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Photovoltaic

Materials

Metamaterial paves way for thermophotovoltaic cells that generate electricity in the dark

Using a new optical magnetic metamaterial claimed to have revolutionary properties, physicists from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have produced a prototype device that could be used in super-efficient thermophotovoltaic cells. These cells do not need direct sunlight to generate electricity, but instead absorb infrared radiation to convert to electric current and, unlike conventional photovoltaic cells, can do so even in the dark.Read More

Caribbean’s largest solar array goes online

A 33.4 MW photovoltaic solar array in the Dominican Republic has gone live this week. The installation at the Monte Plata solar facility is claimed to be the largest in the Caribbean and a planned second phase of the project is expected to take it to a capacity of 67 MW.Read More

Electronics

Thinnest, lightest, solar cells ever created outperform their bulky glass brethren

Using gossamer-like layers of flexible polymers, researchers at MIT have created the thinnest and lightest solar cells ever made. Just one-fiftieth the thickness of a human hair, and capable of producing up to 6 watts of power per gram, these cells are so thin and light that they can be supported on the surface of a soap bubble without breaking it. With such impressive credentials, the prototype cells have the potential to add solar power to everything from paper-based electronics through to all manner of mobile devices and exceptionally lightweight wearables. Read More

Energy

High-temperature photovoltaics and electrochemical cell combine to advance solar power

Despite continual improvements in efficiency, silicon-based solar cells are hampered by the fact that they only deliver power when the sun is shining and that their efficiency falls off markedly at temperatures over 100° C (212° F). To address these limitations, scientists at TU Wien in Vienna have combined perovskite-based solar cells that work at high temperatures with an electrochemical cell that allows the energy from ultraviolet light to be stored chemically.Read More

Environment

Heliatek claims new conversion efficiency record for organic PV cells

German solar technology firm Heliatek claims to have outdone itself by setting a new world record for directly converting sunlight into electricity using organic photovoltaic cells. In 2012 it claimed a then world record 10.7 percent conversion efficiency and said it was gunning for 15 percent in the near future. This week it announced it's halfway there, achieving a new record of 13.2 percent.

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Environment

Plant openings signal "birth of large-scale solar in Australia"

According to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Australia boasts the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world. But despite much of the continent being seemingly perfect for large scale solar, it has been slow in coming to the sun-drenched country. That could be set to change with the official opening of two plants that AGL Energy managing director and CEO Andy Vesey says "signals the birth of large-scale solar in Australia".

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Electronics

"Covert contacts" enable more efficient solar cell design

You've probably noticed that solar panels sitting on people's roofs appear to be broken up into grids. These grid lines are actually metal contacts and, although they're necessary for conducting the electrical current generated by the underlying semiconductor, they reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the semiconductor layer. Now researchers at Stanford University have developed a way to make these reflective metal contacts almost invisible to incoming light, thereby increasing solar panel efficiency.Read More

Architecture

Ultra-efficient SURE HOUSE wins the 2015 Solar Decathlon

The US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon has been run and won for 2015. It’s a nationwide contest between collegiate teams to see who can build the most attractive, cost-effective and efficient solar home. Fourteen teams duked it out for this year’s competition, and the winning team from the Stevens Institute of Technology drew inspiration from Hurricane Sandy to create a sustainable, solar coastal home that opens up for entertaining in summertime but locks down to resist severe weather damage in the winter – and uses some 90 percent less energy than a typical home.Read More

Environment

Transparent coating keeps solar cells cool and efficient throughout the day

Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.Read More

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