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Quantum dot solar cells and the search for stability

In various forms, quantum dot technology has attracted plenty of attention among PV researchers recently. And as efficiencies have crept past the 15% mark, the community is beginning to look at other factors limiting the viability of quantum dot solar cells in a commercial setting. Scientists in Germany examined the degradation mechanisms affecting different quantum dot materials; and suggest a standardization of stability testing to enable comparability of results.

Modeling the potential of lead-free perovskites

Scientists in India modeled the performance of tin-based perovskite (methylammonium tin triiodide) finding that with careful optimizations the material could achieve efficiencies beyond 28%.

New model to predict PV module cleaning cycles and resulting profits

A group of scientists in Bangladesh has developed a model to determine the optimal cleaning schedule for a PV installation at any location in the globe, requiring only the average insolation and soiling rate for a given site to make the calculation. The study also draws new conclusions regarding the influence of sandstorms and rain on soiling, and aims to be among the first studies to paint a global picture of soiling trends by region.

The long read: Circular innovations

Slowly but surely, environmental concerns are making their way into mainstream thought throughout the PV industry. A look at recycling offers an example of this, with stakeholders trying to get ahead of the high volumes of end-of-life modules already on the horizon. pv magazine examines the technologies that will be needed, alongside policy and economic support, to keep the bulk of these modules out of landfill and ultimately to establish a circular economy for PV materials.

The long read: Made in MENA

Despite big ambitions and even bigger projects being built across the region, PV manufacturing in the Middle East has never got off the ground. In Saudi Arabia, however, one manufacturer is realizing plans for a gigawatt-scale module factory. Over the next five years, Desert Technologies plans to bring 3 GW of heterojunction production to the Kingdom. pv magazine takes a look at the challenges facing PV manufacturers in Saudi Arabia, and the opportunities the nation may hold.

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 long read: Bigger yes, but better…?

It is now a well-established trend. After the switch to larger wafer sizes played out in 2019, this year has seen virtually all of the biggest PV manufacturers introduce new modules in dimensions above the 2-meter mark, and with power ratings in excess of 500 W – in some cases, as high as 800 W. As these modules begin to roll off production lines in larger quantities, it’s vital to take a look at the challenges and opportunities they bring to system design, installation, and long-term operation.

Evaluating tandem cells, from the bottom up

Scientists in Germany evaluated multiple silicon cell concepts based on both cost and efficiency in serving as the bottom layer in a perovskite-silicon tandem cell. The study, based on both simulation and experimental work, outlines advantages to various approaches with the silicon cell and concludes that in almost every case, perovskite-silicon tandem cells have the potential to bring solar costs down below what could be achieved with silicon alone.

PV powered desalination is “the most competitive design”

Scientists in France conducted an analysis on the competitiveness of water desalination, taking a large scale project planned for Morocco as a case study. The research concludes that PV without storage is the cheapest option to power desalinators, and will likely remain so until at least 2030.

The long read: The cracks are showing

Finding tiny cracks in a silicon solar cell is not that easy, particularly given that these cracks initially have little or no effect on module performance. But a number of common occurrences in a module’s lifetime can cause cracks to grow, rendering whole areas of a cell useless. And this is increasingly being recognized as one of the most significant risks to module reliability – one which the PV industry is hard at work to mitigate.

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