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Solar ThermoPhotoVoltaic (STPV) enables solar cells to exceed 32% theoretical efficiency limit

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a paper last week in the journal Nature Energy describing how they built a working solar thermophotovoltaic device (STPV) that pushes solar cells through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. With this exciting new technology, the scientist show the potential of how solar modules can generate even more energy than theoretically determined by harnessing some of the module’s wasted heat.

The Shockley-Queisser Limit is commonly accepted as an absolute theoretical limit on traditional solar cell efficiency for energy conversion. Single-layered silicon PV cells—the type of cells most widely used in today’s solar modules—has an upper limit of 32 percent. However, researchers are finding ways to increase this overall efficiency by using multiple layers of cells by converting thermal heat to light which in-turn can be used help increase the overall output of the PV cell layer. This method is known as STPVs, which the MIT team used in their study.

A traditional solar cell converts sunlight into electricity while producing a lot of wasted heat energy.  The MIT team introduces a new material layer to the solar cell structure, which enables the device to absorb the heat energy and convert it into light and at the same time helps cool the solar module which helps improve the PV cell layer efficiency. The converted light energy is produced at the correct wavelengths for optimal PV electric generation. This cell configuration and process improves the overall efficiency. The technology to improved efficiency is using a layer of high-tech materials called nanophotonic crystals that can be designed and configured to emit precisely determined wavelengths of light when heated.

This new exciting technology could double the amount of power generated by solar modules without dramatically increasing cost. Soon, solar arrays can be placed on homes with half as many solar modules as are currently required with traditional PV technology!  This will also provide a compelling reason for owners of existing PV electric systems to replace their older solar modules with newer STPV modules and double their existing annual electric power production!

More info:  Wikipedia Thermophotovoltaic

EV Wireless Inductive Charging Technology is on the way!

I saw this article today on VOX about Wireless Inductive EV Charging Technology:


I believe this is a much needed step to giving EV’s the convenience factor of a gas powered vehicle. Just park your EV over the inductive charger and your done! Nice!

I’m curious about the safety factors? i.e., no human hands near or over the inductive pickup when charging – I’d assume it would be equivalent sticking your hand in microwave oven on full power!  But I’m sure the engineers at MIT are figuring this out!

I think Nikola Tesla would approve; I’m pretty sure one of his life pursuits was to provide a wireless electrical distribution system.



33% Solar Cell Efficiency May Be Coming Soon!

I found this article very fascinating about hybrid lead halide perovskites that may soon provide us with 33% Solar Cell Efficiencies.  What I find really cool about this material science is that  hybrid lead halide perovskites are derived from a liquid solution and can be spread on to just about any irregular surface – the possibilities are endless such as spraying onto Electric Vehicles (EV’s) allowing the EV to charge itself just by just sitting in the sun!  Here is a link to the entire article:

Recycling sunlight: a solar cell revolution? Source: The Christian Science Monitor by Jason Thomson 3/24/2016

The Future of Solar Energy – An MIT Reveiw

Here is an informative publication about the Future of Solar AN INTERDISCIPLINARY MIT STUDY

Residential Combined Heat and Power Systems

Once available only to large commercial sites, Combined Heat and Power generation (CHP) systems are now available on a scale that is safe, practical, and affordable to homeowners. CHP technologies, sometimes referred to as a power plant, have provided heat and electrical energy efficiently at commercial and industrial sites for many years. However, with over 100,000 successful residential installations in Japan and Europe, as of December 2014,  several manufacturers are now offering residential CHP products in the U.S.

A CHP system uses fuel such as natural gas to produce simultaneous heat and electricity. The electricity can be used for any household device such as lights and appliances. At the same time, the heat produced can be used for water heating and/or space heating. About 10% of the fuel used is lost as exhaust, much like a high efficiency furnace.

Micro-CHP, as residential-sized CHP systems are usually called, run on propane or natural gas. The byproduct of electricity generation is waste heat—and plenty of it. One 6-kW unit provides 10 gpm of hot water at 140 to 150°F. This waste heat can be used to heat an entire home, water for domestic use, for swimming pools and spas, or even as an energy source for heat-driven (absorption) cooling systems.

CHP systems are extremely efficient, offering combined heat and power generating efficiency of about 90%, compared to about 30 to 40% for electricity from a central power station.

Micro-CHP units range in capacity from about 1 kW to 6 kW and are about the size of a major appliance. Units come as grid-tied systems which connect to utility power as backup or as stand-alone systems providing primary power for a residences.

A typical unit produces 1.2 kilowatts of electric power and 11,000 Btus of heat in the form of hot water. The system is combined with a high efficiency, natural gas-fueled warm air furnace or boiler for supplemental space heating.

Operating cost and energy savings will vary by type and cost of fuel, efficiency of the system, amount of electricity produced, and whether net metering is available at the site. For the average homeowner in the Northeast, a 1.2 kW system will provide approximately half of the annual household electricity needs. The cost of operating the CHP unit to its full capacity (fully using the thermal output of the CHP) will be less than buying an equivalent amount of fuel gas and electricity as long as electricity costs remain above 8.5 cents per kWh, which is the case in most of the country. Annual maintenance costs are on the order of a few hundred dollars.

Sunny Day Power is now Energy1 Systems

As of January 2015 Sunny Day Power has officially changed its name to Energy1 Systems.  While Energy1 is still very much in the solar industry we have expanded our product & service offering to include residential and commercial fuel cell based micro-CHP (combined heat & power) systems.  With a micro-CHP system our customers can become truly grid independent generating all of their energy needs with a single self-contained (“1 System”) on-site micro power plant that is up to 90% efficient.  These micro-power plants are known as micro-CHP systems and will generate electricity, heat, and hot water, 24-7, running off of natural gas or propane.  A properly sized micro-CHP system will provide our customers true energy independence allowing them to no longer rely on the local electric grid for primary power.

Redox Power Inexpensive 25KW Fuel-Cell Generator

MIT Review

People could soon get cleaner energy from a compact fuel-cell generator in their backyards, at costs cheaper than power from the grid. At least, that’s the hope of Redox Power Systems, a startup based in Fulton, Maryland, which plans to offer a substantially cheaper fuel cell next year.

Redox is developing fuel cells that feed on natural gas, propane, or diesel. The cells, which generate electricity through electrochemical reactions rather than combustion, could allow businesses to continue operating through power outages like those caused by massive storms such as Hurricane Sandy, but they promise to be far cleaner and quieter than diesel generators. They can also provide continuous power, not just emergency backup power, so utilities could use them as distributed power sources that ease congestion on the grid, preventing blackouts and lowering the overall cost of electricity.

Redox’s claims sound a lot like those made in 2010 by Bloom Energy (see “Bloom Reveals New Fuel Cells”), a well-funded fuel-cell startup in Sunnyvale, California. But Bloom’s fuel cells are based on relatively conventional technology, and so far they have proved far too expensive for homes. Redox claims to have developed fuel cells based on novel materials that could cut costs by nearly 90 percent. The first product will be a 25-kilowatt generator that Redox says produces enough electricity for a grocery store. The company eventually plans to sell smaller versions for homes.

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A natural gas powered fuel cell is a perfect alternative to a standby gas or diesel generator for your business or home and can actually provide 24×7 reliable clean power at or perhaps cheaper than the utility without all of that noise of a generator.  Also, like solar, you are entitled to a 30% federal tax credit, plus state incentives, plus you can earn clean energy credits which will help offset your capital investment; thus making a fuel cell investment very attractive.

If you are considering a fuel cell for your business or home please contact Dennis Murphy at dennis@SunnyDayPower.NET or at 610.358.6065 to get a free site assessment and proposal.  Sunny Day Power is a full service alternative energy construction company.

More reasons to hate gasoline powered vehicles


I’m a big proponent of Electric Vehicles (EVs) since they virtually eliminate many of the problems that we have gotten used to with our dirty gasoline powered vehicles such as virtually eliminating air and noise pollution.  And another big thing: no more oil changes! which I absolutely hate having to get done every 3 or 5 thousand miles, what a hassle!  Here is another reason not to drive a gasoline powered vehicle: the price of gas!  And did you know the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard is making us all pay more at the pump with its unrealistic ethanol mandates? [more]


With EVs you eliminate many of the hassles and expenses associated with gasoline powered vehicles.  If you are thinking of getting an EV, I recommend doing it sooner rather than later before the Federal and State governments impose a per mile tax which is currently being discussed but may still be several years away. So for now you can drive your EV tax free.  You can also recharge your EV for free with the Sunny Day Power EV solar recharging station,  AUTORAC™.  To order an AUTORAC™ please contact Dennis Murphy 610.358.6065 or at dennis@sunnydaypower.net to get a free quote.

As major economies deal with China’s dumping, will we continue to see solar module price per watt drop?

PV Magazine

As the major world economic players try to deal with China dumping of solar modules on the world who will eventually win? Solar module prices have steadily been dropping through the floor during the past few years and many large established solar module manufactures have been forced to exit the market.  Hopefully when the dust settles the price per watt for solar modules will not do an about-face!  [more]

Community solar farms an excellent idea!

Solar Industry

I can’t tell you how many home owners who wanted solar on their home could not get it due to shade issues or their home not having the correct solar orientation.  Also, I’ve had plenty of home owners with ideal solar conditions unable to get solar since their HOA would not allow it!

I believe that community solar farms are a great idea; a small community could dedicate say an acres of land for a large solar array; this will guarantee every home would have access to perfect solar conditions and it would avoid installing solar modules on individual roof tops.

Well at least U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo thinks this is a good idea with his Solar Uniting Neighborhoods Act that would make homeowners who participate in community solar farms eligible for federal tax credits.  [more]

If you live in a development located in the PA/NJ/DE/MD interested in deploying a community solar farm please contact Dennis Murphy at 610.358.6065 or email dennis@sunnydaypower.net to discuss the possibilities.