Solar Energy News

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Solar Energy Information. Read the latest news and techniques for efficient solar photovoltaic power, new solar energy systems and more.
Updated: 8 hours 48 min ago

Glimpsing pathway of sunlight to electricity

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:45pm
Four pulses of laser light on nanoparticle photocells in a spectroscopy experiment has opened a window on how captured sunlight can be converted into electricity. The work, which potentially could inspire devices with improved efficiency in solar energy conversion, was performed on photocells that used lead-sulfide quantum dots as photoactive semiconductor material.

Comparing state solar policies to determine equation for solar market success

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:30am
Scientists have used statistical analyses and detailed case studies to better understand why solar market policies in certain states are more successful. Their findings indicate that while no standard formula for solar implementation exists, a combination of foundational policies and localized strategies can increase solar photovoltaic installations in any state.

Nuclear should be in the energy mix for biodiversity

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 8:41am
Leading conservation scientists from around the world have called for a substantial role for nuclear power in future energy-generating scenarios in order to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity.

Stacking two-dimensional materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 10:55am
A team of researchers has found that stacking materials that are only one atom thick can create semiconductor junctions that transfer charge efficiently, regardless of whether the crystalline structure of the materials is mismatched -- lowering the manufacturing cost for a wide variety of semiconductor devices such as solar cells, lasers and LEDs.

New technique could harvest more of the sun's energy

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:18am
As solar panels become less expensive and capable of generating more power, solar energy is becoming a more commercially viable alternative source of electricity. However, the photovoltaic cells now used to turn sunlight into electricity can only absorb and use a small fraction of that light, and that means a significant amount of solar energy goes untapped. A new technology represents a first step toward harnessing that lost energy.

Is natural gas a 'bridge' to a hotter future?

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 1:57pm
Natural gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.

In world first, researchers convert sunlight to electricity with over 40 percent efficiency

Sun, 12/07/2014 - 8:16am
Australia's solar researchers have converted over 40 percent of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. A key part of the prototype's design is the use of a custom optical bandpass filter to capture sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers and convert it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells themselves ever could.

New technique offers spray-on solar power

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 11:43am
Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. Scientists have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) -- a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

Light propagation in solar cells made visible

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 8:37am
How can light which has been captured in a solar cell be examined in experiments? Scientists have succeeded in looking directly at light propagation within a solar cell by using a trick. The photovoltaics researchers are working on periodic nanostructures that efficiently capture a portion of sunlight which is normally only poorly absorbed.

Low-grade waste heat regenerates ammonia battery

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 11:53am
An efficient method to harvest low-grade waste heat as electricity may be possible using reversible ammonia batteries, according to engineers. Low-grade waste heat is an artifact of many energy-generating methods. In automobiles, waste heat generated in winter is diverted to run the vehicle heating system, but in the summer, that same waste heat must be dissipated to the environment.

Matched 'hybrid' systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 1:42pm
The use of renewable energy in the United States could take a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to 'match' different forms of alternative energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity, researchers say in a new report.

Physicists bind single-atom sheets with the same force geckos use to climb walls

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 12:19pm
The approach is to design synergistic materials by combining two single-atom thick sheets, for example, that act as a photovoltaic cell as well as a light-emitting diode, converting energy between electricity and radiation.

Blu-ray disc can be used to improve solar cell performance

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 10:18am
Who knew about Blu-ray discs? One of the best ways to store high-definition movies and television shows because of their high-density data storage, Blu-ray discs also improve the performance of solar cells, according to a new study. Researchers have discovered that the pattern of information written on a Blu-ray disc -- and it doesn't matter if it's Jackie Chan's 'Supercop' or the cartoon 'Family Guy' -- works very well for improving light absorption across the solar spectrum.

Scientists get to the heart of fool's gold as a solar material

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 5:25pm
As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a research team explains why that is, in a discovery that suggests how improvements in this promising material could lead to inexpensive yet efficient solar cells.

Revolutionary solar-friendly form of silicon shines

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:06pm
Silicon is the second most-abundant element in the earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices -- carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. Scientists have synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications.

New materials for more powerful solar cells

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 8:31am
Applying a thin film of metallic oxide significantly boosts the performance of solar panel cells. Researchers have developed a new class of materials comprising elements such as bismuth, iron, chromium, and oxygen. These 'multiferroic' materials absorb solar radiation and possess unique electrical and magnetic properties.

New materials yield record efficiency polymer solar cells

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:04am
Researchers have found that temperature-controlled aggregation in a family of new semi-conducting polymers is the key to creating highly efficient organic solar cells that can be mass produced more cheaply.

Your own energy 'island'? Microgrid could standardize small, self-sustaining electric grids

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 9:11am
When researchers talk about "islanding," or isolating, from the grid, they are discussing a fundamental benefit of microgrids -- small systems powered by renewables and energy storage devices. The benefit is that microgrids can disconnect from larger utility grids and continue to provide power locally.

Combining 'Tinkertoy' materials with solar cells for increased photovoltaic efficiency

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 9:22am
Researchers are working to develop a technique that they believe will significantly improve the efficiencies of photovoltaic materials and help make solar electricity cost-competitive with other sources of energy.

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 7:54am
A multidisciplinary engineering team developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity.