Sandwiching an oxygen-rich layer of silicon between a solar cell and its metal contact has allowed researchers in Europe to break performance records for the efficiency with which silicon solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. But the challenge now is how to make these so-called passivating contacts suitable for mass production.
Around a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions are produced by industries such as steel and cement so if we’re going to work towards an emission-free society then this is a good place to start. And one promising technology may have a key role to play.
As wind turbines become increasingly familiar sights along shorelines, developers of offshore floating platforms, which harness the powerful winds further out to sea, are seeking to establish their technologies as a major viable source of clean energy.
Hydrogen can be used to power cars, supply electricity and heat homes, all with zero carbon emissions. The snag is that the vast majority of hydrogen itself is derived from fossil fuels – a fact that scientists are now hoping to change. They plan to clean up production to kickstart a dedicated economy – something that has already found small-scale success in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
The most cost-effective climate change actions are also those that could help us achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) such as ending poverty and hunger, according to Dr Keywan Riahi, director of the energy program of the International Institute Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, who says the first step should be to cut our energy demand.
The impact of heavy droughts, heatwaves and cold spells on energy demand and supplies would be lessened with seasonal climate forecasts that allow energy companies to better predict spikes in usage ahead of time, researchers say.
Wealth-generating, flat-pack solar houses and a profit-sharing scheme that incentivises retrofitting are bringing sustainable living to people who would otherwise not be able to afford it.
The first day that Jérôme Delafosse stepped aboard the Energy Observer, an experimental catamaran run on hydrogen, he knew the plan of sailing around the world on clean energy was a realistic one, he says. Now, the explorer and documentary maker is one year into a six-year odyssey around the globe with his friend Victorien Erussard, an ocean racer and former cruise ship officer, to prove that the technology can be used for pollution-free ocean travel in the future.
The pioneering solar flight foundation Solar Impulse has launched an ‘Efficient Solution’ label for clean energy start-ups and innovations that can demonstrate their profitability, in a bid to boost investment in the sector.
Removing immune-stimulating sugars should also help people with red meat allergies.
Newly domesticated horses may have increased the spread of disease.
Dr Michaël Gillon on what's next for exoplanet science.