Solar Energy News

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American energy use up slightly, carbon emissions almost unchanged

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 11:28am
Americans' energy use continued to grow slowly in 2014, fueled by increases in the use of natural gas, wind and solar, according to the most recent energy flow charts.

Nanobionics supercharge photosynthesis

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 7:33am
A new process has been developed for spontaneously incorporating and assembling carbon nanotubes and oxygen-scavenging nanoparticles into chloroplasts, the part of plant cells that conduct photosynthesis. Incorporation enhanced electron flow associated with photosynthesis. When these nanocomposites were incorporated into leaf chloroplasts of living plants, the electron flow associated with photosynthesis was enhanced by 30%.

Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps to 22.1%

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:14am
Researchers have obtained the record-breaking efficiency of 22.1 percent efficiency on nanostructured silicon solar cells. An almost 4 percent absolute increase to their previous record was achieved by applying a thin passivating film on the nanostructures and by integrating all metal contacts on the back side of the cell.

Artificial photosynthesis: New, stable photocathode with great potential

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 2:00pm
Scientists have developed a new composite photocathode for generating hydrogen using sunlight. The photocathode consists of a thin film of chalcopyrite coated with a newly developed thin film of titanium dioxide containing platinum nanoparticles. This layer protects the chalcopyrite thin film from corrosion, it acts as a catalyst to speed-up formation of hydrogen even shows photoelectric current density and voltage comparable to those of a chalcopyrite-based thin film solar cell.

Superhydrophobic glass coating offers clear benefits

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 4:25pm
A moth's eye and lotus leaf were the inspirations for an antireflective water-repelling, or superhydrophobic, glass coating that holds significant potential for solar panels, lenses, detectors, windows, weapons systems and many other products.

Inkjet printing process for kesterite solar cells

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:15am
A research team has developed an inkjet printing technology to produce kesterite thin film absorbers. Based on the inkjet-printed absorbers, solar cells with total area conversion efficiency of up to 6.4 percent have been achieved. Although this is lower than the efficiency records for this material class, the inkjet printing minimizes waste and has huge advantages for industrial production.

First field-effect transistors on hybrid perovskites fabricated for first time

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 9:24am
Researchers have fabricated halide organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite field-effect transistors and measure their electrical characteristics at room temperature for the first time. Hybrid perovskites are a family of crystalline materials that hold great promise in the clean energy world.

Better battery for storing solar energy?

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 8:19am
The sun is a huge source of energy. In just one hour planet Earth is hit by so much sunshine that humankind could cover its energy needs for an entire year if only we knew how to harvest and save it. But storing sunshine is not trivial. Now a student has researched his way to a breakthrough which may prove pivotal for technologies trying to capture the energy of the sun, and saving it for a rainy day.

Engineering a better solar cell: Defects in popular perovskites pinpointed

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 2:50pm
A new study demonstrates that perovskite materials - superefficient crystal structures that have recently taken the scientific community by storm - contain flaws that can be engineered to improve solar cells and other devices even further.

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 9:48am
The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry's dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria. The system converts light and carbon dioxide into building blocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and fuels -- all without electricity.

Electrical power converter allows grid to easily accept power from renewable energy

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 9:13am
Engineering researchers have invented a novel electrical power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system.

A video camera that powers itself

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 9:29am
Scientists have invented a prototype video camera that is the first to be fully self-powered -- it can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene. They designed a pixel that can not only measure incident light but also convert the incident light into electric power.

Harvesting energy from electromagnetic waves

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:58am
Researchers have developed a novel design for electromagnetic energy harvesting based on the "full absorption concept." This involves the use of metamaterials that can be tailored to produce media that neither reflects nor transmits any power -- enabling full absorption of incident waves at a specific range of frequencies and polarizations.

California's solar incentive program has had only modest impact on adoption rates

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 1:16pm
According to a new analysis, California's aggressive incentive program for installing rooftop solar-electric systems has not been as effective as generally believed.

Shifts in electricity generation spur net job growth, but coal jobs decline

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 11:41am
In four years following the 2008 recession, the US coal industry lost more than 49,000 jobs, while the natural gas, solar, and wind industries together created nearly four times that amount, according to a new. Few of the new jobs were added in states hardest hit by coal's decline, particularly West Virginia and Kentucky.

Battery energy storage project shows promise for electricity network

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 9:14am
Scientists have revealed the potential of a new battery energy storage system to reduce electricity prices while improving power efficiency and quality.

Solar cooling system keeps water at 9 degrees Celsius for up to three months

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 7:17am
Maintaining food in places where high temperatures prevail, using little energy at a low cost,  it is now possible with new technology, thanks to the creation of a solar cooling system.

Wrapping carbon nanotubes in polymers enhances their performance

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 1:11pm
Scientists say polymer-wrapped carbon nanotubes hold much promise in biotechnology and energy applications.

New kind of 'tandem' solar cell: Two types of photovoltaic material combined to make a cell that harnesses more sunlight

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 11:08am
Researchers have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun's energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say. The new cell uses a layer of silicon -- which forms the basis for most of today's solar panels -- but adds a semi-transparent layer of a material called perovskite, which can absorb higher-energy particles of light. Unlike an earlier "tandem" solar cell reported by members of the same team earlier this year -- in which the two layers were physically stacked, but each had its own separate electrical connections -- the new version has both layers connected together as a single device that needs only one control circuit.

Discovery could yield more efficient portable electronics, solar cells

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:21pm
A team of chemists has set the stage for more efficient and sturdier portable electronic devices and possibly a new generation of solar cells based on organic materials.