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Research & Development

The long read: SNEC’s solar trends in 2021

All eyes are drawn to China every year for SNEC, the world’s biggest solar PV expo, as it invariably features a large number of new products from the key Chinese manufacturers. Vincent Shaw was on the scene in Shanghai this year and took the opportunity to take the industry’s pulse.

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The long read: A new era for battery materials

Every year, chemical and energy companies produce $15 billion worth of commodities such as carbon black, silicon oxide, and aluminum oxide, for manufacturing purposes. Engineers do this by pumping chemicals into a flame and collecting material formed in the fire, in an approach known as flame spray pyrolysis. This approach, according to scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, has the potential to create more advanced materials for use in next-generation storage batteries.

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India and Israel to work together on perovskite solar cells and lithium sulfur batteries

Low-cost batteries and novel perovskite materials are among the topics selected for joint research and development.

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Indian-led start-up raises Swiss funding for solar diagnostic tool

Swiss-based SmartHelio claims to have witnessed a near 200% jump in demand for its deep-data driven solar asset management solution, which plugs into solar panels or energy storage systems. Sales of the internet-of-things enabled, cloud product have leapt in the last six months.

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The long read: Scientists at Argonne develop new kind of thermal battery

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new kind of thermal battery that can greatly increase the energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of many industrial processes and shows great promise for use in the solar industry. Liz Thompson reports that Argonne’s Thermal Energy Storage System (TESS) can rapidly capture and store surplus heat so that it can be used as needed. With its pioneering modular design and material advancements resulting in greater efficiency, TESS is a big step forward in thermal battery technology.

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Delhi lockdown has seen solar irradiation rise

Scientists measuring air pollutants and PV performance in the city have found the lockdown conditions imposed since late March have brought about a significant reduction in air pollution which has led to an 8% increase in solar irradiation reaching rooftop arrays.

The long read: Criteria and implications for gallium-doping

As a remedy for light-induced degradation (LID) in crystalline silicon cells, gallium-doped wafers are showing considerable promise. With reports that ingot growth productivity can rival that of boron doping, it seems that gallium doping may now be able to meet the cost, integration and performance criteria that have informed solar manufacturing technology adoption, writes Alex Barrows, senior research analyst at U.K.-based consultancy Exawatt.

Innovation promises cheaper solar cell glass manufacturing

Indian scientists have developed a hybrid production method combining metal mesh and a metal-oxide layer over a glass substrate which they say brings down production cost by 80% compared to the tin-doped, indium oxide-based technology currently in use.

The long read: Understanding LeTID

Light- and elevated temperature-induced degradation (LeTID) of PV cells can have far-reaching impacts on the efficiency of modules. Alison Ciesla and Brett Hallam of the University of New South Wales argue that accelerated testing, such as that included in the forthcoming IEC standards, is critical for LeTID identification and quantification in order to manage these impacts.

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Assessing metal leaching from PV modules dumped in landfill

An Indian Institute of Technology research team analyzed around 300 studies about PV panel waste containing carcinogenic metals. The researchers said solar module recycling is not economically profitable and policy support is necessary to avoid panels being dumped in landfill.

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