Solar cell ‘flaws’ could boost efficiency

January 25, 2016 Introducing atom-sized defects to solar photovoltaic cells could improve their performance. This is the conclusion of scientists at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which contrasts with conventional wisdom that holds that defects hamper the efficiency of solar cells. In theoretical research, NREL ran computer simulations to add impurities … [Read more...]

Solar thermal storage solution developed

January 22, 2016 Car windscreens could be defrosted and clothes warmed thanks to the development of a new low-cost material that triggers a burst of solar-powered heat. The new material, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA, absorbs and stores energy by changing shape at a molecular level. Switching between the “charged” and … [Read more...]

Users to ‘rate’ buildings: energy trends forecast

January 21, 2016 A “Trip Advisor” for buildings and a “harm tax” on fossil fuels are among predictions for 2016 to emerge from a UK-based environmental engineering firm. A focus on reducing energy consumption, improved energy efficiency and awareness of the role of buildings on the environment have been identified as key trends for this year by Max Fordham. Among the … [Read more...]

Solid electrolytes to energise new generation of safer batteries

January 20, 2016 Safer, more robust batteries with all-solid components could emerge from new research in the USA into solid electrolytes. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have developed a new solid electrolyte for use in lithium batteries. Electrolytes are typically liquids, and carry electrical charge … [Read more...]

Graphene-based oil spill solution is ‘five times’ more efficient

January 19, 2016 The world’s first graphene-based oil adsorption system for tackling oil spills is at least five times more effective than conventional solutions, its developers claim. Launched by Italian producer and supplier of graphene, Directa Plus, the so-called Grafysorber has been created to tackle environmental emergencies in the most efficient way … [Read more...]

China drove 2015 renewables growth

January 18, 2016 China helped increase global installed renewable energy in 2015, leading installations in both solar and onshore wind power and generating capacity to above 900 GW. China also led the world for annual capacity additions in biopower and small hydropower according to research from UK-based consulting firm GlobalData. Ankit Mathur, GlobalData’s practice … [Read more...]

‘Hybrid’ material could generate better solar and battery performance

January 15, 2016 More lightweight, flexible solar panels and higher performing rechargeable batteries could be achieved with a new technique developed in Germany. Using the new approach, researchers at the Technical University of Munich and the Ludwig Maximillians University of Munich have been able to produce extremely thin, yet robust sheets of semiconductor … [Read more...]

Wireless sensors for buildings powered by router radio waves

January 14, 2016 Wirelessly powered temperature sensors developed in the Netherlands could enable more efficient energy use in buildings. The “smart city” of the future is likely to rely on a multitude of sensors recording a host of parameters, such as temperature and humidity in buildings. However, powering such widely dispersed sensors has presented a major obstacle to … [Read more...]

Nearing zero: emissions control technology cuts pollutants

January 13, 2016 Cleaner petrol and LPG automotive engines are set to emerge from a newly launched venture exploring new emissions control technology. Based on a multi-stage approach to exhaust gas treatment, the Ultra Emissions Technologies Ltd joint venture sees US-based Tecogen, which produces stationary gas engine-driven combined heat and power systems, join with a … [Read more...]

New reactor fires up fusion breakthrough

January 11, 2016 Harnessing fusion – the nuclear power source that energises the sun – came a step closer recently with the commissioning of a new reactor in Germany. Conventional nuclear power relies on fission, whereby large, heavy atoms such as uranium split or decay to release energy. In contrast, fusion combines smaller atoms such as hydrogen. While this … [Read more...]

Low-cost ‘green’ hydro dam designed in Philippines

January 8, 2016 A cheaper alternative to traditional concrete for small-scale hydro dam civil infrastructure is being explored by researchers in the Philippines. Aiming to prevent flooding, generate electricity and help end food and water shortages, a team from the University of the Philippines Diliman have created the ‘Gaia dam’. Consisting of ‘gabion cages’ – … [Read more...]

Renewable power-to-gas moves forward in France and Sweden

December 31, 2015 Using excess renewable energy to generate hydrogen for storage or use in existing gas infrastructure is undergoing further trials in France and Sweden. The Jupiter 1000 development is the first French power to gas project, seeking to store renewable electricity by injecting hydrogen into the gas supply network. This project is expected to be commissioned … [Read more...]

Putting their foot in it – urine could power consumer devices

December 29, 2015 Consumer electronic devices such as mobile phones could in the future be powered by the owner’s urine. This prospect has emerged from new research in the UK into uses of microbial fuel cells – selected strains of bacteria that generate electricity directly from their metabolism. Researchers at the University of the West of England created a … [Read more...]

Cleaner diesel solution for cars on horizon

December 23, 2015 A new approach to producing fuels could see the first cars driven by ‘clean’ diesel in the next five to 10 years. Scientists at KU Leuven university in Belgium, and Utrecht University in Netherlands, claim the cleaner burning diesel would emit far fewer particulates (particle pollution) and less carbon dioxide. The new technique uses novel catalysts … [Read more...]

€300 billion offshore wind investment forecast

December 22, 2015 Cumulative worldwide offshore wind power capacity is forecast to reach some 57 GW over the next decade, according to a new report. Requiring around €300 billion in capital expenditure through to 2024, this latest forecast comes from UK-based research firm Douglas Westwood. The market is being driven by both established markets such as the UK, … [Read more...]

Fleet of floating solar projects buoyed by funding

December 21, 2015 Floating solar power concepts are being pushed forward by research and demonstration projects in California and Australia. San Francisco-based power producer and developer Pristine Sun has been selected to receive U.S. Department of Energy funding to further develop floating solar power technology. Working in partnership with Jerusalem-based solar … [Read more...]

‘Patient’ private capital joins governments in clean-tech fund launch

December 11, 2015 Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are among those backing a new multi-billion dollar energy technology investment initiative. The Microsoft and Facebook founders are investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which will be focused on investment opportunities sourced from countries participating in the Mission Innovation scheme. Launched in Paris at … [Read more...]

Small turbine capacity to surge

December 7, 2015 A five-fold increase in global cumulative installed capacity for small wind turbines is expected in the next 10 years. According to new research from UK-based analysis firm GlobalData, installed capacity will increase from 912.6 MW in 2014 to 4.8 GW by 2025. Small wind turbines are defined as those with up to 100 kW capacity. Harshavardhan Reddy … [Read more...]

Hot topic: low-carbon home heat storage system trialled

December 4, 2015 A heat storage process using a mineral commonly found in washing powder has shown promising results in a trial programme. In the system, heat is used to dry thousands of zeolite beads, which are used in a wide variety of applications such as in laundry detergent, cat litter and for the absorption of radioactive leaks. The beads drive off water, which … [Read more...]