Energy and Climate

Photovoltaics
(PV)

Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar light into electricity. Sandia photovoltaic work is centered on developing cost-effective, reliable photovoltaic energy systems produced by US industry and used worldwide.
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Concentrating Solar Power
(CSP)

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) uses mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight, onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat which drives a generator.

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Sunshine to Petrol
(S2P)

Sunshine to Petrol Solar Furnace

The Sunshine to Petrol (S2P) program seeks to create a sustainable liquid fuels solution that can replace petrolium-based fuels on a large scale. Work currently centers on the production of synthetic fuels from carbon dioxide using solar energy.
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Photovoltaics

On average, about one and a half hours of the sunlight that falls on Earth could supply humanity with enough energy to meet all the world’s needs for an entire year. Harnessing even a fraction of this energy could supply humanity with abundant energy to live, move about, and thrive industrially and economically well into the foreseeable future. Sandia is working hard to help make this dream a reality.

Typically, solar energy is harnessed in one of two ways: photovoltaics (PV) use specially selected and fabricated materials that use the sun’s energy to liberate bound electrons in the material which are then captured and channeled to produce electric current—on the other hand, concentrating solar power (CSP) uses mirrors or lenses to focus a broad field of solar energy onto a smaller receiver. The concentrated thermal energy is then used to drive some form of heat engine that produces either electricity or mechanical work.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

In virtually all applications CSP is large power, on the order of 100 MW or larger, that is used by utilities to generate electricity and distribute to consumers. In a CSP plant, solar energy is converted to heat and the heat is used in a conventional power cycle or other heat engine to produce mechanical power and drive a generator.

Sunshine to Petrol (S2P)

Sunshine to Petrol Solar Furnace

Sandia’s Sunshine to Petrol (S2P) team seeks to address the critical national and global issues of growing energy consumption amid increased vulnerability and price volatility of petroleum supplies and climate change risks. The transportation and industrial sectors in the United States are deeply dependent on petroleum, a dominant energy source for these sectors and a driver of greenhouse gas emissions. An alternative energy carrier coupled to a sustainable energy source that can be used within existing infrastructure, distribution, and traditional petroleum-based combustion systems is necessary to assure national security, enhance U.S. economic competitiveness, demonstrate leadership in mitigating the risks of climate change, and promote a smooth transition to an energy-secure and diversified transportation mix.

Solar Publications

High-Efficiency Solar Thermochemical Reactor for Hydrogen ProductionOn June 16th, the Department of Energy Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) announced $20 million for 10 R&D projects to advance technologies that can economically produce and deliver hydrogen to power fuel cells from diverse, domestic, and renewable resources thereby enabling substantial reductions in energy use and carbon emissions. Advancing these technologies is critical to […]
Novel Nanoparticle Production Method Could Lead to Better Lights, Lenses, Solar CellsTitanium-dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles show great promise as fillers to tune the refractive index of anti-reflective coatings on signs and optical encapsulants (protective coverings or coatings) for light-emitting di­odes (LEDs), solar cells and other optical devices. Industry has shunned TiO2 nanoparticles because they have been difficult and expensive to make, and current methods produce particles that are too […]
Planting the “SEEDS” of Solar Technology in the HomeTo better understand what persuades people to buy photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes, Sandia re­searchers are gathering data on consumer motivations that can feed sophisticated computer models and thus lead to greater use of solar energy. A primary project goal is to help increase the nation’s share of solar energy in the electricity market […]

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