Efficiency is everything
Improving efficiency of the solar cells is very important to continue to proliferate the use of renewable energy and to reduce the overall cost of the technology.
Most solar panels convert around 15% of the sun’s energy into electricity. Some experimental photovoltaic panels, like concentrating solar panels, can convert 40% of incident solar energy into electricity. These panels utilize varying band gaps and mirror arrays and are used more for large-scale solar power generation.
In 2016 MIT reported a breakthrough where a solar cell converted 22.1 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity using experimental cells made from cadmium telluride—a technology that today represents around 5 percent of the worldwide solar power market.
In March, 2017 researchers in Japan announced a new record for the efficiency of mass-produced solar panels, meaning even more of the Sun’s energy can now be converted into electricity. The efficiency record for solar panels now stands at 26.6 percent – breaking the previous record established in 2015.
Researchers at the University of Wyoming may have found a “game changing” approach that has the potential to increase efficiency of the solar cells by up to 700%.
In their statement the researchers said “We added into the PbS quantum dot with 4 percent manganese atoms. Our expectations were a 4 percent increase in solar efficiency,” Dahnovsky says. “We had a 700 percent increase. That’s very unusual.”
Dahnovsky says it’s unusual because electrons “tunneling” between manganese and zinc atoms do so much easier than between lead and zinc atoms located at the interface between a quantum dot and a semiconductor.
The quest for high efficiency solar cells has led to the search for new materials, such as manganese, to replace traditional silicon used for sensitizers and photoconductor—oxide—electrodes.
The author, KetanDeshpande, lives in Minnesota and writes about a variety of topics in his blog such as global economy, market and industry trends, successful strategies for businesses, and others. Leveraging his global strategic leadership experience from the manufacturing industry to offer insights in to how businesses can meet the sustainable growth and profitability goals.
Ketan Deshpande is also passionate about sustainability and renewable energy; he curates and shares latest updates in his blog posts. Recently the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency(SMMPA) of Litchfield, Minnesota, endorsed Ketan Deshpande for an energy conservation project.
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Blog post by Ketan Deshpande, Minnesota, MN