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17 Oaks Ranch Tx
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I have been a major proponent of Solar power all of my life, but knew well the realities and limitations he had. But I have hoped for a major break thru to take the efficiency beyond where it is today and beyond the 50% point. This may be it...lets all hope so as it will usher in a new era in America and perhaps the world..



"3D solar towers offer up to 20 times more power output than traditional flat solar panels"



http://www.gizmag.com/3d-vertical-s...aign=18af13606c-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email
 

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Gotta read between the lines on this one. The PV cells are not 20 times more efficient. They are 20 times more efficient for the same base area. They're building up, so the base area does not increase as the tower gets taller. If your problem is land area, then yes this is a pretty cool idea. But the PV cells are the same.
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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It looks like those towers would be the least efficient when the sun is directly overhead. When traditional panels would be gathering the most power. But for that kind of gain, I guess it's worth it.
 

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All they're doing is tossing far more solar panels at a small area. As mentioned, you may take in more power, but it takes more panels to do it, and efficiency may be lost due to shade.

This is not a breakthrough in PV technology at all, and not even a step forward really. It only holds benefits in urban areas where space is extremely limited, and costs more to do it. And in those areas, it's typically far more cost effective to plugin to the grid.
 

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The end is,,,,,
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It looks like those towers would be the least efficient when the sun is directly overhead. When traditional panels would be gathering the most power. But for that kind of gain, I guess it's worth it.
Might raise the price but what if they tracked the sun? Rotated on a center pivot..
 

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17 Oaks Ranch Tx
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks all, I was so hoping it was break thru news...I just know that someday there will be a legit announcement that tells me that there is a break thru on the technology and (> 50% efficiency) and when that happens the world will change for the better UNLESS the feds get involved!!!!!!!
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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Might raise the price but what if they tracked the sun? Rotated on a center pivot..
Trackers work great on flat solar panels too. It allows the panel to always face the sun, where it operates most efficiently. I assume that would also apply to the solar towers.
 

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Idiot Savant x Infinity
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I see these 3D towers as a misleading Epic Fail!

Each of those 16 panel towers gathers "much less" energy per day then 16 flat panels. The cost per Watt is exponentially higher as each tower uses 16 panels and needs massive bracing in full scale use. Imagine the wind load if mounted on your roof of a 15 foot high structure 4-6 feet wide. Solar farms eliminate the need for 3D by using active tracking that this article omits.

The panels are "least" efficient when the sun is vertical. This is when most of the energy is generated with only 10-15 miles of atmosphere on flat panels. The (up to 20 fold claim) increase in power is when flat panels that have no tracking can't pickup the minimal output when the sun is close to the horizon cutting though 150 miles of atmosphere. Add another tower and the first tower "shadows" the rest eliminating any illusional gains. Add tracking and those numbers are false. The quoted numbers are deceptively false as 16 panels on a tracker would generate "much" more energy per day then the vertical panels. The whole article is bunk and the cost per Kilowatt/hour has just increased close to 10 fold with this idea.
 

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17 Oaks Ranch Tx
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Discussion Starter #9
Trackers work great on flat solar panels too. It allows the panel to always face the sun, where it operates most efficiently. I assume that would also apply to the solar towers.
I just ordered a solar panel for my ranch gate. I have others that serve very useful purposes. Where the panel shine (no pun intended) is in small jobs, battery charging, gates, etc etc. I have been using them for years like that and they really pay for themselves in time, hassle and money saved.

Now you bring up and interesting point:

Instead of total flat panels in this case specifically the outer glass itself. Why not put a "m' [rounded surface on top.

My thinking is the rounded an ever so slightly raised surface will bring in light better from angles less than vertical.

For 100's of years sailing ships have used a glass setting on the deck of a boat to bring in outside light. We see the same principle applied to what is called 'solar tubes'. In fact I have installed them on my home and they really pull in a lot of light. In my mind we can do the same thing by having the surface of the glass dimpled very slightly, kind of a 3-D effect?????????????????????????

Your thoughts?
 

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Idiot Savant x Infinity
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I just ordered a solar panel for my ranch gate. I have others that serve very useful purposes. Where the panel shine (no pun intended) is in small jobs, battery charging, gates, etc etc. I have been using them for years like that and they really pay for themselves in time, hassle and money saved.

Now you bring up and interesting point:

Instead of total flat panels in this case specifically the outer glass itself. Why not put a "m' [rounded surface on top.

My thinking is the rounded an ever so slightly raised surface will bring in light better from angles less than vertical.

For 100's of years sailing ships have used a glass setting on the deck of a boat to bring in outside light. We see the same principle applied to what is called 'solar tubes'. In fact I have installed them on my home and they really pull in a lot of light. In my mind we can do the same thing by having the surface of the glass dimpled very slightly, kind of a 3-D effect?????????????????????????

Your thoughts?

Your curved "convex" panel is a good idea but it wouldn't be more efficient for couple of reasons. Modern solar panels are only as good as their weakest link. If you have "36 cells per panel" and some are curved away from the sun. The output will be limited by the weakest cell receiving the least light. Try shielding just "one cell" (example: 1/36) on your panel and watch the total output drop by an enormous amount. Also a flat panel can pickup the most light if aimed directly at the sun. A convex panel will have one optimal point and the rest of it will be pointing in an indirect angle. You can use mirrors and or lenses to amplify the light hitting the panels but you need panels made to handle the added heat and energy per sq. ft.
 

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17 Oaks Ranch Tx
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Discussion Starter #11
Your curved "convex" panel is a good idea but it wouldn't be more efficient for couple of reasons. Modern solar panels are only as good as their weakest link. If you have "36 cells per panel" and some are curved away from the sun. The output will be limited by the weakest cell receiving the least light. Try shielding just "one cell" (example: 1/36) on your panel and watch the amperage drop by an enormous amount. Also a flat panel can pickup the most light if aimed directly at the sun. A convex panel will have one optimal point and the rest of it will be pointing in an indirect angle. You can use mirrors and or lenses to amplify the light hitting the panels but you need panels made to handle the added heat and energy per sq. ft.
I was not thinking as radical as the panel itself being convex, but rather the outer surface of the glass covering the flat panel is literally hundreds if not thousands of very small 'bumps' on the surface of the glass itself. Some experimentation needed to determine the exact height and diam, but it would look and appear smooth to the visual and touch.

Its still a flat panel. You see them on the screens of TV's and computers to allow better viewing at angles.

That is what I am thinking, it would capture more light, how much, dunno, worth it, dunno, but it does work which begs the question why hs it not been tried on solar panels????
 

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Live Secret, Live Happy
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I just ordered a solar panel for my ranch gate. I have others that serve very useful purposes. Where the panel shine (no pun intended) is in small jobs, battery charging, gates, etc etc. I have been using them for years like that and they really pay for themselves in time, hassle and money saved.

Now you bring up and interesting point:

Instead of total flat panels in this case specifically the outer glass itself. Why not put a "m' [rounded surface on top.

My thinking is the rounded an ever so slightly raised surface will bring in light better from angles less than vertical.

For 100's of years sailing ships have used a glass setting on the deck of a boat to bring in outside light. We see the same principle applied to what is called 'solar tubes'. In fact I have installed them on my home and they really pull in a lot of light. In my mind we can do the same thing by having the surface of the glass dimpled very slightly, kind of a 3-D effect?????????????????????????

Your thoughts?
Current solar panels lose efficiency at higher temps making it difficult to optically magnify the sun's intensity to produce more power.

If researchers are ever able to produce a solar power converter that works well at high temps, you could do just as you describe. Collect sunlight from a larger area and focus it down to your converter.

This is not a new idea, just a nearly hard one.
 

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17 Oaks Ranch Tx
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Discussion Starter #14
Current solar panels lose efficiency at higher temps making it difficult to optically magnify the sun's intensity to produce more power.

If researchers are ever able to produce a solar power converter that works well at high temps, you could do just as you describe. Collect sunlight from a larger area and focus it down to your converter.

This is not a new idea, just a nearly hard one.
I knew that had to be the case, I certainly felt that ole SS here had not discovered something that was gonna make him a rich man...but I did wonder why not since I knew it worked and the principle has been in use for many 100's of years...note I have asked before but never got a answer that made sense...
 

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Gotta read between the lines on this one. The PV cells are not 20 times more efficient. They are 20 times more efficient for the same base area. They're building up, so the base area does not increase as the tower gets taller. If your problem is land area, then yes this is a pretty cool idea. But the PV cells are the same.
Yeah, I caught this too. All they did was take ordinary panels and arrange them into a clever geometry that creates a small foot print. That's very nice and I'm sure it has many useful applications, but this is more "middle school science fair" than "major breakthrough". I agree, a big fail for MIT.

The article mentions nothing about the all-important dollars-per-watt factor or what the actual surface area of the panels are (as opposed to footprint).

Sun trackers that move panels to follow the sun do indeed work, but for the average prepper they are quite expensive and add mechanical complexity to your system. It would be cheaper to buy additional stationary panels to make up for the loss as the sun's angle changes throughout the day.

As the market is right now, solar panels are around $1.60/watt if you buy in bulk. It has never been this good! I just added an additional 270 watts to my capacity and it cost me less than what I would pay for a decent pistol.

The ugly side to solar is that panels are the cheapest component of the system. The controllers, MC4 cables, batteries, and all the ancillary hardware & electronics are still a serious investment.
 

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Gotta read between the lines on this one. The PV cells are not 20 times more efficient. They are 20 times more efficient for the same base area. They're building up, so the base area does not increase as the tower gets taller. If your problem is land area, then yes this is a pretty cool idea. But the PV cells are the same.
Have to concur with merlin... has nothing to dp with increasing the efficiency of a panel... just the ability to capture more light with more cells
 
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