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Berkeley Lab Study Finds that Future Deployment of Distributed Solar Hinges on Electricity Rate Design

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Future distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment levels are highly sensitive to retail electricity rate design, according to a newly released report by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The study also explores the feedback effects between retail electricity rates and PV deployment, and suggests that increased solar deployment can lead to changes in PV compensation levels that either accelerate or dampen further deployment.

Orange is the New Red

Corie Ralston and Cheryl Kerfield feature image

Berkeley Lab researchers discovered that a photoprotective mechanism in cyanobacteria is triggered by an unprecedented, large-scale movement from one location to another of the carotenoid pigment within the Orange Carotenoid Protein.

The Future of Energy Looks Bright at Berkeley Lab

Chu Hall, Berkeley Lab

The Solar Energy Research Center (SERC), renamed to Chu Hall, opened today at Berkeley Lab. It will house laboratories and offices devoted to photovoltaic and electro-chemical solar energy systems designed to improve on what plants do and make transportation fuels. The building houses the lab’s programs in the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) and the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute . The three-story, nearly 40,000 square-foot, building cost $59 million will house approximately 100 researchers and was named after former Berkeley Lab Director Steven Chu, who went on to become U.S. Energy Secretary.

Berkeley Lab Illuminates Price Premiums for U.S. Solar Home Sales

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A multi-institutional research team of scientists led by Berkeley Lab, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, universities, and appraisers found that home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems . The team analyzed almost 22,000 sales of homes, almost 4,000 of which contained PV systems in eight states from 1999 to 2013—producing the most authoritative estimates to date of price premiums for U.S. homes with PV systems.

Berkeley Lab Report Quantifies the Financial Impacts of Customer-Sited Photovoltaics on Electric Utilities

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A new report prepared by analysts from Berkeley Lab examines the potential impacts of customer-sited solar photovoltaics (PV) on electric utility profitability and rates. The report shows that these impacts can vary greatly depending upon the specific circumstances of the utility and may be reduced through a variety of regulatory and ratemaking measures.

New Studies Find Significant Declines in Price of Rooftop and Utility-Scale Solar

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The price of solar energy in the U.S. continues to fall substantially, according to the latest editions of two annual reports produced by Berkeley Lab. A third Berkeley Lab report, written in collaboration with researchers at Yale University, the University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), shows that local permitting and other regulatory procedures can significantly impact residential photovoltaic (PV) prices.

First Ab Initio Method for Characterizing Hot Carriers Could Hold the Key to Future Solar Cell Efficiencies

A new and better way to study “hot” carriers in semiconductors, a major source of efficiency loss in solar cells, has been developed by scientists at Berkeley Lab. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed the first ab initio method for characterizing the properties of “hot carriers” in semiconductors. This should help clear a major road block to the development of new, more efficient solar cells.

Postcards from the Photosynthetic Edge

Photosytem II utilizes a water-splitting manganese-calcium enzyme that when energized by sunlight catalyzes a four photon-step cycle of oxidation states that ultimately yields molecular oxygen.

Using the world’s most powerful x-ray laser, an international collaboration led by Berkeley Lab researchers took femtosecond “snapshots” of water oxidation in photosystem II, the only known biological system able to harness sunlight for splitting the water molecule. The results should help advance the development of artificial photosynthesis for clean, green and renewable energy.

Dynamic Spectroscopy Duo

2D-EV spectral data tells researchers how photoexcitation of a molecular system affects the coupling of electronic and vibrational degrees of freedom that is essential to understanding how all molecules, molecular systems and nanomaterials function.

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a new technique called two-dimensional electronic-vibrational spectroscopy that can be used to study the interplay between electrons and atomic nuclei during a photochemical reaction. Photochemical reactions are critical to a wide range of natural and technological phenomena, including photosynthesis, vision, nanomaterials and solar energy.

Installed Price of Solar Photovoltaic Systems in the U.S. Continues to Decline at a Rapid Pace

The installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2012 and through the first half of 2013, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost tracking report produced by Berkeley Lab.