Engadget highlights a potentially huge leap in the efficiency of solar cells (i.e. the amount of sunlight converted to electricity.)
A team of researchers in Australia has achieved a conversion rate of 34.5% – the previous record was 24%. Some had predicted that a 35% efficiency rate would be decades away: hopefully the approach can be quickly applied in the real-world.
Engadget reports on the development of new solar cell technology that could allow solar panels to generate power from both sunlight and rain, by incorporating a thin layer of graphene. The approach has some way to go before becoming viable but it could encourage wider instalation of solar panels in climates with more variable weather.
Inhabitat features a hybrid solar and biofuel plane that will attempt a trans-Atlantic crossing later this year, which if successful will be the first zero-carbon flight over the Atlantic.
The article states that the plane will be “powered by a combination of solar energy and biofuels produced from microalgae, which was developed specifically for the Eraole. Wing-mounted solar panels will provide 25 percent of the plane’s power, while 55 percent will come from the algae-derived biofuels. For the remaining 20 percent of the time, the plane will simply glide on wind currents.”
Springwise features a prototype smartphone screen that incorporates a transparent photovoltaic layer under the screen that allows the device to recharge via sunlight. The device is a collaboration between Sunpartner Technologies and Kyocera.
Inhabitat reports on a new solar plant in Southern Nevada that can generate energy both during the day and at night. The article states:
“The solar plant uses more than 10,000 mirrored heliostats spread across 1,600 acres to focus sunlight on a 640-foot tall central tower filled with molten salt. That salt is heated by the sunlight to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit; this stored heat is then used to convert water to steam and drive electricity-producing generators.”
CleanTechnica reports that Japanese multinational Kyocera has begun construction on the world’s largest floating solar PV power plant at the Yamakura Dam, which is due for completion in 2018 when it will generate 13.7 MW.