Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Soaking up the sun

Soaking up the sun

When it comes to solar power, it’s a case of the more blue the better according to Victoria University of Wellington researcher Dr Jonathan Halpert.

Dr Halpert, a lecturer in Victoria’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and an associate investigator at the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, is leading a research team exploring new materials that will help solar panels make the most of a sunny day.

According to the team’s initial research results, the key to increasing the efficiency of solar power is using smaller particles which can capture more light than those traditionally used in solar cells.

“Wavelengths of light have different amounts of energy associated with them—the bluer it is, the more energy is associated with that particle of light,” says Dr Halpert. “So we’re making nanocrystals that have broad absorption properties, allowing them to soak up all these different wavelengths, while losing less energy.”

Dr Halpert says the best silicon-based technologies currently used in solar panels have power efficiency rates of around 21 percent, meaning a great deal of light-energy is lost as heat in the process.

However by using a combination of the existing technology and the Victoria team’s new materials, much higher ratings could be achieved, says Dr Halpert.

But it’s not just the efficiency of generating electrical currents that has sparked Dr Halpert’s research into new solar materials—he also wants to make the technology more efficient economically.

“A lot of the materials that people use have toxic or very rare materials in them. We’re trying to move away from toxic and rare to common, cheap and easy.”

Dr Halpert says globally, demand is increasing for renewable energy technology, as countries replace traditional power sources with renewable ones.

“One of the big drivers for that is not just combatting global warming, but also improving the economics of it. A good deal of what makes up electricity costs is transmission.

“In general, it’s not practical or safe to put power plants near cities, whereas solar can be put on people’s rooftops.

“This means you can essentially build power plants on top of the city, eliminating many of the transmission costs.”

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Must Sell 20 Petrol Stations: Z Cleared To Buy Caltex Assets

Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coordination between fuel retailers occurs in some regions. More>>

ALSO:

Huntly: Genesis Extends Life Of Coal-Fuelled Power Station To 2022

Genesis Energy will keep its two coal and gas-fired units at Huntly Power Station operating until 2022, having previously said they'd be closed by 2018, after wringing a high price from other electricity generators who wanted to keep them as back-up. More>>

ALSO:

Dammed If You Do: Ruataniwha Irrigation Scheme Hits Farmer Uptake Targets

Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter announced. More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: OCR Stays At 2.25%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2.25 percent, in a decision traders had said could go either way, while predicting inflation will pick up as the slump in oil prices washes out of the data and capacity pressures start to build in the economy. More>>

ALSO:

Export Values Down: NZ Posts Biggest Annual Trade Deficit In 7 Years

New Zealand has recorded its biggest annual trade deficit since April 2009, reflecting weaker prices of agricultural commodities such as dairy products, beef and lamb, and increased imports of vehicles and machinery. More>>

ALSO:

Currency Events: NZ's New $5 Note Wins International Banknote Award

New Zealand’s new Brighter Money $5 note has been named Banknote of the Year in a prestigious international competition. The $5 note was awarded the IBNS Banknote of the Year title at the International Bank Note Society’s annual meeting. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news