Research articles

Reconsidering the Rebound Effect

Reconsidering the Rebound Effect

The rebound effect from improving energy efficiency has been widely discussed—from the pages of the New York Times and New Yorker to the halls of policy and to a voluminous academic literature. It’s been known for over a century and, on the surface, is simple to understand. Buy a more fuel-efficient car, drive more. Invent a more efficient bulb,

Fool’s gold as a solar material?

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—a cheap compound that makes a common mineral known as fool’s gold—could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly

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

When Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Yan Xu talks about “islanding,” or isolating, from the grid, she’s 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. “If the microgrid

New “Tinker Toy” Test Could Send Solar Energy Costs Into Free-Fall

Solar energy costs are already dropping faster than you can say “solar energy costs are dropping,” and along comes a new development that could accelerate the trend even more. The project, out of Sandia National Laboratories in partnership with the University of Colorado-Boulder, aims at working around the efficiency limitations of dye-sensitized solar cells. The

Wells Fargo launches “Innovation Incubator” program

Wells Fargo last week launched an “Innovation Incubator”program (IN2), a $10 million environmental grant program for clean technology startups. IN2 was announced 28 October at the NREL Industry Growth Forum in Denver and is the first of its kind in the banking industry, according to Wells Fargo. Under the program, clean-tech startups will be identified and recommended by Wells

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

A multidisciplinary engineering team at the University of California, San Diego 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

Cheaper silicon means cheaper solar cells

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have pioneered a new approach to manufacturing solar cells that requires less silicon and can accommodate silicon with more impurities than is currently the standard. Those changes mean that solar cells can be made much more cheaply than at present. A new method of producing solar

What Is SolarTAC?

The Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC) is the largest multi-user outdoor research, testing, development and demonstration facility in the world. SolarTAC offers its members the opportunity to perform proprietary and collaborative research, development and demonstration activities that accelerate solar technology. “In a rapidly expanding solar market, there exists a need to fine tune early commercial and near-commercial

Organic Solar Cells + Flexible Glass

Organic solar modules have advantages over silicon solar cells. However, one critical problem is their shorter operating life. Researchers are working on a promising solution: they are using flexible glass as a carrier substrate that better protects the components. This approach is already being employed in electronic devices to some extent today: organic photovoltaics (OPVs)

Silicon Supercapacitor Built by Researchers

Researchers at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville propose a novel silicon supercapacitor design. Such supercapacitor can be, theoretically, integrated into a silicon chip, opening some interesting options for energy storage. Batteries effectively store energy but do not deliver power efficiently because the charged carriers move slowly through the solid battery material. Capacitors, which store energy

Morocco Gets Solar Research Center

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt; DLR) is developing plans for a solar power research and test center in Morocco on behalf of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen). The long-term objective of this new center is the development of a competitive solar power industry, that can replace coal as

HiFlex Researchers Develop Flexible Organic Solar for Mobile

A technology developed by the HiFlex research project promises flexible, lightweight, on-the-go charging for mobile electronics and remote applications. New organic photovoltaic module (OPV) is relatively cheap and can effectively function under various light conditions. The project—a collaboration between  ECN, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), TNO / Holst Centre, Technical University of Denmark

GE Research Achieves CdTe PV Efficiency Record

Rather quietly, GE Research has bested First Solar for the cadmium telluride PV cell efficiency record. Clocking in at 18.3 percent, the new record edges First Solar’s previous mark by a full 1 percent. First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) hit 17.3 percent about a year ago. Presumably, this record was set using the PrimeStar Solar technology acquired

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