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)
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.
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.
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 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