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Archive for the category “photovoltaics”

Italian Homeowners get Solar Panels for Free


Corona stimulation thingy, the Chinese government will love it.

In Italy, 72% or 19 million households own the home they are living in. In international comparison the average Italian mortgage is a ridiculously low 19k euro. The average Dutch mortgage in contrast is 210k. The real reason why Italy has a high public debt and the Dutch a low, is because the Dutch dutifully pay their taxes where Italians don’t. The latter prefer to illegally pay off their homes, have 3 times the wealth/household as compared to the Dutch (due to paid-off real estate) and next have the nerve to call for “European solidarity” and curse the Dutch and others for not helping lowering the Italians public debt. Even the pope denounced the Italians as tax dodgers. Bloomberg reports an Italian tax evasion rate of 30% and 108B euros in 2016 alone.

And now they are getting a solar system for free, adding to public debt, increasing “Italian need to be bailed-out” (by NW-Europe of course). Italy, the next Greece in the making. What Italy really needs is either go back to the Lira, so the government can print the money it needs at 10% inflation/year, like in the old shabby pre-euro days OR every household gets a 40k mortgage to compensate for the tax-dodging of the past. It is high time for rich Italy and a surplus nation, to become a serious country and get rid of its mafia image.

European solidarity yes, funding tax-dodgers no.

The Italian public debt is 2.1 trillion, the wealth of Italian households is 9.7 trillion. It is high time for the Italian people to show some solidarity with their own state and shift, say 1 trillion, from the households to the government via a national solidarity mortgage. The West-Germans did something similar to the East-Germans after reunification. Time for a European-wide anti-Italian shaming campaign.

Pay your f* taxes!

[] – Italian homeowners can now install PV systems for free
[] – Italian wealth

China is Building 60 GW Annual Output Solar Panel Factory

BEIJING, April 2, 2020 /CNW/ — GCL System Integration Technology Co., Ltd. (GCL-SI) (002506.SZ), a leading PV company in China, recently announced a plan to build a 60GW module factory in Hefei, capital of east China’sAnhui Province. According to the agreement it signed with the Government of Feidong County recently, GCL-SI will invest a total of 18 billion yuan in the project which will be built in four phases, each with a production capacity of 15GW, from 2020 to 2023. The first phase requires a total investment of 5 billion yuan and is expected to start operation this year. Upon completion of the project, GCL-SI will have the world’s largest module production capacity, said the company.

Note that the annual output of this factory would be larger than what Germany installed over 30 years! Oh and Michael Moore is an idiot.

[] – GCL-SI to build 60GW module factory in Hefei, east China
[] – GCL-SI building 60GW integrated solar module megacomplex in Hefei

Automated Solar Panel Production


Solar Panel Specific Yield

World map solar specific yield in kWh/kWp

For a given location, the annual yield for a given solar panel can be derived from its manufacturer provided peak-Watt number. In the Netherlands for instance the conversion factor is about 0.88, which means that if you have a panel of 300 pW, the yearly yield will be 300 x 0.88 = 264 kWh. The conversion factor is very location specific, see global map above, with major factors being latitude, cloud cover, temperature. Obviously there is a very strong correlation between that factor and the local annual irradiation, see map below. The best place on earth to install a solar panel is in the Andes mountains in Northern Chile, because of the high altitude and low temperatures. There, the yield of the same solar panel will be 6.4/2.4 = 2.7 times higher as in the Netherlands.

[source]World map solar irradiation

[] – Solar power by country
[globalsolaratlas] – Accurate specific solar yield data for your location

Largest EU Solar Park now Operational

Last month, Núñez de Balboa, with 500 MW the largest photo-voltaic plant in Europe, became operational.

Solar installation ranking Europe 2018:

Country GW
Germany 45.9
Italy 20.1
UK 13.1
France 9.4
Spain 7.0
Netherlands 4.2

[] – Europe’s largest solar park now online
[] – Núñez de Balboa, the biggest photovoltaic plant in Europe
[Google Maps] – Location Núñez de Balboa solar park


Solaroad Update 2020

7 Solaroad projects to date

[] – Solaroad portfolio

It all began here in 2014, in Krommenie in the Netherlands:

Read more…

Solaroad or Solar Garden Terrace?

Solaroad: solar panels embedded in concrete and glass. Why not contemplate a slimmed-down version for garden terraces?

Solaroad is a project in the Netherlands that investigates the possibilities to turn roads into solar panels and avoid wasting economically scarce municipal, agricultural, industrial or recreational space. The project had a few setbacks when it tried the concept on real roads, those with heavy trucks, so for the moment the focus is on bicycle lanes only, of which the Netherlands has in abundance.

So if excessive weight is a problem, why not turn to the other end of the spectrum: garden terraces? In the Netherlands 40% of the private gardens are tiled. Total garden space is 30,000 hectare, 40% of which is 12,000 hectare or 120 million m2. If we assume that all that space is directly shined by the sun, we are talking about an amount of energy annually of 120 million x 1100 kWh = 132,000 GWh. Assume a conversion efficiency of 20% to arrive at 26,400 GWh. If we divide that by 365 x 24 hours we get 3.1 GW continuously. Note that the average Dutch electricity consumption is 13 GW.

Typical 60 x 40 cm Dutch gravel-concrete tile, used in gardens.

Wouldn’t it be nice if these kind of tiles came with a solar panel and be for sale in the Dutch version of Walmart, i.e Praxis, Hornbach or Gamma?

[] – Solaroad project site
[deepresource] – Solaroad
[] – SolaRoad op weg naar grootschalige toepassing
[] – Opbrengst zonnepanelen
[] – 40 procent Nederlandse ‘tuin’ is betegeld
[] – Ode aan de zon

Hydrogen-Powered Drone for Solar Panel Inspection

9% Efficiency Solar-to-Hydrogen with InGaP/GaAs

Splitting water molecules in an electrolyser is one of the best known methods to create hydrogen and is the main focus in a global research effort to solve the storage problem of highly intermittent renewable electricity. Once that problem will be solved, nothing will stand in the way of a total victory of clean renewable energy over fossil and nuclear fuel.

A less known method to create hydrogen is via photoelectrochemistry, that is creating hydrogen from direct conversion of sun light.

Photoelectrochemistry is a subfield of study within physical chemistry concerned with the interaction of light with electrochemical systems. It is an active domain of investigation… The interest in this domain is high in the context of development of renewable energy conversion and storage technology…

Photoelectrochemistry has been intensively studied in the field of hydrogen production from water and solar energy. The photoelectrochemical splitting of water was historically discovered by Fujishima and Honda in 1972 onto TiO2 electrodes. Recently many materials have shown promising properties to split efficiently water but TiO2 remains cheap, abundant, stable against photo-corrosion. The main problem of TiO2 is its bandgap which is 3 or 3.2 eV according to its crystallinity (anatase or rutile). These values are too high and only the wavelength in the UV region can be absorbed. To increase the performances of this material to split water with solar wavelength, it is necessary to sensitize the TiO2. Currently Quantum Dots sensitization is very promising but more research is needed to find new materials able to absorb the light efficiently.

Saudi-Arabian-funded research has led to the following results:

Here, we present a simple and efficient strategy for III-V-based photoelectrodes that functionally and spatially decouples the light harvesting component of the device from the electrolysis part that eliminates parasitic light absorption, reduces the cost, and enhances the stability without any compromise in efficiency. The monolithically integrated PEC cell was fabricated by an epitaxial lift-off and transfer of inversely grown InGaP/GaAs to a robust Ni-substrate and the resultant photoanode exhibits an STH efficiency of ~9% with stability ~150 h. Moreover, with the ability to access both sides of the device, we constructed a fully-integrated, unassisted-wireless “artificial leaf” system with an STH efficiency of ~6%. The excellent efficiency and stability achieved herein are attributed to the light harvesting/catalysis decoupling scheme, which concurrently improves the optical, electrical, and electrocatalytic characteristics.

[] – An efficient and stable photoelectrochemical system with 9% solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency via InGaP/GaAs double junction
[] – Photoelectrochemistry
[deepresource] – Record Solar Hydrogen Yield with Concentrated Sunlight

[] – Photoelectrochemical Solar Fuel Production
[] – Photochemical Water Splitting
[] – Advances in Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting

Playing Billiard With Photons

From your student days you might remember that, if you hadn’t been drinking too much, it was fairly easy to hit the billiard ball with the cue. In case you were sober, you might even have succeeded in hitting a second ball with the original one. If you really had talent, you regularly managed to hit a third ball as well, the purpose of the game, at least in the European version.

If you replace the first ball with a photon and the other two with electrons, we have a perfect analogy for a new branch of renewable energy sport, namely hitting and exciting two electrons with a single photon. Researchers at MIT are engaged in this sport for some time now and are finally able to report results, the upshot being that the theoretical upper efficiency limit for silicon solar cells of 29.1% could be broken with a few percentage points.

The key to splitting the energy of one photon into two electrons lies in a class of materials that possess “excited states” called excitons, Baldo says: In these excitonic materials, “these packets of energy propagate around like the electrons in a circuit,” but with quite different properties than electrons. “You can use them to change energy — you can cut them in half, you can combine them.” In this case, they were going through a process called singlet exciton fission, which is how the light’s energy gets split into two separate, independently moving packets of energy. The material first absorbs a photon, forming an exciton that rapidly undergoes fission into two excited states, each with half the energy of the original state.

This has been showing to work in organic (“plastic”) solar cells, with lower efficiency than silicon. Silicon however is not “excitonic”. The key to find a method that works for silicon as well, lies in treating the silicon surface rather than underlying bulk. The solution finally was adding a layer of a few atoms thick of hafnium oxynitride:

This trick increases the theoretical upper efficiency limit from 29.1% to 35%.

[] – An exciting boost for solar cells
[] – Two-for-One Deal for Photovoltaics
[] – Experiments show dramatic increase in solar cell output
[] – The Solar Cell That Turns 1 Photon into 2 Electrons

Underwater Solar Cells – Up to 65% Efficiency


As for solar cells relying on wide band-gap semiconductors operating underwater, the scientists estimated that their maximum theoretical efficiency stands between around 55% at two meters to more than 63% at 50 meters. “The large increase of the solar cell efficiency beyond the Shockley-Queisser limit, even in shallow waters (two meters), is due to the narrowing of the transmitted solar spectrum reaching the solar cell,” they explained. “An additional boost in efficiency can be achieved when the solar cells are operated in cold waters.”

Obviously you lose a lot of solar power, absorbed in the water body above the submerged panel. At least the panel won’t get overheated. And, finally your energy autonomous WW3 underwater doom-stead bungalow you always dreamed about, is now finally within reach.

[] – How do solar cells work underwater?
[] – Efficiency Limits of Underwater Solar Cells
[] – More efficient underwater PV cells with wide-band gap semiconductors

Organic Solar Cells Research Progress

New flexible organic cell that degrades by less than 5 percent over 3,000 hours in atmospheric conditions and has an efficiency of 13 percent.

If people think of solar cells, they probably think of blue, silicon-crystalline structures, commonly installed on roofs as part of a panel. These cells excel in high efficiency. There are however other types of emerging solar cells that can compete with conventional silicon-based cells on much lower cost, lower EROI and increased physical flexibility, even if they come with lower efficiency. So much so that if space is not scarce, like in a desert, they could out-compete conventional solar cells.

An international team has reported progress in terms of durability (less than 5% degradation over 3000 hours) and efficiency (13%).

[] – New Flexible, Efficient and Durable Ultrathin Organic Solar Cell
[] – Organic solar cell
[] – Over 16% efficiency organic photovoltaic cells
[] – 14.7% Efficiency Organic Photovoltaic Cells
[] – Ultrathin, flexible solar cell
[] – Organic solar cells: what you need to know
[] – Organic Solar Cell Breakthrough
[] – Characterization of perovskite and organic solar cells

The Netherlands 40% Solar Electricity for a Few Hours

A beautiful Saturday afternoon in April and a corona lock-down suffice to break a new solar electricity record share of 40% in the Netherlands:

[] – Live & historic renewable electricity data The Netherlands

Expect this record of 5 GW to be broken later in the Summer (not the 40%-share after the end of the corona lock-down). Last year, the installed solar capacity in the Netherlands grew with 50%. Similar growth figures are expected for 2021.

[] – Zonnepanelen breken records in zonnig april

The Netherlands consumes on average 13 GW electricity (24/7/365), most from fossil sources. However, browsing back into history a few interesting maximum data points can be recovered:

29-03-2020 13:30 – 7.53 GW
22-03-2020 13:10 – 7.68 GW

Note that these values apply for an hour or so and shows that the renewable energy transition in the Netherlands is still in its early stages. But it can already be predicted that the moment when the entire electricity needs of the Netherlands will be covered for 100% by renewable electricity, isn’t that very far away, probably in a year or 2, when large offshore wind parks come on-line and more solar panels will be installed on Dutch roofs. Other European countries, like Germany, Denmark and Scotland already achieved that milestone earlier.

[] – List of countries by electricity consumption

Electricity consumption per capita in kWh/year (2016):

Country kWh/capita in 2016
Germany 6602
France 6448
Netherlands 6346
Denmark 5720
Spain 4818
UK 4795
Italy 4692

The Netherlands still lags behind in the EU with regards to achieving the EU renewable electricity targets, but will catch up quickly in the coming few years, when several huge offshore wind parks will go in-line.

1.42 Eurocent/kWh – New Record Low Solar Electricity


The consortium consisting of French Total and Japanese Marubeni have offered to build for Qatar General Electricity and Water Corp an 800 MW solar park for 1.423ct/kWh. The spectacular price decay can be seen here:

In merely 5 years time, prices of electricity from solar parks in the desert came down with a factor of 4.

Now pray for a similar price erosion in storage technology and the victory of renewable energy is secured.

[] – Record goedkoopste zonnestroom naar Qatar: 1,42 eurocent/kWh

Top 10 Most Efficient Solar Cells in 2020

Huge Returns For Agricultural Solar

Ever more farmers (and governments) are finding out that farmers with their huge stables and corresponding large roofs can realize huge return-on-investment with solar panels. Think 240% in 15 years.

The Dutch state of North-Holland, the one with Amsterdam within its borders, basically wants to identify every single suitable agricultural roof and stimulate the owner to cover these roofs with solar panels, in an effort to speed up the energy transition and realize a financial quick win.

[] – Jaarlijks 109 procent rendement op investering zonnepanelen
[] – Noord-Holland kiest voor zonnepanelen op boerendak

LONGi 166 mm Wafers Becoming the New Norm

Many regular solar panels are based on mono-crystalline silicon wafers. The solar PV industry is moving towards larger wafers, from 125 to 156 mm, that reduce production cost. Further increase towards 166 mm has now been realized by wafer producer LONGi, realizing a wafer price of $0.49. This is the largest wafer size than can be realized with currently available production tools.

[] – Why are monocrystalline wafers increasing in size?
[] – How LONGi’s M6 wafer boosted module output ten years ahead of schedule
[] – Longi will 166-Millimeter-Wafer zum Industriestandard machen
[] – LONGi: 2 gigawattpiek orders voor zonnepaneel met wafer van 166 millimeter


Solar Team Eindhoven Wins World Solar Challenge in Australia

The World Solar Challenge has resulted in a broadly supported startup called “Lightyear One“, that has begun producing solar powered cars for the market. Perhaps this car can participate as a non-competing guest in WSC-2021?

Solar Team Eindhoven won for the fourth time in a row the World Solar Challenge in Australia in the cruiser class (family car). The Low Countries dominated anyway, with Team Agoria of the the University of Leuven winning the speed racing class, when Delft University had to abandon at 90% of race at pole position when their vehicle burned out completely.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte congratulates Solar Team Eindhoven

The 2019 innovation was the autonomous driving aspect, enabling the car to find a sunny spot all by itself.

[] – Lightyear One company site
[] – It’s Cruise Control All The Way From Solar Team Eindhoven
[] – Bridgestone guarantees another decade of WSC sponsorship
[] – Dutch company develops partly solar powered car

Everybody Loves Perovskite

When people talk about solar cells, they typically think of silicon wafers, produced in a non-trivial process. But do we really need silicon to harvest solar energy? Actually not. Far cheaper alternatives do exist, keyword perovskite:

A perovskite solar cell (PSC) is a type of solar cell which includes a perovskite structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite materials, such as methylammonium lead halides and all-inorganic cesium lead halide, are cheap to produce and simple to manufacture.

Solar cell efficiencies of devices using these materials have increased from 3.8% in 2009 to 25.2% in 2019 in single-junction architectures, and, in silicon-based tandem cells, to 28.0%, exceeding the maximum efficiency achieved in single-junction silicon solar cells. Perovskite solar cells are therefore currently the fastest-advancing solar technology. With the potential of achieving even higher efficiencies and very low production costs, perovskite solar cells have become commercially attractive.

Meanwhile the EU has discovered perovskite and started a massive development program, where everybody and his mother in Europe joined in, see list at the bottom.

Price erosion potential: from 75 cent for silicon to 10-20 cent per installed Watt for perovskite. Think 300 Watt panels for 45 euro or dollar. If this will materialize, the most expensive aspect of solar will not be the panel but the space it occupies, certainly in over-crowded Europe.

[] – Potential of Perovskite Solar for Lower Cost Energy
[] – Perovskite Solar Cell Fever Reaches Fever Pitch
[] – Perovskite solar cell

Jumpers onto the EU perovskite bandwagon:

Solliance Solar Research (NL, BE, DE), TNO (NL), including:

Read more…

18.1% – New Perovskite Solar Record

An international team of scientists claim to have developed perovskite solar cells with an efficiency of 18.1% by using a new configuration of cesium lead iodide perovskite CsPbI3, which has the narrowest band gap – 1.73 eV – of all inorganic lead halide perovskites.

Researchers from China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan observed CsPbI3 cystals in their more stable beta phase. Previous research focused on the crystals in their alpha, or dark phase.

[] – New configuration gives perovskite cells 18% efficiency
[] – Perovskite solar cell
[] – Why perovskite solar cells are so efficient

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