Transparent Solar Panels

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Two news stories concerning solar power.

The first, from Extreme Tech details efforts to make a completely transparent solar panel which could be placed nearly anywhere, from your phone screen to windows in a building.  The main challenge is the fact that a solar cannot actually be clear or it can’t do its job very well.

“To get around this limitation, the Michigan State researchers use a slightly different technique for gathering sunlight. Instead of trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell (which is nigh impossible), they use a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC). The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light, which they then luminesce (glow) as another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible). This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity. [Research paper: DOI: 10.1002/adom.201400103 – “Near-Infrared Harvesting Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrators”]”

And then there was this admittedly optimistic article in the Telegraph considering the changes fortunes of solar and oil.

“Roughly 29pc of all electricity capacity added in America last year came from solar. The story is by now well-known. A McKinsey study found that installed solar power in the US across all sectors has dropped from $6 a watt to $2.59 in four years, largely due to the collapse in the cost of solar cells.

The next leap in competitiveness will come from falling “soft costs”, currently 64pc of the residential solar price in America. This happened in Germany as scale built up, and is following in the US. In California you can sign up for solar panels in a supermarket, with no money down, and make a saving from day one.

The clinching shift will come when the battery storage is cheap enough and lasts long enough for users to draw down their suplus generated during the day to cover needs at night, opening the way for mass exodus from the grid, unless utilities harness it first to their own advantage.”

Posted in: Solar Power

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