Transparent Solar Cells Could Turn Office Tower Windows and Mobile Devices Into Power Sources

“It’s a whole new way of thinking about solar energy,” says startup CEO about using transparent solar cells on buildings and electronics.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: news.nationalgeographic.com

>” […] With the help of organic chemistry, transparent solar pioneers have set out to tackle one of solar energy’s greatest frustrations. Although the sun has by far the largest potential of any energy resource available to civilization, our ability to harness that power is limited. Photovoltaic panels mounted on rooftops are at best 20 percent efficient at turning sunlight to electricity.

Research has boosted solar panel efficiency over time. But some scientists argue that to truly take advantage of the sun’s power, we also need to expand the amount of real estate that can be outfitted with solar, by making cells that are nearly or entirely see-through.

“It’s a whole new way of thinking about solar energy, because now you have a lot of potential surface area,” says Miles Barr, chief executive and co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Ubiquitous Energy, a company spun off by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and  Michigan State University. “You can let your imagination run wild. We see this eventually going virtually everywhere.”

Invisible Spectrum Power

Transparent solar is based on a fact about light that is taught in elementary school: The sun transmits energy in the form of invisible ultraviolet and infrared light, as well as visible light. A solar cell that is engineered only to capture light from the invisible ends of the spectrum will allow all other light to pass through; in other words, it will appear transparent.

Organic chemistry is the secret to creating such material. Using just the simple building blocks of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and a few other elements found in all life on Earth, scientists since at least the early 1990s have been working on designing arrays of molecules that are able to transport electrons—in other words, to transmit electric current.  […]

Harvesting only the sun’s invisible rays, however, means sacrificing efficiency. That’s why Kopidakis says his team mainly focuses on creating opaque organic solar cells that also capture visible light, though they have worked on transparent solar with a small private company in Maryland called Solar Window Technologies that hopes to market the idea for buildings.

Ubiquitous Energy’s team believes it has hit on an optimal formulation that builds on U.S. government-supported research published by the MIT scientists in 2011.

“There is generally a direct tradeoff  between transparency and efficiency levels,” says Barr. “With the approach we’re taking, you can still get a significant amount of energy at high transparency levels.”

Barr says that Ubiquitous is on track to achieve efficiency of more than 10 percent—less than silicon, but able to be installed more widely. “There are millions and millions of square meters of glass surfaces around us,” says Barr. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

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Wide Bandgap Semiconductors – LED’s and the Future of Power Electronics

Hidden inside nearly every modern electronic is a technology — called power electronics — that is quietly making our wor…

Source: www.youtube.com

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

 

“Hidden inside nearly every modern electronic is a technology — called power electronics — that is quietly making our world run. Yet, as things like our phones, appliances and cars advance, current power electronics will no longer be able to meet our needs, making it essential that we invest in the future of this technology.

Today [January 15, 2014], President Obama will announce that North Carolina State University will lead the Energy Department’s new manufacturing innovation institute for the next generation of power electronics. The institute will work to drive down the costs of and build America’s manufacturing leadership in wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor-based power electronics — leading to more affordable products for businesses and consumers, billions of dollars in energy savings and high-quality U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Integral to consumer electronics and many clean energy technologies, power electronics can be found in everything from electric vehicles and industrial motors, to laptop power adaptors and inverters that connect solar panels and wind turbines to the electric grid. For nearly 50 years, silicon chips have been the basis of power electronics. However, as clean energy technologies and the electronics industry has advanced, silicon chips are reaching their limits in power conversion — resulting in wasted heat and higher energy consumption.

Power electronics that use WBG semiconductors have the potential to change all this. WBG semiconductors operate at high temperatures, frequencies and voltages — all helping to eliminate up to 90 percent of the power losses in electricity conversion compared to current technology. This in turn means that power electronics can be smaller because they need fewer semiconductor chips, and the technologies that rely on power electronics — like electric vehicle chargers, consumer appliances and LEDs — will perform better, be more efficient and cost less.

One of three new institutes in the President’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, the Energy Department’s institute will develop the infrastructure needed to make WBG semiconductor-based power electronics cost competitive with silicon chips in the next five years. Working with more than 25 partners across industry, academia, and state and federal organizations, the institute will provide shared research and development, manufacturing equipment, and product testing to create new semiconductor technology that is up to 10 times more powerful that current chips on the market. Through higher education programs and internships, the institute will ensure that the U.S. has the workforce necessary to be the leader in the next generation of power electronics manufacturing.

Watch our latest video on how wide bandgap semiconductors could impact clean energy technology and our daily lives.”

source:  http://energy.gov/articles/wide-bandgap-semiconductors-essential-our-technology-future

 

International Hydropower Association announces IHA World Congress – HydroWorld

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Members of the hydroelectric power community will convene in May for the International Hydropower Association’s World Congress for discussions concerning hydropower development around the world.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

This Congress — titled “Advancing Sustainable Hydropower” — runs May 21-24, 2013, in Sarawak, Malaysia, and includes four days of interactive sessions and discussions designed not only to be informative, IHA said, but to test current strategies and stimulate future thinking.

See on www.hydroworld.com

What Will Be the Next Technological Breakthrough in Energy?

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

What technological breakthrough is most likely in the next 10 years that could completely change the energy equation as we now see it?

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

Jeffrey Ball: Information Technologies to Increase Efficiency, and Solar Power Seem Promising

Predicting new-energy technological breakthroughs tends to be a fool’s errand. A decade ago, few envisioned the breakthrough that has most rocked the U.S. energy world: the one-two punch of fracking and horizontal drilling that has unlocked huge stores of shale gas from California to New York.

Right now, two broad areas of new energy technology seem particularly promising: information technologies that could spur major energy-efficiency improvements; and cheaper and more-reliable solar power. […]

Study after study has pegged energy efficiency as the lowest-cost way to curb fossil-fuel consumption and the resulting greenhouse-gas emissions. The problem has been figuring out how to unlock those efficiency improvements in the real world. Today, creative minds are at work developing electronic systems to track and display the energy use of institutional and individual consumers in ways that could make those users much more conscious both about how much energy they consume and about precisely what they could do to cost-effectively consume less. More information, in short, could equal less power.

See on online.wsj.com