Solar cells down to details...

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philba
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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by philba » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:09 am

<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by stephen:

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Silicon solar cells may not save fossil fuel consumption. The 1968 CRC Handbook describes the major source of silicon as being the reaction of silica (silicon dioxide with carbon in an electric arc furnace. Not only is carbon being used in the reaction, but it is also used to generate the electricity needed for the furnace. The main waste product has to be carbon dioxide. Purifying the silicon is also a high temperature process, with the heat being supplied by electricity, again generated with fossil fuel. Diffusion is anothe rhigh temperature process. I don't have any idea of the time required for a solar cell to pay back its energy costs, but it could be years or decades.
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<hr></blockquote><p>I'm not clear on this. Are you saying that production of a solar cell consumes more fossil fuels than it takes to produce the amount of electricity generated by the solar cell over some reasonable lifetime???? That certainly can't be correct.

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Chris Smith
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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:09 am

As with Recycling bottles and aluminum cans, hydro electric power does a great job, and for less than pennies per pound. <p>And the emissions are a one time thing and far less than cars driving on the highway, burning arabic oil. <p>Most recycling plants are built on or near a dam for the HYDRO energy needed, and Im not aware of any Recycling plants that uses fossil fuels to produce glass or aluminum. <p>The Amount of glass needed for a solar cell could be viewed as one large glass bottle, per square foot of surface area. <p>The cost of the semi conductor material in this square foot of glass is also close to nil, energy consumption, costs of materials, and in pollution amounts [VS one days worth of driving a two ton truck, to buy a half gallon of milk at the 7/11] and in mass production a solar cell of one square foot by today’s standards of building a semi conductor would be around one dollar per square foot and less if the production gets even more serious with honest Competition. <p>And then there is greed to deal with, [#1 cost today] no more selling your first born for a square yard worth of cells, were not here to make sellers rich to retire off of just one sale. The Mark up is in the 1000% range at present. <p>The concept that it would take a decade to recover your costs, or four decades is based on the short sightedness of people who want to scare you away from what is actually very viable. Every dollar spent at home producing electricity is one less that goes abroad. Ajd it keeps on going like the energizer bunny, for 20 years. <p>The concept that solar cells use more energy to produce them than the returns is beyond silly, as we recycle aluminum and glass every day, with only a nickel deposits for each pound of material. <p>One bottle worth of glass is a nickel, and its enough to form the body of at least one square foot of cell material to hold the solar cell. <p>The semi conductor materials as in “the same stuff” we put in a transistors, is also minute, with a large transistors worth of exotic material being able to cover a square inch of cell area or more, and at today cost, again is less than a penny to produce.<p> Creating solar cells is cheaper and easier than producing transistors because of the physical work involved, Small VS spread out, and transistors en mass today are already dirt cheap. <p>Solar cells like transistors have the most amount of money wrapped up in machinery costs, warehousing, sales, and advertising,..... almost 99%, like so many other things in our society. That can easily change. <p>Once you have made a deliberate attempt to make it a national priority and not a get rich scheme, the cost or producing solar cells for every one will drop to less than a percent of today’s cost, just like electrification did in the early last century with “Rural Edification” which brought into power the full capability of this nation as a viable work force, where it didn’t exist before. <p>Vision is all we need, not rhetoric saying and explaining why it cant be done.<p> All the reasons for why it cant be done are false. Remove the obstacles from your path, greed and ignorance, and it can be done.

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Externet » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:22 am

Hi Chris.
You are wrong here: ..."it keeps on going like the energizer bunny, for 20 years"...<p>The energizer bunny died in 2002 of sex overdose.
Someone installed the batteries reversed; and lasted about a day "coming, coming, coming..."<p>Miguel
:)
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Chris Smith
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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:29 am

I like that! :p

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by jwax » Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:28 am

As I mentioned a few pages ago, silicon is by no means the only substrate to fab a solar cell.
It's popular because many existing fabs could easily changeover to silicon solar cell production, but by no means is it the ultimate or economic material of choice. ;)

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by dyarker » Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:28 am

I like keeping Dollars at home (I just work overseas for the USAF). Everybody is consentrating on solar electric panels. The energy payback is probably short like Chris says, but the cost payback is too long.<p>How about solar water heating panels. Then just enough solar electric panels to run the pump for the solar water panels, and maybe the dishwasher. Then if/when the price of solar electric comes down, add panels.<p>Idea for excess solar heated water. If the garage is on a slab on the ground, make a 10ft deep tank under the whole garage floor, fill with rocks, then fill with water. Solar heat the rocks and water. It should heat a tight house for a couple cloudy days. (In summer the garage floor is little warmer instead house, as an inside tank would do.) Out of sight, and you can still have a garden or trees in the yard. No, I have not done the math on how many calories a hot rock stores; but it's cheap and low tech.<p>And how about a vertical wind generator? (like a squirel cage fan) Doesn't take as much room as the propeller type. How many heavy cloud days are also windless? Also works at night. If you can't sell excess wind electricity back to power company heat the rocks under the garage some more.<p>Maybe those ideas aren't practical. But there are ways other than solar electric panels to get useful energy from the sun.
Dale Y

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Chris Smith
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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Chris Smith » Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:37 pm

Dale the rock Idea has been around for many years now and it works real good. A bay window type of situation in front of a home [or facing the winter sun] idea has been done with as little as six feet wide, and two feet deep worth of rocks, the length of the home. Enclosed in a hot house like bay window and a small fan is used to pump the heated air in, while vents can close it off when its not needed. <p>The worst winter radiation can still heat up something 480 cubic feet [minimal amount for a small house] of river stones to keep the place warm over night, [more is better] even when its freezing over night, and even if you only supplement your heater by 50%, that 50% less bill than before. And Rock is cheap. <p>The concept that we must cure the problem 100% or give up all together is also absurd. <p>We have over 270 million people and just a nickel a day worth of saving is tremendous.<p> Something like three new dams were needed in this country just to keep up when the invention and proliferation of Wal-wart transformer came out, and they usually only draw a few watts each, times a couple hundred million transformers. <p>So to say that if we don’t take care of 30% of the problem in just the fist stage of conservation we cant or shouldn’t do it at all, and that we should just resign our selves to feeding third world oil junkies is ridiculous. <p>Every goal stars with one small step, and today is a good day a walk. <p>Were just getting started, and yes silicon isn’t the only answer, it just happens to be one of many viable sources of energy production for today, and like the used beer can, it too can be recycled when something better comes around.

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by pgw5378 » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:34 pm

First post... I was wondering if anyone had some details regarding the energy output of your average Silicon solar cell over its useful lifetime in comparison to the energy cost of fabrication in the FAB.<p>Forgive me for posting this non-sequitur but I really would like to know.<p>[ April 20, 2005: Message edited by: pgw5378 ]</p>

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by rshayes » Thu Apr 21, 2005 3:59 am

I don't know of a complete analysis of the energy costs of silicon solar cells. I doubt very much if is as low as people would like.<p>Silicon appears to be produced by breaking down silica in an electric arc furnace. The first step is to collect the materials. For each pound of silicon, at least 1.2 pounds of other materials must be transported to the furnace. This will require the expenditure of fossil fuel before the raw material even exists. Aluminum is an example of this. The electrolytic refining is done in the northern US and Canada, but, at least in World War II and possibly even now, the bauxite ore was shipped several thousand miles from South America.<p>The arc furnace will require a great deal of energy to operate, and this is electrical energy, which must be generated by a fairly inefficient process. Much of this energy goes into cycling the mass of the furnace up to its operating temperature and down again. Some of it goes into the extracted silicon.<p>This silicon must be highly refined before it can be used. It may be melted several times in this process. The melting point of silicon is 1410 degrees centigrade (2570 farenheit). These processes use induction or radiation heating, which are not very efficient and again require electrical energy.<p>Depositing a thin layer of silicon on a glass substrate requires still more energy. Sputtering or similar process may require high power levels for extended periods of time using RF energy, which is again inefficient when traced back to the original energy source. The glass substrate will also require a substantial amount of energy to produce.<p>Once the cell is produced, it must be transported to the place where it will be installed. Again, this requires energy derived from fossil fuels.<p>You also have to consider that in a fixed mounting, the incident energy on the cell varies throughout the day and with the time of year. Overall, the average output would be about 1/3 the peak output.<p>When you cascade a chain of inefficient processes to produce a device with limited efficiency, it is entirely possible that the energy payback time will be very long, and possibly never. I don't know if a really complete analysis has ever been done.<p>[ April 21, 2005: Message edited by: stephen ]</p>

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Chris Smith » Thu Apr 21, 2005 1:45 pm

And all for the cost of a glass bottle, which is also not fossil fuel assisted melting. <p>That nickel or bottle will cover a base of glass of over one square foot for a substrate to be mounted on. The splattering or doping materials cost no more than chrome plating which is very expensive compared to other raw materials, also pennies per square foot of raw material shipped all the way from South Africa like so many doping materials, while the energy costs are also very small per production out put. <p>We do things in this country cheap, and that why we can do it. Unless a person has worked in a production plant where raw materials comes in one door and goes out the other, they will never understand the costs of production. <p>The 14 acre plant I worked in produced hundreds of thousand of items per shift, at a cost of pennies per Item, and even chromed, that was then sold to companies like Ford and Gm for 15 bucks a pop. <p>Mark up, greed, and ignorance is the only enemy to solar power. <p>Columbia falls Montana was one of the largest re-cyclers of Aluminum because of its hydro power and plant at the dam head, which means power is cheap because no transmission line infra structure is involved to transport the energy more than a few miles. <p>The mere fact that we can produce huge amounts of glass and Aluminum at a cost of pennies per pound, speaks for it self. And those pennies are retail pennies, not cost pennies. <p>A bottle has a redeemable deposit of a nickel or a dime, and that covers the re-melting stage and handling stage just fine which is enough glass to make a square foot of base material easily or more. <p>The fact that a whole can of soda, including the new cans contents is also pennies, also lends to the fact that it is not a power intensive business. <p>As to the rough studies of cells over time, Every part of the country will have different facts and figures based on the amounts of sunlight that strikes that part of the country, and your cost or pleasure of being ripped off by your local supplier for a product that has a high price simply because its not being mass produced as of yet.<p> His charge being the highest percentage of the purchase costs. <p>
At today’s price solar is not viable only because of politics and resolve. <p>When you consider mass production bringing down the cost of a 100 foot solar panel down from thousand of dollars at today’s prices, to less than 100 bucks, then and only then can it become viable. <p>And silicon not being the only method, is only a example that we can use for today’s purpose. If it can be done today, while tomorrow will bring new and better ways. <p>Solar cells in California for example can produce between 5 and 8 hours a day worth of electricity, about 80% of the year. <p>Even in clouds it can produce as much as 20% of full power. <p>So for example if you take the minimums of 5 hours a day times 292 days [1460 hours] and add in the 20% of the remaining 72 days at 20% times five hours you have 1500 plus hours a year to produce electricity at 1000 watts per hour. [35 cents]<p>A single 10 by ten pannel would give you one kilo per hour or 1,500,000 watts per year that would not be paid out to the oil producing nations. <p>In some of the cities of California, they pay between 25 cents and 35 cents per kilo of power. <p>That’s 22000 hours over 15 years at 25 to 35 cents for just one 10 by 10 pannel. <p>And they last MORE than 15 years average. <p>In the desert south west you can double these figures. Other parts of the country are less, but every penny stays in the Us and doesn’t back or supply other nations with the ability to bend you over a oil barrel.<p>It’s a start into the future of change away from the hydrocarbon. <p>Multiple this times 100 million.<p>At present we consume over 20 million barrels a day of crude, most of the money going over seas.<p>A mere cut in half would be a huge start.<p>[ April 21, 2005: Message edited by: Chris Smith ]</p>

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by sofaspud » Thu Apr 21, 2005 2:20 pm

Strangely, I've seen no mention in this thread of the costs of storage batteries, inverters, or changes to the existing AC distribution infrastructure.
My local utility uses mostly good 'ol USA coal to produce my <9¢ per kW electricity.

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Externet » Thu Apr 21, 2005 3:46 pm

Well, this thread was not about batteries, was about solar cells.
Skidding off the subject; the thing is not considering or not inverters and accumulators. It is the greed as Chris says which hurdles implementing new technology.<p>Pennies worth of chromed parts sold to Ford at $15 ? WE consumers end paying that, so the owners of the chrome parts factory vacation 6 months a year in MonteCarlo with their Ferraris.<p>Batteries are not that expensive compared to cells, what happens is there is the typical peddling for 'special' batteries for solar use and pumping tenfold the price because are 'special'... ---marketing---<p>And inverters? a dozen electronic components put together in a chinese kitchen worth a few dollars being sold for thousands ?
Not against reasonable markups, but abuse is abuse.<p>FIND A PN JUNCTION PAINT. Add cations to an ink. Apply. Dry. Add anions to an ink. Apply. Dry.<p>Yes, I can foresee... 'Special' ink manufacturers selling it at 1000% markup.<p>Miguel :(
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sofaspud
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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by sofaspud » Thu Apr 21, 2005 3:57 pm

So the thread is about greed, not solar panels? If Wal-Mart could roof all their stores with solar panels and end their electric utility expense, they would do it. The above stated theory of greed even says they would. Solar power has its place in today's world, and tomorrow may see its efficiency improve and its use expand. Political rants ain't gonna get us there though.

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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by jwax » Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:50 pm

Big difference being WalMart deducts the cost of electricity as a business expense. They need every deduction they can get because the are so profitable. In their bracket, "saving money on electricity" does not enter the equation.
You and I however, would benefit big time from solar power, since every dollar saved on juice goes directly into our pocket.
PLUS, as has been noted, a buck less going byebye to sandland.
;)

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Chris Smith
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Re: Solar cells down to details...

Post by Chris Smith » Thu Apr 21, 2005 6:04 pm

Actually the concept of storing Solar is a waste of time and money. As we all know peak power is used during the day, when your away from your home at work, consuming that power for your work and other factories. <p>You only need a inverter to send it back into the grid, to use at your work and other places that consume so much power at present, that our dams cant keep up, and thus they have to supplement the power grid by burning hydrocarbons to keep up.<p> At night the dams have more than enough power to supply our night needs at home and so its not storage you need, but buy and sell back in the form of credits. <p>And Walmart wouldn’t do a damn thing for this country unless the government forced them to as we all can see buy their buying habits in china, where the most amount of dollars for the share holders can be made, at a total loss to this country. <p>And they already have their loop holes with the government to spend lots of money for oil /coal fired energy, because they get it either tax free or for far less than you and I pay, thanks to lobbyists who convince your local government to sell you short and cheap, because they bring income to their coffers and pockets. <p>Politics and greed, that and short sightedness is the problem. <p>We don’t need to find a cure over night, we simple need to wean our selves of big business who doesn’t have our best interest in mind, and wean our selves of oil dependency. <p>One day at a time, one small step at a time. <p>At present we are doing neither. <p>Up the ramps to the slaughter house we go, and not a single protest can be heard.

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