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DIY solar panels: pros, cons and installation guide. DIY photovoltaic cell

DIY solar panels: pros, cons and installation guide. DIY photovoltaic cell

    Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics

    When light shines on a photovoltaic (PV) cell – also called a solar cell – that light may be reflected, absorbed, or pass right through the cell. The PV cell is composed of semiconductor material; the “semi” means that it can conduct electricity better than an insulator but not as well as a good conductor like a metal. There are several different semiconductor materials used in PV cells.

    When the semiconductor is exposed to light, it absorbs the light’s energy and transfers it to negatively charged particles in the material called electrons. This extra energy allows the electrons to flow through the material as an electrical current. This current is extracted through conductive metal contacts – the grid-like lines on a solar cells – and can then be used to power your home and the rest of the electric grid.

    The efficiency of a PV cell is simply the amount of electrical power coming out of the cell compared to the energy from the light shining on it, which indicates how effective the cell is at converting energy from one form to the other. The amount of electricity produced from PV cells depends on the characteristics (such as intensity and wavelengths) of the light available and multiple performance attributes of the cell.

    An important property of PV semiconductors is the bandgap, which indicates what wavelengths of light the material can absorb and convert to electrical energy. If the semiconductor’s bandgap matches the wavelengths of light shining on the PV cell, then that cell can efficiently make use of all the available energy.

    Learn more below about the most commonly-used semiconductor materials for PV cells.

    Silicon

    Silicon is, by far, the most common semiconductor material used in solar cells, representing approximately 95% of the modules sold today. It is also the second most abundant material on Earth (after oxygen) and the most common semiconductor used in computer chips. Crystalline silicon cells are made of silicon atoms connected to one another to form a crystal lattice. This lattice provides an organized structure that makes conversion of light into electricity more efficient.

    Solar cells made out of silicon currently provide a combination of high efficiency, low cost, and long lifetime. Modules are expected to last for 25 years or more, still producing more than 80% of their original power after this time.

    Thin-Film Photovoltaics

    A thin-film solar cell is made by depositing one or more thin layers of PV material on a supporting material such as glass, plastic, or metal. There are two main types of thin-film PV semiconductors on the market today: cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS). Both materials can be deposited directly onto either the front or back of the module surface.

    CdTe is the second-most common PV material after silicon, and CdTe cells can be made using low-cost manufacturing processes. While this makes them a cost-effective alternative, their efficiencies still aren’t quite as high as silicon. CIGS cells have optimal properties for a PV material and high efficiencies in the lab, but the complexity involved in combining four elements makes the transition from lab to manufacturing more challenging. Both CdTe and CIGS require more protection than silicon to enable long-lasting operation outdoors.

    Perovskite Photovoltaics

    Perovskite solar cells are a type of thin-film cell and are named after their characteristic crystal structure. Perovskite cells are built with layers of materials that are printed, coated, or vacuum-deposited onto an underlying support layer, known as the substrate. They are typically easy to assemble and can reach efficiencies similar to crystalline silicon. In the lab, perovskite solar cell efficiencies have improved faster than any other PV material, from 3% in 2009 to over 25% in 2020. To be commercially viable, perovskite PV cells have to become stable enough to survive 20 years outdoors, so researchers are working on making them more durable and developing large-scale, low-cost manufacturing techniques.

    Organic Photovoltaics

    Organic PV, or OPV, cells are composed of carbon-rich (organic) compounds and can be tailored to enhance a specific function of the PV cell, such as bandgap, transparency, or color. OPV cells are currently only about half as efficient as crystalline silicon cells and have shorter operating lifetimes, but could be less expensive to manufacture in high volumes. They can also be applied to a variety of supporting materials, such as flexible plastic, making OPV able to serve a wide variety of uses.PV

    Quantum Dots

    Quantum dot solar cells conduct electricity through tiny particles of different semiconductor materials just a few nanometers wide, called quantum dots. Quantum dots provide a new way to process semiconductor materials, but it is difficult to create an electrical connection between them, so they’re currently not very efficient. However, they are easy to make into solar cells. They can be deposited onto a substrate using a spin-coat method, a spray, or roll-to-roll printers like the ones used to print newspapers.

    Quantum dots come in various sizes and their bandgap is customizable, enabling them to collect light that’s difficult to capture and to be paired with other semiconductors, like perovskites, to optimize the performance of a multijunction solar cell (more on those below).

    Multijunction Photovoltaics

    Another strategy to improve PV cell efficiency is layering multiple semiconductors to make multijunction solar cells. These cells are essentially stacks of different semiconductor materials, as opposed to single-junction cells, which have only one semiconductor. Each layer has a different bandgap, so they each absorb a different part of the solar spectrum, making greater use of sunlight than single-junction cells. Multijunction solar cells can reach record efficiency levels because the light that doesn’t get absorbed by the first semiconductor layer is captured by a layer beneath it.

    While all solar cells with more than one bandgap are multijunction solar cells, a solar cell with exactly two bandgaps is called a tandem solar cell. Multijunction solar cells that combine semiconductors from columns III and V in the periodic table are called multijunction III-V solar cells.

    Multijunction solar cells have demonstrated efficiencies higher than 45%, but they’re costly and difficult to manufacture, so they’re reserved for space exploration. The military is using III-V solar cells in drones, and researchers are exploring other uses for them where high efficiency is key.

    Concentration Photovoltaics

    Concentration PV, also known as CPV, focuses sunlight onto a solar cell by using a mirror or lens. By focusing sunlight onto a small area, less PV material is required. PV materials become more efficient as the light becomes more concentrated, so the highest overall efficiencies are obtained with CPV cells and modules. However, more expensive materials, manufacturing techniques, and ability to track the movement of the sun are required, so demonstrating the necessary cost advantage over today’s high-volume silicon modules has become challenging.

    Learn more about photovoltaics research in the Solar Energy Technologies Office, check out these solar energy information resources, and find out more about how solar works.

    DIY solar panels: pros, cons and installation guide

    To save money, it’s no surprise that many homeowners are considering “do it yourself”, or DIY, solar. You can install solar panels yourself, but there are some advantages and disadvantages to doing it alone. In this article, we’ll break down the top pros and cons that you need to know about do-it-yourself solar panel systems before making a decision.

    Can you install solar panels yourself?

    A solar panel system is complicated, which is why so many companies across the U.S. specialize in providing professional solar installation services. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build your own solar panel system – you can install your own panels, a DIY solar panel setup can be a viable option for some solar shoppers wanting to tap into renewable energy.

    According to data from the EnergySage Marketplace, the average cost of going solar for homeowners (after accounting for the federal tax credit) is about 20,650 in 2023. Of that amount, design and installation labor costs contribute about 10% of the total bill; this 10% is what a DIY solar installation will save you since you’ll still have to buy the equipment and components yourself. Regardless, it’s still tempting to look into building your own solar panel installation to save money and be in full control of your home renewable energy project.

    Your solar energy system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years, so you must consider both the upfront costs and the relative financial benefits for all of your solar options. If you buy a home solar kit like the ones for sale at Costco or Home Depot, it may be less expensive per watt, but you aren’t getting the same quality equipment that solar installers can offer you. For the most part, solar installers buy from equipment distributors that don’t sell to the general public – and they’re often getting lower because they’re able to buy in bulk and have access to the best solar panel brands. Going for the more expensive option now may end up saving you money in the long run because you’ll likely have a system built to last a few decades, offsetting your monthly electric bills.

    Pros and cons of DIY solar panels and solar panel kits

    DIY panels can be a great option for going off the grid and some small home applications. For powering your entire home, however, it may be in your best interest to go with a professional installer.

    DIY solar pros and cons

    Pros of DIY solar panelsCons of DIY solar panels
    Provides more energy independence for homeowners by not being tied to the electricity grid. Require much more maintenance that would otherwise be covered by an installer warranty.
    Effective in powering smaller items like RVs, boats and other appliances For an entire home, installation may be difficult for an individual without the knowledge and experience of a professional installer.
    Allows homeowners to save roughly 10% on the overall cost of installation that would otherwise go towards labor. DIY installation may be illegal where you live according to local zoning laws.

    Most home DIY all-in-one solar panel solar kits (including items like solar batteries, and inverters) are designed for off-grid use, which means you can’t use them and remain connected to your utility. If you’re an average homeowner, going off-grid is probably not in your best interest – being able to access utility-generated electricity is important if your solar array doesn’t produce enough electricity to meet your needs at all times of the day throughout the year.

    However, home solar kits can be a good solution if you’re not trying to power your entire home. RVs, boats, and the increasingly popular tiny houses are all opportunities to explore do-it-yourself solar because they are already off-grid and mobile. Storage kits are also a good option for backup to help in the case of a blackout and can contain battery banks and battery systems.

    If you want to install a DIY solar project, compare several options beforehand. Grape Solar is a major manufacturer (among others) and offers a few different DIY products and components for both grid-tied and off-grid systems, which you can find more information on below.

    DIY solar options

    ProductSystem size (watts)System costDollars per wattRetailer link
    Grape Solar 400 watt PV solar panel kit 400 588 1.47 Home Depot
    Grape Solar 600 watt PV solar panel kit 600 857 1.42 Home Depot
    Renogy solar 12-volt/24-volt premium kit 800 1,350 1.69 Renogy
    ECO-WORTHY off-grid solar panel kit 800 1,090 1.36 Amazon

    When you decide on DIY solar panels, remember that you get what you pay for. A home solar kit may be less expensive, but solar installers offer tremendous value for a relatively little additional cost (remember that 10% figure?). When it comes to installing an expensive electrical system on your property, finding someone who knows what they’re doing can save you both time and money in the long run.

    Some of the best solar installers have been in the business for decades – an experience that no amount of online research or DIY guides can replicate. Every state requires that installers are licensed and qualified to install solar, and independent certifications like the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Solar PV Installation Professional Certification ensure that the company you choose to work with has an intimate understanding of the process. Because of this, they can provide experienced insight and help you assess what equipment is the best fit for your property and whether a battery system is right for you.

    Your solar installer will also help you complete and file the permits and applications that you need to submit to get your solar power system up and running. This is particularly important because your utility won’t let you connect your system to the grid without a sign-off from a certified electrician.

    Because of your solar installer’s experience, they’ll also have a strong understanding of the financial incentives for solar available in your area, and might even be able to help you save more money by finding any rebates and tax incentives that you may have missed. Lastly, it is important to note that many equipment manufacturers will only honor their warranties if a qualified installer installed their equipment. Many installers will also offer an additional warranty to back up their work, too.

    The 6-step guide to DIY solar panels: how to install solar panels

    The DIY solar panel installation process can be simplified into six major steps:

    Purchase your solar equipment and components (solar panels, batteries, inverters, racking, etc.)

    Equipment and components including panels can be purchased with help from the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide. You can compare panel, battery, and inverter models based on specs like efficiency, warranties, and more.

    solar, panels, pros, cons

    Install the racking or mounts for the panels on a roof or the ground

    Once you have the necessary equipment, designs, and permits in order, it is time to install your equipment. For roof mount systems, this begins with installing your racking and mounting equipment. To start, mark where your system will be installed, drill where lag bolts will be put in place, caulk the holes, put in lag bolts, and lock rails onto them. For ground mount systems, the steps are similar, only the panels will be installed at the ground level on some type of racking system.

    Install your equipment

    The first items to install are the solar inverters, which convert the electricity generated by your solar panels into usable electricity. After these are installed using provided bolts, you will need to connect a grounding wire. This is a piece of copper wire across the rails that serves as a safety precaution against lightning strikes and other faults. After this, you can attach your solar panels to your racking equipment.

    Connect to your main electrical board

    After you have fully installed your panel and system, be sure to schedule an inspection with the local construction authority closest to you. This will ensure that your system complies with local ordinances. Once you pass this inspection, you can apply to connect to the grid. The local utility company will give you a meter to record your power exports.

    Get in touch with your utility company and request permission to turn on (PTO) if necessary in your area

    From there, turn on your system after you have the proper approval and check how the system is functioning with a solar monitoring app.

    Maintenance of DIY solar panel systems

    One of the benefits of working with a certified solar installer is the warranty that comes with their service. Solar panel manufacturers provide a range of warranties that guarantee you will have support and coverage in the unlikely event of an issue caused by unusual circumstances, such as large hail or falling tree branches. Power output warranties guarantee that panel performance won’t fall below a specified level over the term of the warranty (usually 25 years). For instance, a manufacturer might provide a warranty to guarantee that peak power output won’t fall below 85% for 25 years.

    Frequently asked questions about DIY solar panels

    If you’re considering a DIY solar panel kit, but still have concerns about the best options, process, and general cost, check out a few of the most common questions we encounter when talking to solar shoppers:

    DIY solar panels may be tempting to install, but their long-term worth may be up for debate due to quality alone. Typically, a solar panel system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years, so it’s important to invest in quality equipment and a reputable installer. If you purchase a home solar panel kit from a retailer, you may be paying less per watt, but you’re not going to get the same efficiency or quality that professional installers usually offer with their products.

    You’ll also likely forgo any warranties that come with your solar panel system, as warranties often only apply when the system is installed by a certified installer. It’s also important to mention that if you still need to rely on some utility power and remain connected to the grid, DIY solar panels are typically not worth it. They are best used for small off-grid applications, like RVs, where a solar generator or solar battery bank can provide you power when you otherwise may not have access.

    As a DIYer, you don’t need to be an electrician to install solar panels. It’s certainly not illegal to go the DIY route if you choose to. However, when it comes to installing a costly electrical system on your property, we recommend relying on professionals with technical know-how —their experience is invaluable and it can make a huge difference in the overall quality and performance of your system. Plus, solar installers will help you fill out permits and file important paperwork that you might not otherwise know is required.

    You can find reliable DIY solar panels at retailers like Home Depot or from manufacturers like Grape Solar, for between 6,000 to 11,000, depending on your system size needs. For lower cost options, some manufacturers sell DIY solar panels on Amazon for anywhere between 1,600 to 2,500. You may be looking at additional costs if you want to install a solar battery and charge controller system as part of your DIY project.

    Should you install solar yourself or hire an installer?

    If you’re wavering between a DIY solar system and hiring a solar installer, getting a ballpark estimate for an installation may help you in your decision process. With our Solar Calculator, you can see upfront cost and long-term savings estimates based on your location and roof type to determine if a solar installation is the best choice for you. If you’re looking to get quotes from local contractors today, be sure to check out the quote comparison platform in the EnergySage Marketplace.

    reading on EnergySage

    Looking to go solar? Here’s everything you need to know in… How to install solar panels Solar shingles: what you need to know in 2023 Best solar panels in 2023: Top products compared Are solar panels worth it in 2023?

    solar, panels, pros, cons

    Solar Fun!!How To Make A Solar Panel With CD? Step By Step Guide!!

    By reading throughout the whole article, you will find out the step by step guide of making solar panels with CD.

    Don’t be confused at all looking around in other sources here in this write up you will get all the details of how to make a solar panels with CD?

    It is nifty little fun idea to repurpose the old unwanted CDs, and It is an easy venture to witness to observe the futuristic phenomenon of solar power as well.

    After reading this article, you will know how it is possible to build your solar panels with CD. This particular piece will tell you how to make homemade solar panels with CD to produce secondary usefulness as well.

    You’re wondering, right? Let’s read explore-

    Lets deep dive!!

    Intro of How to make a solar panels with CD?

    Have you ever wondered how the calculator in your utilizing a solar panel array is?

    Lights in your garden with a solar-powered generator, how exactly does it work?

    How about a nifty little fun idea to repurpose the old unwanted CDs? It is an easy venture to witness to observe the futuristic phenomenon of solar power as well.

    Why threaten our electricity supply by relying significantly on coal and oil?

    The sun has about 5 billion years to burn to feed us endless fuel.

    We have unlimited renewable energy sources utilization without depleting it and emitting pollutants greenhouse gasses from the sun.

    You can recycle the thrown away old CDs to learn more about the potential energy of the sun. So we’ll discuss “how to make a solar panel with CD?” in this article.

    The era of optical storage media with CD, DVD, or Blue-ray is in the end. You can now conveniently store and manage an enormous amount of digital content in the Cloud and high-speed internet.

    You will know how it is possible to build your solar panels with CD after reading this article. This particular piece will tell you how to make homemade solar panels with CD to produce secondary usefulness.

    You’re wondering, right?

    How to make a solar panel with CD?

    You can repurpose the plain old CDs to the fullest extent. You can take advantage of their distinctively shiny surfaces to build a solar heating panel or a solar power tower (heliostats).

    Follow the demonstration later for a complete guide to make a solar panel with CD to produce your solar power Although, this energy won’t power your home electronic appliances. The article is not about a traditional solar panel you can expect to build.

    And that raises the question, how will you benefit from this endeavor?

    Who benefits from “make a solar panel with CD” projects?

    Suppose the world’s temperatures increase to 1.5°C. In that case, we will lose 70 – 90 % of coral reefs, according to a report by IPCC. [I]

    As climate change continues to threaten our environment, renewable energy deployment is becoming quite commonplace.

    But what is the best form of renewable energy?

    Green technologies substantially depend on the sun directly or indirectly. The sun’s rays’ conversion through photovoltaic cells or reflective mirrors makes solar power the most significant contributor to renewable energy.

    The demonstration of making a Solar Thermal Panel with CD should benefit us. It should improve our understanding of how you can utilize the sun to produce heat energy and heal through snowy days.

    While it is a unique method to produce heat, it might not help make power.

    The practical applications (included but not limited to) of this project are

    solar, panels, pros, cons

    Whether you are a grown-up or a child, you can educate yourself through such a small-scale solar project without wasting a lot of time, money, or energy. You can observe the power of the sun’s rays first-hand.

    A relatively lighter project will still be brighter if you can get an immediate result of your effort.

    Suppose your power sources are cut or you’re away from the power grid. In that case, this endeavor will prepare you to adapt to off-grid applications. You can efficiently progress your real-life solar power project. You will be able to adapt to survive and build your solar system.

    How do you generate solar energy with a CD?

    – The solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are more efficient at absorbing photons if you can imprint quasi-random nanostructures (non-smooth) on the solar cells. Even though it looks smooth, a Blu-ray disc has ‘islands’ and ‘pits.’ This surface pattern gives them the ability for light-trapping. A Blu-ray-patterned solar panel can absorb 21.8 % more lights comparing to a non-patterned solar panel. [II]

    – Unlike the CDs and DVDs, the Blu-ray discs have a higher capacity, transfer rate, and ability to improve solar PV panels’ efficiency. The information patterns (imprinted) of Blu-ray discs work so well to concentrate lights. This technique can improve the efficiency of polymer or other types of solar cells.

    However, it is pretty costly to construct the molds for fabrication.

    Let’s see the processing of such Blu-ray-patterned solar cells below:

    – Before they are available commercially, let’s repurpose the stacks of CD, DVD, or Blue-ray disc to the DIY solar thermal panel.

    How can I make a simple solar panel at home with a CD?: DIY Step by step Guide of Making simple solar panel with cd-

    The traditional solar photovoltaic panel produces electrical power through the photovoltaic process (convert sun’s rays into useable energy).

    In comparison, the solar thermal panel reflects the sun’s rays to heat a particular object, fluid, or area.

    Although they do not convert the sun’s rays into electricity, they are crucial to the solar platform.

    You do not require battery or inverter integration with the solar panels.

    solar, panels, pros, cons

    The process is less sophisticated than that of a grid-connected system. The technology is not any less valuable than that of the photovoltaic generation as well.

    Follow the procedures below to know how do you make a solar panel CD: in only six steps (DIY solar thermal panel)

    What materials are used to make a solar panel CD?

    Before we start our demonstration on how to make a solar panel with household items, it is essential to gather the materials beforehand.

    • CDs
    • Cardboards
    • Utility knife
    • Glue
    • Measuring tape
    • Maskingtape
    • Paintspray
    • S hooks
    • Drop cloth
    • Pencil

    # How to make a solar energy project: 6 steps in making solar cells with CD-

    1st step for making a solar panel with CD : Measure and Cut

    • At first, measure the length and the width of a window south-facing or otherwise. Add 4/8 inches to the length and width as well. For instance,

    Now, pick a cardboard piece large enough to shape it with a utility knife according to the required measurements above.

    From any unused cardboard, cut few rectangles (4 pieces) of 4-inches width. The rectangles should also be 3/4 of the width of the container.

    2nd step for making a solar panel with CD : Paint

    • Move forward to the next step, spray on any one side of the cardboard, preferably black entirely, as dark colors absorb the highest light energy (heat) from the environment. You can apply a coating material for the best result or an enhanced aesthetics. But you must wait half a day or more to let dry the paint thoroughly before using any other colors.

    3rd step : Create a Container –

    • With the utility knife, cut a 4-inch square from every corner of the rectangle cardboard and tape them up with the masking tape to create a container. The dark section should form the inside of the box.

    4th step for making a solar panel with CD : Placement

    • Insert the CDs into the container in uniform columns rows from bottom to top of the cardboard with the non-reflective side facing inward.
    • Next, use a pencil to locate the midpoint of the CD rows. Cut a hole from both the top and bottom rows of CDs to glue them down over the holes.

    5th step for making a solar panel with CD : Glue the Rectangles

    Take the four rectangles from the first step and glue them inwards of the container to form a maze wall.

    6th step for making a solar panel with CD : Hooking Arrangement

    • In the last step, pick a drop cloth piece of overall length to shape it 3 inches longer and wider than the container with a utility knife.
    • Unfold the cloth over the top gluing the sides of the container. Make holes in the two upper corners of the container to inject the S-hooks. Finally, you can hang the solar thermal panel on the window.

    Conclusions for make homemade solar panels with CD: Why is solar power the best energy source?

    This technological era of YouTubes or iTunes made the CD, DVD Blue-ray discs outdated relics.

    Nevertheless, you can upcycle the obsolete discs to bring them back into existence. You can utilize the shiny sides of old plastic disks to create an electricity-generating solar panel or solar heating thermal panel.

    • You can repurpose your old CDs from the pile of useless CDs, DVDs Blue-ray discs lying around the house or in your backyard!
    • A hands-on learning experience on “how to make a solar panel with CD?” should enhance your ability to perform a progressive solar project to harness the sun.

    Summary : Key takeout

    Huge energy requirements in our localities or the off-grid phenomenon paving the way for solar services.

    With this non-traditional solar energy project, you can enhance your innovation skill. In just a few steps, you should be able to benefit from the free energy solar. You can produce sufficient energy to heat your room, house, or even the swimming pools with a little bit of creativity.

    So, what can I do with a small solar panel made with CDs?

    A practical method to tackle the energy loss is to store the heat in a water tank.

    – Space Efficient

    A solar cd panel facing south through the Windows results in an efficient project regarding the space requirements.

    FAQ: How to make solar cell with copper wire, cd, and diodes?

    The electrical conductivity of copper is one of the best among the metals. Although, it cannot generate electricity when exposed to just sunlight. Unless, you swing a magnet around a coil of copper wire.

    The Zener diodes, however, can produce some measurable voltage when exposed to sunlight.

    The diodes are only capable of producing only a couple of millivolts. You can test it with a voltmeter or multimeter.

    But it will not essentially run any electronic devices as the current output will be tremendously low and hence the power.

    The DIY videos on YouTube to build CD solar panels with copper wire and diodes won’t provide sufficient energy to power any home electronic appliances.

    • I. “Global Warming of 1.5C”; October 2018, by United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    Want Cheap Solar Cells? Paint Your Own Perovskite Solar Cell!!

    Right in the middle of the Vogtle nuclear power debacle, the US Department of Energy pitches ultra-cheap perovskite solar cells.

    Don’t go running to your local toy store just yet to buy that paint-by-numbers DIY solar cell kit, but it — or something like it — could be on the market some day in the sparkling green future. The US Department of Energy is pitching low cost perovskite solar cells that anyone can make, with the right materials and a cheap paint brush.

    Photo via National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    Perovskite Solar Cells Vs. Nuclear Energy

    The Energy Department’s latest pitch for perovskite solar cells came out just yesterday, in the form of a long article on the website of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    The timing and placement is interesting in terms of publicity. That’s because earlier this week the Energy Department’s main page featured a shout-out of support for the notoriously expensive Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia.

    Come to think of it, that Vogtle thing wasn’t much of a shoutout. Though issued in the form of a press release, it was just a one-paragraph statement attributed to a press officer, which seems to indicate that Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other higher-ups at the agency aren’t going out on a limb for this one. Here’s the whole thing:

    “The Department of Energy (DOE) is pleased with today’s vote to proceed with the construction of Vogtle 34. This historic project will be the first large scale nuclear utility project completed in the United States in over 30 years and will reaffirm America’s international leadership in nuclear technology and provide a reliable, clean power source for decades to come. DOE hopes the successful completion of this project will mark the beginning of a nuclear renaissance in America.”N

    Where were we? Oh right, the perovskite solar cell article. We’ll get to that in a minute, but meanwhile take a look at the latest news from our friends over at Utility Dive and guess why nobody at the Energy Department wants to take credit for supporting the Vogtle project — which, by the way, has received more than 8 billion in loan guarantees through the agency’s Loan Programs Office (update: the figure is up to 12 billion now):

    In 2008, estimates put the cost of the Vogtle project at 10.4 billion. By 2017, the estimate had ballooned to 15.7 billion. The latest revision suggests the cost is now about 18 billion, which SP estimates to be 27 billion to 28 billion including financing costs.

    DIY Perovskite Solar Cells: No, Really!

    And now for the good news. For those of you new to the topic, perovskite refers to a class of synthetic material that mimics the properties of the naturally occurring mineral perovskite.

    Researchers at NREL and elsewhere have become obsessed with exploiting the solar conversion properties of perovskites because they are incredibly cheap, and they can be formulated as an ink that can be literally painted onto a surface.

    On the down side, synthetic perovskites are not weather-resistant, so perovskite solar cells need to be designed with a durability workaround.

    In the meantime, NREL’s latest pitch for perovskite solar cells leans heavily on the idea that practically anybody can apply a layer of perovskite solar material to a surface.

    In other words, perovskites could go mainstream with a bang. Just take a stroll through the paint aisle of your local paint shop and consider the possibilities for photovoltaic DIY at your fingertips:

    Here’s the lede from the new NREL article:

    David Moore wields a cheap paintbrush, the kind you’d buy at a hobby shop for less than a buck. With a steady, purple-gloved hand, he paints a yellowish liquid onto a specially prepared piece of glass about the size of a half-dollar. And as simple as that, a perovskite solar cell is born.

    No, really. That’s literally the first paragraph of a rather long article.

    Do read the full piece for context, but for those of you on the go let’s skip down to the middle, where top officials from the Energy Department make a brief appearance:

    In mid-January, Moore turned his paintbrush over to Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes during his visit to NREL. “We literally were doing a science experiment, not a demonstration,” Moore recalls. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

    Menezes did replicate Moore’s success, his solar cell generating about 100 millivolts. Improvements to the process since then have brought that number up to 650 millivolts, which is the neighborhood in which Secretary of Energy Rick Perry found his own solar cell when he got the chance to try his hand at painting perovskites during a visit to NREL in mid-August.

    Take a look at the photo that heads this article and you’ll see that really is Secretary Perry applying some artistry to a perovskite solar cell last summer.

    CleanTechnica is reaching out to NREL to get more details on the latest perovskite research so stay tuned for more on that.

    What’s Next For Nukes?

    To be clear, the US Department of Energy is nowhere near losing interest in supporting new nuclear technology. The agency has deep roots in the World War II-era Atomic Energy Commission and it continues to manage the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

    Politically speaking, though, the Vogtle project has become such a hot potato that it’s hard to conceive of any further private-sector interest in building another new nuclear facility on that scale, at least not in the US (elsewhere around the world it’s a different story).

    Nevertheless, at least one company — Bill Gates’s TerraPower — is soldiering on, with an assist from the Energy Department. We’re guessing that they’re working with an eye on exporting the technology rather than building new nuclear facilities in the US, but that’s just a wild guess.

    Though TerraPower’s technology has been associated with the trend toward small, modular nuclear reactors, apparently the company is more interested in Vogtle-scale projects.

    As for Vogtle, it is currently the only commercial reactor under construction in the US and it doesn’t look like it will share the newbie spotlight anytime soon, Gates or no Gates.

    As of this writing, the plant’s two units won’t both be online until November 2022, with a total of 2,430 hard-won megawatts of zero emission electricity.

    In the meantime, aside from emerging tech like perovskite solar cells, another zero emission boom is emerging along the US east coast, where coastal states like Georgia can take advantage of the rich offshore wind market — and electricity cost savings, too.

    The technical offshore wind potential of the US is about 2,000 gigawatts — yes, that’s gigawatts — so you do the math.

    The US has gotten off to a slow start in offshore wind during the Obama administration as certain coastal states (you know who you are) pushed back against federal policies designed to encourage offshore development.

    In a weird twist of irony, the offshore wind industry has been accelerating at hyperspeed under President Trump, so go figure.

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    Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.

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