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  #301  
Old Posted Oct 8, 2013, 4:50 PM
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Solar must supply 25% of global energy by 2030, scientists say
By Alex Kirby on 8 October 2013
Inside Climate News

LONDON – Hard on the heels of the latest UN report on climate change, two UK scientists have proposed an ambitious plan to tackle the problem it graphically describes.

Their solution? A massive and urgent international program to increase the world’s production of solar energy – to 10 percent of total global energy supply by 2025, and to 25 percent by 2030.

The scientists, David King and Richard Layard, say their proposal – which they call a Sunpower Program – should within little more than a decade be producing solar electricity which costs less than fossil fuel power.

They write in the online Observer: “The Sun sends energy to the earth equal to about 5,000 times our total energy needs. It is inconceivable that we cannot collect enough of this energy for our needs, at a reasonable cost.”

Last week the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, published the first section of its Fifth Assessment Report, called AR5 for short. It said: “Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Sir David King was formerly chief scientific adviser to the UK Government, and Lord Layard is the founder-director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

They write: “There will always be many sources of non-carbon energy – nuclear fission, hydropower, geothermal, wind, nuclear fusion (possibly) and solar.

“But nuclear fission and hydropower have been around for many years. Nuclear is essential but faces political obstacles and there are physical limits to hydropower. Nuclear fusion remains uncertain.

“And, while wind can play a big role in the UK, in many countries its application is limited. So there is no hope of completely replacing fossil fuel without a major contribution from the power of the Sun.”
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/sola...-2025′-99838

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Solar Heating and Cooling Could Save U.S. $61 Billion Through 2050
10/07/2013
Clean Edge News

As a way to help bolster the U.S. economy, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a comprehensive new report outlining ways to create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs by expanding the use of innovative and cost-effective solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems across the nation.

Prepared by BEAM Engineering, a Boston-based consulting firm which focuses on energy system design and implementation, this new, first-of-its-kind report provides a roadmap for dramatically increasing SHC capacity in the U.S. from 9 gigawatts (GW) thermal to 300 GW thermal by 2050 through the installation of 100 million new SHC solar panels nationwide. Thermal energy is typically measured in terms of British Thermal Units (BTUs) but can also be converted to watts.

Today, approximately 44 percent of American energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling. According to projections by BEAM Engineering, ramping up the installation of SHC systems across America would allow the U.S. to generate nearly 8 percent of its total heating and cooling needs through clean, affordable solar energy. SHC is the most efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat and costs are as low as 6 cents per kilowatt (kWh) hour.
http://www.cleanedge.com/Resources/n...n-Through-2050
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  #302  
Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 10:35 AM
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US Solar Decathlon

The Us Solar Decathlon is currently being held at Great Park in Irvine, CA. I've attended the two previous decathlons and a friend if mine from college competed in this. If you're in Southern California, I strongly encourage you to check this event out. Here is the link: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/ .
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  #303  
Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 9:59 PM
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Researchers find rust can power up artificial photosynthesis
Boston College chemists produce power boost critical to novel energy harvesting applications


CHESTNUT HILL, MA (Oct. 11, 2013) – Chemists at Boston College have achieved a series of breakthroughs in their efforts to develop an economical means of harnessing artificial photosynthesis by narrowing the voltage gap between the two crucial processes of oxidation and reduction, according to their latest research, published this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

The team reports it has come within two-tenths of the photovoltage required to mimic oxidation and reduction respectively using unique photoanodes and photocathodes the team developed using novel nanowire components and coatings. Narrowing the gap using economical chemical components, the group moves researchers closer to using the man-made reaction for unique applications such as solar energy harvesting and storage.

"Many researchers have been trying to harvest solar energy and directly store it in chemical bonds," said lead author Dunwei Wang, an associate professor of chemistry at Boston College. "Solar panels can harvest energy, but economical storage has remained elusive. We are trying to borrow a page from Mother Nature whereby photosynthesis produces energy from the sun and stores it."

But copying Mother Nature is a tall order and this particular quest "requires materials that can absorb sunlight broadly, transfer the energy to excited charges at high efficiencies and catalyze specific reduction and oxidation reactions," the team writes in the article "Hematite-Based Water Splitting with Low Turn-on Voltage."

Natural photosynthesis consists of two important processes. Oxidation produces oxygen gas. Reduction produces organic molecules. Wang said artificial photosynthesis, also known as water splitting, tries to copy these two reactions using a photoanode to oxidize water and a photocathode to either reduce water for hydrogen production or to reduce carbon dioxide for organic molecules.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-rfr101013.php
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  #304  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2013, 3:07 PM
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Canadian Solar commences construction on Canada's largest PV project
17. October 2013 | Markets & Trends, Investor news, Global PV markets, Applications & Installations | By: Ian Clover

The 100 MW Grand Renewable Solar Project in Ontario is being developed by Samsung Renewable Energy and is expected to be operational by 2015.

Canadian Solar’s subsidiary, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., has this week begun construction on a 100 MW utility-scale solar power plant in Ontario, Canada.

The Grand Renewable Solar Project is the largest PV project in Canada, and has received the financial backing of Connor Clark & Lunn Infrastructure, and the development expertise of Samsung Renewable Energy Inc.

Canadian Solar were awarded the contract to provide full EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) services in June – an agreement that is expected to generate revenues of $301.1 million (USD).
http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/deta...ect_100013061/

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Scientists develop heat-resistant materials that could vastly improve solar cell efficiency

Scientists have created a heat-resistant thermal emitter that could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells. The novel component is designed to convert heat from the sun into infrared light, which can than be absorbed by solar cells to make electricity – a technology known as thermophotovoltaics. Unlike earlier prototypes that fell apart at temperatures below 2200 degrees Fahrenheit (1200 degrees Celsius), the new thermal emitter remains stable at temperatures as high as 2500 F (1400 C).

"This is a record performance in terms of thermal stability and a major advance for the field of thermophotovoltaics," said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University. Fan and his colleagues at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (Illinois) and North Carolina State University collaborated on the project. Their results are published in the October 16 edition of the journal Nature Communications.

A typical solar cell has a silicon semiconductor that absorbs sunlight directly and converts it into electrical energy. But silicon semiconductors only respond to infrared light. Higher-energy light waves, including most of the visible light spectrum, are wasted as heat, while lower-energy waves simply pass through the solar panel.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-sdh101413.php

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Solar panels can be used to provide heating and air conditioning

The use of solar panels to produce toilets hot water is standard practice, but researchers at the Madrid Universities Carlos III and Politécnica suggest that they may also be used to provide large offices with heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Their proposal involves the incorporation of solar collectors into a gas-based cogeneration system with an absorption machine, which would reduce both energy expenditure and CO2 emissions.


SINC | October 15 2013 11:00

They may still be few, but a number of shopping centres and major stations, such as Atocha Train Station in Madrid, house trigeneration systems responsable for the production of electricity, cool air and heat. A gas engine generates electricity and, in winter, the residual heat produced is used directly for the heating circuit whilst in summer, this heat powers an absorption machine which cools the water used to provide air conditioning.

Now engineers from the Madrid Universities Carlos III (UC3M) and Politécnica (UPM) have designed a model which makes the best possible use of this system in order to allow maximum reductions in energy expediture and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the model’s ability to accommodate solar collectors is a feature new to the field. The system, the details of which appear in the journal Applied Thermal Engineering, has been designed for large office blocks.
http://www.agenciasinc.es/en/News/So...r-conditioning
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  #305  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2013, 6:45 PM
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Maths study of photosynthesis clears the path to developing new super-crops
by Simon Levey 17 October 2013

How some plant species evolved super-efficient photosynthesis had been a mystery. Now, scientists have identified what steps led to that change.

Around three per cent of all plants use an advanced form of photosynthesis, which allows them to capture more carbon dioxide, use less water, and grow more rapidly. Overall this makes them over 50% more efficient than plants that use the less efficient form.

A new study has traced back the evolutionary paths of all the plants that use advanced photosynthesis, including maize, sugar cane and millet, to find out how they evolved the same ability independently, despite not being directly related to one another.

Using a mathematical analysis, the authors uncovered a number of tiny changes in the plants' physiology that, when combined, allow them to grow more quickly; using a third as much water as other plants; and capture around thirteen times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandev...-2013-15-39-30
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  #306  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2013, 4:18 PM
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Cleaner and greener cities with integrated transparent solar cells
High power conversion of new solar cells that are thin, flexible, and transparent makes them ideal for a wealth of new applications


Imagine buildings in which the windows allow the sun's light to enter, and at the same time capture the energy from the sun needed to meet all their energy needs. In this seemingly futuristic scenario, the windows become productive solar cells that help us decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and advance towards a greener and cleaner environment. In a recent study carried out at ICFO, researchers have fabricated an optimal organic solar cell with a high level of transparency and a high power conversion efficiency, a promising step forward towards affordable, clean, more widely utilized and urban integrated renewable energies. The results of this study have just been published in Nature Photonics.

Today's commercial solar panels are, for the most part, composed of wafer-based crystalline silicon solar cells which are quite efficient in converting solar radiation into electrical power (approximately 15% conversion efficiency), but with several important obstacles standing in the way of maximum exploitation. To begin, they must be precisely oriented to receive direct sunlight and even then are limited in their ability to absorb diffused light. In addition, they are heavy, opaque, and take up a great deal of space.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-cag102113.php
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  #307  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2013, 4:20 PM
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NTU scientists make breakthrough solar technology
Published on: 21-Oct-2013

In the near future, solar panels will not only be more efficient but also a lot cheaper and affordable for everyone, thanks to research by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists.

This next generation solar cell, made from organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite materials, is about five times cheaper than current thin-film solar cells, due to a simpler solution-based manufacturing process.

Perovskite is known to be a remarkable solar cell material as it can convert up to 15 per cent of sunlight to electricity, close to the efficiency of the current solar cells, but scientists did not know why or how, until now.

In a paper published last Friday (18 Oct) in the world’s most prestigious academic journal, Science, NTU’s interdisciplinary research team was the first in the world to explain this phenomenon.
http://media.ntu.edu.sg/NewsReleases...7-72593de75029

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Predicting the life expectancy of solar modules
Research News Oct 01, 2013

Solar modules are exposed to many environmental influences that cause material to fatigue over the years. Researchers have developed a procedure to calculate effects of these influences over the long term. This allows reliable lifespan predictions.

People who invest in their own solar panels for the roof would like as a rule to profit from them over the long term – but how long will this technology actually last for? While most manufacturers guarantee a lifetime of up to 25 years to their customers, the manufacturers themselves cannot make reliable predictions about the expected operating life. The modules must fulfill certain standards, of course, to be approved for operation. This involves exposing them in various trials to high temperatures and high mechanical loading. “However, the results only predict something about the robustness of a brand-new sample with respect to extreme, short-term loading. In contrast, agerelated effects that only appear over the course of time, such as material fatigue, are pertinent for the actual operating life,” explains Alexander Fromm from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg.
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/re...modules-7.html

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Low-Priced Plastic Photovoltaics
Article in "The Journal of Chemical Physics" Describes New Approach to Making Cheaper, More Efficient Solar Panels

Released: 10/22/2013 11:05 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: American Institute of Physics (AIP)
more news from this source

Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C. Oct. 22, 2013 -- Photovoltaic devices, which tap the power of the sun and convert it to electricity, offer a green -- and potentially unlimited -- alternative to fossil fuel use. So why haven’t solar technologies been more widely adopted?

Quite simply, "they’re too expensive," says Ji-Seon Kim, a senior lecturer in experimental solid-state physics at Imperial College London, who, along with her colleagues, has come up with a technology that might help bring the prices down.

The scientists describe their new approach to making cheaper, more efficient solar panels in a paper in The Journal of Chemical Physics, produced by AIP Publishing.

"To collect a lot of sunlight you need to cover a large area in solar panels, which is very expensive for traditional inorganic -- usually silicon -- photovoltaics," explains Kim. The high costs arise because traditional panels must be made from high purity crystals that require high temperatures and vacuum conditions to manufacture.
http://www.newswise.com/articles/low...-photovoltaics

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Amping Up Solar in the Snowy North
Released: 10/22/2013 10:25 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Michigan Technological University
more news from this source

Newswise — Solar farms are a no-brainer in warm and sunny places, but what about in northern climes where snow can cover and even shut down the panels?

Michigan Technological University’s Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) is now part of a two-year study that will help answer that question. The aims are to gauge how snow affects solar panels’ power generation and determine the best ways to overcome any losses.

The international engineering firm DNV GL, which specializes in large energy- and sustainability-related projects, has built an array of solar photovoltaic panels behind KRC, each set at a different angle, from 0 degrees (flat) to 45 degrees. “If you tilt them at 60 degrees, almost no snow sticks to the panels, but you also lose a lot of sunlight when they are not facing the sky,” said Tim Townsend, a principal engineer for solar services with DNV GL.
http://www.newswise.com/articles/amp...he-snowy-north
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  #308  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2013, 5:52 PM
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Tiny 'LEGO brick' -style studs make solar panels a quarter more efficient
by Simon Levey
18 October 2013

In new research, scientists have demonstrated that the efficiency of all solar panel designs could be improved by up to 22 per cent by covering their surface with aluminium studs that bend and trap light inside the absorbing layer.



http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandev...10-2013-12-9-7

Loss mitigation in plasmonic solar cells: aluminium nanoparticles for broadband photocurrent enhancements in GaAs photodiodes
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  #309  
Old Posted Oct 25, 2013, 9:56 PM
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ASU, Georgia Tech Create Breakthrough for Solar Cell Efficiency
New atomic layer-by-layer InGaN technology offers perfect crystal

Released: 10/25/2013 2:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Newswise — Did you know that crystals form the basis for the penetrating icy blue glare of car headlights and could be fundamental to the future in solar energy technology?

Crystals are at the heart of diodes. Not the kind you might find in quartz, formed naturally, but manufactured to form alloys, such as indium gallium nitride or InGaN. This alloy forms the light emitting region of LEDs, for illumination in the visible range, and of laser diodes (LDs) in the blue-UV range.

Research into making better crystals, with high crystalline quality, light emission efficiency and luminosity, is also at the heart of studies being done at Arizona State University by Research Scientist Alec Fischer and Doctoral Candidate Yong Wei in Professor Fernando Ponce’s group in the Department of Physics.

In an article recently published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the ASU group, in collaboration with a scientific team led by Professor Alan Doolittle at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has just revealed the fundamental aspect of a new approach to growing InGaN crystals for diodes, which promises to move photovoltaic solar cell technology toward record-breaking efficiencies.
http://www.newswise.com/articles/asu...ell-efficiency

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Scientists' new approach improves efficiency of solar cells
Posted on 24 October 2013

An international team of scientists, led by researchers from the Universities of York and St Andrews, has developed a new method to increase the efficiency of solar cells.

The new approach achieves highly efficient broad-band light trapping in thin films, with more light captured in the film in order to maximise absorption and electricity generation.

The research, which is reported in Nature Communications, also involved scientists from Sun Yat-sen University and the GuangDong Polytechnic Normal University, China, and IMEC (Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center), Leuven, Belgium.

The new method builds on research into a class of materials known as quasi-crystals, which offer advantages in terms of the spectrum of light they are able to capture. However, the problem with these structures is that their properties are difficult to tailor towards specific applications as they lack the design tools available with periodic structures such as regular gratings.

To solve this problem, the researchers created a new structure called a quasi-random structure, which combines the rich spatial frequencies associated with quasi-crystals with the high level of control afforded by periodic structures.
http://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-event...h/solar-cells/
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  #310  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 7:00 PM
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The Next Big Thing in the Energy Sector: Photovoltaic Generated DC Electricity
by Rajendra Singh

Energy consumption continues to grow. The costs of generation and transmission of energy must come down for the increased consumption to be sustainable. Energy must be generated without depleting resources, without causing pollution, and without incurring waste. Transmission of energy too must be efficient. These ideal goals, when realized, would enrich lives, regardless of economic distinction.

A viable solution is the onsite generation of electricity using the photovoltaic (PV) method of converting solar energy directly into electrical energy. The PV method uses semiconductor devices called solar cells. With constant reduction of the cost, this method is the most promising direct current (DC) power source for rich and poor globally. Due to the availability of solar energy all over the world, PV generation is not hostage to the usual geo-political constraints. Thus, it can power an energy revolution just like the information revolution powered by the internet continues to shape our world today.



Prof. Singh says that “the creation of local DC power grids can save power being lost in the transmission and unnecessary conversion from DC to alternating current (AC) and then back to DC.” Most electronic appliances and electric loads operate on DC and by transmitting and converting AC power to DC about 30% of the total power generated is lost. Today, PV electricity generation and distribution on a DC microgrid is the best way to power villages without access to electricity. It is also the best option to replace aging power generation and transmission infrastructure in USA and other developed countries.
http://blogs.clemson.edu/discovery/2...c-electricity/
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  #311  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2013, 7:49 PM
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Big beats bolster solar cell efficiency
Playing pop and rock music improves the perfomance of solar cells, according to new research from scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

The high frequencies and pitch found in pop and rock music cause vibrations that enhanced energy generation in solar cells containing a cluster of ‘nanorods’, leading to a 40 per cent increase in efficiency of the solar cells.

The study has implications for improving energy generation from sunlight, particularly for the development of new, lower cost, printed solar cells.

The researchers grew billions of tiny rods (nanorods) made from zinc oxide, then covered them with an active polymer to form a device that converts sunlight into electricity.

Using the special properties of the zinc oxide material, the team was able to show that sound levels as low as 75 decibels (equivalent to a typical roadside noise or a printer in an office) could significantly improve the solar cell performance.

“After investigating systems for converting vibrations into electricity this is a really exciting development that shows a similar set of physical properties can also enhance the performance of a photovoltaic,” said Dr Steve Dunn, Reader in Nanoscale Materials from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science and co-author of the paper.
http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/se/116312.html
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  #312  
Old Posted Nov 9, 2013, 5:24 PM
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New Solar Cell Is More Efficient, Less Costly
November 8, 2013

American innovators still have some cards to play when it comes to squeezing more efficiency and lower costs out of silicon, the workhorse of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules worldwide.

A recent breakthrough — the product of a partnership between manufacturer TetraSun and the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) — could spark U.S. solar manufacturing when the approach hits the assembly line next year. The innovative design, simple architecture, and elegant process flow for fabricating the cells make the technology a prime candidate for large-scale production.

Solar industry leader First Solar acquired TetraSun in April 2013, about the time R&D Magazine honored TetraSun and NREL with one of its coveted R&D 100 Awards for the year's top innovations.

Potentially Disruptive Technology Attracted Attention of PV Incubator Program

Typically, silicon PV cell manufacturers add a grid of thin silver lines to the cell via a screen-printing process to form the front contacts.

The TetraSun cell instead loads 50-micron-wide copper electrodes on its front contacts in a way that prevents diffusion of the metal—which can degrade performance. The new process exceeds the performance of traditional heterojunction cells without the need of any special equipment, complicated module assembly, or costly transparent conductive oxides. That adds up to a significant cost advantage when it comes to high-volume manufacturing.

"It's a potentially disruptive technology, and that's why we decided to work with TetraSun," said NREL's Martha Symko-Davies, who headed the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative PV Incubator program when TetraSun received a grant from it back in 2010. "The Incubator program supports potentially disruptive innovations from small startups.

"This shows we still have innovation in the United States. People thought there was nothing left to be done in silicon, but there is something left to be done."
http://www.nrel.gov/news/features/fe...eature_id=4309
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  #313  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2013, 5:18 PM
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Key Processes of Photosynthesis Simulated on the Quantum Level
Press Release No. 252/2013
8 November 2013

Physicists discover new properties of energy transport in experiments on “atomic giants”

By realising an artificial quantum system, physicists at Heidelberg University have simulated key processes of photosynthesis on a quantum level with high spatial and temporal resolution. In their experiment with Rydberg atoms the team of Prof. Dr. Matthias Weidemüller and Dr. Shannon Whitlock discovered new properties of energy transport. This work is an important step towards answering the question of how quantum physics can contribute to the efficiency of energy conversion in synthetic systems, for example in photovoltaics. The new discoveries, which were made at the Center for Quantum Dynamics and the Institute for Physics of Heidelberg University, have now been published in the journal “Science”.

In their research, Prof. Weidemüller and his team begin with the question of how the energy of light can be efficiently collected and converted elsewhere into a different form, e.g. into chemical or electric energy. Nature has found an especially efficient way to accomplish this in photosynthesis. Light energy is initially absorbed in light-harvesting complexes – an array of membrane proteins – and then transported to a molecular reaction centre by means of structures called nanoantennae; in the reaction centre the light is subsequently transformed into chemical energy. “This process is nearly 100 per cent efficient. Despite intensive research we’re still at a loss to understand which mechanisms are responsible for this surprisingly high efficiency,” says Prof. Weidemüller. Based on the latest research, scientists assume that quantum effects like entanglement, where spatially separated objects influence one another, play an important role.
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/presse/...nebene_en.html
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  #314  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2013, 5:08 PM
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Penn and Drexel Team Demonstrates New Paradigm for Solar Cell Construction
Media Contact:Evan Lerner
November 11, 2013

For solar panels, wringing every drop of energy from as many photons as possible is imperative. This goal has sent chemistry, materials science and electronic engineering researchers on a quest to boost the energy-absorption efficiency of photovoltaic devices, but existing techniques are now running up against limits set by the laws of physics.

Now, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have experimentally demonstrated a new paradigm for solar cell construction which may ultimately make them less expensive, easier to manufacture and more efficient at harvesting energy from the sun.
http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/p...l-construction
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  #315  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 7:24 PM
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How to Manage ‘Creative Destruction’ Caused by Solar in Power Markets
The Energy Gang speaks with FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff about regulation in a distributed energy world.

Stephen Lacey
November 13, 2013

What does the nation's top energy regulator, FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, think about the future of solar?

"I think we're seeing the Moore's law cost curve, together with entrepreneurial spirit, coming into an industry in a way that is going to overtake a monopolistic, non-innovative structure."

This week, we feature a live podcast from the MDV-SEIA Solar Focus 2013 conference in Washington, D.C. The Energy Gang took the stage and discussed the merits of East Coast solar policy and innovative business strategies, and chatted with Chairman Wellinghoff about the "creative destruction" caused by distributed generation.
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articl...-power-markets

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Solar cells utilize thermal radiation
Research News Nov 04, 2013

Thermal radiation from the sun is largely lost on most silicon solar cells. Up-converters transform the infrared radiation into usable light, however. Researchers have now for the first time successfully adapted this effect for use in generating power.

There is more to solar radiation than meets the eye: sun- burn develops from unseen UV radiation, while we sense infrared radiation as heat on our skin, though invisible to us. Solar cells also ‘see’ only a portion of solar radiation: ap- proximately 20 percent of the energy contained in the solar spectrum is unavailable to cells made of silicon – they are unable to utilize a part of the infrared radiation, the short-wavelength IR radiation, for generating power.

Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, together with their colleagues at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, have now for the first time made a portion of this radiation usable with the assistance of a practical up-converter. The technology that transforms infra- red into usable light has been known about since the 1960s. However, it has only been investigated in connection with solar cells since 1996. “We have been able to adapt both the solar cells and the up-converter so as to obtain the biggest improvement in efficiency so far,” reports Stefan Fischer happily, a scientist at ISE. The potential is big: silicon solar cells theoretically convert about thirty percent of sunlight falling upon them into electrical power. Up-converters could increase this portion to a level of forty percent.
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/re...radiation.html
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  #316  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2013, 3:29 PM
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Two for one in solar power
A process that could revolutionise solar energy harvesting has been efficiently demonstrated in solution for the first time.

18 Nov 2013

Solar cells offer the opportunity to harvest abundant, renewable energy. Although the highest energy light occurs in the ultraviolet and visible spectrum, most solar energy is in the infrared.

There is a trade-off in harvesting this light, so that solar cells are efficient in the infrared but waste much of the energy available from the more energetic photons in the visible part of the spectrum.

When a photon is absorbed it creates a single electronic excitation that is then separated into an electron and a positively charged hole, irrespective of the light energy. One way to improve efficiency is to split energy available from visible photons into two, which leads to a doubling of the current in the solar cell.

Researchers in Cambridge and Mons have investigated the process in which the initial electronic excitation can split into a pair of half-energy excitations. This can happen in certain organic molecules when the quantum mechanical effect of electron spin sets the initial spin ‘singlet’ state to be double the energy of the alternative spin ‘triplet’ arrangement.
http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/t...in-solar-power

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Solarbuzz: PV polysilicon and wafer costs set to drop to record low
By Ben Willis | 18 November 2013, 11:49

Manufacturing costs for tier one integrated polysilicon and PV wafer makers are set to hit a record low of US$0.20 per watt in 2014, according to analysis by NPD Solarbuzz.

The market research firm said that although the predicted 6% fall in costs next year will not equal the average 16% decrease they have seen annually since 2008, a hugely competitive market will continue to spur manufacturers to drive down costs.

“Wafer costs are only a third of what they were five years ago, and even though the rapid pace of cost reduction is starting to decline, the severe oversupply and extremely low selling prices are forcing polysilicon and wafer makers to continue to find ways to lower costs to previously assumed impossible levels,” said Charles Annis, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz.
http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/ne...ecord_low_2356
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  #317  
Old Posted Nov 20, 2013, 6:08 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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Stanford Report, November 20, 2013
Stanford study could lead to paradigm shift in organic solar cell research
A new study by Stanford scientists overturns a widely held explanation for how organic photovoltaics turn sunlight into electricity.

By Mark Shwartz

Organic solar cells have long been touted as lightweight, low-cost alternatives to rigid solar panels made of silicon. Dramatic improvements in the efficiency of organic photovoltaics have been made in recent years, yet the fundamental question of how these devices convert sunlight into electricity is still hotly debated.

Now a Stanford University research team is weighing in on the controversy. Their findings, published in the Nov. 17 issue of the journal Nature Materials, indicate that the predominant working theory is incorrect, and could steer future efforts to design materials that boost the performance of organic cells.

"We know that organic photovoltaics are very good," said study coauthor Michael McGehee, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford. "The question is, why are they so good? The answer is controversial."
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/n...ll-111913.html
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  #318  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2013, 5:20 PM
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Life on the Edge – Mathematical Insights Yield Better Solar Cells
Mathematics, Renewable Energy

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the Third Annual Mitacs Awards ceremony in Ottawa. These awards recognize the outstanding R&D innovation achievements of the interns supported by the various Mitacs programs—Accelerate, Elevate and Globalink. This year, I was particularly inspired by the story of the winner of the undergraduate award category, a Globalink intern from Nanjing University in China named Liang Feng. The Globalink program invites top-ranked undergraduate students from around the world to engage in four month research internships at universities across Canada. Liang Feng spent this summer in the lab of Professor Jacob Krich of the University of Ottawa Physics Department studying Intermediate Band (IB) photovoltaics, a technology that is being used to design the next generation of solar cells.

Modern solar cells are based on silicon and other semiconductor materials and have been around for nearly 60 years. The first practical device, the “solar battery”, was invented in Bell Labs in 1954 and achieved 6% efficiency in converting incident sunlight into electricity. By 1961, it was determined that the “theoretical limit” for solar cell efficiency based on p-n semiconductors is 33.7%. As with many theoretical limits, creative scientists have found ways to break the rules, and the best solar cells today use multilayer structures and exotic materials to achieve more than 44% efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity.
http://mpe2013.org/2013/11/27/life-o...r-solar-cells/
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Old Posted Dec 4, 2013, 10:17 PM
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Energy News
Colored Plastic Doubles Solar Cell Power
Using plastic to absorb light could lower the cost of solar power.

By Kevin Bullis on December 3, 2013

A thin sheet of dyed plastic could cut the cost of solar power, particularly for applications that require solar cells to be highly efficient and flexible.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using the plastic to gather sunlight and concentrate it onto a solar cell made of gallium arsenide in an experimental setup. Doing so doubled the power output of the cells.

So far, the researchers have shown that the approach works with a single solar cell, but they plan to make larger sheets of plastic dotted with arrays of many tiny solar cells. The approach could either let a smaller solar panel produce more electricity, or make a panel cheaper by reducing the amount of photovoltaic material needed.

“It’s lower cost compared to what you would have to do to get the same efficiency by completely coating the surface with active solar material,” says John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering and chemistry at the University of Illinois. The work was presented at the Materials Research Society conference in Boston this week.
http://www.technologyreview.com/news...ar-cell-power/

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Solar expected to be cost-competitive with natural gas by 2025
03. December 2013 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers | By: Ian Clover

Lux Research predicts that far from being outshone by cheap natural gas, solar power will actually benefit from increased gas penetration and achieve cost parity by 2025.

Analysts at Lux Research have published a report that predicts solar power will be cost-competitive with natural gas by 2025.

The report – titled Cheap Natural Gas: Fracturing Dreams of a Solar Future – also reveals that unsubsidized, utility-scale solar electricity may even benefit from an abundance of cheap natural gas, enabling hybrid gas/solar technology to blossom and increase the rate of renewable energy penetration without the need for expensive infrastructural upgrades.

After analyzing 10 global regions, Lux Research found that utility-scale solar energy is likely to close the gap of the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) with combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) to just $0.02/kWh by 2025.

The forecast was made based on a predicted 39% fall in utility-scale PV system costs by 2030, increasing solar’s competitiveness in a time when anti-fracking sentiment in Europe and high capital costs in South America will begin to hinder shale gas production.

Solar systems are predicted to fall to just $1.20/W, with utility-scale thin film enjoying something of a boom as module efficiencies increase and system capex expands. Meanwhile, the analysts predict, electricity prices from natural gas will likely top $7.60/MMBtu by 2025, leading to greater cost-competitiveness for solar.
http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/deta...025_100013634/
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Old Posted Dec 5, 2013, 6:56 PM
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Right-wing lawmakers gunning for US solar users
05. December 2013 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers | By: Edgar Meza

A group of right-wing lawmakers is looking to curb states' efforts to expand solar PV and thwart the Obama administration's clean energy.

Conservative forces in the United States are putting PV consumers in the crosshairs, according to an article in the U.K newspaper The Guardian on Wednesday.

The paper reports that an alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilizing to penalize homeowners who install their own solar panels in what the article says is "a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy."

Some 800 U.S. state legislators that make up the politically conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are gathering this week for the organization's State & Nation Policy Summit. The council's agenda has taken aim at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has played a key role in implementing the Obama administration's Climate Action Plan, which includes significant investments in clean energy technology and energy efficiency, carbon pollution standards for power plants and global partnerships to reduce deforestation and advance low emission development.

ALEC, however, sees the EPA as a menace, saying on its website that the agency "has started waging war on the American standard of living. During the past few years, the agency has undertaken the most expansive regulatory assault in history on the production and distribution of affordable and reliable energy."

The conservative group blasts the EPA for regulations that "are causing the shutdown of power plants across the nation, forcing electricity generation off of coal, destroying jobs, raising energy costs, and decreasing reliability."

Citing policy documents published by the group, The Guardian reports that the council will promote legislation over the coming year that would penalize homeowners, weaken state clean energy regulations and block the EPA.

Specifically, the group is looking to hinder state government efforts to promote the expansion of solar and wind power through regulations, known as Renewable Portfolio Standards. Among the proposed bills is the "Electricity Freedom Act," which would repeal states' requirement that utilities provide a certain amount of their electricity supplies from renewable energy sources.
http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/deta...rs-_100013657/

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New Solar Cell Material Acts as a Laser As Well
4 December 2013 3:45 pm

BOSTON—The hottest new material in solar cell research has another trick up its sleeve. At the Materials Research Society meeting here, two groups reported yesterday that these new electricity-generating materials can produce laser light. Because the materials—called perovskites—are cheap and easy to produce, they could help engineers create a wide variety of cheap lasers that shine a variety of colors for use in speeding data flows in the telecommunications industry.

Lasers have long been at the heart of modern telecommunications because their intense light beams can be chopped up to represent digital currency’s 1s and 0s and can travel through optical cables at light speed. But making new lasers can be a bear. Researchers must find materials that, when fed electrons, will generate light at a single wavelength. That usually requires growing materials with near-perfect crystalline quality, as defects usually gobble up the electrical charges, the photons of light, or both. Growing such high-quality materials normally requires using high temperatures, expensive equipment, and other costly steps. Making the best solar cell materials requires similarly expensive setups. Perovskites have burst onto the solar scene over the last couple of years because it turns out they form near-perfect complex crystalline structures by simply depositing them from ready-made solutions at low temperatures. But were they good enough to make lasers, an even more demanding application?

At the meeting, two groups reported that, in fact, they are. The first, led by Edward Sargent, an electrical engineer at the University of Toronto in Canada, started by simply blasting a perovskite film with a beam of ultraviolet light. The scientists found that light reemerged from the film at a tight range of frequencies in the infrared portion of the spectrum. That was a hint that perovskites could make a good laser material. But it wasn’t a laser yet. To make a laser, researchers must create a structure that bounces light back and forth. In the right material, that shuttling light stimulates a cascade of additional photons to emerge all at a single frequency. So Sargent and his colleagues crafted their perovskites into spheres that prompt light to bounce around inside and found that it emerged as infrared laser light. Meanwhile, Henry Snaith, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, reported that when his team sandwiched a perovskite film in between laser mirrors known as Bragg reflectors, it, too, produced infrared laser light when first hit with laser light of a shorter wavelength.
http://news.sciencemag.org/physics/2...cts-laser-well

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Canada's Infrastructure Investment Opens New Opportunity
Published on 4 December 2013

As Canada enjoys a $350 billion “infrastructure supercycle” over the next five years, the Ontario Clean Technology Alliance – a collective of regional and municipal economic development organizations across Ontario – is attending Pollutec Horizons 2013 in Paris. The Alliance is inviting clean technology investments from around the world while shining a light on an $80 million win from Swiss-based ABB, a leading power and automation technology group, and its Ontario consortium partner Bondfield Construction.

The two partners have won an order from Canadian Solar Solutions to supply a 100-megawatt (MW) turnkey photovoltaic (PV) solar project for the Grand Renewable Energy Park in Ontario. The project is in turn part of a $5 billion investment by Samsung Renewable Energy and partners to create a green energy cluster of wind and solar power, sources with the capacity to generate 1369MW of renewable energy. The first of these developments includes a 100 MW photovoltaic (PV) power plant and a 150MW wind farm. Canadian Solar Solutions is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the plant.

Nolan also points to the Province of Ontario’s visionary Green Energy Act of 2009 that helped ignite significant growth in the production of clean and renewable energy. Since 2009, the Act has created over 20,000 jobs, is on track to create 50,000 jobs and has sparked an estimated $27 billion in private-sector investment. Ontario’s clean technology sector also offers a world-leading, highly educated talent base, a low-risk business environment, and generous targeted tax credits to global companies seeking growth.
http://www.solarnovus.com/canada-s-i...ity_N7265.html
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