- Gold & Silver Nanoparticles Improve Efficiency of Thin-Film Solar Cells at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology
- The Global CDM Hydro Hall of Shame
- Floating Wind Farm to be Built off Fukushima
- 500 Tesla Model X Reservations in First 4 Days
- Coolest, Most Space-Efficient Home in the World?
- Prefabricated Zero-Energy Home from LivingHomes
- Interview with Pinchas Doron at AORA Solar
Posted: 20 Feb 2012 09:19 AM PST
Researchers from Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology and Suntech Power Holdings have developed the world’s most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic solar cells for use in thin-film technology. Project scientists report improving the efficiency of existing thin-film cells by up to 8.1 percent through incorporating nucleated gold and silver nanoparticles.
The team at Swinburne’s Victoria-Suntech Advanced Solar Facility (VSASF) had already been embedding conventional gold and silver nanoparticles into thin-film cells produced by Suntech. These highly reflective particles increased the wavelength of absorbed sunlight, thus improving the rate at which its photons were converted into electrons.
Senior Research Fellow at Swinburne Baohua Jia, PhD, said: “The broadband plasmonic effect is an exciting discovery of the team. It is truly a collaborative outcome between Swinburne and Suntech over the last 12 months.”
Jia believes that this new technology will have an important impact on the solar industry. “What we have found is that nanoparticles that have an uneven surface scatter light even further into a broadband wavelength range. This leads to greater absorption, and therefore improves the cell’s overall efficiency.
The scientists hope to get the efficiency up to at least 10 percent by the middle of this year, and ultimately want to “develop solar cells that are twice as efficient and run at half the cost of those currently available.”
According to Swinburne Professor Min Gu, Director of the VSASF, thin film cells have attracted enormous research interest as a cheap alternative to bulk crystalline silicon cells. However, the significantly reduced thickness of their silicon layer makes it more difficult for them to absorb sunlight.
“Light trapping technology is of paramount importance to increase the performance of thin-film solar cells and make them competitive with silicon cells,” Professor Gu said. “One of the main potential applications of the technology will be to cover conventional glass, enabling buildings and skyscrapers to be powered entirely by sunlight.”
Suntech plans on mass-producing the improved solar cells, and expects them to be commercially available by 2017.
Photo: Swinburne University of Technology
Posted: 20 Feb 2012 07:00 AM PST
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is meant to catalyze climate-friendly and sustainable projects in low-income countries. Instead, it’s provided massive subsidies to hydropower developers while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Through deception and abuse of the system, at least two-thirds of all CDM projects are likely not additional, and more are slipping in each year.
In an attempt to cure its ills during the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the CDM Executive Board has initiated a year-long policy dialogue. Having failed to reach any decisions about reform at Durban, the CDM policy panel members will examine unresolved issues ranging from stronger rules for public participation to an appeals procedure. Of particular concern to the global movement for rivers is ensuring that the CDM imposes greater limitations on large hydropower projects, which are more likely to create enormous environmental and social problems for local communities than smaller community-driven decentralized projects.
Despite these good intentions, the CDM continues to approve egregious hydropower projects while delaying any improvements. In December 2011, an EU-commissioned report recommended the European Union consider banning credits from large hydro projects. However, the EU has decided to delay any action, essentially ignoring the urgency for reform raised by this study.
The Hall of Shame Honorees
Below are some of the worst hydropower projects that we’ve seen in the CDM pipeline since 2008. If all of these projects are issued carbon credits or CERs, and it turned out they were non-additional (as most of them are), that would mean European countries will shell out €27 million per year over the lifetime of these projects while allowing emissions to increase. [Current CER price: €4.11.]
Registered by the Executive Board
Approved by a validator
Seeking validation approval
Delaying the solutions
The irony to all this is that the CDM may be dying, largely under the weight of its own uncertain future and a lack of demand for credits given the economic downturn in Europe. However, instead of putting political will and resources behind cutting our dependence on fossil fuels, reducing emissions in our own backyards, investing directly in truly clean energy projects, and helping the most vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, wealthy countries are seeking other loopholes. For instance, New Zealand, the U.S., Japan and Australia want to create their own CDM-like mechanisms, which will likely run into the same problems that the CDM has experienced.
As for the policy dialogue, the CDM can only be salvaged now with a serious commitment to restructure the entire system. With additionality being near-impossible to prove, perhaps it should be eliminated entirely. After all, what the CDM needs now is a major overhaul, not a makeover.
Kamchay Dam in Cambodia, photo courtesy of Marcus Rhinelander, 2008.
Posted: 20 Feb 2012 04:43 AM PST
The planned wind farm is expected to begin development in March and will be supported by the Japanese government via the reconstruction budget that was put into place after 2011 tsunami. Also involved are Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nippon Steel Corp, and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding.
Given the success of the Kamisu near-shore wind farm during the tsunami in 2011, and the vital electricity it provided in the wake of the disaster, floating wind farms are definitely a smart move for Japan to make.
Posted: 20 Feb 2012 04:40 AM PST
Posted: 20 Feb 2012 04:35 AM PST
I ran across a video of this Hong Kong apartment about a year or so ago and was amazed. Unfortunately, I wanted to share it with someone recently and couldn’t find it (I couldn’t remember where it was located). The good news for me is that Glenn just reposted an old Green Building Elements article (and video) on it! If you haven’t checked out this extremely space-efficient Hong Kong apartment before (or if you have and just want to have another look), here’s a post and video on it:
New Urbanism: Small Function in Gary Chang's Sliding Wall Apartment (via http://greenbuildingelements.com)
Posted: 20 Feb 2012 04:26 AM PST
Posted: 19 Feb 2012 05:18 PM PST
Q. Tell me about the history of this hybrid CSP system.
Q. The micro turbine is powered by hot air from the sun that is being reflected in the mirrors, not gas, like many think?
Q. Your first 'proof of concept' for the system took place in Nanjing, China five years ago, followed by a system in Israel?
Q. In Israel, you supply power to the grid?
Q. The technology is such a complete solution for renewable energy using solar. Why has there not been a larger following of your achievements?
Q. Talk about your business plan.
Q. How is the turbine powered in this hybrid system?
Q. Do you consider adding sustainable fuel or biogas to your hybrid technology?
Q. Like methane?
Photos via AORA
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