Monthly Archives: May 2010

My Conclusions from the Phoenix Energy Sustainability Conference

A summary of what I have learned is that solar energy engineering is in a phase of rapid development. It is profitable business and there is still quite a way to go before plateau performance levels will be reached. Real progress is being made in reducing the costs of photovoltaic collectors. Issues of inverting and cleaning up the power produced and integrating it with the grid appear to me to have been largely solved. Reliability and durability of photovoltaic panels seem to be very satisfactory. Costs of these units appear to be decreasing quite rapidly. Efficiency values are still increasing, but are already at levels that I consider very good. Furthermore, concepts such as combining photovoltaic collection and thermal collection or using concentration with photovoltaic collectors are subjects of current research.
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Energy Sustainability in Phoenix

Tomorrow morning, Thursday 20th May, 2010, I present a paper at the 4th ASME Energy Sustainability Conference, which is co-located with the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Conference, at the Phoenix Covention Center, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. This is certainly the place to be to find out what is going on in relation to solar energy. The sun shines a lot on Arizona.
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Pi in the Sky—Research Spending Empowerment

Image of a three dimensional Greek letter pi against a sky background.

Pi in the sky

It would be pi-in-the-sky for a researcher to expect that they could spend research money as through it were their own. Regulation and accountability are necessary and there must be a full audit trail for all research expenditure. As research, in a sense, is about daring to make mistakes and learning from them, mistakes can and will be made with expenditure too. Research money can easily be spent too hastily or without sufficient consideration. This is why a researcher must be entrusted with spending decisions and must be fully answerable for all decisions made. The track record of a research leader should testify to their batting average in the use of precious research funds. Those who fund research do not seek perfection in expenditure decisions any more than in other aspects of research. Research funders are seeking value for their research investment.
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Un-Blocking Research Finance Procedures

Research finance procedures, like all procedures, are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The finance procedures must not block the research: this is fundamental. There are many aspects to this, but here I would like to focus on just one: what does a researcher who already has funds to engage in research need in order to get-on with the financial aspects of the research?
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