Reaching a high power conversion efficiency has always been the goal of solar energy.
Last year, the development of perovskite-silicon solar cells by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University showed great promise by reaching the world’s highest power conversion efficiency of 25.5 percent. This was accomplished by designing a transparent perovskite layer with an optimized thickness that allowed the absorption of light into the silicon part of the solar cell.
Then a few months later, a team from Eindhoven University of Technology showed that adding a few nanometers of a thin layer of aluminum oxide would protect a perovskite solar cell against humidity while increasing power efficiency by three percent.Continue reading
That’s what makes it renewable energy, right? But that’s a fairly simplistic answer.
Sunlight has numerous characteristics. Humans have used the heat of the sun for centuries to warm buildings to make them nice and cozy inside. Today, we use the sun’s heat for thermal solar panels used to preheat water coming into residential hot water tanks, as well as for huge utility-scale concentrated solar power.
But for solar electricity, it’s not the sun’s heat. It’s all about photons. This goes back to the century-old science-classroom debate over whether light is a particle or a wave – an intense debate because light can diffuse and refract like a particle, but has no mass like a wave. Einstein eventually helped us out by deciding that light is a photon, a word we made up to describe this thing that has characteristics of both waves and particles.Continue reading
This magic happens within a sheet of material that looks to the naked eye just as inert as any other material object.
Silver has long been viewed as an investment in its own right as an inflation hedge.It is also widely used in the manufacture of semiconductors, batteries, various nanotechnology applications, jewelery, photography, and in making solar photovoltaic cells.
What nonsense. This is, as my Great Aunt Ro would put it, “simply arrant drivel.”
Let’s go through the process. Look around you. Everything you see is manufactured somewhere. All manufacturing takes energy.
The massive turbines that use the steam by boiling water by burning coal, and turn that into electricity take energy to make. Like all manufactured objects, solar panels are manufactured. Do they take more energy?
The renewable energy industry has been working on transparent solar panels for years, because towering expanses of solar panels lining the shining glass walls of office buildings is an opportunity too lucrative and useful to pass up. Thin films of light-collecting materials have been investigated for their use in coating glass panels to turn them into solar collectors. As recently as 2011, though, the chemical components of the films being used had the side effect of tinting the glass and only allowing 70% of the light through.Continue reading
Any time someone creates new technology, it’s often met with skepticism. So when we tell you they’ve built a solar powered plane that can fly, you might be thinking, “come on!”
Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) is the first solar powered airplane able to sustain flight at night with a pilot, and it’s already taken test flights in Europe and across the U.S. However, the company is ready to launch it on a global flight to illustrate its capabilities and demonstrate it can withstand that long of a flight, while also drawing attention to solar powered flight and its possibilities.Continue reading
The creation of a thin, flexible, and adhesive solar cell could mean generating powering on way more than just rooftops.
Named one of the 2014 Emerging Explorers by National Geographic, Zheng explained to the magazine how the idea was born out of a comment from her father. “In China, the rooftops of many buildings are packed with solar energy devices,” said Zheng in the article. “One day my father mentioned how great it would be if a building’s entire surface could be used for solar power, not just the roof, but also walls and windows.”
In short, the battery can be thought of as a hybrid between a solar cell and a battery that is rechargeable with air and light.
The chemistry and biochemistry professor and his students announced in the October 3 2014 issue of Nature Communications that their patent-pending device could decrease costs of renewable energy by 25%.Continue reading
Considering that billions of dollars are wasted annually disposing of radioisotopes produced by nuclear power plants, the term radioactive waste fits the industry like a glove. As more resources are invested, more waste is produced as urgent issues concerning safety and the environment are pushed to the backburner. In the midst of this unstable situation, however, research continues to grow slowly but surely towards harvesting one of the freest and safest sources of energy available to all: the Sun.
Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and must be conserved at all times, sunlight can turn into electricity with the proper converting mechanism. This isn’t magic. It’s basic physics.Continue reading