Technology and R&D

Global energy investment in 2017 moved away from energy security and sustainability goals, finds IEA

Following a strong year for clean energy spending, 2017 saw a 7% decline in renewable power investment – to around $298 billion – while the share of fossil fuels in energy supply funding rose for the first time since 2014, according to the International Energy Agency in a report published today.

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US researchers achieve breakthrough for graphene-based solar cells

A team of scientists at the University of Kansas has developed a method to boost the lifetime of excited electrons in graphene, a development which the team alleges could lead to the development of highly efficient, ultrathin solar cells.

EPFL Scientists develop 25.2% efficient perovskite/silicon tandem cell

Researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a process for depositing a perovskite layer onto a silicon solar cell, which it says has already resulted in the creation of a 25.2% efficient tandem cell.

New solar water-splitting cell demonstrates 19.3% efficiency, increasing longevity significantly

The cell uses a novel approach that increases its conversion efficiency and longevity at the same time. Researchers claim it is a new world record for this type of application and highlight its importance in storing renewable energy in hydrogen to compensate for output and demand fluctuations.

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Amount of silver needed in solar cells to be more than halved by 2028, Silver Institute says

The US-based industry association finds the amount of silver loading may fall from 130 mg per cell in 2016 to approximately 65 mg by 2028. Alternative and cheaper raw materials, such as copper and aluminum, are not expected to replace silver in commercial cell production, at least in the next decade.

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New bacteria-based solar cell doubles density, reduces production cost

Researchers coated bacteria with a semiconductor before application to an anode glass. This process is reportedly cheap and taps energy produced by the bacteria through photosynthesis. Additionally, the researchers state power output is not impeded by overcast skies, making it ideal for northern Europe, Canada, mines and other low-light environments.

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Replacement for CdTe: Copper-nitride conductor for thin film discovered

A novel method developed in Tokyo, Japan, allows a nitride crystal to grow, which can function as both an n- and p-type conductor. The material can replace cadmium-telluride (CdTe) in thin films, and make such solar cells more environmentally friendly, while enabling greater efficiencies, the researchers claim.

Researchers show world-record 20.9% perovskite cell, new SSG process increasing stability

This marks another world record conversion efficiency for perovskite solar cells. A newly developed process reportedly reduces non-radiative recombination of the cells. The new cell is the result of joint research between the England-based Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Surrey and China-based Beijing.

SolarEdge’s enters UPS market, $11.5 million Gamatronic acquisition closed

The Israel-headquartered power electronics supplier continues to diversify its business base as it closes its acquisition of UPS provider Gamatronic. Uninterruptible power supply is a multi-billion-dollar market expected to grow in the coming years.

Alta Devices sets 28.9% efficiency record for single junction, GaAs cell

U.S. high efficiency specialist Alta Devices has announced the achievement of a 28.9% efficient single junction cell, based on its lightweight gallium arsenide (GaAs) technology. Alta’s solar cells are designed for integration into unmanned air vehicles and other autonomous systems.

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