Happy New Year 2016

This last year, it was interesting to learn that the Syrian civil war may have been related to global warming


Clearly there are additional circumstances that make the Syrian crisis worse than just global warming. Let us be clear, the Syrian refugee crisis is made worse by, in particular Russia’s efforts, including China, to prevent an expeditious settlement. That, however, is a topic for another day. Never the less,  as warming consequences continue to worsen, this will become an all too common sight – and with ever increasing refugee floods.

NASA released a very interesting computer model video of how CO2 travels around earth across a calendar year. Check it out (see link below). I find it fascinating just how much CO2 plants are able to pickup during the growing season. Now if we could just capture that carbon and store it away…

How peculiar it is how natural gas (NG) has come to the rescue of the the US’ CO2 emissions. Together with a bit of regulatory pressure, a large scale coal-to-NG conversion is taking place. There’s no doubt this will continue world wide. China is now in the midst of converting their plants, and I’m convinced India will follow if they can get access to reliable and inexpensive NG resources. Perhaps Iran, with its vast NG resources, can come to the rescue? Wouldn’t that be ironic?

Solar PV technology continues to improve. 10 years ago it looked like standard PV module conversion efficiency would be limited to less than 25%. There are now indicators that new material and manufacturing research may boost efficiency to 28%. This will prove to be significant to bring down solar PV cost, and possibly throw solar tracking a badly needed lifeline.

Happy New Year 2016!!!




Global Warming, New Year 2015

Palestinians fighting Israeli’s, Hutu’s fighting Tutsies, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda – what do they all have in common?

We will never be able to combat global warming unless we, stop fighting our insignificant wars. Why even bother picking a fight with your neighbor, when the end result spells doom for both. It’s time to stop squabbling, and focus on the big picture.

Happy New Year 2015!!!


Replies are very much welcome, but please try to stay on topic. If the topic is “global warming and ice melts”, let’s talk about just that and not “solar PV”! I will in the future try to moderate replies by deleting off-topic comments.

Another point; don’t waste yours and my time with offers for commercial services. This site is meant to be informative and we don’t need any third parties to promote it. Let the site promote itself!

Thank you for the feed-back so far. – Mogens Lauritzen

Hydro Power; the end or here to stay?

With resent efforts to promote the tear-down of Hetch Hetchy dam and restore the flooded valley, one must ask why, and not only in the sense of resurrection of the lost valley.

With the approach of global warming, we can expect a continued decrease in snow pack levels. Future precipitation levels are as of yet unknown. If decreased, we need all available storage to last through dry seasons. If increased, we need storage to prevent catastrophic flooding. Above all, with global warming, the snow pack will be replaced by rain, effectively removing our snow pack water storage, and increasing our need for alternative storage.

From the electricity grid point of view, Hetch Hetchy, when water is available, provides a robust predictable and dispatchable power source with no greenhouse gas emission. In addition, the system can also be used to store electricity/energy on a short-term basis through “pump-up” technology. Pump-up is equivalent to having access to a gigantic battery, and is a key component in stabilizing the electric grid. This is especially needed as we introduce alternative and unpredictable power sources such as wind and to some extend solar power.

There’s no question that California hydro power dams have caused severe environmental harm. Almost 3000 miles worth of upset creek/river habitat. But if you compare that to the added safety of flood control, predictable water supply, and reliable and clean energy supply, the end result should favor our dams. We have seen experimentation with fish ladders, and forced water release to preserve smelt populations. Surely there must be more mitigating ideas we can study and introduce.

The bottom line must be this; we need dams and water storage systems. They are a cornerstone of our future survival. Removing dams to restore ecosystems amounts to nothing but a utopian notion.

Solar Trackers & Reliability

Looking at a solar tracker, and one sees a simple mechanical structure. Probably something anybody could build? Now add to that a requirement for it to operate over a 20 year lifespan, and the picture has quickly changed. Try to think of a electrical/mechanical structure which has operated non-stop, during all types of weather, for the last 20 years.

When designing and building a solar tracker, a goal of 20 year operational life must be considered because the additional performance gain can quickly erode with unexpected maintenance costs. Baring lightning or other extreme power surges, the electronics and software will easily last 20 years when designed correctly. The main problems are mechanical, gears, motors and bearings.

If you are about to venture out and design a new solar tracker, please give us a call to discuss your options. With our remote managed controllers, we see the day-to-day operational troubles, and have helped many tracker manufacturers improve their designs. There’s no need to retry paths leading to troublesome designs.

A Local Content Perspective; why Solar Trackers?

We often hear solar PV systems promote job growth, but conveniently overlook where the bulk of capital is flowing. Solar PV modules, inverters, and racking systems all consume the lion’s share of a solar system’s capital investment. Adding a solar tracking system, can increase a solar system’s energy yield by as much as 45% or higher, while also benefiting the local economy. Most solar trackers can be designed by local machine or steel fabrication shops – thereby increasing local content. The additional Operational & Maintenance effort, usually reduced to an annual lubrication visit, also increases the local labor component.

A Grid Perspective; why Solar Trackers?

Dual Axis Tracking vs. Stationary

Despite the continued downward solar PV module price pressure, Solar trackers will remain an important component in tomorrow’s energy systems because of the sustained daily power curve.

With stationary solar PV systems, a daily bell shaped power curve is produced with maximum power produced at noon. As a result, a the power grid will have to be engineered to distribute the momentary noon time power production. A poor cost/benefit proposition.

Solar tracking systems will, because of the sustained power curve, provide the grid with a sustained power curve throughout the day. As a result, possibly little to no additional engineering efforts will have to be made to the grid.

It is the cost/benefit proposition from the grid’s perspective which will drive the need for future tracking systems, and this is something we will see in the way Power Purchase Agreements are about to be negotiated.

Global Warming; Greenland 2012


South East Greenland, July 2012

Anyone traveling from Europe and to the US will inevitably cross Greenland. If you are lucky, the weather will be clear, and you can because of the low humidity see for 100’s of miles. Such was the case when I first flew from Copenhagen to JFK/New York in August 1979. Approaching Greenland, an entirely white landscape unfolded dotted with floating icebergs.

On a recent return trip in July 2012, my path was roughly the same. To my astonishment I saw barely any icebergs, and large swaths of coastline with nothing but exposed bedrock. Continuing inland, there were long stretchmarks in the ice. A week after my arrival, we could in the news read about massive ice melts and flooding in Greenland.