Archive for May, 2007


Show Report

I attended the renewable energy show in Killarney yesterday Sunday 27th May 2007.

So what did I see you ask. Well apart from a bunch of sellers selling alternative energy product at mainly well above European prices, and a few of the at double the average, I saw Kedco selling their boiler and wood pellets.

Get this! Kedco Have Two 2 that’s two Prices for Pellets

I find it strange that a company selling wood pellets had two VERY different prices for their products. The 2 prices for wood pellets are:

(a) €165 incl VAT per ton for bulk wood pellets and

(b) €270 incl VAT per ton for bulk wood pellets.

Now you ask why the huge difference? The (a) price is for customers who purchased their re-badged OPOP boiler. The (b) price is for all others. That is a differential of €105 per ton. Take a house that uses say 4 tons a year that €420 a year.

When I see this sort of rubbish I start asking questions straight away. Like:

1. that’s one hell of a differential, there must be masses of profit on that old boiler of theirs! Or,

2. there must be one hell of a mark-up on their pellets, or indeed both, or,

3. maybe they are not interested in selling wood pellets at all – just using the supply to help hook some customers for the boiler.

Either way I think they are a bit foolish to mark it uplike that – it just shows up the manipulation of costs for what they are. If you want pellets try Balcas. (see last post)

Apart from the Prices what else did I see?

Duncan Steware gave the first and main lecture, and as far as I could see, the only non-commercial lecture on the programme. The others appeared to be connected with sellers and therefore I could not take them too seriously.

Duncan was very balanced and very knowledgeable on all the subjects touched in his talk. However what I found most interesting were his views on the macro energy situation for Ireland and especially his distress at the almost total lack of understanding and planning or joined-up-thinking for future energy supplies by the government and the national disgrace which we call the ESB.

He also spoke at some length on proper insulation, as perhaps being a better investment in energy savings in terms of return. Proper attic insulation could pay for itself in only 1 to 2 years, and thereafter for ever provide savings free of cost.

Some of the geo-thermal and wood pellets systems costing €7000+ would take many, many years to pay for themselves even if oil prices were to double.

Duncan gave a mini workshop afterwards in the lobby. If Duncan Stewart had not been present at this show I for one would have counted it a complete waste of time.


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is holding
Wood Pellet prices
and supply Stable.

It looks like the supply and price of wood pellets is stabilising in Ireland, mainly due to Balcas Ltd. in the North. Their problem last winter was one of delivery, not so much a manufacturing shortfall. They tell me they now have increased delivery capacity and there should be no problems this coming winter.

Their price of bulk pellets this year is €160 plus VAT per ton delivered. This is very good news for those with bulk storage.

The bagged product however, which is only sold through retailers, works out at nearly twice the price of the bulk product with a 10Kg bag costing €3. It would not make any economic sense to use bagged product at that rate. As far as I know there are roughly 1016 Kg per ton or if it is a metric tonne it would be 1000Kg even. At €3 per 10 Kg bag it works out at €305 per ton or €300 per metric tonne – you would not be saving much on oil costs at that sort of price.


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It may Be prudent
to hold-off buying
Solar Cells for a Year or so!

The costs of installations in solar electricity are poised for major and rapid reductions in costs that will place it as a mainstream power option in the next few years. This statement was made by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Prometheus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Production of solar photovoltaic cells, which turn sunlight directly into carbon free electricity, has risen sixfold since 2000 and grew by over 40% in 2006.

Power grid-connected solar installations produce less than 1% of the world’s electricity. Solar electricity capacity increased nearly 50% in 2006, to 5,000 megawatts, carried mainly by markets in Germany and Japan. Spain is likely to join the race in 2007, and the United States soon after.

The photovoltaic cell market growth, while impressive, was held back by shortages in manufacturing capacity for purified polysilicon. The same material that goes into semiconductor chips. But the situation will see massive changes in the next two years as more than a dozen companies in Europe, China, Japan, and the United States bring on unprecedented levels of production capacity.

In 2006, for the first time, more than half the world’s polysilicon was used to produce solar PV cells.

Advances in design along with a vastly increased polysilicon supply will bring costs down rapidly and by more than 40% in the next three years, according to Prometheus estimates.


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45% Efficiency in new type Solar Cells
1 Megawatt Photovoltaic Installations!!!

New concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) modules with a concentration rate of 500 times have been developed by a research team at The Chinese Institute of Nuclear Energy Research.

The Chinese Institute of Nuclear Energy Research has also constructed a high-efficiency, high-precision sunlight tracking module. The CPV module along with the tracking module can provide a much higher power generation efficiency.

The Chinese intend to establish a system for one-megawatt CPV power generators in 2008.
The institute is also working on a project to raise the conversion efficiency of solar cells to 45% .


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New Type Solar Cell Technology
Produces Electricity at 6 Euro cent per Kw/h

I have been learning a bit about solar cells which produce electricity – called photo voltic cells. There are a bunch of really new and efficient types just coming on the market now. I am sharing some of the stuff I have been wading through and simplified it a bit. I have converted the investment costs and the cost per Kw/h from US cents into Euro cent. I am sure there will be those who will disagree with some of the facts. I am NOT inventing the facts just passing on in good faith what I am learning myself.

The new solar cells.

U.S. Department of Energy announced last December a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7%. This discovery could mean systems with an installation cost of only €2.40 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 6 to 7.5 Euro Cent per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a much more cost-effective option.

A 2 Kw system would cost €4800 to purchase, a 5Kw system would be around €12,000 to install

Most current solar cells do not concentrate sunlight but use only what the sun produces naturally, what the boffins call “one sun insolation,” which achieves an efficiency of 12 – 18% at best. However, by using an optical concentrator, sunlight intensity can be increased, squeezing more electricity out of a single solar cell.

The 40.7% cell was developed using a unique structure called a multi-junction solar cell. This type of cell achieves a higher efficiency by capturing more of the solar spectrum. In a multi-junction cell, individual cells are made of layers, where each layer captures part of the sunlight passing through the cell. This allows the cell to get more energy from the sun’s light.

For the past two decades researchers have tried to break the “40% efficient” barrier on solar cell devices. In the early 1980s, the US Department of Energy started work on “multi-junction gallium arsenide-based solar cells,” multi-layered solar cells which converted about 16% of the sun’s available energy into electricity. In 1994, the National Renewable Energy laboratory broke the 30% limit. This attracted interest from the space industry. Most satellites use multi-junction cells.


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CoolPower – Cool or Watt?
Solar Electricity

On the 7th May last I wrote to CoolPower, an Irish company offering a new type of highly efficient electric solar panel. I was interested in their claimed technology. I wanted to write up a piece for this blog. Here is the e-mail I sent to the company:

Hi – I have a Renewable Energy Blog going for 11 months. It has taken over 36,000 hits since I installed the counter about 10 months ago. Your company and product is of interest. I would like to do an informative piece on what you offer.

If you are interested please send me some photos of domestic retro-fits and control gear installation. And answer, as fully as possible, the following question for publication:

1. How much does say a 5Kw system cost in total. Incl. Gear, Labour, and maintenance contract for usable life?
2. What area square meters – would be needed for 5Kw output in hazy sunshine. Is it possible in the average domestic residence?
2. How much electricity – realistically – in a year does it produce.
3. How long is the system guaranteed for?
4. How much does a Kilowatt/Hour cost from your system – based on
(a) Total Cost of system.
(b) Guaranteed life of system.


Here, reproduced in full, is the reply I received:

End of reply.


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Oil & Gas Executives
Want Focus on Renewable Energy

In a survey oil executives indicate they want government involvement in supporting the development of renewable energy sources that they say is necessary to alleviate the problem of declining oil reserves.

The survey done in April 2007, showed 25% of the respondents said that at least 75% of government funding for energy should be directed into the renewable sources sector and 44% said that at least 50% of national funding should be allocated in the same way.
The vast majority surveyed 82% said declining oil stock were the main concern.

Even the oil and gas companies are now sending out a clear signal that intervention is needed.

These guys are keen to see renewable energy sources becoming mass produced, but some 60% say that will not be possible by 2010. Of those that believe it will happen, 18% say that ethanol is the most viable for mass production, 13% indicate biodiesel.

60% of the oil execs believe that the decline in oil reserves is irreversible.


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