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June 04, 2007

Comments

Cervus

I caught an article in Nature about deep sea mining last week. Apparently the concentrations of various metals from extinct thermal vents are an order of magnitude better than most land-based ores, and they're just sitting on the seafloor. Supposedly this make them less energy intensive to extract using ROVs.

Mark C R UK

Its then just up to the good chemists - to make alternative photocells based on cheaper and less rare resources.

One project and idea I've seen is through biomimicry to create artifical arrays based on the field of supra-molecular chemistry to do so (i.e. based on organic chemistry with a central inorganic anion - Mg from memory of university seminars attended....).

Look into the subject further!

Heres some simple Google references:
http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/jm/News/HotHashimoto.asp

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109085950/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0
Etc

The question is - can we develop (lab curiosities) and use create applications for these advanced materials in the short timespan required before In and Ga resources are depleted to uneconomic levels?!?

Green Assassin Brigade

The old Malthusian arguement that population would eventually out run our food supply and cause peak polulation was proven wrong by the advent of the oil based economy, fertalizers, pesticides, tractors etc.

The failure of Malthus's theory has been thrown in the face of anyone for 100 years who claimed anything could be depleted. Even after the examples of Buffalo, whales, cod, people will not accept that this is a finite system and things can and will run out.

I follow metals and mining far more than the new techs and each time I see a great new invention I always reference it back to commodities supplies and it's quite depressing. Even the scientists who develop these new techs never look at the supply side of materials needed and then trumpet their work as the next big thing.

China has also been adding export taxes and not issuing export permits for certain raw materials. They see what is happening and are begining to hoard, industry in the west could be virtually be cut out of the new high tech advances for either real or manipulted shortages.

Now that oil and everything else is running out Malthus may still be proven right.

Jay Tee

Most of the mineable metals needed for the new generation of solar cells are thought to be contained in deposits within the territory of North Korea.

Tim

PV may be good for your calculator, but it is not necessarily the most cost effective way to capture solar energy on the utility scale. The largest and most efficient "solar farms" utilize thermal solar energy to to power steam turbines http://www.solarelectricpower.org/ or stirling generators. http://www.stirlingenergy.com/

Paul Dietz

Gallium and indium are produced as byproducts during the extraction of other metals. Such elements can be difficult to expand production for, beyond a certain point, since you're not going to open a mine just for them.

Ken

Does anyone know if these rare substances will be recyclable? I admit to some hope that CIGS would be able to shift the economic viability of PV and make it a sound choice based on cost. I hadn't realised the materials were that rare - and would have expected that to be reflected in projected pricing - presumably it's available but will rise in price with very large new demand.

Are we back to Silicon? Some very promising next generation silicon PV is around - Crystalline Silicon on Glass and Sliver Cells for example. They're based on abundant raw materials at least.

Currently I have to agree that Solar Thermal has a lot going for and dollar for dollar right now it's good value, but I think PV will go on to get better and cheaper. There is a lot of good innovation going on and PV's potential, even if yet not fully realised, is enormous.

Ken

Does anyone know if these rare substances will be recyclable? I admit to some hope that CIGS would be able to shift the economic viability of PV and make it a sound choice based on cost. I hadn't realised the materials were that rare - and would have expected that to be reflected in projected pricing - presumably it's available but will rise in price with very large new demand.

Are we back to Silicon? Some very promising next generation silicon PV is around - Crystalline Silicon on Glass and Sliver Cells for example. They're based on abundant raw materials at least - and use a lot less of them.

Currently I have to agree that Solar Thermal has a lot going for and dollar for dollar right now it's good value, but I think PV will go on to get better and cheaper. There is a lot of good innovation going on and PV's potential, even if yet not fully realised, is enormous.

Doug

Most any metal can be recycled so I will assume Gallium and Indium can be as well.

This issue brings up the need for not only cheap base materials, but a plan for recycling products into more efficient ones as the technology develops.

At the end of the day, harnessing the sun's energy is more complex than we give it credit for. And while the need for a cheap sourcing material is evident, it's not evident how to get the most out of them. This is a hard technical problem that we're not at the end of. But these issues, while important, aren't a reason to be discouraged at the moment.

Gautam K Das

Earths Natural Wealth - An auditing is badly necessary. I am from India, which is full of natural resources, but for an auditing the resources an international agreed standard is to be developed and obviously some restricted items never be audited since all these items will have linkages with the policies of her own country. I need to be the part of that activities with hand in hand with you who are seriously concern for future energy senario since we have to investigate the real causes of Global Worming. My email id : gd35@hotmail.com

Susan K

yeah, we should start with thinking - what are our abundant materials? sea salt for instance.
Any manufacturing that needs a lot of increasingly scarce freshwater is going to be problematic.

disdaniel

There are many easy things we are not doing. I've got a simple solar panel design that generates as much energy as a standard panel using 30% fewer solar cells (any kind of cell technology). The result will be panels ~10%+ cheaper, assuming equivalent manufacturing margins.

Joe

I am looking for a clear or nearly clear, flexible, thin film PV material. I have read a lot about this material online but I cannot find any place to buy it. Does anyone know if this material is available for sale and if so where?

Thanks.

Joe

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