- Low-cost solar cell
The low-cost solar cell is an effort to make solar power price competive with traditional (
fossil fuels and nuclear power) energy sources.
polysiliconshortage [http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/charting-a-path-to-low-cost-solar-1128.html Greentech Media | Charting a Path to Low-Cost Solar ] ] has changed the economics, making technologies such as thin films, which use little or no silicon, more attractive.The cost per watt will be the determining factor for success. The solar industry can potentially reduce costs 40 percent over the next five years as the silicon shortage ends. [ [http://www.navigantconsulting.com Navigant Consulting ] ]
Fossil fuel parity
Grid parity, the point at which photovoltaic electricity is equal to or cheaper than grid power can be reached using low cost solar cells. It is achieved first in areas with abundant sun and high costs for electricity such as in
Californiaand Japan. [ [http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9013609&contentId=7005395 Going for grid parity] 2005 article] Grid parity has been reached in Hawaiiand other islands that otherwise use diesel fuelto produce electricity. George W. Bushhas set 2015 as the date for grid parity in the USA. [ [http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9019305&contentId=7035199 Gaining on the grid] ] [ [http://www.bp.com/popupimage.do?img_path=liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/reports_and_publications/frontiers/STAGING/local_assets/images/fr19solar_parity570x417.jpg%20&alt_tag=Graphic%20about%20grid%20parity,%20when%20the%20cost%20of%20solar%20energy%20equals%20that%20of%20grid%20electricity The Path to Grid Parity] (Graphic)] General Electric's Chief Engineer predicts grid parity without subsidies in sunny parts of the United States by around 2015.
Other companies predict an earlier date. [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSL1878986220071019 reuters.com] ]
Oerlikon Solarhas said its facilities will achieve grid parity by 2010 in connection with the opening of the company’s new fully-automated thin-filmpilot line at the Solar Valleyin Trübbach, Switzerland[http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/articles/pv/bus_news/080902_oerlikon.html] .
Grid parity was delayed by the higher than expected cost of solar-grade silicon. Manufacturing capacity dropped after the collapse of the
dotcom bubblein 2001, while the subsidies associated with feed-in tariffs in Germany introduced in 2004 increased the costs of solar cells worldwide and diverted suitable silicon away from sunnier and therefore more potentially economic locations such as India and Africa. [ [http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12010071 Solar rally] ] , The Economist, 28 August 2008] [ [http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/infocus/story?id=43569 Does Solar PV Still Make Sense for the Developing World?] , Renewable Energy World]
A number of analysts have predicted that polysilicon prices will drop as companies build additional polysilicon capacity more quickly than the industry’s projected demand. The development of the
Renewable Energy Corporation´s Singapore site will enable REC’s ability to deliver polysiliconsolar products that can compete with traditional energy sources in the sunny areas of the world without government incentives. [http://www.edb.gov.sg/etc/medialib/downloads/media_release_2007.Par.0075.File.tmp/New%20manufacturing%20complex%20to%20Singapore_FINAL.pdf]
Cadmium telluride solar cell
cadmium telluride solar cellis a solar cellbased on a cadmium telluride(CdTe) thin film, a semiconductor layer to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity
Dye-sensitized solar cellis another low cost solar cell option.
This cell is promising because it is made of low-cost materials and does not need elaborate apparatus to manufacture, so it can be made in a
DIYfashion and allows more players to produce it than any other type of solar cell. In bulk it should be significantly less expensive than older solid-statecell designs. It can be engineered into flexible sheets. Although its conversion efficiencyis less than the best thin film cells, its price/performance ratioshould be high enough to allow them to compete with fossil fuel electrical generation.
Polymer/organic solar cells
Organic solar cellsis a relatively novel technology, promising substantial price reduction (over thin-film silicon) and better energy payback time. These cells can be processed from solution, enabling the possibility for a simple roll-to-roll printing process, leading to a cheap, large scale (square kilometers per month) production.
Luminescent solar concentrator
Researchers at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) have found a way to convert windows into devices that concentrate sunlight for conversion into electricity. MIT developed a mixture of dyes that can be painted onto a pane of glass or plastic. The dyes absorb sunlight and then re-emit it within the glass in a different wavelength of light, which then tends to reflect off the interior surfaces of the glass. As the light reflects within the glass pane, it tends to get channeled along the length of the glass to its edges, where it is emitted. The MIT researchers estimate that sunlight is concentrated by a factor of 40, allowing solar cells that are optimized for such concentrated sunlight to be mounted along the edges of the window. The unique optics of the approach yields a cheap solar concentrator that does not need to be pointed toward the sun, as is needed for lens-based concentrators. MIT estimates that the process will be commercialized by Covalent Solarwithin the next 3 years . [http://www.eere.energy.gov/news/enn.cfm#id_11936]
Compared to conventional flat panel
solar cells, CPV is advantageous because the solar collector is less expensive than an equivalent area of solar cells. CPV system hardware is typically priced around 3 USD/ Watt, whereas silicon flat panels are commonly 5 USD/Watt (not including any associated power systems or installation charges). Semiconductorproperties allow solar cells to operate more efficiently in concentrated light, as long as the cell junction temperature is kept cool by a suitable heat sinks. CPV operates most effectively in sunny weather, since clouds and overcastconditions create diffuse light which essentially can not be concentrated.
Nanotechnology and Infrared
The technology of
solar arrays of nanoantennas is expected to be highly efficient with regard to capturing energy (80% efficiency) and in the process of creating the device (cents per yard). [ [http://www.triplepundit.com/pages/nanoantennas-solar-arrays-that-002905.php Nanoantennas: Solar arrays that absorb energy even in the dark!!] February 11, 2008] Small square spirals of metal can be printed on plastic sheets, using roll-to-rollmachinery [https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_101047] . The antennas can capture energy associated with infrared radiation, which reaches the earth from the sun during the day and is emitted by the earth at night.
Commercial solar panels usually transform less that 20 percent of the usable energy that strikes them into electricity. Individual nanoantennas can absorb close to 80 percent of the available energy [https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_101047] . The circuits themselves can be made of a number of different conducting metals, and the nanoantennas can be printed on thin, flexible materials like
polyethylene, a plastic that's commonly used in bags and plastic wrap [https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_101047] .
Double-sided panels could absorb a broad spectrum of energy from the sun during the day, while the other side might be designed to take in the narrow frequency of energy produced from the earth's radiated heat [https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_101047] .
Investment in renewable energy
Solar hot carbon
* [http://printedelectronics.idtechex.com/photovoltaicsusa08/en/ Photovoltaic technologies beyond conventional silicon] (IDTechEx).
* [http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/charting-a-path-to-low-cost-solar-1128.html Charting a Path to Low-Cost Solar] .
* [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/08/20/business/NA-US-Energy-Summit.php Business leaders: Make renewable energy cheaper] (
International Herald Tribune).
* [http://www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/nyc0908/thinfilmrevolution.html The Thin Film Revolution] .
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