Lasers etch a ‘perfect’ solar energy absorber

14740472-7CA1-4080-9605-9B23491F4EE1

Using femto-second lasers to etch metallic structures, University of Rochester Institute of Optics professor Chunlei Guo and his team have developed a technique that can be used to collect sunlight to heat etched metal surfaces, which can then power an electrical generator for solar power. Credit: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

The University of Rochester research lab that recently used lasers to create unsinkable metallic structures has now demonstrated how the same technology could be used to create highly efficient solar power generators.

In a paper in Light: Science & Applications, the lab of Chunlei Guo, professor of optics also affiliated with Physics and the Material Sciences Program, describes using powerful femto-second laser pulses to etch metal surfaces with nanoscale structures that selectively absorb light only at the solar wavelengths, but not elsewhere.

Continue reading… “Lasers etch a ‘perfect’ solar energy absorber”

0

New research explains how solar panels could soon be generating power at night

D86A5437-1A44-4135-95F4-A882D407D0CA

As beneficial as current solar panel technology has been in our quest to switch to renewable energy, such panels can’t generate electricity at night. Now, new research suggests it could be possible to design panels that can operate around the clock.

Under optimum conditions, at night these specially designed photovoltaic cells could generate a quarter of the energy they produce during the day, according to the new study.

To achieve this, we’d need to incorporate thermoradiative cells – devices that generate energy thanks to radiative cooling, where infrared or heat radiation leaves the cell and produces a small amount of energy in the process.

Continue reading… “New research explains how solar panels could soon be generating power at night”

0

The smart cell turning solar energy into hydrogen

71538B9C-8E3E-4F7C-A3D5-E0DF72ECBEF2

What could be better than a solar cell that captures most of the visible light spectrum to generate energy? A cell that can capture the whole visible light spectrum and turn the energy into hydrogen. The cell is actually a molecule, and it is a busy molecule: it not only harnesses 50 percent more solar energy than existing solar cells, but it also turns this energy into hydrogen.

“The whole idea is that we can use photons from the sun and transform it into hydrogen. To put it simply, we are saving the energy from sunlight and storing it into chemical bonds so it can be used at a later time,” explains the lead researcher in the team that developed the molecule, chemistry professor Claudia Turro from the Ohio State University.

“What makes it work is that the system is able to put the molecule into an excited state, where it absorbs the photon and is able to store two electrons to make hydrogen,” Turro added. “This storing of two electrons in a single molecule derived from two photons, and using them together to make hydrogen, is unprecedented.”

The molecule is a form of rhodium—an inert metal and member of the platinum group—and because it can both collect solar energy and then act as a catalyst to turn it into hydrogen, it makes for a much more efficient fuel production system than existing alternatives, at least with respect to energy loss during the process of conversion of solar energy into hydrogen.

Continue reading… “The smart cell turning solar energy into hydrogen”

0

The future of energy is being shaped in Asia

2D1C7EF8-2169-4C90-822F-B60088AD67C4

China now accounts for almost three-quarters of global solar panel production.

A Frenchman is credited with being the first to discover the photovoltaic effect that produces electricity from sunlight. The first solar panel was built in the US. But when Abu Dhabi decided to build the world’s largest individual solar power project, they looked east for help.

The country partnered with Chinese and Japanese companies to construct a facility, which opened this year, with a peak capacity of 1.18 gigawatts generated by 3.2 million solar panels. That’s because Asia, more than any other region on the planet, and China, more than any other nation, currently represent the future of solar energy, and are at the heart of the ensuing industrywide transformation from fossil fuels to renewable and nuclear energy.

Continue reading… “The future of energy is being shaped in Asia”

0

What will the end of oil dependence mean for geopolitics?

43A4D545-BE3A-465F-A616-E1F7E4DFF43D

Solar power is one form of renewable energy that is replacing fossil fuels

If you want to understand the revolution taking place in renewable energy, come to a power station called Gemasolar in southern Spain.

Here, in the dusty plains of Andalusia, they have worked out how to generate solar power 24 hours a day.

Yes, you can read that sentence again. At Gemasolar they create electricity even when the Sun is not shining.

They have rigged up more than 2,500 huge mirrors on hydraulic mounts that follow the Sun’s passage through the sky.

The mirrors – each about the size of half a tennis court – reflect the Sun’s rays to one central point, the top of a 140m (459ft) tower, where molten salt is heated to almost 600C. This liquid salt is carried down the tower to where it heats the steam that powers a turbine.

Continue reading… “What will the end of oil dependence mean for geopolitics?”

0

A new floating solar farm shows that renewables can be easy

902426EF-242F-44BA-B6F5-3BED04D052BB

The Sekdoorn floating solar farm in the Netherlands is completed after a record six weeks of work. This is the fastest construction speed ever for the German company specialized in the renewables sector BayWa r.e., who worked together with its Dutch partner GroenLeven to build the power plant.

The construction was done in only six weeks and the plant can power 4,000 households.

The solar farm will have a yearly energy yield of 13.330 MWh, saving around 6,500 tons of CO2 emissions a year and powering the equivalent of 4,000 households.

Floating solar power plants are what the name suggests, solar panels mounted on a structure that floats on a body of water. The advantage is that they reduce land requirements because they can be installed in industrial pools, drinking water reservoirs and small lakes.

Continue reading… “A new floating solar farm shows that renewables can be easy”

0

How cheap must batteries get for renewables to compete with fossil fuels?

8B238BD5-F4BD-40BD-84F1-E244C60118AE

Production of lithium batteries for environmentally friendly electric cars future of energy

 While solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels in areas with lots of sun and wind, they still can’t provide the 24/7 power we’ve become used to. At present, that’s not big a problem because the grid still features plenty of fossil fuel plants that can provide constant baseload or ramp up to meet surges in demand.

But there’s broad agreement that we need to dramatically decarbonize our energy supplies if we’re going to avoid irreversible damage to the climate. That will mean getting rid of the bulk of on-demand, carbon-intensive power plants we currently rely on to manage our grid.

Alternatives include expanding transmission infrastructure to shuttle power from areas where the wind is blowing to areas where it isn’t, or managing demand using financial incentive to get people to use less energy during peak hours. But most promising is pairing renewable energy with energy storage to build up reserves for when the sun stops shining.

The approach is less complicated than trying to redesign the grid, say the authors of a new paper in <emJoule, but also makes it possible to shift much more power around than demand management. A key question that hasn’t been comprehensively dealt with, though, is how cheap energy storage needs to get to make this feasible.

Continue reading… “How cheap must batteries get for renewables to compete with fossil fuels?”

0

IKEA will produce more energy than it consumes by 2020

APTOPIX India IKEA Store

It hopes to be ‘climate positive’ by 2030.

Many companies are pouring money into renewable energy, but how many can say they’re producing more than they need? IKEA thinks it will, at least. Its holding company Ingka revealed that IKEA will generate more renewable energy before the end of 2019 than the energy its stores use. The firm only expected to draw even by 2020. The furniture chain added that it had invested about $2.8 billion in solar and wind energy over the past decade, and told Reuters that it intended to continue funding that renewable tech, including two stakes in American solar farms this week.

The retailer expects to offer home solar panels in stores across all its markets in 2025. Ultimately, it plans to be climate-positive (reducing more emissions than it puts out) by 2030.

IKEA’s timing isn’t a coincidence. Like Google, Amazon and other companies, it’s using both the Global Climate Strike and the UN’s Climate Action Summit to build goodwill and avoid controversy. This isn’t a selfless act. With that said, the move could illustrate the next step for companies hoping to burnish their ecological credentials. Instead of merely striving for neutrality, more companies might try to counter the effects of climate change. There’s no guarantee they’ll act in a timely fashion, but it might be more a question of “when” than “if.”

Via Engadget.com

 

0

Home energy storage capacity breaks records in U.S.

 7538988C-EDF5-492C-A08E-D125F0755DE8

Additions of new residential energy storage capacity in the United States reached a record high in the second quarter of the year, exceeding 30 MW, a new report by Wood Mackenzie says. The market for energy storage in the country is growing fast, the authors note, driven by customer interest and government incentives.

In May this year, IHS Markit forecast grid-connected energy storage capacity would jump twofold by the end of 2019, from 376 MW last to 712 MW. There may be a good chance of such an increase taking place: total new storage additions during the first half of the year were over 200 MW, with 148.8 MW deployed during the first quarter and 79.5 MW deployed during the second quarter.

According to Wood Mac, the reason for the slowdown in total storage capacity additions was due to a sizeable fall in front-of-the-meter storage additions. These, however, would pick up in the second half of the year, the consultancy said, with the pipeline for new FTM storage projects soaring 66 percent from a year earlier.

Continue reading… “Home energy storage capacity breaks records in U.S.”

0

France’s solar roadway experiment has failed

4E180EEC-9D13-402B-8217-963F6C6263E0

 After nearly three years of use, Normandy’s photovoltaic highway is delivering disappointing results

Solar power highways are hitting a roadblock. Nearly three years after France built a 0.6-mile stretch of photovoltaic road in Normandy, the government is deeming it a disappointing experiment.

In 2016, France announced its bold plan to “pave” 1,000 kilometers (around 620 miles) with photovoltaic panels, which would generate 790kWh per day. When completed, the road was supposed to power up to 5 million homes. But that first 0.6-mile stretch, which engineers had originally estimated would power up to 5,000 homes, hasn’t lived up to expectations.

After installation, it was clear that the panels produced by the manufacturer Wattway couldn’t hold up under the wear and tear of highway traffic. According to Global Construction Review, “the 2,800 square meters of solar panels have degraded, peeled away and splintered, and 100m of them have been removed after being declared too damaged to repair.”

Continue reading… “France’s solar roadway experiment has failed”

0

This solar-powered device produces energy and cleans water at the same time

B2F86F57-755D-410B-BFA2-486882F7DC03

UNDER THE SUN Solar panels with water purification devices mounted on their backs (illustrated) could produce freshwater and electricity simultaneously.

 Still a prototype, the machine could one day help curb electricity and freshwater shortages

By mounting a water distillation system on the back of a solar cell, engineers have constructed a device that doubles as an energy generator and water purifier.

While the solar cell harvests sunlight for electricity, heat from the solar panel drives evaporation in the water distiller below. That vapor wafts through a porous polystyrene membrane that filters out salt and other contaminants, allowing clean water to condense on the other side. “It doesn’t affect the electricity production by the [solar cell]. And at the same time, it gives you bonus freshwater,” says study coauthor Peng Wang, an engineer at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

Continue reading… “This solar-powered device produces energy and cleans water at the same time”

0

Solar power system that works at night a renewable energy game-changer

B540A8BA-25FA-4A12-A46D-4AC6E08A6243

An innovative thermal battery being developed by Curtin University researchers will be key to a solar power system capable of producing electricity overnight, rivaling fossil fuels as a viable source of power for commercial and heavy industries around the world, including mining operations.

Curtin is collaborating with international renewable energy companies United Sun Systems and ITP Thermal on the potentially game-changing project, which is being led by Professor Craig Buckley from Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences.

Professor Craig Buckley said the thermal battery was part of the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system being developed by United Sun Systems, which requires a battery to store and release energy to enable non-stop solar power generation.

Continue reading… “Solar power system that works at night a renewable energy game-changer”

0