Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lords of Creation

_Lords of Creation_ by Frederick Lewis Allen
NY:  Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1935

(2)  The amiable William McKinley sat in the White House;  Senator Mark Hanna, to whom the welfare of big business and the welfare of the country were almost indistinguishable, stood behind McKinley, ready with encouragement and advice;  business men felt sure that the affairs of the United States would be managed with a conservative regard for the rights and privileges of property.

(8)  [NJ Governor James B.] Dill suggested passing a law which would permit companies incorporated in New Jersey to hold the stock of other corporations.  Such a law was duly passed, to the immense benefit of the state treasury, which fattened - as other state treasuries were later to fatten - on the fees resulting from an extension of the privileges of property.
NB:  The birth of the holding company

(65)  The one sure victor in the battle [over railroads between Harriman and Morgan] - a battle which from any broad social point of view, considering the railroads as public carriers rather than as pawns in a game of grab, appeared almost completely senseless - was the principle of consolidation and concentration of capital.   

(84)  After all, there are few things as dull as greed.

(95-96)  The earliest Americans had fled from Europe to escape governmental pressure;  the pioneer had been perforce a rugged individualist;  the belief had almost inevitably grown up that govenrment interference with private business was the beginning of tyranny, and that to resist the intrusions of government into economic operations was to play the part of a conserver of American liberties.  The law of supply and demand offered all the regulation which an American would tolerate.  One's business was one's private affair, like one's diet or one's underclothes.  A strange idea, it may seem, in view of the fact that great concentrations of capital could take into their own hands the administration of the law of supply and demand, and that what these men considered their private business intimately affected the lives of millions of men and women.  Yet emotionally it was a potent idea.  (To some, it still is.)

(117)  Presently he [Charles W. Morse] went into banking, for he too had discovered that it is convenient for a speculator and promoter to have access to depositors' funds.  He borrowed large sums through "dummies" to finance his private operations;  at one time, for example, his bank lent him a hundred thousand dollars in his stenographer's name.  And he had made the further discovery that it was possible through a succession of borrowings to gain control of bank after bank.  The Morse technic was simple:  borrow money and buy the controlling shares in a bank;  then put up these shares as collateral against another loan of money, with which you buy another bank, and so on.  As soon as you control the bank it becomes quite simple to have such loans to yourself approved - and other loans, too, with which you may promote other coampanies and play the market.

(168)  ...all drastic reform is deflationary.

(174)  The way in which an affiliate was organized was a beautiful example of the legerdemain fo the corporation lawyer.  Suppose the national bank which found the legal limitations of national banking cumbersome was fortunate enough to have built up a huge surplus, as were Baker's First National and Stillman's National City Bank.  Out of this surplus it now declared a huge dividence to its stockholders, proposing that the money (which now technically belonged to the stockholders) be straightway invested in a new company, the affiliate.  This new company would have the same directors as the bank;  it would have the same officers;  it would occupy the same quarters;  its stock would not be salable except along with the stock of the bank - and yet it would not be a national bank, but a corporation empowered by state charter to embark in almost any business it chose!  It might hold the stock of other banks, it might speculate, and the Comptroller of the Treasury could not object.  It was outside his jurisdiction.

(195)  [July 1914 on the beginning of WWI] The New York Stock Exchange was closed at once, to remain closed for months;  if it had not been, the rush of European investors to convert their American securities into money against the unpredictable emergencies of war financing would have knocked prices down to the bottom, undermined bank loans, and imperiled the whole financial structure.

(196)  ...not until the first of April, 1915, a full eight months after the invasions of Belgium by the Germans, was it considered to open the New York Stock Exchange to unrestricted trading.

(213)  There is no surer engine of inflation than war.

(237)  If we accept the careful estimates in _Recent Economics Changes_, we may say that during the 1922-27 period, while the output of each factory worker was increasing by 3.5 per cent a year, his earnings were increasing by 2.4 per cent a year.  A considerable increase;  but not quite enough - if these estimates are accurate - to give him the ful benefit of the improvements in technique, especially as the cost of living rose slightly in the interval.  And it is interesting to note that during the 1923-27 period the profits of industrial corporations increased by as much as 9 per cent a year, which suggests that part of the benefit of these improvements was being drawn off at the top in ellarged dividends.  Apparently, too, the drawing-off process was accentuated in 1928-29.

(244)  Holding companies were legion now;  indeed, to a large extent the economic history of the nineteen-twenties is the history of the holding company....

The most extraordinary device of all for achieving concentration was an extension of the holding-company device:  what became known as "pyramiding" - namely, the organizing of holding comapnies to control holding compnaies which in turn controlled other holding compnaies - and so on almost ad infinitum.

(266)  NB:  Samuel Insull as a scapegoat the way Bernie Madoff is a scapegoat for much wider and wilder machinations.

(306)  And so the process [of credit inflation] continues;  not to the bitter end, of course, for each time you or I draw a check we thereby reduce the total amount of money which the bank can lend;  but far enough to make the amount of check money in the country from five to ten times as great as the amount of currency.

(306-307)  To hear some people discuss inflation, one might suppose that the only possible kind of inflation were that which can be brought about by the government through the use of the printing press, printing greenbacks;  but banking or credit inflation of the sort described above has been a normal financial process for a very long time and has come about as the joint result of innumerable acts of judgment on the part of thousands of individual bankers as they received deposits and made loans.

(328)  ....the speculative spirit of the nineteen-twenties saw its most dazzling future in raising the standard of living, not of the poor, but of the rich, by providing for them loftier and more luxurious offices and more lordly dwellings.
NB:  Them that got shall get....

(354)  John T Flynn's Security Speculation

(366)  ...a banker's name does not become a household word in America until he is investigated.

(395)  America was beginning to pay the inevitable price for a long chain of events:  the general acceptance of the theory that the way to prosperity was through having as many people as possible buy securities which could be converted into cash at short notice;  the acceptance of the theory that the way to make such instant conversion possible was through encouraging margin speculation;  the widespread craze for common stocks as the cream of investments - and of vehicles for margin speculation;  and the consequent conversion of the market for common stocks into a great gambling casino.
NB:  ESOTs and 2008 housing collapse

(399)  In order to scatter prosperity about once more, Hoover asked Congress to cut the income tax.  He also advocated a public-works campaign to take up any possible slack in employment, thus taking a leaf out of a different book of economics.

(405)  Even in the terrific year of 1932, when the corporations of the country were collectively more than five and a half billion dollars in the red, they were still paying dividends to the extent of more than four billion dollars;  and of these four billions, over a billion and a half was paid by companies which were actually losing money.

(408)  According to the estimates of Berle and Pederson, the total of liquid claims in the United States had never amounted to more than 20 per cent of the national wealth until 1912;  between 1912 and 1922 it had gone up to about 25 per cent;  by 1930 it had shot up to 40 per cent.  A liquid investment had its advantages for the individual:  he felt safer if at any moment he could turn his holdings into money.  But the existence of a large proportion of liquid investments enornously increased the chances of panic.

(414)  The situation [in 1931] which thus arose contained, perhaps, a certain element of ironic humor.  Now financial magnates who still cried out for "less government in business" and inveighed against "the dole" could go, hat in hand, to Washington and get the government to put itself into business by giving a dole of credit to their banks or their railroads.  The apostle of rugged individualism had taken the longest step in American history toward state socialism - though it was state socialism of a very special sort.
NB:  Socialism for the rich, laissez-faire for the poor

(439)  If the people at Washington wanted men to do business, why pester and frighten them with investigations, regulations, and prohibitions?  The principal reason, of course, was that the people at Washington knew that reform was long overdue (indeed, it is interesting to note that some of the changes brought about in 1933 and 1934 had been recommended by the Pujo committee twenty years earlier!)...

(443)  In the second place, the Roosevelt program involved a deliberate recogntion of the end of laissez-faire.  For the first time in American history, the government definitely assumed responsibility for the functioning of the American economy.  The measures which Roosevelt put into effect were not by any means revolutionary;  this assumption was.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Renewables Changing the Electrical Grid

One of the possibilities I see in Hubevents and Hubeventsnotes is that more people than just me would go to public lectures and share their notes.  My friend Ambrose Spencer has made that possibility a reality with this report on the way the electrical is changing under the onslaught of renewables.
"From a letter to a policy analyst at the state level. 
"Last month BASEA ( highlighted community solar with speakers from Harvard, from Next Step and from the new net metering task force the Net metering and Solar task force.  
"Yesterday I went to hear Francesco Starace, CEO and general manager, Enel Group.  
ENEL is one of the largest owners of electricity system infrastructure in the world.   
Meeting Tomorrow’s Energy Challenges: Why Technology will Define our Energy Future (Mr. Francesco Starace)He said that Italy has gone a long way to the smart grid. 
For 10 years Italy has had smart meters. 
They have been building their smart grid for more than 10 years.
And now they have real time pricing for all commercial and residential customers.
And such a blessing.  People are actually cutting back when the price of electricity is high. 
Another thing he showed is that, in the summer when the sun is shining, the solar installed, about 15 percent of the connected generation, 
has been able to bring down the daytime peak for conventional generation to within just several percentage points of what it is is at 1 am in the middle of the night.. 
I should add that the real time pricing plays a large part of this.  
"But the reason I write is this.   
First, it will be very important for the work of the task force when they begin to consider the alternatives to net metering, especially virtual net metering for community solar, in an effort to rationalize the pricing of the primary and ancillary services provided by the transmission grid and by the distribution grid, that the task force be sure to consider the options in the context of real time pricing for all customers.   
"A few months ago I wrote about distributed generation in the northern part of Jutland in Denmark, where a district heating plant of several Megawatts, is providing ancillary services that include balancing on pricing signals, and also grid stability, specifically voltage and frequency control.  Denmark knows that their future, which includes a lot of distributed generation, both district heating CHP and micro CHP, and they know wind will be able to carry the whole load at times and the district heating assets will be able to carry almost all of the electrical load when the renewables are unavailable.  And so logically they know that they will need to balance the grid and control it with wind or CHP and other distributed resources; large plants will be in decline as a share of the resources until there is not a large enough resource in the large plants to do the grid stability in the conventional manner.   
Batteries have been seen as the future for incorporating larger and larger fractions of fluctuating renewables into the grid.   
"Simulation modeling for engineering design and for economic feasibility in Denmark and in Germany show that this not true beyond a day or two, or the weekend at the very most.   
"Wind lulls there are as long as 5 days and sometimes 12 days.   
"ENEL sees that a much more valuable service, in the beginning, will be for batteries to play a major role in balancing services and in voltage and frequency control.
"If ENEL is correct about this, in Denmark they will not have to install voltage and frequency control and automatic dispatch into as much of their distributed generation;   some of this can be done manually or conventionally by treating aggregates of resources the way large sources provide for stability today; and letting batteries do a lot of the work.   
"Denmark may choose to continue on their path and Italy on theirs.  
"Another benefit from using batteries is that it reduces the amount of needed spinning reserve.  
"And further this use of batteries will make microgrid and cellular grid and other islanding options much easier. Back up generation does not respond instantly.  Electronic controls for governing the flow of current into and out of a battery can happen instantaneously and with great precision.   
"Even if the present government in Washington does not choose to take up a worthy future for our posterity, the rest of the world is providing some of the lessons that will be needed.  
"Starace from ENEL said that much of the grid will need to become bidirectional.  In a question afterwards, I gave the situation of a valley and uplands.  the population and the district heating are mostly in the valley and the wind mostly in the uplands,   Clearly some of the grid will need to be bidirectional.   
"Francesco Starace spoke at the Shorenstein center of the JFK School at Harvard.  It was sponsored jointly by The Harvard Environmental Economics Program with the Consortium for Energy Policy Research at Harvard University
"The meetings of the Electricity Restructuring Roundtable in Boston are archived;  The archives are for speakers who have given presentations in the past.  Some of them have spoken on one of these subjects. I have written to a couple of engineers who have been involved in development of distributed generation resources; and I to stay in touch with these subjects and the decision that  are being made."
Ambrose R Spencer. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

_The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV__ by WH Lewis

_The Splendid Century_ by Warren Hamilton Lewis [brother of CS Lewis]
Garden City, NY:  Doubleday Anchor Books, 1953

(15)  She [Henriette Anne, sister of  Charles II of England and wife of Philippe, brother of Louis XIV] had indeed learnt in the expressive phrase of the time, how steep are the stairs of the charitable.

(33)  cunctations - from cunctari to hesitate, delaying actions

(43)  kibes - A chapped or inflamed area on the skin, especially on the heel, resulting from exposure to cold; an ulcerated chillblain. [Middle English kybe.

(51)  pantler - The servant or officer, in a great family, who has charge of the bread and the pantry. 

(111)  delations - (Law) (formerly) to bring a charge against; denounce; impeach. 2. (Law) to report (an offence, etc). 3. (Broadcasting) to make known or public.  
Chiefly Scot. to inform against; denounce or accuse. 2. Archaic. to relate; report: to delate an offense. Origin Expand. Latin. 1505-1515. 1505-15; < Latin dēlātus

(126)  peculator - to steal or take dishonestly (money, especially public funds, or property entrusted to one's care); embezzle
pecūlātor (“embezzler”), from Latin pecūlor (“I embezzle”), from Latin pecūlium (“private property”). 

(136)  And again [Louis XIV] to Beaufort in the same year:  “I want to know if Captain Laurier leaves a wife and children, so that I may do something for them, being anxious that people shall see that those who die in my service continue to live in my memory.”

(137)  But the radical unsoundness of the [military field] hospital organization engendered constant abuses, which could be checked, but not eradicated;  for the hospitals were let out to contractors at a fixed rate per patient, and a dishonest contractor had therefore every inducement to spend as little as possible on the unfortunates in his charge.  But with Louvois as Secretary of War, he did so at considerable risk;  in 1683 the Secretary detects frauds being perpetrated by the hospital contractor of Alsace, and gives judgement in  letter to the Intendant.  The offending contractor is to be led by the common hangman through every hospital ward in the province, wearing sandwich boards with the legend _fripon public_ [public knave/rogue/fraud], after which he is to be banished for life.

If Louvois did not entirely succeed in his struggle to stamp out indiscipline, he at any rate never relaxed his efforts to do so;  but circumstances, the whole tone of society, were against him.  And, oddly enough, it was Louvois who was responsible for much of the indiscipline against which he himself strove.  With a naiveté  remarkable in so able a man, he imagined that it was feasible to incite French armies to commit murder, rape, robbery, and arson for so long as it suited his strategical objective, and that then, on the word “halt,” the troops would once more become models of soldierly discipline.  It is some little consolation for the atrocities committed by Louvois’ orders in Holland in 1672 and in Germany in 1689 to know that the damage thereby done to French morale was a major factor in bringing about the ultimate ruin of his master’s plans.

(162)  Fire brigades did not exist before 1699, and, somehow or other, the Capuchins had become expert firefighters;  in emergencies, in which the modern Londoner dials “fire,” the seventeenth-century householder sent for the Capuchins.

(182)  …whilst St. Ambrose watched over the bees.

(216)  [Evelyn in 1644 on the galley convicts/slaves]  Their rising and falling back at their oare is a miserable spectacle, and the noise of their chains with the roaring of the beaten waters has something of strange and fearful to one unaccustomed to it.  They are rul’d and chastiz’d by strokes on their backs and soles of their feete on the least disorder and without the least humanity;  yet they are cherefull and full of knavery.

(277)  Boileau was much given to dining out, and set much store by the virtue of punctuality - “A man’s faults, sir, are always brought up when he keeps the company waiting."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy

_Let It Shine:  The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy_ by John Perlin
Novato, CA:  New World Library, 2013
ISBN 978-1-60868-132-7

(xi)  The authoritative global network REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) reports that in 2012, one-fifth of the world’s electricity and one-sixth of the world’s total delivered energy was renewable.  Half the world’s new electricity-generating capacity added each year since 2008 has been renewable, and so is one-fourth of global and one-third of European generating capacity.  Excluding big hydroelectric dams, modern renewable power (chiefly wind and solar) adds more than 80 billion watts of capacity each year and receives a quarter trillion dollars of annual private investment, and in 2011 invested its trillionth dollar since 2004 - all despite subsidies generally smaller than what its nonrenewable competitors get.

(xix)  Twenty-five hundred years ago, for example, the sun heated every house in most Greek cities.  

(xx)  And as electricity began to power cities, the first photovoltaic array was installed on a New York City rooftop in 1884.

(5) The first account of the use of the gnomon for building comes from the Zhou dynasty, which was established sometime before the twelfth century BCE.  Zhou government officials considered proper orientation too important to be left to chance, and so they instructed builders to establish the cardinal points of the compass for exact siting.  The book _Zhouli_, which contained the rituals and rules established by the dynasty, explained how this would be accomplished.  Builders first had to determine when the equinoxes and solstices occurred, which could be pinpointed by studying the shadows cast by the gnomon.  The longest and shortest shadows of the year would mark the winter solstice and summer solstice, respectively.  When the shadow cast was half as long as the two solstice shadows, the observer would know that one of the two equinoxes had arrived.  At either equinox, the shadow cast by the rising sun would point west, and the shadow cast by the setting sun would point east.  Taking note of where the noon shadow fell, the observer would learn where true north and south lay.

(13)  Socrates according to Xenophon in the Memorabilia:  “Now in houses with a southern orientation, the sun’s rays penetrate into the porticoes [covered porches,] but in summer the path of the sun is right over our heads and above the roof, so we have shade…  To put it succinctly, the house in which the owner can find a pleasant retreat in all seasons… is at once the most useful and the most beautiful.”

[Soc:  "Do you admit that any one purposing to build a perfect house will plan to make it at once as pleasant and as useful to live in as possible?" and that point being admitted, the next question would be:
"It is pleasant to have one's house cool in summer and warm in winter, is it not?" and this proposition also having obtained assent, "Now, supposing a house to have a southern aspect, sunshine during winter will steal in under the verandah, but in summer, when the sun traverses a path right over our heads, the roof will afford an agreeable shade, will it not? If, then, such an arrangement is desirable, the southern side of a house should be built higher to catch the rays of the winter sun, and the northern side lower to prevent the cold winds finding ingress; in a word, it is reasonable to suppose that the pleasantest and most beautiful dwelling place will be one in which the owner can at all seasons of the year find the pleasantest retreat, and stow away his goods with the greatest security."

(13-14)  Aristotle:  “What type of housing are we to build for slaves and freemen, for women and men, for foreigners and citizens?… For well-being and health, the homestead should be airy in summer and sunny in winter.  A homestead possessing these qualities would be longer than it is deep:  and its main front would face south.”

(14)  People from neighboring towns participating in the break with Athens in 432 BCE moved to Olynthus for protection against Athenian retribution.  The increase in population forced the Olynthians to establish a new district, which its excavators called North Hill.  The latitude was approximately that of New York City and Chicago, and the temperature often dropped below freezing in winter.  Approximately twenty-five hundred people lived there.

North Hill was a planned community from the beginning.  starting from scratch, the settlers could more easily implement the principal ideas of solar architecture.  The town planners situated the new district of Olynthus atop a sweeping plateau and built the streets perpendicular to each other, just as the Chinese had, with the main streets running east-west.  In this way, all the houses on a street could be built with a southern exposure, assuring solar heating and cooling for all residents - in keeping with the democratic ethos of the period.

(15-16)  Olynthian builders usually constructed houses in a blocklong row simultaneously.  The typical dwelling had six or more rooms on the ground floor and probably as many on the upper floor.  These houses were usually a standard square shape and shared a common foundation, roof, and walls with the other houses of the block.  The north wall was made of adobe bricks, which kept out the cold north winds of winter.  If this wall had any window openings, they were few in number and were kept tightly shuttered during cold weather.

The main living rooms of a house faced a portico supported by wooden pillars running parallel to the south side of the building.  The portico led to an open-air courtyard averaging 320 square feet, which was separated from the street by a low wall.  The courtyard provided a place where the occupants could enjoy the outdoors with maximum privacy;  and sunlight, the home’s primary source of illumination and winter heat, entered the house through the courtyard.

The house’s earthen floors and adobe walls absorbed and retained much of the solar energy that came in through its window openings facing the courtyard.  In the evening, when the indoor air began to cool, the floors and walls released the stored solar heat and helped warm the house.  To prevent cold drafts from coming through the open portico into the house, some builders constructed a low above wall between the pillars of the portico, parallel to the south wall of the house, allowing for the warming rays of sun in winter, while shutting out the cold drafts below.

The Olynthian solar house design worked well in summer and winter.  When the summer sun was almost directly overhead - from about ten in the morning until two in the afternoon - the portico’s eave shaded the openings of the main rooms of the house from the sun’s harsh rays.  In addition, the closed walls and contiguous dwelling barred the entrance of the morning and afternoon sun into the east and west sides of the homes.

(20)  The Architect Edwin D Thatcher studied the solar-heating capability of rooms facing south to determine the feasibility of indoor nude sunbathing during the winter.  To simulate actual conditions, Thatcher relied on weather data for a climate similar to that of ancient Greece and western Turkey.  He found that a naked person sitting in the sunny part of such a room would be relatively comfortable on 67 percent of the days during the colder months of November through March. The room used for this study was not as well protected as an average Greek living room, however - and of course the residents of the latter would have been clothed most of the time.  It seems safe to say that for most of the winter the sun would have adequately heated the main rooms of a Greek solar-oriented home during the daytime.  When solar heat was insufficient, charcoal braziers could be lit.

(26)  Windows of glass or transparent stone were a radical innovation.  Colored glass had been used for decorative items for almost three thousand years, but the Romans were the first - in the first century CE - to use transparent materials to make windows that would let in light but keep out rain, snow, and cold.

(34)  Faventius and Palladius recommended an ingenious way to make the floor of a sun-heated winter dining room an ideal absorber of solar energy.  The technique had been invented earlier by the Greeks and passed on in the writing of Vitruvius.  A shallow pit was to be dug under the floor and filled with broken earthenware or other rubble, and atop this a mixture of dark sand, ashes, and lime was spread.  This formed a black floor covering that easily absorbed solar heat, especially during the afternoon.  The mass of rubble underneath stored large amounts of heat and released it later in the evening when the room temperature cooled.  Faventius assured village owners that such floors would stay warm during the dining hour and “will please your servants, even those who go barefoot."

(37)  Confucius, writing of life three thousand years ago, stated that every son who lived at home attached a bronze burning mirror (a fu-sui, later called a yang-sui) to his belt when he dressed for the day.  He would also attach a fire plow, a wooden tool that relied on friction to generate sparks for ignition.  On days when the sun shone, the boy would focus the solar rays onto wood and start the family fire;  on overcast days he would take out his fire plow and rub its wood stick back and forth in a wooden groove to do the same.  The yang-sui was as ubiquitous in early China as are matches or lighters today.

(39)  The Greeks used burning mirrors to light the flame that marked the beginning of their Olympic games.  Plutarch, the famous Greek biographer who wrote in the second century CE, stated that when barbarians sacked the Temple of Vesta - the temple tended by the Vestal Virgins at Delphi - and extinguished their sacred flame it had to be relit with the “pure unpolluted flame from the sun.”  With “concave vessels of brass” the holy women directed the rays of the sun onto “light and dry matter,” which was immediately ignited, and their flame burned anew.

(100)  The Flemish salt manufacturers, Cecil’s [Queen Elizabeth I’s chief economic adviser] men explained, built long, shallow, watertight troughs that opened to the sea.  When operators wanted to fill them, windmills opened the floodgates to let in the incoming tide.  Once enough seawater had run in, the gates were shut.  Then solar heat went to work on the water, which evaporated after several days in the sun.  Only salt remained.  Workers shoveled the salt out and more water was let in to repeat the process.  The English praised the solar saltworks as “a great help for the sparing of firewood."

(103)  In 1887, the amount of sun-made salt surpassed the quantity manufactured with coal.  Solar manufacture of salt had grown to the point that visitors to Syracuse [NY], looking down from a hill in the city, could see a wide and shallow valley all covered with brown wooden troughs open to the sun.

(108)  Many had warned of an impending fuel crisis - warnings largely ignored by the public.  But the devastating effects of a series of coal strikes around the turn of the century, culminating in a massive strike in the winter of 1902, threw “a new and lurid light on [these predictions,]… for many a home has been fireless and many a factory has closed its doors,” according to Harper’s Weekly.  Charles Pope, author of Solar Heat, one of the first books on solar energy, agreed:  “The year of 1902 has added an awful chapter to the history of our need of a new source of heat and power,” he wrote.

(124)  [St Louis’ Willsie Sun Power Company solar power plant in 1904] As the sun warmed the water it traveled to a boiler, where ammonia was heated to produce a high-pressure vapor that drove a 6-horsepower engine.  Through condensation the ammonia returned to its liquid state and flowed back to the boiler.  The water circulated back to the collectors in a separate cycle.

The plant ran on sunless days and at night as well, when an auxiliary boiler powered by conventional fuel took over.  Newspapers in Saint Louis and New York announced the success of this twenty-four-hours-a-day solar-powered generator.

(125)  The solar-heated water produced during daytime operation [of Needles, CA in 1908] flowed from the collectors into an insulated tank.  The amount of water needed at the time went on to the boiler;  the rest was held in reserve.  After dark, when a valve to the storage tank was opened, hot water flowed out and passed over the pipes containing sulfur dioxide, and the engine could continue working.  Willsie could rightly claim, "This is the first sun power plant… ever operated at night with solar heat collected during the day."

(130)  He [Frank Shuman] first built a 1-foot-square hot box with blackened tubes inside that held ether, a low-boiling-point liquid.  The solar-heated ether vapor drove a tiny engine, the kind that was commonly sold in toy stores at the time for a dollar.  Shuman tried using a similar collector to run an engine somewhat larger than the first and was able to produce 1/8 horsepower.
NB:  1/8 hp is about the power a person can put out.

(139)  The Meadi plant could operate twenty-four hours a day.  A large insulated tank, similar to the one used by Willsie and Boyle, held excess hot water for use at night or during overcast or rainy days.  This enabled the engine to drive a conventional irrigation pump at all hours and in all weather, further increasing the efficiency of the plant.

Shuman set up a public demonstration of his sun-driven engine in late 1912.  But the boiler reached temperatures too close to the melting point of the zinc pipes.  Consequently the metal began to sag until, according to one observer, the pipes “finally hung down limply like wet rags.”  The trial run and to be postponed while the zinc pipes were replaced with cast iron.

(139-141)  Shuman’s solar engine compared very favorably to a conventional coal-fed plant.  True, the solar plant still had an enormous ratio of collecting surface to horsepower produced - exceeding 200 square feet per horsepower.  And the purchase price, at eighty-two hundred dollars, was double that of a conventional plant [but had a payback period of 4 years with coal at $15-40/ton]
NB:  25 square feet for 1/8 horsepower

(189)  Estimates of the total number of installations made in the Miami area between 1935 and 1941 vary widely - from twenty-five thousand to sixty thousand.  More than half the Miami population used solar-heated water by 1941 and 80 percent of the new homes built in Miami between 1937 and 1941 were solar equipped.

(190)  The federal government purchased some of the largest solar-heating systems, putting them in the officers’ quarters at the giant naval air station in Opa-Loka, outside of Miami, as well as in the Edison and Dixie Court housing projects, which had a combined population of 530.  In 1941, solar water heaters outsold conventional units in Miami by two to one.

(221)  All houses should be directed toward the sun, all of humanity should live in sunlight - Bernhard Christoph Faust [1824]

(223)  All Buildings of Men Should Face towards the Midday Sun (Zur Sonne nach Mittag sollten alle Haüser der Menschen gerichtet seyn) [book title]

(223-224)  “The sole aim of life is the correct orientation of buildings to the midday sun.  Everything else fades compared to the sun and its benefits - to receive the sun in its greatest abundance, the most important gift that God gave to man and animal."

(229)  [1826] Bavaria’s most respected technologist, Anton Camerloher, the royal Bavarian engineer first class, learned of Faust’s solar building principles through [Gustav] Vorherr [state architect for Bavaria, head of the state-run school of building arts, and publisher of the Monthly Journal for Building and Land Improvement].  After submitting these strategies to rigorous scientific analysis, he declared them “well founded” and enthusiastically joined Vorherr in his fight for their implementation in construction throughout the region.  Camerloher’s opinion on the Faustian doctrine greatly influenced King Joseph Maximilian to mandate implementation of Faust’s teaching in the construction of all new public and communal buildings in Upper Bavaria.  Several years later the Bavarian government published the basics of Faust’s solar building principles with the intent of guaranteeing that “all districts, police, and building departments in the Isarkreis [Upper Bavaria] will give these architectural ideas special attention and support.”  Other German States, such as Hessen and Prussia, followed suit.

(231)  Two municipalities lost to fire were reconstructed in line with Faust’s tenets - Schwaboisen in Bavaria and Palotsay in Hungary.

(235)  In 2009 the United Nations chose La Chau-de-Fonds as a World Heritage site.  The selection was made, according to the World Heritage Site web page, because of the “‘rationalist’ principles… adopted[,] which addressed the relationship between living conditions and ‘health.’  A town plan was developed in 1835 designed by one of Pestalozzi’s pupils (Charles-Henri Junod) and inspired by an ideal town called ‘Sonnenstadt,’ planned in 1824 by a Dr. Bernhard Christoph Faust.  Features included having most houses facing onto small gardens receiving the midday sun.”

This monument to Faust’s dream resonates with his exclamation written more than 150 years before the city’s selection as a World Heritage Site:  “Oh people, face your houses toward the midday sun to give yourselves and your children and their children until the tenth generation the warmth, life, power, joy and blessings of the sun."

(248)  One study cited by the panel [of the League of Nations] showed that a building which opened to the north needed 17 percent more heat during the winter than did a similar structure facing south.  Such findings led to the conclusion that proper siting could go a long way to holding down heating and ventilating costs for householders.

(248-249)  One of the largest and most sophisticated examples was the Swiss community of Neubuhl, now a district of Zurich.  Seven young architects organized Neubuhl as a cooperative housing project.  The two hundred apartments ranged from small bachelor residences to family dwellings with six rooms.  These units were apportioned among thirty-three separate structures perched on a mountain slope. Almost all the buildings faced south or slightly southeast and were spread far enough apart so that no building blocked another’s solar access during winter.  every unit received the same number of hours of sunlight in winter. [1930s?]

(266)  His [Keck] opportunity came in 1940, when he designed a house for an old friend, Howard Sloan, a Chicago real estate developer….  [Sloan] “The house was opened to the public in September as the Solar House.  On one Sunday we had 1,700 visitors.  The demand of the public was such that I subdivided 10 acres into 38 lots and opened it in April, 1941.  [Although] Hitler was overrunning countries in Europe, customers were becoming jittery, [and] prices were going up, houses sold faster than we could build them."

(296)  A solar-heating system there [Tucson, Arizona] could be expected to carry a much higher percentage of the heating load - especially if heating at night were not required.  Such was the case in the first solar-heated public building, Rose Elementary School, which was designed by Arthur Brown and built in 1948.

(299)  George Löf used another solar hot-air system, similar to the one he had developed in Boulder, to heat his newly built, ranch-style home in Denver, Colorado.  In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the engineering firm of Bridgers and Paxton built the first solar-heated office building in 1956.  This system cooled the building in summer.

(303)  [1873 - discovery of photovoltaic effect on selenium by Willoughby Smith]

(305-306)  [Charles Fritts] He spread a wide, thin layer of selenium onto a metal plate and covered it with a thin, semitransparent gold-leaf film.  This selenium module, Fritts reported, produced a current “that is continuous, constant, and of considerable force[,]… not only by exposure to sunlight, but also to dim diffuse daylight, and even to lamplight."

(330)  The photovoltaics industry also got its first significant opportunity to power land operations with the oil and gas industry during the mid-1970s.  Underground aquifers frequently contain salt water, which corrodes well casings and pipelines.
NB:  First non space applications for oil and gas warning bouys at sea, anti-corrosion on land.

(334)  In the fall of 1976, Hunts Mesa became the first solar-powered microwave repeater site in North America and one of the first in the world.

(354)  By 1977, fully 60 percent of California’s 250,000 pools were solar heated.

(386-387)  That Village Homes has not been replicated may be a result of timing.  As that neighborhood really started to take off, Ronald Reagan took office, and his administration’s dim view of solar energy still haunts us today.  An example of that administration’s anti solar bias is its reception of the document _Review of the Demonstration Program of Solar Heating and Cooling Technologies_, which arrived at the White House during Reagan’s inauguration.  The Department of Energy had paid the highly reputable consulting firm Arthur D. Little a quarter of a million dollars to complete the study.  The lead author did not consider the study controversial.  It outlined high expectations for what solar energy could accomplish if properly funded.  “The following day,” one of the members of the staff that produced the report recalled, “word came from the Reagan team:  ‘Do not release this report… copies are to be destroyed… no secret printings… no discussions.’”  And this was accompanied by a threat:  “If any word gets out, Arthur D. Little will not be compensated.”  The staff member added, “I had never witnessed anything so brutal.  There were no pretensions of free speech.  It was swift and ruthless.  One of the chilliest moments of my life.”  Under the Reagan administration, “solar bodies got decimated,” recalled Edgar DeMeo, director of photovoltaic research at the Electric Power Research Institute in the 1980s.  “Reagan dealt the renewable movement a crippling blow,” he added.  Doug Balcomb summed up the destruction brought about by Reagan:  “The president said in the 1980s, ‘The energy crisis, it’s been solved;  there wasn’t any problem left.’  So people weren’t concerned about it anymore, [since] people tend to follow that kind of a lead.  The few of us left working in the solar field in the 1980s were pretty lonely.  The momentum had evaporated."

(396)  In fact, the heat that such solar-energy systems [pool heaters and passive solar houses] harvest is far more compatible with house and pool heating than the energy that fossil fuels and nuclear power plants supply.  Very little energy is wasted, since the collection occurs on-site, doing away with the huge infrastructure required for supplying fossil-fuel and nuclear energy.  And when solar heating takes the place of electrical heating, it does away with the need to initially raise temperatures hundreds of degrees to run turbines, and the need to transport the resulting electricity hundreds, if not thousands, of miles in order to deliver the power to homes - which require a temperature increase of only 30 or 40 degrees, if not less, for household comfort.

Solar pool heating and solar architecture also demonstrate the power of aggregation.  each solar pool-heating system is small, but the combined heat produced by all such systems as of 2013 is equivalent to that produced by approximately five nuclear power plants.

(377)  “The highest average heat value of sunlight occurs about [the time of day] when it is most needed - at mid-day on the winter solstice,” and “a south wall receives almost _five_ times as much heat from the sun in winter as it does in summer” [Tod Neubauer’s emphasis in a study of natural heating and cooling of buildings from UC Davis]

(381)  He [Tod Neubauer] came up with one simple equation for success, a simple formula that Neubauer called the two-percent rule for finding the length of the required overhang on the south face:  multiply by .02 the height of the south-facing window(s) by the latitude.

(381-382)  The data collected and interpreted were translated into America’s first solar-energy ordinance, a reflection of Neubauer’s design ideas.  Journalist James Ridgeway succinctly explained the new ordinance:  “the basic idea… is that new housing built in Davis shall not experience an excessive heat gain in summer nor excessive heat loss in winter.”  It allowed builders two choices.  The first was a prescriptive path that stipulated a south orientation;  the majority of windows would be on the south side, and a minimum of windows would be on the east and west sides and shaded either by eaves, drapery, or vegetation.  The second path permitted more leeway as long as the building conformed to the designated heating and cooling loads set by the city.

(389)  Only subsidies in the form of tax credits, and the big jumps in oil prices in 1973 and 1979, kept the solar water-heater industry growing.  It grew from only twenty thousand solar water heaters installed during 1978 to nearly a million total by the end of 1983.

(390)  When the price of oil dropped in the mid-1980s, the Israeli government did not want people backsliding, as had happened in other parts of the world.  And so it required citizens to continue heating their water with the sun, by mandating the use of solar water heaters in buildings with more than four stories - in which the majority of Israelis live.  At the time of this writing, more than 90 percent of Israeli households own solar water heaters, making Israel the second-largest per capita user of such heaters.

(392)  Barbados is the third-largest per capita consumer of solar hot water.  In the 1930s, Florida solar water-heater companies exported their products to the Caribbean.  Some of these were sold in Barbados, but the Barbados solar water-heater story didn’t really get started until 1964….

Solar Dynamics’ new entry became the first solar water heater in the world to guarantee temperature performance adequate for all domestic-hot-water needs.

(395)  [Austria]  From the self-build groups emerged a national grassroots movement called the Renewable Energy Working Group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Erneuerbare Energie).  The working group set up information centers and workshops to inform the public about, and to teach them to build, solar water heaters.
Michael Ornetzeder, “Old Technology and Social Innovations.  Inside the Austrian Success Story on Solar Water Heaters,” Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 15, no 1 (2001)
Michael Ornetzeder and Harald Rohracher, “User Led Innovations and Participation Processes:  Lessons for Sustainable Energy Technologies,” Energy Policy 34, no 2 (2006)

(397-398)  The success of Ærø Island [Denmark] so impressed all of Europe that the European Union decided to fund the doubling of the collector area of the Marstal solar farm, add to it a boiler that would be heated by locally grown willow chips, and a reservoir to hold the excess solar heat collected in summer for winter use.  It would demonstrate to the world the efficacy of district heating solely with renewable energy.

(402)  The use of photovoltaics for individual remote homes in the developing world was pioneered by the French in Tahiti.  Ironically, it was the French Atomic Energy Commission that initiated the program in 1978.  The agency’s nuclear testing in Polynesia had not endeared it or the French government to the Polynesian people.  Public opinion had to be shored up.

(405)  With 2 percent of its rural populace relying on solar power for their electricity, Kenya became the first country where more people plug into the sun than into the national rural electrification program.  What is more amazing is that photovoltaics’ ascendency occurred without government help.

(411)  Donald Osborn, formerly director of alternative-energy programs at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, in California, outlined other advantages of on-site photovoltaic electrical generation, for both the consumer and the utilities.  “You reduce the electricity lost through long-distance transmission,” Osborn stated, which runs about 30 percent on the best-maintained lines.  Structures with their own photovoltaic plants decrease the flow of electricity through distribution lines at substation transformers, “thereby extending the transformers’ lives.”  “And for a summer-daytime-peaking utility,” Osborn added, “you can offset the load on these systems when the demand for electricity would be greatest,” helping to eliminate “brownouts in the summer and early fall.”  On-site photovoltaic-generated electricity also makes renewable energy economically more attractive than power generated by a large solar electric plant, because it “competes at the retail level rather than at the wholesale level” with other producers of electricity.

(440)  Few realize the value of solar energy today.  The value of the global photovoltaic market alone climbed to over $82 billion in 2010.

(442)  Oil received thirty times more in subsidies from the federal government than solar between 1950 and 2010.  The International Energy Agency Agency reported that in 2012 alone thirty-seven governments spent more than $523 billion subsidizing fossil fuels while assisting renewables with almost one-sixth the funding.

(446)  In California, the state’s revised Title 24 building standards for 2013 will also move solar further into the mainstream.  The new code requires that by 2020 all new residential housing and by 2030 all commercial buildings produce as much energy as they consume, a designation called net-zero energy.  The new building rules require photovoltaics on all rooftops.

To meet the demand for net-zero energy, many architects are combining older solar technologies - solar architecture and solar water heaters - with the newest, photovoltaics.  Solar  pioneer Steve Strong built the first net-zero-energy house back in 1979 by using such a strategy.  Back then, people called this type of structure “an energy independent house.”

(449)  But a new German program provides incentives for homeowners to combine photovoltaics with electricity storage, allowing homes to actually cut themselves from the grid.  The program will reduce the twenty-year cost of a PV system with storage to 10 percent less than one without.  Once again, Germany leads the way in photovoltaics, this time toward autonomous living with solar electricity.

(458)  Robert James Forbes, _Studies in Ancient Technologies_ (Leiden, Holland:  Brill, 1964)
James Ring, “Windows, Baths, and Solar Energy,” American Journal of Archaeology, no 4 (1996)

(487)  Michael Ornetzeder, “Old Technology and Social Innovations.  Inside the Austrian Success Story on Solar Water Heaters,”  Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 15, no 1 (2001)
Michael Ornetzeder and Harold Rohracher, “User Led Innovations and Participation Processes:  Lessons for Sustainable Energy Technologies,”  Energy Policy 34, no 2 (2006)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Christine Jones on Soil Carbon

Newton Community Farm

Deborah:  more carbon has come out of the soil than out of smokestacks and industry.

Flemish scientist (Van Helmand) from 1640s weighed soil in a tub, planted a willow in it, and after 5 years weighed the tree and weighed the soil.  The freeways over 149 pounds and the soil sighed only a few ounces less than originally.  The tree came from the air - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen.  Air is 78% N, 21% O, and all the rest are trace gases.  Carbon is only 0.04% of the atmosphere.

Most of the nitrogen fixing microbes refuse to be cultured in the lab.  Plants need about 60 different elements to grow and be healthy and associates with microbial and fungal communities in order to get them. Plants build soil at the roots through aggregates.  There's more water in the aggregate than outside and less oxygen than outside and right at the root tip in association with microrrhyzal fungi.  These aggregates can fix nitrogen even if they are not associated with legumes.  Bacteria can't fix nitrogen at atmospheric levels of oxygen.

Humus is formed inside the aggregates and needs 60% carbon, 8-10% nitrogen, 1-2% phosphorus, 0.8-1.2% sulfur to form, with the remainder being aluminum, iron….

Soil is 50% oxygen bound to other elements and 30% silicon, and then aluminum and iron (20%) which act as catalysts. Degrading soils have more free aluminum.

Humus is an organo-mineral complex formed inside the aggregates.  Humus is honey-colored, a gel-like substance and looks like crude oil under the microscope.

Organic matter in the soil breaks down into CO2 and plants take it up through the underside of the leaves. For some plants, this is the most important source of CO2. This is the soil respiration rate and this carbon can be the limiting factor in plant growth:  labile carbon.

Grasses build soils.  Van Helmand's experiment would have found that there was more soil in his tub than when he started.

90% of the roots of most plants are in the top 50 centimeters (18 inches) of the soil.

Measure of plant photosynthesis:  brixing
Superphosphate inhibits mycorrhizal fungi.

Grasses build soils through producing humus.  Grasses depend upon good soil and thus put carbon back into the soil.  Grasses build soil better than anything else.  Soil is a product of photosynthesis and microbial resynthesis so soil is not the base of the pyramid, photosynthesis is.  Only the growing root tips grow new soil and this active growing of grasses need grazing animals.

There is the decomposition pathway for carbon, catabolic pathway, and the liquid carbon pathway, an anabolic pathway which builds up humus which produces a non-labile form of carbon, stable carbon.  Increase our capacity for photosynthesis, becoming light farmers, never leaving bare ground.

Mycorrhizal fungi take carbon from the roots and provide other nutrients to the plants.  This is natural carbon trading.  Have a soil restoration credit rather than simply a commoditized carbon credit.  Every farm becomes a carbon sink rather than a carbon source.

Liquid carbon is where carbon is being moved to the most actively growing roots, at the depth of 12-16 inches.  Up to 80% of the carbon can become humus at a rate of up to 30 tons per year.  In humus, the carbon is in ring form rather than chains and is much harder to breakdown.

A healthy soil is a net sink for methane through methantrophs.

Annual grasses use photosynthesis more efficiently than perennials.

Cover crops:  ryegrass, vetch, clover for over winter
oats, field peas, buckwheat for winter kill
And do multi-species cropping.  Cocktail cover cropping.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Climate Changed

This book is a graphic novel about climate change.  The plot is the author educating himself about the issue and beginning to confront the implications of what he learns in the decisions he makes in his own life.  What is especially interesting is that the information and the experts he consults are all European.  For an American, that puts a slightly different spin upon things.

The detail and the discussion of the issues around climate change are deep and the references are long.  This is not a "comic book" examination but a fully researched and strongly felt narrative.

_Climate Changed:  A Personal Journey Through the Science_ by Philippe Squarzoni
NY:  Abrams ComicArt, 2014
ISBN 978-1-4197-1255-5

(58-59)  methane today 1.8 ppm atmosphere (200x less than CO2)
for last 400,000 years methane in atmosphere between 0.35 and 0.7 ppm
since 1750, the Industrial Revolution, methane in the atmosphere has doubled, from around 800 ppb to 1800 ppb or 1.8 ppm

(60) 30 million tons of methane (per year?) accumulate in the atmosphere
shorter atmospheric lifetime than CO2 [30 years?]
CH4, methane, 72x more effective infrared trapper than CO2
Nitrous oxides concentrate in lower levels of atmosphere
More than half of human emissions from nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture

(69)  ...the current concentration of CO2 is the highest since humans have been on earth 
the Cretaceous, 55 million years ago, had similar or higher levels
homo sap sap 200,000 years old

(90)  2004 Cyclone Catarina formed in the South Atlantic, once thought impossible

(95)  So what scientists are seeing when they make temperature measurements, analyze ice caps, tree rings - all those show that global warming is a reality.  Over the course of the 20th century the average surface temperature of the earth increased by 0.75º C [1.3º F]
half of that over the century’s final twenty years 
NB:  when we should have known better and had an environmental movement in place

(185)  After energy production, the industrial sector is the world’s next largest emitter of CO2 [16.8% industry]
It comes in first if we take into account all the greenhouse gases put together.
The production of basic materials - metals, glasses, cement, paper…
…accounts for 80% of emissions due directly to manufacturing for the gases combined.
The rest are emitted by the manufacture of finished goods.
In general, finished goods are thought to generate up to two times their weight in carbon emissions.

(212)  Today the contents of a typical shopping basket of twenty-five items travel an average of six times around the planet before reaching the consumer.

(213)  Over the first ten years of the century, emissions due to deforestation decreased from 20% to 10%.

(238)  A [sea-level] rise of a foot or more is unavoidable [in what time frame?]. And even at the stabilization point, the rise will be over a meter.
It is estimated that a rise in sea level of a little over 3 feet (1 meter) will result in the coastline receding an average of 110 yards - about 100 meters of retreat.

(239)  Sixteen out of twenty of the planet’s biggest metropolises are on the sea.  More than half the world’s population lives near a coast.

(244)  According to the world bank, 60 million people living in arid zones could migrate by 2020.
Every third-of-an inch (1-cm) rise in sea level means the displacement of a million people.  [3 million people displaced for every inch rise - a decade?]

(245)  It is estimated that there are already 25 to 50 million eco-refugees fleeing from drought, hurricanes, floods… and their migration is accelerating.

(314)  It’ll only take burning one-third of the known resources to explode past climate-changing thresholds.  If, however, we want to limit global warming in the long-term, that means at least half the reserves of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground.

(322)  Every year the sun sends the equivalent of 6,000 times our energy consumption to earth.

(341)  For example the Sleipner platform in Norway’s North Sea - the pioneer of this technology [carbon capture and sequestration] - buried 1 million tons of CO2 while emitting 900,000 tons into the atmosphere.

(344)  France may well generate 75% of its electricity from nuclear power but it still consumes more oil than its less nuclear neighbors.

(345)  If we add it [greenhouse gas emissions] all up starting at the uranium mines, it’s not a negligible amount.  You need to dig it up with machines, you have to transport it, treat it….
It comes out roughly to 2.1 ounces [60 g] of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.  Compared, for example, to 1.1 pounds [500 g] of CO2 for natural gas.  It’s better, but it’s not zero.  And it’s more than wind or solar.
…nuclear is only 2% or 3% of the world’s energy consumption.

(369)  The Negawatt Association ( developed an energy scenario of this type, based on typical needs, that combines energy conservation, energy efficiency, and development of renewable energy [to meet current needs with much lower consumption].
In combining conservation and efficiency we could reduce our energy consumption by a factor of 2 to 5 and meet all the same needs.

(406)  I believe that assuming there are limits is the only feasible public-policy approach.
Genevieve Azam is an economist studying the relationships between ecology, economy, and society.  She is a member of the scientific council of ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens -, an organization dedicated to developing sustainable globalization and ecological alternatives.

(441)  It may be useful to think about the theory of solidarism that statesman Leon Bougeois, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1920, first discussed in the 1890s.

(442)  “The individual does not exist in isolation” was his creed…
“Interdependent and interrelated,” Nicholas Delalande writes on this, “people are indebted to each other and to the generations that preceded them as well as to those who will succeed them.”

(447)  … the fact that the emissions market becomes speculative, and promotes the spread of financial trading into the area of climate control - the negative nature of which we’ve been exposed to in recent years - that should be avoided at all costs.

(449)  The fantasy surrounding the capitalist society also needs to change...
The example often used, of the conversion of the US economy [to support the war] during World War II, shows that, yes, we can achieve major changes without taking centuries…
What the United State did after Pearl Harbor to transform the automobile industry into an arms industry was only possible because there was no democratic for opposing it.

(464)  Earth Overshoot Day -

(465)  … the day when global consumption exceeds the renewable resources of the planet
and begins to tap into the reserves needed for the coming years.
In 1996, Earth Overshoot Day fell in November.  In 2007 it was October 6 [2014 now in mid-August]

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Silicon Solar Cells Transformed

David Ginley, NREL

The limitation of silicon solar is silver for contacts which maxes out at around 5 TWatt.  Single cell efficiency maximizes out at around 29% efficiency. Bell Labs first cells were 6% efficient.  World installed solar is .3 TWatts by 2014.
Chinese dominate the PV market because they are the only ones who built silicon plants when supply reached scarcity.
Panasonic has a 25.6% efficiency HIT cell [mono thin crystalline silicon wafer surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers] with contacts on the back .  SunPower has a 25% six inch cell built on their production line (but not in production yet).  Sharp also has a 25% cell.  
Theoretical efficiency of a single junction cell under 1000 sun concentration is around 33%.
25 year warranty but some companies are going to 35 with a possibility of 50 years and it is not the silicon cell with fails but the packaging or contacts.
Fifty cents per watt is the accessible price now.
University of New South Wales is working on thin film silicon, 20 microns rather than the 75 microns now used. 16.8% efficiency.
Tandem cells - silicon paired with other substances including  quantum dots, perovskites, theoretically to 34%
Multiple exciton generation (MEG) in colloidal silicon nanocrystals can theoretically go beyond the existing limits.  Two or three photons per carrier.