Tesla Solar Roof Problems | What’s Next?

Tesla roof woes – Some early adopters have been experiencing Tesla solar roof problems – with one roof in Colorado catching fire and whispers of a secret “Project Titan” which Tesla have launched last year to fix faulty wiring/connectors on Tesla solar roofs America wide.

Tesla Solar Roof Problems

Tesla solar roof problems have been plaguing the company as people begin to wonder about the company’s cashflow, vision, and whether they may have overextended themselves. Well, by people I mean me – talking about Tesla as a whole. Powerwalls, Powerpacks, Model 3s, Solar Roofs. Let me know what you think in the comments. Certainly can’t blame Elon Musk for being conservative or not taking risks! 

An article by Business Insider notes that Briana Greer from Colorado was contacted by Tesla in late July about some ‘voltage fluctuations’ for the past couple of days. They promised to come and fix it on August 8 but unfortunately the house experienced a Combustible Episode before the techs arrived. According to Greer, they also wouldn’t tell her what went wrong:

“They purposely keep a lot of people in the dark. For an energy company, that’s ironic,” Greer told Business Insider in an interview last month. Wonder how long it took her to think up that one. Still, good burn.

Tesla Solar Roof
Tesla Solar Roof Problems (source: tesla.com)

According to the same article Tesla were quoted in Fox Colorado as saying “its solar panels are safe and very rarely catch fire.” Well, that’s reassuring! 

The system was installed by Xcel Energy and made by Trina (who recommend panels be inspected twice a year – something Greer says Telstra didn’t do).  

In August, Walmart sued Tesla after seven of its stores caught fire – Walmart are also complaining that Tesla can’t (or won’t?) tell them why the fire started. According to Walmart’s research, Tesla used faulty Amphenol connectors which failed in their task of heat regulation. This lead to the solar panels being subjected to a barrage of temperature spikes (which, ultimately, can lead to Walmarts on fire). Not great news. In any case, the ‘Project Titan‘ is pretty interesting, click to read Business Insider’s article on it.

If you’re interested in reading more articles talking about solar roof technology and goings on please click!

Got one of these Tesla roofs and having issues with it? Please let us know in the comments. 

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Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

 There’s been a big announcement from Deakin University who have figured out a process to remove the silicon from used solar panels – repurposing it for lithium-ion batteries. Let’s learn more about this solar recycling update which was also discussed over at Renew Economy. 

Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

(source: https://www.deakin.edu.au/ifm)

There’s been a new advancement in solar recycling research. The relatively short lifespan of solar panels and the huge issue of e-waste has been something researchers have been wrestling with for years.

Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials has been where Material scientists Dr Md Mokhlesur Rahman and Prof Ying (Ian) Chen have conducted this groundbreaking research. Probably makes more sense coming from them, so here you go:

“Our discovery addresses several significant challenges currently facing industries dependent on batteries and energy storage heading into the future, Dr Rahman said.

“First, being such an exceptionally high value commodity with widespread applications we do not want any of this precious product wasted. Battery grade nano-silicon is highly expensive and retails for more than $44,000 per kilogram.

“Second, with the automotive industry set to be battery driven in the future, the push to find ways to increase battery capacity is growing.

“Part of the silicon repurposing process is to nano-size the battery grade silicon, leaving a nano-silicon which can store about 10 times more energy in the same space.” Dr Rahman continued.

His colleague Dr Chen elaborated on the importance of being able to extract the silicon cells and reuse them:

“Silicon cells are the most important component of a solar panel, transferring the sun’s energy into electrons,” Professor Chen said.

“They’re also a high-value material being a chemical element and far too precious to end up as waste, which is why this finding is significant.

“We can’t claim solar panels to be recyclable, in a circular economy sense, until scientists find a way to harvest and repurpose their most valuable components,” he said.

So whilst it’s not solar recycling per se, it’s certainly a gigantic step in the right direction. What will this mean for solar panel recycling companies such as Reclaim PV? Hopefully it’ll give them a big push as well. The lifespan of solar panels has always been the white elephant on the roof so the more we can extract and repurpose from old panels the better.

According to an article on Renew Economy, the project is supported by Institute for Frontier Material’s Circular Economy Strategy Lead, Catherine McMahon, in collaboration with Deakin Research Innovations’ Senior Commercial Manager Andrew Rau and industry partner Delaminating Resources Melbourne.

 

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Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

The Silent 55 solar powered catamaran has been announced and will debut at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival. The 2019 model is twice as powerful as the 2018 model with the Austrian manufacturer advising that one has already been build and 3 more are on order.

Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

“Our best-selling 16.7m innovative solar electric catamaran has been upgraded and become even better than it used to be,” says Michael Köhler, Silent-Yachts founder and CEO. “We did these updates and changes because we always try to improve and to install the best and latest technology available to satisfy our clients. We have built one new Silent 55 already and we’ve got three more orders for this model, which shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Silent 55 includes 30 high-efficiency solar panels rated for approximately 10 kilowatt-peak. The catamaran uses MPPT (maximum power point tracking ) solar charge regulators and lithium batteries, allowing it to cruise through all the way through the evening (i.e. when the sun’s not shining) as well. 

A 15-kVA inverter provides the required power for household appliances. The electrical system also powers an aft swim platform and a 1,500-watt electric windlass. There is also a generator on board in case you run out of solar power. 

According to Robb Report the base price of the Silent 55 is €1.4m. Interested? Go check it out at the Cannes Yachting Festival or click here to learn more about the solar catamaran on the Silent Yachts website. And take me for a spin, please! 

Silent 55 Specifications

Length overall 16,70 m (54.8‘)
Beam overall 8,46 (27.7‘)
Draft 1,20 m (3.9‘)
Light displacement 19 tons
Water 500 – 1.000 L
Waste-Water 2 x 500 L
Fuel 500 – 1.600 L
Solar Panels 10 kWp
E-Motors 2 x 30 kW / 2 x 250 kW
Generator 22 kW / 100 kW
Battery Capacity 120 kWh
Cruising Speed 6 – 8 kt / 12 – 15 kt
Top Speed approx. 12 kt / 20 kt
CE Certification CE-A
Range Trans-Ocean

 

Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: RobbReport.com via Silent-Yachts)
Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: RobbReport.com via Silent-Yachts)

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The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 Solar Satellite

The Planetary Society have launched a solar satellite which has been named the Lightsail 2. The solar sailing Cubesat device will be in orbit for the rest of August. Let’s learn more about the solar sailing technology and what the Planetary Society hope to achieve with the launch of this fascinating new piece of technology! 

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 Solar Satellite

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 Solar Satellite (source: planetary.org)

The concept of ‘solar sailing’ means that an object will be moved by photons escaping the sun’s gravitational pull. According to Popular Mechanics, It’s the second ever solar sailing object to fly – with the solar satellite following IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) from Japan, which launched in 2010. IKAROS certainly has the cooler name, but the LightSail 2 has some superior technology – an aluminzed (a coating of aluminum alloy) Mylar sail and far better uptime.

“For The Planetary Society, this moment has been decades in the making,” said Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye. “Carl Sagan talked about solar sailing when I was in his class in 1977. But the idea goes back at least to 1607, when Johannes Kepler noticed that comet tails must be created by energy from the sun. The LightSail 2 mission is a game-changer for spaceflight and advancing space exploration.”

“We’re thrilled to announce mission success for LightSail 2,” LightSail program manager and Planetary Society chief scientist Bruce Betts said. “Our criteria was to demonstrate controlled solar sailing in a CubeSat by changing the spacecraft’s orbit using only the light pressure of the sun, something that’s never been done before. I’m enormously proud of this team. It’s been a long road and we did it.”

If you’re interest in reading more, the Planetary Society have created a site named Mission Control where you’re able to track the LightSail 2 in space. To visit Mission Control please click here

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Solar Waste – What’s the state of solar panel recycling?

Solar waste is a currently unavoidable byproduct of Australia’s obsession with solar power. But what do we do with these panels when they reach end of life? Let’s take a look at solar panel recycling and what the current climate is, helped by a recent ABC Radio show about the topic.

Solar Waste and solar panel recycling – a primer.

We wrote about recycling solar panels back in January, but a new interview with Reclaim PV (who we talk about in the other article too) has some more information about this critical issue. 

A radio program by the ABC had some very interesting thoughts on the topic – you can listen to it here

The panel included:

  • Jeremy Hunt, solar panel installer
  • Professor Rodney Stewart, Griffith University
  • Clive Fleming, solar panel recycler, Reclaim PV
  • Andrew Gilhooly, Sunpower

With two million houses in Australia now enjoying the fruits of renewable energy and installing solar on their rooftop, their lifespan of 10-15-20 years is now starting to slowly fizzle out, especially for the early adopters. However there’s a huge issue to do with disposing of the solar PV waste in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Professor Rodney Stewart from Griffith University estimates that by 2050, we’ll have 1,500 kilotons of solar waste which will be sent to landfill unless we can figure out a more intelligent way to dispose of something supposed to help the environment. 

Solar Waste - Reclaim PV
Solar Waste – Reclaim PV (source: reclaimpv.com)

The only company in Australia to recycle panels is Reclaim PV in Adelaide, who take in 50,000 per year, but only panels manufactured without toxic chemicals. They then, according to owner Clive Fleming,

“…get the cells, completely separate that as well for the silver contacts, the aluminium and then the silicone to provide those back out to industry.”

According to the ABC program host Emilia Terzon, the Federal Government says it’s committed $167 million to an Australian recycling investment plan and state and federal environment ministers are expected to discuss how to tackle solar waste when they meet later this year. The Government is looking to set rules around how the industry deals with dead solar panels – adding them to the Product Stewardship Act, which mandates how electronic waste is dealt with.

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

Watch this space. There will be plenty more on this topic as panels continue to reach EOL (end of life) and the policymakers are forced into action. 

 

 

 

 

 

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