Steve Mandry's Comments

January 12, 2011

Is the Hornet Our Key to Renewable Energy?

This is so lame it can't be real. A grade school kid knows the basic premis of photosynthesis; that photon energy is converted to chemical compounds and plant structure. Chemical elements all exhibit some level of ph, which affects free electrons in the valence bands; therefore a voltage can be measured in almost anything, including plants and animals.Wow, what a breakthrough.

October 31, 2007

Making the Dumb Grid Smarter

As absurd as it may seem, PG&E is fairly typical of most electric utilities, who are nearly blind to customer outages. A Smart Grid can have many attributes, using different technologies. It can provide consumption information of each discrete load, allowing optimum design of transmission and distribution components, rather than costly over/under designs. It can automatically isolate grid faults, and minimize the number of customers affected. It can provide early warning of overloaded conductors, before damage occurs, and connect to parallel resources. And best of all, it can provide real time information on the impact of intermittent distributed generation (DG)resources, such as PV, wind, and storage systems, like as VTG.
This will be a win-win for both utilities, and the consumer.

October 31, 2007

U.S. Demand for Renewable Energy Exceeding Supply

Yes, it doesn't take Six Sigma to figure out what the root cause of this problem is, and new poly/mono silicon production is not increasing fast enough to meet balooning European and US demand. Thin-film production is ramping up, but won't hit it's stride for another year, and efficiencies are still sub-par. CSP and organics are barely out of the lab.
Clearly, this is a supply issue that could be mitigated by a coherent, long-term energy policy designed to reward investment in production facilities. Anyone know where we could find one---in the US, that is.

August 03, 2007

From 40.7 to 42.8 % Solar Cell Efficiency

Well, I hate to be supportive of the work of the devil Thomas, but I have to take issue with your comments. You are welcomed to retreat back into the little house on the prarie, if you wish, but then plan on spending about 90% of your waking hours scrounging for food, fighting off predators, and wondering if you'll live through another winter, or drought. Technology is not our enemy; it facillitates our natural yearning for a lifestyle full of diverse experiences, and comfortable existence. And yes, ENERGY is a significant component of technological progress.Have we gone too far? Perhaps. Some would suggest that modern lifestyles allow young and old to waste their time as couch potatoes, or avid gamers with no redeemable contributions to society---and technology/cheap energy has made that possible. Some might even question the value of this blog, where all this intellectual horsepower and critical thinking is not producing a single widget, or solving any problems. But I believe we have reached a tipping point, as my next post will explain.

August 03, 2007

From 40.7 to 42.8 % Solar Cell Efficiency

The tipping point I referred to above is the confluence of 1) widespread perceptions about global warming, 2) inevevitable taxes/caps on carbon emissions, 3)increased world-wide demand of all fuels and raw materials used in todays energy generation, 4) soon-to-be increased incentives from federal/state/local agencies to offset RE systems costs, and 5) significant improvements in raising the effeciency of concentrating PV. (Finally got back on track with the topic! ) The costs for fossil, and even nuclear fueled generation is about to dramatically increase---guarranteed. But I, like many of you here, am disappointed that nothing seems to be happening outside of the lab. In fact, I believe that the industry may be infected with group think; where they misinterpret the goal to be the objective. It's the old 80/20 rule; they think they MUST get to 50% efficiency (and now they are only about 80% there.) They, and others will probably spend 80% of the entire federal/private grant money pursuing that last 20% efficiency, and it may take years. Here's the ahah moment: the real objective is to obtain cost effective renewable energy. Hello?? Guess what? You're there!! Continue experimenting, if you must, but get these damn things into production NOW. It's going to take time to perfect the manufacturing processes, and supply chain, but unless we get these things out of the lab, we will always be "about 18 months away". This is a golden opportunity to sieze the synergy developing around renewable energy, particularly solar, where the consumer is becoming more skeptical that we will ever deliver what we've been talking about for years.There is a universal saying that "Those who wait for 100% of the answers before making a decision, will lose to their competition 100% of the time." Therefore, the benchmark is to pull the trigger whenever you reach about 80% certainty. Funny how that 80/20 rule applys to so many things. C'mon guys; pull the trigger!! 

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