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A pinch of chili gives perovskites a kick

Scientists in China found that capsaicin, the natural compound responsible for a chili pepper’s spicy flavor, can also act as a ‘secret ingredient’ in perovskite solar cells, making them both more efficient and stable. The group added capsaicin to the precursor materials of a common perovskite, leading to dramatic improvements in the resulting solar cell.

Measuring outdoor performance in perovskites

Scientists in Spain and Colombia took a closer look at the degradation mechanisms affecting perovskite solar cells, and developed a new, high throughput method to characterize their performance in an outdoor setting. The group evaluated the method through outdoor testing on perovskite modules manufactured in a lab. it expects its findings to offer easier device characterization and better understanding of the degradation mechanisms affecting perovskite solar cells, both important factors in the technology’s development.

‘SolarEV City’ concept can cut both costs and emissions

Scientists applied a model where rooftop PV and electric vehicle batteries are integrated into the energy system of nine Japanese cities. Their findings suggests that such a system could meet more than half of every city’s total energy demand by 2030, and as much as 95% in some cases. The model also reveals opportunities to cut both pollution and energy costs for urban populations in Japan.

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Complementary hybrid PV systems can reduce reliance on storage

Looking back over years of research into the topic of hybrid systems based on different combinations of solar, wind, hydro and other renewables, an international group of scientists found strong potential for strategies to exploit complementarity between the different sources integrate more intermittent renewables onto regional and national grids. The scientists present a series of conclusions and recommendations that aim to push research in hybrid renewables forward.

Seawater aqueous battery based on alloy of zinc and manganese

Scientists in the United States developed a new anode for aqueous batteries. A working battery utilizing this anode, with seawater as an electrolyte, demonstrated impressive energy density, and remained stable after 1,000 hours of high current cycling. The group is already discussing the potential of their approach in large-scale manufacturing.

Fossils fuels to lead as Africa doubles its energy capacity this decade

Researchers led by Oxford University have put together a comprehensive forecast of energy developments across the African continent up to 2030. Based on analysis of data on more than 3,000 power plant projects across 54 countries, the report predicts a doubling of generation capacity in Africa over the next decade, with fossil fuel projects to represent 60% of the total. Based on this, the authors warn of the need for both the public and private sectors to change to tack to avoid a missed opportunity for renewable energy.

Hard carbon for a high energy sodium battery

Scientists in Japan demonstrated a hard-carbon electrode that can greatly increase the capacity of a sodium-ion battery. With further work on the long-term performance, the discovery could make sodium-ion batteries better able to compete on energy density with their lithium-ion counterparts.

The state of the art in perovskite tandems

A new paper from scientists in China and Canada examines the recent progress in the development of perovskite-silicon tandem cells, finding a technology that’s poised for rapid commercialization, with a few research challenges still to overcome. These are primarily related to ensuring the perovskite layer can match the lifetime of the silicon cell underneath.

Looking into the cracks

A white paper published earlier in December by PV Evolution Labs investigates the formation of performance damaging cracks in PV cells, based on mechanical stress testing of more than 40 commercially available PV modules. While the lab warns that susceptibility to cracking will change according to the specific bill of materials making up each module, certain technologies are shown to perform better than others.

The ideal size for a quantum dot

Scientists in Australia have developed an algorithm to calculate the perfect size and density for a quantum dot as a light sensitizer in a solar cell. The research could lead to both higher efficiencies for quantum dot solar cells, and the design of quantum dots compatible with other cell materials, including crystalline silicon.

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