Boosting the Efficiency of Wind Energy and Solar Power

It’s a big month for the National Wind Power Technology Center. Earlier this week, the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) commemorated the successful installation and full capacity operation of a 3 megawatt Alstom ECO 100 wind turbine at the center. As part of a long-term collaboration between NREL and Alstom, engineers from the two institutions will perform a series of analyses and tests to evaluate Alstom’s unique drive train configuration technology.

After this initial testing is complete, the joint team will continue research and development on other advanced technologies including controls and offshore wind energy.

Researchers from the Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will also be hanging out at the National Wind Technology Center in the coming months. They’re launching a study to improve the efficiency of wind farm plants.

Wind turbines produce wakes, invisible ripples, waves and other disturbances in the atmosphere downstream that can damage wind turbines and decrease efficiency. LLNL researcher hopes the detailed study helps turbine and wind farm developers improve layout and design.

Solar Energy

A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jun Xu has created a 3D nanocone-based solar photovoltaic cell platform, and with that boosted the light-to-power conversion efficiency of laboratory scale photovoltaics by nearly 80 percent.

The technology substantially overcomes challenges to efficient charge transport. It utilizes n-type nanocones surrounded by a p-type semiconductor (check out the photo). Due to the increased transport efficiency, the new solar cell can tolerate defective materials and reduce the costs in fabricating next-generation solar cells.

With the creation of a 3-D nanocone-based solar cell platform, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jun Xu has boosted the light-to-power conversion efficiency of photovoltaics by nearly 80 percent. | Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

By Niketa Kumar, Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs,