Australian scientists from the University of North South Wales have set a new world record for the efficiency of commercially-viable solar cells. The team has developed a technology that splits sunlight into two color components so that it can it can be directed to a type of solar cell that is most efficient at those frequencies.
The challenge with any solar cell system is to remove the heat so that the cell can operate at its maximum efficiency and the team at the University NSW has meet that challenge.
In this video, Dr Graham Phillips investigates new technology that is able to convert more than 40 per cent of the sun’s light into electricity. This is more than double the efficiency of today’s domestic rooftop solar panels, and could eventually lead to cheaper sources of renewable energy.
The next step change in solar cell energy efficiency is likely to come from concentrating the sun’s ray before it lands on the surface of the cell. Using a system of computer controlled mirrors or heliostats the sun is concentrated 700 times on to the surface a one meter square gallium arsenide solar cell. These cells used in this manor greatly reduce the area of cell required which is shown in the picture below.
In Victoria, Australia researchers have made a small working model of a concentrated solar pv power plant that is capable of producing 250 kwatts of clean electricity.
Just four such plants can produce a full Mwatt of power.
With advancements such as this we will soon be able to harness the largest cleanest source of energy in the solar system to power our world and get us away from fossil fuels.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.