January 22, 2016

The Added Value of Attending Conferences

Looking back as I finish my Master’s, I am able to look back fondly on the exchange opportunities brought on through my work with the Photovoltaic Innovation Network. In particular I look back to the 28th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) and the boost it provided to my research. This is the largest solar conference, featuring 1,300 presentations from 6,500 authors and co-authors in 86 countries. In research, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. These conferences are a great method to learn about everything in the field of solar energy. The 1,300 presentations are split into oral and poster presentations across the following 7 categories: New Materials and Concepts for Solar Cells and Modules Wafer-Based more
January 22, 2016

Highlights of Interest from SPIE

I recently attended SPIE’s Optics and Photonics conference, held every year in the beautiful San Diego Convention Center.  It was my second time attending the conference, having been there previously in 2013. This year I was lucky enough to receive funding to attend from the Photovoltaic Innovation Network. I arrived in San Diego on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (although so far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s no such thing as a non-beautiful afternoon in San Diego). After checking into my hotel, I headed to the convention center to enjoy the opening talks of the conference. Upon arrival, however, I discovered that the registration and badge pickup counter had closed for the evening. Undeterred, I headed for the talks anyway, but was stopped by multiple conference volunteers. They informed me that I would need a badge to enter. This surprised me, as I wouldn’t have thought people sneaking in to physics conferences was a big problem (now people sneaking more
January 22, 2016

42nd PVSC New Orleans – Leading advances in photovoltaics research and deployment

IEEE’s 42nd Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) was held in New Orleans this year and I had the pleasure of attending. The conference was a great experience, presenting the most recent advances in the area of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. As an undergraduate student at my first conference I was astounded by the amount of academics and companies making important advances in photovoltaics. Anyone cynical of solar technology needs to attend PVSC to discover the speed of progress of photovoltaic development and the intellect driving photovoltaic research. Attending this conference I intended to explore a few different areas of research which included concentrated photovoltaics (CPV), solar resource measurement and modeling, as well as field reliability experience and soiling. Also, attending the plenary presentations I gained an introduction to topics I was less familiar with such as thin film technologies, perovskite solar cells, and space technologies among others. I was also very interested in the talks related to commercial deployment of solar more
January 22, 2016

Great First PVSC Conference

It was my first time attending the photovoltaic specialists conference (PVSC). Having heard that this is one of the best solar conferences, it certainly lived up to my expectations. My participation started a few weeks prior to the start of the conference, as I was selected to be a graduate student assistant (GSA) with the publication team. My job was to make sure that my designated 160 manuscripts adhered to the template specifications.  This activity was a great way to get a sneak peek into the work of many authors. Another great benefit of being the GSA is a free conference registration, a free banquet dinner ticket, and a significant discount on the hotel accommodation. PVSC-42 is definitely the largest conference I have ever attended with close to 1,000 oral and poster presentations combined. The presentations were divided into eleven subject areas from advanced solar cell structures (area 1) to solar resource measurement and modeling (area 9). Since my research more
September 18, 2015

MC12 2015

I had the honour of attending the “12th International Conference on Materials Chemistry” (MC12) on behalf of the Photovoltaic Innovation Network (PVIN). The conference was held by the Royal Society of Chemistry in York, UK, from July 20-23, 2015. This was the first time I attended a conference outside Canada and presented my research. Although I wasn’t able to submit an abstract due to late registration, management still allowed me to present a poster. The conference was held in the Exhibition Center and Central Hall located in the University of York, UK. The University is located in the center of the historical city of York. The lake in the middle of the departments gives the University a beautiful look. While talks were going on simultaneously in both the centers (Exhibition Center and Central Hall), which are on opposite sides of the lake and connected by a bridge, moving back and forth between the two centers was nothing less than fun. more
August 10, 2015

PVSC Conference 2015

This year I had the honour of being funded by the Photovoltaic Innovation Network to attend the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialty Conference (PVSC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was my second PVSC conference I have attended and the first PVSC conference at which I have presented. I arrived on Sunday afternoon for the tutorials where I attended a talk on heterojunction PV technology. The following morning the plenary talks started, where the most striking feature was the amazing growth in the installed base. The growth of total production and increased rollout seemed to be the theme of the plenaries for the week. One presentation that stuck with me from the first day was a graphic that showed how the price of a PV megawatt hour had become competitive with not only coal, but with natural gas as well. However, my favorite talks were later in the day in the parallel sessions; they had to do with the material science behind the more
March 31, 2015

Can the world connect to the sun?- 29th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, Amsterdam, NED (Sept 22 – 26, 2014)

Why do Europeans love solar energy? It seems as if it is combination of several factors, including their desire to clean up the world, their need for alternative energy resources, and their governments’ innovative evolution.  This was quite poignant at the 29th European photovoltaic solar energy conference and exhibition (EU PVSEC) which was held in Amsterdam from September 22-26, 2014.  As usual, this large conference, dedicated to solar energy, did not disappoint and attracted 9000 exhibition attendees as well as 3000 conference delegates.  It was remarkable to bear witness to the unity of thousands of highly motivated scientists and business leaders in their pursuit of low cost, efficient photovoltaic energy on a continent that has 3% of all its electricity generated directly by the sun. As the conference progressed, it became clear that “we weren’t there for what solar energy is, but for what it will become” (H. Kamp). The willingness of Europeans to decrease their dependence on fossil fuel more
January 14, 2015

Characterization at PVSC 2014

This was my second time attending the Photovoltiacs Specialists Conference. My PhD research focus is the use of lifetime measurements to characterize and identify PV efficiency-limiting defects in PV materials, and so I was excited last year to learn that PVSC had Area 8 dedicated to talks and posters on emerging characterization methods. I was anticipating another year of great characterization content, and the  PVSC did not disappoint. The characterization sessions at this year’s event were well-attended, and not only amongst the people developing new characterization methods. Area 8 served as a valuable source of information for researchers looking to find a useful characterization technique for a problem that they are facing. Area 8 also provided a platform for interaction between researchers developing different characterization methods. There are always many different approaches to the measurement of a material property, and it is important that we can reconcile the results from various techniques. In his talk, “Dual Sensor Technique for the more
November 20, 2014

The 40th PVSC in Denver: Interconnections of systems… and people

As a new member of the Sunlab at the University of Ottawa, the PVSC 40th IEEE conference in Denver, Colorado, was the first international conference on solar energy in which I participated. A large photovoltaic conference, there were over 1500 participants in attendance. This excellent learning opportunity gave me a large overview of the development in solar energy as well as the latest advances made in that field. The presentations, made by experts from many different countries around the world, demonstrated the latest innovations in photovoltaics, the increasing possibilities in the use of solar energy, how easy it is getting to access to this form of renewable energy, and also the environmental, economic and political issues related to its exploitation. Both Research laboratories and private companies presented their latest results in characterization, research, and manufacturing processes. The first day was dedicated to short four-hour tutorials where we had the possibility to choose between various topics such as the characterization and more
September 7, 2014

Bifacial Photovoltaics and a Lack of Standards-“Inspired” by Presentations at the 40th IEEE PVSC

There’s only so much you can cover in fifteen minutes. Conference presentations, by design, have to leave out many specifics. However, I find this makes it very difficult to tell if there was a lack of rigor in some aspect of an experiment, or if the standard method is widely known and thus not described. When I’m surrounded by people with decades of experience, I tend to assume that if they’re not calling the presenter out, then I definitely shouldn’t be. My ignorance is far more likely than insightfulness. This state of confused skepticism was my headspace while listening to the presentation by Shu-Hung Yu of Motech Industries on their new bifacial photovoltaic technology at the 40th IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference (PVSC) in Denver. Sipping my (ever-present) coffee with a furrowed brow, I weighed the option of asking a (hostile) question. Luckily, I didn’t have to. Dr. Steven Hegedus of the University of Delaware instead took to the microphone. I more