News Archive - June 2014 View All

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June 24, 2014
Rice University scientists have created a one-step process for producing highly efficient materials that let the maximum amount of sunlight reach a solar cell.

Rice scientists have reduced to one step the process to turn silicon wafers into the black silicon used in solar cells. Here, a cross section shows inverted pyramids etched into silicon by a chemical mixture over eight hours. Courtesy of the Barron Group

The Rice lab of chemist Andrew Barron found a simple way to etch nanoscale spikes into silicon that allows more than 99 percent of sunlight to reach the cells’ active elements, where it can be turned into electricity.

The research by Barron and Rice graduate student and lead author Yen-Tien Lu appears in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

The more light absorbed by a solar panel’s active elements, the more power it will produce. But the light has to get there. Coatings in current use that protect the active elements let most light pass but reflect some as well. Various strategies have cut reflectance down to about 6 percent, Barron said, but the anti-reflection is limited to a specific range of light, incident angle and wavelength. To read the full article please click here.


June 05, 2014
Wind is big business. Earlier this month, Siemens won a €1.5bn contract for a Dutch offshore wind park that will also give Europe's largest engineering company its biggest-ever energy service contract.

The order for the Gemini wind park, 85 kilometers offshore from Groningen, Netherlands, comprises 150 wind turbines with a capacity of four megawatts apiece, the Munich-based company said.

"We have considerably improved our service approach for this wind park," said Markus Tacke, the head of the wind-power division at Siemens. The provision of equipment accounted for about half of the contract's value, he said.

Siemens has tempered its willingness to bid for big-ticket work since Joe Kaeser became chief executive officer in August. Delays to projects connecting windfarms to the grid have led to charges topping €1.1bn since 2011, prompting Mr Kaeser to promise investors the company would be more circumspect in future contract tenders.

The company signed a power transmission contract last month with TenneT Holding under more lenient conditions, intended to avoid a repeat of such charges, which have also burdened earnings at Zurich-based competitor ABB.

Siemens is also building a £160m wind turbine factory in northern England to improve its ability to serve the North Sea offshore wind market. Britain's 3,689 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity represent more than half of the 6,930-megawatts global total, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. To read the full article please click here.