Solar energy has emerged as one of the most viable forms of renewable energy. But to make it even more prevalent and a standard part of power grids, solar-energy harvesting technologies need to perform at a higher level, achieving more efficiency, or a higher ratio of electrical output to the incident energy in the form of sunlight. Manufacturing the cells also must become more cost-effective and less labor-intensive to further promote their widespread use.
Click on the image below to check out some of the latest ways researchers are working to improve the performance and manufacturing of solar cells.
A group of German and French scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti, and the Helmholtz Center Berlin recently set a new world record in efficiency of 44.7 percent in a solar cell. They achieved this percentage with a four-junction solar cell that took them three years to develop. The solar cell is comprised of four solar subcells based on III-V compound semiconductors for use in concentrator photovoltaics. (Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE)
"Solar energy has emerged as one of the most viable forms of renewable energy. But to make it even more prevalent and a standard part of power grids, solar-energy harvesting technologies need to perform at a higher level, achieving more efficiency, or a higher ratio of electrical output to the incident energy in the form of sunlight."
Exactly Elizabeth, we had been facing this issue for a long time and affecting ROI too. More power from less panels are important, I mean increasing the efficiency of panels. If am not wrong only 40% of the sunlight is able to convert in to energy and rest is wasting
While I applaud the effective increase in the cells, It needs one more thing, not directly but for the Grid to work with Solar.
MASSIVE STORAGE. Roughly 2X the output minimum to cover times of darkness and low output due to weather.
Without said storage the Solar must still be backed by spinning conventional power plants burning fossil fuels. Even just idling those plants is a very expensive situation. Labor to monitor them is a major cost in itself.
And until we have massive storage they must run, day and night, every day.
Solar and Wind pushers have never covered this aspect but it is paramount. Without Storage, both those generation systems cannot be a primary source of power.
Admittedly, in some areas such as the Southwest US, Solar comes when the power demand is peaking, so that helps there. But here in the Northeast it is exactly opposite, Most power is consumed in Winter (low influx hours/day) at night, heating homes. For us, Storage must exceed production of solar by 3X to 4X minimum. Low influx and High night demand will drive this.
Solar IS predictable using cloud and weather data.
We already have peaking generators to deal with changes in load, Germany and other countries are distributing these generators to run off wastes, and co heat the local buildings. Gas turbines are the cheapest backup generators and at most add .5 cents per KWH to solar and wind.
But we could use a replacement for traditional spinning reserve which eats up a lot of power for nothing.
The ideal replacement is parked EVs, and used EV batteries, which have 75% of their original storage capacity. . It's already being done, and it save money and fuels sol oar and wind or not.
http://www.wecc.biz/Standards/Development/wecc0044/Shared%20Documents/Posted%20for%20OC%20Approval/Drafting%20Team%20Report.pdf frequency responsive reserve is what cars to grid can do, not just spinning reserve
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/tribalenergy/pdfs/course_wind_milligan1.pdf agree no new generators needed because of wind
No Storage needed at all.
Yes we need backup and peaking generators, they can run on waste fuels. We only need the expected max LOAD, it has nothing to do with the peak solar and wind. In practice, we need 50% of our max load, because we have load shedding agreement with big, big interruptibility energy users for the extremely rare instances of not enough solar wind and backup.
Last time I checked, solar PV was the most expensive from of green energy, by a long shot. The levelized costs of solar PV were only exceeded by solar thermal and off shore wind. Less expensive PV panels will help, but it seems like it will need to be more than just incremental efficiency increases.
Agreed, ramjet. Engineers at Argonne Labs and at MIT have told us that storage will be needed if renewables exceed somewhere around 15%-30% of our overall power. The number is flexible because no one knows for sure until we get there. But I tend to believe the people at Argonne and MIT.
"Last time I checked, solar PV was the most expensive from of green energy, by a long shot. The levelized costs of solar PV were only exceeded by solar thermal and off shore wind. Less expensive PV panels will help, but it seems like it will need to be more than just incremental efficiency increases. "
SesmoAndrew, I won't agree with that statement. As per my knowledge, it's the cheapest form of natural/green energy when compare with wind mills and hydro-electric systems.
Wikipedia is not a valid Backing for data, anyone can post anything there.
You want to convince me , Get a paper published by a university or major company in the field of energy production.
And you miss my point entirely, Yes, I admit SUNNY areas can benifit.
You miss the point that MOST of the USA is NOT considered Sunny !!!
It has been below freezing for the entire last month here. Overcast and snowing for a lot of that time. SOLAR CANNOT COMPETE HERE.
And If Every Electric Car in the country were plugged in, I expect that would power the grid for about 5 minutes, then all those folks could walk to work because the batteries would be flat. They plug them in to Charge Up, not power the grid, you are expecting the power to flow the wrong way, last I checked (long ago), it wasn't possible to do that.
And they can't charge during the daytime, last I checked, there was precisely one public charging station in the entire state. It's over in the State Capitol. That's a two hour drive from here, which is outside the range of most electric cars anyway. As far as the Expended batteries, Just how many of those do you think exist at this point, I do not expect it's enough to matter yet.
Oh, and where are the power companies supposed to keep them?
But feel free to spread your opinion, I spent a career in the Military to ensure you have that right.
I will stick to Facts, such as those quoted below you by Charles.
I Like Hydro-Electric for the Record. It's clean, relatively cheap and runs 24/7/365. No backup needed. Where I grew up in Colorado, Lots of power came from that. But more came from burning Coal to drive steam turbines. That is still the power of preference there. (Also a low solar influx there)
The German data is correct, solar is peaking summer ac power.
If Germany is sunny enough, most of the world is too.
Solar panels for snowy areas are at high angles, have a slick surface, so snow slides off, and panels work through as much as 2 inches of snow.
Solar is not at it's best in the winter, obviously. No one source will supply our needs. solar, wind backed with waste fuels in backup generators, particularly CHP local generators which provide heat as well, CAN.
Why don't you read the article or look up vehicle to grid, it's a scholarly article from a university. The batteries eliminate frequency reserve spinning reserve with nearly zero wasted power, and give the backup turbines the 15 minutes they need to ramp up. Using only 2% of the battery, and recharging right after that, at a profit for the vehicle owners, and savings for the utility companies. cars spend 95% of their time parked.
Lots of companies have charging stations in their parking lots, and obviously more will as it becomes more popular. I never said pure electric, I assume plug in electric hybrids that can go as far as any car. some 90% of passenger car trips are less than 30 miles. That's all electric for as hybrid like the Volt.
Power companies have massive amounts of land, that's really not a problem, remember they are only for a few minutes at a time, not hours, not days, that what waste fuels in existing turbine are for.
Thanks for risking your life to defend the country, that has nothing to do with this discussion.
Do your own math. Solar panels now cost 50-70 cent on the world spot market, less than 2$ installed in Germany and sometimes in the USA for large systems. They last over 30 years. Not 15, not 20.
The DOE, the old atomic energy Commissions, still 90% nuclear related activities, doesn't even calculate solar cost themselves, they used SolarBuzz, that assumes 15 year life and batteries. Sadly, nearly everyone just uses the DOE numbers.
The DOE is oriented towards big energy companies and solution, they don't even count residential.
Is it so hard to believe they are captive to the fossils and nuke industries? You know the USA, best gov money can buy. Reading the DOE/EIA annual reports is a joke, it's in Thermal BTU's, it doesn't even break out wind and solar, and does not reference their numbers and assumptions.
http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/assumption/pdf/renewable_tbls.pdf Really? It will take the USA till 2035 to come close to Germans solar cost now? And try to find the reference assumption for solar. They won't even let you cut and paste from the document. Please, show me what cost of panels, what lifetime, and storage that the DOE/EIA use for the calculations. They have hidden really well.
Yes, batteries will help solar be even better, but it's not needed.
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