UNSW’s Martin Green wins Global Energy Prize

Sydney professor Martin Green from UNSW has beaten out Tesla Musk to win the $820,000 Global Energy Prize for his work in the field of photovoltaics. Green will share the prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, who is an expert in the field of thermal power engineering.

Martin Green and the Global Energy Prize

Martin Green of UNSW
Martin Green of UNSW (source: Wikipedia)

Professor Green is Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW. According to the ABC he’s a leading specialist in both mono and polycrystalline ilicone sole cells, having invented the PERC solar cell (PERC cells represent just under a quarter of the world’s silicon cell manufacturing capacity (as of end of 2017)).

We’ve written plenty of articles about UNSW solar – they’re involved in general solar power research, have launched the SunSPoT solar potential tool, and they have also recently signed a 15-year corporate PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to become 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

In 1989, Professor Green and his team were responsible for the solar cells in the first photovoltaic system. In 2014 he was able to double 1989’s energy conversion efficiency of 20% to 40%. 

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs told the ABC that Professor Green had “delivered truly transformational outcomes in renewable energy for more than three decades”.

“Martin is a highly deserving recipient of this global prize and we warmly congratulate him,” he said.

“His fundamental and applied research has transformed the global energy sector and will continue to produce major economic and social benefits, both in Australia and worldwide.” Professor Jacobs continued. 

Professor Green said receiving the award was “a great honour”.

“The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news,” he said.

“We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to keep our international lead, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low carbon source of electricity.”

This is a fantastic reward for one of Australia’s solar stalwarts and we salute Professor Green for his ongoing work with solar power technology.

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Senec.Home Intelligent Energy System in Australia

German company Senec has been shipping its products to Australia since early last year, and today we will take a look at the Senec solar battery range – according to the site one of these systems can increase your power self-sufficiency to 80% or more. Let’s take a look and see how they stack up against some of the other solar battery competitors. 

The Senec.Home Smart Energy Management System

Senec Solar Battery
SENEC.Home (source: SENEC)

Energy storage technology has been coming along in leaps and bounds lately – we’ve seen the standard lithium-ion swapped out with hydrogen, perovskite, zinc bromine and other materials. These batteries are lithium ion based as it still remains the most mature technology but it’s important to keep an eye out to see what’s around the corner. Who knows where the tech will take us! 

The Senec.Home is an ‘all in one’ system which includes a Senec inverter, a battery management system and battery modules. You need to manage the solar panels yourself, so make sure you have that planned out before you go and buy everything! Ask your retailer if there’s a good synergy between the system you’ve chosen because it’s an expensive exercise to try and swap or add more solar panels to an existing installation.

Here are some of the benefits of this system:

  • Engineered for 12,000 recharging cycles. This is double the capacity of its unnamed ‘nearest competitor’ (not the Tesla Powerwall 2 as it’s rated for ‘unlimited’ cycles)
  • The SENEC.Home Li system is an automated management system for the panels + battery. It manages your power needs without you doing a thing.
  • Australian service and support, but designed, manufactured and assembled entirely in Germany (except for the Panasonic battery modules).
  • Panasonic manufactured battery with 2.5kWh, 5.0kWh, 7.5kWh, and 10.0kWh options (“depending on the loading and unloading conditions”).
  • 98% maximum battery efficiency. 
  • Soon they’ll have a backup function so the Senec.Home can work when the grid goes down.
  • Up to four units can be daisy-chained to create your own microgrid.

After hosting a product launch last year for the system, it looks like demand for the product has been quite high. The price varies depending on a few factors so please get in touch with your retailer to discuss specifics. 

Click here to download the SENEC Intelligent Energy System Brochure and Specs.

If you’re interested in getting in contact, try  (08) 6280 1206 or  (+618) 6280 1206 if you’re not in Australia. Otherwise you can visit their site by clicking here

Have you got any experience or feedback with installing, buying, or running these systems? Please let us know about how you’re finding it in the comments. 

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Hydrogen energy storage in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage – French hydrogen specialist HDF Energy have announced their  Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais (CEOG) project, which will be one of the world’s biggest solar-plus-storage power plants. The $90m USD plant is expected to generate around 50 GWh per year and will store energy using hydrogen instead of the usual lithium-ion.

Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage - Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana
Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana (source: hdf-energy.com)

With an equivalent 140 MWh of energy stored, CEOG will be the biggest power plant worldwide storing renewable energy using hydrogen.  

The world’s current largest storage project, which was,developed by Tesla and Neoen in South Australia at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has a slightly lower size – 129 MWh. It uses lithium-ion technology rather than Hydrogen. Neoen have also looked into alternative methods of energy storage, however – they are currently in the middle of building an “Electrolyser” Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook in South Australia.

Hydrogen energy storage technology

According to the manufacturer HDF, the hydrogen energy storage tech has a number of benefits over lithium-ion, such as enabling the storage of energy for long periods of time with minimal loss. It’s a very simple process to store the energy as hydrogen – you just need an electrolyzer, storage tanks, and a fuel cell. 

Firstly the electrolyzer separates hydrogen and oxygen from a water molecule. The resultant hydrogen is then pressurised and stored in tanks. In the fuel cell the hydrogen is combined with oxygen, which then allows the production of electricity and steam. 

Hydrogen has been suffering a tough time of it as late as the efficiency is quite difficult to improve – typical ranges are from 75-80%, according to PV Magazine (click the link to read a fantastic, in-depth article about the future of storing energy as hydrogen). Further losses of between 5-35% result from compression and cooling of the molecular hydrogen. Even for on-site use or with a direct feed into the gas network, you’ll see conversion efficiency of around 70%. 

We need to continue the research to see if the efficiency of hydrogen can be improved and it’ll be very interesting to see what the numbers are from both the French Guiana project and the superhub at Crystal Brook. We’ll keep you posted! 

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