A Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

On Feb. 14, 1990, Carl Sagan gave us an incredible perspective on our home planet that had never been seen before.

As NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft was about to leave our Solar System in 1989, Sagan, who was a member of the mission’s imaging team, pleaded with officials to turn the camera around to take one last look back at Earth before the spaceship left our solar system.

The resulting image, with the Earth as a speck less than 0.12 pixels in size, became known as “the pale blue dot.”

“Everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives,” Sagan later wrote. “On a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Continue reading

The problem with Renewable Energy

Tom Scott has done a very good job explaining one of the fundamental problems of renewable energy in relation to the electricity grid and what is being done to try to fix it.
The current situation basically is that as the world is turning its energy sources from the old turbines (fuel, nuclear power, coal, gas, etc.) to renewable (wind, solar, hydro) is more difficult to maintain the balance in the grid.

The solutions are three:

  • The first is to storage energy in giant batteries for use in plants where necessary; but this is practically unfeasible on a large scale. To put it in context: the larger battery of this type is in China, occupies the same space as a football field and stores 36 MW: enough to power 12,000 homes only for just one hour.
  • The second is to generate energy by a traditional hydraulic system using excess energy at certain times of the day to pump water into a higher deposits, lakes or reservoirs. This is already being done (in Spain by example on the island of El Hierro).
  • The third option is more interesting: save energy in distributed batteries at homes, especially in electric cars, electronic devices of all kinds and (soon) in medium sized batteries that can be placed in any corner. In these networked systems various devices (car or photovoltaic panels that people have in their homes) can “sell” in real time their surplus of energy to the grid. Although nevertheless would still be needed some conventional power plants.

NREL Releases Updated Baseline of Cost and Performance Data for Electricity Generation Technologies 2016

Every year the cost of power generation projects are changing in function of technological changes, changes in prices of supplies or due to economies of scale.
NREL has recently publish the  2016 version of the Baseline of Cost and Performance of  most technologies used nowadays for power generation showing the flat trend of prices for conventional energy and the impressive decline in prices that have renewable energies, especially Solar PV with Capital Costs of up to 0.9 [MM USD / MW] for PV at utility scale.
I’m excited to think that the day has come when renewable energy is economically competitive with traditional energies and has reached the point where they no longer need subsidies to displace old and polluting forms of energy production.

Clearly the future is greener…

NREL publication: Link


Tambo Real Project

In the last time (years) I’ve gone from been a solar researcher to consultant and then to Project Manager of solar projects. I have had very little time to write on this blog and to advance in my project to develop a program for the analysis of radiation data files.
Many times the work and personal life does not leave time for much more, and hobbies should be postponed.
As Project Manager I was responsible in juwi for the development of Tambo Real project, which has a capacity of 1.2 MWp and is located in the Vicuña, Chile.
It was a great experience to be in charge of the construction of the second largest photovoltaic park in the country so far, of which I remain many lessons learned.

I would like to share with you some pictures of the construction process.

IMG_1271_stitch Continue reading

Day of work at the laboratory

This video is quite old, is the result of a time lapse of a day working with a friend in the solar laboratory of UTFSM trying to build a shader on the tracker for a pyranometer. The shader consisted in an arm as a inverted L with a disk that blocks the direct rays of the Sun, this arm was lifted by the arm of the tracker that supports the pyrheliometer.

Here you can see where is located. (Google Maps)

And here is the final result…