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)
Yes, of course, this is in the early stages, Mydesign. You might want to check out the message boards on this story--there is a lively debate going on! I am sure you would have something interesting to add.
Hi, Mydesign, well, yes it seems very complicated, but a Navy engineer is working on it and he has already built a prototype for this type of thing. Here's the article I wrote: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=272395
I would be really interested to know what you think.
"So perhaps it's not so far off that they can use solar panels in space to beam electricity to earth. The Navy wants to convert the solar energy to radio waves and then beam it via antennas on satellite modules. I think it could work!"
Elizabeth, am not sure about transmitting electricity from space station to earth through atmosphere. Lots of hurdles are associated with this type of conversion and transmission. It won't be economical too.
I wasn't aware of that, Mydesign, that's really interesting. So perhaps it's not so far off that they can use solar panels in space to beam electricity to earth. The Navy wants to convert the solar energy to radio waves and then beam it via antennas on satellite modules. I think it could work!
"actually today I am writing a blog post about how the U.S. Navy wants to build a space satellite with solar panels to beam solar energy from space, solving the availability/dependability problem. So stay tuned for that! Clever stuff."
Elizabeth, most of the satellites are equipped with solar panels & energy storing device for powering transponders. During day light they convert sun light to solar energy and stores in batteries for night usage.
Good points, Mydesign, and actually today I am writing a blog post about how the U.S. Navy wants to build a space satellite with solar panels to beam solar energy from space, solving the availability/dependability problem. So stay tuned for that! Clever stuff.
"Thanks for your comment, Al Klu. Actually the government is doing research and investing in solar and other alternative energies, and I agree that you're right they should be taking the initiative here."
Elizabeth, in most of the countries there are energy crisis and governments are always looking for alternate source of energy. Solar and wind are not always dependable because they are seasonal in most of the countries. In some countries they had developed hybrid systems, a combination of wind, solar, rain etc; so that energy can be produced throughout the year depends up on the available energy sources.
Al Klu, first am a non US citizen, I mean am residing in one of the Asian countries. For 3 KVA systems, all together the total cost is approximately $6000 and in that I got a subsidy of 60% (30% from State and another 30% from Federal government). As of now my total electricity bill comes to ¼ of the previous bills and I have the option to sell my extra power to grid. I hadn't connected AC and Pump motor to this system and hence paying these charges to the power supplying company.
Thanks for your comment, Al Klu. Actually the government is doing research and investing in solar and other alternative energies, and I agree that you're right they should be taking the initiative here.
Here's a story you might be interested in reading about how the Army is investing in solar: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=271748
Engineers at Fuel Cell Energy have found a way to take advantage of a side reaction, unique to their carbonate fuel cell that has nothing to do with energy production, as a potential, cost-effective solution to capturing carbon from fossil fuel power plants.
This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
Researchers working with additive manufacturing have said multimaterial techniques will allow industry “to fabricate materials with combinations of density, strength, and thermal expansion that do not exist [yet].”
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