Let the Sunshine In

Interesting news on the solar technology front courtesy of The Guardian:


Solar energy ‘revolution’ brings green power closer

Panels start solar power ‘revolution’

The holy grail of renewable energy came a step closer yesterday as thousands of mass-produced wafer-thin solar cells printed on aluminium film rolled off a production line in California, heralding what British scientists called “a revolution” in generating electricity.

The solar panels produced by a Silicon Valley start-up company, Nanosolar, are radically different from the kind that European consumers are increasingly buying to generate power from their own roofs. Printed like a newspaper directly on to aluminium foil, they are flexible, light and, if you believe the company, expected to make it as cheap to produce electricity from sunlight as from coal.

Yesterday Nanosolar said its order books were full until mid-2009 and that a second factory would soon open in Germany where demand for solar power has rocketed. Britain was unlikely to benefit from the technology for some years because other countries paid better money for renewable electricity, it added.

“Our first solar panels will be used in a solar power station in Germany,” said Erik Oldekop, Nanosolar’s manager in Switzerland. “We aim to produce the panels for 99 cents [50p] a watt, which is comparable to the price of electricity generated from coal. We cannot disclose our exact figures yet as we are a private company but we can bring it down to that level. That is the vision we are aiming at.”

He added that the first panels the company was producing were aimed for large- scale power plants rather than for homeowners, and that the cost benefits would be in the speed that the technology could be deployed. “We are aiming to make solar power stations up to 10MW in size. They can be up and running in six to nine months compared to 10 years or more for coal-powered stations and 15 years for nuclear plants. Solar can be deployed very quickly,” said Oldekop.

Nanosolar is one of several companies in Japan, Europe, China and the US racing to develop different versions of “thin film” solar technology. It is owned by internet entrepreneur Martin Roscheisen who sold his company to Yahoo for $450m and, with the help of the founders of Google, the US government and other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, has invested nearly $300m in commercialising the technology.

At the moment solar electricity costs nearly three times as much as conventional electricity to generate, but Nanosolar’s developments are thought to have halved the price of producing conventional solar cells at a stroke.

“This is the world’s lowest-cost solar panel, which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as 99 cents a watt,” said Roscheisen yesterday.

However, the company, which claims to lead the “third wave” of solar electricity, is notoriously secretive and has not answered questions about its panels’ efficiency or their durability. It is quite open about wanting to restrict access to the technology to give it a market advantage.

Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Britain’s leading solar energy company, Solar Century, said that it would be “breathtaking” if the technology proved as efficient as projected by the company. “This is a revolution. But people are going to be amazed at other developments taking place in solar technologies. We will be thrilled if this technology is as efficient as the company says. It will not change the direction of solar power in itself. Spectacular improvements are also being made in other parts of the industry,” he said.

Figures released yesterday by the Earth Policy Institute in Washington showed that solar electricity generation was now the fastest-growing electricity source, doubling its output every two years. It is now attracting government and venture capital money on an unprecedented scale.

The technology is particularly exciting because it can be used nearly everywhere. “You are talking about printing rolls of the stuff, printing it on garages, anywhere you want it. It really is a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar,” said Dan Kamman, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.

“The next industrial revolution will be based on these clean green technologies,” said Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth. “If the UK wants to be part of it, as Gordon Brown says it does, then it needs to rethink its strategies. Ministers have so far shown a distinct lack of vision.”

Power from light

Photovoltaic (PV) devices convert light into electrical energy. PV cells are made of semiconductor materials such as silicon. When light shines on a PV cell, the energy is transferred to electrons in the atoms of the PV cell. These electrons become part of the electrical flow, or current, in an electrical circuit. First wave photovoltaic cell used thick silicon-wafer cells but were cumbersome and costly. The second generation of photovoltaic materials were developed about 10 years ago and use very thin silicon layers. These brought the price down dramatically but still need expensive vacuum processes in their construction. The third wave of PV, now being developed by firms such as Nanosolar, can print directly on to other materials and does not use silicon.

Benazir Bhutto is Dead.

Benazir Bhutto was the secular and democratically elected leader of Pakistan a couple of decades ago. The Pakistani military staged a coup and forced Ms. Bhutto out of the country. General Musharraf has been in charge of Pakistan and their nuclear weapons since that time. Ms. Bhutto had returned to Pakistan recently because it seems apparent that the country is ready to be done with General Musharraf as leader, either as a military strong man or as a leader elected through rigged elections. She is now dead.

Ms. Bhutto was hated by the fundamentalists in Pakistan in much the same way that Hillary is hated by the fundamentalists in the US. The hatred directed at a secular woman who has the temerity to try to wield power is frightening in its irrationality and deadly in its intensity.

Ms. Bhutto was also a target of the military juntas types in Pakistan. The generals in Pakistan believe they know best in much the same way that Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney believe they know best in our country. Democratic processes are belittled by this type of autocrat and the essential corruption of the autocratic system appears to be invisible to the autocratic eye.

Part of Ms. Bhutto’s legacy relates to her ability to succeed against the patriarchy. She could succeed, but not survive. I think our world is a potentially better place if women have the opportunity to lead as women, to manifest the nurturing female world view in world politics. The world is probably a better place even if women can simply have the opportunity to lead, to distance themselves from the kinder gentler world that might exist in the presence of an ascendancy of a matriarchy, but that’s a tougher sell to me.

The folks who really believe in the use of force, whether it is in the guise of self-defense, or the cold rationality of world economics, or the political application of fundamentalist politics, or the law and order of a strictly monitored and controlled society can kill us. Ms. Bhutto’s passing illustrates that fact. It remains to be seen if the politics of caring, the nurturing politics of a leader like Benazir can be driven to extinction.

I am feeling a little low today about the death of Benazir Bhutto.

Reflecting on Personal Safety and Happiness.

Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote a book a decade or two ago titled How to Get What You Really, Really, Really Want.

I recommend the book. You can also get the DVD from Netflix and elsewhere if you want to be entertained by Dyer’s charm and style as you work on your inner and outer life.

Part of Dyer’s teaching is that what you pay attention to you will get more of in your life.

For instance, if I pay a lot of attention to the fear mongering about personal safety, terrorism, the need to be armed to protect myself and my family, I start thinking maybe I should buy a firearm. Then I remind myself that firearms are so dangerous to children, I try to weight the safety/risk factors of dangerous intruders to my home versus a dangerous device that lives with me and the next thing I know I am reading news stories about children dying through firearm accidents. Holy smoke! I could have been reading Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr. or Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Is that guy laughing at me?

A corollary wisdom in Dyer’s book is just like you can get more of what you want in your life by attending to it, you can also get more of what you don’t like in your life by attending to it.

Here is great recovery poem that reflects some of that wisdom:

Life in Five Short Chapters


I walk down the street.
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk.
And I fall in.
I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street and there is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there, and still I fall in.
It’s a habit.
But my eyes are open and I know where I am.
It is my fault and I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down a different street.

By Portia Nelson


So I walk down a different street.



I want to pack the kind of heat that these guys packed, Satyagraha, Soul Force.



More Flooding News from Lewis County Mile Post 78 to 79

Quite a lot of water went over I5 around mile post 78.  You can see that the lane dividers have rearranged themselves a bit and they are a little heavy.

another look at same area

There were a few vehicles in motion in this stretch, but most of us were on foot.  

Looking to the west at mile post 78 you are usually looking at the airport:

That is the airport building, pretty high, but kind of stranded.  The hangers to the right do not look as high and dry.  The planes have been moved to a little patch of high ground on Louisiana Street:

In the foreground is the airport pumping station.  In the background are the planes and all around is the Chehalis River.

Looking north from mile post 78 at Exit 79 you see that Washington State Patrol is dry, but parking lot has disappeared:

To the east side of I5 the businesses did not do as well:

Continue reading More Flooding News from Lewis County Mile Post 78 to 79

Flooding in Lewis County December 2007

We have a little bit of water piling up on us. Here is the proof. These pictures from Dec 4th at about 9:00 am at mile post 76 on I5.

I like the composition of this one: 

That is Dillenbaugh Creek and the Chehalis River merging southwest of I5 at milepost 76.  There are a few folks living out there on Rice Road.  Keep a good thought for them as they try to ride out the weather.

Here is the area just southwest of Greenhill School, Department of Corrections.

    Looking north at I5, water over the road in the distance. Pavement reported to be gone in some areas.

Looking west at Stan Hedwall Park at I5, milepost 76

Ballfields and buildings are underwater.

Pictures from the Lewis County Courthouse Law & Justice Center from Dec 4th about 9:00 am, more rain is arriving after a few hours of little or no precipitation.

Sandbags around the doors, but I don’t the water got quite this high, east side of the courthouse buildings.

Here is look down the same street to the south from the same location: Jail is on the right.  Prisoner relocation vehicle on the left side of the street.  Water in the neighborhood south and slightly east of the courthouse did not smell good.  The old Cross Arm mill was over in this area.

Here’s a picture on the west side of the Law and Justice Center.  Note the debris in the road that shows the highwater mark as of Tuesday 9:00 am.  Water has receded a bit, but the rains are starting again. 

County command center is operating from the Law and Justice Center.  Thank you, folks:

I guess we have nothing to worry about, FEMA has arrived:  

More to follow later.

I am stuck, can’t get north to Olympia to work today, so am doing a little citizen journalism and taking care of a few loose ends around the homestead.  Stay high and dry everybody.  We have space, beds, electricity, heat and the amenities as we know them (no cable television) if you need a space to dry off.