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New batteries give jolt to renewables, energy storage

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New batteries give jolt to renewables, energy storage

The cost of harvesting solar energy has dropped so much in recent years that it’s giving traditional energy sources a run for their money. However, the challenges of energy storage – which require the capacity to bank an intermittent and seasonally variable supply of solar energy – have kept the technology from being economically competitive.

Cornell University researchers led by Lynden Archer, Dean and Professor of Engineering, have been exploring the use of low-cost materials to create rechargeable batteries that will make energy storage more affordable. Now, they have shown that a new technique incorporating aluminum results in rechargeable batteries that offer up to 10,000 error-free cycles.

This new kind of battery could provide a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to lithium-ion batteries, which currently dominate the market but are slow to charge and have a knack for catching fire.
The team’s paper, “Regulating Electrodeposition Morphology in High-Capacity Aluminium and Zinc Battery Anodes Using Interfacial Metal-Substrate Bonding,” published in Nature Energy.

Among the advantages of aluminum is that it is abundant in the earth’s crust, it is trivalent and light, and it therefore has a high capacity to store more energy than many other metals. However, aluminum can be tricky to integrate into a battery’s electrodes. It reacts chemically with the glass fiber separator, which physically divides the anode and the cathode, causing the battery to short circuit and fail.

The researchers’ solution was to design a substrate of interwoven carbon fibers that forms an even stronger chemical bond with aluminum. When the battery is charged, the aluminum is deposited into the carbon structure via covalent bonding, i.e., the sharing of electron pairs between aluminum and carbon atoms.

While electrodes in conventional rechargeable batteries are only two dimensional, this technique uses a three-dimensional – or nonplanar – architecture and creates a deeper, more consistent layering of aluminum that can be finely controlled.

The aluminum-anode batteries can be reversibly charged and discharged one or more orders of magnitude more times than other aluminum rechargeable batteries under practical conditions.

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Argentina starts removing solar panels from Chilean border

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Argentina starts removing solar panels from Chilean border


Argentina starts removing solar panels from Chilean border

by AFP Staff Writers

Santiago (AFP) June 17, 2024






Argentina on Monday began removing solar panels that were installed by accident on the wrong side of its shared border with Chile, after a complaint from Chilean President Gabriel Boric.

In late April, the Argentine Navy inaugurated a maritime surveillance post on the border with Chile, in the Patagonia region of South America.

But the solar panels, which provide energy to that military unit, were set up on the Chilean side of the frontier.

In a statement, the Argentine Navy acknowledged the mistake and said it had “transferred personnel and means to begin the removal of a solar panel installed in the territory of the sister republic of Chile, north of the Island of Tierra del Fuego.”

Earlier in the day, Boric demanded that the panels be removed or Chile itself would do it.

“Borders are not something that can be ambiguous. It is a basic principle of respect between countries and therefore they must remove those solar panels as soon as possible or we are going to do it,” Boric told reporters during a visit to Paris.

Chile and Argentina share a border of about 5,000 kilometers (more than 3,000 miles).

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Rice Lab Reports Significant Advances in Perovskite Solar Cell Stability

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Rice Lab Reports Significant Advances in Perovskite Solar Cell Stability


Rice Lab Reports Significant Advances in Perovskite Solar Cell Stability

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 18, 2024






Solar power is growing rapidly as an energy technology, recognized for its cost-effectiveness and its role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A Rice University study published in Science details a method for synthesizing formamidinium lead iodide (FAPbI3) into stable, high-quality photovoltaic films. The efficiency of these FAPbI3 solar cells declined by less than 3% over more than 1,000 hours of operation at 85 degrees Celsius (185 Fahrenheit).



“Right now, we think that this is state of the art in terms of stability,” said Rice engineer Aditya Mohite. “Perovskite solar cells have the potential to revolutionize energy production, but achieving long-duration stability has been a significant challenge.”



This breakthrough represents a major step towards making perovskite photovoltaics commercially viable. The researchers added specially designed two-dimensional (2D) perovskites to the FAPbI3 precursor solution, which served as a template to enhance the stability of the crystal lattice structure.



“Perovskite crystals get broken in two ways: chemically – destroying the molecules that make up the crystal – and structurally – reordering the molecules to form a different crystal,” explained Isaac Metcalf, a Rice graduate student and a lead author on the study. “Of the various crystals that we use in solar cells, the most chemically stable are also the least structurally stable and vice versa. FAPbI3 is on the structurally unstable end of that spectrum.”



The researchers found that while 2D perovskites are more stable, they are less effective at harvesting light. By using 2D perovskites as templates, they improved the stability and efficiency of FAPbI3 films. The addition of well-matched 2D crystals facilitated the formation of high-quality FAPbI3 films, showing less internal disorder and better illumination response.



The study showed that solar cells with 2D templates retained their efficiency and durability significantly better than those without. Encapsulation layers further enhanced the stability of these solar cells, extending their operational life to timescales relevant for commercial applications.



“Perovskites are soluble in solution, so you can take an ink of a perovskite precursor and spread it across a piece of glass, then heat it up and you have the absorber layer for a solar cell,” Metcalf said. “Since you don’t need very high temperatures – perovskite films can be processed at temperatures below 150 Celsius (302 Fahrenheit) – in theory that also means perovskite solar panels can be made on plastic or even flexible substrates, which could further reduce costs.”



Silicon, the most commonly used semiconductor in photovoltaic cells, requires more resource-intensive manufacturing processes than perovskites, which have seen efficiency improvements from 3.9% in 2009 to over 26% currently.



“It should be much cheaper and less energy-intensive to make high-quality perovskite solar panels compared to high-quality silicon panels, because the processing is so much easier,” Metcalf said.



“We need to urgently transition our global energy system to an emissions-free alternative,” he added, referring to UN estimates that highlight the importance of solar energy in replacing fossil fuels.



Mohite emphasized that advancements in solar energy technologies are crucial for meeting the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target and preventing a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures, essential for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.



“If solar electricity doesn’t happen, none of the other processes that rely on green electrons from the grid, such as thermochemical or electrochemical processes for chemical manufacturing, will happen,” Mohite said. “Photovoltaics are absolutely critical.”



Mohite holds the title of William M. Rice Trustee Professor at Rice, is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and directs the Rice Engineering Initiative for Energy Transition and Sustainability. The study’s lead authors also include Siraj Sidhik, a Rice doctoral alumnus.



“I would like to give a lot of credit to Siraj, who started this project based on a theoretical idea by Professor Jacky Even at the University of Rennes,” Mohite said. “I would also like to thank our collaborators at the national labs and at several universities in the U.S. and abroad whose help was instrumental to this work.”



Research Report:Two-dimensional perovskite templates for durable, efficient formamidinium perovskite solar cells


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Sweeping review reveals impact of integrating AI into photovoltaics

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Sweeping review reveals impact of integrating AI into photovoltaics


Sweeping review reveals impact of integrating AI into photovoltaics

by Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jun 13, 2024






Artificial intelligence is set to enhance photovoltaic systems by improving efficiency, reliability, and predictability of solar power generation.

In their paper published on May 8 in CAAI Artificial Intelligence Research, a research team from Chinese and Malaysian universities examined the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) technology on photovoltaic (PV) power generation systems and their applications globally.



“The overall message is an optimistic outlook on how AI can lead to more sustainable and efficient energy solutions,” said Xiaoyun Tian from Beijing University of Technology. “By improving the efficiency and deployment of renewable energy sources through AI, there is significant potential to reduce global carbon emissions and to make clean energy more accessible and reliable for a broader population.”



The team, which included researchers from Beijing University of Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hebei University, and the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, focused their review on key applications of AI in maximum power point tracking, power forecasting, and fault detection within PV systems.



The maximum power point (MPP) refers to the specific operating point where a PV cell or an entire PV array yields its peak power output under prevailing illumination conditions. Tracking and exploiting the point of maximum power by adjusting the operating point of the PV array to maximize output power is a critical issue in solar PV systems. Traditional methods have defects, resulting in reduced efficiency, hardware wear, and suboptimal performance during sudden weather changes.



The researchers reviewed publications showing how AI techniques can achieve high performance in solving the MPP tracking problem. They compiled methods that presented both single and hybrid AI methods to solve the tracking problem, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.



The team reviewed publications that presented AI algorithms applied in PV power forecasting and defect detection technologies. Power forecasting, which predicts the production of PV power over a certain period, is crucial for PV grid integration as the share of solar energy in the mix increases annually. Fault detection in PV systems can identify various types of failures, such as environmental changes, panel damage, and wiring failures. For large-scale PV systems, traditional manual inspection is almost impossible. AI algorithms can identify deviations from normal operating conditions that may indicate faults or anomalies proactively.



The research team compared AI-driven techniques, exploring and presenting advantages and disadvantages of each approach.



While integrating AI technology optimizes PV systems’ operational efficiency, new challenges continue to arise. These challenges are driven by issues such as revised standards for achieving carbon neutrality, interdisciplinary cooperation, and emerging smart grids.



The researchers highlighted some emerging challenges and the need for advanced solutions in AI, such as transfer learning, few-shot learning, and edge computing.



According to the paper’s authors, the next steps should focus on further research directed towards advancing AI techniques that target the unique challenges of PV systems; practical implementation of AI solutions into existing PV infrastructure on a wider scale; scaling up successful AI integration; developing supportive policy frameworks that encourage the use of AI in renewable energy; increasing awareness about the benefits of AI in enhancing PV system efficiencies; and ultimately aligning these technological advancements with global sustainability targets.



“AI-driven techniques are essential for the future development and widespread adoption of solar-energy technologies globally,” Tian said.



The research was supported by the National Key R and D Program of China and Fundamental Research Grant Scheme of Malaysia. The grants are part of the China-Malaysia Intergovernmental Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperative Program 2023.



Other contributors include Jiaming Hu, Kang Wang, and Dachuan Xu from Beijing University of Technology; Boon-Han Lim from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman; Feng Zhang from Hebei University; and Yong Zhang from Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Science.



Research Report:A Comprehensive Review of Artificial Intelligence Applications in Photovoltaic Systems


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