Posts Tagged ‘solar’

Dutch_bikes

Cycling is popular in the Netherlands [image credit: expatica.com]

There’s a reason why fixed solar panels should be, and usually are, angled at about 35-40 degrees in northern Europe. It’s called the optimal tilt angle. This cycle path with panels flat on the ground is so simple-minded it’s embarrassing, or ought to be.
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Authorities in a central Dutch province opened what they are billing as the world’s longest solar bicycle path Wednesday, mixing sustainable energy with emission-free travel, says TechXplore. (more…)

solarflare

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit: space.com]

Using trees as solar cycle and cosmic ray detectors here. The researchers say: ‘Notably, other evidence suggests that the sun was also undergoing a decades-long period of increasing activity.’ We may ask, with a view to the current era: how often does that happen, and why?
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The sun constantly emits a stream of energetic particles, some of which reach Earth, says Phys.org.

The density and energy of this stream form the basis of space weather, which can interfere with the operation of satellites and other spacecraft.

A key unresolved question in the field is the frequency with which the sun emits bursts of energetic particles strong enough to disable or destroy space-based electronics.

One promising avenue for determining the rate of such events is the dendrochronological record. This approach relies on the process by which a solar energetic particle (SEP) strikes the atmosphere, causing a chain reaction that results in the production of an atom of carbon-14.

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First X-flare of Solar Cycle 25

Posted: July 5, 2021 by oldbrew in Cycles, Geomagnetism, News
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Is this solar cycle finally lifting off?

Spaceweather.com

July 3, 2021: Now, Solar Cycle 25 has really begun. On July 3rd, new sunspot AR2838 produced the first X-class solar flare since Sept. 2017. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

The July 3rd explosion registered X1.5 on the Richter Scale of Solar Flares

A pulse of X-rays ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean: blackout map. Mariners, aviators, and amateur radio operators may have noticed unusual propagation effects below 30 MHz just after 1429 UT.

X-flares are the strongest kind of solar flare. They are typically responsible for the deepest radio blackouts and the most intense geomagnetic storms. This is the first X-flare of young Solar Cycle 25. More are in the offing. During the previous solar cycle (Solar Cycle 24) the sun produced 49 of them. Forecasters believe that Solar Cycle 25 should be at least…

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iso-tech2

Credit: Infinite Power

Are power companies and solar panel producers getting nervous yet? If not, they may see difficulties ahead for this idea.
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Infinite Power’s breakthrough is a semiconductor that can convert high energy beta particles, X-rays, and gamma rays into electricity.

The Infinite Power cells function similarly to a photovoltaic solar cell, with two critical differences: The precise materials and design of the cells allows us to replace solar radiation with high energy releases from natural decay of radioisotopes.

Critically, our proprietary semiconductor can withstand higher energy releases associated with radioisotope decay over a long period of time.

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eclipse_1999

During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be ]

Expecting a variable, researchers found a constant.
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From traversing sand dunes in the Sahara Desert to keeping watch for polar bears in the Arctic, a group of solar scientists known as the “Solar Wind Sherpas” led by Shadia Habbal, have traveled to the ends of the Earth to scientifically observe total solar eclipses—the fleeting moments when the Moon completely blocks the Sun, temporarily turning day into night.

With the images, they’ve uncovered a surprising finding about the Sun’s wind and its wispy outer atmosphere—the corona—which is only visible in its entirety during an eclipse, says NASA (via Phys.org).

From more than a decade’s worth of total eclipse observations taken around the world, the team noticed that the corona maintains a fairly constant temperature, despite dynamical changes to the region that occur on an 11-year rotation known as the solar cycle.

Similarly, the solar wind—the steady stream of particles the Sun releases from the corona out across the solar system—matches that same temperature.

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The Termination Event

Posted: June 12, 2021 by oldbrew in Cycles, physics, predictions
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Testable science ideas here. What’s not to like?

“What can I say?” laughs McIntosh. “We’re heretics!”

H/T g2

Spaceweather.com

June 10, 2021: Something big may be about to happen on the sun. “We call it the Termination Event,” says Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), “and it’s very, very close to happening.”

If you’ve never heard of the Termination Event, you’re not alone.  Many researchers have never heard of it either. It’s a relatively new idea in solar physics championed by McIntosh and colleague Bob Leamon of the University of Maryland – Baltimore County. According to the two scientists, vast bands of magnetism are drifting across the surface of the sun. When oppositely-charged bands collide at the equator, they annihilate (or “terminate”). There’s no explosion; this is magnetism, not anti-matter. Nevertheless, the Termination Event is a big deal. It can kickstart the next solar cycle into a higher gear.

Above: Oppositely charged magnetic bands (red and blue) march toward the sun’s equator…

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Earth_Moon

The Moon in front of Earth [credit: NASA]

A recurring pattern over the period of the Sun’s 22~year Hale cycle (two magnetic polarity reversals) seems to have emerged. One outcome is said to be ‘a higher likelihood of severe space weather late in the current solar cycle between 2026 and 2030.’
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Planned missions to return humans to the Moon need to hurry up to avoid hitting one of the busiest periods for extreme space weather, according to scientists conducting the most in-depth ever look at solar storm timing.

Scientists at the University of Reading studied 150 years of space weather data to investigate patterns in the timing of the most extreme events, which can be extremely dangerous to astronauts and satellites, and even disrupt power grids if they arrive at Earth, says Phys.org.

The researchers found for the first time that extreme space weather events are more likely to occur early in even-numbered solar cycles, and late in odd-numbered cycles—such as the one just starting.

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Extreme geomagnetic storms are now thought to occur about once every 45 years, or every four solar cycles, on average.

Spaceweather.com

April 30, 2021: Imagine living in Florida. You’ll never see the Northern Lights … right? Actually, the odds may be better than you think. A new historical study just published in the Journal of Space Climate and Space Weather shows that great aurora storms occur every 40 to 60 years.

“They’re happening more often than we thought,” says Delores Knipp of the University of Colorado, the paper’s lead author. “Surveying the past 500 years, we found many extreme storms producing auroras in places like Florida, Cuba and Samoa.”

This kind of historical research is not easy. Hundreds of years ago, most people had never even heard of the aurora borealis. When the lights appeared, they were described as “fog,” “vapors”, “spirits”–almost anything other than “auroras.” Making a timeline 500 years long requires digging through unconventional records such as personal diaries, ship’s logs, local weather reports–often in languages that are foreign to…

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summer18

UK summer 2018 [image credit: BBC]

The Sun is more than capable of regulating itself. Attempts by humans to interfere with its effects are by definition ill-conceived. No trend in Arctic summer sea ice data since the early 2000s, for example, despite so-called experts claiming it was doomed several years ago, so who needs any intervention?
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Nine of the hottest years in human history [Talkshop comment – meaning since 1979, when satellite data became moderately reliable] have occurred in the last decade.

Without a major shift in this climate trajectory, the future of life on Earth is in question, claims Phys.org.

Should humans, whose fossil-fueled society is driving climate change [Talkshop comment – evidence-free assertion], use technology to put the brakes on global warming?

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solar1

Solar activity [image credit: NASA]

What drives the weather can drive the climate. In this case the chances of non-correlation are said to be extremely low.
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A new study shows a correlation between the end of solar cycles and a switch from El Nino to La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean, suggesting that solar variability can drive seasonal weather variability on Earth, Phys.org reports.

If the connection outlined in the journal Earth and Space Science holds up, it could significantly improve the predictability of the largest El Nino and La Nina events, which have a number of seasonal climate effects over land.

For example, the southern United States tends to be warmer and drier during a La Nina, while the northern U.S. tends to be colder and wetter.

“Energy from the Sun is the major driver of our entire Earth system and makes life on Earth possible,” said Scott McIntosh, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and co-author of the paper.

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Einstein’s Eclipse

Posted: March 23, 2021 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Gravity, solar system dynamics
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Some real science to remember.

Spaceweather.com

March 22, 2021: On May 29, 1919, the Moon slid in front of the sun and forever altered our understanding of spacetime. It’s known as “Einstein’s Eclipse.” Using his newly-developed theory of relativity, the young German physicist predicted that the sun’s gravity should bend starlight–an effect which could only be seen during a total eclipse. More than 100 years later, Petr Horálek (ESO Photo Ambassador) and Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno University of Technology) have just released a stunning restoration of the photo that proved Einstein right:

The original picture was taken in May 1919 by astronomers Andrew Crommelin and Charles Rundle Davidson, who traveled from the Greenwich Observatory in London to the path of totality in Sobral, Brazil. They were part of a global expedition organized by Sir Arthur Eddington, who wanted to test Einstein’s strange ideas. Glass photographic plates from the expedition were typical of early 20th century astrophotography, colorless…

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A model for California? [image credit: Hitesh vip @ Wikipedia]


Worth asking what is meant by ‘could be economically feasible’ in this context. Running power stations 24/7 looks a lot simpler than having thousands of miles of solar panels to install and maintain, which sit idle without sunlight.
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UC Santa Cruz researchers published a new study—in collaboration with UC Water and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced—that suggests covering California’s 6,350 km network of public water delivery canals with solar panels could be an economically feasible means of advancing both renewable energy and water conservation.

The concept of “solar canals” has been gaining momentum around the world as climate change increases the risk of drought in many regions, claims TechXplore.

Solar panels can shade canals to help prevent water loss through evaporation, and some types of solar panels also work better over canals, because the cooler environment keeps them from overheating.

Pilot projects in India have demonstrated the technical feasibility of several designs, but none have yet been deployed at scale.

California’s canal network is the world’s largest water conveyance system, and the state faces both a drought-prone future [Talkshop comment: evidence-free assertion] and a rapid timeline for transitioning to renewable energy.

Solar canals could target both challenges, but making the case for their implementation in California requires first quantifying the potential benefits. So that’s exactly what researchers set out to do in their paper published by Nature Sustainability.

“While it makes sense to cover canals with solar panels because renewable energy and water conservation is a win-win, the devil is in the details,” said Brandi McKuin, lead author of the new study and a UC Santa Cruz postdoctoral researcher in environmental studies. “A critical question was whether the infrastructure to span the canals would be cost-prohibitive.”

Canal-spanning solar panels are often supported either by steel trusses or suspension cables, both of which are more expensive to build than traditional support structures for ground-mounted solar panels.

But McKuin led a techno-economic analysis that showed how the benefits of solar canals combine to outweigh the added costs for cable-supported installations. In fact, cable-supported solar canals showed a 20-50 percent higher net present value, indicating greater financial return on investment.

In addition to benefits like increased solar panel performance and evaporation savings, shade from solar panels could help control the growth of aquatic weeds, which are a costly canal maintenance issue. Placing solar panels over existing canal sites could also avoid costs associated with land use.

Now that the new paper has provided a more concrete assessment of these benefits, members of the research team hope this could lead to future field experiments with solar canals in California.

Full article here.

Solar power complex in California [USA. Gov – BLM – Bureau of Land Management]


It was already known that PV systems dislike high heat, which is clearly awkward when they depend on the biggest heat source in the *solar* system in order to be of any use. This study tries to quantify the problem in more detail. On the face of it, carpeting desert regions with solar panels looks less than ideal.
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Lowering the operating temperature of solar panels by just a few degrees can dramatically increase the electricity they generate over their lifetime, KAUST researchers have shown.

The hotter a panel gets, the lower its solar power conversion efficiency (PCE) and the faster it will degrade and fail, says TechXplore.

Finding ways to keep solar panels cool could significantly improve the return on investment of solar-power systems.

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Sunspots


In a recent post we looked at the average daily sunspot numbers, finding that far from the claimed decades-long decline of solar strength, averages were high from 1933-2008 followed by a sharp decline in the recently-ended solar cycle 24.

This time the focus moves to another metric from the same source, Wikipedia’s List of solar cycles.

After the main table of data they introduce another one, stating:
The following table is instead divided into (unofficial) cycles starting and ending with a maximum, to give a better feel for the number of spotless days associated with each minimum.

For this short exercise the ‘Spotless days’ column of data will be split into two groups of six, comparing the overall average of each from the list.

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What if … A Perfect CME Hit Earth?

Posted: January 22, 2021 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics
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Are you sitting comfortably? Well, you might not be after reading this…

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 21, 2021: You’ve heard of a “perfect storm.” But what about a perfect solar storm? A new study just published in the research journal Space Weather considers what might happen if a worst-case coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth. Spoiler alert: You might need a backup generator.

For years, researchers have been wondering, what’s the worst the sun could do? In 2014, Bruce Tsurutani (JPL) and Gurbax Lakhina (Indian Institute of Geomagnetism) introduced the “Perfect CME.” It would be fast, leaving the sun around 3,000 km/s, and aimed directly at Earth. Moreover, it would follow another CME, which would clear the path in front of it, allowing the storm cloud to hit Earth with maximum force.

None of this is fantasy. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has observed CMEs leaving the sun at speeds up to 3,000 km/s. And there are many documented cases of…

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This quote from the report stood out: ‘there are long-lasting periods of strong and weak solar activity, which is also reflected in the climate on Earth.’ Worth noting as we proceed through a period of weak activity right now.
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An international team of researchers led by ETH Zurich has reconstructed solar activity back to the year 969 using measurements of radioactive carbon in tree rings, reports Phys.org.

Those results help scientists to better understand the dynamics of the sun and allow more precise dating of organic materials using the C14 method.

What goes on in the sun can only be observed indirectly. Sunspots, for instance, reveal the degree of solar activity—the more sunspots are visible on the surface of the sun, the more active is our central star deep inside.

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There may be a place for some use of solar panels, but replacing all fuel-burning power stations isn’t it.

PA Pundits - International

By Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. ~

The chief beneficiary of the incoming Biden administration’s climate agenda will be none other than the People’s Republic of China, the same outfit that brought the world COVID-19.

Purveyors of renewable energy are eager to take advantage of Biden’s pledge to move the U.S. from fossil fuels to renewable energy and are already taking legal action to smooth the transition. On December 29, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and solar-power developers, including NextEra Energy Inc. and Invenergy Renewables LLC, asked the U.S. Court of International Trade to issue an injunction prohibiting an October proclamation by President Trump that raised tariffs on imported solar equipment.

The Trump proclamation removed a tariff exemption on two-sided, or bifacial, solar panels, almost all of which are manufactured in China. As reported by Bloomberg (Dec. 29), the lawsuit contends the Trump administration “failed to follow the required procedures” before…

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]


Wikipedia’s Solar activity and climate web page says:
Solar activity has been on a declining trend since the 1960s, as indicated by solar cycles 19-24, in which the maximum number of sunspots were 201, 111, 165, 159, 121 and 82, respectively.

We’re probably not surprised that they prefer a metric which appears to support their often-expressed view in various climate-related pages that modern global warming can’t be natural.

But is the sunspot maximum the most relevant metric to judge the level of solar activity by? Another Wikipedia page is its List of Solar Cycles.

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So the greenblob can’t always steamroller local opposition to its land-grabbing subsidy farms. The actual solar panels are not renewable or even recyclable.

PA Pundits - International

By Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. ~

For the second time in 15 months, residents of rural Culpeper County, Virginia have risen up against a proposed massive solar array project, forcing the would-be developers to withdraw their application to put the renewable energy facility in the county’s picturesque rolling farmlands.

North Carolina-based Strata Solar had planned to build the $200 million, 1,700-acre, 149 megawatts project on cleared timberland in southern Culpepper. The land on which the industrial-sized solar array was to be built was zoned agricultural in keeping with the rural character of the area.

Maroon Solar, the name the developer gave to the project, was supposed to be another step on the way to a “carbon-free” energy future, but local officials and nearby residents raised strong objections. The Culpepper County Board of Supervisors (BOS) evaluated the project and, on Nov. 12, held a well-attended, four-hour public hearing on a request by…

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Credit: IEEE Spectrum


Does this by any chance suggest that wind and solar power may not quite be the wondrous energy future our leaders keep trying to hoodwink the public with? No word on costs so far.
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It is thought that energy could be beamed anywhere on the planet, save for the poles, according to the UK Space Agency.

From an idea first mooted in 1941, the UK has launched research into whether solar power in space could be beamed back to Earth as a sustainable energy source, reports Sky News.

The concept was first thought up by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov; now the UK Space Agency and UK government are aiming to make the idea a reality.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) stations would capture the solar energy emitted by the sun that never makes it to Earth, and beam it back down using lasers to meet energy demands.

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