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Archive for the ‘solar power’ category

Oct 14, 2020

Alphabet’s New Moonshot Is to Transform How We Grow Food

Posted by in categories: food, genetics, solar power, sustainability

Mineral’s plant buggy looks like a platform on wheels, topped with solar panels and stuffed with cameras, sensors, and software.


But maybe there’s a better way—and Mineral wants to find it.

Like many things nowadays, the key to building something better is data. Genetic data, weather pattern data, soil composition and erosion data, satellite data… The list goes on. As part of the massive data-gathering that will need to be done, X introduced what it’s calling a “plant buggy” (if the term makes you picture a sort of baby stroller for plants, you’re not alone…).

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Oct 14, 2020

Disney World McDonald’s to be first net-zero fast food restaurant

Posted by in categories: food, solar power, sustainability

Sustainability comes to the happiest place on Earth! Solar power helps make this Disney World McDonald’s one of the first net-zero fast food restaurants.

Oct 14, 2020

Exploring chemical space: Can AI take us where no human has gone before?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, robotics/AI, solar power

Chemical space contains every possible chemical compound. It includes every drug and material we know and every one we’ll find in the future. It’s practically infinite and can be frustratingly complex. That’s why some chemists are turning to artificial intelligence: AI can explore chemical space faster than humans, and it might be able to find molecules that would elude even expert scientists. But as researchers work to build and refine these AI tools, many questions still remain about how AI can best help search chemical space and when AI will be able to assist the wider chemistry community.

Outer space isn’t the only frontier curious humans are investigating. Chemical space is the conceptual territory inhabited by all possible compounds. It’s where scientists have found every known medicine and material, and it’s where we’ll find the next treatment for cancer and the next light-absorbing substance for solar cells.

But searching chemical space is far from trivial. For one thing, it might as well be infinite. An upper estimate says it contains 10180 compounds, more than twice the magnitude of the number of atoms in the universe. To put that figure in context, the CAS database—one of the world’s largest—currently contains about 108 known organic and inorganic substances, and scientists have synthesized only a fraction of those in the lab. (CAS is a division of the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN.) So we’ve barely seen past our own front doorstep into chemical space.

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Oct 13, 2020

Solar meets 100 per cent of South Australia demand for first time

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

The combination of rooftop and utility scale solar met 100 per cent of demand in South Australia for the first time on Sunday, reaching a milestone that will surely be repeated many times over – and for longer periods – in the future.

The milestone was reached at 12.05pm grid time (Australian eastern standard time), with rooftop solar providing 992MW, or 76.3 per cent of state demand, and utility scale solar providing a further 315MW – meaning all three of the state’s big solar farms, Bungala 1m Bungala 2 and Tailem Bend were operating at full capacity.

Oct 13, 2020

World’s largest solar plant goes online in China

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Huanghe Hydropower Development has connected a 2.2 GW solar plant to the grid in the desert in China’s remote Qinghai province. The project is backed by 202.8 MW/MWh of storage.


Chinese state-owned utility Huanghe Hydropower Development has finished building the world’s largest solar power project in a desert in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai.

Chinese inverter manufacturer Sungrow, which supplied the inverters, said that the 2.2 GW solar plant was built in five phases. It involved an investment of RMB15.04 billion ($2.2 billion) and includes 202.8 MW/MWh of storage capacity. The company announced the storage system as a solar+storage project in mid-May, but at the time it did not reveal that it was to be connected to a giant solar plant.

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Oct 13, 2020

Study uncovers the role of exciton lifetimes in enabling highly efficient organic solar cells

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Organic photovoltaics are a third-generation solar cell technology made of electron donor and electron acceptor materials instead of conventional semiconductor p-n junctions. The performance of this alternative solar cell technology has improved significantly over the past few years and it is now comparable to that of classical inorganic solar cells, both in terms of charge carrier yields (i.e., electrical current generation) and solar spectrum matching.

The only feature of organic photovoltaics that still lags behind traditional solar cells is its achievable voltage (VOC, which stands for open circuit voltage). As electrical power is the product of voltage and current, however, the poor VOC of organic solar cells currently prevents their successful commercialization.

Researchers at the Institute of Materials for Electronics and Energy Technology (i-MEET) in Germany and the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF) in Greece have been investigating specific features of materials used to build organic photovoltaics that could enable greater efficiencies and achievable voltages. Their paper, published in Nature Energy, shows that materials with long exciton lifetimes could be particularly promising for the creation of efficient organic solar cells.

Oct 9, 2020

Japan’s Cute Army

Posted by in categories: military, solar power, sustainability

The unlikely association of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces with adorable anime characters could reflect a deep-seated discomfort with the nation’s military history.

Oct 4, 2020

New Eco-Friendly Color Thin-Film Solar Cells

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Research on solar cells to secure renewable energy sources are ongoing around the world. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in South Korea succeeded in developing eco-friendly color Cu(In, Ga)Se2 (CIGS) thin-film solar cells.

CIGS thin-film solar cells are used to convert sunlight into electrical energy and are made by coating multiple thin films on a glass substrate. They have a relatively higher absorption coefficient among non-silicon based cells, resulting in high conversion efficiency and long stability. Also, they require less raw materials compared to silicon-based cells; hence less process and material costs.

One downside has been the difficulty in commercialization as they use the buffer layer which contains toxic heavy metal, cadmium. Thus, the ETRI team replaced the cadmium sulfide (CdS) buffer layer with zinc (Zn) based materials — which is not harmful — and managed to achieve approximately 18% conversion efficiency; thus eliminating the obstacle to commercialization.

Sep 16, 2020

The Holy Grail of Endless Energy: Harvesting Blackholes

Posted by in categories: climatology, cosmology, mathematics, solar power, sustainability

While the future of the clean energy proposal remains uncertain, the majority of Americans have been reading from the same page regarding what needs to be done: Dramatically cutting down the country’s reliance on fossil fuels over the next two decades is critical to lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and address climate change, with six in 10 U.S. adults saying they would favor policies with this energy goal. Thankfully, scientists have been researching alternative energy solutions like wind and solar power for decades, including lesser-known sources that may seem a little unusual or even downright ridiculous and unrealistic.

You can chalk up harvesting energy from blackholes to the latter category.

Fifty years ago, British mathematical physicist, Roger Penrose, proposed a seemingly absurd idea how an alien society (or future humans) could harvest energy from a rotating black hole by dropping an object just outside its sphere of influence also known as the ergosphere where it could gain negative energy. Since then, nobody has been able to verify the viability of this seemingly bizarre idea— that is until now.

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Sep 15, 2020

‘Artificial leaf’ makes fuel from sunlight

Posted by in categories: solar power, space travel, sustainability

Circa 2011 could be used for spaceships and rebreather spacesuits.


Solar cell bonded to recently developed catalyst can harness the sun, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

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