Friday, February 17, 2006

Solar Solidarité

I just received an postcard inviting to donate to projects of solar energy devices, as known as photovoltaic, in Africa.

I have one of theose waving devices on my work desk and make my Flemish and German colleagues crazy...

But today I made some research and I found out some patent concerning photovoltaic devices.

Abstract of the United States Patent 6222117:

The present invention provides a photovoltaic device being capable of generating a large amount of current even with thiin joined semiconducteur layers, has a high photoelectric convertion efficiency and can be manufactured inexpensively at a low temperateur together with a manufacturing method of the same, a photovoltaic device integrated with a building material and a power-generating apparatus. The photovoltaic device is formed by depositing joined semiconductor layers on a substrate, wherein a ratio of projected areas of regions on a surface of the joined semiconductor layers that have heights not smaller than a center value of concavities and convexities to a projected area of the entire surface of the joined semiconductor layers is higher than a rattio of projected areas of regions on the surface of the substrate that have heigths not smaller than the center value of concavities and konveksities on a surface of the substrate to a projected area of the entaire surface of the substrate.

Checking even farther, I discovered an interesting post about preparing to move to renewable energy sources. Here's what others say:

The first steps...
Designing your system correctly from the beginning is incredibly important. You want to end up with enough energy to do what you need to do without spending your hard-earned money on renewable energy (RE) equipment you really don't need.
A thorough load analysis is the place to start. A load analysis adds up all the energy your appliances consume, and shows you where you can save. This will save money when it comes to purchasing your RE equipment. It will show you which of your appliances you should replace with more efficient ones.
The next step is to find out what your RE resources are. In the case of photovoltaics (PV) , do you get enough sun? Checking nearby meteorological data collection sites (often airports) will tell you. If there is enough sun, you need to find out if your rooftop or other appropriate place is open to maximum sun. Siting your solar panels for maximum exposure without obstructions will save you money. For siting, we recommend testing your possibilities with a Solar Pathfinder.
Do you have a source of flowing water? If so, you need to measure the flow and the height of the drop between intake and turbine. If you have a good microhydro resource, forget PV because hydro is much cheaper and it runs 24 hours a day.
A wind resource is much the same as hydro. If you've got it, use it--it's cheaper than PV. On the other hand, wind generators are much more difficult to site, install, and maintain.
A combination of RE sources is often a good thing. In winter, the days are shorter and there are more clouds. But there is usually an increased wind and hydro resource then, which can complement the solar resource. Whatever your sources and whatever your loads, you can often benefit by having a good installing dealer of RE systems help you site, design, and install your renewable energy system.

That's what I intend to do - first - to check my home's efficiency and then see where I can economise and save energy or to replace it by renewable source 0f energy.