Wednesday, April 23, 2014Register

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.   


Discovery Green



Green Building Resource Center

Major advances in dye sensitized solar cells
Two groups of researchers have recently advanced the field of solar cells with a cheaper and efficient replacement for platinum and better synthesis of zinc oxide. Working on dye-sensitized solar cells -- researchers in Malaysia have achieved an efficiency of 1.12%, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Quantum simulators developed to study inaccessible physical systems
Quantum simulators recreate the behavior on a microscopic scale of biological and quantum systems and even of particles moving at the speed of light. The exact knowledge of these systems will lead to applications ranging from more efficient photovoltaic cells to more specific drugs. Researchers are working on the design of several of these quantum simulators so they can study the dynamics of complex physical systems.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells
In the quest to make sun power more competitive, researchers are designing ultrathin solar cells that cut material costs. At the same time they're keeping these thin cells efficient by sculpting their surfaces with photovoltaic nanostructures that behave like a molecular hall of mirrors.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Higher solar-cell efficiency achieved with zinc-oxide coating
Researchers have achieved 14-percent efficiency in a 9-millimeter-square solar cell made of gallium arsenide. It is the highest efficiency rating for a solar cell that size and made with that material.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

An abundant and inexpensive water-splitting photocatalyst with low toxicity
Researchers in Japan have discovered a new photocatalyst, Sn3O4, which facilitates the production of hydrogen fuel from water, using sunlight as an energy source.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Scientists achieve first direct observations of excitons in motion
A quasiparticle called an exciton -- responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits -- has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials has never been directly observed. Now scientists have achieved that feat, imaging excitons' motions directly. This could enable research leading to significant advances in electronics, they say, as well as a better understanding of natural energy-transfer processes, such as photosynthesis.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Environmentally compatible organic solar cells in the future
Environmentally compatible production methods for organic solar cells from novel materials are in the focus of “MatHero”. The new project aims at making organic photovoltaics competitive to their inorganic counterparts by enhancing the efficiency of organic solar cells, reducing their production costs and increasing their life-time.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Scientists come up with method of reducing solar panel glare
The glare from solar farms could be a thing of the past, thanks to new research. Researchers have developed a multi-layer anti-reflection coating for glass surfaces, which reduces the sun's reflection from photovoltaic panels while at the same time improving their efficiency. It is applied using the same technology as that used for depositing anti-reflection coatings on eye glasses.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

House windows that double as solar panels? Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells
A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work. Scientists have demonstrated that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Better solar cells, better LED light and vast optical possibilities
Changes at the atom level in nanowires offer vast possibilities for improvement of solar cells and LED light. Researchers have discovered that by tuning a small strain on single nanowires they can become more effective in LEDs and solar cells. <img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Passive houses save lots of energy
Housing is the easiest sector to change if we are to reach the climate targets, experts say. Norwegian research shows the housing sector today represents about one-third of the country's energy consumption, or about 35 terawatt hours out of a total of 112 terawatt hours. As a result, it is indirectly one of largest contributors to Norway's greenhouse gas emissions.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Win-win situation: Growing crops on photovoltaic farms
A new model for solar farms that 'co-locates' crops and solar panels could result in a harvest of valuable biofuel plants along with solar energy. This co-location approach could prove especially useful in sunny, arid regions such as the southwestern United States where water is scarce, researchers said.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Tiny step edges, big step for surface science
New experiments can explain the behavior of electrons at tiny step edges on titanium oxide surfaces. This is important for solar cell technology and novel, more effective catalysts.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Future computers that are normally off
Researchers have broadly envisioned the future of spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM), and they have now described how it will radically alter computer architectures and consumer electronics.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Organic solar cells more efficient with molecules face-to-face
New research reveals that energy is transferred more efficiently inside of complex, three-dimensional organic solar cells when the donor molecules align face-on, rather than edge-on, relative to the acceptor.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New findings to help extend high efficiency solar cells' lifetime
Scientists have made a surprising discovery about the degradation of solar cells that could help pave the way to creating a longer lifetime for these cells.  Key factors for creating cost-efficient solar cells to compete with conventional energy sources like fossil fuels include fabrication cost, efficiency and lifetime of the cells. <img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Energy breakthrough uses sun to create solar energy materials
Researchers have discovered a way to tap the sun not only as a source of power, but also to directly produce the solar energy materials that make this possible. This breakthrough could make the sun almost a 'one-stop shop' that produces both the materials for solar devices and the eternal energy to power them.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Tiny crystals to boost solar
A new approach to studying solar panel absorber materials has been developed. The technique could accelerate the development of non-toxic and readily available alternatives to current absorbers in thin film based solar cells.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Nanosheets and nanowires
Researchers have found a convenient way to selectively prepare germanium sulfide nanostructures, including nanosheets and nanowires, that are more active than their bulk counterparts. Germanium monosulfide, GeS, is emerging as one of the most important "IV-VI" semiconductor materials with potential in opto-electronics applications for telecommunications and computing, and as an absorber of light for use in solar energy conversion. One important property is its much lower toxicity and environmental impact when compared to other semiconductors made with cadmium, lead and mercury.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Rainbow-catching waveguide could revolutionize energy technologies
By slowing and absorbing certain wavelengths of light, engineers open new possibilities in solar power, thermal energy recycling and stealth technology More efficient photovoltaic cells. Improved radar and stealth technology. A new way to recycle waste heat generated by machines into energy. All may be possible due to breakthrough photonics research.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Revolutionary solar cells double as lasers
Latest research finds that the trailblazing 'perovskite' material used in solar cells can double up as a laser, strongly suggesting the astonishing efficiency levels already achieved in these cells is only part of the journey.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New way to filter light: May provide first directional selectivity for light waves
Light waves can be defined by three fundamental characteristics: their color (or wavelength), polarization, and direction. While it has long been possible to selectively filter light according to its color or polarization, selectivity based on the direction of propagation has remained elusive. But now, for the first time, researchers have produced a system that allows light of any color to pass through only if it is coming from one specific angle; the technique reflects all light coming from other directions.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Managing renewable energy intelligently
Although more and more of our electrical energy is coming from sources where supply is variable – whether from wind turbines, solar parks or biomass facilities – grid structures, industry and private households alike are not yet prepared to deal with the inevitable fluctuations. Smart energy management systems are the way to put robust supply networks in place and to ensure that renewables are harnessed as efficiently as possible.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Scientists develop silicon cells capable of absorbing infrared radiation from the sun
Researchers have developed a silicon photovoltaic cell capable of turning infrared radiation into electricity. The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy which well-exploited, could solve many of the energy suply problems we have today. The photovoltaic cell, commonly known as solar cell, is a device capable of turning solar light into electricity. However, there are many obstacles that prevent a massive use, such as a relatively high cost (0.02 euros per watt generated) and the low efficiency of silicon based solar cells, around 17 per cent.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Researchers improve performance of III-V nanowire solar cells on graphene
Researchers have achieved new levels of performance for seed-free and substrate-free arrays of nanowires from class of materials called III-V directly on graphene. These compound semiconductors hold particular promise for applications involving light, such as solar cells or lasers.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Scientists discover material that can be solar cell by day, light panel by night
Scientists have developed a next-generation solar cell material which can also emit light, in addition to converting light to electricity. This solar cell is developed from Perovskite, a promising material that could hold the key to creating high-efficiency, inexpensive solar cells. The new cells not only glow when electricity passes through them, but they can also be customised to emit different colors.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Wind farms can provide society a surplus of reliable clean energy
Researchers have found that the wind industry can easily afford the energetic cost of building batteries and other grid-scale storage technologies. However, for the solar industry, scientists found that more work is needed to make grid-scale storage energetically sustainable.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Nanotube composites greatly increase efficiency of next generation of solar cells
Carbon nanotubes are becoming increasingly attractive for photovoltaic solar cells as a replacement to silicon. Researchers have discovered that controlled placement of the carbon nanotubes into nano-structures produces a huge boost in electronic performance.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Self-powered wireless light detectors
A low-power photodetection system can harness enough energy to power an autonomous sensor and monitoring network.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar policy pathways for U.S. states examined
The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published a report that aligns solar policy and market success with state demographics. By organizing the 48 contiguous states into four peer groups based on shared non-policy characteristics, the research team was able to contextualize the impact of various solar policies on photovoltaic installations.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Two-dimensional material shows promise for optoelectronics: LEDs, photovoltaic cells, and light detectors
Team creates LEDs, photovoltaic cells, and light detectors using novel one-molecule-thick material. Researchers have used a novel material that's just a few atoms thick to create devices that can harness or emit light. This proof-of-concept could lead to ultrathin, lightweight, and flexible photovoltaic cells, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and other optoelectronic devices, they say.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Atomically thin, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells created
A lot of research has been done on graphene recently -- carbon flakes, consisting of only one layer of atoms. As it turns out, there are other materials too which exhibit remarkable properties if they are arranged in a single layer. One of them is tungsten diselenide, which could be used for photovoltaics. Ultrathin layers made of Tungsten and Selenium have now been created; experiments show that they may be used as flexible, semi-transparent solar cells.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Promising news for producing fuels through artificial photosynthesis
There's promising news from the front on efforts to produce fuels through artificial photosynthesis. A new study shows that nearly 90 percent of the electrons generated by a hybrid material designed to store solar energy in hydrogen are being stored in the target hydrogen molecules.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Smart grid for electric vehicle fleet
Being able to charge up to 30 electric cars at once requires some ingenious energy management. Researchers are incorporating a mix of renewables into the design of a smart grid for Germany’s largest charging station.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Transparent, color solar cells fuse energy, beauty
Colorful, see-through solar cells could one day be used to make stained-glass windows, decorations and even shades that turn the sun's energy into electricity.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar power: Making it less expensive and more efficient
Researchers are reporting early results on a way to make solar-powered panels in lights, calculators and roofs lighter, less expensive, more flexible (therefore less breakable) and more efficient.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Artificial photosynthesis: Key intermediate steps in artificial photosynthesis reaction identified
The first direct, temporally resolved observations of intermediate steps in water oxidation using cobalt oxide, an Earth-abundant solid catalyst, revealed kinetic bottlenecks whose elimination would help boost the efficiency of artificial photosynthesis systems.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

A new renewable energy source? Device captures energy from Earth's infrared emissions to outer space
When the sun sets on a remote desert outpost and solar panels shut down, what energy source will provide power through the night? A battery, perhaps, or an old diesel generator? Perhaps something strange and new. Scientists now envision a device that would harvest energy from Earth's infrared emissions into outer space. Heated by the sun, our planet is warm compared to the frigid vacuum beyond. Thanks to recent technological advances, the researchers say, that heat imbalance could soon be transformed into direct-current (DC) power, taking advantage of a vast and untapped energy source.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Superabsorbing design may lower manufacturing cost of thin film solar cells
Researchers have developed a 'superabsorbing' design that may significantly improve the light absorption efficiency of thin film solar cells and drive down manufacturing costs.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New, inexpensive production materials boost promise of hydrogen fuel
Generating electricity is not the only way to turn sunlight into energy we can use on demand. The sun can also drive reactions to create chemical fuels, such as hydrogen, that can in turn power cars, trucks and trains. Scientists have now combined cheap, oxide-based materials to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases using solar energy with a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 1.7 percent, the highest reported for any oxide-based photoelectrode system.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar-induced hybrid fuel cell produces electricity directly from biomass
Researchers have developed a new type of low-temperature fuel cell that directly converts biomass to electricity with assistance from a catalyst activated by solar or thermal energy.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Nanoelectronics key to advances in renewable energy
An electrical engineer explains why advances in nanoelectronics will shape the future of renewable energy technologies.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Energy harvesting takes wing in merger of engineering and biology
A bird flapping its wings or a fish’s deep dive may be pictures of nature in action, but in their elegant simplicity scientists see the complex challenges of merging technology with a biological system. The motion of animals could power small devices that allow biologists to collect information about behavior that eludes them under the limitations of current technology.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Light-induced degradation in amorphous silicon thin film solar cells
Researchers have taken a leap forward towards a deeper understanding of an undesired effect in thin film solar cells based on amorphous silicon -- one that has puzzled the scientific community for the last 40 years. The researchers were able to demonstrate that tiny voids within the silicon network are partly responsible for reducing solar cell efficiency by some 10 to 15 percent as soon as you start using them.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Concentrating solar power: Similar values in two technologies
Parabolic troughs and dry-cooled towers deliver similar value for concentrating solar power plants, despite different solar profiles, a new report has found.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Flat-pack lens boosts solar power: Fresnel lens concentrates solar without bulk
Micro-machining could be used to create almost flat, Fresnel lenses, that boost the electrical efficiency of solar panels, according to new research.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Smart grids to help optimize utilization of power grids
Germany's power grids are not yet well prepared for the current consequences of the country's Energiewende, wide fluctuations in the supply of electricity from renewable sources, which conflict with patterns of demand. Smart grids that manage electricity demand at the local -- microgrid -- level may help to reduce the transmission of electricity over long distances to balance regional over- and undersupply. In the GreenCom project, international partners from industry and research develop and evaluate such a "Smart Energy Management System".<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New understanding could result in more efficient organic solar cells
The goal of making cheap organic solar cells may have gotten a little more approachable with a new understanding of the basic science of charge separation presented in a new paper. The research suggests design rules for making more efficient solar cells in the future.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Anti-soiling coating keeps solar reflectors clean and efficient
Scientists are developing a low-cost, transparent, anti-soiling coating for solar reflectors to optimize energy efficiency while lowering operating and maintenance costs and avoiding negative environmental impacts.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New theory may lead to more efficient solar cells
A new theoretical model may hold the key to methods for developing better materials for solar cells. Researchers say the model could lead to new solar cell materials made from improved blends of semiconducting polymers and fullerenes.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

One step closer to low cost solar cells
The dwindling resources for conventional energy sources make renewable energy an exciting and increasingly important avenue of research. However, even seemingly new and green forms of energy production, like silicon-based solar cells, are not as cost effective as they could be. Scientists are now investigating solar cells based on organic materials that have electrodes both flexible and transparent, enabling the fabrication of these solar cells at a low cost.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

One good tern deserves another: Low-power, remote monitoring of island birds cuts bills
A new report reveals details of an energy-efficient system for monitoring wild birds that reduces power consumption without significantly compromising image quality.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Understanding the functioning of a new type of solar cell
Scientists have uncovered the mechanism by which novel, revolutionary solar cells based on lead iodide perovskite light-absorbing semiconductor transfer electrons along their surface. The finding shows these devices constitute a new type of solar cells and open the way to the design of photovoltaic converters with improved efficiency.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar-power device would use heat to enhance efficiency
A new approach to harvesting solar energy could improve efficiency by using sunlight to heat a high-temperature material whose infrared radiation would then be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. This technique could also make it easier to store the energy for later use, the researchers say.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Researchers harness sun's energy during day for use at night
Solar energy has long been used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but it could only be harnessed during the day when the sun's rays were strongest. Now researchers have built a system that converts the sun's energy not into electricity but hydrogen fuel and stores it for later use, allowing us to power our devices long after the sun goes down.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Scientists develop a more efficient and economical solar cell based on graphene and perovskite
Scientists have created and characterized a photovoltaic device based on a combination of titanium oxide and graphene as charge collector and perovskite as sunlight absorber. The device is manufactured at low temperatures and has a high efficiency.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

An improved, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting devices
Scientists have created a simple and scalable technique for greatly improving water splitting as a source of clean energy.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Synthetic natural gas from excess electricity
"Power to gas" is a key concept when it comes to storing alternative energy. This process converts short-term excess electricity from photovoltaic systems and wind turbines into hydrogen. Combined with the greenhouse gas CO2, renewable hydrogen can be used to produce methane, which can be stored and distributed in the natural gas network. Researchers have now succeeded in further optimizing this process.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency
Researchers have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Producing electricity on the Moon at night
Scientists have proposed a system of mirrors, processed lunar soil and a heat engine to provide energy to vehicles and crew during the lunar night. This would preclude the need for batteries and nuclear power sources such as those used by the Chinese rover that recently landed on the moon. The lunar night lasts approximately 14 days, during which temperatures as low as -150 ºC have been recorded. This complicates vehicle movement and equipment functioning on the lunar surface, requiring the transport of heavy batteries from Earth or the use of nuclear energy, as exemplified by the Chinese rover Yutu.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

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