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University of Delaware researchers William Shafarman (left) and Jeremy Firestone each will lead new studies, each supported by $2 million in new grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. Shafarman, director of UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion, will focus on solar panel manufacturing and efficiency. Firestone, director of UD’s Center for Research in Wind, will look at factors that affect consumers’ decisions about solar rooftop panels and/or electric vehicles.

University of Delaware researchers William Shafarman (left) and Jeremy Firestone every will lead new research, every supported by $2 million in new grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. Shafarman, director of UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion, will give attention to photo voltaic panel manufacturing and effectivity. Firestone, director of UD’s Center for Research in Wind, will take a look at components that have an effect on shoppers’ selections about photo voltaic rooftop panels and/or electrical autos.

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and Evan Krape

UD’s Shafarman, Firestone lead Department of Energy funded tasks

University of Delaware researchers will quickly start work on two new renewable energy-related tasks, backed by about $4 million in new U.S. Department of Energy grants in addition to cost-sharing grants from UD and several other companions.

Jeremy Firestone, professor within the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, and William Shafarman, director of the Institute of Energy Conversion and professor of materials science and engineering, are the principal investigators on the tasks, that are getting about $2 million every.

The tasks have wide-ranging targets, from advancing renewable energy expertise to evaluating limitations to clean-energy expertise and addressing the wants of trade. The tasks show once more UD’s longtime management in energy expertise — particularly photovoltaics, electrical energy, wind, gas cells and electrical autos.

Firestone, director of UD’s Center for Research in Wind (CReW), will discover the decision-making means of those that undertake the usage of photo voltaic energy programs and/or electrical autos. He and his crew will take a look at main influences on these decisions, together with incentives and limitations, and develop the nation’s first giant database of these components. The purpose is to determine non-technological limitations to clean-energy co-adoption. Support for this work comes from the Energy Department’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Shafarman and the IEC crew will work to point out how a brand new course of not too long ago developed by the IEC’s Brian McCandless won’t solely enhance the effectivity of photo voltaic panels but additionally simplify the manufacturing course of for trade, permitting corporations to make their photo voltaic merchandise each higher and cheaper. Support for this work comes from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Adopting renewable energy

Firestone has carried out in depth analysis on large-scale energy infrastructure and the social dimensions of renewable energy expertise. This new research, he mentioned, is each a continuation and a departure from that work.

“Although both threads focus on social dimensions of technology, in my prior work I examined reactions to renewable energy infrastructure, while the present research will look at motivations for and barriers to a personal decision to put solar panels on one’s roof or buy an electric vehicle or both,” he mentioned.

Professor Jeremy Firestone of UD’s School of Marine Science and Policy stands in the driveway of a house with solar panels and an electric vehicle.

Professor Jeremy Firestone of UD’s School of Marine Science and Policy stands within the driveway of a home with photo voltaic panels and an electrical automobile.

It is a pure outgrowth of CReW’s give attention to electrical autos and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) expertise, he mentioned.

Researchers will interview those that have purchased electrical autos and/or rooftop photo voltaic and develop surveys and management experiments to discover their motivations. The first survey will take a look at variations between 4 teams of individuals: Those who personal each electrical autos and photo voltaic panels, those that have bought solely an electrical automobile, those that solely have photo voltaic panels, and those that haven’t but bought both.

Consumers weigh many components when contemplating what to purchase and this research will draw on experience in cognitive and social psychology and behavioral economics. One of the targets of the analysis is to determine client traits and patterns of decision-making that lead them towards or away from buy of rooftop photo voltaic or electrical autos or each.

“Individuals may be influenced by the presence of rooftop solar panels on the homes of their neighbors, views about the return on investment in an electric vehicle or personal and social norms related to a clean-energy future,” Firestone mentioned.

Context could also be a key issue. An individual might personal an electrical automobile, however not have photo voltaic panels on the home — not out of opposition to such programs, however as a result of the home is on a wooded lot or they hire moderately than personal the home. Conversely, an individual might have photo voltaic panels on the roof however not have off-street parking that might accommodate electric-vehicle charging.

“It’s a change in focus,” Firestone mentioned. “The magnitude of energy technology is changing, going from utility-scale generation to personal generation and personal choices on vehicles. The change is more about the scale of the technology than the technology itself, but it’s all part of energy transition.”

In the second survey, researchers will consider low-cost interventions and incentives and whether or not they improve the likelihood that an individual with photo voltaic panels would additionally buy or lease an electrical automobile, and vice versa. One of Firestone’s colleagues, George Parsons, Unidel E.I. du Pont Professor of Marine Science and Policy, will lead this facet of the analysis.

Collaborating researchers embody UD’s Steven Hegedus, senior scientist at IEC and professor {of electrical} and laptop engineering, together with companions on the University of California, Davis, the University of Chicago, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a advisor with V2G experience.

Improving photo voltaic manufacturing course of

The IEC undertaking was primarily developed by Brian McCandless, who discovered that he had received the brand new grant the day earlier than he retired from UD.

This photo was taken in 2018, before the coronavirus pandemic necessitated wearing masks and social distancing. Before retiring, UD scientist Brian McCandless (right) worked as an associate scientist with the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC). McCandless applied for the recent Department of Energy grant that Bill Shafarman’s team will use to study ways to improve manufacturing of solar panels. In this photo, McCandless is working with Wayne A. Buchanan, who was a research associate at the IEC.

This photograph was taken in 2018, earlier than the coronavirus pandemic necessitated sporting masks and social distancing. Before retiring, UD scientist Brian McCandless (proper) labored as an affiliate scientist with the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC). McCandless utilized for the current Department of Energy grant that Bill Shafarman’s crew will use to check methods to enhance manufacturing of photo voltaic panels. In this photograph, McCandless is working with Wayne A. Buchanan, who was a analysis affiliate on the IEC.

Shafarman now could be the principal investigator on the undertaking, “but all the credit for the concept goes to Brian,” Shafarman mentioned. “It is his vision and brainchild and it’s great — an exciting new project.”

Working with Shafarman at IEC shall be Associate Scientist Ujjwal Das and Research Associate Shannon Fields. Other companions and subcontractors embody Anderson Janotti, affiliate professor in supplies science and engineering, and researchers at Drexel University, Ohio State University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The grant additionally will help as much as three college students, all in supplies science, Shafarman mentioned.

In 2018, McCandless used the UD-patented Vapor Transport Deposition System he developed to point out how adjusting the properties of thin-film photovoltaics produced smoother crusing for the electrons touring via photo voltaic cells. That opened the door to elevated effectivity and lowered value.

“It was very good science and now we’re trying to make it good technology, while also diving in to understand the underlying fundamentals of the materials and the solar cells we make from them,” Shafarman mentioned.

The advance is appropriate with present industrial processes utilized by the nation’s largest photo voltaic producers, he mentioned.

Thin-film expertise is a staple at IEC, which was established in 1972 and is taken into account the world’s longest repeatedly working photo voltaic analysis middle. Thin movies have benefits over the extra generally used photo voltaic wafers, together with increased flexibility, lighter weight and less complicated manufacturing.

The new course of may improve the effectivity of skinny movies to 25%, a big stride from the current highwater mark of twenty-two.1%.

Solar Energy Technologies Office  

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office helps early-stage analysis and growth to enhance the affordability, efficiency and worth of photo voltaic applied sciences on the grid.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The mission of EERE is to create and maintain American management within the transition to a worldwide clear energy economic system.



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