Archive for May 2014

Nanoelectronics key to advances in renewable energy

Nanoelectronics key to advances in renewable energy

TEMPE, Ariz. – Nanoscale technology looks promising as a major contributor to advancements needed to fulfill the potential of emerging sources of clean, renewable energy.
Progress in the comparatively new area of nanoelectronics in particular could be the basis for new manufacturing processes and devices to make renewable energy systems and technologies more efficient and cost-effective.
Stephen Goodnick will focus on what nanoelectronics advances could do to help push the performance of solar energy systems to the next level in his talk at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Feb. 13-17 in Chicago.
His presentation will lead off a session on Feb. 16, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., titled “Nanoelectronics for Renewable Energy: How Nanoscale Innovations Address Global Needs.”
Goodnick is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Titled “Pathways to Next-Generation Photovoltaics,” Goodnick’s presentation will look at how innovations driven by nanoelectronics research can enable photovoltaic technology to significantly improve our ability to convert sunlight and heat into electric power.
He’ll specifically delve into how new types of nanostructure-based devices can make it possible to produce photovoltaic solar cells that achieve better energy-conversion efficiency.
Goodnick explains that the key is in the different characteristics, properties and behavior of materials at the nanoscale.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter (one meter is a little more the 39 inches long). About 100,000 nanometers amount to the same thickness as a typical sheet of paper.
At that tiny scale, silicon and other materials that are used to make solar cells can perform in ways that boost the effectiveness of devices for producing energy, Goodnick says.
“With the use of nanoparticles, made into nanostructures, we could, for instance, improve optical collection, enabling systems to trap more light for conversion into electrical power,” he says.
“Using nanomaterials, we could make solar cells even thinner but still more efficient, and we could increase the capacity of energy-storage devices,” he says.
Such progress will hinge on the success of science and engineering research in overcoming current high production costs and some technical challenges. But Goodnick says he’s confident nanotechnology advances “are going to be big factors in the future of energy.”
Goodnick’s talk is part of an AAAS conference session that will also feature additional
presentations on aspects of nanoelectronics and renewable energy by four other scientists and engineers who will join Goodnick in a research collaboration beginning in July at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Technical University Munich in Germany.
Goodnick has been awarded the German university’s Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship, which will enable him to spend six months conducting research at the institute this year. The fellowship award is given to engineers and scientists doing innovative work in areas of interest to the institute.

California’s Grid Sets Two New Solar Energy Records in Two Days

California’s Grid Sets Two New Solar Energy Records in Two Days

America’s solar energy leader is at it once again – California set two new records for solar power supply across the state grid over the span of two days last week.
Solar energy provided a record 3.9 gigawatts (GW) of electricity on March 7th, then bested that mark with 4.1GW on March 8th, according to the California ISO – enough to power about 3 million homes or 18% of overall power demand.
These numbers mean California has more than doubled the amount of solar energy flowing onto the grid in less than a year, when it set a then-record 2GW in June 2013.

California’s Grid Handles The Solar Energy Surge

 California’s new solar records don’t come as much of a surprise, considering the wide margin by which it leads all states in installed solar capacity. As of the end of 2013, the Golden State was shining strong with nearly 5.7GW installed solar energy,
more than three times the capacity of Arizona’s 1.8GW, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The other unsurprising takeaway from California’s solar surge is the grid’s ability to integrate an ever-larger amount of renewable energy without reliability concerns,
a reality most recently outlined last week when America’s largest grid operator forecast it could integrate up to 30% renewable energy without reliability concerns.
A high-renewable grid future was echoed when the International Energy Agency said high renewable energy penetration is possible in any country – even as it came under criticism for consistently underestimating the power of solar energy.
“This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on,” said Steve Berberich, California ISO President and Chief Executive Officer.

Wind Energy Matches Solar On Way To Renewable Goals

Beyond solar energy, California is also adding massive amounts of wind energy en route to its ambitious 33% renewables by 2020 goal. California ISO’s solar record announcement also noted the state now has nearly 5.9GW of wind resources for a combined total of 11.1GW interconnected renewable energy across the grid.
In addition to adding new renewables, California is also doing well at integrating them – Saturday’s record was set in part by the fact that 78% of all installed capacity was contributing electrons to the grid. “The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs – and that is exciting,” said Berberich.
The best may be yet to come in California, though. The state added 2.7GW new solar capacity just last year, as much as had ever been cumulatively added in state history and enough to power 607,000 homes.