More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-18-2014 Thread Starter
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More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

Is it time to move away from silicon-based solar? | Ars Technica

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post #2 of 21 Old 02-19-2014
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

ok, that is very very clever. Especially the way they are using multiple U shaped lenses to trap the photons until they can be absorbed.

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post #3 of 21 Old 02-20-2014
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

Neat article, thanks. Worth paying extra attention to the final paragraph:

Quote:
Lots of great sounding technologies never make it past the demonstration phase, or they get caught up in market forces beyond their developers' control. But in this case, market forces are clearly working in the devices' favor. As installation costs become an ever larger fraction of the total cost of a solar installation, it's clear that getting more out of each installation is likely to be critical.
Some of that is true, some less obviously so. The start-up Solyndra was working on broad-spectrum PV concentrators very like this; it became a political football when it crashed and burned. Market forces in that case: rapidly dropping per-watt cost of conventional PV -- mostly from China, which made no secret it was willing to dump for the sake of cornering the global RE market. It's hard to capitalize or sell more efficient technologies when the price of extant tech is dropping 10% a year. Just buy twice as many panels at $0.85 a watt, right?

So new tech, better tech, often requires niche buyers until it is ready for prime time. That's normally spelled military or aerospace programs, where performance is all, weight matters, and cost is no object. You are launching a $20 billion comm satellite with limited collecting surface and paying by the pound, GA solar panels are very intriguing.

As it happens, sailboats are similarly short on mounting space, so we could benefit from higher efficiencies. But truth be told, makers of conventional PV have done really well packing more transistors into a given square inch; my panels are ten years old and rated at half the output of new panels of equal dimensions. Without recourse to exotic tech, manufacturers have already doubled the efficiency (measured as power/area) of PV in a decade, while cutting the cost per watt by 60%. I expect they still have some room for improvement on both fronts, meaning new tech like thin film GA will continue to struggle for funding and market share: as long as old tech keeps improving and the price keeps coming down, the fat middle of the bell curve will be content to buy a few extra panels, achieve the same results, and pocket the savings.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-20-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

I was thinking of the limited real estate on boats & satellites, where you may not have room for an extra couple of panels, regardless of their efficiency or price. What will really send the fecal matter into the air impeller is when inexpensive room-temperature superconductors hit the market. You'll see efficiencies go through the roof. With a little tinkering you'll be able to power your whole boat with a square meter of pv panel.

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Last edited by manatee; 02-20-2014 at 04:27 PM. Reason: change "semiconductor" to "superconductor" - thanks, meteuz
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post #5 of 21 Old 02-20-2014
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

I don't understand what you mean by inexpensive room-temperature semiconductors. We have them. They did revolutionize our life, starting with the transistor radio going all the way to the personal computer. But that was many moons ago. Did you mean superconductors? It would be cool to have a superconductor electric motor, but I don't think resistive electric losses that you would be eliminating are large enough to call this a revolution, so your best bet is probably still on improved battery or fuel cell technology.

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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

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I don't understand what you mean by inexpensive room-temperature semiconductors. We have them. They did revolutionize our life, starting with the transistor radio going all the way to the personal computer. But that was many moons ago. Did you mean superconductors? It would be cool to have a superconductor electric motor, but I don't think resistive electric losses that you would be eliminating are large enough to call this a revolution, so your best bet is probably still on improved battery or fuel cell technology.
You're right -- pardon my senior moment. Edited the post.

I'm thinking more of the revolution in power supplies & power transmission we'll see. The oil companies will not like it at all. A single thunderstorm could power a city for a year.

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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

Heh. When someone figures out how to incorporate PV films into laminate sail construction, we're golden. Might even convince people to hoist their sails once in awhile....

It is vaguely annoying to look at my solar array, with its eight 135W monocrystallines, & know the same sized panels bought today would rate 250W and cost $100 less per. It's Moore's Law in slow motion. That's one reason we will wait until quite late in the refit to buy PV: let power densities keep climbing, cost/watt keep dropping, and maybe have a better selection of thin film products to choose from for a couple locations. Still don't forsee fitting more than about 200W total on the Ballad, tho. Good for only 1kWh/day, but then we don't have refrigeration, so that might be enough.

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post #8 of 21 Old 02-22-2014
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

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Originally Posted by manatee View Post
You're right -- pardon my senior moment. Edited the post.

I'm thinking more of the revolution in power supplies & power transmission we'll see. The oil companies will not like it at all. A single thunderstorm could power a city for a year.
I'd love to see cheap(er) and cleaner ways of producing electricity. But it's not just making it, it's also storing it. How would you store a years worth of power from the thunderstorm?
Also, what technology is getting the power from the storm? Is is from the lightning?
I'm not too worried about the oil companies. I think they'll have plenty of business for long time. I don't see economical transportation alternatives for all our transportation needs for a long time, unless there are batteries I'm unaware of. I've seen some cool ideas, but the odds are long I think.
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

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I'd love to see cheap(er) and cleaner ways of producing electricity. But it's not just making it, it's also storing it. How would you store a years worth of power from the thunderstorm?
Also, what technology is getting the power from the storm? Is is from the lightning?
I'm not too worried about the oil companies. I think they'll have plenty of business for long time. I don't see economical transportation alternatives for all our transportation needs for a long time, unless there are batteries I'm unaware of. I've seen some cool ideas, but the odds are long I think.
Capture the lightning, store it in a superconducting storage ring surrounded by pickups to extract energy from the circling electrons. Like the opposite of the particle accelerators used in particle physics research. I read about the concept years ago, maybe in Scientific American Magazine, but I'm not sure. Superconducting power transmission lines mean less energy wasted as heat, fewer & smaller substations, less material needed to get power from where it is made/stored to where it is used.

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post #10 of 21 Old 02-22-2014
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Re: More-efficient (2X current) Solar Cells Being Developed

I cant beleive people havent figured out how to store power from lightning....

this is an honest thought....there has to be a way...maybe they have and are not letting the tech out or something

probably so...jajaja

with you know $$$$ oil industry still around...

Islander 36 now FOR SALE!
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