Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Week's Alternative Energy Post

Out in California twelve and a half miles of land are about to be converted into solar power plants on a scale not yet seen in the U.S. The plants will produce about eight hundred megawatts of power, approximately the output of a large coal fired power plant or a small nuclear one according to the New York Times. This development is also mentioned in an article from Ars Technica noting the amount of installed wind power generation grew by nearly 50% in 2007 and demand is soaring. Meanwhile in Austraila, a 23 year old PhD student has developed a way of manufacturing solar cells in a pizza oven that is far simpler and cheaper than current processes. Her goal is to provide power to impoverished people and her inspiration was a solar kit her parents gave her when she was ten.

I'm more and more convinced that the alternative energy future is being built right now. However, the replacement for the chemical battery is still missing. By request, I did a quick hunt for news of any supercapacitor updates, and sure enough there is some pretty big potential news out there. A company called EEStore is working on a solid state supercapacitor that is more powerful and can charge and discharge faster than batteries. The company claims it would allow a 250 mile range for pure electric cars, which could charge back up in five minutes. And most importantly, they claim they will be in commercial production next year. Of course the usual caveat about products that don't exist yet applies, and the company has already failed to deliver on their deadlines. On the other hand, if the company's claims hold up, then things could get very interesting indeed.