Connect with us

Solar Energy

Study finds plants would grow well in solar cell greenhouses

Published

on

Study finds plants would grow well in solar cell greenhouses

A recent study shows that lettuce can be grown in greenhouses that filter out wavelengths of light used to generate solar power, demonstrating the feasibility of using see-through solar panels in greenhouses to generate electricity.

“We were a little surprised – there was no real reduction in plant growth or health,” says Heike Sederoff, co-corresponding author of the study and a professor of plant biology at North Carolina State University. “”It means the idea of integrating transparent solar cells into greenhouses can be done.””

Because plants do not use all of the wavelengths of light for photosynthesis, researchers have explored the idea of creating semi-transparent organic solar cells that primarily absorb wavelengths of light that plants don’t rely on, and incorporating those solar cells into greenhouses. Earlier work from NC State focused on how much energy solar-powered greenhouses could produce. Depending on the design of the greenhouse, and where it is located, solar cells could make many greenhouses energy neutral – or even allow them to generate more power than they use.

But, until now, it wasn’t clear how these semi-transparent solar panels might affect greenhouse cropsTo address the issue, researchers grew crops of red leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa) in greenhouse chambers for 30 days – from seed to full maturity. The growing conditions, from temperature and water to fertilizer and CO2 concentration, were all constant – except for light.

A control group of lettuces was exposed to the full spectrum of white light. The rest of the lettuces were dived into three experimental groups. Each of those groups was exposed to light through different types of filters that absorbed wavelengths of light equivalent to what different types of semi-transparent solar cells would absorb.
“The total amount of light incident on the filters was the same, but the color composition of that light was different for each of the experimental groups,” says Harald Ade, co-corresponding author of the study and the Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Professor of Physics at NC State.

“Specifically, we manipulated the ratio of blue light to red light in all three filters to see how it affected plant growth,” Sederoff says.

To determine the effect of removing various wavelengths of light, the researchers assessed a host of plant characteristics. For example, the researchers paid close attention to visible characteristics that are important to growers, grocers and consumers, such as leaf number, leaf size, and how much the lettuces weighed. But they also assessed markers of plant health and nutritional quality, such as how much CO2 the plants absorbed and the levels of various antioxidants.

“Not only did we find no meaningful difference between the control group and the experimental groups, we also didn’t find any significant difference between the different filters,” says Brendan O’Connor, co-corresponding author of the study and an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State.

“”There is also forthcoming work that delves into greater detail about the ways in which harvesting various wavelengths of light affects biological processes for lettuces, tomatoes and other crops,” Sederoff says.

“”This is promising for the future of solar-powered greenhouses,” Ade says. “Getting growers to use this technology would be a tough argument if there was a loss of productivity. But now it is a simple economic argument about whether the investment in new greenhouse technology would be offset by energy production and savings.””

“Based on the number of people who have contacted me about solar-powered greenhouses when we’ve published previous work in this space, there is a lot of interest from many growers,” O’Connor says. “I think that interest is only going to grow. We’ve seen enough proof-of-concept prototypes to know this technology is feasible in principle, we just need to see a company take the leap and begin producing to scale.””

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Solar Energy

Project receives funding for advanced solar-thermal research

Published

on

By

Project receives funding for advanced solar-thermal research


Project receives funding for advanced solar-thermal research

by Sophie Jenkins

London, UK (SPX) Apr 12, 2024






The University of Surrey, leading a collaboration with the University of Bristol and Northumbria University, has received a GBP 1.1 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop solar-thermal devices. These devices aim to revolutionize the way we heat homes and generate power, differing from traditional solar cells by converting sunlight into heat for energy production.

The research focuses on creating surfaces that selectively absorb sunlight and emit heat through near-infrared radiation. This project leverages the combined expertise of the institutions in photonics, advanced materials, applied electromagnetics, and nanofabrication to address a global need for efficient solar energy utilization.



Professor Marian Florescu, Principal Investigator from Surrey, highlighted the importance of the project: “The sun provides an immense amount of energy daily, much more than we currently harness. By advancing these solar-absorbing surfaces, we aim to transform solar energy use into a sustainable powerhouse for our increasing energy needs.”



Goals of the project include developing high-temperature solar absorbers, enhancing the efficiency of solar-absorbing structures, and improving the management of heat generated from sunlight. Prototypes will be constructed to demonstrate these technologies.



Professor Marin Cryan, Co-Principal Investigator from the University of Bristol, explained their focus on thermionic solar cell technology, which uses concentrated sunlight to initiate electron emission for high-efficiency solar cells.



Dr. Daniel Ho, Co-Principal Investigator from Northumbria University, added: “Our university leads in thermophotovoltaic research, utilizing advanced thermal analysis techniques. We’re excited to contribute to groundbreaking developments in renewable energy.”


Related Links

University of Surrey

All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com





Source link

Continue Reading

Solar Energy

Improving Solar and Wind Power Integration in the U.S. Grid

Published

on

By

Improving Solar and Wind Power Integration in the U.S. Grid


Improving Solar and Wind Power Integration in the U.S. Grid

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 11, 2024






The Midcontinent Independent System Operator manages a high-voltage electricity network spanning from Manitoba to Louisiana, serving 45 million users. This vast operation requires maintaining a balance between the energy generated and the demand across its regions.

The traditional reliance on coal and natural gas power plants is changing. For example, wind farms in Iowa now generate over 64% of the state’s electricity, and recent initiatives like the Alliant Energy Solar Farm at Iowa State University represent the shift towards renewable energy sources. These sources, however, introduce variability and uncertainty into grid management.



Zhaoyu Wang, a Northrop Grumman associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State, emphasized, The power system seeks certainty which is challenging with unpredictable natural resources like sun and wind.



Wang is leading the MODERNISE project, aimed at modernizing grid operations. The U.S. Department of Energy has earmarked a $3 million grant over three years for this initiative, with an additional $1.1 million coming from project collaborators including Argonne National Laboratory and Siemens Corp.



The project, titled Modernizing Operation and Decision-Making Tools Enabling Resource Management in Stochastic Environment, involves developing computational tools that allow for better integration and management of renewable energy sources into the grid.



Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy, supported this initiative stating that effective integration of renewable resources is essential for deploying clean energy. The project is part of a larger $34 million investment by the DOE to develop technologies that enhance grid reliability and efficiency.



By aggregating smaller renewable energy resources into larger operational blocks, MODERNISE aims to improve grid stability and predictability. Bai Cui, project co-leader and assistant professor at Iowa State, explained that this approach allows operators to manage grid operations more effectively by understanding and handling the uncertainties of renewable supply sources.



This initiative promises to make grid operations more adaptable and efficient, critical for accommodating the increasing reliance on renewable energy.


Related Links

Iowa State University

All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com





Source link

Continue Reading

Solar Energy

Quantum Material Achieves Up to 190% Efficiency in Solar Cells

Published

on

By

Quantum Material Achieves Up to 190% Efficiency in Solar Cells


Quantum Material Achieves Up to 190% Efficiency in Solar Cells

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 11, 2024






Researchers from Lehigh University have developed a material that significantly enhances the efficiency of solar panels.

A prototype incorporating this material as the active layer in a solar cell displays an average photovoltaic absorption rate of 80%, a high rate of photoexcited carrier generation, and an external quantum efficiency (EQE) reaching up to 190%. This figure surpasses the theoretical Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit for silicon-based materials, advancing the field of quantum materials for photovoltaics.



This work signifies a major advance in sustainable energy solutions, according to Chinedu Ekuma, professor of physics at Lehigh. He and Lehigh doctoral student Srihari Kastuar recently published their findings in the journal Science Advances. Ekuma highlighted the innovative approaches that could soon redefine solar energy efficiency and accessibility.



The material’s significant efficiency improvement is largely due to its unique intermediate band states, which are energy levels within the material’s electronic structure that are ideally positioned for solar energy conversion.



These states have energy levels in the optimal subband gaps-energy ranges capable of efficiently absorbing sunlight and producing charge carriers-between 0.78 and 1.26 electron volts.



Moreover, the material excels in absorbing high levels in the infrared and visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.



In traditional solar cells, the maximum EQE is 100%, which corresponds to the generation and collection of one electron for each photon absorbed. However, newer materials and configurations can generate and collect more than one electron per high-energy photon, achieving an EQE over 100%.



Multiple Exciton Generation (MEG) materials, though not yet widely commercialized, show immense potential for enhancing solar power system efficiency. The Lehigh-developed material utilizes intermediate band states to capture photon energy typically lost in traditional cells, including energy lost through reflection and heat production.



The research team created this novel material using van der Waals gaps, atomically small spaces between layered two-dimensional materials, to confine molecules or ions. Specifically, they inserted zerovalent copper atoms between layers of germanium selenide (GeSe) and tin sulfide (SnS).



Ekuma developed the prototype based on extensive computer modeling that indicated the system’s theoretical potential. Its rapid response and enhanced efficiency strongly indicate the potential of Cu-intercalated GeSe/SnS as a quantum material for advanced photovoltaic applications, offering a path for efficiency improvements in solar energy conversion, he stated.



While the integration of this quantum material into existing solar energy systems requires further research, the techniques used to create these materials are already highly advanced, with scientists mastering precise methods for inserting atoms, ions, and molecules.



Research Report:Chemically Tuned Intermediate Band States in Atomically Thin CuxGeSe/SnS Quantum Material for Photovoltaic Applications


Related Links

Lehigh University

All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com





Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Zox News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by WordPress.