It looks like a giant funhouse mirror. But the big new dish atop South Table Mountain could be a renewable energy breakthrough that helps make concentrated solar power more affordable and appealing to utilities and their customers. For the next several months, NREL engineers will be testing the performance of SkyTrough, an innovative parabolic trough that is coated with a gleaming reflective skin instead of mirrored glass. Parabolic-trough systems concentrate the sun's energy through long U-shaped mirrors. The mirrors are tilted toward the sun, focusing sunlight on a vacuum pipe that runs down the center of the trough.
Expected Chu Confirmation as DOE Sec. Signals Focus on Climate Change,Research into New Clean Energy
The use of solar technology for the production of energy is becoming more important as we strive to become less dependent upon diminishing supplies of fossil fuels. As the production levels of solar cells increase so too does the use of lasers. The attributes of non-contact processing, flexible beam delivery and precise control make the laser the ideal tool for processing these fragile components. With a number of different micro-machining processes to be performed during the production of mono and polycrystalline solar cells, it is essential that the most appropriate laser source is used.
Concentrator cells have been reaching increasingly impressive efficiencies, inspiring new interest in the high-efficiency, high-concentration approach. Currently, the record efficiency is 40.7 percent for a three-junction GaInP / GaInAs / Ge cell. From JX Crystals' perspective, its president Dr. Lewis M. Fraas sees the LCPV approach as fast to market with minimal risk. 'It is a simpler approach to understnd in terms of reliability and O&M because it is evolutionary from the traditional planar silicon module. Because of its simplicity, LCPV may be more suited to commercial building flat rooftops,' he recently told CPVToday.com in an interview.
The vision of the smart home has been around for decades. And an appealing vision it is - a computerized triumph of automation, controlling a house's lighting and heating, even the kitchen. Yet it has not yet caught on. What is needed is a "killer app" - a compelling use - and some government encouragement, according to Tim Woods, a partner in the consulting firm Poco Labs and an expert in smart home technology. The killer app, Mr. Woods said, will be energy efficiency.
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