At present solar cells are cost effective for remote locations off the grid, such as Illawong Lodge and Kings Canyon:
Illawong Ski Tourers manages Illawong Lodge, located at about 1600 metres altitude in Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales, Australia. Illawong is several kilometres from the nearest roads, power, gas, water, sewer, telephones, ski lifts, and other services. ...
The first hut built here in 1925-26 was called Pounds Creek. ... The lodge consists of four small rooms with a roof and walls of iron, floor of wood, lined. It includes an innovative high-country solar power system for lighting.
From: Illawong Ski Tourers
Kings Canyon is a high-profile tourist resort in Central Australia's Watarrka National Park in the arid zone. The remote resort previously relied on a diesel-fuelled power station. ... Peak power demand in the Northern Territory closely matches solar availability, with the peak occurring early afternoon. The PV system provides peak load and is run in tandem with a smaller diesel engine. Battery storage is not required since the diesel engines supplement ...However, research funding is likely to come for more exotic applications first. The first uses for solar cells were military and remote uses in telecommucations.From: Kings Canyon Solar Power Station, Australian Business Council - Sustainable Energy 2006
Some which the sliver cells might be applied to are:
- Solar Building Panels for China: The usual location for solar collectors on buildings is the roof. However, high rise buildings have only limited roof space. An alternative would be to use the same micro-louver technology as for military vehicles (below) and build the cells in to wall and window panels. Sun facing vertical panels would have cells arranged horizontally facing up towards the sun. For windows, sufficient space would be left between the cells to allow the occupants to have a view out the window. The cells could be made in aluminum frames as a direct replacement for domestic and commercial cladding, balcony balistrades and windows. Such panels could be used by the million for Shanghai offices and apartment blocks.
- Lightweight solar panels for the F-35 Lightening II JSF: Sliver cell panels could be incorporated into the sun shields used to protect aircraft cockpits on the ground. This would have the dual function of cooling the cocpit and providing power to keep the aircraft batteries charged. The sliver cell shades would be light, flexible and compact enough to be stowed aboard the aircraft for deployment. Research for this could be funded under the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project.
- Solar generating windows for military vehicles: Military vehicles, such as the Australian ADI Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle have difficulty keeping the occupants cool in desert regions and supplying sufficient electrical power for equipment. These vehicles have flat armored windows which could be fitted with sliver cell panels. The cells could be arranged as micro-louvers to shade the interior of the vehicle, while optimizing solar collection to power equipment. The silver cells have an anti-reflective coating which would enhance the situational awareness of the occupants of the vehicle, while reducing the visible and infrared signature. The ability to generate electricity would reduce the fuel consumption of the vehicle and its sound signature when stationary, as the diesel engine would not need to be run as much.
They didn't take up my suggestions for lightweight solar panels for the F-35, or solar generating windows for the Bushmaster vehicle, but ANU's Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems has won a defence contract to develop solar panels for the military.
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