Solar panel with integral battery

solar-battery-lithium-oxygen-diagram-640x319Is it a solar panel with integrated battery, or a battery with an integrated solar panel?  No matter which way you look at it, this new technology being developed at Ohio State is pretty cool.  This solar panel has a layer inside that acts as an energy storage medium.  No separate charge controllers like an external battery would require.  It’s just a solar panel that can continue to supply power once the sun goes down.  Since it’s still in the research stage there’s no word on capacity and those details, but it’s a really neat idea that I hope takes off.  Read more at  ExtremeTech.

Old Energy vs Solar

The fight has begun.  Solar and ‘old energy’ are increasingly butting heads, as the old business model breaks in the face of new distributed solar generation.  Old energy is fighting back with the help of governments reducing incentives for distributed solar installations and even increasing fees for grid-tied systems.  It seems to be slowing down solar adaption in areas, but I think this is just a temporary blip…once energy storage drops in price, people will have a viable solution for going entirely off-grid, and then Old Energy will be faced with the same infrastructure costs, yet with fewer customers to spread that cost over.  The inevitable collapse of Old Energy will be fascinating to observe…I can’t wait!  Read more at  Business Insider.

Solar City to Make Battery Backup Standard

Cool news…using batteries from the gigafactory Tesla is building outside of Reno, Solar City will be including battery backup systems in 100% of the rooftop solar systems they install within 5-10 years.  This is significant partly because it helps illustrate the rapidly decreasing costs of both solar panels and battery backup systems, but also because it is likely to have a major impact on our current energy production and distribution systems…the old grid will become obsolete eventually, but the transition won’t be easy for the larger energy companies.  Read more at

Fracking linked to earthquakes in Oklahoma

Fracking has been shown to be responsible for the big increase in seismic activity in Oklahoma since 2008.  It’s not the fracking itself that is to blame, but rather the process of injection toxic wastewater back into the ground.  It sounds like so far, it’s not to the point where we’re looking at major structural damage and such, so is really more of an annoyance…but I wonder how the residents in those areas are coping?  You can read the study here or at Salon.

The fragility of our electrical grid

Concerns over the fragility of the US’ electrical grid were only reinforced when the Wall Street Journal published this report detailing out our power grid could be knocked out by someone taking out out nine key electric-transmission substations (there are 55,000 total in this country) and also one transformer manufacturer (to delay reconstruction).  It wouldn’t just be a minor disruption either…it would take an estimated eighteen months to restore functionality.  Our substations are hardly secure either, protected mostly by fences and cameras.  Proof of that came last year when someone used rifles to knock out 17 transformers in a San Jose substation; they never were caught.  Kinda amazing that all our technology could be wiped out so easily, plunging us into, well, it’s hard to say what would happen…certainly not as bad as the TV show Revolution, but easily an economic depression of unprecedented magnitude.  Your neighbors with grid-tied solar would be equally out of luck – those systems only provide power when the grid itself is energized.

You can read more about this in the WSJ link (paywall!) or at Treehugger.

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