How 3D-Printed Solar Panels Will Impact Renewable Energy

The solar industry has experienced massive growth in the past few years as technological advancements have made solar panels more affordable and efficient.

Researchers at the University of Newcastle (UON) in Australia recently combined solar with another new technology, 3D printing, to make getting power from the sun even more accessible and effective.

How It Works
With 3D printing, you can create almost anything that you have a blueprint and a large enough machine for. And it doesn’t just print plastic replicas. You can create real, functional items. Anything from parts for machinery to human organs to houses could potentially be printed using the technology.

The team at UON, led by Professor Paul Dastoor, created an electronic, conductive ink as well as a process for printing that substance onto clear, thin, laminated sheets. The sheets are flexible yet durable enough that it can be rolled up for transportation.

The solar film is light enough that it can be attached to roofs and walls with Velcro. To install the sheet, you simply roll it out onto the surface you want to attach it to.

Potential Benefits
One of the major barriers to the adoption of solar energy has consistently been cost. While prices have dropped significantly in recent years due to improvements in technology and financial incentives from both government and utility companies — like a 30 percent credit on your tax return — the cost of installation can still be too high for some

3D printing could help lower that barrier to entry. With the new 3D-printed solar technology, production cost is around just $1 for each square foot. Professor Dastoor’s solar film is efficient too, which makes solar even more affordable.

UON installed the solar sheets on their campus in order to study their performance. So far, the findings have been promising. Researchers have found that the 3D-printed solar tech generated electricity more consistently than standard panels even with cloud cover and in low-light situations. The film has even been able to produce small amounts of power from moonlight.

The fact that the solar film is lightweight and flexible means it can be transported more easily than non-pliable solar panels. It can be rolled up, allowing large amounts of the stuff to be shipped in small spaces.

It can also be printed relatively quickly from any properly equipped 3D printer. This, as well as the ease with which it can be transported, means it could potentially have applications in disaster relief situations and be used to provide power to remote communities.

The technology could also, of course, benefit the environment by making it easier and more feasible for people to get their energy from the sun, which does not directly create carbon emissions and utilizes a renewable resource as opposed to a finite and harmful one.

What’s Next?
The technology has already piqued the interest of a commercial partner – CHEP, a global logistics company. CHEP and UON are planning to install the material at one of its facilities during the next financial year. Professor Dastoor also recently demonstrated his project at Pacprint, a printing convention in Melbourne, Australia.


It’s easy to see why the technology has attracted interest. It’s affordable, easily transportable and efficient as well as futuristic-sounding. It could also possibly revolutionize the energy industry in even more groundbreaking ways.

For large-scale rollouts of 3D-printed solar sheets, you’d need industrial-sized 3D printers. For smaller, residential projects, however, a relatively small personal 3D printer may do. This would take the power out of the hands of large utility companies and give it to the consumer. Solar panels already do this to an extent by allowing residential customers to generate their own power. If people could create and install their own solar panels, it would take this even further.

If people can print their own solar material, they could also customize those products to their own needs. Solar panels could be engineered to be installed in more obscure places than the rooftops of homes and potentially provide power to remote facilities. Provided that solar technology continues to improve or that these isolated facilities wouldn’t need large amounts of power, people may even be able to avoid connecting to the grid entirely.

While these ideas are the result of some speculation, this new 3D-printed solar technology does create the potential for them to actually work. Dastoor’s project takes advantage of technologies from two industries that are likely to grow significantly and change the world in noteworthy ways in the near future. The result of combining solar and 3D printing certainly has the potential to make some substantial changes in our world.
 

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Nebraskans Install First Solar Panels Inside the Keystone XL Pipeline Route

‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industry
 
Silver Creek, NE — On Saturday, July 29th, the “Solar XL” project placed its first solar panels along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, on the farm of Nebraska landowners Jim and Chris Carlson near Silver Creek. The Carlsons, who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard, partnered with Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. 

“Build Our Energy Barn” built in 2013 on the Hammond family’s land inside KXL route near York, Nebraska — one of the many signs of resistance to Keystone XL. Photo Credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

Source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/albums/72157686827119456

“While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed,” commented Joye Braun, organizer from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this month. The solar panels, which will be installed in at least two other locations along the pipeline route, will serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and are being installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industryThe Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.

The first installation took place just over a week before the Nebraska Public Service Commission holds hearings in Lincoln on whether to grant a construction permit for Keystone XL through the state. One day before the hearings on August 6th, people from around Nebraska and surrounding states will converge for a march through the streets of Lincoln urging the Commissioners to reject the permit. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.
  

Jim Carlson, Nebraska landowner who placed solar in path of Keystone XL on his family’s farm: 

“I am vehemently opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because of the properties of the contents of the tar sands oil it will carry — this is not your Mother’s crude oil, it is the Devil’s, and it can kill. We must be focused on clean, renewable energy and America can get along just fine without this foul concoction they call bitumen that TransCanada wants to pipe across our precious soil and water.”
Jim Knopik, North Star Solar Bears. LLC:

“Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”

More information on the “Solar XL” project:

http://boldnebraska.org/solarxl

Top 6 Solar Business Opportunities

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently unveiled rooftop solar panels that look exactly like roof tiles. That sort of creative thinking has allowed companies like Tesla to leapfrog energy giants and take advantage of the biggest business opportunity in centuries – the solar energy boom.

There is absolutely no doubt that solar energy will contribute a substantial portion of the world’s energy by the end of the decade. So, what sort of opportunities does this paradigm shift offer to entrepreneurs? Here are the top six best solar business opportunities: 

Solar panels

Product Marketing

Tesla isn’t likely to be the only player in the innovative solar products space. There’s a ton of players in the market already and many of them will have different products that will need to be marketed. Online marketing experts and affiliates could get involved and start selling products right away. There are a number of affiliate programs for solar products out there right now. Or you could simply set up a blog or marketing site for solar products on Amazon. 

Auditor

Here’s an interesting business opportunity if you’re good with numbers. Homeowners and businesses will need guidance on cutting their bills and finding energy efficient products. A service that puts the numbers together and evaluates the potential capacity for energy generation will most likely be in hot demand.

Solar areays

Consultant

The best way to get involved with upcoming technology is to be a consultant. Businesses and individuals will need some guidance on setting up big solar projects and generating energy. Your insights and analysis could be invaluable if you hire experts from the industry. You could also simply focus on the financial products and offer investors guidance on investing in solar stocks or ETFs.

 Solar Farm Developer

Solar panels on rooftops are alright for many homes, but they won’t be the best solution for industrial properties or regions where the sun doesn’t always shine. These properties will have to rely on massive solar farms that connect them up with the grid. Developing or leasing out parcels of land converted into solar farms is perhaps the biggest business opportunity in this industry. 

Landowners and property developers are already cashing in and building out massive solar farms in the middle of nowhere. 

There’s no reason a small contractor can’t get involved.


Panel Cleaning & Repair

Panels will eventually need repairs and regular cleaning services. As the number of panels across the world expands, a quick and affordable cleaning service that specializes in solar panels could stand to benefit. Setting up such an operation is relatively simple and this is the sort of business model that promises regular cash flows from long-term contracts.

Every new technology brings with it a lot of opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs. The solar energy boom is well underway right now, so there really cannot be a better time to get involved.

Solar panel recycler leads Australia in emerging industry

AUSTRALIA’S only solar panel recycling company is looking to scale up production as the number of broken and end of life systems mounts.

Adelaide-based Reclaim PV has teamed up with major solar panel manufacturers who distribute in Australia and is refining its processes as well as lobbying for panels to be included in recycling regulations.

The company was started by Clive Fleming and David Galloway in 2014 and was spun out of Solar Maintenance and Renewable Technologies (SMART), which they launched in South Australia in 2011.

“We saw the need for the maintenance of solar. We saw a lot of sales happening but not a lot of after sales stuff, there was a vacant space,” Fleming said. “From there we saw a demand for recycling – we were removing a lot of modules from roofs and we were left with a big pile of about 600 panels.”

Recycled panels are not recirculated, they are dismantled using a Pyrolysis process developed to remove glues and recover glass, aluminium, solar cells and contacts.


“We’re trying to value add to the cells so they can be reused – not as solar panels – but in new self powered products,” Fleming said.

Solar panels generally have a 20 or 25-year warranty but a small percentage of the 23 million solar panels installed in Australia are damaged due to installation or transport handling faults, or develop new faults each year.
Galloway and Fleming are working with the a leading Australian research facility to get more value out of the recycled solar cells and streamline the dismantling process…

For the rest of the story 

Installation of Solar Panels on Home Can Increase Value by 4 Percent During Resale

Las Vegas, NV. February 11, 2016 – Today, Enercore, a partner of SunEdison, Inc. (SUNE) releases data to inform homeowners that the installation of rooftop solar on a home can increase the value of it by 4 percent.

Enercore currently provides solar power for homeowners and businesses throughout California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. The company will also increase rooftop solar services to additional states throughout 2016.
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In theory, by adding a modernized kitchen or new floors, you will get back your return on investment, but this is not always the case. A recent Cost vs. Value report through Remodeling Magazine states, “Homeowners are only getting back 64 percent of the average remodeling project cost.” In short, homeowners are losing money on traditional remodeling.

While most homeowners spend money to increase the value of their home through remodeling, a return on investment is not always guaranteed. Depending on what state you live in, installing rooftop solar on your home could potentially cost you zero dollars. No other home remodeling can potentially cost zero dollars, but can increase the value of that home by 4 percent. For example, a $500,000 home installs rooftop solar. This brings the approximate value of said home to $520,000.

An increased number of savvy homeowners are turning to solar energy as a way to increase equity, while also lowering high monthly utility costs. The average homeowner saves about $1,000 a year when switching to a solar rooftop. It’s important to note that most solar rooftops are warrantied from 10-20 years. This is one remodeling cost that yields high returns.

An energy efficient solar rooftop is also ideal for a homeowner who has an older or historic home that has little or zero insulation. Solar allows those homeowners to heat their homes at a much lower cost, while increasing its value.

Still not convinced? A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that solar homes sold 20 percent faster and for 17 percent more than the equivalent non-solar homes in California. Numbers don’t lie. Installation of a solar rooftop not only increases the value of your home, but also uses clean, renewable energy, and saves you money each month.

“Installation of solar rooftop increases the value of your home and reduces your electric bill. This home improvement is the only one that will ever pay for itself,” says President of Enercore, Scott Reynolds. “Our experts are here to answer any questions a potential or current customer may have on a product that we believe is the future.”

Source: Enercore