Renewable Energies

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:: The German Energiewende – a weapon against climate change, a blueprint for a third technological revolution?

Panel with Jeffrey D. Sachs and other renowned experts pushes for climate action. Time is running out. Jeffrey D. Sachs, renowned world economist and director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network strongly urges policy leaders of high and middle income countries to kick-start massive climate action immediately and congratulates Germany on its Energiewende. “Carbon arithmetic is brutal: We are close to surpassing the 2°C ceiling, but the world makes little effort to prevent it and to reduce emissions sharply. The cynicism, ignorance and inertia prevailing in global policy making frighten me,” he declares. Luckily, “Europe is already well ahead the rest of the world with its energy roadmap 2050.”By Katrin Heeren

:: Atomically Thin Solar Cells

Ultrathin layers made of Tungsten and Selenium have been created at the Vienna University of Technology. Experiments show that they may be used as flexible, semi-transparent solar cells. It does not get any thinner than this: The novel material graphene consists of only one atomic layer of carbon atoms and exhibits very special electronic properties. As it turns out, there are other materials too, which can open up intriguing new technological possibilities if they are arranged in just one or very few atomic layers.

:: Infrared: A new renewable energy source?

Harvard physicists propose a device to capture energy from Earth’s infrared emissions to outer space. When the sun sets on a remote desert outpost and solar panels shut down, what energy source will provide power through the night? A battery, perhaps, or an old diesel generator? Perhaps something strange and new. Physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) envision a device that would harvest energy from Earth’s infrared emissions into outer space. Heated by the sun, our planet is warm compared to the frigid vacuum beyond. Thanks to recent technological advances, the researchers say, that heat imbalance could soon be transformed into direct-current (DC) power, taking advantage of a vast and untapped energy source.

:: Light-induced degradation in amorphous silicon thin film solar cells: New insight into microscopic mechanism

Researchers at the Helmholtz Center Berlin (HZB) have taken a leap forward towards a deeper understanding of an undesired effect in thin film solar cells based on amorphous silicon – one that has puzzled the scientific community for the last 40 years. The researchers were able to demonstrate that tiny voids within the silicon network are partly responsible for reducing solar cell efficiency by some 10 to 15 percent as soon as you start using them. Their work has now been published in Physical Review Letters.

:: The five big "A" of the off-grid electrification

Many people misconceive the possibilities and limits of a sustainable energy supply with solar energy. Customers in off-grid regions can be most easily convinced by a good example: A solar home system, installed in an off-grid household, persuades users usually within a short time - and also arouses the demand for other devices, of which the TV is usually the first.

:: The post-parity PV world is challenging energy utilities

Travis Bradford is the founder and president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development. As solar pioneer and researcher, he is closely tied to Greentech Media (Research) and has been involved in the foundation of the Carbon War Room, the brainchild of Richard Branson. He is a professor at Columbia University in New York, but is also still actively involved in capital investments in California and other parts of the USA.

:: Maintaining the Power Balance in Europe

Change is sweeping the European power industry as the integration of renewables gains pace. How Europe eventually navigates through these dramatic changes will fascinate power decision makers globally. The debate over whether renewables would form a significant part of the future power generation infrastructure has moved on considerably within the last two years: the question is no longer ‘if’ the transition will take place, but ‘how’ an industry traditionally comprised of large units of coal, gas or nuclear power generation running 24/7 as base load is going to adapt to accommodate it.

:: 'At the floodgates' of a solar energy boom

As solar power gets cheaper, experts are predicting a global boom that could significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. DW spoke with leading solar expert Eicke Weber about solar's vast potential.

:: Socrates didn't invent solar architecture

The one book you need to buy everyone for Christmas. Did you know that Socrates gave lectures on solar architecture? But no, he's not the one who invented it – that honor goes back at least to the Chinese, according to the update of John Perlin's classic from the 1970s entitled "A Golden Thread." The new version, entitled "Let it shine," was worth the three decades' wait. A few years ago, I got a phone call from a man named John in California. He was looking for someone who could help him navigate a text in German on solar architecture – from the 1800s. By Craig Morris

:: Binding energy efficiency and renewable energy targets for 2030 are a guarantee for ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and low energy costs

Two recent studies by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI and Vienna University of Technology show that a climate target on its own would fail to trigger enough additional energy savings and a continuous evolution of renewable energies. The EU would thus neglect an important opportunity to curb energy wastage and excessive spending on energy imports. Binding EU energy efficiency and renewable energy targets for 2030 should therefore accompany a possible European 2030 climate target. This is necessary to ensure ambitious greenhouse gas reduction while at the same time taking into account cost effectiveness and European competitiveness.

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