New year, new me, new solar panels?

February 27, 2017

In the US, the number of solar panels in residential areas is steadily increasing thanks to photovoltaic systems become cheaper and more powerful for homeowners. A study conducted in 2012 by the US Department of Energy (DOE) predicts that solar could reach 1 million to 3.8 million homes by 2020, a big leap from just 30,000 homes in 2006. But that adoption rate could still use a boost, according to…

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Solar energy collecting windows in sight

The dream of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy has been brought one step closer to reality thanks to high tech silicon nanoparticles and the researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca. The researchers developed technology to embed the silicon nanoparticles into what they call efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). These LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light…

February 22, 2017
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Renewable energy too slow to cap global warming

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February 8, 2017

Scientistt have reported in the journal Nature Climate Change that even if solar and wind capacity continues to grow at breakneck speed, it will not be fast enough to cap global warming under 2°C (3.6°F), the target set down in the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty. “The rapid deployment of wind, solar and electric cars gives some hope,” lead author Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate…

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Multi-energy-harvesting device to push IoT development

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February 8, 2017

Researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland have found that a mineral with the perovskite crystal structure has the right properties to extract energy from multiple sources at the same time. Perovskites are a family of minerals, many of which have shown promise for harvesting one or two types of energy at a time—but not simultaneously. One family member may be good for solar cells, with the right properties…

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Storing solar power increases energy consumption

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January 31, 2017

According to research from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, homes with solar panels do not require on-site storage to reap the biggest economic and environmental benefits of solar energy. In fact, storing solar energy for nighttime use actually increases both energy consumption and emissions compared with sending excess solar energy directly to the utility grid. In a paper published in Nature Energy on…

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Solar-powered water purifier addresses global drinking water shortages

January 31, 2017

Bear Grylls has turned foul water into drinking water with little more than sunlight and plastic. Now, academics have added a third element—carbon-dipped paper—that may turn this survival tactic into a highly efficient and inexpensive way to turn saltwater and contaminated water into potable water for personal use. The idea, which could help address global drinking water shortages, especially in developing areas and regions affected by natural disasters, is described…

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Smart city solar ‘Soofa’ charges smartphones

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January 27, 2017

MIT Media Lab spinout Changing Environments is hoping to accelerate the development of ‘smart’ cities that use technology to solve urban challenges with high-tech versions of common city fixtures — namely, smart benches and digital information signs — and fueled by a ‘deploy or die’ attitude. “The idea is to bring simple technologies to the streets,” said CEO Sandra Richter, a former Media Lab researcher who co-founded the startup with…

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Promising approach for producing sustainable carbon-free energy

January 25, 2017

Mechanisms to generate hydrogen from water and sunlight are being fine tuned by scientists and collaborators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist and collaborators are fine tuning the mechanisms to generate hydrogen from water and sunlight. Hydrogen production offers a promising approach for producing scalable and sustainable carbon-free energy. The key to a successful solar-to-fuel technology is the design of efficient, long-lasting and low-cost…

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Nanoscale semiconductor raises solar cell energy conversion rate

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January 19, 2017

Solar cells do not convert all light to power equally, which has inspired a joint industry-academia effort to develop a potentially game-changing solution. “Current solar cells are not good at converting visible light to electrical power. The best efficiency is only around 20%,” explains Kyoto University’s Takashi Asano, who uses optical technologies to improve energy production. Higher temperatures emit light at shorter wavelengths, which is why the flame of a…

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Predicting the light absorbed by photosynthetic pigments

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January 12, 2017

A wide variety of pigments to absorb different wavelengths of light are used by plants and other photosynthetic organisms. MIT researchers have now developed a theoretical model to predict the spectrum of light absorbed by aggregates of these pigments, based on their structure. The new model could help guide scientists in designing new types of solar cells made of organic materials that efficiently capture light and funnel the light-induced excitation,…

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