Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Plastic Doubles Solar Cell - a new innovation to reduce solar energy cost

prototype flexible solar panel uses yellow plastic
 to capture and concentrate sunlight
Solar power is perhaps the most cheapest of the energy source around the world today. 

Due to soaring cost of fuel and other power generating methods, more and more people are turning toward sun to extract energy from the sun rays, which is available in abundance in majority of the countries throughout the year.

A latest research on the otherwise expensive solar panels is the Coloured Plastic Doubles Solar Cell that uses  plastic to absorb light could lower the cost of solar power.

It is hoped that a thin sheet of dyed plastic could cut the cost of solar power, particularly for applications that require solar cells to be highly efficient and flexible.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using the plastic to gather sunlight and concentrate it onto a solar cell made of gallium arsenide in an experimental setup. Doing so doubled the power output of the cells.

So far the researchers have worked on a single solar cell, but they plan to make larger sheets of plastic dotted with arrays of many tiny solar cells. The approach could either let a smaller solar panel produce more electricity, or make a panel cheaper by reducing the amount of photovoltaic material needed.

Here is how the new plastic sheeted solar cells panels would work:
As light hits the plastic sheet, a specially selected dye absorbs it. The dye is luminescent—meaning that after it absorbs light, it re-ëmits it. But the light it emits is largely confined inside the plastic sheet. So it bounces along inside the plastic until it reaches a solar cell, much in the same way light is guided along inside a fibre optic cable. The dye absorbs only part of the solar spectrum. So to further boost power output, the researchers added a reflective material that directs some of the light that the dye doesn't absorb to the solar cell.
I do hope that those at the helms of the affairs would seek out and get to know more about developments taking place in the solar energy sector and would not waste money on outdated and less efficient solar panels that are not even cost effective. We in Pakistan have solar energy available throughout the year uninterrupted and with full intensity. If we invest wisely keeping in view latest technologies available like the one mentioned above, we can overcome our power shortages effectively and much cheaply.

Want to know more about it? Read more at MIT Technology Review

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