Solar Newsletter—December 2021

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

Picture of heliostats in a desert with blue sky and sunlight reflecting off them.

An International Effort to Drive Down Costs of Heliostats

In concentrating solar power plants, heliostats track the sun to reflect sunlight to a receiver, where it can be stored for long durations as heat and converted into electricity. NREL is part of a new international consortium aiming to reduces heliostat costs by 50%.

Graph of showing installed PV system costs declining in the first quarter of 2021, driven by reductions in module costs.

Documenting Continuing Cost Declines for PV Systems and Modules

NREL's annual PV cost benchmarks report finds continued costs decline for both PV and PV-plus-storage systems. A separate report examines the factors that drive the module costs for various PV technologies.

Man wear protective equipment carrying a solar panel on a residential roof.

Referrals Are Key to Solar Adoption in Underserved Communities

Some communities face more barriers to installing rooftop solar systems, such as cash constraints or language barriers. New NREL research shows that referrals from other solar adopters play a key role in the spread of solar in underserved communities in California.

A picture of a special piece of clear tape developed by NREL that can absorb almost all lead in a perovskite cell.

A New Way To Trap Lead in Perovskite Solar Cells

Some perovskite solar cells contain small amounts of lead that shouldn't escape the cell, even if damaged. By adapting a material commonly used in the solar industry, an NREL team created a tape that can absorb almost all the lead in a perovskite cell if damaged.

Headshots of the American-Made Solar Prize winners on cartoon bodies holding a check.

Meet the Two Winners of the Fourth American-Made Solar Prize

This multimillion-dollar competition encourages solar innovation and revitalizes solar manufacturing in the United States. In this video and article, follow the journeys of the two teams that just won the fourth round of this challenge.

An image of a thermophotovoltaic cell capturing energy from a hot object.

A Photovoltaic Cell for Heat, Rather Than Sunlight

Thermophotovoltaic cells capture the energy radiated from hot objects as infrared light and convert it to electricity. Building on a long history of developing photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight, NREL is helping set world record efficiencies and pioneer commercial applications for thermophotovoltaic cells.

Research Highlights

A Guide to Updating Interconnection Rules and Incorporating IEEE Standard 1547

Build Solar-Energy Systems to Last — Save Billions

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

Metastable Dion-Jacobson 2D Structure Enables Efficient and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells

An Efficient Method to Identify Uncertainties of WRF-Solar Variables in Forecasting Solar Irradiance Using a Tangent Linear Sensitivity Analysis (Winner of Solar Energy's Best 2021 Solar Resource Paper)

Upcoming Events

Dec. 22 – Webinar: Understanding Solar Referrals and Leads in Disadvantaged Communities

Jan. 7 – Submission Deadline: Perovskite Startup Prize

Jan. 10 – Webinar: Materials Research for Long-life PV Modules

Jan. 12 – Submission Deadline: Solar Forecasting Prize

Jan. 25 – Workshop: National Community Solar Partnership Summit

Staff Profile – Janna Martinek

Janna Martinek

Researcher, Thermal Systems Group

Janna Martinek has developed a reputation across the laboratory as a leader in numerical modeling and related engineering. Her expertise ranges from computational fluid dynamics modeling to grid modeling to optical and thermal modeling of solar receivers. Her primary research is focused on concentrating solar power.

"I often get pulled into many different areas. But my focus is on producing CSP models that are as accurate as possible to understand how we can change the designs to get them to perform optimally."

Read her full profile.