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fool-errant

My fav bagpipe player was a dude who would go out to the middle of a soccer field near my college apartment on Sunday. No one was using the field and he’d just be out there playing his heart out and the sound were just spread out over the plains. I’d be working on art for class so I’d open the window and listen.

I still have fond memories of the day a kid biked up to the edge of the field, ran over to the bagpiper and the music stopped for a moment and as they talked. I couldn’t hear it but I had assumed the worst, that someone had decided to tell him to stop playing. Instead after the pause the musician seemed to nod, readjusted his bagpipes and started belting out the Star Wars theme.

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Inverted perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell with 29.3% efficiency

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Inverted perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell with 29.3% efficiency

Researchers in Saudi Arabia have built an inverted perovskite-silicon tandem device with a 1 nm thick interlayer based on magnesium fluoride (MgFx). They claim it can stop voltage losses and increase power conversion efficiency, while retaining 95.4% of its initial efficiency after 1,000 hours.

Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed an inverted perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell with a 1 nm thick interlayer based on magnesium fluoride (MgFx) placed between the perovskite layer and the hole transport layer (HTL), in order to reduce voltage losses.

“The long-term research goal of the KAUST’s KPV-LAB is to develop a realistic high-efficiency photovoltaic solution for sunny and hot climates and our device is in line with this goal,” researcher Erkan Aydin told pv magazine.

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The cell has a p-i-n structure and relies on an interlayer that provided high transparency, high stability, and good thickness control.

“We demonstrated that the charge transport and recombination interfaces could be carefully tuned with MgFx interlayers, enabling a certified efficiency of 29.3%,” the scientists said.

Currently, the most powerful perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell is a 29.8% device that was recently developed by scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) in Germany.

The Saudi scientists fabricated the cell with a sub-cell based on crystalline silicon wafers with double-side texture, which they say reduces front reflection while improving light trapping. They also placed the MgFx interlayer at the electron-selective top contact.

They used buckminsterfullerene, a molecule which is also known as C60, for the fabrication of the HTL, and added a tin(IV) oxide (SnO2) layer and an indium tin oxide (IZO) top contact. The Sno2 layer acts as a buffer against damage from the sputtering of the IZO top contact. This IZO-perovskite structure, according to the researchers, supported a very slow carrier decay process and improved charge extraction.

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The scientists tested an encapsulated solar cell built with this architecture at the CalLab of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) in Germany. The device achieved a steady-state power conversion efficiency of 29.3% and a reverse-scan efficiency of 29.4%. It also achieved an open-circuit voltage of 1.85 V, a short-circuit current of 19.8 mA/cm2, and a fill factor of 77.9%.

“The device statistics corroborated that the power conversion efficiency improvement was mainly the result of enhanced open-circuit voltage and fill factor,” they explained.

The cell went through damp-heat testing and was able to retain 95.4% of its initial efficiency after 1,000 hours.

“The open-circuit voltage even improved slightly, indicating that the perovskite itself and the interfacial layers were sufficiently tolerant to thermal stress,” the research team said.

The academics presented the cell in “Efficient and stable perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells through contact displacement by MgFx,” which was recently published in Science.

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“Looking forward, our overall goal is to enhance the efficiency and stability as much as possible and drive down the [levelized cost of electricity] below the current mainstream crystalline silicon solar cells,” Aydin said.

In December 2021, the same research group achieved a power conversion efficiency of 28.2% for a tandem solar cell with an area of around 1 square centimeters, based on an n-i-p perovskite stacked on top of a silicon heterojunction. The performance was achieved through a novel strategy to suppress halide segregation and reduce nonradiative recombination loss. The method involves the use of carbazole, a nitrogen-containing heterocyclic molecule, as an additive for the cell perovskite precursor.

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Prefab floating solar for easy installation

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Prefab floating solar for easy installation

A Norwegian startup has patented a floating solar system made of panels laminated on top of double-aluminum sheets. The pre-stringed floats are rolled out on site and towed into place.

Image: DNV

A prefabricated floating solar system that can be unfolded and towed out by boat for easy installation has been approved by Norwegian certification body DNV.

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Sunlit Sea, a Trondheim-based startup that was established in 2019, has patented a design that consists of two aluminum sheets welded together with a solar panel laminated on top. It claims the prefabricated nature of its floating solar system drives down cost for customers and reduces the environmental impact on installation sites.

The company’s website states that the startup’s first prototype was developed in 2020 and a fifth iteration was deployed in an “exposed location” in 2022. A timeline on the Sunlit Sea website indicates that the company plans to install its first commercial project, a 936 kWp system, at some point this year.

The floats are supplied in strings and are unfolded on site before being towed out by boat and connected to host larger solar modules. The panels have a peak generation capacity of 537 W each, according to Sunlit Sea. It claims that its product has a minimum guaranteed lifetime of 25 years.

“Sunlit Sea’s solution offers excellent cooling, reduced panel degradation, and rapid deployment due to pre-fabrication,” said Sunlit Sea CEO Per Lindberg.

Sunlit Sea said it works closely with the University of Oslo, Norwegian testing facility Stadt Towing Tank, and the Institute for Energy Technology, which started life as Norway’s nuclear research entity.

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DNV said global floating solar installations will rise from 3 GWp at present to between 20 GW and 25 GW within this decade.

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Linear generator running on hydrogen, ammonia

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Linear generator running on hydrogen, ammonia

Mainspring Energy, a US linear generator specialist, has adapted its technology so its generators can run on hydrogen and ammonia. It said the generators can ramp up and down quickly via solar, with the ability to dynamically switch between different kinds of fuels.

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Image: Mainspring Energy

Mainspring Energy has adapted its linear generators so they can run on hydrogen or ammonia fuel, on top of widely available fuels such as natural gas and biogas.

“The generator has passed key tests to directly run 100% hydrogen and 100% ammonia fuels at high efficiencies,” said company spokesperson Maria Amundson. “It may be used to displace intensive diesel generators at data centers, hospitals, grocery stores, and in behind-the-meter applications as well as in large grids and microgrids.”

The company says the linear generator can ramp up and down quickly via solar. It also has the ability to dynamically switch between different kinds of fuels.

In order to make the generator work with hydrogen and ammonia, the company created a new design incorporating new power electronics.

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“Our generator automatically adapts to the composition of incoming fuels and responds accordingly with precise control of the reaction to maximize efficiency,” said Amundson.

Mainspring Energy offers the solution in 230 kW packages with two linear generator cores. It claims the generators can be linked with similar devices to reach a capacity of up to 15 MW.

Projects greater than 1.5 MW can be optimally designed with the use of external inverters,” it sad. Each generator measures 20.5 meters x 8.5 meters x 9.5 meters, weighs 20 tons, and can operate at temperatures ranging from -20 C to 50 C.

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The generator, like its previous version running on natural gas or biogas, uses a low-temperature reaction of air and fuel to drive magnets through copper coils to produce electricity. The electrically controlled linear motion of oscillators embedded in the system compresses the fuel and air mixture until the mixture reacts uniformly and instantaneously without a flame or burning.

This reaction drives the two oscillators carrying magnets through copper coils and produces electricity through linear motion. Outer springs are then compressed to return the oscillators for the next cycle.

“The first uses of clean hydrogen and clean ammonia on a linear generator will be in a variety of places where long duration resilience is essential and other generation technologies and batteries cannot meet the requirements for various reasons,” Amundson said. “These include firming of renewables resources on the grid, as the generator can start quickly, and ramp up and down to pair ideally with renewables like solar and wind.”

She claimed that the generator is particularly efficient when it runs on ammonia.

“When running on ammonia, Mainspring can use off-the-shelf technology that is currently deployed with gas turbines to yield low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and can meet any permitting standard,” she said. “Our ability to run directly on pure ammonia is a significant performance and cost advantage for customers because it avoids an energy loss of up to 30% to convert it back to hydrogen, depending on the application. It also completely eliminates the need for additional fuel and fuel generation equipment such as fuel cells, which would be needed to convert ammonia back to hydrogen.”

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