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Solar Power

— 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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— Mobile Technology Review

Review: Soaking up sunlight with the Solartab solar charger

Solar panels come in a variety of guises designed to appeal to consumers looking for greener, plug-free ways to fuel electronics on the go. Prominent among these is Solartab, a portable solar charger and back-up-battery that hit the market in 2015 following a Kickstarter campaign in which it raised more than double its funding goal. We spent some time in the sun to see whether it was up to the task of keeping our devices happy and powered.

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— Electronics

HeLi-on flexible solar panel rolls up to portable power party

Compact solar panels have been around for some time, but in a trade-off with portability many are too small to generate practical amounts of electricity over short periods. New designs, such as the Yolk Solar Paper, are capable of generating more electricity while maintaining a slim profile, but the HeLi-on further expands on the idea of portable power generation with a flexible solar cell that rolls out from a compact package to soak up more rays.

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— Tiny Houses

Atlas: Tiny house, big view

Following a vacation that included time spent sheltering from rain in an RV with a lackluster view, Longmont, Colorado-based F9 Productions was inspired to create Atlas. Described as a tiny house/RV hybrid, the solar-powered dwelling boasts generous glazing and a porch that unfolds to offer a semi-outdoor space.

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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.

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