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: 1 hour 32 min ago

Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 1:45pm
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.

Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:12pm
Scientists have a new efficient way of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using Earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:28am
The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued Reference Material 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of these human-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nanometers -- billionths of a meter -- in size.

New organic semiconductor material: Organic tin in polymers increases their light absorption

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:13am
Researchers have integrated organic tin into semiconducting polymers (plastics) for the first time. Semiconducting polymers can be used, for example, for the absorption of sun light in solar cells. By incorporating organic tin into the plastic, light can be absorbed over a wide range of the solar spectrum.

Natural gas usage will have little effect on carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:36am
Abundant supplies of natural gas will do little to reduce harmful U.S. emissions causing climate change, according to researchers. They found that inexpensive gas boosts electricity consumption and hinders expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.

New mobile solar unit is designed to save lives when the power goes out

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:29am
Brooke Ellison draws her own power from will, but the ventilator that keeps her alive requires uninterrupted electricity. Dr. Ellison is allowing scientists to field-test, at her home, the Nextek Power Systems STAR, a mobile solar generator.

Solar cells cheap enough to quickly cover their cost: Could double as semi-transparent blinds for windows

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 6:48am
One of the most common complaints about solar power is solar panels are still too expensive to be worth the investment. Many researchers have responded by making solar cells, the tile-like components of solar panels that absorb and transfer energy, more efficient and longer lasting. But even the longest living solar cells that most effectively convert sunlight to energy will not become common if they are prohibitively expensive.

Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 4:21pm
A civil engineering research team has developed a new way to clean oil sands process affected water and reclaim tailings ponds in Alberta's oil sands industry. Using sunlight as a renewable energy source instead of UV lamps, and adding chlorine to the tailings, oil sands process affected water is decontaminated and detoxified -- immediately.

Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:22am
Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions. The shorter the interval between two explosions in the solar atmosphere, the more likely it is that the second flare will be stronger than the first one.

Magnetic fields make the excitons go 'round: New way to improve efficiency of solar cells

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 12:51pm
A major limitation in the performance of solar cells happens within the photovoltaic material itself: When photons strike the molecules of a solar cell, they transfer their energy, producing quasi-particles called excitons -- an energized state of molecules. That energized state can hop from one molecule to the next until it's transferred to electrons in a wire, which can light up a bulb or turn a motor.

Fracking's environmental impacts scrutinized

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 7:29am
Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually fared better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research.

Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:28pm
New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers. Researchers identified a new polymer -- a type of large molecule that forms plastics and other familiar materials -- which improved the efficiency of solar cells. The group also determined the method by which the polymer improved the cells' efficiency. The polymer allowed electrical charges to move more easily throughout the cell, boosting the production of electricity -- a mechanism never before demonstrated in such devices.

Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps, be ultimate camera pixel

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 8:08am
A quantum effect in which excited atoms team up to emit an enhanced pulse of light can be turned on its head to create 'superabsorbing' systems that could make the 'ultimate camera pixel'.

A more efficient, lightweight and low-cost organic solar cell: Researchers broke the 'electrode barrier'

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:14pm
For decades, polymer scientists and synthetic chemists working to improve the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells were hampered by the inherent drawbacks of commonly used metal electrodes, including their instability and susceptibility to oxidation. Now for the first time, researchers have developed a more efficient, easily processable and lightweight solar cell that can use virtually any metal for the electrode, effectively breaking the 'electrode barrier.'

X-ray imaging paves way for novel solar cell production

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:33am
The sharp X-ray vision of DESY's research light source PETRA III paves the way for a new technique to produce cheap, flexible and versatile double solar cells. The method can reliably produce efficient tandem plastic solar cells of many meters in length.

Sun-powered desalination for villages in India

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 7:37am
Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water -- and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants. Sun-powered desalination could deliver clean water for off-grid villages.

Doped graphene nanoribbons with potential

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:33am
Graphene possesses many outstanding properties: it conducts heat and electricity, it is transparent, harder than diamond and extremely strong. But in order to use it to construct electronic switches, a material must not only be an outstanding conductor, it should also be switchable between ”on” and ”off” states. This requires the presence of a so-called bandgap, which enables semiconductors to be in an insulating state. The problem, however, is that the bandgap in graphene is extremely small. Empa researchers from the ”nanotech@surfaces” laboratory thus developed a method some time ago to synthesize a form of graphene with larger bandgaps by allowing ultra-narrow graphene nanoribbons to ”grow” via molecular self-assembly.

Breakthrough for carbon nanotube solar cells: Twice as efficient as current models

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 8:58am
Lighter, more flexible, and cheaper than conventional solar-cell materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long shown promise for photovoltaics. But research stalled when CNTs proved to be inefficient, converting far less sunlight into power than other methods. Scientists have now developed a carbon nanotube solar cell that is twice as efficient as its predecessors.

Wind energy cuts the electricity bill

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 8:56am
The promoting of renewable energy is at the heart of the current debate on energy policy. From an economic perspective, the question focuses on determining the cost of the feed-in tariff systems. A new study tackles this question empirically, and concludes that wind energy continues to produce greater savings than what its incentives amount to, while photovoltaic solar technologies are still in the development phase.

Future solar panels: Cheaper, more efficient

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 7:32am
Conventional photovoltaic technology uses large, heavy, opaque, dark silicon panels, but this could soon change. Researchers are working on new materials to produce solar panels in order to come up with alternatives to the current panels. What is needed to improve the functioning of cells with a large surface are materials that cost less to produce and offer greater energy efficiency.