CLN – Kelley Bergman – Solar Panel Efficiency Headed Towards 80 Percent – 2 April 2013

CLN3Current solar cell on panels widely distributed to retailers offer a maximum of 16-25 percent efficiency rate. Accordingly, they need to be quite large to obtain maximum power. Scientists at Stanford University have improved the efficiency of a revolutionary solar cell by around 100 times, but solar panels made with Lepcon or Lumeloid could turn 70 to 80 percent of the energy from sunlight they receive into electricity.

Photovoltaic panelsEverybody wants to get off the grid. The public is desperate to save on energy costs and the only way is to tap into natural sources. Until free energy becomes a reality, all we realistically have as a non-polluting source of energy is solar

The world record for triple-junction solar cell efficiency is 44 percent, but a collaboration between the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Imperial College of London, and MicroLink Devices Inc. led to a multi-junction photovoltaic cell design that broke the 50 percent conversion efficiency barrier under concentrated solar illumination.

The best examples of traditional silicon solar cells top out at around 25 percent efficiency, whereas multi-junction cells have achieved more than 40 percent.

Scientists at Stanford University have improved the efficiency of a revolutionary solar cell by around 100 times. Unlike standard photovoltaic cells, which only capture light energy, Stanford’s new device captures both light and heat, potentially boosting solar cell efficiency towards 60% — way beyond the 30-40% limit of traditional silicon photovoltaic solar cells.

This device uses a process called photon-enhanced thermionic emission (PETE). In photovoltaic cells, photons strike a semiconductor (usually silicon), creating electricity by knocking electrons loose from their parent atoms. The PETE process is similar, but also very different and altogether rather complex. In essence, think of it as the photovoltaic equivalent of a turbocharger.

Unlike normal photovoltaic cells which break down at high temperatures, PETE actually improves in efficiency as it gets hotter. One of the easiest applications of PETE would be in concentrating solar power plants, where thousands of mirrors concentrate light on a central vat of boiling water, which drives a steam turbine. By concentrating the light on PETE devices instead, Stanford estimates that their power output could increase by 50%, bringing the cost of solar power generation down into the range of fossil fuels.

But the most impressive solar powered devices may potentially belong to an Inventor who is developing solar power designed to operate four or five times more efficiently than the beat photovoltaic cells now in use, and at a small fraction of the cost…

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