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Archive for the category “photovoltaics”

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

European Support for SolaRoad

The Dutch SolaRoad project now exists for 6 years and is gaining traction. So much so that the EU has injected ca. 5 million euro fresh money in the undertaking. It started with a bicycle lane in Krommenie, now more ambitious bus lanes are tackled. Experiences from the 2014-bicycle lane project in Krommenie has shown that 90 kWh/m2 per year can be harvested. Investment cost is near-astronomical, but that was to be expected for a pilot project. The challenge is now to bring down cost with a factor of ca. five in order to become viable through economy of scale by automating the production of concrete road-elements with solar cells and glass cover on top.

[] – Rolling Solar
[] – FAQ
[] – Interreg Rolling Solar
[] – Interreg V-project Rolling Solar van start
[] – Project site
[] – Nieuwe fase SolaRoad: ook autoweg gaat elektriciteit opwekken
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Update 2019
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Followup Project (2018)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Project Still Alive (2017)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Project Update (2016)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Operational (2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Finally Launched (2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad (2013)

Bicycle lane density in Europe. The Netherlands has 35,000 km bicycle lanes. Covered with solar panels, they could generate 15 TWh or nearly 1% of the current total Dutch electricity production. The potential for car solaroads is many times bigger.

[] – Bicycle lane data the Netherlands

Local television reports about a new solaroad near Haarlemmermeer, this time not for bicycles but a heavy duty bus lane.

For the skeptics, remember the price of pv-solar in the seventies? Anyone who had predicted that by 2020 solar panels would be installed on ever more private rooftops, would be declared insane. It happened anyway. Solaroad economy of scale needs to bring down prices with ca. a factor 5, in order to become economical. It is too early to say that it can’t be done.

Morocco Turns Sahara Into Solar Energy Oasis

Flexible Low-Cost Solar Power by Kolon Industries

[] – Kolon Industries

Merger of Photo-Voltaics and Nano-Technology

Dutch language videos

25% of the cost of a conventional solar cell is in producing the required silicium. Most of that silicium is not used other than for providing mechanical stability, but has no electronic of photo-voltaic function. The idea is to get rid of 90% or more of the conventional amount of silicium used in a solar cell and aim at “printing” a super-thin layer of silicium onto some cheap substratum. Think of printing a newspaper. Five of those printing machines, operating for 10 years on end, would suffice to provide the entire world with low-cost solar energy.

[] – Goedkopere zonnecellen door nanotechnologie
[] – Nano zonnepanelen
[] – Nanodeeltjes kleuren zonnepanelen groen
[] – Nanodeeltjes vangen licht voor zonnecel

How do Solar Cells Work?

Giant Solar CSP and PV Projects in Dubai

[] – $13.6B record-breaking solar park rises from Dubai desert

Solar Carpet

This could only have been invented in the Netherlands, notorious for lack of space. The idea to cover artificial grass sports fields with rollable thin film solar during the many hours the fields aren’t used. They are working on a solution to fully automate the idea.

Back-of-an-envelope calculation: hockey-field 100 x 60 meter = 6,000 m2 = 3,750 standard 300 Watt solar panels. One such panel in the Netherlands yields 0.85 x 300 = 255 kWh/year. The loss due to horizontal position is merely 10% –> 220 kWh/year. Entire field: 825,000 kWh/year. Consumer electricity price equivalent = 825,000 x 22 eurocent/kWh = 181,500 euro/year.

The chap in the video claims that in the small town of Zwolle, there are 70 sports fields, with half of them equipped with artificial grass. 60% of the time, these fields are not in use. One such field can provide sufficient energy to power 85 households (electricity + heating).

[] – Zonnetapijt wint Innovation Challenge Energieneutrale Sportaccommodaties
[] – Zonnetapijt winnaar van de Energy Pitch Overijssel
[] – De Ideale Hellingshoek (only 10% loss for horizontal positioning)

The idea could perhaps look a little like this:

Agro-Photoivoltaics or how to make 86% More Money from the Same Land

Farmer’s dilemma: should I use my land for electricity production or should I stay with farming. Do both! says the renowned German Fraunhofer Institute. In a time of global warming, growing crops actually get too much sun, even in Europe. A little shade won’t harm crop yield but will bring extra revenues from electricity harvesting.

[] – Agro-Photovoltaics
[] – Fraunhofer Reports Combining Farming With Solar 186% More Efficient In Summer Of 2018

Easy choice to make: either 100% crop or 100% solar? Wrong! Go for a combined 103% solar and 83% crop instead!

Rapid Growth Global Solar

From 40 GW in 2010 to 640 GW in 2020.

[] – The Solar Future: einde aan dalende elektriciteitsprijzen

Dutch Grid Can’t Take More Solar Power

Ameland, 6 MW

The Netherlands has 3.7 GW nameplate solar power, but the grid in its present shape can’t absorb much more new power and network operators refuse to take solar power from larger parties, like companies or private associations. Private households are still welcome. The problem is the largest in the North of the country, where land prices are relatively lower and much private money is available for new solar parks. It could take years to install new cable capacity.

[] – Geen plek voor nieuwe zonneparken op stroomnetwerk
[] – geen nieuwe zonneparken, het net kan het niet aan
[] – Het netwerk is te krap

Perhaps the parties that are shunned by the grid should contemplate producing hydrogen off-grid:


In preparation:

– Hoogezand-Sappemeer, 103 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Zonnepark Midden Groningen B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Borsele, 55 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Solarpark Scaldia B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Steenwijkerland, 51.3 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Herbo Groenleven B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Heerenveen, 51.3 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Herbo Groenleven B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Tynaarlo, 32.06 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Herbo Groenleven B.V.. Nog niet gerealiseerd.
– Delfzijl, 30.8 MWp
Ontwikkeld door Sunport Delfzijl BV. Inmiddels gerealiseerd.

[] – Map of solar projects in Holland, realized and planned

Frisian village Garyp is self-sufficient with largest solar park in the Netherlands

The Scale of the Global Energy Transition

[source] An area in the Sahara with the size of Bulgaria, covered with solar panels and all the world’s present day energy needs would be covered.

The Sahara is associated with strong solar irradiation. How much Sahara surface area would be required to power the entire world with pv-solar? Mehran Moalem, PhD, UC Berkeley, Professor, expert on Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Fuel Cycle, did the calculation.

How much energy is the world consuming anyway?

The total world energy usage (coal+oil+hydroelectric+nuclear+renewable) in 2015 was 13,000 Million Ton Oil Equivalent (13,000 MTOE) – see World Energy Consumption & Stats. This translates to 17.3 TW continuous power.

OK, so how much of the Sahara would be required to generate these 17.3 TW? Surprisingly little:

Now, if we cover an area of the Earth 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels, even with moderate efficiencies achievable easily today, it will provide more than 17,4 TW power. This area is 43,000 square miles.

For Europeans, that’s 111,370 km2 or relatively small European countries like Bulgaria, Iceland or Greece. For Americans, think Tennessee or Virginia.

[] – We Could Power The Entire World By Harnessing Solar Energy From 1% Of The Sahara
[] – List of countries and dependencies by area

PV-Solar Global Installed Base

Note that the European installed base grew from 45 GW in 2010 towards 120 GW in 2017. That’s 85 GW in 7 years. Linear extrapolation to 2030 would imply an extra 134 GW. In reality it could be (much) more as the price of solar panels is expected to further reduce significantly, think $100/m2 soon. Let’s say 300 GW nameplate in total in 2030, which would be equivalent to 30 GW average power 24/7/365 (see explanation of “nameplate power” in the previous post). From this it is obvious that wind power will be dominant in Europe for years to come.

[] – EU PV Status Report 2017

NOOR – World’s Largest Solar Power Plant in Morocco

The countries of Northern Africa have one of the best solar resources in the world, lots of space and additionally close proximity to one of the economic power houses of the world, Europe. Additionally, the Maghreb has a weak economy. As part of the international division of labor nothing would be more logical than that Northern Africa would concentrate itself on producing renewable energy, like electricity and/or hydrogen, for European markets, replacing Arabia as an important oil-energy supplier to Europe.

Airborn Solar Panels

“Liftoff, we have a liftoff!”. Europe, one of those territories eagerly absorbing photo-voltaic energy generation, has a little bit of a space problem, being one of the most densely-populated areas in the world. A field covered with solar panels unfortunately can’t be used for agriculture. Or can it? The Fraunhofer Institute has found out that it is very well possible to use land for both agriculture and energy generation by stacking both functionalities.

Upshot agricultural yield: corn slightly negative, but grass and shadow-loving potatoes make no difference.

Influence partly shadowing on different crops

[] – Agrivoltaic
[] – Agrophotovoltaics Goes Global: from Chile to Vietnam
[] – 20 slides Fraunhofer Institute
[] – Fraunhofer Experiments In Chile And Vietnam Prove Value Of Agrophotovoltaic Farming
[] – Combining Solar Panels With Agriculture Makes Land More Productive

The State of Solar

[] – Countries That Use The Most Solar Power
[] – Electricity-production in Germany

Solar Panel Array Automatic Cleaning

This is NOT what you want, because of the water:

Solar Road in China

[] – China Opens 1-Kilometer Long Solar Road

Printing Solar Cells

Solliance from Eindhoven, The Netherlands, wants to mover away from standard solar panels towards thin film solar and apply those to surfaces like cars, windows, curved building surfaces or even glasshouses:

They are close to printing cheap roles of hundreds of meters of solar thin film cells, with a conversion efficiency of 12.2-13.5 % on the basis of perovskites.

[] – Solliance dichterbij drukmachine voor zonnecellen op rol

Read more…

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