PV Magazine: Solar Ready to Thrive Without Subsidy, Says U.S. Energy Secretary

Thesolarindustry in the U.S. is primed to grow and survive even without the need for subsidy support, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said this week.

With the price of solar having fallen dramatically over the past few years, Moniz believes that the cost of electricity from rooftop solar arrays could fall to $0.06/kWh in some U.S. states very soon -- a situation that would make solar "extremely competitive" with fossil-fuel-based power generation sources.

Phys.org: Solar Cell Absorbs High-Energy Light at 30-Fold Higher Concentration Than Conventional Cells

By combining designer quantum dot light-emitters with spectrally matched photonic mirrors, a team of scientists with Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois created solar cells that collect blue photons at 30 times the concentration of conventional solar cells, the highest luminescent concentration factor ever recorded. This breakthrough paves the way for the future development of low-cost solar cells that efficiently utilize the high-energy part of the solar spectrum.

"We've achieved a luminescent concentration ratio greater than 30 with an optical efficiency of 82 percent for blue photons," says Berkeley Lab director Paul Alivisatos, who is also the Samsung Distinguished Professor of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as the director of the Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute (ENSI), was the co-leader of this research. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest luminescent concentration factor in literature to date."

Mother Jones: Coal Companies Are Dying While Their Execs Grab More Cash

According to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies, which bills itself as the country's oldest progressive think tank, executive salaries and bonuses at the top 10 publicly traded coal companies increased an average of 8 percent between 2010 and 2014, even as the companies' combined share price fell 58 percent. Meanwhile, the same executives cashed in well over $100 million in stock options, according to the report, which analyzed the companies' public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In other words, coal execs are cashing in while their companies tank.

"That [stock-based] part of their compensation package is not so valuable right now, so the value of their cash-based pay has been going up," said Sarah Anderson, the report's author. "We're seeing this move to insulate them from the implosion of the coal sector by handing out more cash."

Reuters: Japan Nuclear Power Outlook Bleak Despite First Reactor Restart

The number of Japanese nuclear reactors likely to restart in the next few years has halved, hit by legal challenges and worries about meeting tougher safety standards imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a Reuters analysis shows.

The country has been inching back to nuclear energy, turning on its first reactor in mid-August after a two-year blackout, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and many in industry looking to cut fuel bills despite widespread public opposition to atomic power.

But the analysis shows that of the other 42 operable reactors remaining in the country, just seven are likely to be turned on in the next few years, down from the 14 predicted in a similar survey last year.

Climate Central: Better Health a Key Benefit of Renewables, Study Says

Building wind and solar farms helps to reduce the human impact on climate change by displacing noxious emissions from coal-fired power plants. A new study says there’s another important benefit to renewables development: cost savings from cleaner air that saves lives.

Researchers from Harvard University, in a bid to show the monetary value of clean energy projects in terms of improved public health, have found that energy-efficiency measures and low-carbon energy sources can save a region between $5.7 million and $210 million annually, based on the accepted dollar value of human life.