TANDEM SOLAR CELLS COULD HARNESS MORE
While there are multiple types of photovoltaic materials, researchers from MIT and Stanford University have found that combining
two separate layers of sunlight-absorbing material can create
solar cells that are more efficient than current options. The new
design combines a layer of silicon with a layer of perovskite which
absorbs higher-energy light particles. Because the two layers are
connected, they require only one control circuit.
The researchers’ current design, a proof-of-concept solar cell,
provides 13.7% efficiency – about the same output as that of
current solar cells. However, the researchers say that low-cost
improvements could boost the cell’s performance to about 30%,
significantly higher than conventional silicon-based cells.
U.S. CITIES JOIN GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION PLEDGE
In preparation for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, the ICLEI
World Congress 2015, a sustainability summit of local and sub-national governments, has launched the Compact of Mayors, a
coalition of city leaders voluntarily making commitments to cut
GHG emissions and prepare for the impact of climate change.
Two cities from the U.S. joined the Compact – Des Moines, IA, and
Also launched at the World Congress is the Transformative
Action Program, which looks to improve access to existing capital
flows to cities and regions while accelerating additional funding from both public and private investors. Development of the
TAP is in response to the wide variety of difficulties that can be
encountered when looking to acquire financial backing for energy
“FLIP YOUR FRIDGE” CUTS EMISSIONS
Looking to prevent around 12 billion pounds of GHG emissions,
the EPA has launched its “Flip Your Fridge” initiative, which encourages Americans to recycle older refrigerators and replace them with
ENERGY STAR-certified models. The EPA estimates that if all 19.5
million U.S. refrigerators that are 15 years or older were replaced,
Americans could save over $1 billion on energy costs per year.
As part of the initiative, ENERGY STAR partner utilities and
energy efficiency programs are offering rebates and incentives
toward the purchase of a new ENERGY STAR model, which
typically use around half as much energy as the older units.
Additionally, the EPA shows that consumers purchasing certified
refrigerators can save as much as $260 in the first five years
while reducing their carbon footprints by around 7,900 pounds.
2014 RAINWORKS CHALLENGE WINNERS HONORED
As part of its goal to help reduce water use on college campuses,
the EPA has released the results of its third annual Campus
Rain Works Challenge, which asked student teams from universities to propose additions to campus landscapes that would
reduce stormwater impacts on water quality while also providing
educational and recreational opportunities. Four winning teams
were announced, offering localized ideas to improve water quality,
promote rainwater harvesting, and incorporate renewable energy.
Teams winning first place came from the University of Illinois at
Chicago in the master plan category and the University of Maryland, College Park in the demonstration plan category. Second
place winners in the master plan category was the team from
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and taking second
place in the demonstration project category was Queens College,
City University of New York. Honorable mentions included student
teams from the University of Maryland, College Park, and Georgetown University.