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5 Breakthroughs in Solar Technology

By Edited Jul 6, 2015 1 0

Many researchers and scientists have been working for years trying to improve photovoltaic module technology (PV)–a solar panel packed with interconnected solar cells that converts sun's energy into electricity. Although there have been many breakthroughs, there are five advanced solar technology that stands out more than the others.

Third-Generation Solar Cells – Third generation solar cells are being created with new variety of materials to hopefully be processed and mass produced in the future. The main property inside traditional solar cells, silicon, which is what converts the energy of sunlight into electricity, is too costly. Thin films, second generation solar cells might be cheaper than silicon, but it could rapidly deplete our natural resources if massed produced.

Sensor Solar Panels – The shape of the sensor solar panel is what gives it an edge over the flat-sheet shaped solar panel. The panel, shaped like a drive-in theater, to automatically track the sun, accentuates the sensors. This concentrated sensor technology can increase the sun's power 500 to 1,000 times, generating at its highest peak 25 kilowatts.

Stirling Energy System (SES) – Stirling Engine System is a different alternative to the PV. Because of its elegant design, SES is suited for the desert environment (where most solar modules are located) that does not need water to operate, unlike the PV systems. Contact a local San Diego, CA solar company to check what options are available. SES having shown 30 percent more efficiency than 20 percent of most PV system uses thermal energy to heat gas, which expands to push a piston. As the gas cools, it contracts and cycles an engine.

High-Performance Photovoltaics – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been exploring the possibility of a high performance PV that can ultimately double the sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies. Even though it's still under investigation for wide ranges of complex testing, this project is expected to one day pass over to a commercial product for consumers.

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) – Traditional building materials, such as roofs, windows overhangs, and walls would be replaced with the integration of PV panels into buildings during construction. This too under research by the NREL, is focusing on how to reduce the costs, utility transmission losses, and system reliability while improving the building's aesthetic.

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