New science features and news site launched…..

A new website, ScienceOmega, aimed at showcasing high-quality scientific features and news has been launched and may be worth keeping an eye on.

It is boasting quite a list of contributors – Sir Patrick Moore, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation Dr Lars Heikensten, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Dr Hamadoun Touré, President of the United States’ Council for Chemical Research (CCR) Dr Seth Snyder, Chief Executive of the Society of Biology Dr Mark Downs.

It is aiming to cover a very wide range of disciplines. Science Omega says it “has one overarching goal; to communicate high-quality scientific content to the largest possible audience. It is paramount that Science Omega contains content that will interest the scientific community. However, science cannot afford to be elitist, and we are convinced that if we present material in a clear and engaging way, it will prove fascinating for scientists and non-scientists alike.”

Smart Grid Project to add battery array

A123 Systems, a developer and manufacturer of advanced batteries and systems, is set to supply six Grid Battery Systems (GBSs) to Northern Powergrid, an electricity distribution network operator that delivers power to more than 3.8 million customers in the U.K. to enable smarter power delivery.

The GBSs are designed for peak-load shifting in order to manage fluctuations in voltage on the national grid. The systems will be deployed as part of the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR), a project funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, to help develop a smart grid capable of handling the transition to a low-carbon economy.

To better manage voltage regulation requirements and maintain grid stability and power quality, Northern Power Grid are adding a 2.5MW system, two 100kW systems and three 50kW systems. Each system is designed to maintain these power capabilities for up to two hours, adding flexibility to the distribution network and helping to provide consistent delivery of reliable power to customers

This follows a decision in December 2011 by an Hawaiian wind project developer to use batteries produced by A123 to firm up power delivery into the grid. The Auwahi Wind project, which has a generating capacity of 21 megawatts, will be buttressed by a giant battery bank able to deliver 11 megawatts of power. The arrays are built around shipping container-size battery banks, helping to make renewable energy farms a more reliable source of electricity.

One of the advantages of lithium ion batteries is that they are able to supply lots of power very quickly. This is why Lithium ion batteries are making inroads into the renewable energy business. A123 Systems said its power electronics can detect fluctuations in supply and be able to send 11 megwawatts of power in milliseconds.

FULL NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT FROM A123 WEBSITE

MORE ON THE HAWAIIAN ARRAY

UK Energy Research Centre Summer School 2012

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) have announced revised dates for it’s eighth annual Energy Summer School; from 17th June – 22nd June 2012, at the University of Warwick. There will be 100 places available for UK and international students.

The School has been specifically designed to give second year PhD students an understanding of energy systems as a whole and of pathways to low-carbon and resilient energy systems. This directly relates to international climate change issues and policies as students will become engaged in a mock United Nations style negotiations throughout the week in order to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions through the use of energy systems. This is a week-long course, which runs in parallel to UKERC’s Annual Assembly, and the course is professionally facilitated to provide continual support for participants, and includes a number of networking opportunities as well as social events.

Applications are invited from those engaged in energy-related research including technical, physical, social, economic, environmental and business aspects of energy and energy systems.

Nominations are open until 1700hrs (5pm) GMT Thursday, 8th March 2012. There is no charge for registered research students to attend the School; UKERC will provide accommodation and all meals and materials for activities. The School is conducted in English, and as it is highly interactive a good standard of comprehension and spoken English is essential.

The nomination form can be accessed from the UKERC website

Full information is available from the UK Energy Research Centre website at:
www.ukerc.ac.uk

NREL Scientists report first experiment to show effieciency of 100-percent-plus in operating solar cells.

NREL Scientists Report First Solar Cell Producing More Electrons In Photocurrent Than Solar Photons Entering Cell. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have reported on testing a solar cell that produces a photocurrent that has an external quantum efficiency greater than 100 percent when photoexcited with photons from the high energy region of the solar spectrum.

They claim in their experiments external quantum efficiency reached a peak value of 114 percent. The newly reported work marks a promising step toward developing Next Generation Solar Cells for both solar electricity and solar fuels that will be competitive with, or perhaps less costly than, energy from fossil or nuclear fuels.

The paper states “Multiple Exciton Generation is key to making it possible”. It appears in the Dec. 16 issue of Science Magazine. Titled “Peak External Photocurrent Quantum Efficiency Exceeding 100 percent via MEG in a Quantum Dot Solar Cell”, it is co-authored by NREL scientists Octavi E. Semonin, Joseph M. Luther, Sukgeun Choi, Hsiang-Yu Chen, Jianbo Gao, Arthur J. Nozikand Matthew C. Beard. The research was supported by the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the DOE Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Semonin and Nozik are also affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder.

They explain the mechanism for producing a quantum efficiency above 100 percent with solar photons is based on a process called Multiple Exciton Generation (MEG), whereby a single absorbed photon of appropriately high energy can produce more than one electron-hole pair per absorbed photon. The researchers achieved the 114 percent external quantum efficiency with a layered cell consisting of antireflection-coated glass with a thin layer of a transparent conductor, a nanostructured zinc oxide layer, a quantum dot layer of lead selenide treated with ethanedithol and hydrazine, and a thin layer of gold for the top electrode.

Such potentially highly efficient cells, coupled with their low cost per unit area, are called Third (or Next) Generation Solar Cells. Present day commercial photovoltaic solar cells are based on bulk semiconductors, such as silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium gallium (di)selenide; or on multi-junction tandem cells drawn from the third and fifth (and also in some cases fourth) columns of the Periodic Table of Elements. All of these cells are referred to as First- or Second-Generation Solar Cells.

FULL DETAILS FROM NREL WEBSITE

AEA report on micro-renewables in UK

AEA have released their latest reports tracking the progress of micro-generation across the UK. This year there is a separate report for Scotland even though the main report includes data from Scotland. However, this does highlight some very marked differences in micro generation north and south of the border.

The AEA Microgeneration Index provides analysis of the UK microgeneration sector’s and establishes how well Government incentives are working.

It covers the technologies included in the UK Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, introduced in April 2010. The FIT scheme, together with the forthcoming Renewable Heat Incentive, has a major role to play in helping the UK make a successful transition to a low carbon economy.

The low carbon technologies supported by the FIT scheme include:

Solar photovoltaics (PV).
Wind.
Hydro.
Anaerobic digestion (AD).
Domestic-scale micro combined heat and power (CHP) (up to and including 2 kWe – pilot for first 30,000 schemes).

AEA UK Microgeneration Index – Issue 4 (pdf)
AEA Microgeneration Scot 11 (pdf)

Link to AEA report webpage for further information

Commons inquiry into The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK


Announced 06 July 2011

The Energy and Climate Change Committee, chaired by Tim Yeo MP, is has launched an inquiry to investigate the potential for marine renewables to contribute towards the UK’s renewables and emissions targets. It seems to indicate this is related to the DECC announcement On 28 June 2011 that £20 million of funding would be used to support two projects to test prototypes in array formations.

The inquiry will assess the success of existing Government support and measures on marine renewables and investigate the potential impact of Government spending decisions on this area of low carbon technology.

The Committee invites submissions on marine renewables, in particular:

  • What are the potential benefits that marine renewables could bring to the UK and should Government be supporting the development of these particular technologies?
  • How effective have existing Government policies and initiatives on marine renewables been in supporting the development and deployment of these technologies?
  • What lessons can be learnt from experiences within the UK and from other countries to date in supporting the development and deployment of marine renewables?
  • Is publicly provided innovation funding necessary for the development of marine technologies and if so, why?
  • What non-financial barriers are there to the development of marine renewables?
  • To what extent is the supply chain for marine renewables based in the UK and how does Government policy affect the development of these industries?
  • What approach should Government take to supporting marine renewables in the future?
  • Are there any other issues relating to the future of marine renewables in the UK that you think the Committee should be aware of?
  • Written evidence is invited from interested parties. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Thursday 8 September. Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format-please do not use PDF format-and sent by e-mail to ecc@parliament.uk.

    Full announcement a details of rules regarding submissions on the House of Commons website

    Alta Devices release information on their high-efficiency solar cell

    California-based Alta devices today announces results of PV tests where they claim their engineers have achieved 27.6 percent efficiency last year and later hit 28.2 percent efficiency. Both results were verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and are more than one percent higher than previous efficiency records for single-junction solar cells.

    The company did not indicate when it expects to have a commercial product, but executives said that the work it has done on capturing light emitted by solar cells can be applied by other researchers in the field who are struggling to push the limits of solar cell efficiency.

    The solar cell material the company is working with is gallium arsenide (GaAs), the type often used in high-performance solar devices with several layers of semiconductors, such as those used on satellites or concentrating solar photovoltaic generators.

    Alta Devices announcment