[ExI] [tt] Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore's law apply to solar cells?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Mar 22 15:33:58 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 08:08:54AM -0700, spike wrote:

> It isn't only numbers, or even primarily numbers.  Energy policy seems to
> get hopelessly mired in political considerations.  As an example, we can
> build safe nukes, but the reputation of all nuclear power was seriously
> damaged last week.  We can build relatively clean coal fired plants and
> coal-to-octane plants, but we have governments wanting to tax carbon dioxide
> emissions.  Solar power will get cheaper, but I see some materials and
> manufacturing challenges that will take a while to overcome.

I think the biggest problem with renewables at the moment is 
retrofitting the grid. Apparently, the local deadlock on new
high voltage (underground) lines has been just lifted. We will see.
In any case we need to progress from large scale realtime
electricity market to dynamic pricing and smart meters within
a decade.
> I did get an encouraging note this week.  Around newer residential
> developments in California, many homeowners associations were disallowing
> solar power and water heating on any street-facing roof area.  I heard that
> several of them are leading a trend to eliminate those restrictions.  I am
> not in a homeowners association, but I found it encouraging.  Between PV,
> solar water heating and more efficient home electronics, I see promise there
> of having roofs everywhere with power generation.  It will not be cheap, but
> we can get it done eventually.
> Houses facing north will be more valuable than houses facing south, since
> north facers don't need PVs on the front of their houses.

Tell me about it. If our house was suitable I'd put up a solar
thermal (also for the pool) and a >10 kWp PV a while ago.
> I don't know how we are going to do load leveling, but I assume it will be
> done primarily with natural gas fired Brayton cycle plants.

The best thing so far I've seen is WhisperGen, which is a Sterling
(hitherto I wanted to get a Honda microCHP). That way you don't
have to deal with fiddling ignition parameters if you're running
a variable methane/hydrogen mix.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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