Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Deep in the Heart

Even though Texas is the home of the oil industry, it has a growing and vibrant renewable energy community. Recently, the state legislature there passed a new improved renewable energy portfolio requirement of 5 Gigawatts with a 500 MW set aside for non wind.

There are several advanced photovoltaic stories coming from deep in the heart of Texas.

Here is one.

Start-up targets thin-film silicon solar cells
16 January 2006

US-based start-up InnovaLight believes its solution-processed silicon quantum dots will take the photovoltaic market by storm.

InnovaLight of the US is a start-up with big ambitions when it comes to photovoltaics. As the cost of solar cells based on crystalline or bulk silicon continues to rise, InnovaLight says its silicon nanocrystal technology not only offers cost savings when it comes to manufacturing but some unique optical advantages as well.

"We have worked diligently on developing silicon quantum dots [nanocrystals] and have successfully been able to do that," company president Conrad Burke told Optics.org. "We can now produce them in volume and solution-process them."

According to Burke, the ability to solution-process the dots in a so-called silicon ink could lead to cheaper manufacturing. "You now have the potential to produce thin-film photocells which lends itself to high-throughput manufacturing using existing roll-to-roll printing technology," he said. "Our modelling indicates that there will be substantial improvements in cost versus how silicon is used today."

Burke says that the company can produce silicon quantum dots in uniform sizes from 2 to 10 nm in diameter. By controlling these sizes, the company can tailor the optical properties of the dot, such as its absorption spectra.

"You can tune the photovoltaic to capture parts of the spectrum that have not efficiently been captured before with traditional methods - the red and the infrared for example," said Burke.

While InnovaLight is fully focused on offering photovoltaic products, and Burke expects this to happen in 2007, it has also exploited its technology to produce tunable silicon emitters.

"Silicon in its bulk format we all know is not an efficient emitter but when you get down to the quantum-confined sizes, you get very different effects," said Burke. "For the smaller sized particles you can get blue emission and for the larger particles you can get red emission. By having a film of these devices, you can electrically stimulate them."

InnovaLight was founded in 2001 based on technology being developed at the University of Texas at Austin.

This process may not be a power paint process, but it should represent a clear advance in PV manufacturing and it offers a new lighting technology.

And here is another story of another P V manufacturing technique and technology that can make a big difference in the cost of distributed solar electricity.

HelioVolt plans factory, weighs future in Austin
Giselle Greenwood
Austin Business Journal Staff

Fresh off an $8 million funding round, Austin energy technology company HelioVolt Corp. is planning to build its first factory -- but not necessarily in Central Texas.

HelioVolt founder, President and CEO Billy Stanbery says the funding will spur product development. HelioVolt plans to use the money to add staff and build its first generation of prototype manufacturing tools.

Next on the company's to-do list: Raise another funding round by the end of 2006 to prepare for construction of a factory. The plant could be finished by 2008.

Stanbery says he's invented a fast, efficient way to manufacture solar cells that can be incorporated into construction materials, such as steel, architectural glass and roofing in custom shapes, sizes and tints.

Stanbery claims the process reduces the time and money needed to create high-quality solar conversion devices."

I had lunch with Billy several years ago,

And, I thought then that he was a guy to watch.

I still do.

Yesterday, I had lunch with an activist/environmentalist friend.

I was amazed when he confirmed,

that one of his influential colleagues is going around

telling Utilities to build coal plants.

Fancy and expensive ones too.

With advanced photovoltaics just around the corner,

and climate change's hot nostril of fire on our necks,

the last thing we need is a national environmental org's endorsement

of the building of more big centralized poisonous fires.

It verges on irresponsible.

No, it doesn't verge.

It's a dagger deep in the heart.

*"Brown Heart" art courtesy of Zindy Nielsen


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would an environmental group do that? There must a good reason.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they can't think of a better plan

2:34 PM  

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