Solar Newsletter—August 2021

The Solar Newsletter is an electronic newsletter that provides information about NREL's research and development of solar technologies.

International space station

NREL To Send Perovskite Solar Cells to Space

NREL is partnering with NASA to assess the performance and durability of perovskite solar cells in space. The first samples are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station soon. See how the lessons learned might help perovskite adoption on Earth.

Illustration of thermal storage tanks.

Storing Electrically Heated Sand for On-Demand Electricity

NREL researchers are in the late stages of prototyping a new thermal energy storage technology that uses silos of sand, a giant heater, and a heat exchanger as a storage medium. This modular, low-cost system has already been licensed by an industry partner. 

Photo of nine researchers in a 3X3 grid pattern, taken from a Microsoft Teams video call.

NREL Helps Maui Approach 100% Renewable Operations

The island of Maui is likely to become the first interconnected electric transmission system anywhere to operate with 100% wind and solar PV power on an instantaneous basis. Read more about how NREL tools enable this milestone.

Photo of a close-up view of a solar panel with sun and blue skies in the reflection.

NREL, First Solar Celebrate 30 Years of Collaboration

Since the 1990s, NREL and First Solar have partnered to develop more stable and efficient cadmium telluride thin-film solar cells. Key successes include breaking the 1-volt barrier and pushing the cells' efficiency from 10% to 20%.

Research Highlights

Exploring the Link Between Project Delays and Cancellation Rates in the U.S. Rooftop Solar Industry

Prospects for Metal Halide Perovskite-Based Tandem Solar Sells

Absorbing the Sun: Operational Practices and Balancing Reserves in Florida's Municipal Utilities

A Non-Intrusive Optical Approach To Characterize Heliostats in Utility-scale Power Tower Plants: Flight Path Generation/Optimization of Unmanned Aerial Systems

Staff Profile – Ben Sigrin

Ben Sigrin

Energy Systems Modeling Engineer
Distributed Systems and Storage Group, Integrated Applications Center

Ben Sigrin has a wealth of knowledge in distributed energy resources, consumer behavior and adoption of new technologies, financial modeling and statistical analysis, risk and uncertainty modeling, and agent-based modeling of electricity markets. Ben leads the team for NREL's Distributed Generation Market Demand (dGen) model and is a fellow with the U.S. Department of Energy supporting work in energy and environmental justice. Ben has an innate ability to think creatively about complex energy challenges and empower team members to bring new ideas to the table.

"As researchers, we have a responsibility to expand the frontier of knowledge. I'm over a decade into this research, and there will always be more to learn."