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Solar Energy Research, Development and Commercialisation Programme

Our services in this area include advice on all aspects of using renewable energy, including

  • feasibility studies - to ascertain whether a move towards photovoltaics or wind power is viable
  • energy efficiency of buildings and systems and recommendations of how to improve
  • determine retrofit solutions for existing buildings
  • monitor performance and rate against benchmark with recommendations on how to improve
  • how to transform 'waste' products such as heat to use for other purposes
  • assess the efficacy of using renewables as an energy source

Key benefits of our services include

  • innovative, cost effective alternative generation opportunities
  • increased efficiency of existing installations
  • statistical evidence for efficacy of existing and new systems

Facilities, projects, publications and services

Solar energy

The use of solar energy in society has been slow over the past few decades, due to its high-cost and stagnation of the development of low-cost and high-efficiency solar cells. The main reasons for this slow development is the lack of scientific understanding and mis-conceptions used in the scientific literature. Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have formulated a new scientific model and recently challenged two accepted theories used over the past 25 years. The university has secured six patents on these new ideas during the past few years.

The Solar energy group publications

The photovoltaic technology for developing countries; The way forward. I M Dharmadasa., Proc. of the workshop on 'Low cost Electronic Materials and Solar Cells', Colombo-Sri Lanka, 5-6 March 1997; Fes-Morocco, June 2000; Dhaka-Bangladesh, Nov. 2000. Renewable Energy Sources and their advantages. I M Dharmadasa, 'Wisdom' University of Colombo publications, June (1977) pp 23-26. Use of solar energy for a healthy society (In Sinhala). IM Dharmadasa., J Nat. Sci. Council., 'Vidurawa' Vol. 19, No. 3/4 (1997) pp 21-24.

Solar Energy Research, Development and Commercialisation Programme

We are working on thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar cells based on the CdTe, CuInGaSe2 (CIGS), GaAs/AlGaAs and organic/inorganic hybrid structures. The focus is on reducing the cost of solar to electrical energy conversion by using electrodeposition as a low cost material growth technique, and developing novel graded bandgap device structures with the highest possible efficiency. Innovative new ideas have been protected in six new patents and subsequently published in the literature during the past four years.

Renewable energy technologies in affordable homes

MERI is involved in a project which is examining the effectiveness of Rotherham's Henley Rise Eco-Homes development. The ESRC-funded study will determine how much energy the homes are saving, and how the attitudes and behaviour of the residents have been affected. The Eco-Homes, developed by South Yorkshire Housing Association in 2007, are fitted with solar panels to provide hot water and generate electricity, any surplus from which can be exported back to the grid. They are also 'super insulated' to reduce heat loss.

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