On June 18 twenty undergraduate students from around the country gathered to work in the silicon pilot line. The students have the task of increasing solar cell efficiency on the line by 1-2 percentage points. In industry, this level of improvement is the difference between profit and loss for a company with a production line.
On May 28th forty-nine people from ten countries converged upon Arizona State University for the International Characterization and Modeling Workshop. The attendees ranged from first year graduate students to professors and experts in the field. In all, fourteen universities and four companies were represented at the workshop.
The silicon solar cell pilot line has been in operation for over a year. This month the line formally started operation as Testbed 1: Student Led Pilot line. Pictured on the right we have the Men in White. As part of their senior design thesis they will rescue solar cells from the ravages of low efficiency and slay the dragons of low yield.
The QESST will continue until finding the holy grail of high efficiency low cost solar cells in May next year.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced an award to Arizona State University and its partners to establish a new Engineering Research Center (ERC) jointly funded by NSF and the Department of Energy (DOE): the NSF-DOE ERC for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST). QESST will develop interdisciplinary research and education programs to address a stubborn energy challenge -- how to realize a large-scale, sustainable, domestic energy source -- by developing advanced solar photovoltaic technologies and by providing the foundation for new industries through innovation. Over the next five years, the NSF ERC program and the DOE Solar Energy Technologies program together will invest $18.5 million in the Center.
Steven Limpert, an undergraduate working at the Solar Power Laboratory, was recently awarded a Circumnavigators Club Foundation grant to study the development and commercialization of solar energy technologies in nations throughout the world during the summer of 2011.
The Circumnavigators Club Foundation awards travel-study grants in the amount of $9,000 to four undergraduate students in their junior year of study in the United States each year. The grant is to be used to circumnavigate the globe visiting at least five countries and three continents while conducting a research study of the recipient’s own design. In giving the grant, the Circumnavigators Club Foundation hopes to foster improved international relations through the development of friendship and understanding.
Steven will be using the grant to visit a wide range of solar energy technology commercial application sites and research institutions in Spain, Germany, India, Bangladesh, Japan and Australia. In each country, he will be meeting with policy makers, business people and academic researches to discuss their work in the area of solar energy technology and their nation’s relationship with solar energy technologies.
When Steven returns from his travels, he will be composing a comparative case study containing information regarding the solar energy technology policies, businesses and research pursuits in the nations which he will have visited.
“The fact that solar powered electricity is highly desirable but comparatively expensive has put government policymakers in a difficult position and there is no precedent for the industry’s responses to some of the recent subsidy cutbacks and policy changes that have been made. I am very excited about the prospect of studying the solar energy technology industry and its relationship to a variety of different government subsidy programs throughout the world.”
Jeremy Wendte, an undergraduate working with the Solar Power Laboratory, was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to study solar electrification in Bangladesh.
The Fulbright grant is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program provides fellowships for graduating seniors and graduate students to perform research abroad for a full academic year. The program emphasizes the need to solve shared international challenges and is part of an effort to encourage American participation in global discourse and research. Applicants are chosen by academic merit and the viability of their research goals.
Jeremy’s grant is to complete a comprehensive study of the role of solar electrification in Bangladesh. It aims specifically to analyze the distribution, administration, usage and sustainability of photovoltaic systems and programs in the country. Although there has been significant research on photovoltaic use in developing nations, few investigations encompass the full array of issues specifically affecting the implementation and sustainability of solar electric power as an alternative energy source. Ultimately, the study is to combine economic, social and technical investigation to present a clear and complete picture of the role of photovoltaic power in a developing nation.
During his stay, he will most likely live in Dhaka, and plans to travel to several parts of the country for interviewing and to observe some of the many different photovoltaic projects taking place under government, NGO, and commercial supervision.
“Personally, the Fulbright grant would provide in-depth, first-hand experience in the direct application of electrical engineering to a sustainable form of development, as well as giving me the opportunity to perform research in the field.”