Solar Energy News

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Updated: 3 hours 56 min ago

Solar energy: Dyes help harvest light

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 9:40am
A new dye-sensitized solar cell absorbs a broad range of visible and infrared wavelengths. Dye-sensitized solar cells rely on dyes that absorb light to mobilize a current of electrons and are a promising source of clean energy. Scientists have now developed zinc porphyrin dyes that harvest light in both the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum.

Superman's solar-powered feats break a fundamental law of physics

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 8:38am
It goes without saying that Superman can accomplish some pretty spectacular feats. But according to students, the Man of Steel actually achieves the impossible--by breaking the fundamental physics law of conservation of energy.

Worldwide water shortage by 2040

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 8:31am
Water is used around the world for the production of electricity, but new research results show that there will not be enough water in the world to meet demand by 2040 if the energy and power situation does not improve before then.

Steam energy from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 8:39pm
A new material structure generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure -- a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam -- is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure's surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material's pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.

How to power California with wind, water and sun

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 1:43pm
New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.

Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 2:20pm
Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Physicists are using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun's energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes. Artificial photosynthesis could allow for the conversion of solar energy into renewable, environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuels.

Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 9:22am
Scientists may have overcome one of the major hurdles in developing high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells -- keeping them cool, even in the blistering heat of the noonday sun. By adding a specially patterned layer of silica glass to the surface of ordinary solar cells, a team of researchers has found a way to let solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation.

Cheap, highly efficient solar cells: A new stable and cost-cutting type of perovskite solar cell

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 2:15pm
Scientists have made a very efficient perovskite solar cell that does not require a hole-conducting layer. The novel photovoltaic achieved energy conversion efficiency of 12.8 percent and was stable for over 1000 hours under full sunlight. The innovation is expected to significantly reduce the cost of these promising solar cells.

Clearing the way for extremely efficient solar cells: First ab initio method for characterizing hot carriers

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:20pm
Researchers have developed the first ab initio method for characterizing the properties of 'hot carriers' in semiconductors. This should help clear a major road block to the development of new, more efficient solar cells.

Deep within spinach leaves, vibrations enhance efficiency of photosynthesis

Sun, 07/13/2014 - 2:55pm
Biophysics researchers have used short pulses of light to peer into the mechanics of photosynthesis and illuminate the role that molecule vibrations play in the energy conversion process that powers life on our planet.

Solar energy gets a boost: 'Singlet fission' can increase solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:21pm
Scientists have reviewed chemists' work on "singlet fission," a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent.

Solar cells: Powered by nanoholes

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:10am
Increasing the cost-effectiveness of photovoltaic devices is critical to making these renewable energy sources competitive with traditional fossil fuels. One possibility is to use hybrid solar cells that combine silicon nanowires with low-cost, photoresponsive polymers. A simple and inexpensive fabrication procedure boosts the light-capturing capabilities of tiny holes carved into silicon wafers.

Orgainic solar modules embedded in glass last longer

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 8:21am
Organic solar modules have advantages over silicon solar cells. However, one critical problem is their shorter operating life. Researchers are working on a promising solution: they are using flexible glass as a carrier substrate that better protects the components.

Monitoring neighborhood electricity consumption over 24 hour cycle

Fri, 07/04/2014 - 12:46pm
With more and more households owning one or even two electric cars requiring charging overnight, how will we manage it without sacrificing our hot morning shower and fresh bread for breakfast? This is the headache now facing the electricity supply companies. But this isn’t their only problem. What use is it to those homeowners, who have installed a modest solar panel system on their roofs, when the sun is heating the pavement in the middle of the day and no one is at home to use the energy?

Consider water use in climate change policies: Energy efficient technologies can also save water at the same time

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 9:26am
There’s more to trying to slow down climate change than just cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Technology, policies or plans that aim to do so should also take environmental factors such as water usage into account. A more integrated approach might make some options considerably more attractive than others, especially when implemented in arid countries such as Australia.

Net-zero energy test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 5:38pm
The NIST net-zero energy test house in suburban Washington, D.C., not only absorbed winter's best shot, it came out on top, reaching its one-year anniversary on July 1 with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for about 1,440 miles.

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 4:01pm
Researchers have devised an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel.

Supercomputer tackles grid challenges

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 1:28pm
'Big data' is playing an increasingly big role in the renewable energy industry and the transformation of the nation's electrical grid.

Scientists discover how 'plastic' solar panels work

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 8:20am
Scientists don't fully understand how 'plastic' solar panels work, which complicates the improvement of their cost efficiency, thereby blocking the wider use of the technology. However, researchers have determined how light beams excite the chemicals in solar panels, enabling them to produce charge.

Cheap and enviromentally friendly: Tofu ingredient could revolutionize solar panel manufacture

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:18am
The chemical used to make tofu and bath salts could also replace a highly toxic and expensive substance used to make solar cells, a new study has revealed. Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist disposal when panels are no longer needed.