Saturday, July 26, 2008

The emergence of Dye Sensitive and Organic PV


Cutting-edge companies such as G24 Innovations, Konarka, Dyesol and Denmark's Heliotech are commercializing the first generation of products that incorporate hybrid dye-sensitized thin-film (DSC) and organic PV (OPV) cells while continuing to drive advances and improvements in manufacturing and process technology in order to develop new commercial applications, address cell durability issues and drive down costs, as well as increase cell conversion efficiencies.

On the materials supply side of the nascent industry, companies such as Carnegie Mellon R&D spin-off Plextronics are advancing with efforts to commercialize and enhance their ability to produce organic, nanoengineered conductive and semi-conductive inks that are used to manufacture both DSC and organic PV cells, as well as a growing range of printed electronic circuitry.

Their flexible form factors, low cost and ability to capture photons and convert them into electricity both indoors and in poor lighting is paving the way forward for DSC and OPV cells to be used in various and numerous applications.

Their promise was brought into sharper light recently when an MIT research team increased PV cell conversion rates ten-fold by coating panes of glass with transparent photosensitive dyes that concentrated solar energy at the edges of the panes. PV cells in the window frames then converted the concentrated flow of photons into electricity.

The market for thin-film and organic photovoltaic (PV) materials will reach US $3.8 billion by 2015, according to a March research report produced by NanoMarkets. Advances in thin film and organic PV — which typically includes DSC — are creating opportunities for electronic chemical suppliers and innovative materials firms, according to Nanomarkets' research, noting that predicted materials innovations are expected to have a profound impact on PV's future.

Looking further down the line, potential applications for DSC and organic PV also abound in building-integrated PV (BIPV), as well as building and construction products, from windows to paints and cladding.

DSC and organic PV manufacturers see a potentially bright future for their products on rooftops, on windows, and more generally in the BIPV space as government building authorities increasingly enact LEED and new building code amendments that require on-site renewable power generation. Konarka, for example, is looking at rooftop solar application of its organic PV cells and has garnered funding from the U.S federal government's Solar America Initiative, as has Plextronics.

"The big advantage of organic PV cells is that they can be very, very cheap. A plastic solar cell — think of the ubiquity of cheap plastic products. The projected cost of organic solar cells is in the less than US $0.40 cents/watt range as compared to US $3-4 dollar/watt range for other solar technologies," commented Dr. Pradap Haldar, director of Energy & Environmental Technology Applications (E2TAC) and head of the nanoengineering constellation at the University of Albany's Center for Nanoscale Science & Engineering (CNSE).

Plextronics believes the organic PV inks it is developing can cut PV cell production costs by as much as 75%. "One of the most striking statistics that I can give you is this: The cost to produce a watt of energy right now using current solar technologies is about US $4 per watt. Using Plextronics' technology, we believe that you can reduce that to around US $1 a watt in high-volume manufacturing.

"In some applications, organic solar cells will compete with other technologies on a straight cost versus performance basis. But other applications will be unique, such as ‘integrated products' where printed organic solar cells are incorporated into products right along with other printed electronic components such as transistors, for logic and memory, and light emitting diodes for information displays or indicators," Plextronics spokesperson Lori Lecker said.
Durability is the second hurdle OPV products have to overcome. OPV cells "tend not to be stable. For example, silicon solar cells can last 25-30 years. If organic solar cells are exposed to excessive UV (ultraviolet) radiation, even sunlight can degrade them in a matter of days. Leading OPV participants such as G24i, Konarka and Plextronics, are more than well aware of the durability issue. They're focusing on addressing it and can point to recent efforts that indicate they can succeed.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

G8 sets a target of 50% reduction of Green House Gases by 2050


World's richest nations say they will aim to set a global target of cutting carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2050 in an effort to tackle global warming. It strengthens last year's G8 pledge to "seriously consider" the cuts.

But the US has refused to set any interim targets for cutting emissions - and environmentalists have criticised the progress at talks as "pathetic".

Five of the world's biggest emerging economies said the G8 should increase its targets to more than 80% by 2050.

China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa - who will join talks on Wednesday - also urged developed countries to commit to an interim target of a 25-40% cut below 1990 levels by 2020.

Progress
Climate change has been one of the stickiest issues tackled at the summit in Japan, with divisions over what targets should be set and what would be expected of developing countries.

It leaves many ends untied - including the failure to specify a baseline date. The EU wanted the G8 to confirm that the 50% cut would be measured from 1990 levels of CO2 - as agreed under the Kyoto climate protocol. But when the question was raised in a press conference Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the cuts would be measured from "current levels".

No guarantees
The G8 statement repeats last year's "vision" to reach the target of cutting emissions by at least 50% by 2050 - but this time adds that the effort must be global. It also acknowledges that to make progress, G8 countries have to take the lead through ambitious interim goals and national plans.

The meeting is taking place in Toyako, on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Leaders from the G8 nations - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - are being joined by counterparts from some 15 other countries.



Thursday, July 03, 2008

India unveils new Climate Change Plan


In a brief summary at New Delhi today (June 30), the Prime Minister (PM) of India released the National Action Plan on Climate Change. Prepared under the guidance and direction of Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, the Plan was released amidst members of the Council, representatives of civil society and senior officials of the Government.

At a time when India is faced with the challenge of sustaining its rapid economic growth in a climate constrained world, the Action Plan pushes for not just promoting sustainable production processes, but also, sustainable lifestyles across the globe. The Action Plan focuses attention on eight priorities National Missions, the first among which is “Solar Energy”, whose success, according to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, has the potential to change the face of India.

The Action Plan was much awaited by environmentalists, concerned citizens and the industry at large. In a speech that followed, the Dr. Singh informed that the release of the National Action Plan reflected the importance the Government attaches to mobilizing our national energies to meet the challenge of climate change. The global dimension of the challenge of climate change was also emphasized in the PM’s speech, which, according to him, demands a global and cooperative effort on the basis of the principle of equity. With the Action Plan now in place, Dr. Singh declared that India is ready to play its role as a responsible member of the international community and to make its own contribution.

The eight priority National Missions listed in the National Action Plan include:
1. Solar Energy
2. Enhanced Energy Efficiency
3. Sustainable Habitat
4. Conserving Water
5. Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
6. A “Green India”7. Sustainable Agriculture
8. Strategic Knowledge Platform for Climate Change

The PM further reinstated India’s stand on this global issue, in confirmation with the world view by informing that India believes that every citizen of this planet should have an equal share of the planetary atmospheric space and therefore, long-term convergence of per capita GHG emissions was the only equitable basis for a global agreement to tackle climate change. In this context, Dr. Singh reaffirmed India’s pledge that as it pursued sustainable development, its per capita GHG emissions would not exceed the per capita GHG emissions of developed countries, despite India’s developmental imperatives.

The PM also clarified that the National Action Plan would evolve and change in the light of changing circumstances and therefore invited broader interaction with civil society as a means to further improve the various elements of the Plan. He concluded by recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s advice: “The earth has enough resources to meet the needs of people, but will never have enough to serve their greed”.

Indian Prime Minister unveils National Plan on Climate Change



In a brief summary at New Delhi today (June 30), the Prime Minister (PM) of India released the National Action Plan on Climate Change. Prepared under the guidance and direction of Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, the Plan was released amidst members of the Council, representatives of civil society and senior officials of the Government.

At a time when India is faced with the challenge of sustaining its rapid economic growth in a climate constrained world, the Action Plan pushes for not just promoting sustainable production processes, but also, sustainable lifestyles across the globe. The Action Plan focuses attention on eight priorities National Missions, the first among which is “Solar Energy”, whose success, according to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, has the potential to change the face of India.

The Action Plan was much awaited by environmentalists, concerned citizens and the industry at large. In a speech that followed, the Dr. Singh informed that the release of the National Action Plan reflected the importance the Government attaches to mobilizing our national energies to meet the challenge of climate change. The global dimension of the challenge of climate change was also emphasized in the PM’s speech, which, according to him, demands a global and cooperative effort on the basis of the principle of equity. With the Action Plan now in place, Dr. Singh declared that India is ready to play its role as a responsible member of the international community and to make its own contribution.

The eight priority National Missions listed in the National Action Plan include:
1. Solar Energy2. Enhanced Energy Efficiency3. Sustainable Habitat4. Conserving Water5. Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem6. A “Green India”7. Sustainable Agriculture8. Strategic Knowledge Platform for Climate Change

The PM further reinstated India’s stand on this global issue, in confirmation with the world view by informing that India believes that every citizen of this planet should have an equal share of the planetary atmospheric space and therefore, long-term convergence of per capita GHG emissions was the only equitable basis for a global agreement to tackle climate change. In this context, Dr. Singh reaffirmed India’s pledge that as it pursued sustainable development, its per capita GHG emissions would not exceed the per capita GHG emissions of developed countries, despite India’s developmental imperatives.

The PM also clarified that the National Action Plan would evolve and change in the light of changing circumstances and therefore invited broader interaction with civil society as a means to further improve the various elements of the Plan. He concluded by recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s advice: “The earth has enough resources to meet the needs of people, but will never have enough to serve their greed”.

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