Solar News, #3

Most interesting highlights on renewable energy and solar technologies.

JP Morgan and Citigroup Endorse Renewable Energy

JP Morgan aims to use renewable electricity to power its 75 million square meter of offices in more than 60 countries. The total area of the bank’s office space equals the area of Empire State Building, multiplied by 27. JP Morgan is among the largest banks of the U.S. with $2.6 billion in assets. It also plans to invest $200 billion in renewable energy by 2025. Citibank announced implementation of similar policies by contracting companies specializing in renewable energy, according to The Independent.

Solar Panels Technology Advance

Science Daily reports new achievements in the development of perovskite solar panels. Researchers from the Federal Polytechnical University of Lausanne have conducted tests in which perovskite panels were exposed to sunlight at 60° C for 1000 hours. However, despite this pressure, perovskites have lost only 5% of efficiency, which suggests their high operational stability. There are opinions that perovskites might become the next standard for solar panels industry.

Structure of a perovskite with a chemical formula ABX3. The red spheres are X atoms (usually oxygens), the blue spheres are B-atoms (a smaller metal cation, such as Ti4+), and the green spheres are the A-atoms (a larger metal cation, such as Ca2+). Picture credit:

Researchers at Tohoku University have developed an innovative method for fabricating semi-transparent and flexible solar cells with atomically thin 2D materials. The new technology improves power conversion efficiency of up to 0.7%. This is the maximum value of solar cells made of transparent 2D sheets so far.

Semi-transparent and transparent solar cells possess excellent mechanical flexibility and can be used in various applications, including the surfaces of windows, displays of computers and cell phones, as well as human skin, even though issues remain regarding efficiency and physical characteristics of the cells, as well as their scalability.

Researchers developed a photovoltaic cell that can generate alternating current. An international team of researchers led by the Ikerbasque’s Luis Hueso, has developed a photovoltaic cell in which magnetic materials such as electrodes are used for the first time to provide current. The principal component of the cell is the organic material Fullerene C60, a ball-shaped molecule comprising 60 carbon atoms (cobalt and nickel are also used). The magnetic electrodes produce current with an added property known as spin, and fullerene allows to control the direction of the spin. Thus, the new cell can generate a bigger current and increase the efficiency of light conversion by 14%. The other advantage is that the device is capable of directly generating an AC, and thus no longer needs the inverter.

Chinese factory will produce 1.35 million of solar cells everyday, reports DigiTimes.

The Chengdu-based factory is owned by Tongwei Group and equipped with “smart” technology that allows reduction of labor costs by 40% and 25% increase in productivity. Moreover, such efficiency and cost gains also allow for a 30% reduction of energy consumption of the factory. The facility also stands out in terms of the volume of automated equipment it absorbs, currently being the country’s number one, thus outperforming the rest of Chinese industrial sector. The disadvantage of automatization is, as usual, the reduction of jobs and rising technological unemployment.

Map showing the location of Chengdu

Development of Renewable Energy in Europe

French government announced plans to invest €20 billion in the new energy policy programme. €9 billion will be spent on improving the efficiency of energy use, €7 billion will be invested in fostering the transition to renewable power sources, and a further €4 investment will speed up the implementation of electric vehicles, says Reuters.

France has been especially active in renewable energy developments recently. According to the statement of the French Minister for Complex Ecological Transformations, France aims to become the green economy number 1 in the coming decades. In particular, the French government plans to stop one third of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2025, and eliminate gasoline and diesel transportation completely by 2040.

Britain and Wales grow their shares of renewable energy. It is forecasted that by 2030 Wales will increase the share of renewable energy in its energy portfolio by 70%. In Britain, the share of renewable energy is already at the level of 30%.

Europe at large keeps its strong commitments for renewable energy as well, focusing on wind power. According to the recent forecast by European Association of Wind Power, 30% of European power demand will be met by wind power by 2030.

Sales of Electric Vehicles Grow Worldwide

CleanTechnica reports that more than half of Britons (51%) are ready to switch to electric cars by 2021. Citing an opinion poll conducted by Total EV among 1 thousand of British electric car users, it outlines the most common reasons for choosing an electric car. 45% of respondents mention the growth of fossil fuel prices, 30% are concerned with environmental problems. In Northern Ireland the electric car infrastructure is more developed, and the idea of electric transport enjoys more support among the population: 77% are ready to switch to EV. Among the challenges for such a transition respondents mention the costs of transportation vehicles, lack of appropriate infrastructure (especially for charging the EV), short distances and lack of expertise.

Similar trends are visible across Europe and the U.S. In Norway, 40% of all vehicles sold in September have been electric, and another 20% — hybrid. In today’s Oslo electric cars absorb 7.5% (22’500) of the total of all vehicles, and this figure is expected to double by 2020. Meanwhile, in the U.S. General Motors stroke a new record, having sold 2’632 Chevy Bolt cars in September. That’s 20% more than in August and twice as much as in the beginning of the year. Chevy Bolt is a universal electric car costing $37’500. The sales have begun in December 2016. ArsTechnica suggests that 2017 may become a record year for electric vehicle sales in the U.S.

Stay tuned. With Solar DAO.

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