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Some countries could meet electricity needs with floating solar panels, research shows

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Some countries could meet electricity needs with floating solar panels, research shows


Some countries could meet electricity needs with floating solar panels, research shows

by Sophie Jenkins

London, UK (SPX) Jun 05, 2024






Floating solar photovoltaic (FPV) panels could supply all the electricity needs of some countries, according to new research. The study by Bangor and Lancaster Universities and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology evaluated the global potential for low-carbon floating solar arrays. Researchers calculated daily electrical output from FPV on nearly 68,000 lakes and reservoirs worldwide, using climate data for each location.

The study focused on lakes and reservoirs likely to support floating solar technology, which are within 10 km of a population center, not in protected areas, and don’t dry up or freeze for more than six months each year. Researchers based their calculations on FPV covering 10% of surface areas, up to 30 km.



Potential annual electricity generation from FPV on these lakes is 1302 terawatt hours (TWh), about four times the UK’s total annual electricity demand. The findings are published in Nature Water.



FPV systems offer several advantages over land-based solar installations, including freeing up land for other uses and keeping panels cooler for better efficiency. There is also evidence for additional environmental benefits, such as reducing water evaporation and limiting algal blooms. However, further research is needed on FPV’s overall environmental impact, and deployment decisions should consider the intended function of water bodies and potential ecological impacts.



Lead author Dr. Iestyn Woolway of Bangor University said, “We still don’t know exactly how floating panels might affect the ecosystem within a natural lake, in different conditions and locations. But the potential gain in energy generation from FPV is clear, so we need to put that research in place so this technology can be safely adopted. We chose 10% of a lake’s surface area as a likely safe level of deployment, but that might need to be reduced in some situations, or could be higher in others.”



The research shows five nations, including Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, could meet their entire electricity needs from FPV. Others, such as Bolivia and Tonga, could meet 87% and 92% of their demand. Many countries, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Central Asia, could meet 40% to 70% of their electricity needs through FPV. In Europe, Finland could meet 17% and Denmark 7% of their demand.



The UK could generate 2.7 TWh annually from FPV, enough to power around one million homes. The UK’s largest FPV installation is a 6.3 MW floating solar farm on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near London.



Dr. Woolway added, “Even with the criteria we set to create a realistic scenario for deployment of FPV, there are benefits across the board, mainly in lower income countries with high levels of sunshine, but also in Northern European countries as well. The criteria we chose were based on obvious exclusions, such as lakes in protected areas, but also on what might reduce the cost and risks of deployment.”



Co-author Professor Alona Armstrong of Lancaster University said, “Our work shows there is much potential for FPV around the world. But deployments need to be strategic, considering the consequences for energy security, nature and society, as well as Net Zero.”



The research is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation.



Research Report:Decarbonisation potential of floating solar photovoltaics on lakes worldwide


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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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New approaches for perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics in energy storage

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New approaches for perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics in energy storage


New approaches for perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics in energy storage

by Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jun 13, 2024






With the increasing impacts of climate change and resource depletion, dielectric capacitors are becoming key candidates for high-performance energy storage devices. However, various dielectric ceramics, such as paraelectrics, ferroelectrics, and antiferroelectrics, face challenges due to their low polarizability, low breakdown strength, and large hysteresis loss. Therefore, synthesizing novel perovskite-based materials that offer high energy density, efficiency, and low loss is essential for improving energy storage performance.

A team of material scientists led by Bingcheng Luo from the Department of Applied Physics at China Agricultural University recently reviewed the state of perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics for energy storage. These capacitors are noted for their stability, high energy and power density, conversion efficiency, wide operating temperature range, environmental friendliness, and cost-effectiveness, setting them apart from traditional electrochemical capacitors and batteries.



“In this review, we outlined the recent development of perovskite-based ferroelectric energy storage ceramics from the perspective of combinatorial optimization for tailoring ferroelectric hysteresis loops and comprehensively discussed the properties arising from the different combinations of components. Also, we provided the future guidelines in this realm and therefore, the combinatorial optimization strategy in this review will open up a practical route towards the application of new high-performance ferroelectric energy storage devices,” said Bingcheng Luo, senior author of the review paper, professor in the Department of Applied Physics at China Agricultural University, who received his PhD in 2018 in Tsinghua University and then worked as Research Associate at University of Cambridge.



Dielectric materials can be categorized into four types based on their hysteresis loops: paraelectric (PE), ferroelectric (FE), relaxor ferroelectric (RFE), and antiferroelectric (AFE), each with unique properties.



The research team highlights advancements in the energy storage performance of lead-free ferroelectric ceramics. “We classify the perovskites-based ferroelectric ceramics into seven types for tailoring ferroelectric hysteresis loops from the perspective of combinatorial optimization and comprehensively discuss the properties arising from the different combinations of components. The concept of combinatorial optimization is to maximize breakdown strength and maximum saturation polarization while slenderizing electric hysteresis loop, which bolsters the energy storage performance of perovskites-based ferroelectric ceramics,” Bingcheng Luo said.



The seven types of combinatorial optimization of perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics discussed in the review include FE vs. PE, FE vs. FE, FE vs. AFE, AFE vs. PE, RFE vs. PE, RFE vs. FE, and RFE vs. AFE combinations. Luo explained, “As an example of combinatorial optimization strategies, ferroelectrics have higher maximum saturation polarization, and paraelectrics have higher breakdown strength, and the combination of the two creates an RFE that has the advantages of both materials and with a narrower hysteresis loop, the long-range ferroelectric order will become polar nanodomains, which will increase the energy storage density and efficiency of ceramics.”



The concept of combinatorial optimization aims to maximize the complementary advantages of each component. Generally, polarization and breakdown strength are mutually exclusive in dielectric materials. Increasing the content of one component alone does not achieve high breakdown strength or polarization. It is necessary to find the optimal balance between these factors and tailor more optimized hysteresis loops to improve energy storage performance.



The team anticipates that their review of combinatorial optimization strategies will not only aid in the design of future high-performance passive devices but also provide guidance for the practical utilization of ferroelectric ceramics.



Research Report:Combinatorial optimization of perovskites-based ferroelectric ceramics for energy storage applications


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Redwire to Develop Solar Arrays for Thales Alenia Space’s New GEO Satellites

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Redwire to Develop Solar Arrays for Thales Alenia Space’s New GEO Satellites


Redwire to Develop Solar Arrays for Thales Alenia Space’s New GEO Satellites

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 11, 2024






Redwire Corporation (NYSE: RDW) announced it will develop and deliver Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) wings for Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire satellites, the newest product line of geostationary (GEO) telecommunications satellites.

A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space is a prime manufacturer providing space solutions for telecommunications, Earth observation, exploration, and navigation. The cooperation between the two companies on this project began last year.



“Redwire is proud to be a trusted supplier for Thales Alenia Space’s innovative Space Inspire satellite solution that will provide unprecedented flexibility for the GEO telecommunications market,” said Mike Gold, Redwire’s Chief Growth Officer. “Leveraging unmatched innovation and a 100% on-orbit success rate, Redwire’s ROSA technology has become the power solution of choice for today’s most cutting-edge missions and platforms from LEO to GEO and beyond.”



The ROSA wings for the first Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire satellites will measure approximately 80 feet long and provide over 25 kW of power per spacecraft, making them among the most robust solar arrays ever used on a GEO satellite.



Redwire’s ROSA technology has a strong track record of reliability and successful on-orbit performance for various civil and commercial missions including the International Space Station, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, and the Maxar-built Power and Propulsion Element for the Artemis Lunar Gateway.



The development of Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire product line is supported by the French national space agency CNES.


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