May 17, 2020

Inkjet Printing offers Low-Cost Solar Energy

Oregon State University
Solar
cell
Energy
Admin
2 min
Oregon State University engineers use inkjet printers to print solar cells at low-cost, while reducing material waste
The same technology that has revolutionized the office is now being developed to create low-cost solar cells. The luxury of inkjet printing may be tak...

 

The same technology that has revolutionized the office is now being developed to create low-cost solar cells.  The luxury of inkjet printing may be taken for granted by some, but it was only a few decades ago that the technology was released to the delight of businesses and academic institutions around the world.  Now, scientists are looking to utilize the convenience and speed of inkjet printing to literally print sheets of solar cells, all while reducing the excess waste common to traditional solar cell manufacture.

Engineers at Oregon State University have been developing the inkjet solar technology, which is capable of creating high performance, rapidly produced, ultra low-cost thin film solar cells.  The engineering team is working with various materials to maximize solar efficiency, including chalcopyrite, also called CIGS for its composition of copper, indium, gallium and selenium.  CIGS has a high light-to-electricity conversion rate.  A one-micron-thick layer of CIGS can deliver the same efficiency level of a 50-micron-thick layer of silicon.

 

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"This is very promising and could be an important new technology to add to the solar energy field," said Chih-hung Chang, an Oregon State University professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. "Until now no one had been able to create working CIGS solar devices with inkjet technology."

The inkjet technology also reduces waste generated in creating solar cells by up to 90 percent. "Some of the materials we want to work with for the most advanced solar cells, such as indium, are relatively expensive," Chang said. "If that's what you're using you can't really afford to waste it, and the inkjet approach almost eliminates the waste."

Thus far, the researchers have achieved an efficiency of five percent.  However, the engineering team believes that 12 percent efficiency is achievable, which would make the inkjet solar cells competitive with standard thin film solar. 

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Jul 30, 2021

Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector

marineenergy
renewableenergy
tidalturbine
Sustainability
3 min
The UK’s nascent marine energy sector starts exporting electricity to the grid as the most powerful tidal turbine in the world begins to generate power

Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre

At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable. 

How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?

Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.” 

“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement. 

The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.

“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government. 

“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.

“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”

However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future. 

We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.” 

The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours

This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly

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