Monday, January 26, 2015Register

The George R. Brown Convention Center

The George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) Solar Pilot Program, managed by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) is part of the Solar Houston Initiative (SHI), a Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America Cities (SAC) program. The DOE SAC program is a federal program to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner, more secure energy future. Sponsorship and funding for the GRB Solar Pilot Program was provided by the City of Houston, GRB, HARC, Houston Endowment Inc., Standard Renewable Energy (SRE), The American Institute of Architects, Houston Architecture Foundation, BP and CenterPoint Energy.

The system consists of  51.3 kW DC STC crystalline module array  and a 49.0 kW DC STC amorphous thin film array. The crystalline module array consists of 270 BP modules, rated at 190 watt (W) DC STC, located on the I-beam along the south side of the building, mounted on supports painted to match the color of the existing beams. The amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin film array consists of 360 Uni-Solar Photovoltaic (PV) flexible thin film panels, rated at 136 W DC STC, installed on the southern portion of the GRB roof adhered with Green Lock membrane adhesive. Each array is connected to a Satcon Photovoltaic PowerGate Plus 50 kW 480V 3ph 60Hz Nema 3R inverter system (Model # PVS-50-4UL-10 Years). The inverters are connected to the building’s electrical distribution system.   


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Green Building Resource Center

Calculating the future of solar-fuel refineries
A team of engineers has developed a new tool to help engineers better gauge the overall yield, efficiency and costs associated with scaling solar-fuel production processes up into large-scale refineries.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials
Researchers have developed a technique for determining the role that a material's structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next generation solar power. The researchers used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nanoscale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures -- a finding which will guide future research and development efforts.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New technique for producing cheaper solar energy suggested by research
Pioneering new research could pave the way for solar energy to be converted into household electricity more cheaply than ever before. The global PV market has experienced rapid growth in recent years due to renewable energy targets and CO2 emission controls.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Decorative and flexible solar panels become part of interior design and the appearance of objects
Scientists have developed and utilized a mass production method based on printing technologies allowing the manufacturing of decorative, organic solar panels. Design freedom improves the range of applications of the panels on the surfaces of interior and exterior building spaces. Researchers are also studying the feasibility of printing technology in the mass production of solar panels made from inorganic perovskite materials. The new mass production method enables to create interior design elements from organic solar panels (OPV, organic photovoltaics) harvesting energy from interior lighting or sunlight for various small devices and sensors that gather information from the environment. The panels can, for example, be placed on windows and walls and on machines, devices and advertisement billboards.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

First public lighting system that runs on solar and wind energy
Scientists have developed the first autonomous industrialized public lighting system that works with solar and wind energy.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Making waves with lasers could enhance solar cell efficiency
Laser processing produces deep ripples in silicon over a wide area — something that could enhance solar cell efficiency.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Perovskites provide big boost to silicon solar cells
Stacking perovskites onto a conventional silicon solar cell dramatically improves the overall efficiency of the cell, according to a new study.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Improved solar panels and printed electronics on the horizon with new material discovery
New and improved solar panels could result from the discovery of a new liquid crystal material, making printable organic solar cells better performing.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Solar cell polymers with multiplied electrical output
Scientists paired up photovoltaic polymers that produce two units of electricity per unit of light instead of the usual one on a single molecular polymer chain. Having the two charges on the same molecule means the light-absorbing, energy-producing materials work efficiently when dissolved in liquids, which opens the way for a wide range of industrial scale manufacturing processes, including "printing" solar-energy-producing material like ink.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Flexible methane production from electricity and bio-mass
Interlinkage of the power and gas grids is planned to make electricity supply sustainable and robust in the future. Fluctuating amounts of wind and solar power, for instance, might be stored in the form of the chemical energy carrier methane. Now researchers have now proved that this is technically feasible.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

From the lab to your digital device, quantum dots have made quantum leaps
Quantum dots have not only found their way into tablets, computer screens, and TVs, they are also used in biological and medical imaging tools, and now researchers are exploring them for solar cell as well as brain imaging applications.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Wave energy integration costs should compare favorably to other energy sources
A new analysis suggests that large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at lower costs than some other forms of alternative energy, including wind power.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Defects in solar cells made of silicon identified
A researcher has focused recent study on "defects found on silicon and their impact on the efficiency of solar cells made with this material."<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Quantum world without queues could lead to better solar cells
Scientists have used new technology to study extremely fast processes in solar cells. The research results form a concrete step towards more efficient solar cells.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Glimpsing pathway of sunlight to electricity
Four pulses of laser light on nanoparticle photocells in a spectroscopy experiment has opened a window on how captured sunlight can be converted into electricity. The work, which potentially could inspire devices with improved efficiency in solar energy conversion, was performed on photocells that used lead-sulfide quantum dots as photoactive semiconductor material.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Comparing state solar policies to determine equation for solar market success
Scientists have used statistical analyses and detailed case studies to better understand why solar market policies in certain states are more successful. Their findings indicate that while no standard formula for solar implementation exists, a combination of foundational policies and localized strategies can increase solar photovoltaic installations in any state.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Nuclear should be in the energy mix for biodiversity
Leading conservation scientists from around the world have called for a substantial role for nuclear power in future energy-generating scenarios in order to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Stacking two-dimensional materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices
A team of researchers has found that stacking materials that are only one atom thick can create semiconductor junctions that transfer charge efficiently, regardless of whether the crystalline structure of the materials is mismatched -- lowering the manufacturing cost for a wide variety of semiconductor devices such as solar cells, lasers and LEDs.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New technique could harvest more of the sun's energy
As solar panels become less expensive and capable of generating more power, solar energy is becoming a more commercially viable alternative source of electricity. However, the photovoltaic cells now used to turn sunlight into electricity can only absorb and use a small fraction of that light, and that means a significant amount of solar energy goes untapped. A new technology represents a first step toward harnessing that lost energy.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Is natural gas a 'bridge' to a hotter future?
Natural gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

In world first, researchers convert sunlight to electricity with over 40 percent efficiency
Australia's solar researchers have converted over 40 percent of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. A key part of the prototype's design is the use of a custom optical bandpass filter to capture sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers and convert it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells themselves ever could.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New technique offers spray-on solar power
Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. Scientists have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) -- a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Light propagation in solar cells made visible
How can light which has been captured in a solar cell be examined in experiments? Scientists have succeeded in looking directly at light propagation within a solar cell by using a trick. The photovoltaics researchers are working on periodic nanostructures that efficiently capture a portion of sunlight which is normally only poorly absorbed.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Low-grade waste heat regenerates ammonia battery
An efficient method to harvest low-grade waste heat as electricity may be possible using reversible ammonia batteries, according to engineers. Low-grade waste heat is an artifact of many energy-generating methods. In automobiles, waste heat generated in winter is diverted to run the vehicle heating system, but in the summer, that same waste heat must be dissipated to the environment.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Matched 'hybrid' systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy
The use of renewable energy in the United States could take a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to 'match' different forms of alternative energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity, researchers say in a new report.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Physicists bind single-atom sheets with the same force geckos use to climb walls
The approach is to design synergistic materials by combining two single-atom thick sheets, for example, that act as a photovoltaic cell as well as a light-emitting diode, converting energy between electricity and radiation.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Blu-ray disc can be used to improve solar cell performance
Who knew about Blu-ray discs? One of the best ways to store high-definition movies and television shows because of their high-density data storage, Blu-ray discs also improve the performance of solar cells, according to a new study. Researchers have discovered that the pattern of information written on a Blu-ray disc -- and it doesn't matter if it's Jackie Chan's 'Supercop' or the cartoon 'Family Guy' -- works very well for improving light absorption across the solar spectrum.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Scientists get to the heart of fool's gold as a solar material
As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a research team explains why that is, in a discovery that suggests how improvements in this promising material could lead to inexpensive yet efficient solar cells.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Revolutionary solar-friendly form of silicon shines
Silicon is the second most-abundant element in the earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices -- carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. Scientists have synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New materials for more powerful solar cells
Applying a thin film of metallic oxide significantly boosts the performance of solar panel cells. Researchers have developed a new class of materials comprising elements such as bismuth, iron, chromium, and oxygen. These 'multiferroic' materials absorb solar radiation and possess unique electrical and magnetic properties.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New materials yield record efficiency polymer solar cells
Researchers have found that temperature-controlled aggregation in a family of new semi-conducting polymers is the key to creating highly efficient organic solar cells that can be mass produced more cheaply.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Your own energy 'island'? Microgrid could standardize small, self-sustaining electric grids
When researchers talk about "islanding," or isolating, from the grid, they are discussing a fundamental benefit of microgrids -- small systems powered by renewables and energy storage devices. The benefit is that microgrids can disconnect from larger utility grids and continue to provide power locally.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Combining 'Tinkertoy' materials with solar cells for increased photovoltaic efficiency
Researchers are working to develop a technique that they believe will significantly improve the efficiencies of photovoltaic materials and help make solar electricity cost-competitive with other sources of energy.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat
A multidisciplinary engineering team developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Acousto-optic tunable filter technology for balloon-borne platforms
A balloon-borne acousto-optic tunable filter hyperspectral imager is ideally suited to address numerous outstanding questions in planetary science. Their spectral agility, narrowband wavelength selection, tolerance to the near-space environment, and spectral coverage would enable investigations not feasible from the ground. Example use cases include synoptic observations of clouds on Venus and the giant planets, studies of molecular emissions from cometary comae, the mapping of surface ices on small bodies, and polarimetry.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Cheaper silicon means cheaper solar cells
Researchers have pioneered a new approach to manufacturing solar cells that requires less silicon and can accommodate silicon with more impurities than is currently the standard. Those changes mean that solar cells can be made much more cheaply than at present.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity
Researchers have developed and patented a nanofluid improving thermal conductivity at temperatures up to 400°C without assuming an increase in costs or a remodeling of the infrastructure. This progress has important applications in sectors such as chemical, petrochemical and energy, thus becoming a useful technology in all industrial applications using heat transfer systems such as solar power plants, nuclear power plants, combined-cycle power plants and heating, among other.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Crystallography: Towards controlled dislocations
Scientists have used atomic-resolution Z-contrast imaging and X-ray spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope to explore dislocations in the binary II-VI semiconductor CdTe, commercially used in thin-film photovoltaics. The results may lead to eventual improvement in the conversion efficiency of CdTe solar cells. These novel insights into atomically resolved chemical structure of dislocations have potential for understanding many more defect-based phenomena.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Balancing renewable energy costs and optimizing energy mix
Increasing reliance on renewable energies is the way to achieve greater carbon dioxide emission sustainability and energy independence. As such energies are yet only available intermittently and energy cannot be stored easily, most countries aim to combine several energy sources. Scientists have now come up with an open source simulation method to calculate the actual cost of relying on a combination of electricity sources.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

2014 Nobel Prize in Physics: Invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes
The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, of Meijo University in Nagoya and Nagoya University, Japan; Hiroshi Amano, of Nagoya University, Japan; and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources."<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Low-carbon energy future is clean, feasible
A future where electricity comes mostly from low-carbon sources is not only feasible in terms of material demand, but will significantly reduce air pollution, a study says.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power
Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device is both: the world’s first solar battery. Scientists have succeeding in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells
Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber
Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials
Scientists have a new efficient way of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using Earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued Reference Material 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of these human-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nanometers -- billionths of a meter -- in size.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New organic semiconductor material: Organic tin in polymers increases their light absorption
Researchers have integrated organic tin into semiconducting polymers (plastics) for the first time. Semiconducting polymers can be used, for example, for the absorption of sun light in solar cells. By incorporating organic tin into the plastic, light can be absorbed over a wide range of the solar spectrum.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Natural gas usage will have little effect on carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find
Abundant supplies of natural gas will do little to reduce harmful U.S. emissions causing climate change, according to researchers. They found that inexpensive gas boosts electricity consumption and hinders expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

New mobile solar unit is designed to save lives when the power goes out
Brooke Ellison draws her own power from will, but the ventilator that keeps her alive requires uninterrupted electricity. Dr. Ellison is allowing scientists to field-test, at her home, the Nextek Power Systems STAR, a mobile solar generator.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Solar cells cheap enough to quickly cover their cost: Could double as semi-transparent blinds for windows
One of the most common complaints about solar power is solar panels are still too expensive to be worth the investment. Many researchers have responded by making solar cells, the tile-like components of solar panels that absorb and transfer energy, more efficient and longer lasting. But even the longest living solar cells that most effectively convert sunlight to energy will not become common if they are prohibitively expensive.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation
A civil engineering research team has developed a new way to clean oil sands process affected water and reclaim tailings ponds in Alberta's oil sands industry. Using sunlight as a renewable energy source instead of UV lamps, and adding chlorine to the tailings, oil sands process affected water is decontaminated and detoxified -- immediately.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions
Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions. The shorter the interval between two explosions in the solar atmosphere, the more likely it is that the second flare will be stronger than the first one.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Magnetic fields make the excitons go 'round: New way to improve efficiency of solar cells
A major limitation in the performance of solar cells happens within the photovoltaic material itself: When photons strike the molecules of a solar cell, they transfer their energy, producing quasi-particles called excitons -- an energized state of molecules. That energized state can hop from one molecule to the next until it's transferred to electrons in a wire, which can light up a bulb or turn a motor.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Fracking's environmental impacts scrutinized
Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually fared better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices
New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers. Researchers identified a new polymer -- a type of large molecule that forms plastics and other familiar materials -- which improved the efficiency of solar cells. The group also determined the method by which the polymer improved the cells' efficiency. The polymer allowed electrical charges to move more easily throughout the cell, boosting the production of electricity -- a mechanism never before demonstrated in such devices.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps, be ultimate camera pixel
A quantum effect in which excited atoms team up to emit an enhanced pulse of light can be turned on its head to create 'superabsorbing' systems that could make the 'ultimate camera pixel'.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

A more efficient, lightweight and low-cost organic solar cell: Researchers broke the 'electrode barrier'
For decades, polymer scientists and synthetic chemists working to improve the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells were hampered by the inherent drawbacks of commonly used metal electrodes, including their instability and susceptibility to oxidation. Now for the first time, researchers have developed a more efficient, easily processable and lightweight solar cell that can use virtually any metal for the electrode, effectively breaking the 'electrode barrier.'<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

X-ray imaging paves way for novel solar cell production
The sharp X-ray vision of DESY's research light source PETRA III paves the way for a new technique to produce cheap, flexible and versatile double solar cells. The method can reliably produce efficient tandem plastic solar cells of many meters in length.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Sun-powered desalination for villages in India
Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water -- and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants. Sun-powered desalination could deliver clean water for off-grid villages.<img src="//" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

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