Testing organic solar cells

April 13th, 2012

A better understanding of the fundamental process taking place when operating an organic solar cell was achieved  through cooperation between Northern European partners in the project Morphoso. Organic solar cells have the potential for low production costs, but major tasks still have to be addressed before we will see the technology rolled out on a large scale. Some of these were tackled in a project funded by N-INNER.

The overall aim of the project consortium was to enhance our understanding and contribute to the process of setting the basis for future improvements and thus pushing organic photovoltaics closer to real applications. The three partners combined their practical efforts and academic insights and engaged in fruitful scientific discussions on how to best improve the technology. This exhange of ideas between researchers from different Nordic countries was a valuable contribution to the project and to the advancement of polymer solar cells. Solar cells were built with different materials in all three labs and standard configurations were defined.

An evaluation platform was established that integrates device modelling, processing and characterisation to find the theoretical and experimental correlation between the thin film process, its nanomorphology and the charge carrier generation and transport in organic solar cells. In addition, the project also focused on the stability issue of organic solar cells.

The Morphoso project received 1.24 million Euro in funding from the the N-INNER 1 call in 2007, which was administered by Nordic Energy Research. The project consortium consisted of researchers from Linköping  University (Sweden), Åbo Akademi (Finland) and Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Germany).

For a deeper insight into the results of the project, download the scientific report.

Nordic region to become warmer and wetter

March 9th, 2012

A new report indicates mainly beneficial impacts of warmer, wetter climate on renewable energy sources in the Nordic and Baltic countries, although safety aspects will have to be considered further.

The project Climate and Energy Systems, funded partly by Nordic Energy Research, has published a report assessing the impacts of 21st century climate change on the development and use of renewable energy our region.The main emphasis is on the utilisation of hydropower, wind power and biomass energy.


100 cool solutions – 1 book

January 3rd, 2012

The Cool 100 Book is an initiative illustrating how the task of switching to sustainable energy has been approached in a number of countries with isolated communities and/or cold climates.

The book, which is the result of funding, from among others Nordic Energy Research, takes a practical approach at describing various initiatives associated with the introduction of new energy supply solutions.

Praise for the Top-level Research Initiative

October 30th, 2011

The Top-level Research Initiative received many words of praise at its annual conference in Oslo on 28-29 November. According to the Norwegian Government, the initiative puts Nordic ideals into practice, and Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Halldór Ásgrimssón is impressed by the results achieved in such a short time.

The Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland opened the Top-level Research Initiative (TRI) Annual Conference by referring to a speech given by Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, when he came to Norway in 2007 as co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore. At that time, Dr Pachauri noted that climate change must be addressed with a joint scientific effort, the development of new knowledge, and the will to acknowledge the realities of a changing climate.
“These are also three key considerations for the TRI, which can be viewed as an initiative in the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize. The TRI can also be said to put Nordic ideals into practice,” said Minister Aasland.

A leader in green growth

Continuing her remarks, Minister Aasland reminded the audience that the Top-level Research Initiative was launched by five exceedingly pleased Nordic prime ministers in 2008 as a large-scale effort to promote research and innovation in the areas of climate, environment and energy.

Minister Aasland took the opportunity to point out that “green growth” has now been placed high on the Nordic agenda. The Nordic prime ministers have stated that the region will become a leader with respect to dynamic, green industrial activity and sustainable solutions and that it has the potential to be at the international forefront in this area. The Norwegian Government recently launched a strategy for industrial development and green growth with a focus on the development of environmental technology, and both the OECD and EU are expanding their focus on this area as well.
“The Top-level Research Initiative is in close alignment with the new objectives and priorities emerging at national, Nordic, European and global levels. Nordic research cooperation is translating the ideals and ideas into a cooperative scientific effort that generates concrete results and that we hope will also bring positive change to society,” said Minister Aasland.

Kick-off for ”Sustainable Energy Systems 2050”

October 18th, 2011

Project managers from the 10 projects attended the kick-off for the new research portfolio Sustainable Energy Systems 2050, a research portfolio managed by Nordic Energy Research.The event was a good opportunity for networking; between project managers and Nordic Energy Research, and between the project managers themselves.

The aim of the event was twofold, as it aimed at introducing the 10 very different – yet linked – projects and to allow project members to network and exchange ideas and setup meetings to join and support each other.The 10 projects cover a wide range of innovative research schemes for biomass, solar energy, wind energy and policy advise on the future infrastructure in energy demand and supply.

Breakout Sessions
In the first session the project managers presented their projects. In another session “communicating science” was in focus. The participants were divided into groups discussing how Nordic Energy Research can support the projects in this aspect. The kick-off began with a dinner and introductory words of welcome from director Anne Cathrine Gjærde. The ten funded projects under Sustainable Energy Systems 2050 are:

1. Sustainable transport fuels based on renewable energy and innovative CO2 electrolysis (CO2 electrofuel), project leader: Haldor Topsøe A/S

2. Solar Parks in the North (Northsol), project leader: Norut Narvik

3. Conversion of solar energy to infrastructure-ready transport fuels using aquatic photobiological organisms as the hydrocarbon feedstock producer (Aquafeed), project leader: University of Turku

4. Wood based energy systems from Nordic forests (ENERWOODS), project leader: University of Copenhagen

5. Technology Opportunities in Nordic Energy System Transitions (TOP-NEST), project leader: NIFU

6. High Efficiency Integrated Solar Energy Converter (HEISEC), project leader: VTT

7. Nordic Initiative for Solar Fuel Development (N-I-S-F-D), project leader: Chalmers University of Technology

8. Nordic power road map 2050: Strategic choices towards carbon neutrality (NORSTRAT), project leader: SINTEF

9. Prediction Tools for Offshore Wind Energy Generation (OffWind), project leader: IRIS

10. Smart Transmission Grid Operation and Control (STRONgrid), project leader: NTNU

Visit the programme page to find out more about the projects.

Solar Power at the Arctic Circle

October 18th, 2011

Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish researchers are cooperating to prove that solar power in the North is not only possible, but also profitable.

”There are a lot of misconceptions about the possibilities for solar energy in the Nordic countries”, says Tobias Boström, research leader at the Northern Research Institute in Narvik, Norway. ”We actually have a lot of sun, especially around the Baltic Sea”. The weather conditions in the region create a perfect testing site for a high latitude solar power plant.

Boström conceived the idea for the project after discovering that the small Northern town of Piteå enjoys more hours of sun in a year than any other town in Sweden. Located by the Baltic Sea’s Gulf of Bothnia and just 100km south of the Arctic Circle, it isn’t the first place one might look to put a solar power plant. However, the Gulf of Bothnia is in fact sunnier than Germany, the largest market for solar power in the world. Detailed computer simulations show significant solar potential, which convinced a local energy company in Piteå, PiteEnergi AB, to join the project and set up the solar power plant next to their offices.

In spite of the high number of sun hours, high latitudes pose some challenges for solar power. Nights are long in the winter, and in the summer the sun’s path over the sky varies a lot. For this reason, a two-axis solar tracking system will be put in operation in Piteå. The system tilts the solar panels so that they always face the sun at a 90-degree angle. This sun tracking technology is not often used in Southern parts of Europe, but gives Northern solar power plants the opportunity to generate energy irrespective of high latitudes. The higher the latitude, the more positive effect from the tracking system.

Because of the cold climate in the Nordic countries, the researchers need to find solutions to problems caused by snow and icing. But the cold Nordic climate can also be an advantage in solar energy production, as the efficiency of the solar panels increases with lower temperatures.

The solar power plant in Piteå, Sweden is expected to generate 28 MWh annually. The energy will be used to power the offices of PiteEnergi. As soon as data from the Piteå plant is available, the researchers hope to convince the public and investors that large solar power plants at high latitudes are both technically and economically feasible.

This project is a cooperation between the Northern Research Institute (Norway), Kemi-Tornionlaakso Municipal Education and Training Consortium (Finland), Luleå Technical University (Sweden) and PiteEnergi AB (Sweden) and is supported by Nordic Energy Research.

New indicators show strength and diversity in Nordic energy technology development

October 8th, 2010

Our understanding of the state of Nordic energy technology development has received a boost in resolution with the release of the Nordic Energy Technology Scoreboard for 2010. The report provides a collection of indi-cators to illustrate past and present progress in key competencies of the Nordic region, namely in wind, photovoltaic solar, biofuels, geothermal and carbon capture and storage.

The scoreboard develops a methodology for assessing energy technology development, presenting 5 categories of indicators: Structural, input, throughput, output and policy. The scoreboard outlines challenges in measuring energy technology development and offers 10 key recommendations for improving scoreboards in the future.

The Nordic countries exhibit strong structural indicators, enablers of energy technology development. Not only do Nordic countries have high per-capita GDP, but spend a relatively large share of that GDP on R&D, in addition to maintaining a strong focus on energy as a key R&D priority. High shares of Nordic R&D personnel are employed in the energy sector, where renewable sources account for the majority of Nordic electricity consumption.

Input indicators such as public funding of energy RD&D show a recent increase across the region, despite being far below levels in early 1980s. Biofuels, photovoltaic solar and carbon capture and storage have all seen recent booms in funding, while wind has received steady, long-term support.

The scoreboard provides composite indicators such as the figure shown below, combining funding for wind RD&D and with electricity produced by wind, putting Denmark firmly among other leaders in Europe: Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Patent filing and scientific publishing provide throughput indicators, where the diversity and complementarity of Nordic energy technology competencies becomes evident. Output indicators, such as technology export, illustrate the Danish success story in supplying the global market for wind technology. Policy indicators show the early adoption of measures in the Nordic region, and the evolving focus from solely R&D support in the 1970s through to the complex array of mechanisms in force today.