Monday, June 30, 2008

All Electric Cars



My post on "Sustainable Motoring" has drawn quite a bit of interest compared to many other posts I have made. I have been trawling the Net looking at some of the weird and wonderful offering in the all-electric-car market.

Here is a tiny peep at a sample of the offerings:


The XS500 by the Miles Automotive Group. Nice enough looking box but the tag is a bit in XS of 500 - if you get my meaning!! Top speed is 80+ mph. Range on a single charge 150 miles (not bad). Battery life 100,000 miles. At about €40,000 – a bit saucy!!

Also by Miles Automove the ZX40S

ZX40s has a factory price tag of $18,400 + taxes and delivery costs. Max speed is a mere 25 mph. The range on a single charge is a very tight 40 to 50 miles. (Would only be good for delivering the kids to school or the like)


Merc S Class All-Electric-Car?

The word is out that Mercedes Benz at its Research Centre in Stuttgart is developing a car that will “revolutionize the luxury auto market” - so they say!!! The “revolutionary” thing is that this car will be all electric. (nothing too revolutionary there)

Word is that it will use a lithium-ion type battery (already outdated technology guys) that can be recharged in one of two ways. One will be by plugging it in; the other option will be by a dynamo of some sort that will charge the battery while driving. (in other words it will have a secondary oil engine to charge the battery).

So far the range is limited to 170 km about 105 miles before it has to be re-charged. (Not for cross continental touring then is it?)

(If they worked on the idea of ultra-capacitors instead of batteries and got a decent range of say 300-400Km, it might be a truly revolutionary car)


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Turbine in a Box Follow-up


A Thought (maybe daft)

on Micro Wind Turbines

Following on my post on the “Wind Turbine in a Box”, I was thinking about micro wind turbines and how they generate power. The general trend is to use a hub generator and sometimes a gearbox.

The idea of an annular generator appeals a lot to me, as it eliminates the need of a gearbox. But a hub mounted annular generator still ties the design up in many ways. Looking at the picture of the “Turbine in a Box” turbine, which it is said has no gearbox, but about which they give no further details, I imagined a rotor with a rim – instead of free-ended blades. Now if you have a rim you could place magnets around the perimeter set into the rim. You would then not need a full annular set of coils. The coils could be placed at the foot of the assembly, adding to it stability.

I think this might be the approach used in the “Turbine in a Box”

What do you think??


Friday, June 27, 2008

Sustainable Motoring


Sustainable Motoring

The Future of the Car?

With the launch of Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell car, we see a further development of the race for oil free motoring. Hybrid oil-electric cars, like the Toyota Prius, are only a halfway mark at best, many suggest that they are less eco friendly than turbo diesel cars.

There is almost no question in my mind about the fact that 100% electric drive cars are where the future of the automobile lies. The question outstanding is how can the electricity best be generated and/or stored in the car.

How do you think the new breed of electric car will develop? Will it be hydrogen fuel cell based? Will it perhaps be a future development of very high capacity ultra-capacitors? Will it be a further development of the lithium ion type of battery?

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about engines. That is simply because highly efficient electric motors and the control gear needed are already available. The bit of the jigsaw missing, right up to the present time, is a suitable electrical power source or battery

Old is Re-born as New!.

One of the oldest types of batteries used in cars is starting to re-emerge as a new contender in the electrical power storage field. Big, heavy, and short lived lead acid batteries were considered out of the question for providing primary drive power, that is until recently. Suddenly the lead acid battery was re-born, with a symbiotic new element incorporated into the casing – a super-capacitor. The new hybrid battery is called the – you guessed it – Ultra-Battery.

It lasts longer, costs less, and is more powerful than the current high tech batteries used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). Initially this is the main use being made of the ultra-battery.

Tests indicate that the ultra-battery has a life at least four times longer than lead acid batteries, and produces 50% more power. It’s also about 70% cheaper than the high-tech batteries currently used in the hybrid electric cars. Ultra-Batteries would also be very suitable for renewable energy storage from wind and solar.

Better Batteries?

Nanotechnology is rapidly developing better and better ways of storing energy. It is my guess that there will need to be a move away from batteries. Batteries are chemical factories, every time they charge and discharge, there is major erosion of the elements, and there is also heat and gas build up to deal with. Capacitors, on the other hand, do not have these problems. The further development of Ultra-Capacitors could possibly displace the Ultra-Battery and all batteries as such in time. The other advantage of ultra capacitors is very rapid charging (10 minutes could charge a car – not a whole lot more than it takes to fill a tank with fuel) and very long life perhaps 10 years. The current major disadvantage is size to power ratio. Science needs to shrink the size and increase the capacity further.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top 100 Irish Blogs


This blog listed
Top 100 Irish Blogs

I was well chuffed with myself the other day when I discovered that this blogs was listed in the 100 top Irish blogs. Now, I believe there are several such lists but the one I get a listing in is called

I cut and pasted the last 9 of the 100 listings, in which I appear, number 94 actually!

Top 100 Irish Blogs by bookmarks:



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Turbine in a Box


Hi-Tech Turbine - Hi-Tech Bicycle Wheel

Tiny Turbine - What does it Remind you of??

I was re-reading my last post and making a few corrections, when the idea struck me that this "Tiny Turbine" reminded me of something. A bit of a flick through Google image search answered my question.

Daft observation I know!!!


Wind Turbine in a Box


"wind turbine in a box"

Loosely adapted from a press release

Looks like a big cooling fan doesn’t it? – the type of thing you might see on a film set. Looks a bit silly - actually! In fact, it is a really high tech “off-the-shelf” wind turbine. It is only 36 inches or just under 1 meter in diameter. It will be sold over the counter in a box and it has a forecast retail price of US$2000 or less. The developers hope maybe it will sell under the $2000 €1300 mark.

The micro turbine has no gearbox and therefore it has low friction allowing it to start generating power in very low winds of only 3 miles per hour. They also claim that the thing has no upper wind speed restrictions – still generating in a hurricane!!!

The 36” model will have a nominal output of 200 watts. I wonder if it uses the same type annular generator that I wrote about in my posts on Enercon?

The turbine has been developed at Grand Valley State University’s “Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center” MAREC, in Muskegon. It is the first in a series of micro turbines which could revolutionize home and commercial power generation.

If they turn out to do what “it says on the box”, you could screw three or four of them onto a back wall and provide a good deal, if not all, of the home power needs!!

The turbine was invented by Imad Mahawili, MAREC’s executive director. Mr. Mahawili’s company, E-net LLC, has licensed the technology to EarthTronics, a manufacturer of energy efficient lighting.

They say: Testing of the product has already started and additional prototypes and pre-production will be completed immediately. Once the final testing is complete EarthTronics plans to debut the first working model at several conventions in September. EarthTronics plans to be in production with product available to the retail markets by first quarter 2009.

The company expect to sell hundreds of thousands of these little whirlygigs. The company are holding tough on releasing any specific details of the "wind turbine in a box". They are not saying exactly what the thing is made of how it works or much else, other than it is a gearless design.

The third world is seen as a major market for this design where there are some 1.6 Billion people without access to power grids.

Again the principle of "WAS" needs to be firmly applied to this announcement.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Change dot ie - Evolving?


All - Change for Future

In my self-appointed role as an invigilator and provoker of Irish Government sustainable energy agencies, I was in contact with to see how our money is being spent. Essentially, I was asking about web site statistics. My compliments to the lady I spoke with, I was very congenially assisted, and was assured that I would receive the answers to my questions by e-mail. And hey-presto they arrived today - as promised.

I made some suggestions in the course of that conversation, but the main idea I suggested was that perhaps might publish a broad comparative list of services, materials and equipment. Essentially it would take on the role of listing energy efficient heating, lighting, insulation, and services etc. clearly showing prices and comparison charts, but not just comparing within Ireland but additionally listing some comparative prices in UK Germany etc. The suggestion was on the basis that another Irish Government agency lists Broadband providers and their rates and services, so a precedent for such listing has been established already by a Government agency.

That some comparisons be made with prices in the UK and Germany etc., is, I feel essential, because Ireland suffers badly, since Famine times, from "Gombeenism" and the national addiction to the severe application of "Paddy Tax" on almost every import. (Paddy Tax, for the information of non-Irish readers, refers to the national Irish pastime of price inflation) We badly need to get away from this tendency - most particularly in the area of National Security, and I believe that Energy is a National Security issue.

I am wondering just how seriously will consider my suggestion.

Here is the e-mail from

Dear Tony,

Many thanks for your phone call on Friday and your continued interest in the Change campaign. As I mentioned we are delighted with the response we have had to date to our campaign. The following are some of the key web traffic statistics as of last Friday as requested.

* Basic Calculator completions 30072
* Average time on site: 6 minutes 01 seconds
* Unique site visitors: 50,869 (incremental activity since Friday 13th June + 4,125)
* Total page views: 316,812 (+ 24,757)

In relation to your comments on the accessibility of the calculator we are currently developing a paper calculator that will allow those with limited internet access to also calculate their carbon footprint.

The calculator is currently in phase 1 of development and we will be developing it further over the coming months. This development will include work on the 'my carbon plan' section of the calculator and will give more individual and specific advice. In the current phase of the campaign we are working to increase public awareness of the impact that they have on climate change by encouraging people to know their carbon number, the next phase of the campaign will focus on giving practical tips how on to reduce this number.

We are also working with communities and organisations and we are currently developing a carbon management tool for business. This will be a practical tool that will help businesses and organisations to measure and reduce their carbon footprint and will also facilitate benchmarking. We are also facilitating the sharing of information and we will be producing best practice guidelines and case studies.

The Change campaign is being run to compliment the work of Sustainable Energy Ireland rather than duplicate it. In regard to your feedback on renewable energy in Ireland and the setting of standards we are a campaign with a remit to inform people regarding standards but we do not have a remit to dictate standards. However I will certainly pass your feedback on this matter to SEI.

In regard to your suggestion that we develop something like the broadband Ireland site for renewable energy in Ireland it is a very interesting idea and as with the many other ideas and suggestions we get from members of the public we will certainly look into it further.

If you have any further suggestions or feedback please do let me know.

Kindest Regards

The Change Team


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Two TeraWatts of Solar per Year?


2 TeraWatts

per Year

of Solar Panels?

I have been upsetting my brain trying to get it straight in my head the business of MegaWatts, GigaWatts, and TeraWatts.

Having spent some time Googling for the simplest explanations, I think I might have it?

A MegaWatts of electricity = 1000 single bar electric fires worth of power, or 10,000 100 watt light bulbs of power.

A GigaWatts is 1000 times a MegaWatt = 1 million I bar electric fires worth of juice!

A TeraWatt is 1000 times a GigaWatt = 1 billion or 1000 million electric fires worth of electrical energy. That is a lot of energy!!

Martin Roscheisen, NanoSoalr's CEO

Now if I understand the publicity blurb given out by NanoSolar correctly, and if of course they are not completely exaggerating the claim, I hear them suggesting that inside of maybe a year or two they could be churning out between 1 and 2 TeraWatts of Solar panel material each year!!!

Correct me guys if I have got it arse ways!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

NanoSolar Ahead in Solar Race?


"The Great Solar Race"
A State of Play Report

The New Solar "Printing Press"

NanoSolar Inc., one of the new US PV solar cell manufacturers, have just announced a new world record speed for the production of CIGS printed PV solar cells.

The current efficiency of NanoSolar PV solar cells however do not break any records but nevertheless offer a very respectable efficiency of 14%.

A View of the Complete Machine

They claim that they have the solar industry's first 1Giga Watt per year manufacturing machine all up, tested and running, and they have a video on-line showing the machine rolling out solar panel material at 100 feet or 30.48 meters every minute.

“Printing is a simple, fast, and robust coating process that in particular eliminates the need for expensive high-vacuum chambers as traditionally used to deposit thin films.”

You can see the ink delivery tube and the first coating on the sheet

“Our 1GW CIGS coater cost $1.65 million. At the 100 feet-per-minute speed shown in the video, that's an astonishing two orders of magnitude more capital efficient than a high-vacuum process: a twenty times slower high-vacuum tool would have cost about ten times as much per tool.”

Most factory production machines in the solar cell industry are in the 10-30 Megawatt bracket annual production capacity.

Here is a link to the Nano Solar video from where I drew the photos on this post: video

NanoSolar’s speed record is essentially achieved through a printing process, similar to printing a newspaper, but using a proprietary nanoparticle ink and special foil backing sheet.

The new machine allows for top speed manufacturing at the current tried and tested speed of over 30 meters a minute. However, NanoSolar say that; “if we cared to run it even faster, we could. The same coating technique works in principle for speeds up to 2000 feet-per-minute too. In fact, it turns out the faster we run, the better the coating!”

Now if what their claim is true, in time and with a bit of tweaking, their machines should be able to pump out between 10 and 20 Giga Watts of solar panel material each year. So 100 of these machine could roll out 1000 to 2000 Giga watts of material a year. That capacity would swing the solar panel industry into a completely new direction – if true, and if possible.

Scientific principle to be applied here: WAS (wait and see) But it certainly looks very promising.


Friday, June 13, 2008

The Algae Attraction


I have written a couple of posts on algae as an alternative energy source, the idea is one which I find very exciting. Kevin Cullen, who has contributed to this blog on a number of occasions, recently drew my attention to a most interesting article written by Ken Silverstein in EnergyBiz Insider. I was immediately impressed on reading the piece and wasted no time contacting Ken who has kindly gave me permission to reproduce his article in full.

The Algae Attraction
by Ken Silverstein, Editor in Chief, EnergyBiz Insider
reproduced with permission

June 11, 2008

Clean coal is an imperative. Some breakthrough technologies to achieve that goal now exist while others are years away. One such concept is to use waste carbon emissions from power plants to grow algae, which is subsequently converted to energy and because those releases would re-cycled, carbon dioxide emissions would be cut in half.

Views range from enthusiastic to reserved. It's a sensible alternative but one that will not end the debate over which fuel sources will best meet the global community's future energy needs. In fact, if the theory can be scaled up and used at power plants, the subsequent reduced emissions might even encourage the use of coal.

Consider NRG Energy, which is field testing the technology at one of its coal-fired plants in Louisiana: It is using naturally-occurring algae to capture and reduce flue gas carbon dioxide emissions. The energy-rich algae are harvested daily and can be converted into a broad range of bio-fuels or high-value animal feed supplements.

Power generators can choose to dry and store the carbon-rich algae biomass for use as renewable fuel for the power plant or change it into valuable transportation fuels such as biodiesel or ethanol. Industry experts say that the rule of thumb is that it takes two million tons of algae to be able to capture one million tons of carbon dioxide. The process requires no re-engineering of the power plant, the utility says.

"Coal is -- and will remain -- the premier domestic fuel source for power generation purposes in the United States for the foreseeable future," says David Crane, NRG's chief executive. "This means it is incumbent on us not only to build new coal plants using technology which limits or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions but also to find the best way to retrofit the country's existing fleet of coal plants for post-combustion carbon capture." The company is continuing to monitor the algae carbon-capture technology.

Roughly a third of all carbon dioxide releases come from power generation. Coal is the biggest culprit with natural gas-fired power a distant second.

While using carbon dioxide to cultivate algae is not new, taking it from power plants and turning it biodiesel and ethanol is ground-breaking. It was first done by Arizona Public Service and GreenFuel Technologies in 2006, marking the first time ever that algae grown on-site by direct connection to a commercial power plant had been successfully converted to transportation-grade bio-fuels.

Now that the initial tests have shown promise, the next step is to prove it can all be done on a commercial scale and that it is financially viable. Moving to a coal plant is the next progression in the evolution of this technology -- something in which government researchers are assisting. Interestingly, participants acknowledge that conversion strategies have been more successful than carbon-trapping ones.

"With the help of forward thinking and environmentally responsible companies, we can use algae to recycle power plant carbon dioxide emissions safely and economically into a continuous supply of clean, renewable fuels," says GreenFuel CEO Cary Bullock.

Taking Bets

Meanwhile, a San Diego-based company called Sapphire Energy says that it too can take the carbon dioxide that is released from power plants and transform it into algae. That, in turn, can then be converted into a greener form of gasoline and diesel. The end result -- high-value hydrocarbons chemically identical to those in gasoline -- will be entirely compatible with the current energy infrastructure from cars to refineries and pipelines.

Everything from the byproducts released at the refineries to those shed from tailpipes will be cleaner, it says. The company adds that it will soon establish a pilot project, all with an eye on making it commercially feasible within five years.

In the end, Sapphire says that development of the fuel source will be cost competitive with other unconventional fuels such as those that produced from Canadian tar sands. Those energy forms, incidentally, have not bypassed the scrutiny of environmentalists, who acknowledge the potential but who fear that that the total production cycle is ecologically harmful.

"Sapphire Energy was founded on the belief that the only way to cure our dependence on foreign oil and end our flirtation with ethanol and biodiesel is through radical new thinking and a commitment to new technologies," says chief executive Jason Pyle.

Algae, which is homegrown that can be created anywhere sunlight exists, has the potential to ingratiate itself into the energy mix. The ultimate fuel form could either be used in conjunction with fossil fuels or possibly to displace them.

That's vital, considering that coal provides more than half of the fuel needed to make electricity in this country. Meanwhile, the United States keeps importing ever-increasing amounts of foreign oil. Last year, the number totaled $200 billion. The increased demand is the major reason behind record-high prices at the pump.

"It's hard not to get excited about algae's potential," says Paul Dickerson, chief operating officer of the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy "Its basic requirements are few: carbon dioxide, sun and water. Algae can flourish in non-arable land or in dirty water, and when it does flourish, its potential oil yield per acre is unmatched by any other terrestrial feedstock."

The verdict is still out. It's not just a question of whether algae-based fuel can work on a large scale but also whether the production cycle turns out to be environmentally benign. Imbedded within the discussion, however, is an inspiring message: Researchers are convinced that the idea works, leading some risk takers to make substantial bets.

Here is the link to EnergyBiz Insider and the original article:

Many thanks to Ken for allowing me to reproduce his article. Ken makes very good reading, I shall be looking him up on a regular basis.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Wind Farm Open Day


Wind Energy Day

Events in Ireland

On Saturday 14-June-2008 11h00 - 16h00. In County Limerick, Tournafulla Wind Farm will have an open day. Visit the wind farm and discover how wind turbines work.

BBQ and entertainment at the nearby Devon Inn Hotel with shuttle buses to/from Tournafulla wind farm every 15 minutes. Entertainment includes face painters, competitions, balloon modellers, bouncy castle and much more… (free barby lunch?? - no booze??)

Co. Limerick
Cost: Free

Organiser Name: Airticity
Contact person: Niamh McGrath
Telephone +353 1 6556 421

On Sunday 15-June-2008 11h00-15h00. At the Sonnagh Old Wind Farm in Loughrea, Co. Galway. An Open Day at Sonnagh Old Wind Farm with tours and talks. (what no barby?)

Name: Corr Na Gaoithe Teo
Contact person: Frank O’ Domhnaill
Telephone: 094 - 9548281

On Sunday 15-June-2008 9h00 - 17h00. The Dundalk Institute of Technology Wind Turbine Open Day. All are welcome to visit during the day with tours and talks. Location is Dundalk Institute of Technology Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland (This one had no grub - so don't go hungry - but it has one of Ireland's most knowledgeable wind experts, my friend Dr Larry Staudt - say Hi to Larry for me!!)

Name: Dundalk IT
Contact person: Larry Staudt
Telephone: 042 937 0574 + 086 387 0858


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Wood Pellet Price Comment


Maybe Its Just the Way Its Phrased

Normally I just publish most comments as they come - unless they are either a bit silly or somewhat discourteous in tone. Here is an example of one which appears to come close to fitting into both of those categories.

So why the heck have I published it then? Well to be honest, it gives me an excuse for a bit of a rant and you regular readers all know how I love/need the odd rant. As well I get to answering back!

Jopin has left a new comment on your post "Wood Pellets Cost More than Oil":

With all due respect, my friend, ( I am not your friend, at least not yet - and that type of opening address generally implies anything but respect) these conclusions are flat out WRONG. (no doubt you base your assertion on your research - can you quote some of your research?) I heated my house last winter with wood pellets, and it cost 20% of what propane would have cost. (Propane is not a good comparison - but you offer nothing much to support your assertion in any case)

I know, you were discussing heating oil, fair enough. So maybe I can't really compare propane with oil. ( Ah!!! so - you cottoned-on!)

The other thing is that wood pellet prices do not change/increase as drastically as oil and gas. And, they are cheaper in the summer! (Stock up then!) (Oh really - I am so glad that you have found this to be the case. It is most certainly not the case in Ireland - where I live, and from where I base my perspective. Additionally in Ireland you dare not "stock up" on wood pellets for any length of time, unless you have the correct ultra dry storage facilities. This is because there is a big risk that they will turn back into the sawdust from which they are made. The reason this danger exists is because Ireland has a VERY damp climate, and if there is even the tiniest break in the integrity of the plastic bag, damp will seep in and the pellets will become a problem if not useless)

FYI, I did not buy in bulk either. I paid per-bag prices. Also, my wood pellet stove paid for itself in one winter! Future winters are just huge bonuses. (not in Ireland would a wood pellet stove pay for itself even in six winters at the prices they want here)

And, which fuel supply will run out first? (wood pellets ran out last year and oil did not - if oil runs out any time soon, how do you imagine they will manufacture or transport wood pellets?)

Maybe the difference is with the countries in which we live? Not sure. I'm in the North Eastern US.

(I live in Ireland - and my figures are based on REAL prices published by the sellers. I support my assertion with quoted figures. The price of wood pellets is escalating close enough to the rate of oil price increases, but with a little time lag. So far, it has followed faithfully, like a dog it's master. But I will apply my most trusted scientific principle - WAS - wait - and - see, keeping an open mind)


Thursday, June 05, 2008

A "real" PV Solar Installation Story


Real-World PV Installation

From an article written by Michelle Bennett
Published on May 24th, 2008 at:

I recently read a 'real' article about the installation of a thinfilm PV roof system being installed. The writer of the piece, Michelle Bennett, has kindly given me permission to quote her article. I found the piece interesting because it comes straight out from “the real world” and not from some overpaid spin doctors writing a load of business-speak aka “bull shine” for some speculative investment company or other.

Michelle writes:
Many people envision solar power as rigid silicon panels mounted on a roof. With thin film solar cells, you’re more likely to not see them, or even know they’re there. This article is about a real-life thin film solar project.

Not many bloggers are able to witness the technologies we research and write about. It’s one thing to be able to buy afford a cool “green” gadget (usually not very green), but another to see the many forms of solar, wind, geothermal, etc., which are always changing and developing around the world. So when my employer decided to go solar, you might imagine my excitement.

At the moment I work for Magco Inc., a Tecta America company. Tecta is a national commercial roofing corporation that can install green roofs, solar lighting, and solar panels alongside a variety of traditional roofing systems. This solar project is pretty straightforward: our building has a big, flat roof on top of a hill without any shade. You’d have trouble finding a sunnier spot for solar panels.

I was double delighted when I heard that they ordered thin-film solar! Naturally inquiring minds wanted to know: why and what kind?

Magco bought their solar from Uni-Solar, which produces triple-junction laminate panels. That means they laminate the photovoltaic chemicals onto a thin sheet of metal in three layers; each layer reacts to a different range of light. They also laminate a sealant on the panel to protect it from the elements. The benefit of this system is that it reacts better to low or indirect light. Think cloudy days and the hours around dusk and dawn, a. Uni-Solar’s panels operate around 12% efficiency, but they claim to out-perform other forms of PV solar in indirect light, which means they could produce more electricity in certain real-world conditions (cloudy days). The laminate production method also decreases cost because expensive silicon and mounting racks are not required.

These thin-film solar panels are glued straight onto the roof. (See picture.)

Magco chose these panels for another important reason: no roof penetrations. If you mount racks on your roof, you have to fasten them down. That means punching holes in the roof, which can void your warranty and even damage your roof if it’s not done right. Some solar systems, even silicon panels, have found ways to avoid these problems, and anyone looking into solar should ask about the integrity of their existing roof. Another bonus for Magco and thin-film solar was weight: these solar panels roll out like carpet and don’t weigh as much as silicon. That means Magco wouldn’t need to add any structural support. It does snow here, so weight is an important factor!

What about the electrical aspect? Special runners help connect and protect wires between panels and represent the only mounted equipment in the system. The wires eventually find their way to a big inverter inside the building, which feeds the electricity to us. A 2-way power meter can then feed any excess electricity back into the grid. Simple, right? Well, for a project this big and complicated you’d definitely want to hire some professionals. If you mix up which-wires-go-where, you could make some very expensive mistakes or just rob yourself of some of your solar power.

What if you and your neighbours want to go solar but can’t afford it? Bulk your order and get it done at the same time. Combining your orders will reduce costs in man-hours and equipment (think crane rentals). Naturally you can also get a better deal on the panels themselves if you buy in larger quantity.

Images Courtesy of Patrick Bollinger. Thank you Patrick!

In answer to my comment and request to copy material MichelleBennett said on May 28th, 2008 at 9:48 am @ Tony:

I wish I could give you (and all our other readers) some real numbers for this panel on any given day, but at the moment they’re still finishing the last of the electrical work. Who knew there were so many wires?

I’m not sure if Magco intends to monitor the real-world output of their solar panels (wouldn’t surprise me if they did). Unfortunately this is my last week working with the company, so I won’t be around to monitor the system myself. I do, however, have all the contact information I need to write a follow-up post in the future. Stay tuned.

Tony, you can feel free to quote away! I’m glad you like my article *that* much. Some link love would also be appreciated, of course. If you have any other questions, just let me know.

Michelle’s original piece can be seen at:

Michelle's articles are listed at:

Good luck to Michelle with her future career, and I look forward to updates on the Magco PV roof installation.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Floating Wind Turbines


Massive Floating Wind Turbines Planned
Note the helicopter for scale

Statoil Plan Floating Wind Turbines

(Adapted from a press relaease published 2008-05-23)

StatoilHydro plan to build a large floating wind turbine – a world first. Named Hywind, it is a prototype that will be tested over a two-year period offshore Karmøy. Later the idea appears to build more on a massive scale (see photo).

The company is investing approximately €50 million, with a planned start-up in autumn 2009.

The “HyWind” is based on floating concrete constructions familiar from North Sea oil installations. The project combines known technology in an innovative way. A modest sized 2.3 MW wind turbine is attached to the top of a so-called Spar-buoy, a solution familiar from production platforms and offshore loading buoys.

The rotor blade diameter is 80 metres. The nacelle will be 65 metres above the sea surface. The floatation element will have a draft of some 100 metres below the sea surface, and will be moored to the seabed using three anchor points. The wind turbine can be located in waters with depths ranging from 120 to 700 metres.

The pilot project will be built in Åmøyfjorden near Stavanger; the test location is 10 Km offshore Karmøy. The wind turbine itself is by Siemens. Technip will build the floatation element and have responsibility for the installation offshore. Nexans will lay cables to shore, and Haugaland Kraft will be responsible for the landfall.

“Floating wind power is not mature technology yet, and the road to commercialisation and large scale development is long. An important aspect of the project is therefore research and development,” says a representative.

For further information contact:
Øistein Johannessen, Information Manager for New Energy, StatoilHydro,
tel. + 47 970 79 693