General Insanity Threatens Our Future

I am more than a little bothered by the fact that junior decided to ignore the will of the American people and instead send another 20,000 of our youth to Iraq.

I am troubled by the fact that junior continues to portray Iraq as the source of 911 terrorists when the CIA found no involvement in terrorism by Iraq.

We face some real problems on this planet, global warming being one major problem, dead zones in the ocean being another.

Presently, 20% of the world government budgets are wasted on military expenditures, 6% of the world GNP goes to the military.

In 2005, the US consumption of oil was 20.8 million barrels per day. The military directly consumed 132,788 barrels of oil in 2005. This may sound like a drop in the bucket but remember that the US has outsourced many of the functions traditionally done directly by the military, supply line and security for example.

It’s impossible to know the REAL percentage of the GNP dedicated to military expenditure, but the above the board percentage is a little more than 6%. This does not include though many ancillary expenses nor does it speak for the huge black budget figures that are not available to the public. Even at the 6% figure, that translates into a real consumption of around 1,248,000 barrels per day.

2006 oil production in Iraq was 2.14 million barrels per day, still 400,000 less than pre-occupation levels. So our military consumes more than half of Iraq’s entire production. Between the reduction in production and the waste, together this is taking more than half of Iraq’s oil production off the world market.

In case you’ve been wondering why you’re paying almost $3/gallon for gas (more in some regions), when you take half of the production of oil from country with the 2nd largest oil reserves in the middle east, you are going to create shortages and drive the price up.

This is directly ruining the US economy. Oil has recently come down to around $55 per barrel, from at times more than $70, but pre-war it was under $40, usually close to $30. The direct result of this has been a huge increase in the US trade deficit.

The huge increases in the US trade deficit has weakened the dollar against other currencies and the result of that is that the fed has had to raise interest rates to keep foreign governments from totally divesting of US currency, thus causing the value of the dollar to totally plummet. The result of the increased interest rate, combined with a record national deficit financed at that high rate, is to ruin the economy.

Because the US economy is the biggest economy in the world, around 13,475 billion, when the US economy suffers so goes the rest of the world.

In 2005, in terms of purchasing parity, Chinas national GDP was 8,883 billion, at the official exchange rate (because China currency is not yet fully floating), 2,225 billion. I wasn’t able to find the GNP rate for China for 2006, but I did find the growth rate in 2006 was 10.2%, and so the 2006 rate can be calculated as 9,789.07 in reach purchasing power, and 2,451 billion under the official exchange rate if they haven’t changed since 2005 (and they probably have). The US debt is 70% of GNP, China debt is 10% of their GNP. They’ve had 10.2% growth in the last two years.

Estimates abound that suggest that China’s economy won’t overtake ours until around 2050, however, as part of their gaining favorable nation trading status they had to agree to convert their currency to floating market rate currency. As they do this, the numerical GNP will come to reflect the real GNP. At the current growth rates of the US and Chinese economies, China will overtake the US in terms of real purchasing power in only six or seven years. However, given the debt ratios my expectation is that Chinas rate of growth will increase while ours decreases or even goes negative.

We need to fix our military expenditure and our energy situation if we are to survive as a nation. If you look at what is happening in this country now, we are going exactly the same direction that the Soviet Union went which eventually resulted in it’s break up.

We need to start tapping our own energy reserves, and we do have huge reserves in this country. There are heavy crude deposits on part with those in Venezuela in California. There are large deposits of oil shale and tar sands. Initially extraction was very expensive, but oil from these sources can now be produced for under $15/barrel. There is a deep super-giant oil field underlying Utah which is sweet light crude, but to get to it requires drilling 20,000+ feet through granite bedrock as this oil is under a granite capstone as predicted by the abiotic oil theory. There is a super-giant field recently discovered in the Gulf of Mexico that is larger than Ghawar, formerly the worlds largest and it is my understanding the quality of that oil is good as well, but that requires deep sea off-shore oil drilling.

The problem is that Saudi production only costs around $7/barrel, Iraq, less than $4 if you don’t factor in the occupation expenses picked up by US tax payers, so oil companies would prefer those sources.

There is also the issue of the quality of the oil reserves here. What we have here in the US is largely sour heavy crude and bitumen (very heavy hydrocarbons, tar like). Since the lighter distillates are the most needed for gasoline and diesel, and since sulfur content is regulated to minimize acid rain, refining these heavy sour crudes requires cracking (breaking the long hydrocarbon molecules into shorter molecules) and the removal of sulfur.

Existing US refineries are largely not equipped to deal with this heavy crude. The oil companies would rather extract oil cheaply in the middle east and elsewhere, that they can then refine cheaply, than extract oil in the US which is twice as expensive as many foreign sources, and build additional refinery capacity that is equipped to handle heavy sour crude and bitumen.

For environmental reasons we really need to employ alternatives to burning hydrocarbons for energy, however, in order to avoid complete economic collapse, we have to eliminate our dependence upon foreign oil now. We have adequate domestic reserves to meet our needs for many years, and that can be greatly expanded if we switch to plug-in hybrids which, save for the Pacific Northwest region, can live on surplus power production and grid capacity.

In the Pacific Northwest, where a large amount of the power is hydro which can be throttled as necessary, there is no such thing as “surplus” power, there is only so much water and it can be used whenever so surplus capacity here does not exist.

The bulk of the US drives less than 50 miles per day, so plug-in hybrids capable of going 40 miles on batteries could eliminate 80% of the US gasoline consumption. About 45% of US oil consumption is gasoline used by cars and trucks. If we could eliminate 80% of that, we would eliminate 36% of US total consumption and reduce our oil imports by more than 50%.

This would be a huge win for our economy and environment. Transportation as a whole accounts for 69% of US oil consumption.

It is my belief that we should electrify our railways and go back to relying largely on trains for cargo transportation instead of trucks. Electricity can be produced from any energy source, including many renewable environmentally friendly sources, solar, wind, geo-thermal, and hydro-electric.

And with respect to hydro-electric, I’m troubled by the recent blow up the dam trend based upon the theory that they are responsible for fish population reductions.

The majority of these dams have existed for thirty or more years, yet, thirty years ago there wasn’t a problem with fish runs until the problems of over fishing and dead zones in the oceans became common.

The solution to the fish population issue is to solve the problem of nutrients from fertilizer run-off and animal and human waste, from going into the oceans. We should start by eliminating unnecessary fertilizing. Having a green lawn isn’t worth killing off all the life in the oceans. The use of fertilizers can be greatly reduced by more intelligent farming practices. One large problem is over-watering which leaches all the minerals out of the soil, down into the rivers, requiring fertilizers to replace them which are subsequently washed down the rivers by over-watering.

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ve had people try to tell me that we’re using water much more efficiently now but it just ain’t so. Anybody that believes otherwise only needs to drive up to a rural area like Burlington WA area, and look. You can’t help but see the huge circular sprinkler systems that are dumping so much water on the field that part of it is under water. These really should be replaced with much more efficient computer controlled drip irrigation.

If we can reduce or eliminate the need for fertilizers, we can also reduce our oil consumption because many of the fertilizers are petroleum derived.

If you buy the line that this has already been done, I suggest you go to and take a look at a satellite image of any farming region. You will see the circular growing areas characteristic of these large circular sprinkler systems. These systems basically have a big pipe with sprinklers that is suspended above the ground on a series of wheels and revolves around a central hub. Because the water is sprayed great distances in the air, a large percentage is lost to evaporation. Because there is no active control, too much water is applied.

Sewage treatment should all have tertiary treatment and animal wastes that are composted and then used for fertilizer should be composted in such a way that water can’t leach nutrients from the composting waste and transport it to the rivers. When the composted waste is used, watering should be carefully controlled to prevent run-off.

Green Living

I ran across a site that has a fair amount of useful information and suggestions with respect to how to live a green life style called Green Living.

Unlike some of the other resources I have found, this one has an abundance of suggestions that are easily implemented, as opposed to requiring a $60,000 retrofit of your house or something.


Just in case someone hasn’t already deduced this, I am opposed to war. I mention energy and food production as being major problems in terms of environmental damage and being unsustainable. War is right up there and contributes substantially to difficulties solving the other problems.

The American public is easily manipulated by those in power. They simply create a crisis that requires them doing what they want to do as a solution, and then we demand they do it.

We don’t elect the people really in power. The people who are really in power are global, they have no allegiance to our nation or any other. They only want to maintain their wealth and power at any cost, Human life means nothing to them.

Those really in power make sure that enough of the major party candidates represent their positions to maintain a majority.

Look at the last presidential election, George Bush and John Kerry, both Harvard graduates, one of them even attended classes there. Both members of Skull and Bones. They are distant cousins.

Neither was in favor of getting us out of Iraq. Clearly, the powers that be preferred to keep G.W. in office else they wouldn’t have bothered to rig the elections or bring up the old standby distraction issues of gay marriage, abortion, and flag burning.

Between the two parties it was a lose-lose, though I believe Kerry may have been slightly less evil. I think of the two he is more intelligent and thus slightly less easy for the powers to be to manipulate, hence their preference for Bush.

These people, the ones really in control, whatever label you want to give them, powerful multi-nationalists who control banking, energy production and distribution, food production and distribution, etc, whatever label you give them, they seem to have some dangerous beliefs.

One thing I am convinced they believe is that the scenario presented in Revelations, as frequently interpreted, will be played out, and the world will be against Israel and Israel will be victorious. I think this has a lot to do with our support for Israel in spite of the fact that it alienates every Arab nation and maintains instability with accompanying high levels of death and suffering in the region.

I also believe that these people are convinced that we’ve exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity by a about 5-1/2 billion and they’re intent on culling the human heard. Of coarse they will exempt themselves from this culling. They view war as a step in the right direction.

A lot of people feel Iraq is about oil, that our nation needs oil and we will do what we have to do to secure it. The truth is our nation is floating in oil, but most of it is expensive to extract and refine. The recent super giant field discovered in the Gulf of Mexico is larger than Ghwar, formerly the largest oil field in the world.

Cheap production of middle eastern oil undercuts the market and prevents the oil companies from getting $70/barrel for oil so they keep the middle east destabilized to prevent that from happening.

Scientifically, we could have brought controlled nuclear fusion on-line in the 80’s if we had the political will and were willing to invest the resources necessary to do so. Over the last two decades, the science surrounding plasma confinement has improved, but by the late 80’s we knew enough to reach break-even, it would have required large reactors, but we could do it.

It is my believe that if Armageddon happens, it will happen only as a function of self-fulfilled prophesy. We need a more balanced approach to the middle east, one that allows those people to determine their own destinies without our interference.

Instead of wiping out 90% of the population, I believe we could live in a sustainable manner by using the resources we have intelligently. Addressing the energy situation will address any water shortage by making desalination economical. It would eliminate the incentive to fight over energy or water which seem to be major areas of contention these days but it
would not address religious differences.

I would be willing to bet that we’ve wasted more oil on the Iraq invasion and occupation than we will ever get from Iraq. A good start would be to stop wasting resources fighting over those that we have.

So what do we do? We can’t seem to change our government through elections in so far as our involvement in war is concerned. We can’t seem to do so through mass demonstrations because they don’t get coverage from the controlled commercial media.

I am feeling pretty frustrated about the whole situation as well as pretty depressed.

Alternative Energy Blog

I always enjoy it when I run into like-minded people interested in the same issues that I am. I ran across this Alternative Energy Blog and thought it was interesting.

There are many aspects of the way that we are presently living on this planet that are unsustainable, but it is my view that the two most problematic areas are energy and food production so I am interested in any resources that deal sustainable energy and food production. If you know of any, please forward them to me and I will post them here.

Oil to Electrons

I would to call your attention to a study which was conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory which is operated by Battelle for the US Department of Energy.

Please take a look at “Mileage from Megawatts“.

In short, what this study found was that surplus electricity generation and storage capacity if used in plug-in hybrid vehicles, could power 87% of our vehicles. Given that plug-in hybrid technology is something that we can do today this offers a substantial opportunity to reduce our dependency on foreign oil since 73% of our oil demand is caused by gasoline consumption.

In the east and mid-west, 100% of the vehicles could be powered entirely by surplus electrical generation and distribution capacity. Only in the Pacific Northwest is this not the case. However, if we were to add wind generation capacity this could be addressed as well. Unfortunately, the very best lands for wind power generation are presently owned by the federal government and not near transmission facilities, this being the eastern ridge of the Yakima valley which has very constant winds ideal for power generation.

Abiotic Oil

I believe we need to get off of oil as an energy source for environmental reasons so I’m not entirely sure that the oil company promoted peak-oil scenario is entirely a bad thing, but it is a lie.

One could go on and on, there are thousands of articles on this subject, but the bottom line is that Russia has drilled over 300 deep wells, through granite and basalt bedrock caps, and put them into production to overtake Saudi Arabia as the worlds largest oil producer.

In a joint venture with the Chinese, the Russians have drilled twenty deep wells in Viet Nam in an area where there was no sedimentary basin, and thus should not have, according to the fossil fuel theory, been oil there, yet there was. The Chinese are now drilling similar wells in North Korea.

The ramifications for the world economy are good, energy exists to fuel it’s expansion. The ramifications for the environment are bad. Like the climate on Venus? If we continue to burn hydrocarbons as our primary source of energy, that’s what we’re going to have.

I’ve wondered if perhaps those really in control of this planet aren’t aware of this and knowing human traits have created “peak oil” as a means of forcing us towards alternatives because we are just not intelligent enough or forward looking enough to make the transition voluntarily.

If so, there is a problem, the clamp the created energy shortage places on the economy takes away the very resources necessary for the creation of the infrastructure necessary to move away from hydrocarbon fuels.

I believe the answer lies in education, instead of using television to condition people to accept nothing more complex than what can fit in a fifteen second clip, we need to start genuinely educating people, ween them away from oversimplified sensational fifteen second clips and into more in-depth and genuinely useful information.

I believe we should be pursuing many environmentally friendly alternatives simultaneously. Controlled hydrogen fusion should be brought on-line as fast as possible, and I do believe that if we really made a crash effort we could have it in production in 5-10 years.

In the meantime, we should invest heavily in wind, solar, geothermal, ocean current, ocean thermal, and other technology.

I believe that we should biofuels only where the energy product is significantly greater than required to grow, harvest, and process the energy crop, and, where it can be done in a sustainable manner without depleting the soil, and where it does not compete with needed food production, or where we can organic waste products into fuel.

I believe there is a place for a particular type of nuclear fission plant, a fast-flux plant capable of burning actinides, primarily as a means of destroying existing stockpiles of long term high level nuclear waste with energy production as a byproduct, rather than burying that waste and creating a problem for future generations.

One argument against wind power has been that the intermittent nature of this power source limits it to no more than a 15-20% contribution to the grid, but I would suggest otherwise and here is why.

The solution to the intermittent problem is to significantly overbuild capacity and when more energy is generated than can be readily absorbed by the grid, use that excess for fuel production or store it. Fuel production can be hydrogen, or it can be aluminum which can be used in a type of battery in which it is oxidized and electricity is produced, or a number of other potential forms. Storage can be hydrological, that is pump water uphill during power surpluses, release it through a turbine to a lower reservoir during shortages. There is also a type of battery using liquid electrodes and that can be used to store power on a utility scale. Similar strategies can be used for solar power, tidal power, and any other intermittent sources.

The earth will continue to have cycles of heating and cooling with or without our input, but those of nature occur over a longer period of time and nature is adapted to accommodate changes at the slower natural pace.

There is some good news, methane, which is actually a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, approximately 100 times more powerful, and which accounts for approximately 30% of greenhouse warming even though it constitutes a much smaller percentage of the atmosphere than carbon dioxide is leveling off and no longer rising at a fast pace. It is believed this is because it has reached a state of equilibrium where it is destroyed as fast as it is being put into the atmosphere. This is positive news because it means that one non-trivial component of global warming is not continuing to increase.

The reason we need to bring hydrogen fusion online in spite of the fact that we could accommodate existing needs via renewable sources, is density and economics. Fusion uses deuterium as the primary fuel. Deuterium constitutes one of every 2000 hydrogen atoms in sea water. There is enough of it to provide all of our energy needs for 15 billion years. The only waste product produced is helium. Tritium is also required, but it can be bred in a lithium blanket. A reactor starting on deuterium alone will initially produce little energy but in 48 hours of operation it will breed enough tritium to become a net energy producer.

With controlled hydrogen fusion we can solve many of the worlds problems. Since the fuel is everywhere, no one nation or power will have a lock on this energy source. This is the reason why it is being developed so slowly now, this is not a situation desirable to big oil. The fuel is, for all intents and purposes, free. This makes it practical for energy intensive applications like desalinating water. Many industrial processes which could be used to recycle waste products if it were not for the cost of energy will become viable.

Unlike wind, solar, and other renewable sources which are not energy dense, limited in scalability, and not portable, controlled hydrogen fusion reactors could be build anywhere we want to build them. Need a large amount of energy to transform lunar regolith into water, air, and other raw materials? No problem build a fusion reactor there.

The moon even has a potential fuel, He3, that is more attractive for fusion because all of the products are charged particles allowing reaction energy to be directly converted into electricity without the need for a thermal cycle. Additionally, this means no neutrons (and actually that’s not 100% true, there are some smaller reactions that take place that do generate some neutrons), so there are not the problems with neutron activation and embrittlement present with deuterium-tritium reactions.

Initial fusion reactors will be physically large, but as superconductor technology continues to improve and our understanding of plasma physics and how to best confine plasma continues to evolve, this will gradually reduce there size, and who knows what breakthroughs may emerge.

The most efficient design at this time is a spherical tokamak, this is a design with a short aspect ratio. It has been determined experimentally that a nearly spherical plasma configuration is easier to confine than early tokamaks which where the plasma was a more elliptical torus.

However, there are some new configurations being examined that may have the potential to achieve far higher temperatures and pressures necessary for advanced aneutronic fuel cycles.

Smaller future designs may expand our reach in space, how far we can travel in a reasonable period of time. Maybe we can send a probe to Alpha Centauri and examine it’s planetary system up close.

None of this will be possible if we keep doing what we’re doing, burning hydrocarbons for energy; all this will accomplish is slow suffocation and environmental disasters.


There isn’t too much that comes out of President Bush’s mouth that I can agree with. But I do agree with him when he says America needs to repair and improve it’s energy infrastructure to remain competitive.

We do need a means to produce the energy we need in a sustainable and ecologically non-destructive manner. In my view, we should have a crash program to bring controlled fusion online as our principal energy resource.

There is enough deuterium in the oceans waters (approximately 1-in-2000 atoms) to provide all of mankind’s energy needs for an estimated fifteen billion years. What’s more it can do it without releasing an atom of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and without producing any long term high level nuclear waste.

ITER is an international effort to build a burning plasma fusion test reactor capable of sustained operation at commercial power levels. This effort will take ten years to construct and then will operate a projected twenty years. The total cost of construction will be around six billion dollars, and operation over the following twenty years another six billion. Of this, the US total contribution will be around 1.1 billion over the lifespan of the project, about 550 million towards the construction.

To put this in perspective, the United States spends as much in a day on imported oil as we will contribute over a period of ten years towards the construction of this crucial test reactor.

This reactor is the last step before the deployment of commercial fusion reactors. It’s function is to test components and materials at commercial power levels over long periods of time. Present fusion reactors use copper coils to generate the magnetic containment field. Because these coils have resistance, they rapidly heat up limiting power shots to about a minute maximum. The power levels existing reactors operate at are about 5% of the level a commercial reactor would operate at. It is not known how critical components, particularly a device called a diverter that skims off helium waste from the plasma, will hold up to long term bombardment by energetic ions and neutrons. ITER will establish that and allow us to do any material research to make any necessary adjustments.

To take ten years to bring this online and to only spend as much as we do for one days worth of oil imports is insane. It is national, economic, and environmental suicide.

February of 2006, the Chinese started construction of a test reactor which uses superconductive coils and thus will be capable of continuous operation for long periods. September of 2006, this reactor saw first plasma. Why is it possible for the Chinese to do something in seven months that it takes the rest of the world ten years to do? The answer is that the Chinese understand the urgency of providing for their energy needs and the Chinese government isn’t owned by the oil industry.

The United States has become completely unable to compete in the world market for manufactured goods. Initially this was due to low wages, and in the case of goods manufactured in China and India this is still true. In Japan and South Korea where the demand for labor has outstripped supply and wages have risen to higher levels, they have remained competitive through the extensive use of automation and through very effective quality control efforts.

In time, the labor market will saturate in China as well, but if they succeed in bringing controlled fusion online before the rest of the world, they will have a huge economic advantage because of their low energy costs. We need to not be left in the dust on this one. The US space race with the Soviets was largely symbolic, but bringing fusion power online soon is essential to our nations survival. If we do not do this we will simply not have the economic means to compete in any market or to maintain our security.

Presently, the one area that we’ve remained competitive with on the world market is in food production. Rising energy costs and the depletion of natural aquifers faster than nature can replenish them will soon bring an end to our ability to compete even in this area and possibly an end to our ability to feed ourselves.

What has allowed us to compete in the world market for food has been our land, some 46% of American land is arable, contrasted with about 10% of China’s. However, what makes the majority of China’s land unsuitable for food production is the lack of adequate fresh water supplies. Controlled hydrogen fusion will provide the energy they need to desalinate water as necessary and make much of this presently non-arable land arable. Meanwhile, as our aquifers deplete and the cost of energy to run our farm equipment continues to skyrocket, much of our land will cease to be arable, at least from an economic standpoint.

We should be building our own superconducting fusion test reactor and we should be bringing it online rapidly, as China has done, and we should move to commercial deployment as soon as remaining material issues are resolved.

While this is in progress, we should be tapping non-fossil sustainable energy sources here in our country to the fullest extend possible. The western half of the United States has huge geothermal potential. Wind is a resource available almost everywhere in the US. Solar is practical in the southern portion of the country. We need to ramp up deployment of these sources.

There are also fission reactor designs that can burn the actinides and thus produce only short-term fission product waste instead of long lived plutonium and other transuranic wastes. I really believe we need to give these technologies serious consideration. Yucca mountain could be come a reactor farm instead of a waste disposal site, the reactors being used to simultaneously burn actinides instead of trying to store them for ten thousand years and at the same time produce enormous quantities of energy. This is not only the responsible thing to do for our generation, it is also the responsible thing for us to do for future generations.

So how can we get the oil companies hooks out of our government and put these projects into high gear and get our economy rolling again, save our environment, and eliminate a nuclear waste legacy for our children?

Renewable Energy Web Resource

I ran across a pretty good web site dealing with renewable energy, “Renewable Energy Generation“.

It is an extremely comprehensive site covering a broad range of renewable energy related topics but doing so in a manner that is extremely well organized and easy to navigate.

It is organized into the following categories:

  • Actual Cases
    Actual applications of renewable energy technologies.
  • Breakthrough Technology
    New renewable energy technologies.
  • Corporate Environmental Initiatives
    Things corporations are doing to help the environment.
  • E-Waste
    Deals with the topic of what to do with waste streams.
  • Eco-Friendly Publishing
    References to other Eco-Friendly publications.
  • Eco-tourism
    Promotes ecologically friendly travel.
  • Education
    Ecological Education Resources.
  • Environmental Activism
    Things you can do to encourage positive change.
  • Events
    Upcoming ecology related events.
  • Fossil Fuel News
    What’s happening in the non-sustainable energy field.
  • Green Awards
    Awards bestowed by various entities onto various entities for their positive ecological contributions.
  • Introductions
    Introductions to important ecology related concepts.
  • Novelties
    Novel ecology related items.
  • Recycle It
    Recycling information. Resources to put waste producers in touch with entities that can recycle the waste into useful products.
  • Renewable Energy
    Information about renewable energy. The largest and most relevant section.
  • Sustainable Business
    How businesses contribute to a sustainable economy.
  • Uncategorized
    Everything that didn’t fit elsewhere.

This is a brief listing of the categories, but really you need to take a look at the site to get a better feel for it. It really is an interesting site.

New High Efficiency Solar Cell

Spectrolab, a Boeing subsidiary, have developed a new multi-junction solar cell that has demonstrated an efficiency of 40.7% using concentrated sunlight.

The multi-junction solar cell is similar to space based solar cells used on satellites but is based upon metamorphic semiconductors. These are dissimilar semiconductor materials combined.

In solar cells, efficiency is limited by the ability of a semi-conductor junction to utilize only one wavelength of light efficiently. This is based upon the semi-conductor junctions band gap, an energy barrier that requires a specific amount of energy to cause an electron to jump over.

The shorter the wavelength of light, the more energy each photons pack. A typical mono-crystalline silicon solar cell will have a band gap of around 1.1 volts. This corresponds to a wavelength of around 1200 nm, near infrared, just below visible light.

Any photon with a wavelength longer than this will not be able to cause an electron to jump the energy band gap and produce a current in a solar cell. Any wavelength shorter than this will not be utilized efficiently, only the energy corresponding to 1200 nm, 1.1 electron volts, will be utilized, the rest will be wasted as heat. A conventional mono-junction solar cell can only utilize a narrow slice of the light spectrum efficiently.

A solution to this problem is to create a multi-junction solar cell, a stack of junctions each of which can capture a portion of the spectrum with high efficiency. This is the approach used in the new Spectrolab solar cell. Other companies have produced multi-junction solar cells in the past, but they have been either too chemically unstable or too expensive for terrestrial applications.

The 40.7% efficiency demonstrated by the Spectrolab solar cell is the highest I have seen. The companies press release implies these cells will be suitable for terrestrial applications and lend themselves to high volume manufacturing but they do not address the issues of cost or long term stability, either of which could be show stoppers.

If both of these issues are addressed in this new solar cell, then this will represent a major breakthrough in photovoltiac solar energy and will allow it to find applications that are presently cost prohibitive.