Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Incredible Hybrid Solar Home--Enertia House


This house heats and cools itself bringing benefits to the homeowner and the environment. The Enertia House can make more energy than it uses! The house won the grand prize from the History Channel and the National Inventors Hall of Fame (first out of 25,000 entries).

From the Enertia website:

Q. WHAT IS Enertia?

A. Enertia is energy made useful by a shift-in-Time. In the 1980's Architectural Inventor Michael Sykes coined the term "Enertia®" for the useful energy that can be captured from thermal, rotational, or electrical inertia. Using inertia, 80% of world energy needs can be met with a simple shift-in-Time. Summer thermal buildup can be shifted to fill Winter thermal needs. Daytime solar gain to fill night-time needs. Downhill inertial gain to uphill power draw. No fuel or pollution is involved. Devices from flywheels to funicular railroads use "Enertia®". Inertia can multiply the usefulness of solar, geothermal, or even fossil-fuel energy. Enertia® is the energy, and inertia is the catalyst for it. Because inertia can move energy from a time when it is "useless" to a time when it is "useful," the resulting Enertia® is, literally, energy from the fourth dimension - Time.

Read about hybrid solar houses and designs.

Read about the
Science behing the house.

Read about

Home Page of
Enertia the Grand Prize winner.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Are alternative-energy stocks the new tech?

Are alternative-energy stocks the new tech stocks, or are they simply socially responsible stocks and funds in disguise?

Full text at the Robert T DeMarco Weblog

Monday, May 14, 2007

Global Warming Sparks Polysilicon Crunch and Opportunity for Investors

My energy guru Scott tells me it is very difficult to buy solar panels. To me this says "chicken on the hill for investors (money)". The article on the next page highlights the problem and the opportunity. If you have additional ideas or would care to promote a stock hit the comments button and "sound off".

By Matt Andrejczak

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Global warming is juicing the price of a key ingredient used to make solar panels, raising questions about what the longer-term impact of the current shortage will be.

Polysilicon is an essential raw material in the production of solar cells for panels that convert sunlight to electricity for homes, businesses and farms.

Since 2004, average contract prices for securing long-term supplies of polysilicon have skyrocketed, more than doubling to $70 per kilogram.

Not lucky enough to have a long-term contract? Spot-market prices for polysilicon are daunting: Expect to pay $200 per kilogram on the spot market, compared with the $150 paid in 2006, according to industry watchers.

The supply crunch has thrust the polysilicon business -- once the all but exclusive territory of semiconductor makers -- into high gear. Novel financing deals and new partnerships are afoot, with solar-module makers scrambling to secure long-term deals and chemical manufacturers scrambling to boost factory output by 2008 and beyond.

JA Solar Holdings (JASO) Last: 27.13

SunTech Power Holdings (STP) Last: 38.82

Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) Last: 11.50

The situation is more acute for some solar companies than others.

Faced with escalating prices and tight supplies, two companies have swapped equity for polysilicon in pacts to help future sales. Those deals have raised eyebrows.
South Korea-based DC Chemical Co. acquired a 15% stake in Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar Inc. (ESLR) Last: 9.55

In another deal, China-based SunTech Power inked a 10-year supply pact with MEMC Electronics Materials Inc. (MEMC) Last: 60.88

The Evergreen-DC Chemical deal, in particular, carried a "steep price to pay for polysilicon supply," said Jeff Osborne, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, which has helped take a number of solar companies public.

In mid-April, Evergreen agreed to issue 4.5 million shares of restricted common stock and 625 shares of restricted preferred stock to DC Chemical, which bought 3 million shares of Evergreen at $12.07 each. Under the supply deal, Evergreen is to receive enough polysilicon to make roughly one gigawatt of photovoltaic solar panels through 2014.

Supply crunch

The supply crunch is exerting collatetal pressure on the semiconductor industry, which has long been the primary buyer of polysilicon, the chief material used to make the wafers onto which microchips are stamped.

"Global warming is not good for the semiconductor industry. The solar industry is growing very rapidly. ... It's really created demand in past several years that wasn't there before," said Tom Linton, who negotiates polysilicon deals for Freescale Semiconductor, one of the world's larger chip manufacturers.

Before the solar companies came onto the scene in a big way, chip firms usually inked three- to six-month supply contracts with polysilicon producers. Now "you've started to see that elongate towards one- or multi-year contracts," said CIBC's Osborne.

The solar market's big polysilicon push came in 2006. For the first time ever, solar-panel makers consumed as much polysilicon as did the chip manufacturers, purchasing more than 50% of the silicon wafers produced in 2006 -- up from 10% in 2000, according to industry sources.

Polysilicon prices weigh more heavily on solar-panel makers, with the raw material making up 40% to 45% of the cost of goods per solar cell, compared with just 3% to 7% for a microchip. For that reason, solar-panel makers typically seek six- to 10-year supply contracts, Osborne reported.

On the solar horizon

The polysilicon shortage has stunted the growth of the solar industry, keeping it from expanding faster than the 20% pace it set in 2006, based on the number of installations worldwide. Yet a long-running supply-demand imbalance cannot be assumed, with forecasting polysilicon-market dynamics tricky and growing trickier.

For solar-panel manufacturers, future needs hinge on a number of questions:
How fast will solar take off in the U.S., Spain and other countries beyond Germany and Japan, the world's two biggest solar-installation markets?

How fast will solar-panel prices drop versus the price of electricity?

Will other solar technologies challenge the primacy of polysilicon?

"You have some questions there," said Jesse Pichel, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, which has helped raise money for solar-panel makers. "No one is really sure how it will play out."

Such factors and others make it "difficult to accurately estimate polysilicon demand for photovoltaic production," agreed Gartner Inc. analyst Takashi Ogawa, who forecasts worldwide polysilicon demand.

Alternatives in alternative energy

MEMC, Hemlock Semiconductor, Renewable Energy Corp. and DC Chemical are all building or expanding manufacturing sites in a bid to relieve supply pressure. Meanwhile, new entrants are also moving into the market, as 88% of the polysilicon supply is currently controlled by five players.

It takes at least two years to construct a polysilicon factory, which cost between $500 million and $1 billion. "The reality is [that] some of these plants may be significantly delayed, and some of the polysilicon makers maybe overstating their plans," Pichel said.

By 2010, global polysilicon available for sale is expected to reach 99,500 metric tons, up from 35,400 metric tons in 2006, according to CIBC's latest forecast, issued in late April, which estimates 25% more polysilicon will be available in 2010 than its prior projection.

CIBC estimated an "acute shortage" through 2008. Relief could come in 2009 at the earliest, in CIBC's view.

But the supply shortage has inspired exploration of alternative solar technologies that don't rely on polysilicon, such as thin-film panels. Whether such alternatives demonstrate efficacy and whether the most ambitious polysilicon-capacity buildouts come to fruition will ultimately have a great deal to do with whether the polysilicon crunch tightens or turns into a glut.

Matt Andrejczak is a reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Alternative Energy Technologies in Action

They say seeing is believing. You can look at the live site feed for homes, schools and businesses on this very interesting website. This is truly fascinating to watch from a remote location as solar energy is being produced.

To take a look go to
Fat Spaniel Technologies Live Sites

You can click on the Miller Residence in La Mesa, CA under Alternative Energy Technologies and watch as they export rather then import energy during the day.

Source Fat Spaniel Technologies Live Sites

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Growth of Photovoltaic Solar Energy for Home Use


According to unpublished data from the US Department of Energy, 12,093 homes had PV solar cells in use in 2006, twice as many as were in use in 2004. The number is expected to just about double yet again in 2007.

By 2011, the number of homes using PV cells is expected to quintuple the 2006 levels, to 67,492.

Source XooxleAnswers

In the next five years, residential use of photovoltaic cells to produce electricty from the sun will see explosive growth, increasing more than five-fold.

According to unpublished data from the US Department of Energy, 12,093 homes had PV solar cells in use in 2006, twice as many as were in use in 2004. The number is expected to just about double yet again in 2007.

By 2011, the number of homes using PV cells is expected to quintuple the 2006 levels, to 67,492.

The average capacity of PV cells for the home is also expected to grow, from a 2006 average of 2 kW per residence, to 2.5 kW in 2011.

Spending for home photovoltaics is growing rapidly as well, with $61.5 million spent in 2006 and $185.2 million projected spend in 2007. Spending is projected to peak in the short term in 2010, at $409.9 million, according to the USDOE data.

The full USDOE dataset is available from XooxleAnswers, and includes residential and commercial profiles of installations, spend, and power capacity for PV solar, fuel cells and other energy sources.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Photovoltaics (defined)


Photovoltaics, or PV for short, is a technology in which light is converted into electrical power. It is best known as a method for generating solar power by using solar cells or solar photovoltaic arrays to convert energy from the sun into electricity.

Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight directly into electricity. It works any time the sun is shining, but more electricity will be produced when the light is more intense (a sunny day) and is striking the PV modules directly (when the rays of sunlight are perpendicular to the PV modules). Unlike solar systems for heating water, which you might be more familiar with, Photovoltaic technology does not use the sun's heat to make electricity. Instead, PV produces electricity directly from the electrons freed by the interaction of sunlight with semiconductor materials in the PV cells.