It’s been said that once solar power efficiency gets to 40% it’ll be a tipping point for the mass use of solar panels. Now we can see if that is true as a team of researchers partnered with industry has developed technology to make it so solar energy conversion can regularly hit 40.4%.
The advance involved two steps. Three solar panels were stacked to capture energy from different wave lengths of sunlight, and then excess light from the stacked panels was directed by a mirror and filters to a fourth PV cell, making use of energy previously discarded.
“This is our first re-emergence into the focused-sunlight area,” said Professor Green, who pioneered 20 per cent-efficiency levels in similar technology in 1989.
The institute was prompted to revisit the technology in part because of Australian companies’ efforts to develop large-scale solar towers using arrays of mirrors to focus sunlight on PV cells.
One of those firms, Melbourne-based RayGen, collaborated with UNSW on the project. It is building a plant in China with an solar conversion rate of about 28 per cent across the year.. “We’d take them to the mid-30s” for future projects with the technology jump, Professor Green said
In Australia the amount of energy being produced by sustainable systems caused the price to fall so low it went in to the negative. This will not be the last time we see this. As more places adopt renewable energy into their power grids the old models of industry will be forced to change – meaning a better world for consumers, producers, and the environment!
Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.
For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.
“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.
Presently, 10% of Australia’s electricity is produced from a renewable resource, and that number can grow easily with minor adjustments to federal policy. By cutting back subsidies for the oil and gas sector (yes, most developed nations actually provide subsidies to that insanely profitable sector) and upping the cost of carbon the Australian economy can make an easy transition to more renewable energy. To top it all off, the country is looking at a feasibility study of 100% renewable energy use by 2030!
The researchers found currently available renewable energy technologies such as wind and concentrated solar thermal power could displace all fossil-fuelled power plants in the National Electricity Market, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in the international Energy Policy journal.
Running simulations based on power demand and supply data for 2010, the researchers found wind would contribute most in a switch to fully renewable energy. It would account for between 46 and 59 per cent, while solar PV and concentrated solar would supply 15-20 per cent each, and hydro and biofuel-based gas generators the remainder.
Commercial fishing is one of the most damaging things one can do to gather a food source. Trawlers are so inefficient they perform the equivalent task of cutting down an entire forest to get a couple cows. With this hugely negative impact that trawling can have on undersea life in mind Australia has decided to ban, for at least two years, trawling by large boats in some protected waters.
Conservationists have welcomed the Government’s decision, saying the trawler would have “plundered” domestic fish stocks.
“The Government is right to take a precautionary approach, because monster boats like the Abel Tasman have no place in our waters,” Greenpeace spokesman Ben Pearson said in a statement.
The Greens also welcomed the announcement, but Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson says he is concerned other fisheries may be open to the Abel Tasman.
“There are other fisheries, both in the state water such as the sardine fisheries that it could fish, and potentially in mackerel,” he said.
It is common knowledge that smoking kills people and, in democracies, providing health care for citizens is important and unquestioned. In Australia, they clearly care about each other as they now make it harder than ever for cigarette companies to shill their destructive product.
Starting in December, packs will instead come in a uniformly drab shade of olive and feature dire health warnings and graphic photographs of smoking’s health effects. The government, which has urged other countries to adopt similar rules, hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.
Many countries mandate that packages display photos or text describing smoking’s health effects, and some limit the size of the branding or ban certain slogans, but Australia’s dual approach would be the strictest globally.