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Silicon for batteries moves to commercial production

U.S. company Group 14 Technologies has announced it will launch factory capable of producing 120 tons per year of its innovative silicon-carbon-based anode material for lithium-ion batteries. The factory is located at Group 14’s headquarters in Washington and is the first of several planned by the company.

Saturday read: New pathways in flexible thin film

Having picked up GBP 5.8 million ($8 million) in a series of investments, U.K.-based Power Roll is pushing ahead with pilot production of an innovative new thin film with which it can manufacture both solar modules and capacitors. In the future, the design could also bring the potential for solar generation and energy storage within a single lightweight device.

An aluminium battery that can charge in a fraction of a second

Scientists in China and the United States investigated the inner workings of aluminium-ion batteries. With new insights into mechanisms at work within the battery during cycling, the group was able to demonstrate a battery capable of ultrafast charging, with the highest capacity so far reported for an aluminium battery.

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Adding solar to offshore wind

Scientists in the Netherlands conducted a feasibility study for adding floating solar to a planned 752 MW offshore wind installation in the North Sea. The study finds that the two could realistically share a single connection to an onshore grid, with minimal curtailment as well as technical and economic benefits for both technologies.

Saturday read: Solar’s flexibility can be agriculture’s gain

Both solar and the farming industry are beginning to see potential in the combined use of land for food production and energy generation. And as innovators begin to experiment with different forms, it’s becoming clear that in most cases it is solar that will have to bend to the needs of agriculture, and not the other way around, to ensure a positive outcome.

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Assessing the impact of large-wafer modules

Energy consultancy DNV GL has published new results comparing the performance of modules based on 166mm, 182mm and 210mm silicon cells. The assessment compares Trina Solar’s Vertex modules, which use the largest cell dimension, with unnamed competitors utilising the other two sizes. Results from system simulations show a clear advantage for the two larger sizes, with 210mm edging ahead in terms of levelised cost of electricity.

Weekend read: Big, and then bigger

Throughout 2020, a fast-moving story played out in PV module technology, with the introduction of larger wafers and subsequently larger module formats seeing the industry break into two camps, backing either 182 mm or 210 mm wafers. It remains to be seen whether one or the other will become a new industry standard, and both sizes will likely be plentiful on the market for the next few years at least. pv magazine takes a look at how we got to this point.

Complementary hybrid PV systems can reduce reliance on storage

Looking back over years of research into the topic of hybrid systems based on different combinations of solar, wind, hydro and other renewables, an international group of scientists found strong potential for strategies to exploit complementarity between the different sources integrate more intermittent renewables onto regional and national grids. The scientists present a series of conclusions and recommendations that aim to push research in hybrid renewables forward.

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Looking into the cracks

A white paper published earlier in December by PV Evolution Labs investigates the formation of performance damaging cracks in PV cells, based on mechanical stress testing of more than 40 commercially available PV modules. While the lab warns that susceptibility to cracking will change according to the specific bill of materials making up each module, certain technologies are shown to perform better than others.

New approach to III-V tandems sets 32.9% efficiency record

A collaboration between the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the UNSW has yielded a new efficiency record of 32.9% for a tandem cell device utilizing III-V materials. Key to the achievement was a new technique enabling the researchers to take advantage of “quantum wells” in the material that serve to trap charges and enable tuning of the cell bandgap to absorb more of the light spectrum.

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