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Solar Cell Inventor Wins Millennium Prize 147

adeelarshad82 writes "The inventor of a new type of solar cell won the Finnish state and industry-funded, €800,000 ($1.07 million), Millennium Technology Prize. According to the foundation, Michael Graetzel's dye-sensitized solar cells, known as Graetzel cells, could be a significant contributor to the future energy technologies due to their excellent price-performance ratio."
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Solar Cell Inventor Wins Millennium Prize

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  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:29AM (#32521208)
    Not yet, some reports have shown promise in stabilizing the dyes for long term exposure but I don't think there are any commercial cells available yet. Also I'm not sure how much of a panacea they are, according to the articles I can find most of the lab cells use ruthenium and platinum, any solution using trace elements is unlikely to bring a mass scale replacement to our current fuels. That's why I think we need to concentrate on stored energy wind farms and collecting solar/thermal plants, neither require exotic trace materials (some "rare" earths for more efficient magnets, but nothing on a gram/kW scale compared to any of the photovoltaic solutions).
  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:50AM (#32521716)

    I live in a cold climate - it is use energy or freeze

    actually, Investing in insulation is ten times cheaper than buying energy. a passive house has been build in very cold climates.

  • by marsu_k ( 701360 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:06AM (#32521796)
    Oh FFS, I'm a Finn and I really don't have any problem with this. In the summary you'll find the price is "Finnish state and industry-funded". And the price is biannual, 400k€ annually is not really that much for the state, even if it were completely "my tax money".
  • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:20AM (#32521866)

    You're over-simplifying things.

    There is an optimum in every climate. Here's how it works:

    You choose a certain period. Say, 30 years.

    You check the price of the energy. You check the price of different kinds of insulation.

    Insulation is a one-time investment, energy costs money all the time. You check which is the cheapest after 30 years.

    In many houses an investment in insulation is worth the money and will pay itself back. But in some cases, the quality of the insulation is already such that it's just too expensive to add even more insulation to save those few euros/dollars/whatevers in energy.

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:24AM (#32521884) Homepage

    > Have this guy's solar cells left the lab yet?

    In some small applications, yes, but nothing serious. There are several reason:

    1) the electrolyte is a liquid. It loses efficiency in cold weather, and eventually stops working.

    2) well before that limit, expansion and contraction is a serious issue and large-scale structures have problems with sealing and leakage.

    3) the electrolyte dissolves silver. It can be used for small-scale systems where the cost of platinum is not a major factor compared to construction costs, but for large low-cost solutions silver is the only practical solution.

    4) the solvents used to mix the dye with the TiO degrade plastics.

    None of these is unsolvable. It just needs another decade of work. I install mSi panels now, I suspect I will be installing DSSCs in 15 years.


  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @08:44AM (#32522308) Homepage Journal

    WHOA, Nelly! Check power consumption - unless you're talking about small LCDs (less than 28 inches), a CRT will use less electricity.

    It all depends on the size. A lot of people went from like 27 inch or 32 inch CRTs to 60" monsters. The truth is somewhere in-between.

    An equivalent-sized LCD will use less power than a CRT. Going from a 32 inch CRT to a 31.5 inch LCD flat panel will save you around 50% or so in electricity usage. Going from a 32 inch TV to a very efficient 46 inch LCD will save you a little bit of electricity; an average 46 inch LCD will cost about the same.

    Going to a 60 inch monster will cost about double.

    If you're talking about computer monitors, then in almost all cases, moving to an LCD from a CRT will save you money. A typical 17 inch CRT uses about 100W with a max around 105W, while, say, my 20 inch widescreen flat panel uses around 55W, with a maximum usage 75W.

  • by 2obvious4u ( 871996 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @11:20AM (#32523932)
    Another thing to take into account is cash flows. It may take you a long time to pay back the capital investment of improving your insulation, however if you finance those improvements at a good rate you can improve your cash flow, maybe not your debt to asset ratio, but you may have more cash on hand each month from having a power bill 4x lower.

    Thats what I did on my house, I bought a cheap house and doubled down on improvements, insulation, windows, tankless water heater (best thing I've ever bought in my life), appliances, etc. My mortgage on the house went from about $600 a month to $800 a month; however my electric bill went from $400 a month to under $100. This greatly improved my cash flow. I also plan on being in this house long enough that the improvements will be paid off then there will be a nearly $1200 change in monthly cash flow.

    Lowering your monthly expenses in the form of Capital investments is a good long term strategy. If you plan on moving in 2-3 years you may not be able to recoup the saving in the sale price, however if you are the one paying the bills the change in cash flows can be dramatic.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"