Solar power systems with double-sided (bifacial) solar panels—which collect sunlight from two sides instead of one—and single-axis tracking technology that tilts the panels so they can follow the sun are the most cost-effective to date, researchers report June 3rd in the journal Joule. They determined that this combination of technologies produces almost 35% more energy, on average than immobile single-panel photovoltaic systems, while reducing the cost of electricity by an average of 16%.
The results are stable, even when accounting for changes in the weather conditions and in the costs from the solar panels and the other components of the photovoltaic system. Read the full article here…
Scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have created a world record six-junction solar cell that has a conversion efficiency of 47.1%. The device is built using III-V materials which are known for a wide range of light-absorbing properties. Total the device contains 140 layers of III-V materials, with each layer design to capture a specific part of the solar spectrum.
These types of solar cells are typically used to power satellites because of there high efficiency and cost. Here on earth, the six-junction solar cell is best suited for concentrator solar panels. This type of panels cut the cost down quite a bit since you only need a fraction of the material used in conventional solar panels. Also, the efficiency increases as you concentrate the light.
The next step for the scientist is to exceed the 50% barrier and significantly reduce the cost so that these solar cells can reach new markets.
Scientist at the University of California – Davis is developing a solar cell that can work at night. The special design solar cell is said to be able to generate up to 50 watts of power per square meter in ideal conditions.
In regular solar cells, power is generated by absorbing sunlight, which creates voltage and current flow. The new solar cell works in reverse, light is emitted and the current and voltage flow in the opposite direction, however, it’s still generating power. According to the scientist, the new cells can work during the day but you would have to block direct sunlight or point it away from the sun.
This breakthrough could be the stepping stone for grid systems to be able to run day and night on solar power.
Microsoft’s next surface pro might include integrated solar panels. A patent filed with the USPTO shows a surface pro like device cover with at least four integrated solar panels.
Normally solar panels generate electricity from sunlight, however, according to Microsoft, the device can be charged from any artificial light sources. It should also be noted that because of its design, the device can be charged when it’s being used.
At this point, it’s unclear if or when we will see a launching of this device.
Materials scientist Ximin He of UCLA and her colleagues found that an artificial material is capable of orienting itself toward a light source. In the lab test, the stemlike formed material called SunBOTs can capture 90 percent of available light shining onto a surface at a 75-degree angle.
SunBOT works by, having its stemlike polymer embedded with a nanomaterial that responds to light. The nanomaterial absorbs light and converts it into heat. The polymer shrinks in response to increased temperatures.
This is quite a breakthrough for solar energy production. Right now most solar systems have the solar panels fixed and aimed in one direction. This limits the energy output of the solar array. With SunBOTs the energy output could be nearly double. Although real-world testing will have to be done to know for sure.
Double-sided solar cells are already enabling panels to sit vertically on land or rooftops and even horizontally as the canopy of a gas station. According to a new thermodynamic formula, the amount of electricity that can be harnessed from bifacial cells can be as much as 20 percent versus standard mono facial cells. The type of terrain will be the biggest factor in the amount of energy that can be produced, concrete being the most reflective has the highest energy potential.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, experts estimate that by 2030, bifacial solar cells will account for nearly half of the market share for solar panels worldwide.
Since 2008, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has been working hard to develop technologies to transmit electricity wirelessly. The goal of the Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS), is to be able to transmit energy from orbiting solar panels by 2030. On March 12th, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) successfully conducted a ground demonstration test of “wireless power transmission”, a technology that will serve as the basis for the SSPS. Read the full article.
Now researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California San Diego and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have reported new findings about perovskite solar cells that could lead the way to devices that perform better. Read the full article here.