China developing a distributed power grid for 1000s of small solar installations
China as a model renewable energy economy Ft.com By Li Hejun, China New Energy Chamber of Commerce and Hanergy Holding Group 31 Dec 14 “……..Even more exciting than falling costs are the new ways in which China will use and transmit power. China is now intent on developing a distributed power grid that will rely on the interconnection of thousands of rooftop and building-integrated solar installations generating power close to the point of consumption. This is a drastic departure from the current centralised power system that relies on goliath, coal-burning power plants and costly, inefficient power transmission over hundreds, or even thousands of kilometres. This new, smart grid will help eliminate pollution, slash costs, and increase reliability.
In addition to making the distributed grid possible, new forms of solar technology are ushering in an era of mobile energy in which customers can take power with them wherever they go.
At present, around 90 per cent of the world’s solar power output is geared towards first-generation crystalline silicon panels, which for a long time were the most efficient technology available. But traditional silicon panels are hard, opaque and heavy, while thin film solar technology can be can be lightweight, flexible, and translucent, making it ideal for a wide variety of applications, from curved automobile rooftops and building integration to consumer clothing and portable power stations.
In recent years, thin-film technology has caught up with, and even surpassed, crystalline silicon in terms of both conversion efficiency and cost. Furthermore, producing thin-film cells requires just a fraction of the material and energy necessary to make crystalline silicon, conserving resources, cutting costs, and reducing pollution.
In the coming years, technologies will continue to improve, and prices will continue to fall. Two of the most promising technologies now are solar cells made from CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide) and those from GaAs (Gallium-Arsenide), with maximum conversion efficiencies topping 20 percent, and 30 percent, respectively. As these are further developed and brought to market on a mass scale, solar panels will transform into something capable of being integrated into nearly every fabric, product, and structure at a reasonable cost……..
Li Hejun is Director of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, and CEO of multinational clean energy company Hanergy Holding Group. http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/12/31/guest-post-china-as-a-model-renewable-energy-economy/