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In This Issue
1. Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion - COFE3 Presentation preview
2. LED Lighting, Is it Ready for Prime Time?
3. Chasing the Sun
4. UK at the Forefront of Low Carbon Economic Revolution
5. Quantum Well Solar Cells Boost Power
Dear Subscriber,
      One of the panels at  our upcoming Third International Conference on Future Energy, COFE3 (Oct. 9-10, 2009 - Washington DC) will be on the "Developments in Fusion Research". A variety of amazing fusion scientists will be here to educate the public on the low-cost fusion energy alternatives available today. A particular favorite of mine was created by the inventor of television, the Philo T. Farnsworth "electrostatic confinement fusor." Farnsworth received several patents on the design and he is also a featured inventor for the next few months at the US Patent and Trademark Office museum in Alexandria VA. The fusor's simplicity is remarkable and the University of Maryland has brought it into the 21st century. So our first article this month is from U of MD's Dr Sedwick who is presenting the updated work on Farnsworth's inertial electrostatic confinement fusion at COFE3.
     So don't forget to register today for COFE3 ! Take advantage of our discounted prices if you register before August 31, 2009.
 
 Thomas Valone, PhD
 President 
1.  Magnetic Core Multi-Grid Inertial Electrostatic Confinment Fusion (IECF)
                                      ---- COFE3 Presentation Preview ----
by Ray Sedwick, Aerospace Engineering Department of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. 
 
Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion (IECF) uses a predominantly spherically symmetric electrostatic field to radially accelerate fuel to fusion energies in a central core.  The main criticism of this approach is that it relies on a non-Maxwellian energy distribution to achieve significant focusing within the core.  Because the fusion time scale is much longer than the thermalization time scale, this approach is often discounted out of hand.  However, a new mechanism has been identified computationally and verified experimentally that could potentially confine the thermalization process to take place at the focal point within the core.  The implication is that while thermalization will still result in a redistribution of ion energies and directions, the ions could remain on predominantly radial paths through the device and augmented focusing could still be achieved.  To support a sufficiently high core density, a permanent magnet grid is considered as a mechanism for electron confinement.  The performance of such a system using D-T is discussed.
 
Dr SedwickRay Sedwick is an Assistant Professor in the Aerospace Engineering Department of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.  Prior to this position he spent 15 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 5 in the pursuit of his S.M. (1994) and his Ph.D. (1997), and the remainder of the time as a researcher in the Space Systems Laboratory.  At the University of Maryland he has established the Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory, where he leads graduate and undergraduate research in a variety of technology pursuits.  He was a Fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), recipient of the inaugural Bepi Colombo Prize, and recently awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER grant for research in compact helicon plasma sources.
  
For More Information
The Farnsworth Fusor
Shortly thereafter a preliminary test on the Farnsworth "Fusor" was performed in a small ITT basement laboratory. His first design for a hot fusion reactor ...
www.farnovision.com/chronicles/fusion/vassilatos.html - Cached - Similar
 
Philo Farnsworth: Fusor (Inertial Electrostatic Confinement)
Farnsworth, inertial electrostatic confinement fusion.
www.rexresearch.com/farnsworth/fusor.htm - Cached - Similar
[PDF]

The Farnsworth/Hirsch Fusor
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View
Farnsworth fusor is directly related to the failure of hot fusion over the forty odd years of massive public funding to produce real results. ...
www.belljar.net/634fusor.pdf - Similar
 
Brian McDermott's Fusion Story-How I made the Farnsworth Fusor
By May, I had made my first post to Fusor.net, and had ordered Richard's informational video tapes on the fusor. By that time, I had acquired a 30 year old ...
www.brian-mcdermott.com/brianfusor2.htm - Cached - Similar
 
The Farnsworth/Hirsch Fusor
The Fusor is a vaccum chamber device invented by Philo T. Farnsworth in the 1950's. An acceleration voltage (several kV) and the geometry of the electrodes ...
www.kronjaeger.com/hv-old/fusor/construction/ - Cached - Similar
  
2.  New Design for Cheap and Efficient White Light LEDs
American Journal of Physics, Press Release, April, 2009 

 
A group of scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has reported development of a new type of light emitting diode (LED) made from inexpensive, plastic like organic materials. Designed with a simplified "tandem" structure, it can produce twice as much light as a normal LED -- including the white light desired for home and office lighting.
The article "A high-performance tandem white organic LED combining highly effective white units and their interconnection layer" by Qi Wang et al. was published online on April 6, 2009.
By utilizing 2,9-dimethyl-4,7-diphenyl-1,10-phenanthroline:Li/MoO3 as an effective charge generation layer (CGL), we extend our recently demonstrated single-emitting-layer white organic light-emitting diode (WOLED) to realize an extremely high-efficiency tandem WOLED. This stacked device achieves maximum forward viewing current efficiency of 110.9 cd/A and external quantum efficiency of 43.3% at 1  A/cm2 and emits stable white light with Commission Internationale de L'Eclairage coordinates of (0.34, 0.41) at 16 V. It is noted that the combination of effective single units and CGL is key prerequisite for realizing high-performance tandem WOLEDs. 2009 American Institute of Physics

Read more: Press Release | Article [J. Appl. Phys. 105, 076101 (2009)]
                              
  
3. Chasing the Sun
 
By David Rotman, Technology Review,  July/August 2009 http://www.technologyreview.com/business/22833/?nlid=2126

The federal government is about to spend billions of dollars on renewable energy. In Part II of our series on the federal stimulus bill, we look at the impact the spending will have on the future of solar power.

This is the second of two articles by David Rotman on technology and the federal stimulus package. The first, "Can Technology Save the Economy?," appeared in the May/June 2009 issue and examined the economic consequences of the U.S. government's plans to spend $100 billion on technology.

The abandoned industrial site on the far edge of Chicago's South Side is an unlikely location for a large solar power plant. For one thing, Chicago is not a very sunny city. And the land itself, once a center of postwar manufacturing, has been vacant for 35 years and is now overgrown with trees and bushes, surrounded by a gritty neighborhood of aging houses. But Exelon, one of the country's largest electric utilities, says that by the end of the year it hopes to turn a 39-acre lot into the nation's largest urban solar plant. If it succeeds, row after row of nearly 33,000 silicon solar panels built and installed by SunPower, a photo­voltaics manufacturer based in San Jose, CA, will cover the lot to produce 10 megawatts of power--enough for about 1,200 to 1,500 homes.

But there is a big if in this scenario of urban transformation. It will happen only if Exelon receives the generous loan guarantees for renewable-energy projects promised in this year's federal stimulus bill--funds that in this case would cover 80 percent of the project's costs. Barely viable with the loan guarantees and a handful of other federal and state subsidies, the $60 million solar plant would not be possible without such government support. Speaking from the 48th-floor offices of Exelon, nearly 20 miles away in downtown Chicago, Thomas O'Neill, the utility's senior vice president for new business development, is blunt about the economics of the solar plant. "If we can't secure the loan guarantee, we can't go forward with the project," he says.

Even with the federal subsidies, says O'Neill, the solar plant won't offer the double-digit returns usually required by investors in large energy projects. It would cost $6 a watt to build, whereas wind and natural-gas plants cost roughly $2 a watt and $1 a watt, respectively. And its 10 megawatts will contribute an insignificant amount of electricity to Exelon's vast generation capacity of 36,000 megawatts. But, says O'Neill, the project is "tailor-made" for some of President Obama's goals in the stimulus package. It would create jobs (250 people would be needed to construct it), and it would demonstrate that solar power can be "brought to the Midwest and to the inner city."

The proposed plant in Chicago is just one of the many renewable-­energy projects that could get built because of the federal stimulus bill passed in mid-February (see "Can Technology Save the Economy?" May/June 2009 and at technologyreview.com). The U.S. Department of Energy is still in the process of choosing the projects that will receive loans and deciding how other newly available subsidies will be spent. But the potential windfall is already jump-starting plans for wind farms in the Midwest, massive solar plants in the deserts of southwest Nevada and southeastern California, and geothermal power plants in the Northwest. According to a recent analysis by the Energy Information Administration, an independent agency within the DOE, the stimulus bill will increase the amount of generating capacity from renewable sources to 156 gigawatts in 2015, up from 114 gigawatts today; renewable capacity would increase only to 118 gigawatts without the legislation.

The EIA report also points to a troubling reality, however: this increased use of renewable energy will have only a slight long-term effect on carbon dioxide emissions (see "Powering Up," p. 48). Even 156 gigawatts would satisfy only a small fraction of U.S. energy needs. And as Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has frequently argued, existing renewable-energy technologies cannot provide the large amounts of cost-competitive energy required to significantly reduce the country's reliance on greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels.
Under Chu's leadership, the DOE has begun a massive infusion of funding into research on new renewable technologies. This spring the department announced $777 million over five years to support 46 new energy research centers, another $280 million for eight "energy innovation hubs," and $400 million to launch and fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a program based on the 1960s-era ARPA program that led to, among other things, the Internet.

Both the research funding and the subsidies aimed at existing technologies could be particularly critical for the solar industry. A number of physicists and chemists argue that finding more efficient ways to use the sun's energy offers the only feasible long-term option for replacing fossil fuels and significantly decreasing production of greenhouse gases. "We're bathed in these quantum particles that rain down on us from the sun, each of them carrying about two electron-volts of energy," says Paul Alivisatos, interim director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and head of its solar research center. "That's where the energy is." But solar power now accounts for a fraction of 1 percent of the total U.S. electricity capacity of 1,000 gigawatts. The main reason is cost.

Silicon cells like the ones Exelon would use, which are made from the type of high-grade silicon used in computer chips, represent the vast majority of installed photovoltaic capacity but are still about five times too expensive to compete with conventional sources of electricity. Newer types of solar cells that replace single-­crystal silicon with thin films of semiconducting materials could be cheaper to make but are less efficient. Concentrated solar thermal power, in which large arrays of mirrors are used to collect sunlight and create steam that drives turbines, could come closer to fossil fuels in cost, but the facilities are expensive to build and require large areas of land in extremely sunny spots. In fact, no existing solar technology is currently competitive without help from government subsidies. That means the fate of solar power is especially vulnerable to the vagaries of government policy and the choices of those who make it.
 
The Sun King
Arnold Goldman knows how profoundly state and federal energy decisions affect the solar-power industry. In the early 1980s, his company, Luz International, built nine large solar thermal plants, with a combined capacity of 354 megawatts, in the middle of California's Mojave Desert. At the time, the Luz facilities supplied 90 percent of the world's solar-generated electricity. The technology they used was based on an ingenious design in which hundreds of thousands of mirrors, spread out over the ground, concentrate sunlight on a network of overhead tubes containing a synthetic oil; the hot oil heats water to create steam that then drives turbines to generate electricity.

The solar facilities, the first of which came online in 1984, were economically possible because of generous incentives from both the federal and state governments. In 1979, President Carter had set a goal that 20 percent of U.S. electricity should come from renewable energy by 2000 (today the figure is still only about 2 percent). Carter and Congress passed hefty tax credits for investors in renewable-energy projects, and a federal law called the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, passed in 1978, offered further incentives to producers of alternative energy.

Then, in late 1990 and early 1991, it all collapsed, recalls ­Goldman. The tax credits put in place by the Carter administration had "deteriorated" during the presidency of Ronald ­Reagan, he says. But the final blow came from a seemingly esoteric change to California's tax code. The state had exempted renewable-energy facilities from paying property taxes, and because Luz's largest facilities were valued at more than $1 billion apiece, that exemption was worth as much as $20 million to $30 million per plant. Toward the end of 1990, California's governor vetoed an extension of the property-tax exemption. But a new governor was taking office in January, and Luz, which was spending $20 million a month to build its 10th plant, gambled that he would quickly reverse the action. When the new governor didn't immediately reinstate the tax exemption, Luz lost its bet. "We miscalculated," says Goldman. "We ran out of money and closed down operations."

With the California and federal governments again offering hefty incentives for renewable energy, Goldman is back, this time with even grander ambitions. In 2006 he founded Brightsource Energy in Oakland, CA; having raised $160 million in venture capital and corporate investments, it now plans to build a series of power plants with a combined capacity of more than four gigawatts. It will use a newer version of the Luz technology that achieves far higher temperatures; and instead of heating a network of oil-filled tubes, it uses tens of thousands of mirrors to concentrate the sunlight on a central boiler that sits atop a tower roughly 100 meters above them. Brightsource expects its first commercial facility--at 400 megawatts, one of the largest solar plants in the world--to be operating in Ivanpah, CA, by late 2011.

But as with the solar plant in Chicago, the stimulus money will be critical to the viability of the project, which will cost roughly $2 billion to build. The federal loan program, which provides for direct lending from the U.S. Treasury, could cover 60 percent of the cost. That would require the company to raise only $800 million from investors, who then would be eligible for $600 million in the form of refundable tax credits. (The investment tax credit for renewable energy existed before the stimulus package passed, but the legislation made a key change: it now gives investors an option to receive a direct grant equivalent to 30 percent of their investment, whereas previously they had to apply the credit toward any tax liability they might have.)

Jack Jenkins-Stark, Brightsource's CFO, is responsible for making the numbers work. "It's all about capital," he says. The cost of operating the plant will be minimal--"maybe $20 million a year." But finding a $2 billion loan to cover the construction costs became nearly impossible after the commercial lending and debt markets collapsed last fall. The only practical way to find such financing these days, he says, is by pairing the federal loan with financing from investors encouraged by the government incentives.

But the federal money, as Jenkins-Stark is quick to point out, comes with plenty of risks. The loan, of course, will have to be paid back. And though finding investors willing to risk several hundred million dollars to build a giant solar plant using new technology is "much easier" with federal incentives in place, he says, "it is still very hard."
It's a challenge that Arnold Goldman, for one, is happy to take on. Undeterred by the bankruptcy of his earlier solar empire, ­Goldman now envisions massive solar thermal plants across a wide swath of Nevada, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. This time, though, Goldman could be part of something even bigger. Nearly six gigawatts' worth of new solar thermal capacity is planned in California alone. But, says Goldman, "we need a predictable policy environment."

Catching Some Rays
About the same time in the mid-1980s that Arnold Goldman was filling the Mojave with mirrors, Richard Swanson, then a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, founded his company, SunPower. Both men had visions of large solar plants spread across the desert. But while Goldman was intent on making electricity by turning the sun's energy into steam, Swanson--an expert on semiconductors and microelectronics--envisioned using photovoltaic cells built from precisely manufactured silicon wafers.
In a dusty field in back of SunPower's headquarters in San Jose, Swanson shows off the technology that, if all goes well, Exelon will install in Chicago. A row of large solar panels, mounted on a tracking apparatus, tilts imperceptibly every few minutes so the panels can follow the sun; each panel holds dozens of high-­efficiency solar cells of the type that Swanson developed at Stanford. A solar-powered motor wheezes slightly every time it moves the panels. At night, the motor will swing the panels toward the east, waiting for the next day's rising sun.

Swanson's cells are among the most efficient commercially available forms of photovoltaic technology; they convert around 22 percent of the sunlight hitting them into electricity. (The solar panels in Chicago will produce about two-thirds as much power as they would in a sunnier location.) But the panels and wheezing motor are also a stark reminder of just how difficult it has been to make silicon photovoltaics cheap enough to compete with more conventional sources of electricity.

Right now, with the 30 percent investment tax credit, the cost of energy from a photovoltaic plant in a sunny region is competitive with electricity produced by fossil fuels during peak hours, says Swanson. But that is the best-case scenario for solar. In less sunny regions and at times other than the middle of the day, when electricity prices are high and solar cells are most efficient, the power produced by photovoltaics is still far too expensive.
Dozens of startups have formed in recent years to pursue technologies that their founders hope will be more cost effective. To Swanson's mind, however, the attention given to these efforts is misplaced. The cost of electricity from silicon photovoltaics is decreasing by 5 to 8 percent a year as the industry grows at a rapid pace, he says; within five years, as the existing technology improves and manufacturers realize economies of scale, it will be competitive without federal incentives.

"We don't need a breakthrough," Swanson says. "Waiting for the next big breakthrough [in photovoltaics] will do nothing but cause you to grow moss underneath your feet." He adds, "We have a road map where we can very clearly see how to halve the cost from where we are today. And that is sufficient to fuel explosive industry growth."

Turning the Corner
The solar industry might not need a breakthrough to continue healthy growth rates. But many scientists say that without dramatic advances, solar power will never supply the vast amount of power needed to eventually displace fossil fuels.

Of the 46 new energy research centers announced by the secretary of energy in late April, 24 are doing work related to solar power, and each is receiving $2 million to $5 million annually over the next five years. Likewise, two of the eight new DOE innovation hubs will focus on solar technologies: one on electricity and the other on techniques for storing the energy from sunlight in the form of fuels. And the proposed 2010 DOE budget, which (coming just a few months after the stimulus bill) contained relatively modest increases for most new energy technologies, nearly doubled the research budget for solar power.

Much of the research focuses on overcoming the fundamental dilemma of photovoltaic technology: the trade-off between cost and efficiency. Conventional solar cells are efficient because the silicon from which they're made is grown as a single crystal, yielding a perfectly ordered molecular structure; when the semiconductor absorbs sunlight, the light's energy excites electrons that can travel through this crystal structure unimpeded, escaping to create an electrical current. But making devices out of single-crystal silicon is relatively difficult and expensive. Newer photo­voltaic technologies use materials that have a less ordered structure and can be deposited as thin films; they are potentially easier and cheaper to make, but they're also less efficient.

"With photovoltaics you have either high efficiencies or low cost, but what we urgently need are [photovoltaics] with both attributes," says Harry Atwater, a professor of physics and materials science at Caltech. "One of the challenges of solar power is how to get hundreds of gigawatts to a terawatt of power in a way that is cost effective." Achieving that, he says, may take technology "very different than what we use today."

Atwater will head a DOE-funded energy research center at Caltech, where scientists will work on developing materials that could enable thin-film photovoltaics to absorb sunlight more efficiently. These materials, whose microstructure is designed to interact with light in new ways, could be made using different types of semiconductors. Light that strikes solar cells made from them, Atwater says, can be forced to "turn a corner" and travel parallel to the surface of the thin film. As a result, the cell has a chance to absorb much more light than it would if the light passed through perpendicular to the surface.

Researchers elsewhere are hoping to overcome the challenges inherent in using disordered materials for photovoltaic cells. When light strikes the jumble of molecules in such materials, the excited electrons and the electron "holes" left behind when they're knocked free form particle-like pairs called excitons. Excitons play a role in the process that plants use to capture energy through photosynthesis, says Marc Baldo, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT; in addition, organic light-emitting diodes use them to generate light. And, he says, it might be possible to manipulate these excitons on the nanoscale to improve the photovoltaic properties of disordered materials. Baldo heads a DOE-funded energy research center for excitonics, which includes researchers from MIT, Harvard University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Ultimately, however, using sunlight to produce electricity will never supply enough of the energy we need: existing solar technologies, after all, produce power only during the day, and electricity can't easily be stored. Instead, we must find a way to use sunlight to make fuels such as hydrogen, which can readily and cheaply be stored until they're needed.
Learning how to efficiently make such fuels directly from the sun--a process called artificial photosynthesis, because the aim is to essentially mimic the natural process used by green plants--is "still 20 to 30 years down the road," says Harry Gray, a chemist at Caltech and director of a solar-research collaboration that includes scientists from a number of universities. Although researchers, including some in his group, are getting "nice results" on certain aspects of artificial photosynthesis, lots of difficult problems remain to be solved. "It's going to take a long time to get it together," he says.

Silicon photovoltaics will be the dominant solar technology "for quite a while," says Gray. "If all goes well, we will move into cheaper solar cells that are not single-crystal silicon, such as organic photovoltaics. But the transition [to cheaper photovoltaics] is not going to come all that fast."

Flying Tomatoes
Will the stimulus bill facilitate that much-needed transition to more efficient technologies? Severin Borenstein, for one, is doubtful. Borenstein, the director of the University of California Energy Institute, says the problem with the stimulus funding is that when it comes to existing technologies, the DOE will need to pick which projects to support. "The worry is that the government will invest in the wrong technologies," he says; picking technology winners is something that "historically it has not been very good at."A far more effective way to promote the growth of renewable energy, he believes, is to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade scheme (see "Carbon Trading on the Cheap," p. 72). Either approach would provide market-based incentives for deploying renewables and would represent a more efficient and "technology-­neutral" government policy. At the same time, he says it is important for the government to fund research into new renewable technologies.

From an economist's perspective, Borenstein says, government subsidies are justified to address "market failures": cases in which the market doesn't allocate enough resources to the pursuit of socially desirable goals, such as reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The government incentives then support efforts that are financially risky but are likely to provide a common benefit. In such a context, he says, the argument for public spending on research into new solar technologies is strong--but the case for subsidizing the current commercial technologies, particularly photovoltaics, is "really weak." Existing photovoltaics are expensive even compared with other renewables such as wind and solar thermal, he says, and they won't necessarily lead to cheaper technologies, either. "You're obviously going to get [solar] panels put in, but is that going to generate something that will have a lasting benefit? Will it help you build a solar industry? I think the answer is probably not."

Borenstein says direct government subsidies to support existing photovoltaics could in fact impede the development of more efficient technologies. "There is no question that there is what economists call 'option value' lost when you invest in the current technology," he says. "If the technology is about to get a lot better, and is about to get a lot better for reasons that don't have to do with building out the current technology but because the science is going to improve, that's an argument for waiting. You're crowding out future investment by investing now. The money would be better spent five years from now on the new technology."

In a recent paper, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Engineering and Public Policy surveyed leading solar-power experts on the future of photovoltaics and concluded not only that the technology is far more expensive than other renewable sources of energy, such as wind and even solar thermal power, but that it "may have difficulty becoming economically competitive" in the next 40 years. The results are "dismaying," says Granger Morgan, a Carnegie Mellon engineering professor and the department's head.
Short-term subsidies for wind and solar thermal power could help them become cheap enough to compete with conventional sources of electricity, Morgan says. "But silicon photovoltaics are really a different matter. With existing technology, I just don't see it happening." He doubts that even doubling or tripling the use of current photovoltaic technologies will dramatically bring down the prices. "Of course," he says, "if you get up in a room and say this, the tomatoes start flying."

Indeed, plenty of experts believe that existing photovoltaics have an important role to play in promoting new forms of solar power. Deploying them on a larger scale will "pave the way for the next technologies," insists Lawrence Berkeley's Alivisatos. For that reason, he says, it is important to establish photovoltaics in the market. "It makes sense to have an industry that can gear up now," he says. "Hopefully, that industry will absorb the new developments and bring out newer products over the next couple of decades."

Caltech's Harry Gray agrees: the urgency in his voice is palpable when he argues that we need to install as much solar power as we can, as soon as possible. "We need to make investments now in the technology we have, which is silicon photovoltaics," says Gray. "We should be putting in [solar power] everywhere we can so people can see that it can make a difference. We can't sit back and wait for breakthroughs. We need to show people that solar can work."

The disagreement on the role of solar photovoltaics illustrates the larger debate over the best way for government policy to encourage a national shift to cleaner energy. And it is about to be played out around the country.

The DOE will probably decide soon on Exelon's loan application to build the Chicago solar plant. If it gets built, the facility will represent only a tiny fraction of the nation's total solar capacity, or even of Exelon's electricity portfolio. But Gray is surely right on one point: such a facility, located in one of the nation's largest cities, would be the face of solar power for many. Its fate will matter.

According to accounts by several companies, the DOE is thorough in reviewing the hundreds of loan applications it's received, rigorously evaluating the financial health of the applicants and the market potential of proposed facilities. Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore the role of politics in deciding whether Exelon will build its facility on the South Side of Chicago. After all, President Obama's home is just 13 miles away, and local politicians have been trying for years to reinvigorate the neighborhood that surrounds the site.
But then, politics have always played a major role in deciding the nation's energy future, especially when it comes to solar power. Just ask Arnold Goldman.

David Rotman is the editor of Technology Review.
 
4. UK at the Forefront of a Low Carbon Economic Revolution

Press Release, July 15, 2009,UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change, http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn081/pn081.aspx
 UK low carbon emissions

A comprehensive plan to move the UK onto a permanent low carbon footing and to maximise economic opportunities, growth and jobs was published by the Government today.
The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan plots out how the UK will meet the cut in emissions set out in the budget of 34% on 1990 levels by 2020. A 21% reduction has already been delivered - equivalent to cutting emissions entirely from four cities the size of London.
Transforming the country into a cleaner, greener and more prosperous place to live is at the heart of our economic plans for Building Britain's Future and ensuring the UK is ready to take advantage of the opportunities ahead. By 2020:
More than 1.2 million people will be in green jobs
7 million homes will have benefited from whole house makeovers, and more than 1.5 million households will be supported to produce their own clean energy
40% of electricity will be from low carbon sources, from renewables, nuclear and clean coal
We will be importing half the amount of gas that we otherwise would
The average new car will emit 40% less carbon than now.
 
 
Related News: The Renewable Energy Strategy (RES)
UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change,
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/uk_supply/energy_mix/renewable/res/res.aspx

 
UK cabonRenewable energy is key to our low-carbon energy future. We need to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as diversify our energy sources. As part of this move to a low-carbon economy, we need a dramatic change in renewable energy use in electricity, heat and transport.
The UK has signed up to the EU Renewable Energy Directive[external Link], which includes a UK target of 15 percent of energy from renewables by 2020. This target is equivalent to a seven-fold increase in UK renewable energy consumption from 2008 levels: the most challenging of any EU Member State. While such an increase is ambitious, and will be challenging, we are fully committed to meeting the target.
 
Following the major consultation on the Renewable Energy Strategy in 2008, we have now published our Renewable Energy Strategy and Executive Summary.  This strategy sets out how we all have a role to play in promoting renewable energy, from individuals to communities to businesses.
 
Meeting our renewable energy targets are not just about preventing climate change and securing our future energy supplies. Achieving our targets could provide 100 billion worth of investment opportunities and up to half a million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020.
 
Alongside the Renewable Energy Strategy document, we have also published a suite of impact assessments and supporting analytical consultancy reports.  The main consenting bodies for renewable energy and environmental statutory consultees have also published a joint statement setting out their collective commitment to achieve greater renewable energy deployment.
 
5. Quantum Well Solar Cells Boosts Power

Brett Cherry, Institute of Science in Society,
 
Trapping solar energy in quantum wells increases gain and
efficiency of solar cells
.

A 'quantum well' is a potential well that confines particles
to two dimensions that are otherwise free to move in three
dimensions. Both electrons and holes can be confined in
semiconductor quantum wells. The effect is to increase the
gain and efficiency of the solid state device such as lasers
in CD or DVD players, infrared imaging, and more recently,
solar cells.

How quantum wells trap solar energy

A quantum well is basically a semiconductor with a small
energy gap (or band gap) sandwiched between two thicker
layers of semiconductor(s) with a large energy gap, such as
gallium arsenide (GaAs). (see [1] Solar Power For The Masses
for a description of a solar cell).  Quantum wells in solar
cells confine electrons and holes that normally move in
three dimensions to two dimensions. The number of electrons
and holes confined is determined by the thickness of the
semiconductor used, usually ranging from 1-10 nanometres.
Confining electrons within quantum wells allows them to be
easily converted to useful forms of energy, and it is the
thinness of the semiconductor material that allows this to
happen.

Quantum well solar cells are built with multiple nanoscale
semiconductors layered on top of one another with a lateral
conduction layer between the substrate and n region to allow
contact between each device (Fig. 1). In solar cells, the
quantum wells making up part of the thin i layer in a p-i-n
junction confines the electrons to two dimensions. This
means electrons and holes are quantized, having discrete
levels of energy. Within the i layer of the junction, the
potential energy of an electron is less than the outside
layer so the flow of charge is confined to certain well-
defined regions that can be exploited in solar
photovoltaics. Quantum wells are grown by molecular beam
epitaxy, where atoms of the materials are delivered to
crystals using a molecular beam or through chemical vapour
deposition, using a flowing gas.

Figure 1. Quantum well solar cell. QW - Quantum Well. LCL -
lateral conduction layer [2]

A quantum solar journey in the making

Professor Keith Barnham of Imperial College London, who
invented the quantum well solar cell in 1989, was originally
funded by the Greenpeace Environmental Trust. Barnham is now
Chief Scientific Officer and Director of QuantaSol, an
independent UK-based solar PV company that will bring
quantum well solar cells to the solar industry. The solar
cells developed by Barnham operate at high current.  The i
region consists of alternating layers of indium gallium
arsenide (InGaAs) and gallium arsenide phosphide (GaAsp),
while the p and n layers of the solar cell are made from
gallium arsenide GaAs.  A "strain balance" technique is used
to grow the different layers, which matches the lattice
structures of the different semiconducter materials,
preventing defects [3]. This method allows more than 65
wells to be grown on top of one another without dislocation
[2].

Figure 2. Strain-balanced quantum well solar cell [3]

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