New solar panels suck water from air to cool themselves down

Solar panels

Intense summer sun can spike temperatures of solar panels, causing their electrical production to plummet.

Like humans, solar panels don’t work well when overheated. Now, researchers have found a way to make them “sweat”—allowing them to cool themselves and increase their power output.

It’s “a simple, elegant, and effective [way] to retrofit existing solar cell panels for an instant efficiency boost,” says Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Today, more than 600 gigawatts of solar power capacity exists worldwide, providing 3% of global electricity demand. That capacity is expected to increase fivefold over the next decade. Most use silicon to convert sunlight to electricity. But typical silicon cells convert only 20% of the Sun’s energy that hits them into current. Much of the rest turns into heat, which can warm the panels by as much as 40°C. And with every degree of temperature above 25°C, the efficiency of the panel drops. In a field where engineers struggle for every 0.1% boost in power conversion efficiency, even a 1% gain would be an economic boon, says Jun Zhou, a materials scientist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Decades ago, researchers showed that cooling solar panels with water can provide that benefit. Today, some companies even sell water-cooled systems. But those setups require abundant available water and storage tanks, pipes, and pumps. That’s of little use in arid regions and in developing countries with little infrastructure.

Continue reading… “New solar panels suck water from air to cool themselves down”

This company wants to turn your windows into solar panels

AE0B45BF-9763-491F-AC72-67451EC21AC1

Ubiquitous Energy solar glass

San Francisco (CNN Business)What if every window in your house could generate electricity? One Redwood City, California-based startup thinks its technology can achieve that by transforming the way solar power is collected and harnessed.

Ubiquitous Energy has developed transparent solar cells to create its ClearView Power windows, a kind of “solar glass” that can turn sunlight into energy without needing the bluish-grey opaque panels those cells are generally associated with. The company, spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, hopes to use that tech to turn practically any everyday glass surface into a solar cell.

“It can be applied to windows of skyscrapers; it can be applied to glass in automobiles; it can be applied to the glass on your iPhone,” Miles Barr, Ubiquitous Energy’s founder and chief technology officer, told CNN Business.

Continue reading… “This company wants to turn your windows into solar panels”

These luxury prefabs are going fully off-grid

AFD8203B-AA82-4204-BCD3-E962D96749B3

Dvele homes will now come with a new thermal enevelop, solar power, and a backup battery system

High-end prefab home builder Dvele just got a little more high-tech—and eco-conscious. The San Diego-based company, which is known for its luxury prefab designs, announced this week that it would start exclusively building fully self-powered homes going forward.

Since its founding in 2017, Dvele has branded itself as a sustainable option in the prefab space, but its new initiative takes it a step further with homes that run entirely on solar power and stored energy. Dvele’s models are similar to other eco-minded prefab homes in that a major focus is to limit the amount of wasted energy produced in the first place.

Continue reading… “These luxury prefabs are going fully off-grid”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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?”

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”

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?”

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

 

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.”

Discover the Hidden Patterns of Tomorrow with Futurist Thomas Frey
Unlock Your Potential, Ignite Your Success.

By delving into the futuring techniques of Futurist Thomas Frey, you’ll embark on an enlightening journey.

Learn More about this exciting program.