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Technology and R&D

A solar-powered chemical industry? It’s not what you think

Chemical manufacturing accounts for around 10% of global energy consumption and 7% of industrial greenhouse emissions. Researchers at RMIT University have developed a material that can capture 99% of light and directly apply it to power chemical reactions thereby slashing emissions and improving the efficiencies of current processes.

Long read: Bifacial testing sites multiply

Bifacial solar panel performance has become such a hot pursuit this year that there are now at least four competing field test sites ramping up in the United States, each matching a different set of trackers and panels. The four test projects include DNV GL, Soltec, NREL and Sandia, and initial data is expected by late 2019, once a year’s data has been collected.

MagniX powers forward with electric light commercial aircraft plans

Solar PV is boosting regional economies by providing cheaper electricity to off-grid or edge-of-grid communities and industries; soon it could power cheaper electric aviation services. In three years, Gold Coast company magniX expects to be selling a commercially available certified electric aircraft engine that will reduce the cost of flying light commercial aircraft by between 50% and 80% per operating hour.

ANU researchers eliminate interlayer in tandem solar cells

Engineers from the Australian National University, in collaboration with researchers from and the California Institute of Technology, have developed a way to combine silicon PV material with perovskites to achieve higher efficiencies and lower production costs.

Greatcell Solar enters administration

Perovskite solar cell specialist Greatcell Solar has failed to secured refinancing for its activities and has been forced to appoint administrators. The company lays the blame at the federal government’s door, pointing to the R&D rebate changes and policy settings that are unsupportive of renewable energy investment as the reasons behind its downfall.

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Solar module lifetime predictions are getting better

NREL has proposed a new methodology for determining solar module degradation rates, taking into account measurement challenges such as sensor drift, inverter nuances, soiling and others – keeping the focus on the solar modules themselves.

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UNSW Sunswift solar car sets Guinness World Record for efficiency

The UNSW Sunswift solar car team has set a new record for the lowest energy consumption while driving across Australia in an electric car. The team completed the journey between Perth and Sydney two days ahead of schedule with the car’s energy consumption on the journey came in well below the previous record.

UNSW, Leadmicro to partner on ALD for PERC production

UNSW Sydney has partnered with Leadmicro to develop the next generation of PERC solar cells and fast-track their time to market. The Chinese PV production machinery manufacturer is donating $1 million Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) reactor to UNSW to test and adapt a new process for PERC cell solar cell production.

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World first base for Airbus solar powered pseudo-satellite launches in WA

The world’s first Zephyr Solar High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite operating base has been officially established in the north of Western Australia. The unmanned aerial vehicle, running exclusively on solar power, will be operating out of Wyndham with the goal to provide observation and communications services to a range of customers.

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Australia’s first hydrogen test station opens in Canberra

ACT gas network operator Evoenergy and the Canberra Institute of Technology have partnered to build a first of its kind hydrogen test facility at CIT Fyshwick. The station will test up to 100% hydrogen in deployments in which natural gas is currently used.

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