It was an early start yesterday. 0445 rise and bus at 0530. 5 hours later after three trains and another bus I arrived at InterSolar 2007 in Freiburg, Germany hoping to find out how I could improve the UMPC Solar kit at Europe’s biggest solar expo. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much there for consumers at all. It was all 200w, $1000 panels and huge thermal heating set-ups. I saw one company that was selling the Voltaic Solar Backpack but I’ve already assessed this product and at 4W max output, its not powerful enough. I was rather hoping to see someone with the Reware Juicebag which, at 6.3W is much more useful.
Actually the most interesting thing that happened yesterday, apart from some awesomely stormy weather, was that the train journey took me on the Rhein route south to where I will start the Solar UMPC tour. Its a gorgeous route. Lovely scenery and I saw loads and loads of great Rhein-side restaurants and camping sites. I’m looking forward to the tour more than ever!
One bit of relevant news from yesterday which came through RSS and has spawned another bit of research was that Sanyo have broken the record for a production solar cell. We’re up to 22% now. In theory, the cell on the left here, a 10x10cm device, should be able to generate over 2W. 100cm2 is about the same area as the face of a UMPC. 4W is the target average power consumption that Intel have set for devices based on Menlow, their UMPC platform for 2008. The interesting thing that I’ve found out is that this cell (or at least the previous version of it) appears in the Sanyo Eneloop solar charger. The charger houses a Li-Ion battery which can store enough energy to charge 4x2000mah batteries. That’s about 10W if my maths is correct. The only problem is the quoted 6 DAYS charging time for the internal Li-Ion battery. I suspect that the cell isn’t exactly being used that efficiently because as I said before, that 10×10 cell should be able to kick out 2W, enough to charge the batteries in a few full days of sun. This little bit of tech will set you back over $150. Eek!