Author Topic: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency  (Read 2851 times)

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Offline chris_leyson

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Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« on: October 26, 2016, 06:18:12 PM »
Caught this snippet from the BBC this morning, researchers in Switzerland are aiming to double solar panel efficiency http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37553532 they've claimed 36%. It's a very clever idea, first trick is the use of lenses to focus the light and the second is to use tiny high performance space grade solar cells. Website at https://insolight.ch/. Design of the tracking system could be a bit difficult as it would have to work in all weather conditions and for the panels lifetime, but not impossible. The lens design is going to be interesting, will have to see if they have a patent on that. Wish them the best of luck.
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 06:48:05 PM »
That's called concentrated PV system. 40% cell efficiency has already been commercialized (SpectroLab C4MJ).
Even for non concentrated ones, 22% cell efficiency has already been commercialized (SunPower C60).
I've been worked with both, and both are great products, though considerably more expensive than competitors.
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Offline riccardo.pittini

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2016, 08:18:22 AM »
Solar cells and panels have been proved to be able to go well above 40% (if I recall right even 46%).

Their main concept is the tracking system which is for sure a simple good idea.

Even though they will manage to use very small, highly efficient (but expensive) solar cells, I think there will be some thermal problems in order to cool the tiny cell elements.
 

Offline foursquare

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2017, 03:26:13 AM »
This is a marvelous thread! The power of solar panels was already helpful as it is, but just think about what's going to happen after science do find a way to double its efficiency. We might see the world where we'll no longer need electric cables and the such.
 

Offline Kleinstein

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2017, 03:56:55 AM »
Increasing the efficiency by concentration and tracking is an old idea. The very high > 40% efficiency numbers usually ignore the loss due to the lens / mirror. So it is the efficiency after concentration.

Concentration only works if the sky is clear - even a little mist already reduces the power quite a lot.  So it might be a good option at desert or similar places, but nothing for less good places with less sun. Tracking also adds quite some costs and limits the fraction of the land used (otherwise you would get shading at some time of the day). So non tracking cells could have nearly twice the cell area one the same land.
 

Offline tronde

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Offline Kleinstein

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2017, 06:22:35 AM »
The super high efficiency is only possible with concentrated light - this is because there is a kind of thermodynamic limit to the efficiency of light to electricity conversion as a function of the light intensity:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shockley%E2%80%93Queisser_limit

Given a 33 % limit for single junction Si cells without concentration, the actual achieved slightly more than 20% are already quite good.
 

Online Brumby

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2017, 08:44:30 PM »
Double the efficiency at more than double the cost is going to mean it is at an economic disadvantage - unless space is at a premium.

By all means improve efficiency - but don't lose sight of the cost.
 

Offline CCitizenTO

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2017, 05:39:18 AM »
Double the efficiency at more than double the cost is going to mean it is at an economic disadvantage - unless space is at a premium.

By all means improve efficiency - but don't lose sight of the cost.

Well space is at a premium in urban areas where population density is high and installations are primarily put on roofs. Only on larger high population density buildings with flat roofs can you put in fancy solar tracking PV arrays but the higher density population means they're using more energy so such a system couldn't keep up with the demands for an entire such building unless maybe it was a low-rise building vs a high rise. High rise buildings will need far more energy than a PV array could generate. On the upside you really wouldn't need to store the energy since it'd probably be a grid-tie system.
 

Online DBecker

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2017, 03:17:26 PM »
Cities are a less than optimal place for solar panels.

The electrical supply for a city is cheap to install (relative to the use), and the cost of the space is high.

But back to the original story -- that headline screams hype.  I'm aiming to double my power supply efficiency, and my coding efficiency.  In reality I'll be at about 1% improvement.  But I can still pitch that as "up to 10x better!".
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2017, 06:13:35 AM »
This sounds like complete bull shit to me. You have sunlight beating on the same area of panel, they are not collecting light from an area which would otherwise not be struck by sunlight. Don't think that just because the BBC is raving about this it has any value. In my experience the BBC is 1 of the least adept news organisations at spotting complete bollocks. I think the last comment on the piece was that the circuit board with 7 tiny elements was suddenly going to produce as much power as the board covered in regular elements.
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Offline flochlandla

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Re: Research aims to double solar panel efficiency
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2017, 05:28:34 PM »
As already claimed, the idea of a concentrator cell is old, also the idea to stack different types of semiconductors to optimize the output.

For that kind of system you need
* A lens (maybe a fresnell-type for easier production?)
* Tracking system
* Direct (!) sunlight

The lens is not complicated as the semiconductors need protection from the environment.
The tracking system is more tricky: Ensure it is always operating, i.e. the mechanical part is ok (also in the winter season). Also, this system may significantly increase the total costs (the lens still needs the size of a conventional system - you want to collect the sunlight!)
Direct sunlight is the problem: At least in middle europe the higher system efficacy is nullified by a significant number of cloudy days.
 


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