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Reliance Industries acquires 100% stake in REC Group, plans new manufacturing bases

India headquartered multinational Reliance Industries, through its subsidiary Reliance New Energy Solar Limited, yesterday announced the acquisition of Norway headquartered module manufacturer REC Group. The move comes as Reliance pushes forward with its US$10 billion plan to move in on the renewable energy industry, having also this week announced acquisition of a 40% share in EPC provider Sterling & Wilson.

New ‘matrix’ layout for shingled solar cells

German equipment supplier M10 and research institute Fraunhofer ISE will unveil a new prototype stringer for shingled module layouts at the Intersolar Europe trade show later this week. Employing an offset layout for the shingles, the approach promises a relative efficiency gain of up to 6%, compared to a conventional half-cell module.

Comparing new solar module formats

JA Solar published data comparing its own modules, based on the 182mm wafer format, with others utilising the larger 210mm size over a six month period in field testing. The data show that the smaller of the two formats reached an average daily energy yield almost 2% higher. According to JA Solar’s analysis, the higher currents produced by the 210mm modules led to higher resistance, and more energy lost as heat.

Designer bacteria for energy storage

A group of biologists in the United States working with a bacteria discovered a mechanism that could be used to convert electricity into biofuels or other useful substances. With better understanding of the genetics, the group says the mechanism could rival hydrogen for the storage of renewable energy.

Perovskites can also detect nuclear radiation

Scientists in Switzerland found that perovskites can be used to detect thermal neutrons emitted by radioactive devices. Taking advantage of several properties that also make the materials attractive for solar cell applications, the group was able to fabricate a novel device that could have various practical applications, including in energy generation.

Measuring impacts on solar performance, whatever the weather

Scientists in the United States used machine learning to analyse maintenance reports, performance data and weather records from more than 800 solar farms located across the country. The analysis allowed them to determine which weather conditions have the biggest impact on PV generation, and to suggest the most effective ways to boost the resilience of PV installations to extreme weather events.

Novel battery chemistry for zinc-ion batteries

Scientists have demonstrated a zinc-ion battery that overcomes many of the challenges for this technology. By working with a highly-concentrated salt solution as the electrolyte, the group was able to achieve stability over more than 2,000 cycles combined with a strong electric performance. The group says that its work opens up “a viable route to developing aqueous batteries for emerging electrochemical energy storage applications.”

New alkali metal-chlorine battery promises 6x energy density

Scientists in the U.S. discovered a promising new battery chemistry based on chlorine and table salt. Batteries based on this chemistry can achieve at least six times the energy density of today’s lithium-ion batteries, according to the group that created it. The prototype battery could already be suitable for small devices such as hearing aids, and with further work could be scaled up to larger applications.

Sunday read: What’s in store for storage

As solar and wind make up larger portions of the energy mix, energy storage is becoming an increasingly important piece of the puzzle in keeping electricity networks running smoothly. And as battery costs fall, new business models are emerging to increase the value of battery energy storage projects for both grid operators and project owners. Focusing on two leading countries – the United Kingdom and Australia – pv magazine looks at what’s in store for large-scale energy storage.

Harnessing heat in solar cells with thermionics

Scientists in Canada evaluated the potential of a lesser-known approach to boosting solar generation efficiency. Thermionics uses heat from the sun to generate electricity, and could be combined with photovoltaics to create devices with better than 40% efficiency from a single junction. In their evaluation, the scientists find promising pathways for further research, despite a mountain of challenges that will need to be overcome.