Over the past decade, innovations have been underway to improve the performance of solar panels. One of the most promising innovations is the use of perovskites. A major downside is the fact that perovskite solar panels cells are made with Lead (Pb), which is highly toxic. Scientists are working to get the lead out.
In 2014, a group of European scientists from Oxford and elsewhere reported that they were able to substitute tin for lead and achieved efficiencies of over 6% under 1 sun illumination. Scientists at National Chia Tung University in Taiwan achieved 10% efficiency and greater stability with tin-based perovskite cells in 2019.
Now, in a study published in Nature Energy in February 2023, research by scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and others have synthesized a capping layer that does not contain lead. Perovskite solar cells are made of several layers of materials, including a perovskite layer that harvests light and a protective capping layer and both typically contain lead.
A zinc-based compound used a capping material did not draw lead ions up from the underlying perovskite layer and was more effective than the traditional method at fabricating the capping layer. The perovskite cell reportedly has a conversion efficiency of 24.1% under lab settings. The prototype demonstrated an average light conversion rate of almost 23% over 103 cells tested. It maintained more than 90% of its ability to convert light into electricity for more than 1,000 hours of operation at full capacity.
According to Renewable Energy World (05/17/23), Terabase Energy has unveiled how the company plans to use software and automation to revolutionize utility-scale solar project construction. The California-based startup's "Terafab" automated field factory combines a digital twin of the project site, advanced supply chain and inventory management systems, an onsite wireless digital command center, a field-deployed automated assembly line, and specialized installation rovers to allow for automated, 24/7 construction.Read more
According to YaleEnvironment360 (3/17/2023), a Swiss start-up, Sun-Ways, will install solar panels on a railway in western Switzerland, pending approval from transportation officials.
The pilot project on a roughly 300-foot stretch of railway is expected to demonstrate how its system could save space and cut down on labor costs. The company estimates that if panels were installed on every mile of the Swiss rail network, they could meet around 2 percent of Switzerland’s power demand.Read more
Researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering (IOM) have discovered a new method to increase the efficiency of solar cells by a factor of 1,000. They achieved this breakthrough by creating crystalline layers of barium titanate, strontium titanate, and calcium titanate, which were alternately placed on top of one another in a lattice structure.
Their findings, which could revolutionize the solar energy industry, were recently published in the journal Science Advances.Read more
Finding ways to store power generated by the sun when the sun is not shining is essential if the world is to move away from fossil fuels.
Gravity batteries is one technology that can store power from renewable energy generators. Gravity is free, clean and easily accessible, without the complications of producing hydrogen or the environmental and human rights concerns linked to some lithium mining.Read more
The growth of crops such as wheat, mung beans, and broccoli in two different experiments was studied under two different greenhouse roof materials: one with a transparent glass roof with segments of inorganic solar cells on the greenhouse, and the other where the roof was made entirely from semi-transparent organic solar cells. The crops in the greenhouse with the organic solar roof grew more than the crops in the regular greenhouse.Read more
Sunzaun is a vertical solar panel created by Sunstall which claims to be equally as efficient as the traditional model, whilst still allowing land to be used for growing food.Read more
A change in chemical composition enabled scientists to boost the longevity and efficiency of a perovskite solar cell developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).Read more
A team of University of Texas at Dallas researchers has discovered a “recipe” to increase the efficiency of solar cells made from organic materials. Organic solar cells (OSCs) could reduce the cost of solar panels because they are made with organic polymers and molecules instead of silicon.