Archive for friday

First Friday

Posted in Solar Research with tags , , , on August 22, 2008 by Steven

Today is the first friday of work. I’d say thats a good thing. The week has been full of ups and downs and ready to get off the rollercoaster for a bit, or at least 2 days.

Solar panels are an interesting thing. I would know since I’ve been looking at them a lot this past week. I thoguht they were simple mechanisms, just gathering light and making electricity; I thought they were a great way to solve our fossil fuel dependency. But further research shows me that they aren’t anywhere as simple or efficient as I once thought. Most are at around 20%, but those aren’t really cost efficient, while others are highly cost effective but only gather 9 maybe 10%.

What surprises me though is the amount of research & development going into increasing those numbers. New generations of solar cell research have increased efficiencies to around 30%, and researchers are doing that while maintaining a decent production cost.

What annoys me (just a little though) is when labs will find a way to increase efficiency to 40+%, but only through some high-tech crazy conttraption that doesn’t seem practical for out-of-lab (OL) application. Take IBM’s high-concentrating CPV that multiplies the sun’s intensity 2300 times. Their system may have done well on power output, but unless they can find a way to mass produce this system and a cheap way to keep it cool (something not in the range of 1600 degrees Celsius), I am not impressed.

In all, photovoltaic research has a long way to go. It’s neat to think that I might be helping with something like this, and maybe I’ll help with a crazy new breakthrough.