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"Too often, when talking about research and innovation on clean energy technologies, policymakers, pundits, and the media tend to assume that the biggest breakthrough will come from a completely novel technology. The discovery of some new and sexy clean energy technology will suddenly change the game and make clean energy abundant and affordable overnight.
In practice that rarely happens. A more likely scenario is that humble, behind-the-scenes “process innovations” will continue to increase the efficiency and drive down the costs of manufacturing the technologies we already know work. The Department of Energy has recently completed testing on just such a humble breakthrough. TheOptical Cavity Furnace is a new piece of equipment for making solar cells that is about to rock the photovoltaic industry by slashing costs and increasing efficiency. The news should not just excite tech nerds—by reducing the cost of producing solar cells by nearly three-quarters, this new technology represents another big step on the path to making clean energy the cheap kind of energy.
Here’s how it works. By using optics to more efficiently focus visible and infrared light, the Optical Cavity Furnace can heat silicon wafers used in solar cell production much more precisely and uniformly than previous forms of solar cell manufacture. The resulting solar cells are stronger, more efficient, and have fewer impurities. The National Renewable Energy Lab, or NREL, the DOE office responsible for the research, and a corporate partner AOS Inc. are now working to bring this technology to scale. The partners plan to build an industrial-scale Optical Cavity Furnace capable of producing 1,200 highly efficient solar cells per hour. NREL has cooperative research agreements with many of the country’s biggest solar cell producers. Even better, in addition to producing solar cells more reliably, quickly, and therefore cheaply, the Optical Cavity Furnace itself is cheaper than traditional equipment used to produce cells. As the cost of manufacturing solar cells goes down, elementary economics suggests the accessibility of solar cells will soar. Then it’s a matter of harnessing their power in a myriad of other industries in a clean energy domino effect."
Driving north of Toronto, we are seeing massive wind turbines on working farms. The utility is paying the famer's $1500cdn a month for a lease per turbine, and they get free electricity to run the farm. It is a perpetual lease unless the utility agrees to a termination.
The economics appear very good on this program...great use of land, that does not disturb their ability to continue farming, reasonable lease rates and, we'd assume, reasonable renewable energy rates coming out of those turbines.
We're not sure how much kw is generated per turbine, but they are big units that have come in from Germany and are spinning constantly.
And, it does not disturb the gentleness of the landscape. In fact, the turbines look majestic against the green fields and open skies.