Solar Roof Slates

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Ross Cooney

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Oct 12, 2015, 4:37:15 PM10/12/15
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Hi SuperMondays!

I would like to create a solar panel that looks like a roof tile and then opensource all of the designs. 

Solar panels are due a makeover for lots of reasons…why are they are expensive? unsightly? and only cover a small percentage of the available space. I want to lower cost, hide them in plain sight and maximise solar collection by covering the whole roof area. Simple really ;)

I believe that solar tiles can:

1) cover almost 100% of the available area
2) be easy to install
3) comply with all relevant industry standard standards
4) look exactly like a roof slate and not a monstrosity of ugliness
5) integrate with commodity connectors, inverters etc

This is not a new concept…there are proprietary versions of this on the market. I want to design a better one that is cheaper to manufacture and easier to integrate. In doing so I hope that this tile lowers the cost and removes some of the barriers to solar adoption.

I am looking for help on all aspects of this project from CAD design, electrical layout, project management, production readiness, prototype development, funding, community engagement, industry engagement….the list goes on and on. I am looking for makers, tinkers and players. These people might understand electrical wiring, hardware, software, opensource licensing and all of the modern social media crapology.

I truly believe that if we can get the right team together we can make a difference. Are you interested? If so then please join me for a pint on Wednesday 14th November at 18:00 in the Bridge Hotel (Castle Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 1RQ).

Ross Cooney

Ross Cooney

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Oct 12, 2015, 4:38:42 PM10/12/15
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Oops…that would be Wednesday 11th November ;)

Ross Cooney

Ross Cooney

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Oct 13, 2015, 12:06:48 PM10/13/15
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Hi Supermonday!

I have had quite a bit of interest to this to my personal email address. I have come up with the following FAQ:

1) there is already competitive products. I know. There are a few proprietary designs on the market. I want to create a completely new product that is open-sourced and lower cost.

2) who will own the IP (intellectual property). I will setup a community interest company (CIC) which will own the IP and then make it available under license using either the GPL (or derivative) or BSD or Apache or mozilla licences. I am not sure the advantages of each of these. Do you know the differences? if so you should join the team ;)

3) will I get paid if I join the team and work? probably not. We have no budgets, no cash, no assets. We expect that we might need to raise some funds to make a few prototypes but that is quite a bit along the road. I am unsure where we will get this cash but croud sourcing is one option. Have you done this before? If so you should join the team ;)

4) how much time do I need to commit? as much as  you can, from one hour to one hundred hours…it’s your choice. I would expect that the engineering team would need to commit around 30 hours each over a 6 month period. This should get us to a prototype phase. The business focused team would probably need to commit a similar amount of time.

5) how do I get involved? come along on the 11th Nov for a chat. We will be meeting at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle. Please indicate if you plan to come along here: http://doodle.com/poll/fw4t7z5rh3hxf2hr

6) What is the project called? It does not have a name yet…i hope to come up with one over a pint on the 11th November ;)

7) Do you plan to manufacture these slates? No. We have no plans to ever manufacture these slates ourselves. All we want to do is design them and allow others to build these under license.

8) Is this all part of a grand plan to revolutionise the solar market? Well, yes. I believe that there are a few things blocking the adoption of renewable energy. These are the initial cost of the equipment, the reluctance to embrace the technology by the energy sector, the difference between the generation cycle for renewable energy and the normal usage patterns for energy users. I have a long term plan to fix this. It starts with low cost solar panels, then low cost inverters (and related infrastructure), then onto batteries and finally remote telematics….all leading to a worldwide system which can be used for spot selling of energy. I believe that if all of this was opensource then there would be true competition in the energy sector. Lowering costs, generating jobs and lowering our carbon impact on the planet. At this stage I want to focus all of our attention on the panels. If we are able to make these then we will progress down the rest of the road.

9) Can you really see this working in the UK? Yes, certainly all of the R&D work anyway ;)

10) Where is the money coming from? Well, we don’t need money at this time…at least not until we need to make some prototypes and that is a little down the road.

11) once again, who will own all of this? It will be owned by a community interest company. All profits (if any) will be held in trust for the community and will be re-invested in the same way that SuperMondays (www.supermondays.org) is run.

I am really excited about this project and I hope that this helps to answer any questions you might have.

Ross Cooney

From: Ross Cooney <ross....@gmail.com>
Reply: Ross Cooney <ross....@gmail.com>
Date: 12 October 2015 at 21:37:13
To: super-...@googlegroups.com <super-...@googlegroups.com>
Subject:  Solar Roof Slates

The Malbys

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Oct 15, 2015, 8:39:54 AM10/15/15
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Ross,

Alan here - we have mused over this for a while. We CAN change the model in certain areas - my thoughts:

1) We cannot influence cell chemistry R & D - blue chip companies doing that with Billion Dollar Budgets. To date the max efficiency claimed by anyone cell manufacturer (Boeing Spectrolab)is 40%.

2) Opportunity lies in what we can do to address the disadvantages of solar cells:

** High Initial Cost - Purchasing of an OTS - re leaved by Open Source Design

** High Initial Cost - High Embodied Energy - re leaved by Mechanical Framing Design and Electrical Design Integration Efficiencies then manufacture under license by a quality high volume contract manufacturer.

** High Initial Cost - High Cost of Storage System and Control Strategies - solar energy is intermittent so a storage medium is used re leaved by Open Source Design.

** No Service Requirement - Potential failure modes are addressed by current restricting diodes - to prevent battery drain. "Hot Spot" failure mode is where some cells are in shade some are in direct sunlight. Failure Modes are reverse power flow and cell destruction. Re leaved by FMEA DEEP DEEP DEEP Dive and mitigation in design but most of all detection and control strategy efficiencies driven by smart algorithm.

** Big Data - Telematics affords the opportunity to monitor not only high level operating parameters but also low level discrete operational information which can be used for design value analysis, efficiency and reliability improvments.

** Boundaries - Leave the cell cell chemistry to Blue Chip - focus on the efficient design integration, control, diagnostics and operational safety to maximise a return on all other attributes.

** Unique selling points should target the current:

* "gap" in control technology
* "gap" in all uptake disablers, purchasing/manufacturing/integration/control

** Our skill set should answer:

1) How we can increase uptake by closing the current gaps through innovative design.

Ross Cooney

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Oct 15, 2015, 9:24:03 AM10/15/15
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Hi Alan,

Thank you for your email. You are bang on the money here. Our goal is to lower the overall cost of entry into the market for a manufacturer…not design all of the components and hold IP of each of them.


1) We cannot influence cell chemistry R & D - blue chip companies doing that with Billion Dollar Budgets. To date the max efficiency claimed by anyone cell manufacturer (Boeing Spectrolab)is 40%.


Yep, I agree. We are only going to be involved in ‘packaging’ other peoples cells. Hopefully we will be cell agnostic, however I agree that this is not as easy as you might think.


2) Opportunity lies in what we can do to address the disadvantages of solar cells:

** High Initial Cost - Purchasing of an OTS - re leaved by Open Source Design

** High Initial Cost - High Embodied Energy - re leaved by Mechanical Framing Design and Electrical Design Integration Efficiencies then manufacture under license by a quality high volume contract manufacturer.

** High Initial Cost - High Cost of Storage System and Control Strategies - solar energy is intermittent so a storage medium is used re leaved by Open Source Design.

** No Service Requirement - Potential failure modes are addressed by current restricting diodes - to prevent battery drain. "Hot Spot" failure mode is where some cells are in shade some are in direct sunlight. Failure Modes are reverse power flow and cell destruction. Re leaved by FMEA DEEP DEEP DEEP Dive and mitigation in design but most of all detection and control strategy efficiencies driven by smart algorithm.

** Big Data - Telematics affords the opportunity to monitor not only high level operating parameters but also low level discrete operational information which can be used for design value analysis, efficiency and reliability improvments.

** Boundaries - Leave the cell cell chemistry to Blue Chip - focus on the efficient design integration, control, diagnostics and operational safety to maximise a return on all other attributes.

** Unique selling points should target the current:

* "gap" in control technology
* "gap" in all uptake disablers, purchasing/manufacturing/integration/control

** Our skill set should answer:

1) How we can increase uptake by closing the current gaps through innovative design.


Yes, yes yes….you have grasped the concept.

We want to lower costs, technical risk and all other barriers to help more manufacturers into this market. More competition lowers unit cost and increases adoption.

I really believe that if we are successful with this project we will change the global energy market. Step one is the panels, then the connectors, then the inverter, then batteries, then the control mechanisms and telematics...finally linking up thousands of installations through telematics and spot selling the energy to achieve peak shaving. 

I am not starting this project to get onto the spot selling market myself, I want to allow others to do so. If enough people do this they will change the world wide energy market by lowering the cost of energy and reducing our need for the power stations that are run just to cover the peak demands.

My vision of success for this project is seeing whole housing estates with panels, each with 2-3kWh batteries. Linking this infrastructure with smart telematics and remote discharge circuits to power could provide power for the peak demand of a local factory or something similar. Currently whole power stations are run just to cover the peak demand. Think of how much environmental damage will be prevented with only one of these power stations was shut down. Imagine if we could close one station per country!

Ross



Ross Cooney

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Oct 15, 2015, 9:26:27 AM10/15/15
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Hi SuperMondays!

Some people have said that they want to help however they are unsure where they can fit in. I have put some time into thinking of the various tasks / job descriptions that need filling. This is not an exhaustive list but it might help you to understand where you might fit in. Some of these tasks will take a few hours and some will take longer…indeed some might be undertaken by multiple people…regardless if you want to contribute you might fit into one of these roles:

The Business Side
1) we need a video that describes our goal in a pithy way. I really like the whiteboard video format (like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6vXYq8Vm8s). Have you ever made one of these? Can you help us to put one together? 
2) we need to decide on which opensource licence to use. What is the difference between the GPL, BSD, Apache and Mozilla licences? Can you tell  us? Once we decide which licence method to use can you help us by drawing up a contributors agreement?
3) once we agree the licence we are going to use and we have a contributors agreement drawn up we need to ensure that everybody signs it. We need somebody to issue the agreements, collect signed copies and then keep a log.
4) we would like a website. nothing special, perhaps using a ‘one page template’ such as one here: https://onepagelove.com/templates Can you join a small team to help us to design one? perhaps you can help with the photos, or the compression for the graphics, or the text or the web hosting?
5) we need to protect the IP in a legal entity. I have experience with CIC’s (community interest companies). Is this the best way to proceed? Do you know the difference between the various types of companies? Can you help us out by explaining the difference between them so that we can decide the best way to protect the IP for the communities best interests?
6) IT. We will have a domain registered, a third party version control service (CodebaseHQ or Github perhaps), we will probably share files using a commercial file sharing service like Spideroak and we will perhaps have a few software licences for specialist software. Can you help us to keep ontop of this? I don’t expect we will need IT support, just somebody who has all of the account passwords and knows when things need to be paid.


The Engineering Side
1) do you know anything about solar panels? or solar cells? If so do you want to tell us what you know? Perhaps you can help us to choose a cell that has optimum price, solar gain and quality?
2) are you a roofing contractor or do you know anything about roofing? If so can you help us understand what slate / tile design we should design for? What are the practical issues you can see with our ideas?
3) Do you know how to use CAD software? If so can you help us to design a slate / tile?
4) Do you know anything about plastics? can you help us choose a cheap, versatile and hard wearing plastic for the tiles?
5) Do you know anything about how to design engineering parts for high volume production? We want to ensure that our parts can be manufactured using high volume production processes so that we can ensure a very low part price. 
6) are you an electrician? perhaps you can help us understand the plathora of industry standards we need to design to?
7) an electrician can also help us to specify cabling, trunking and interconnects. We want something that is easy to install, lightweight, low cost and interoperable with existing systems….oh…and will last 20-25 years ;)

How do I get involved? come along on the 11th Nov at 18:00 for a chat. We will be meeting at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle. Please indicate if you plan to come along here: http://doodle.com/poll/fw4t7z5rh3hxf2hr

Thanks,

Ross Cooney
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Ross Cooney

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Nov 11, 2015, 9:55:44 AM11/11/15
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Hi,

We have decided to have this meeting on teleconference instead of meeting up.

If you want to join please get in contact and I will send you the call details.

Ross

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