A vision of a decentralized, renewable-powered electricity grid is being brought a step closer by scientists at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Their project, Autonomous Energy Grids, aims to take an overarching look at the solutions that will power this grid of the future, and to fill any gaps that appear between them.
Scientists at the Australia National University have observed a key stage in the process of photosynthesis which could be copied to greatly increase the efficiency of sunlight-powered water splitting processes used to produce hydrogen.
Few in the industry predicted the speed at which monocrystalline technology would develop, or the impressive cost reductions it would achieve by 2019. This has left producers of multicrystalline products facing rapidly shrinking market share and struggling to compete on a cost per watt basis. Many are now turning to cast mono processes, essentially creating a monocrystalline, or ‘mono-like’ silicon ingot in a multicrystalline furnace, to reach higher efficiencies and extend equipment lifetimes.
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. used x-ray imaging to observe cracks forming in a solid state lithium battery, a discovery they say changes the understanding of performance of solid state batteries and which could lead to more durable systems.
A team of researchers from Manchester University claims to have identified the dominant process causing light-induced degradation in silicon solar cells. The process, termed “trap-assisted auger recombination”, arises from a defect in the bulk of the silicon material which lies dormant until exposed to sunlight.
Like many areas in renewable energy, the operations and maintenance of large-scale solar power plants is becoming an increasingly sophisticated affair. Granular data gathered using hardware such as drones and thermal imaging equipment, in combination with complex analytics software, mean that service providers now have oversight of a plant right down to the performance of individual cells and components. A look at fault detection offers several examples of these trends in action.
Chinese PV manufacturer Hanergy Thin Film Power Group today announced it has achieved 24.23% cell efficiency using its silicon heterojunction technology. The efficiency has been confirmed by Japan’s Electrical Safety & Environment Technology Laboratories.
The tension between the cost cutting and performance boosting opportunities presented by new technologies and the tendency for risk aversion is never more evident than in PV module materials. This applies nowhere more than in backsheets, where new innovations are big on promise, but must convince manufacturers and the market of their long-term performance.
As problems with component failure have already laid bare, there is a clear need for contract clarity at every stage of a PV project, from material and component sourcing to power purchase and operations agreements. Here, pv magazine investigates a little covered issue for module buyers, which could threaten insurance coverage and the overall success of a project further down the line.
As new cell and module concepts move into large-scale production, and efficiencies are pushed ever higher, manufacturers of flash testing equipment must innovate to ensure their tools can provide reliable measurements, and cope with ever expanding production throughput. The expansion of bifacial technology beyond niche applications in particular raises new issues for flash testing standards. pv magazine spoke with several flasher manufacturers to shed light on the latest developments in this segment.
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