Solar Cell Solutions to Industry’s Biggest Hurdle – Degradation – UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Solar Solutions 031822

Materials scientists at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and colleagues from five other universities around the world have discovered the major reason why perovskite solar cells — which show great promise for improved energy-conversion efficiency — degrade in sunlight, causing their performance to suffer over time.  

The team successfully demonstrated a simple manufacturing adjustment to fix the cause of the degradation, clearing the biggest hurdle toward the widespread adoption of the thin-film solar cell technology. 


A research paper detailing the findings was published in Nature. The research is led by Yang Yang, a UCLA Samueli professor of materials science and engineering and holder of the Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas, Jr., Endowed Chair. The co-first authors are Shaun Tan and Tianyi Huang, both recent UCLA Samueli Ph.D. graduates whom Yang advised. 

Perovskites are a group of materials that have the same atomic arrangement or crystal structure as the mineral calcium titanium oxide. A subgroup of perovskites, metal halide perovskites, are of great research interest because of their promising application for energy-efficient, thin-film solar cells.  


Perovskite-based solar cells could be manufactured at much lower costs than their silicon-based counterparts, making solar energy technologies more accessible if the commonly known degradation under long exposure to illumination can be properly addressed. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Energy Harvesting Microwatt to Gigawatt: Opportunities 2020-2040. 


“Perovskite-based solar cells tend to deteriorate in sunlight much faster than their silicon counterparts, so their effectiveness in converting sunlight to electricity drops over the long term,” said Yang, who is also a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. “However, our research shows why this happens and provides a simple fix. This represents a major breakthrough in bringing perovskite technology to commercialization and widespread adoption.” 


A common surface treatment used to remove solar cell defects involves depositing a layer of organic ions that makes the surface too negatively charged. The UCLA-led team found that while the treatment is intended to improve energy-conversion efficiency during the fabrication process of perovskite solar cells, it also unintentionally creates a more electron-rich surface — a potential trap for energy-carrying electrons. 


This condition destabilizes the orderly arrangement of atoms, and over time the perovskite solar cells become increasingly less efficient, ultimately making them unattractive for commercialization. 


Armed with this new discovery, the researchers found a way to address the cells’ long-term degradation by pairing the positively charged ions with negatively charged ones for surface treatments. The switch enables the surface to be more electron-neutral and stable, while preserving the integrity of the defect-prevention surface treatments. 


 The team tested the endurance of their solar cells in a lab under accelerated ageing conditions and 24/7 illumination designed to mimic sunlight. The cells managed to retain 87% of their original sunlight-to-electricity conversion performance for more than 2,000 hours. For comparison, solar cells manufactured without the fix dropped to 65% of their original performance after testing over the same time and conditions. 


“Our perovskite solar cells are among the most stable in efficiency reported to date,” Tan said. “At the same time, we’ve also laid new foundational knowledge, on which the community can further develop and refine our versatile technique to design even more stable perovskite solar cells.” 


Source and top image: University of California Los Angeles 

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MIT Creates Waterless Cleaning System to Remove Dust on Solar Panels: Maintains Peak Efficiency and Service Longevity

The accumulation of dust on solar panels or mirrors is already a significant issue – it can reduce the output of photovoltaic panels. So regular cleaning is essential for such installations to maintain their peak efficiency. However, cleaning solar panels is currently estimated to use billions of gallons of water per year, and attempts at waterless cleaning are labor-intensive and tend to cause irreversible scratching of the surfaces, which also reduces efficiency. Robots can be useful; recently, a Belgian startup developed HELIOS, an automated cleaning service for solar panels.

Now, a team of researchers at MIT has now developed a waterless cleaning method to remove dust on solar installations in water-limited regions, improving overall efficiency.

The waterless, no-contact system uses electrostatic repulsion to cause dust particles to detach without the need for water or brushes. To activate the system, a simple electrode passes just above the solar panel‘s surface. The electrical charge it releases repels dust particles from the panels. The system can be operated automatically using a simple electric motor and guide rails along the side of the panel.

The team designed and fabricated an electrostatic dust removal system for a lab-scale solar panel. The glass plate on top of the solar panel was coated with a 5-nm-thick transparent and conductive layer of aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO) using atomic layer deposition (ALD) and formed the bottom electrode. The top electrode is mobile to avoid shading and moves along the panel during cleaning with a linear guide stepper motor mechanism. The system can be operated at a voltage of around 12V and can recover 95% of the lost power after cleaning for particle sizes greater than around 30 μm.

“We performed experiments at varying humidities from 5% to 95%,” says MIT graduate student Sreedath Panat. “As long as the ambient humidity is greater than 30%, you can remove almost all of the particles from the surface, but as humidity decreases, it becomes harder.”

By eliminating the dependency on trucked-in water, by eliminating the build-up of dust that can contain corrosive compounds, and by lowering the overall operational costs, such cleaning systems have the potential to significantly improve the overall efficiency and reliability of solar installations Kripa Varanasi says.

MIT’s Solar-Powered Desalination System More Efficient, Less Expensive

A team of researchers at MIT and in China has developed a new solar-powered desalination system that is both more efficient and less expensive than previous solar desalination methods. The process could be used to treat contaminated wastewater or to generate steam for sterilizing medical instruments, all without requiring any power source other than sunlight itself.

Many attempts at solar desalination systems rely on some kind of wick to draw the saline water through the device, but these wicks are vulnerable to salt accumulation and relatively difficult to clean. The MIT team focused on developing a wick-free system instead.

The system is comprised of several layers with dark material at the top to absorb the sun’s heat, then a thin layer of water above a perforated layer of material, sitting atop a deep reservoir of the salty water such as a tank or a pond. The researchers determined the optimal size for the holes drilled through the perforated material, which in their tests was made of polyurethane. At 2.5 millimeters across, these holes can be easily made using commonly available waterjets.

In this schematic, a confined water layer above the floating thermal insulation enables the simultaneous thermal localization and salt rejection.
In this schematic, a confined water layer above the floating thermal insulation enables the simultaneous thermal localization and salt rejection. Credit: MIT

With the help of dark material, the thin layer of water is heated until it evaporates, which can then be condensed onto a sloped surface for collection as pure water. The holes in the perforated material are large enough to allow for a natural convective circulation between the warmer upper layer of water and the colder reservoir below. That circulation naturally draws the salt from the thin layer above down into the much larger body of water below, where it becomes well-diluted and no longer a problem.

During the experiments, the team says their new technique achieved over 80% efficiency in converting solar energy to water vapor and salt concentrations up to 20% by weight. Their test apparatus operated for a week with no signs of any salt accumulation.

MIT-experimental solar desalResearchers test two identical outdoor experimental setups placed next to each other. Credit: MIT

So far, the team has proven the concept using small benchtop devices, so the next step will be starting to scale up to devices that could have practical applications. According to the researchers, their system with just 1 square meter (about a square yard) of collecting area should be sufficient to provide a family’s daily needs for drinking water. They calculated that the necessary materials for a 1-square-meter device would cost only about $4.

Off Grid Solar Desal

The team says the first applications are likely to be providing safe water in remote off-grid locations or for disaster relief after hurricanes, earthquakes, or other disruptions of normal water supplies. MIT graduate student Lenan Zhang adds that “if we can concentrate the sunlight a little bit, we could use this passive device to generate high-temperature steam to do medical sterilization” for off-grid rural areas.

Battery Technology Grows to Meet Demands of Renewable Energy

Axion PC 0


Those skeptical of renewable energy as a viable power source often note that the wind doesn’t always blow nor does the sun always shine.

But advancements in battery technology are helping keep energy flowing on those dark, windless days.

“It’s happening at a record pace,” said Lisa Salley, vice president and general manager of energy and power technologies at Underwriters Laboratories, a Northbrook, Ill.-based independent safety consulting and certification organization.

The goal is to increase the usability of renewable energy, which currently accounts for 21 percent of all electricity generated worldwide but just 11 percent of consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“One of the areas that’s been neglected in the past has been the storage component of renewable energy sources, and that includes wind and solar, of course,” said Tom Granville, CEO of Axion Power International.

That, however, is changing. Power, chemical and material science companies, locally and elsewhere, are investing heavily in battery technology. Some are improving existing technology while others are developing new chemistry to create entirely new battery structures.

The development is driven by a variety of factors. Battery technology got a huge boost from the mobile device boom of the past 20 years as one of the biggest complaints about high-tech smart phones is short battery life. Those same chemistries used to improved mobile device batteries can be scaled to store renewable energy.

Government action — either by mandate or incentive — has increased the demand for energy storage. The state of California is requiring that its utilities develop 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020, which has helped spur development in the industry. And federal solar credits have increased demand for solar panels, which in turn have increased the need for storage.

Similar mandates and incentives for smart grid technology, which modernizes electrical grids to act more immediately, have spurred the battery market.

New Castle-based Axion Power developed PowerCube, a large-scale energy storage unit that can send power to or receive power from the electricity grid. PowerCube, which can send up to one megawatt of power for 30 minutes or 100 kilowatts for 10 hours, is about the size of a semi-truck trailer.

Axion 2012_Power_Cube_web_image

The company recently sold four 500-kw PowerCube to a New Jersey-based solar installer for $1.1 million, its largest order.

Unlike the two leading chemistries used in large-scale batteries — lead acid, first developed in the 1800s, and lithium ion, which emerged on the commercial market in the past 25 years — Axion’s PowerCube is based off activated carbon technology.

Lawrenceville-based Aquion Energy developed its Aqueous Hybrid Ion battery using saltwater electrolyte, manganese oxide cathode, carbon composite anode and synthetic cotton separator. Its battery, like Axion’s PowerCube, can be used to supply power and receive power from the grid. It also can be incorporated into micro-grids to service locations that are otherwise unconnected to the electric grid.

Aquion Energy received $5 million in federal grant money to help develop its Aqueous Hybrid Ion battery as part of smart grid development.

The company, which spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2009 and began pilot production in 2010, has produced more than two megawatt hours of batteries in its manufacturing facility this year, and one line at the facility has the capability to produce 200 megawatt hours of storage per year.

Ted Wiley, vice president of product and corporate strategy for Aquion, said while production is fast-paced for the industry, it might seem slow compared to other technological innovations. Computer processors typically double their performance level every 18 months. That type of evolution is not possible for batteries, which require material science development.

Both Axion’s and Aquion’s batteries are more costly than lead acid batteries — sometimes twice as expensive. But they last nearly four times as long.

Solvay, a Belgian chemical group that recently acquired Plextronics of Harmar, is using the conductive ink technology Plextronics developed to help increase the battery life and capacity of lithium ion batteries.

“There are hundreds of competing technologies, and every day I hear of one more,” said Ms. Salley of Underwriters Laboratories, adding it is hard to predict which technology will emerge as an industry standard.

Since a lot of battery development is based on developing new chemistries, safety is a big component, she said. The firm recently opened a battery lab in Taiwan to test new components as well as entire systems connected to battery technology.

Battery failure can be catastrophic, she said, sometimes even leading to fires and explosions.

“How do we ensure that the technology is safe, how do we make sure that tech is validated in independent and safe ways?” she said. “Having a collaborative push on that is really, really powerful for the good of the common movement of renewables as a whole.”

But all agree that battery development is essential to growing renewables.

“I think the renewables are going to be easier to deploy and integrate more readily to the regular grid if they are coupled with energy storage,” Mr. Wiley said, adding it will give renewable energy sources the same type of reliability as traditional electricity generation sources.

Michael Sanserino:, 412-263-1969 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 412-263-1969 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting and Twitter @msanserino.

UPDATE: Axion Power International sold four PowerCubes to a New Jersey-based solar installer for $1.1 million. The PowerCubes can send up to one megawatt of power for 30 minutes or 100 kilowatts for 10 hours. An earlier version of this article misstated the number of units sold and the capability of the units. 

NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) Chemical & Nano-Science Research for Next Generation of Solar Energy

Solar panel, Image courtesy of Andreas DemmelbauerNREL: Chemical and Nanoscale Science

Learn about our research staff including staff profiles, publications, and contact information.




The primary goal of the Chemical and Nanoscale Science Group, within NREL’s Chemical and Materials Science Center, is to understand photoconversion processes in nanoscale, excitonic photoconversion systems, such as semiconductor quantum dots, molecular dyes, conjugated molecules and polymers, nanostructured oxides, and carbon nanotubes. Closely associated with this goal are efforts to gain an understanding of how to use chemistry and physical tools to control and maximize the photoconversion process. The innovative chemistry and physics that evolve from these fundamental studies are used on a number of applied projects, maximizing the benefits from these discoveries. NREL 20140609_buildings_26954_hp

Our funding is primarily from the DOE Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences and through the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics—an Energy Frontier Research Center co-led by Los Alamos National Laboratory and NREL. Additional funding is available through NREL’s National Center for Photovoltaics, as well as external agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

We discuss details of our research under the following topics:

Unique Tools

The Chemical Science team uses many state-of-the-art, investigative tools that employ high time- and energy-resolution, high spatial resolution, or all of these combined to study the conversion of light to charges or chemical species. Examples of these are transient absorption spectroscopy, transient photocurrent or photovoltage, and plasmon-resonance imaging. We also collaborate at the Office of Science user facilities at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other scientific centers.

At NREL, two major investigative tools in use are transient microwave conductivity (TRMC) and terahertz spectroscopy (THz).

  • Time-Resolved Microwave Conductivity. TRMC uses the interaction of mobile charge carriers with microwave radiation to probe their number and mobility as a function of time after photogeneration. This technique facilitates the study of processes such as carrier trapping and recombination, exciton annihilation and quenching, and more. The technique is applicable to a variety of the low-mobility material systems studied in the NREL Chemical and Nanoscale Science Group: conjugated polymers, small organic molecules (e.g., molecular light-harvesting chromophores and fullerene derivatives), single-walled carbon nanotubes, and semiconductor nanocrystals. A tutorial presentation was developed to provide information about the measurement technique, data analysis, and wealth of information that can be extracted using TRMCPDF. In addition, several TRMC case studiesPDF conducted at NREL are provided to delve further into this investigative tool.


  • Terahertz Spectroscopy. THz employs terahertz radiation instead of microwaves to get information similar to that obtained by TRMC, but much faster. Whereas TRMC is limited to nanosecond resolution, THz goes to femptosecond timescales. THz also gives phase information for understanding the carrier transport mechanism in detail—something that is very important, for example, in single-wall carbon nanotubes.

Multiple Charge Pairs from a Single PhotonQDOT images 6

Our research strategy addresses a wide range of scientific disciplines, including molecular synthesis as a tool for controlling the physical properties of the systems studied, as well as computational chemistry to predict energetic and electronic properties. The Chemical Science team has world-class expertise in the synthesis of II-VI, III-V, and IV-VI colloidal quantum dots, quantum rods, and other composite nanostructures. These systems are studied either by themselves in solution, coupled in larger arrays, or combined with systems such as conjugated polymers. Carrier dynamics, impact ionization, and multi-exciton generation (MEG) are studied using time-resolved spectroscopic techniques such as transient absorption of light and microwaves and terahertz spectroscopy.

See the Chemical Reviews article Semiconductor Quantum Dots and Quantum Dot Arrays and Applications of Multiple Exciton Generation to Third-Generation Photovoltaic Solar Cells, and these articles on Nano Letters: Comparing Multiple Exciton Generation in Quantum Dots To Impact Ionization in Bulk Semiconductors: Implications for Enhancement of Solar Energy Conversion and Variations in the Quantum Efficiency of Multiple Exciton Generation for a Series of Chemically Treated PbSe Nanocrystal Films


Illustration of gray cube on left labeled as quantum dot related to a diagram to the right that has five lines (energy levels) in a top set and five lines (energy levels) in a bottom set, with the two sets separated by a gap labeled as Egap. Three small red solid circles (electrons) on second energy level up (labeled first electron energy level) in top set and three small green open circles (holes) on second energy level down (labeled first hole energy level) in bottom set. Arrows from two holes to two electrons; arrows are labeled as multiple exciton generation. Electron in fifth level up in top set has arrow down to third electron. Hole in fifth energy level down in bottom set has arrow up to third hole. Wavy line with arrow points from lowermost hole to uppermost electron and is labeled hv. Another label says One photon yields thee electron-hole pairs.Graph of quantum yield on y-axis (from 1.0 to 4.0 electrons/photon) and E/Eg on x-axis (from 2 to 6). Six data types are plotted: TCE, untreated, by CH3CN, EtOH, meEtOH, and EDT CH3CH. Points of three data types are connected by lines that show trend curving upward from lower left toward upper right. A stair-step line is also drawn on the plot, with straight-line segments between the following: (2,1) to (2.2), (2,2) to (3,2), (3,2) to (3,3), (3,3) to (4,3), (4,3) to (4,4), and (4,4) to (5,4).

Colloidal quantum dots are also coupled with: (1) self-assembling proteins to help understand inter-quantum dot communication, and (2) single-wall carbon nanotubes and conjugated polymers to investigate exciton and photoinduced electron-transfer mechanisms. We also study singlet fission in organic systems, which is analogous to multiple-exciton generation in quantum dots. See the Journal of Physical Chemistry article Toward Designed Singlet Fission: Electronic States and Photophysics of 1,3-Diphenylisobenzofuran for more.

Molecular Organic Semiconductors

Molecules such as perylenes, porphyrins, and phthalocyanines are synthesized with substituents to control the electronic structure that can promote and control charge-carrier transport in thin films. The goal is to develop a new class of efficient, excitonic solar cells. A major goal in this effort is to understand and control doping in organic systems, as well as to understand the consequences of doping to solar energy conversion using organic semiconductors.

Nanostructured Oxides and Chalcogenides

Two photos. Top and bottom photos are labeled a and b, respectively. Both have a 200 nanometer scale bar and show roughly circular cross-sections of clusters of tubes, with tens of tubes per each cluster.

Designed arrays of TiO2nanorods are coated by atomic-layer deposition with an In2S3 light-absorbing layer. This system can be used to create efficient semiconductor-sensitized solar cells and shows interesting charge-transport behavior.

We are investigating aspects of charge-carrier generation, mobility, and transport in nanostructured metal oxides with a combination of both experiment and theory using Monte-Carlo simulations and time-of-flight techniques. Such nanostructured oxides are used in dye-sensitized solar cells, as well as in charge-storage applications such as supercapacitors and batteries. They can also be used as scaffolding for water-splitting catalysts. A major goal of our group is to create ordered oxide nanostructures and to study the impact of such order on charge transport and recombination to redox species in the surrounding electrolyte or solid-state conductor. See the Journal of Physical Chemistry article In2S3 Atomic Layer Deposition and Its Application as a Sensitizer on TiO2 Nanotube Arrays for Solar Energy Conversion.

Carbon Nanostructures

Research into the electronic structure of single-wall carbon nanotubes and graphene using photoluminescence spectroscopy is combined with studies on how they interact with molecules, semiconducting polymers, and colloidal quantum dots using quantum chemical calculations and newly developing approaches such as time-resolved microwave conductivity. Our team has world-renowned capabilities to synthesize carbon nanotubes at high purity and to type-sort the tubes based on chirality. We also study the impacts of doping of these carbon nanosystems.

For staff profiles, publications, and contact information, see the Chemical and Materials Science staff page.

Observing & Understanding Energy Storage with Electron Tomography: “Super-Capacitors & the Rapidly Growing Market”

electron-tomographyWei Chen, a recent Ph.D. graduate student from the group of Dr. Husam Alshareef, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, recently collaborated with KAUST’s Imaging and Characterization Lab scientists to explain the mechanism underpinning the charge storage process in a common supercapacitor material and its behavior during charge/discharge cycling.


Supercapacitors are energy storage devices that fill the gap between batteries and electrostatic capacitors. They have a high power density and yet enough energy density to allow them to be used to power portable devices or to compliment batteries in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The market size for supercapacitors is growing extremely fast, and they are already appearing in many applications, including portable power tools, cranes, intercity trains, and street lamps.There are two common types of supercapacitors. The first type, the double-layer capacitor, relies primarily on carbon-based electrodes, which store charge much like a conventional electrostatic capacitor found in electronic circuits. The second type, called an ultracapacitor or pseudocapacitor, utilizes the so-called pseudocapacitive materials, which include transition metal oxides such as MnO2, to achieve even higher capacitance.



These pseudocapacitive materials undergo Faradic reactions and provide an additional charge storage mechanism. This means that pseudocapacitive electrodes can produce supercapacitors with a much higher energy density. However, a problem with pseudocapacitive materials is their cycling stability: they typically show a drop in capacitance as they are cycled between charge/discharge processes.

Using electron tomography and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Chen and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Rakhi Raghavan Baby collaborated with KAUST Core Labs scientists Qingxiao Wang and Nejib Hedhili, to show how the morphology and crystal phase of manganese oxide electrodes affect their energy storage density and, more importantly, their unique behavior during charge/discharge cycling.

By using 3-D tomography, the team established how the morphological evolution of the electrode increases its surface area, leading to enhanced energy densities. Furthermore, through the use of a combination of tomography and spectroscopy, the team showed that the electrolyte actually etches nanoscale openings in the manganese oxide sheet electrodes, which surprisingly enhanced the electrolyte permeability and increased the energy density of the device during cycling.

“This work improves our understanding of manganese oxide, one of the most promising pseudocapacitive materials for energy storage applications, and acts as a guide for future experiments,” said Prof. Alshareef.

The results from this project were published in Advanced Functional Materials (DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201303508). Prof. Alshareef’s group has been active in the area of energy storage, focusing on electrode material development for supercapacitors, Li-ion batteries, and more recently Na-ion batteries.

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Asia-Pacific to Invest $2.5 trillion in Renewables to Build New Power Capacity Needed by 2030

Renewable Energy Pix5 Tera-Watts of NEW POWER Needed Worldwide by 2030 

The Asia-Pacific region will invest a massive $3.6 trillion over the years ahead to equip itself with the power capacity it needs for 2030. Two thirds of that sum will go on renewable generation technologies such as wind, solar and hydro-electric, according to a major report from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The report, BNEF 2030 Market Outlook, based on modelling of electricity market supply and demand, technology cost evolution and policy development in individual countries and regions, forecasts that Asia-Pacific will account for more than half of the 5TW of net new power capacity that will be added worldwide in the next decade and a half.
This will equate to $3.6 trillion of investment in Asia-Pacific.[1] Fossil fuel sources such as coal-fired and gas-fired generation will continue to grow in the region, despite rising concerns about pollution and climate change, but the biggest growth will be in renewables, with some $2.5 trillion invested and 1.7TW of capacity added.
Milo Sjardin, head of Asia Pacific for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “The period to 2030 is going to see spectacular growth in solar in this region, with nearly 800GW of rooftop and utility-scale PV added. This will be driven by economics, not subsidies – our analysis suggests that solar will be fully competitive with other power sources by 2020, only six years from now.
“However, that does not mean that the days of fossil-fuel power are over. Far from it – rapid economic growth in Asia will still drive net increases of 434GW in coal-fired capacity and 314GW in gas-fired plant between now and 2030. That means that emissions will continue to increase for many years to come.”
Looking at individual countries in the region, China is forecast to add a net 1.4TW of new generating capacity between now and 2030 to meet power demand that is double that of today. This will require capital investment of around $2 trillion, of which 72% will go to renewables such as wind, solar and hydro.
Japan’s power sector will experience a very different trajectory in the next 16 years, with electricity demand only regaining its 2010 levels in 2021 and then growing at a modest 1% a year, as efficiency gains partially offset economic growth. Some $203bn is expected to be invested in new power generation capacity by 2030, with $116bn of that going to rooftop solar and $72bn to other renewable technologies.
India is forecast to see a quadrupling of its power generation capacity, from 236GW in 2013 to 887GW in 2030, with 169GW of the additions taking the form of utility-scale solar and 98GW onshore wind. Hydro will see capacity boosted by 95GW, coal by 155GW and gas by 55GW. Total investment to 2030 will be $754bn, with $477bn of that in renewables.


India RE images

Global Numbers
Globally, Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects $7.7 trillion to be invested in new generating capacity by 2030, with 66% of that going on renewable technologies including hydro. Out of the $5.1 trillion to be spent on renewables, Asia-Pacific will account for $2.5 trillion, the Americas $816bn, Europe $967bn and the rest of the world including Middle East and Africa $818bn.
Fossil fuels will retain the biggest share of power generation by 2030 at 44%, albeit down from 64% in 2013. Some 1,073GW of new coal, gas and oil capacity worldwide will be added over the next 16 years, excluding replacement plant. The vast majority will be in developing countries seeking to meet the increased power demand that comes with industrialisation, and also to balance variable generation sources such as wind and solar. Solar PV and wind will increase their combined share of global generation from 3% last year to 16% in 2030.
Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: “This country-by-country, technology-by-technology forecast of power market investment is more bullish on renewable energy’s future share of total generation than some of the other major forecasts, largely because we have a more bullish view of continuing cost reductions. What we are seeing is global CO2 emissions on track to stop growing by the end of next decade, with the peak only pushed back because of fast-growing developing countries, which continue adding fossil fuel capacity as well as renewables.”
More on the data and the methodology can be found here.
[1] The actual period in which these investment allocations are made will be 2013-26, in order for the equivalent generating capacity to be commissioned by 2030.
Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

NIST Completes ‘Net-Zero Energy’ House Experiment

NIST conducted a year-long experiment to prove it could build a modern, spacious house that would create as much energy as it uses. This “net-zero” house was home to a virtual family that consumed as much energy as an average American family of four. Thanks to the house’s energy efficient construction and appliances, and solar panels for producing electricity and hot water, the house made more energy than the family used. The house will serve as a testbed for new energy efficient technologies for decades to come.


Quantum Dot Manufacturing Company Secures Technology to 3D Print Quantum Dots for Anti-Counterfeiting

3D Printing dots-2(Re-Posted Article: by · June 30, 2014: Original Post in Va. Tech NT News) Quantum mechanics, it’s certainly an intriguing and almost spooky field, but over the next decade or two we will see a major shift in the understanding and utilization of the various applications of quantum physics. One company based in San Marcos, Texas is already working on 3D printing technologies which are within the quantum realm.

Quantum Materials Corporation has been researching and producing quantum dots for several years now. Quantum dots are the tiny little nanocrystals which are produced from semiconductor materials. They are so tiny, that they take on quantum mechanical properties. Today the company announced that they have secured a specific type of quantum dot technology which has been developed by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Laboratory at Virginia Tech.


Quantum Dots

The technology is based around a patented process which embeds tiny quantum dots into products during a 3D printing process, so that their manufacturers can detect counterfeits. The quantum dots are embedded in such a way that they create an unclonable signature of sorts. Only the manufacturers of the products which have these signatures embedded, know what they should be, making it easy for them to detect illegal copies. Such a security feature would work well within a variety of markets.

“The remarkable number of variations of semiconductor nanomaterials properties QMC can manufacture, coupled with Virginia Tech’s anti-counterfeiting process design, combine to offer corporations extreme flexibility in designing physical cryptography systems to thwart counterfeiters, “stated David Doderer, Quantum Materials Corporation VP for Research and Development. “As 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology advances, its ubiquity allows for the easy pirating of protected designs. We are pleased to work with Virginia Tech to develop this technology’s security potential in a way that minimizes threats and maximizes 3D printing’s future impact on product design and delivery by protecting and insuring the integrity of manufactured products.”

Quantum Dots Giving off Different Colored Light

The security that such a technique offers is quite high. Not only can Quantum Materials Corporation print quantum dots into object, and have those dots emit specific colors, but they can print the dots into an object shaped in several different ways. In addition the company has the ability to use dual emission tetrapod quantum dots to give off two different colors at once. Such technology should easily slow down product counterfeiting, by giving each product a nanoscale signature, that only its manufacturers know exists.

As 3D printing technology expands, we will find ourselves in a world rife with intellectual property theft. This new quantum dot technology could give companies the ability to 3D print their own products, while maintaining the ability to make sure others are not doing the same with their proprietary designs.

A Look at Water Markets Worldwide

water droplet id34951xThe world market for water and waste water amounted to $533 Billion US$ in 2011. The markets are expected to expand further with high growth rates to $674 Billion US$ by 2015.The market figures are for the whole value chain. The regions, technology and consumer segments differ, as well as profit potentials for single markets and companies.

 Surfer at Peahi Bay on Maui, Hawaii

2011 revenues were in excess of US$530 Billion. Broken down by sector:

  • Services 60 %,
  • Equipment 26 %,
  • Chemicals 2 %,
  • Others 12 %.
  • Bottled and Bulk Water Market exceeds $90 Billion USD
  • Water treatment segment has an especially high growth rate.

The drinking water market worldwide is dominated by communal companies, which belong fully or partially to the states, as well as by big multinational corporations. This sector of supply is dominated by about 20,000 companies worldwide. A further concentration into big corporations is expected also in the process of privatization due to high investments and operating costs.

Drinking water markets provide very limited profit potentials (less than 12%), on the other hand it is a long-lasting market with small year fluctuations. Companies and public institutions, that combine drinking water with other utilities like waste water and energy, are fully capable to gain a higher return of more than 15%. The highest growth rates are expected in Asia, especially in China because the state has launched public programs to improve the drinking water situation in the next 5 years.

The public drinking water supply has grown with an average annual rate of 9% and high investment in this field is expected. The World Bank has granted an investment of over $450 Billion US$ for the next 10 years. For over one third of the world population, especially Africa, South America and part of Asia, the drinking water is both a quality and supply shortage problem.

Water markets are local markets but to be successful as an international company, a company will need to serve and work in most important markets worldwide. Over the next 50 years – despite the risks cited, there is a sharp increase in the demand for efficient irrigation technologies, seawater desalination and sewage treatment facilities, technical equipment (e.g. pumps, compressors and fittings), filter systems and disinfection procedures.

New technologies and converging technologies (especially in domestic and residential markets) hold the greatest potential for successful disruption in the marketplace.

In the field of waste water, i.e. clarification of waste water, the situation has improved slightly. Worldwide, 14% of all waste water in the year 2013 was purified. At the bottom of this development list are South America and Africa with less than 2% waste water purification.

The most influential factors are population development, increasing demand for food (and thus demand for water), urbanization, germination, pesticides, nitrates and above all resistance to antibiotics in surface water in the industrialized countries.

Goals of the Report

The study provides a foundation to gain information about trends, opportunities and risks and to evaluate initial situation and further development as well, identifies and evaluates the growth and profit opportunities within the segments of technologies/markets and value chain. It deals with the following technology sectors:

  • Drinking water, water desalination
  • Water treatment/water purification
  • Treatment of waste water in industry and municipality
  • Energy in the water industry
  • Automation, E-Technique and Services in Water Market
  • Emerging membrane technology
  • Emerging desalination

The Helmut Kaiser Consultancy has completed a study that researches and valuates the development of the world markets, single consumer sectors and technology segments. The highest growth rates are in sectors mineral and bottled water, this markets are expected to double from 2015. In this sector 8 companies are dominating worldwide with a market share of 20%. The global market for table water will show a stable high growth rate, because of the many looming challenges for public drinking water most notably, low quality and serious supply shortages.

The report is arranged by sectors and can be obtained either completely, or each sector separately. The markets are presented by countries and regions, as well as by market segments. The report also provides an analysis and profiles, (as well as presentation) of the leading water companies (more than 1500) that are quoted on the stock exchange and their factors of success and technology portfolio. This recent study has been completed to help identify the profitable markets and develop a strategy for future strategic market participation.

For more information: The Helmut Kaiser Consultancy Group ( )



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