There are two ways to make solar cells better.
You can make them more efficient, or you can make them for less. (Picture from IBM.)
Most of the breakthroughs reported here focus on the first goal. The more efficient a cell, the smaller the area you have to cover in order to get a given amount of electricity.
But production cost is also important.
Most of today’s efficient solar cells are made with rare materials like cadmium and indium. Gallium-arsenide or indium-selenide might convert 30% of the solar radiation striking them, but they cost big money.
Lights and mirrors can concentrate solar radiation on the cell, but now you’re building a power plant, not installing a cell. Multicrystalline silicon also offers high efficiency, but they can be expensive to make.
A paper newly published by IBM aims to bend that cost curve in three ways:
- IBM’s new cells are made of a popular low-cost materials list — copper, indium, gallium, and selenide (CIGS — cute acronym).
- They’re relatively efficient, 9.7%. That’s roughly a 50% improvement from other CIGS cells.
- As with new solar cells from Nanosolar, these are produced from a liquid slurry that can literally be printed.
IBM is not trying to get into the solar cell production business. They are looking to license the basic technology, and think they can get its efficiency up to 12% — close to the low-end for multicrystalline cells.
Solar cell technology is becoming much like batteries , with breakthroughs piling on one another so that before one can get into production it’s superseded by another.
But so long as any solar cell installation pays back its costs in a reasonable period of time, it can have value. We don’t have to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
A few years ago, on another blog, I suggested that the lack of standards for solar panels might hamper growth. I still believe that. But these new printed-panel techniques change the game somewhat. Such solar cells can be created to fit the space available.
We still need standard connectors, and upgrade paths. But the basis of solar technology is changing.
And rapid innovation is giving America a place in its future.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
- Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels
- New China policy may hit domestic solar manufacturing: Icra
- Almost Everyone Is Outraged by Trump’s Solar Tariff
- Selected to be solar city in 2015, only 260 Vijayawada households have solar power
- Google Can Now Tell You If Your Roof Is Sunny Enough For Solar Panels
- Solar Is the Future. Donald Trump Tied a Bow on It and Gave It to China.
- Next-Generation Solar Power Technology (Part 2 of 2)
- OPINION: Morocco leading the charge for cost-efficient solar power opportunities
- Solar lamps banish paraffin fumes
- David Robinson: Tesla's solar business is shrinking. Here's what it means for Buffalo.
- IBM Aims To Reduce Power Needed For Neural Net Training By 100x
- Sono Sion solar electric car promises 18 miles of range from solar panels
- 2 Western senators want to repeal Trump's solar tariffs
- Tesla brakes and tax credits, Sono solar car, Twitter poll on charging: Today's Car News
- With a gargantuan IBM machine, the US reclaims the top spot from China on a supercomputing list
- IBM Unveils System That ‘Debates’ With Humans
- IBM’s machine argues, pretty convincingly, with humans
- Microsoft and Toyota are revving up interest in hydrogen fuel-cell energy tech
- SAP and IBM marry their cloud services in a partnership aimed at private cloud deployments
- A solar panel in the New Hampshire woods is old enough to run for president
IBM works the cost side of the solar cell problem have 588 words, post on www.zdnet.com at February 12, 2010. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.