into producing two electrons instead of one.


Schematic of the ECPB-based approach to water splitting. Credit: Nature Chemistry.
The process by which plants convert energy from the sun’s rays into chemical ‘fuel’ has inspired a new way of generating clean, cheap, renewable hydrogen


(a) Diagram of the silicon nanopillar solar cell. (b) Diagram of the hybrid energy harvester consisting of a piezoelectric nanogenerator integrated on to of a silicon nanopillar solar cell. Credit: Dae-Yeong Lee, et al. ©2013 IOP Publishing Ltd


Stanford researchers are developing rooftop panels that cool buildings by sending heat back into space, a technique that could be more efficient than running an air conditioner from solar panels.

And if you look you will find much more of the same…in some areas of the world Solar is more cost effective than other albeit expensive sources and the tech tends to be small scale he scale-able and independent of higher level infrastructure, be it a national grid link or capital level finance, and it tends towards robust systems with local failures isolated … It seems likely this is the future and wind will be relegated to niche plays. Which could still be important…. 20130420-134815.jpg

Batteries: Cheapest Form of Grid Power? Using a wind energy and expensive lithium-ion batteries, AES Energy Storage is making money by stabilizing the grid.