by Stephen Evanczuk @ digikey.com:
Microinverters provide an effective solution to solar-energy harvesting by providing power conversion at the individual panel level. The emergence of highly integrated MCUs offers an attractive approach to microinverter design, providing an option that reduces the cost of complexity which limited widespread adoption of microinverters in the past. Today, designers can build highly efficient microinverter designs using available MCUs from semiconductor manufacturers including Freescale Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies, Microchip Technology, Spansion, and Texas Instruments, among others.
Solar-energy-harvesting systems have continued to evolve away from traditional centralized solutions (Figure 1). Unlike systems based on a single central inverter or even multiple string inverters, microinverters convert power from a single panel. In turn, the AC power generated by microinverters on each panel is combined on the output to the load.
Integrated MCUs Enable Cost-Effective Microinverters for Solar Energy Designs - [Link]
by Hanne Degans @ phys.org:
Nano-electronics research center imec announced today that it has improved its large area n-type PERT (passivated emitter, rear totally diffused) crystalline silicon (Si) solar cell on 6″ commercially available n-type Cz-Si wafers, now reaching a top conversion efficiency of 22.02 percent (calibrated at ISE CalLab). This is the highest efficiency achieved for this type of 2-side-contacted solar cell on an industrial large area wafer size.
Compared to p-type silicon solar cells, n-type cells do not suffer from light induced degradation and feature a higher tolerance to common metal impurities. As a result, n-type silicon solar cells are considered as promising alternatives to p-type solar cells for next generation highly efficient solar cells.
Large area industrial crystalline silicon n-PERT solar cell with 22 percent efficiency - [Link]
Solar Impulse plane set to circle world using renewable energy via euronews
A plane powered by the sun, the Solar Impulse 2, has left Switzerland in a cargo flight bound for Abu Dhabi.
Once there, it will attempt a flight around the world, over India and China, taking in Hawaii and the rest of the US before crossing the Atlantic to southern Europe, northern Africa and completing the circle back to the UAE.
“We would like to demonstrate, with Solar Impulse, that we can today achieve incredible things with renewable energies and clean technologies,” explained Dr. Bertrand Piccard, founder of the Solar Impulse project.
“If an aeroplane can fly with no fuel around the world, can you imagine how this technologies could be used everywhere? We have today solutions, technical solutions, to divide by two the energy consumption of the world, and simultaneously create jobs and make profit for the industry,” added Piccard.
Solar Powered Plane Set To Fly Around The World - [Link]
Colloidal quantum dots can be sprayed on nearly any surface to turn it into a solar cell according to an IBM backed laboratory in Candada and the University of Toronto: R. Colin Johnson @NetGenLog
Quantum Dots Enable Spray on Solar Cells - [Link]
Fully Assembled Solar Cell Controller Board and Sun Tracker for Arduinos /Raspberry Pi / Phone Charging. Plus Open Source Drivers.
Ever wanted to build your own Solar Powered Raspberry Pi or Arduino system? That is what this Kickstarter is all about!! SunAir and SunAirPlus are 3rd Generation Solar Charging and Sun Tracking Boards designed by Dr. John C. Shovic at SwitchDoc Labs.
You can use this board to power your projects and add a servo or stepper motor to allow it to track the sun using photoresistors to generate even more power! It incorporates a number of outstanding features in a very compact, inexpensive single fully assembled and tested PC Board.
SunAir Solar Power Controller Board/Tracker/Phone Charger - [Link]
by MidnightMaker @ instructables.com:
This is a Solar Tracker. A full size, internet cloud connected, smartphone accessible Solar Tracker built mainly from 2x4s and plywood, employing wooden peg gears, recycled curtain poles, nuts, bolts and threaded rod. The solar tracker uses a home built electronic controller incorporating WiFi, stepper motor drives, accelerometer and magnetometer. The tracker was designed to drive a full size 90W panel in azimuth and elevation. The gears driving the tracker are wooden peg gears commonly used in the 16th century. The gears were designed using modern 3D CAD (Solidworks). Connecting the wooden peg gears to the internet cloud just seemed like the right thing to do. This is not a waterproof design – you will need to consider modifications to waterproof your derivative design.
Solar Tracker in the Internet Cloud - [Link]
New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat via phys.org
A multidisciplinary engineering team at the University of California, San Diego 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. Their work, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program, was published recently in two separate articles in the journal Nano Energy.
New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat - [Link]
Environmental energy harvesting is a possible source of power for Internet of Things (IoT) sensor nodes but needs careful management. Unless harvesters based on solar or thermal technology, for example, are designed to be compatible with conventional circuits, DC/DC converters need to be optimized for low-voltage inputs.
Sensor nodes for the Internet of Things often need to placed well away from a reliable power source but operate for many years. Although long storage-life batteries provide one option for powering these devices, an increasingly viable alternative is the use of environmental energy harvesting, using sources such as light, vibration and temperature differentials.
Power Conversion Options for Energy Harvesting IoT Nodes - [Link]
Colin Johnson @ nextgenlog.blogspot.com:
Hybrid solar cells that harvest all of the suns energy, instead of just a few narrow bands, could transform the energy economies worldwide: R. Colin Johnson @EETimes
Hybrid Solar Cells Promise 95% Efficiency - [Link]
This Arduino Nano controlled solar battery charger can charge a standard lead acid 12V battery and runs with 90% efficiency under 70ᵒC (158ᵒF). The circuit can take up to 24V input from the solar panels. The maximum power point tracking is implemented in the circuit by measuring the output voltage and current from the solar panel to get the maximum possible power from it.
Solar battery charge controller - [Link]